Are you using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to source, screen, and background check potential employees? If you are avoiding social media sites, you are missing a rich opportunity to mine the Web for talent.
But, the jury's still out on using social media for screening and background checks. My suspicion is that more employers use social media for the checks than are willing to go on record saying so. It's only human for interview team members to search for their candidate's name in Google and other search engines.
Job search experts tell working adults to be careful about what they post publicly on social media sites. They recognize that, on the record - or not, a hiring decision can be influenced by social media posts. You wouldn't want to miss out on your dream job because you commented on a colleague's blog post that you had to be carried out of the party Saturday night. (Of course, people do amazing things at company events - just don't talk about them online in a public forum.)
I interviewed Rob Pickell (pictured), senior vice president of customer solutions at HireRight, Inc. in Irvine, California, a provider of employment background and drug screening solutions.
He says that most employers, out of concern for potential discrimination or negligent hiring charges, are not officially using social media sites for significant screening and background checks, on the record.
Sourcing potential employees is a different story. Most employers use social media to locate qualified candidates if only by tapping into their employees' social networks. But, the number of companies recruiting online grows every day as evidenced by the rapid rise of corporate pages on Facebook and Google+ stated intention to introduce them.
Interested? Take a look at our interview to learn more about sourcing, screening and background checks in social media.
Image Copyright Rob Pickell
More About Social Media Recruitment
Who doesn't have favorite quotes? Looking for an easy-to-plan, quick ice breaker that's based on information that you already have? Use your favorite meaningful quotes as ice breakers for your training classes, team building sessions, and meetings.
If you find meaning in your favorite quotes, so will others. Their meaning may not be the same as yours, but that's what makes this new meaningful quotes ice breaker worth doing.
Over the years, I've put together my favorite quotes on a variety of topics so it was easy for me to resurrect examples for the new ice breaker. Please try it out in your next meeting and provide feedback. I'd love to see your favorite quotes, the ones you used for the meaningful quotes ice breaker.
Image Copyright iStockphoto / Chris Schmidt
More About Ice Breakers
Interested in smart casual as a way to dress for work? I had never heard of a dress code called smart casual until a reader asked me if I planned to cover it in my dress codes section.
So, I went on a mission to find out what they were talking about, and indeed, smart casual is another way to dress for work. In fact, if you're a manager, a Human Resources staff person, or an individual who aspires to move up in your organization, I'd recommend smart casual attire at work.
I've never seen a smart casual official dress code in the workplace, but I have observed many employees who dress smart casual. Long term advice for employees has always been: dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
This is often evidenced in smart casual dressing by the employees who take this advice seriously. Employees representing the casual company at career fairs, college advisory board meetings, and similar events also step up their look a notch and dress in smart casual attire.
Employees in a business casual environment in senior positions also frequently dress in what I would describe as smart casual. The addition of a jacket or nicer pants makes an employee's appearance stand out. I've often noticed professors and conference presenters dress in smart casual dress, too.
Smart casual attire gives Human Resources staff a more casual look but retains just a hint of authority and responsibility in a casual or business casual workplace. HR staff in smart casual attire look like individuals who senior leaders can take seriously and regard professionally. At the same time, the smart casual look is not too distancing for relationships with employees.
Enjoy some business casual photos, formal dress code photos, and casual dress code photos, too. There is a difference and you will want to pick the work attire that will help you project both who you are and where you want to be on your workplace organization chart.
Image Copyright Tanya Constantine / Getty Images
Some employees hate Human Resources. I am reminded as another reader comments with thoughts about the comments on the article, Still Hate HR? I bring these comments forward as they present a prevalent point of view that I believe all of us should know.
For everyone who loves HR, there are an equivalent number of people who feel differently. A reader, So Far So Good, says:
"Eh...I have to agree with the article. I have never, ever - not once in my entire career - had a positive experience with HR.
"In one example, I was in the darkroom at work when a male employee came up behind me and ground himself against my back. I told HR, who then called the male employee in and asked him about it right in front of me. Then I started getting micromanaged to death and getting called in until I looked at each new workday with dread and finally left.
In another example, our VP wanted to make budget cuts and decided my position was no longer fiscally justifiable. Instead of being fair about it and working out a way for me to leave gracefully, he put me on probation without any basis for doing so.
"I don't know about anyone in HR, but I was always told that the burden of proof is on the accuser. If HR is going to be effective in this scenario, they have to learn that there are two sides and be savvy enough to read between the lines and make sure all are treated fairly. I was completely confident that my VP was lying (he has since been fired) in order to circumnavigate the process of laying someone off and save the company some dough.
"When the probation didn't provide the results he wanted, he told my boss that he 'didn't do it right' and to put me on probation again. HR acted as an extension of him and enabled his harassment by allowing this behavior without any documented instance for why it was a valid course of action.
