training

Why Was I So Nice To The Punk?

Another update from the Jungle…

Janice feels old and unappreciated. She does her job quietly with little fuss and needs minimal supervision because she’s seen and done it all before. In fact, she manages everything so smoothly that she rarely draws attention.

Janice didn’t mind the lack of acknowledgement for her contributions until a few months ago. That’s when her work space was invaded by a much younger worker, Mercedes.  Mercedes is friendly with a hint of insecurity because she’s learning to do tasks she’s never done before.

Janice remembers joining a new company and being “trained” by an old bat who deliberately omitted key information, hoping Janice would fail. So Janice is happy to pass along tips, hints and advice to help Mercedes learn her job.

But Mercedes is ambitious and her insecurities leave her craving public affirmation of her contributions. She sees everyone, especially Janice, as a threat.  She begins copying their boss on nitpicky emails, asking Janice for information rather than simply asking her verbally. They sit less than five feet apart.

Janice doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want to sound like a whiner, but she’s rapidly reaching the conclusion that Mercedes is the Wicked Witch of the South. Janice daydreams of teaching Mercedes a real lesson in bureaucratic backstabbing. It all remained a fantasy until today’s staff meeting.

Mercedes is reporting at the staff meeting about a project she inherited from Janice. She drags out her report with lots of “ums” and “uhs,” explaining how she revised the metrics and pulled together all the information. Never once does she acknowledge her debt to Janice who created the whole thing so that Mercedes only had to collate information and do some data entry.

Janice looks at their boss who is smiling at Mercedes like a proud mom watching her clever child successfully finish the school recital. Janice feels the top of her skull evaporating in a mushroom cloud as Mercedes is praised.

What options are available to Janice?

  1. She can spike Mercedes’s protein shake with a laxative before the next staff meeting.
  2. She can create a fake resume showing Mercedes as the most brilliant person since Einstein and mass mail it to every recruiter in the country.
  3. She can recognize that Mercedes is immature and let someone else kick the stuffing out of her (figuratively speaking, of course).

Sometimes, managers are so focused on coaching younger workers for success they forget to acknowledge the contributions of older workers. Building a team means recognizing the contributions of all team members.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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3 Revisions For Your Sexual Harassment Policy

Another update from the Jungle…..

It’s amazing how quickly our social expectations are evolving on the topic of sexual harassment. Not so long ago, off color comments, body groping and other objectionable behavior was tolerated, particularly when committed by powerful people. All that is changing and employers need to adapt. Here are three suggested revisions for employers reviewing their sexual harassment policy and training.

Managerial Support

Every employer I worked for insisted on annual sexual harassment training for the staff. But most managers never showed up for the training or left early. That’s unfortunate, since the most common form of sexual harassment is still male bosses harassing women subordinates.

But accusing the boss of inappropriate behavior is the fastest path to ruining a woman’s career. That’s why Harvey Weinstein wasn’t publicly accused of sexual harassment until after he lost his status as a Hollywood power broker. Employers can avoid a Weinstein moment by requiring managers to participate in training and to set the example on what behavior is acceptable.

Realistic Training

One employer I worked for used the same training video year after year until employees stood in front of the screen, miming the actors and repeating the dialogue. The scenarios were blindingly obvious, like the woman who gets fired after refusing to date her boss. Everyone got their ticket punched for the yearly training and no one learned anything.

Training materials must include realistic scenarios of everyday occurrences. Training must also acknowledge that deciding what is harassment can be subjective. I once worked with a man who always spoke in double entendres. Most the women in the office claimed that they were outraged, but they continued flirting with him. Was he harassing them or not? That’s a much more realistic scenario than the boss dating his secretary cliché.

Clear Complaint Process

Deciding whether to complain begins with actually reading the relevant section of the employee handbook. The relevant section is usually buried in a long paragraph at the end of the anti-harassment policy section of the handbook. It may not be clear whether the complaint process applies to other situations, including the separate sexual harassment policy.