"THIS I KNOW FOR CERTAIN:
"You will never be treated 'fairly' by HR. If you are being mistreated or harassed, you'll be making waves by saying a peep. All going to HR does is flag yourself as someone who needs to be swimming with the fishies, not helped out.
"Try it. Go to HR and let them know that there is anything slightly out of the desired norm and watch how fast you get on their radar and drummed out of town."
Your thoughts for this reader?
Image Copyright Mary Gascho
More About Human Resources
Compensation for employees is a challenge. You want to stay within market and, if you value employees, try to pay compensation above market. At the same time, you want to keep part of your investment in compensation for people who go above and beyond so they feel thanked and rewarded for going the extra mile.
For example, if you want your inside sales team to perform as a cooperative team in serving customers, the last thing you want to do is provide individual commissions on sales.
Joel Spolsky, whom I always enjoy reading, suggests that a book worth reading is Harvard Business School professor Robert Austin's Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations.
"The book's central thesis is fairly simple: When you try to measure people's performance, you have to take into account how they are going to react. Inevitably, people will figure out how to get the number you want at the expense of what you are not measuring, including things you can't measure, such as morale and customer goodwill."
Spolsky adds about Professor Austin:
"His point is that incentive plans based on measuring performance always backfire. Not sometimes. Always. What you measure is inevitably a proxy for the outcome you want, and even though you may think that all you have to do is tweak the incentives to boost sales, you can't. It's not going to work. Because people have brains and are endlessly creative when it comes to improving their personal well-being at everyone else's expense."
Spolsky has several more good examples of incentive compensation run amuck.
Image Copyright iStockphoto / Brandon Alms
More About Compensation
In every company, each employee ought to be able to celebrate and share something that is important to him or her with coworkers. From annual giving opportunities for pet charities to special food treats for celebrations, holidays, and birthdays, an employee share should be met with open arms.
Here's an example. At TechSmith Corporation, an employee who enjoys celebrating his Polish heritage has created an annual Fat Tuesday tradition. He floods the company with paczkis, (pronounced POHNCH-kee), a rich, traditional fry cake (that is similar to a bismark and some doughnuts), stuffed with fillings (or not) such as raspberry and prune.
The joy of Walter's annual paczki celebration is first, that he does it for our delight and his joy, second, that his munificence brings more than the employees of an average-sized company can eat (five apiece?), once more, to our delight and his joy, and third, that employees feel recognized and cared about because of a simple tradition.
As they gather in company breakrooms to enjoy the paczkis, team building and positive staff interaction rule the day. Walter is the man of the hour and the event contributes to the shared stash of company stories that shape and help train the culture and celebrate employee heritage.
Do you have a bad boss? Almost everyone does have a bad boss at one time or another. In fact, never encountering a bad boss during your whole career would be quite lucky.
Unfortunately, when you have a bad boss, a bad boss is a significant factor in most people's lives. Not every bad boss screams at and threatens employees. There are far more subtle ways for a manager to be a bad boss. But, that also makes it more likely that you'll have a bad boss - or be one.
Image Copyright John Foxx / Getty Images
There are two kinds of bad bosses. One doesn't know they're bad. The other is bad to the bone. Take a look to find out more about the different kinds of bad bosses and learn how to deal with a bad boss.And, please vote in my poll. (You may only vote for one choice.)
Poll: If you had a bad boss, what actions would you most likely take?
- Talk to the bad boss.
- Talk to the bad boss's boss.
- Complain to your coworkers.
- Look for a new job within your company.
- Look for a new job outside of your company.
- Quit your job immediately.
- View Results
More About Dealing With a Bad Boss
Daniel Pink recommends no carrots to encourage and reward high level performance in higher level cognitive skills and output.
Ideas Worth Spreading is TED's tagline and I find many of their presentations insightful and thought-provoking. In this video, Dan Pink, author and career consultant, looks at what he calls the preponderance of the research on motivation. He concludes that the carrot and the stick approach, that has been used eternally by business to reward performance, only applies when skills rewarded are mechanical, basic skills
He concludes that when a business wants to reward cognitive skills, the higher level thinking and creative skills, rewards may even negatively impact performance. You've heard me say in the past that only when employees have enough money to cover their chosen lifestyle do they move on to motivated behavior via more intrinsic rewards.
Mr. Pink argues that if you give employees enough money, so that money is not an issue, then they will strive for three transcendent purposes: Autonomy (self-direction), Mastery (getting better and better), and Purpose (part of larger, defined issue). He calls these the rewards of the 21st century.
Take a look at the videos, and check out many of the TED speakers who do make me think and sometimes, rethink, what I believe. This one is congruent with my thinking, but the research and examples are worth hearing. So is his story about an Australian company that gives its employees a day periodically to work on anything that they want to work on if they think it will further the company's and customers' best interests.
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More About Motivation and Rewards
Controversial with job searchers are certain requests that employers make in job postings. These requirements leave job searchers in a quandry. They know if they don't comply with the requests that they may never get invited to an interview. But, the employer has every right to ignore their application if they didn't follow the instructions in the job posting.
In fact, many online application processes won't save and enter a job searcher's application unless all relevant spaces are filled. Most controversial is the practice of employers asking for social security numbers from every applicant whether they will receive further consideration or not. While I understand why employers do this, I don't advise it as good practice.
Not as controversial as required social security numbers, both salary history and salary requirements requests from employers also send job searchers into a tizzy. Job searchers regard the request for salary history as an infringement on their privacy. They also believe that by giving a potential employer that information, they have also given the employer the upper hand in a salary negotiation.
While not as strong of an invasion of privacy as the request for salary history, the provision of salary requirements is also viewed as giving the employer the upper hand in a salary negotiation.
Consequently, I ask employers to consider carefully when and how they request this kind of information. You may lose exceptional candidates who are voting with their feet. You cause candidates to experience a conundrum and all sorts of panic over how they can refuse your request without destroying their candidacy. Employers face a problem, too. If you've requested this information and most candidates supply it, how can you hire the candidate who did not?
Image Copyright iStockphoto / Sean Locke
Related to Compensation
The majority of employees in our company are Millennials or Gen Xers. Some of us, like me, feel quite old some days when I look around at our employees. On the other hand, I don't believe we have ever been guilty of not expecting the most and the best from our young employees because of their age.
I actually remember being twenty something. I was smart, capable, and competent and ready to set the world on fire. So are our employees. These millennials are also bright, competent, and capable of setting the world on fire.
Our employees may not have a lot of experience but they make up for it in their willingness to try new things. They are wired, committed, and thoughtful about our products, our culture, our customers, and our future. They are also marrying and starting families. We have babies on the way at all times.
Want to know more about managing millennials? AmyK Hutchens (pictured) tears down more myths about millennials and shares management tips for this younger crowd. Here are three more myths that are often thought, but rarely true, about Millennials.
Image Copyright AmyK Hutchens
More About Managing Millennials
Need basic information about what Human Resources professionals do on the job? HR is a complicated, challenging career that requires knowledge and competence in a variety of workplace topics.
HR professionals have to know everything from labor law to conflict resolution to how to manage people. It's no wonder that it's a challenging career with good job prospects and earnings. Because basic questions come my way so often, I have developed an overview of what a Human Resources Generalist, Manager, or Director does, HR FAQs and HR definitions on the site.
Have a look at my take on what Human Resource (HR) Generalists, HR Managers, HR Associates, and HR Directors do; they're completely rewritten for the current changing role of HR. I'd like your feedback, too.
Image Copyright Peter Chen
I've been developing a series of articles and guides for the beginning HR professional, perhaps the person who starts an HR ofice, or is in charge of HR for the first time. I get increasing numbers of emails asking for more resources for this group and also for the small business owner who finds that he or she has to begin hiring employees.
I could use your assistance to flesh out an outline of the content this audience will find useful as they begin their journey in HR services. I'm starting with how to hire employees and how to pay employees. Please email me or comment below, if you have thoughts about what newcomers need. What would have helped you get started?
More About HR Job Descriptions
If you've been working with a manager for a period of time on his or her performance improvement, and you haven't seen significant improvement, what's the next step? After all, the person is a manager - someone you have entrusted with managing other people - and a portion of your organization.
At what point do you just decide you've had enough? The manager is not improving and, based on your experience coaching the person, you don't have faith that he or she can or will.
The manager's potential to negatively impact other employees and your organization is significant. How many chances should an under-performing manager get?
Do you spend the weeks and the additional coaching time and attention to put a manager on a performance improvement plan (PIP)? At what point do you make the decision to put the manager on a PIP - or just fire the manager? And how do you protect your organization?
Please offer your opinions and experience on my Readers Respond page.
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You have reasons why you stay with your current employer. Perhaps the pay is satisfactory; you love the work. You like your boss or you're excited about the company mission. Whatever your reason, you are sticking with your current employer.
Today's poll allows you to vote for multiple answers because I wanted to know all of the reasons why you stick with your current job. Not happy? Read: The Top Ten Reasons to Quit Your Job.
And, for background for today's poll: Why You Really Ought to Want to Love Your Work.
Poll: Why Do You Stick With Your Employer?
- Good coaching from and interaction with my boss.
- Opportunity to learn new skills.