Assuming the harassed employee decides to make a complaint, she (or he) will immediately have two fears. What if the process requires reporting to your supervisor and that’s the harasser? How does the person complaining avoid retaliation? To be effective, the complaint process should be easy to read, have alternative paths for reporting a complaint, and ensure confidentiality as much as possible.

Our society is evolving.  Employers need to move quickly to adapt.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Gung Ho Grace

Another update from the Jungle….

Grace joined the company a couple of months ago. She’s young, ambitious, and ready to prove she’s capable of fulfilling her new job description.  She’s also afraid to ask too many questions for fear that co-workers will think she’s not able to do her job. She’s heard that you should fake it until you make it, and she’s faking as hard as she can.

That makes her impatient with Jane, a co-worker who is supposed to be training her. Jane started working at the company around the time Grace entered middle school. Over time her job duties have evolved and she can’t keep up. So her boss, Aggie, decides to redo her job description and hire a younger person who can be trained by Jane to do some of the overflow work.

At the very first training session, Grace repeatedly interrupts as Jane tries to explain how the work flows and how the database evolved to its current form.  After ten minutes, Grace is tired of listening and decides she knows enough to jump into the job. She brusquely thanks Jane and logs in to the database.

As Grace dabbles in the database, she becomes increasingly frustrated because she can’t find the information she’s looking for. Finally she breaks down and asks Jane for help. Jane explains a quirk of the database that would have been revealed in the eleventh minute of their first training session.

Grace assumes that Jane deliberately set her up for failure. Jane thinks Grace is a gung ho twerp. The fight is on. Grace copies Aggie on every email to Jane and often words the email in a way that implies Jane has either withheld information or is incompetent. Jane fights back with all the skills learned in years of climbing the greased pole of a corporate career.

Eventually, Aggie realizes that she needs to do something because Grace and Jane are ready to tear each other’s hair out by the roots. She calls them into her office.

What should Aggie do next?

  1. She can tell Grace and Jane to grow up.
  2. She can fire them both and start over with new hires hoping they will get along.
  3. She can explain that they are both valuable to the team and they are both needed due to the expanded workload.

In the actual situation, the supervisor tried individual counseling after the group session failed horribly.  However, personalities don’t change and first impressions are difficult to overcome. So the situation wasn’t resolved until one of the warring workers quit.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Totally Sozzled

Another update from the Jungle….

pic-6Addy graduated from college and went to work for the government agency where she had interned as a student.  Of course, there’s a big difference between being an intern and becoming an employee.  As an intern, Addy was excluded from most office social events because she was underage.

pic-7A few months after accepting the job offer, the big bosses decided representatives of each branch office of the agency should receive intensive training away from the usual office distractions. They decided that the perfect spot for learning is New Orleans. Addy prepared for her first business trip.

Nick, the head of Addy’s office, got into the spirit of learning before they left town. He distributed the bosses’ agenda at a staff meeting. Then he told the attendees that he knew a great place in the French Quarter and that he would play tour guide as soon as they checked in at the hotel.

pic-3Two hours after the airplane landed, Addy followed her co-workers down a dark alley in the French Quarter to Nick’s “great place.” The fun began. As a recent college graduate, Addy considered herself a seasoned drinker. She soon realized she was an amateur.

Addy doesn’t remember many details after the first bar, but she knows she had a good time. She later saw how good a time when she was invited to the HR manager’s office to view cell phone video of what she didn’t remember doing in the French Quarter.

pic-1The video shows a gaggle of staggering zombies in a karaoke bar, all dancing to a different beat as they belt out the same song.  In the background, Addy recognizes her supervisor in a passionate embrace with a co-worker.  Front and center in the video is Nick gyrating madly, his hand waving through his unzipped fly.  Nick is totally sozzled, barely able to stand.

The HR manager says she invited Addy in for a chat as part of the usual on-boarding process for new hires.  How should Addy respond to the HR manager?

  1. pic-2She can say that she’s enjoying learning from her more experienced co-workers.
  2. She can ask for copies of the video in case she needs to blackmail her bosses later. (Addy’s a quick learner of office politics.)
  3. She can stare blankly like a little lost waif and wait for the HR manager to give her a clue about how to respond appropriately.