- Good compensation and benefits package.
- Challenging, rewarding, interesting work.
- Like my coworkers.
- Talent and vision of company management team.
- Mission of the company.
- Respectful treatment.
- Recognition for a job well done.
- Just can't seem to get motivated enough to leave...
- View Results
Reader Question: I am so hurt I don't even know where to begin.
I work for a wonderful large credit union company. I really enjoy my job. I have a great working relationship with HR and upper management. I manage two supervisors and 22 employees.
Recently, we posted an opening for the supervisor position for my branch. This is a very important position that requires a lot of soft and hard skills. HR is not consistent with their transfer procedures - some managers/supervisors get to interview potential candidates for their department and others aren't able to interview.
So, when this position was posted I called HR and asked if I was going to be able to interview or speak with the top candidates. I was given a round about answer of, "it depends". As soon as I hung up the phone, I thought I would be given the opportunity, if I decided, to interview.
The next time I spoke with HR, they told me that the HR manager and the operations manager (above me) were meeting to select the top candidates. Then, I was notified that my manager and the VP made the decision of who was going to be the new supervisor (my subordinate).
Of course, I didn't want to create career suicide by complaining about the process-I knew the choice was made and there was no discussion. I'm trying to trust that upper management made the right decision. However, I have worked for approximately 30 companies in my career and I have never known of a manager not to be involved or at least talk to a candidate before an offer is made.
I feel as though my input was not important and that it sends the wrong message to the other employees. Is this the new norm and I've missed the training? How can I let upper management know that my input is important without them getting defensive?
My Response: You should be hurt. Everything about what you describe is wrong. I fault your HR manager and your boss. They should absolutely know better. It is never okay to not allow a manager to interview and have the most important voice in selecting a direct report. Never.
It does send the wrong message to other employees and it is totally disrespectful of you. It is counterproductive to you and the rest of your staff owning the new employee.
You need to talk with your boss about the impact of this decision on you and your position. And, about how you'd like to see matters of this nature handled in the future.
If this is career suicide in your organization, then resign yourself to being walked over in the future. If they don't see how unusual and irregular this is, perhaps you need to work elsewhere? Or, get used to your voice not having impact in your wonderful company. If this is the only negative, then you have an even tougher decision. Good luck.
Image Copyright James Lauritz / Getty Images
Here are several articles that will help you prepare for the conversation.
Many employers have continued to hire - albeit carefully - throughout the economic downturn of the past few years. Have you? If so, you need to use a job offer letter when you offer a prospective employee a job.
The job offer letter confirms the details of the job offer that you have verbally, by email, or in formal letters, negotiated with your candidate. The job offer letter is the culmination of your search for a new employee.
I always negotiate a job offer verbally before writing the formal job offer letter.
This saves me lots of time and rework in case I need to redo the job offer letter in response to a candidate's salary negotiations.
Generally, the prospective employee has agreed to accept the position, under the negotiated terms, prior to my drafting a job offer letter. Always regard the position acceptance as tentative until the job offer letter, and the confidentiality agreement, or non-compete agreement, if you use one, are signed and in your file.
Here's more about how to make a job offer.
Image Copyright iStockphoto / Catherine Yeulet
Sample Job Offer Letters
The most important fact that you need to know about resistance to change is that it's normal. Your employees are not weird and they don't purposefully make every change difficult.
The second most important fact is that you can prevent a whole lot of resistance to change by planning and implementing the change properly. You need to involve as many employees as possible and make significant efforts to explain why a change is necessary. The more that you and your employees see the need for the change and are change ready, the more support for the change you are likely to engender.
Many of you who are reading this post may find yourselves in the unenviable position of bearing the bad news to the troops. You may not have decided upon the change - hopefully you had some input - yet you are expected to lead adoption and implementation with your reporting staff.
If you are a senior manager, you will benefit from this information to avoid fueling the fire of your managers' resistance. But, this post is also aimed directly at the millions of managers who are asked to change something at work - a decision with which they may not even agree. Plus, senior managers may have done a lousy job of bringing you on board for the changes. Yet, you must bring others - and lead the change implementation.
Here's what you need to do to reduce resistance to change.
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Related to Change Management
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in Leading Now, Leading the Future: What Senior HR Leaders Need to Know, identifies eight leadership skills essential for senior Human Resources leaders. If you are a member, you can access the survey findings.
"Successful senior HR leaders consistently show executives in the C-suite that they understand the broad operations and processes driving business," said former SHRM President and CEO Laurence G. O'Neil. "Equally important is the ability to explain the role of human capital issues and solutions in the context of broader business operations linking finance, operations, and marketing."
Essential HR Leadership Skills
Essential HR leadership skills identified in the SHRM study include these:
- Knowledge of business, HR and organizational operations,
- Strategic thinking and critical/analytical thinking,
- Leading change,
- Effective communication,
- Results orientation and drive for performance,
- Ethical behavior, and
- Persuasiveness and the ability to influence others.
For senior HR professionals employed in global organizations, SHRM found that they need to possess both a global mindset and the ability to be flexible in order to adapt to changing global business needs.
Ethical behavior was also identified as key for HR leaders. Emerging skills that HR leaders will need to develop include global intelligence and technological savvy.
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More About Strategic HR Leaders
Hiring the right employee has never been more difficult. Even with the millions of people currently job searching, weeding through hundreds of resumes, developing the appropriate local candidate pool, and interviewing your best prospects, is time consuming, and often resembles a crap shoot.
Most organizations have not given enough thought as to how to systematize this hiring process for repeated success as you hire employees.
And, face it, even your best candidates may not have that important combination of the right experience, the right skills, and the seeming ability to work within your organizational culture. As a guest writer stated the mission well: you're hiring for today's need and tomorrow's vision.
I am in mid-America and I need an employee to work in quality in the software development industry. That's a tough position to fill. On the other hand, I have several marketing openings that will be easier to fill.
So, on some level, sometimes, you have to settle for the best person you can find for your roles that are tough to fill. Make certain your selected person is eager, willing to learn and grow, and that you have some inkling that they can be developed to perform the job you need done.
There are certain points in the hiring process that you do not want to skip in any candidate selection process. I have highlighted ten of these steps in: 10 Tips for Hiring the Right Employee.
More About Hiring an Employee
- 7 Critical Factors to Consider Before You Make a Job Offer
- Checklist for Hiring an Employee
- Top 10 Recruiting Tips
- Plan Your Recruiting: Ensure Successful Candidate Selection
From the New York Times, How to Get a Job at Google.
Commitment from employees is a powerful gift. Commitment from employees is also a fragile gift. Ensure that your work environment challenges employees to grow and stretch in their ability to contribute.
But, realize that your work environment must also nurture employees in employee-friendly ways. For characteristics such as contribution, growth, and challenge to flourish, an employee-oriented workplace must also emphasize softer - but harder to create - characteristics such as empowerment, effective communication, and employee morale boosting activities.
There are so many ways to injure employee commitment that understanding some of the factors that go into creating a work environment that is team work promoting is critical. Team work is successful in organizations that pay attention to these factors.
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More About Team Work
Everyone who has ever trained or educated fellow humans, whether at work, in seminars, in associations, or for civic groups, has stories to share.
In fact, anyone who's ever attended a training session has stories to share. I have a few that still make me laugh every time I tell them. Here's one of them.
If I share mine, will you share yours? Send email or share your training or speaking story.
Picture me in my mid-thirties having just started my own business; I had taught university and adult education classes, but I had never trained an employee group. My friend, Leslie Charles, subcontracted work with a civil service department to me to help get me started.
I arrived at the top floor of a government building to find a glorious view out over a river from floor to ceiling windows - and the entire classroom was oriented so the attendees could look out the windows all day.
With no hesitation, I spent the first half hour moving ever chair in the room. I did not plan to compete for attention with the view, the seagulls, and helicopters taking off from nearby rooftop platforms.
People straggled in to the session that was about self-image and self-respect. At ten minutes past the starting time, the room was half full but people were still arriving and disrupting. To pass a few minutes, and "make friends" with my audience, I had been greeting attendees.
Then, I started the session with a question, warned by other trainers who had worked with this group to get it over with on the front end. "How many of you are here under duress?" Every single hand in the room went up - all 45 of them.
Dumbfounded, I headed to the hall to get a drink of water and to just catch my breath for a minute. (Truth told, I was trying to figure out what to do next because the audience was really looking at me with downright hostility.)
Tap, tap, tap, on my shoulder. One of the attendees - the brave one - had come out into the hall. She looked at me expectantly, and asked, "We'd like to know if you're going to come back in the room." Pause, pause, pause; I'll never forget her gleeful, "we-won" tone: "Because if you're not," she said, "we're going to leave."
The story had a happy ending, however. I did go back in, told them all they had scared me to death, and that I was a new trainer. I asked them to make the day a positive experience just for themselves, to choose to get something out of the time they were investing.
We did fun, on-topic ice breakers and, as the day passed, you could feel the tension in the room slip away. The evaluations were great and I spent several years training state and federal employees, as a portion of my consulting work.
Image © iStockphoto / Marcin Balcerzak
More About Training
No one likes to fire an employee although sometimes, by the time the termination meeting occurs, enough bad feelings have made the process easier. It's not easy to stay professional when you watch an employee skate on the edge, avoid working hard, and use and abuse the employer's time for personal business.