The antics outlined in this scenario have been changed to protect innocent waifs like your author. Surely, no government employees near you would ever misbehave during a training seminar.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Bored to Tears

Trng-2Celia is the HR manager for her company and she handles the internal training when the staff needs to be updated about new employment laws or regulations. She’s been very busy lately preparing to explain the proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on new overtime rules and the DOL’s new “economic reality” test for independent contractors.

Celia’s fascinated by the process of how these new rules are formulated. She wants to understand why the DOL perceives employment problems that need to be fixed. She thinks understanding this background will help her explain the new rules to her fellow employees. Celia creates a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes what she’s learned.

The big day arrives and her co-workers reluctantly gather in the training room. Celia begins her presentation with PowerPoint slides about the Fair Labor Standards Act which is the basis for the new guidance and rules. Then she talks about DOL’s reasons for changing the rules.

Trng-3After ten minutes, an employee asks how the new rules will affect his job. Celia tells him “we’ll get to that in a minute” and clicks through to the next slide. The third time she repeats that phrase, employees begin shifting in their chairs. Some employees surreptitiously check their devices for emails or the latest Candy Crush game.

At the half hour mark, Celia notices that the crowd has thinned. The smart employees grabbed seats near the back of the room so that they could escape. The sycophantic employees and those angling for promotions are hopelessly trapped near the front of the room and forced to continue listening to her presentation.

Celia limps through the rest of her presentation and asks if there are questions. People glare at each other to ensure no one is stupid enough to prolong the suffering by asking questions. Celia ends the training session and one person is trampled in the dash for the exits.

What could Celia do at her next training session to keep people engaged?

  1. She could use flashier PowerPoint slides to keep everyone’s attention.
  2. She could create handouts with key points for discussion and stop using PP slides.
  3. She could revise her presentation to explain how the new rules will specifically affect her co-workers’ jobs.

The above scenario is an only-slightly fictionalized account of dozens of in-house training sessions that I’ve experienced over the years.  No co-workers were ever trampled so there was nothing to break the monotony.  To avoid Celia’s fate at your company’s next training session, consider using the third option by making the information specific and relevant to the employees.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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3 Keys to Hiring the Right Employee

Another update from the Jungle…
image029
Renee owns a small bakery that is growing rapidly but still needs to plow the profits back into the business to ensure its long term success. She knows the long term success of the bakery depends on the quality of the employees.

She learned through trial and error that she needed to be clear about what she was looking for in a new employee. One early hire, Debra, was great at baking muffins but seemed to hate people. Customers would dash out the door if they saw Debra at the counter waiting to serve them. Renee eased Debra out the door so that she could go be successful with a different employer. Then Renee revised her job descriptions to focus on all the skills, not just baking, that she needs.

Renee also realized that hiring the right employee is not enough. New hire Marta didn’t know how to use a convection heat oven and her first batch of cookies were harder than hockey pucks. After
image027the smoke cleared and the hockey pucks were trashed, Renee decided to assign an experienced employee as a mentor to train Marta on using equipment. Marta now bakes cookies using her grandmother’s recipes that are the hottest sales items in the store.

Of course, assigning a mentor was not enough either. Cherie had a mentor but wasn’t making progress in learning how to use kitchen equipment or the cash register. A quick investigation revealed that Cherie was intimated by her mentor and never asked questions. The mentor admitted that she is a perfectionist and isn’t comfortable trying to teach new hires.

This mismatch taught Renee that she needed to more closely monitor the progress of each employee. So every week she meets with each employee to answer questions and to ask for suggestions on improving the business. It’s a huge time commitment for Renee but in the past year, turnover among all employees has dropped dramatically and would-be bakers now beg her to hire them.

What are Renee’s 3 keys to hiring the right employee?

  1. Know what you want and clearly state it in the job description so that you hire the right person for the job.
  2. Have a good “onboarding” process to integrate the new employee into the workforce that includes training the new person on equipment and business processes.
  3. Monitor progress of all employees to match skills to opportunities to increase job satisfaction and the chance of retaining each employee.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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