But every employee deserves a wakeup call and a chance to improve. So, it's important to have and follow a consistent process that uses counseling and progressive discipline before you fire an employee. But when the time comes, because a termination meeting can be intense and emotions often run high, a follow-up letter of termination is essential.
The letter of termination states the cause or not, depending on the circumstances of the termination. It summarizes the rest of the details that the employee needs to move on. The letter of termination documents the details when you fire an employee that you need for the employee's personnel file.
I've put together some additional sample letters of termination so you have a guide when you write your own. These sample letters of termination cover common situations that you experience when you fire an employee.
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Related to Sample Letters of Termination
Employees are not always perfect. Sometimes, they mess up, fail to show up, miss deadlines and commitments, trample expectations, sport messy work areas, and behave inappropriately with coworkers. I have witnessed screaming matches in the middle of work areas; I've had employees purposefully fail at their jobs, in order to get fired and collect unemployment.
Others have presented false documentation about funerals, lied on their applications, and abused intermittent FMLA time. All of these situations, and many more not mentioned, require crucial conversations.
You can become effective at holding crucial conversations. Practice in a variety of situations, and these steps, will help you build your comfort level to hold crucial conversations.
After all, a crucial conversation can make the difference between success and failure for a valued employee or, at least, an employee in whom you have invested valuable training and time. Care enough to hold the crucial conversation before the employee is unsalvageable.
Tell us about crucial conversations you've either held, or need to hold. Thank you for sharing.
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More About Dealing With Difficult Employees
I've developed a mantra of sorts over the years that talks about what people want from work. I've added and subtracted items from the list, and I've explained them in different ways over the years, but fundamentally, people want:
- Membership in the in-crowd,
- Personal and career development opportunities,
- To impact decisions about their jobs, and
- Effective leadership.
This doesn't seem as if employees are asking for a lot, as far as I am concerned, but I receive emails every day that tell me these factors are not universally available in the workplace. In fact, people tell me regularly that they experience the opposite.
I'm working on a possible sixth factor, but so far, I am not convinced that it is not already covered under leadership: the desire of many employees to be part of something bigger than themselves so that they believe their work has meaning. The other possibility is challenge. Many of us wish to avoid boredom so constantly seek the next challenge. One of these days, I may add these to the five.
Now that I've shared mine, what do you need from your work? What do your employees need from work? Many readers have offered their opinions about what they want from work. Share yours.
Image © Tanya Constantine / Getty Images
More About What People Want From Work
Dealing with employee negativity? Here's a poignant note from a reader. It seems that the average organization continues to ensure its failure with people.
I'd like to say that this note made my day, but in reality, it makes me so sad to see these workplaces still existing when there is a much better way.
"Just a quick note to let you know that I enjoy your columns immensely. I just wish I could find a company that believed in the theories and practices you do. I put them to good use in my department, as a supervisor, but I am looked down upon by management in my company. I just finished reading your article Tips for Minimizing Workplace Negativity and was saddened that the very things you listed as not to do, my company does.
"I feel badly for the managers that make the decisions when they ignore the 'desk-level' employee and think of them only as machines (and poorly built ones at that). Sometimes I feel like a janitor.
"After they make the bad decisions and implement them, without anybody's input (including the supervisory level employees), I have to go about cleaning up the negative atmosphere that they keep feeding like a fire. Don't worry though, I will continue reading your articles and following your teachings. They have gotten me this far and I know that, eventually, will get me to a position where I can truly make a difference."
I do believe that what is right for people wins in the end. I'm cheering you on. Keep on keeping on...
Image Copyright Creative Photography
More About Workplace Negativity
A reader said that while he liked my positive, upbeat outlook about employees and workplaces, it was not always possible to create a positive outcome with every employee. I did take his words to heart, but dealing with deadbeat, unproductive employees, who skate on the edge of your success-driven work systems, is not my favorite topic.
However, I promised him I'd share my best ideas for turning a deadbeat employee around or showing him the door. This article is the result of that conversation: How to Manage a Deadbeat Employee.
A deadbeat employee is an employer's nightmare. You know the occasional employee I am talking about. He doesn't show up for work, calls in sick, and milks the time off policy, always walking on the edge, but never falling off. He walks the edge of the work policies and processes, too.
He does just enough to stay employed but doesn't grow professionally nor contribute at the level of your other employees. He sometimes reaches his agreed upon goals but exhibits a general lack of enthusiasm. The hallmark of the deadbeat employee is that he is always walking on the edge between succeeding and failing.
I have interlinked this new article with earlier pieces I've provided about employee performance coaching, performance management and improvement strategies, and the process to follow to either help an employee improve or move on. I trust you'll find these helpful.What do you do to manage deadbeat employees?
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Have you listened to your employees lately? What stories are they telling in your workplace?
Are they stories about employee heroes who saved the customer's day? Or are they endless tales of negativity and woe about the bad news "they" who won't let them have any autonomy and empowerment?
The kind of stories your employees tell deeply impacts how employees feel about work.
The picture of your company that they telegraph to the world is a powerful image for potential employees as well as coworkers. An employee who says, "I love my company" on Facebook is sending a message that makes potential recruits sit up and pay attention.
A note that goes to an all staff email that says, "I can hardly wait to get to work on Monday," is uplifting for the writer and the readers alike. How powerful is the message that makes people think, "Wow, I could feel that way, too."
I can't emphasize enough the power of words as they describe and define your workplace. And, as powerful as words are, they become even more powerful when they are woven together to tell a story. I trust you are aware of the power that the stories shared in your workplace have on shaping your workplace culture.
Find out more about how you can encourage work stories that support and reinforce the work culture you want to offer employees and customers. For success, your culture must exhibit your values and guiding principles. Your work stories make sure that all of the important people know what they are.
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More Related to Work Stories
Interested in what to do when an employee resigns? My readers ask great questions that prompt me to respond.
Reader Question: In the article, When Employment Ends: Employment Ending Checklist, there is no guidance regarding who should notify an employee's internal business contacts that an employee has submitted a letter of resignation or the timing of that notification. I've noticed that some companies have undocumented accepted practices regarding such notifications. Why aren't these practices documented?
For example, if a manager receives a letter of resignation on a Monday morning, most people who come in contact with the person resigning will hear rumors of the resignation by the end of the day. To minimize rumors, shouldn't there be clear and open communications about the resignation as soon as it is known? Is it acceptable for a manager to delay notifying business contacts of the individual resigning for a day or more?
If the next day, someone mentions that they need to work with the individual who has resigned to resolve an issue, giving the impression that they are unaware that the individual has tendered a letter of resignation, is it appropriate for a third party to advise them of the resignation?
A: I responded to much of the reader's question by writing an article: How to Handle an Employee Resignation. Take a look and tell me whether you agree with my approach.
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More About Employee Resignation
According to Winston Connor, formerly an HR Vice President, and currently an executive coach, "Coaching is a different delivery system for training, since training, especially with long term managers and people who are further along in their careers, is not working.
"The coach works with the manager to tailor the training program in skill areas where we will have an impact. The coach helps managers make behavioral changes needed for growth."
Senior managers, especially, are hesitent to attend training classes. Either they think they know what they need to know; they don't anticipate learning from less experienced classmates; or they won't invest the time away from their daily responsibilities.
But, coaching is also important to newer employees and less experienced employees. Effective coaching can help any career or work skills move in the right direction. Coaching can help an employee avoid the pain of developing bad work habits or build his skill set in positive ways.
Any manager can benefit from both training and coaching from the person they report to when the person knows effective coaching skills. Covered here are six essential factors that a coach must know for a successful coaching relationship.
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More Resources for Coaching
Reader Question: "An employee with a tremendous amount of knowledge is bitter and angry all the time. She is very good at her job. She also believes that everyone else is incompetent at theirs. This person used to have a leadership position but no longer does.
"She was very harsh and critical and used her authority to bully people on her team. She used security cameras to make personal records of everyone's activities. No one knows of any practical reason for this. In her reduced capacity she apparently still keeps records of anything anyone does that she does not approve of. She is very unhappy with the person who took her old job, and her new supervisor as well.
"She has been spoken to about her constant gossip on the floor and negative attitude. The result of those talks is that she only complains when her supervisor is not around to hear. She is (nearly) always polite to everyone while they are in front of her, but that stops when they walk away.
"So, this angry and negative person does a very good job. She is always at work, always on time. She is careful not to be too critical when supervisors or managers are around. She is also quick to spread rumors, to go 'over' her lead with issues.
"Despite her skills, I believe that her attitude is poisoning the team. Is this a reason to fire someone? How would you go about letting such an employee go? If you would keep her, what tactics could be used to contain the venom?"
If you have thoughts for this reader, please respond in comments.
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Related to Poisonous Attitude
Awardees were nominated by other employees who filled out a nomination form. The problem is that the criteria were so broadly defined that every employee who was nominated appeared to qualify.
To continue down this path would make the recognition unrewarding and not special. 34 employees qualified for the fifty dollar recognition check by the second quarter it was offered.
I was concerned that by the end of the year, every employee in the company would qualify for the award and it would lose the sense of specialness that the committee had intended. Picture 200 employees lined up to receive their checks.
On the other hand, if every employee in the company truly met the criteria and qualified for the award, company leaders and I would be thrilled. So would the employees, because the sense of team work and going the extra mile would have permeated the company culture.
We worked with the committee to establish realistic criteria that made the award special, yet achievable. With solid criteria that differentiated nominees in place, the awards were viewed as special, rewarding, and motivational, once again.
You can avoid the employee recognition traps that: single out one or a few employees who are mysteriously selected for the recognition; sap the morale of the many who failed to win, place, or even show; confuse people who meet the criteria yet were not selected; or sought votes or other personalized, subjective criteria to determine winners, like employee of the month. (Ban programs like employee of the month, in fact, in my book.)
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More Resources for Employee Recognition
Interested in knowing more about dress codes in the office? From time to time, readers ask questions about the legality of imposing a dress code in their workplace. I interviewed attorney David Monks (pictured), a partner in the San Diego office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, to ask several of the questions that I receive most frequently.
Readers ask about the legality of a dress code, how managers and supervisors can enforce the dress code, and how disciplinary action should be applied to employees who refuse to follow the dress code. Monks answered these questions in, Tough Questions About Implementing Your Dress Code.
Image Copyright David Monks
Because dress codes for the office are a popular topic on this site, see these additional resources about dress codes for the office.
Additional Resources about Dress Codes
Career management isn't just a nice-to, it's a must do if you expect to gain maximum success and happiness from the hours you invest in work. Face it, you are going to work 40 hours a week for your adult life - or hope to if all goes well. Why not make it the best 40 hours that you can create?
Career management in which you plan and work to obtain new skills, capabilities, and experiences, is the answer. Share your goals with your boss and you have a partner who can help you broaden your experience.
When most employees think about their careers, they have not thought past their current job or the next promotion that they'd like to receive. They need to broaden their short term thinking. As employees are promoted up the organization chart, fewer jobs become available, yet continuing to grow skills and experience should still be a priority for people obtaining value from their career.
Here are a few ways in which you can collaborate with your boss to manage your career.
- Job shadow other employees in your company to learn about different jobs.
- Explore lateral moves to broaden and deepen your experience.
- Attend classes and training sessions to increase your knowledge.
- Hold book clubs at work to develop knowledge, and share terminology, concepts, and team building with coworkers.
- Seek a mentor from a different department that you'd like to explore.
5 Tips for Career Development
Here are additional thoughts about career management and Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti (pictured), Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute and Visiting Scholar in Stanford University's Media X program, recommends five additional career management strategies.
Image Copyright Tracey Wilen-Daugenti
Additional Resources for Career Development
How important are clear performance expectations within an organization or team?
I could make a solid case that without clear performance expectations, nothing else matters...
They align all of the employees behind the stated goals of the organization and determine the utilization of resources in pursuit of company goals. They unify employees in their attention to what matters for the ultimate success of the enterprise.
Every employee wants to feel as if they are working on the right things - tasks that matter in the larger scheme of their organization. This is so important to employees that failure to provide clear direction is the number one failing of a bad boss. Along with bullying behaviors, the themes of poor direction, little feedback, clueless behavior, and failure to reward and recognize employees are frequently the focus of readers' stories about their bad bosses.
Clear performance expectations are implemented via your performance development planning process. Effectively communicated and negotiated, clear performance expectations ensure your success.
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If you work in an organization, you've heard this complaint repeatedly. Leaders and managers say they want change and continuous improvement but their actions do not match their words.
The leaders' exhortations to employees ring false when their subsequent actions contradict their words. A CEO once asked me, "Why do they do what I do and not what I tell them to do?"
Another CEO asked, "Do I really have to change, too?"
These are scary questions coming from leaders. I hope your leaders understand that role modeling the actions or the changes they want to see from other employees is the most powerful training tool your organization posesses.
Take a look at: How to Walk Your Talk.
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More About Management and People
A frequently neglected component of an effective performance management process is employee career development. The opportunity to grow and develop is cited by employees as one of the five factors most important to them in the workplace.
So, a good career development process works to develop staff, retain your best employees, and attract talented people to your organization. Encourage employee career pathing so that each employee takes ownership of his or her career development.
Looking for ideas about how to help employees develop? My popular article provides a myriad of ideas about employee development options. If you've wondered what you can do to develop an employee so that he or she can pursue advanced career options, these ideas will help. So will these 12 ideas about how to provide internal training for your employees' career paths.
Want to encourage more participation in performance evaluation and career pathing and development from your employees? Does your company use a traditional performance appraisal system? Or, does your company pursue a forward thinking performance management process?
Whatever method your company uses for employee career and performance development, consider making an employee self evaluation an integral component in the process. The self evaluation will ensure a conversation at the performance development planning meeting.
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