post

Employee Performance Plans that Actually Work

Employee Performance Plans That Actually Work

Employee Performance Plans that Actually Work

I don’t know a single leader who enjoys dealing with employee performance issues. Few things are more frustrating in a business setting than an employee who is either not performing or who has behavioral issues. It is an area where experience doesn’t really make it easier.

Yet, every leader, at some point or another, has an employee they have to coach and discipline.

Progressive disciplinary policies are common among organizations of all sizes. Most employee performance issues do not warrant immediate termination so policies are put in place to give employees an opportunity to improve. These policies vary but they usually have multiple steps that could include verbal warnings, performance improvement plans, written warnings, suspension, and eventual termination.

Out of all steps I believe the performance improvement plan may be the most crucial. If done well, and early, a performance improvement plan can map out the exact performance or behavior that the employer is not happy with, outline the behavior that is expected and give the employee a clear path to improvement. Unfortunately many performance improvement plans fall short of being worth the paper they are written on.

Here are our guidelines for performance improvement plans that we think actually help improve performance.

Timing:
The biggest mistake leaders make when trying to improve performance is waiting too long. The longer poor performance or bad behavior goes on, the harder it is to fix. By the time the employee is told about the issue, the leader is so frustrated they have no patience left to try to help the employee overcome. All employee issues should be dealt with as soon as they creep up. For this reason we recommend employees receive verbal coaching as often as the opportunity allows. In weekly one on ones or regular performance meetings, employees should be cautioned about any issue that may create problems down the road if they continue.

Then, after that same issue has been coached on multiple occasions, it’s time to get serious. If regular performance discussions are happening, the time between first coaching and performance plan should be relatively short.

Complete Plan:
The second biggest mistake that leaders make when delivering performance improvement plans is only delivering half the plan – the employee portion. Leaders sit an employee down, tell them what they are doing wrong, tell them to fix it and ask them to sign the form. This leaves the employee feeling as though they are on their own and probably have one foot out the door so why bother even trying.

A complete performance improvement plan follows this outline:

Description, with recent examples, of undesired behavior.
Description of desired behavior.
Why desired behavior is important to the business.
How leader is going to help employee improve.
Milestones to improvement.
Next steps and check in dates.
Consequences for not improving.
Employee opportunity to comment.

The piece in italics is the most crucial. Hopefully all leaders want employees to improve. If so, they should be willing to do their part to help employees turn the issue around. Including this in the documentation provides accountability for the leader to ensure they are offering support and assistance as needed.

The Discussion:
Discussing performance issues with employees really is an art form. I’m not convinced there is only one right way to do it. I think it depends on the employee/leader relationship, the communication style of both and the egregiousness of the issue to be discussed. Here’s what I do think should be consistent regardless of style – preparation. Nothing is worse for an employee than feeling like they have just been the victim of a drive by where their leader vomited a bunch of bad news on them and then left.

Leaders should take time to think about the personality of the employee and how they will best receive the information. They should think about framing their words in a way that the employee will be able to hear and understand what is being communicated while, and this is key, being motivated to fix it. The discussion should take as long as is needed for the employee to walk out of the room focused on the issue at hand and understanding what they need to do to fix it.

Dealing with performance issues is a necessary task for most leaders. They are best dealt with swiftly and directly before they grow into something larger than they ever needed to be. Done correctly, they can often steer employees onto a better path, and if they don’t, at least the leader can say they tried to help and the onus for failure lies with the employee.

Managing Human Resources in a Small Business? Join Our Mailing List for Our Best Content Designed for You.


post

Small Thinking that Holds Small Businesses Back

Our motto at Acacia HR Solutions is that small businesses can do anything big businesses can do – they only have to know how to scale. Often, when I say that to people I get a nod in agreement. I’ve learned however, that nodding in agreement and believing are two very different things.

I spoke to a group of HR practitioners at the California HR conference last week. I had an inordinate amount of small business HR leaders in the room. I consider small business to be 250 employees or less. Most of these practitioners were HR Departments of One or leaders with only an admin or one other support person not solely dedicated to HR. One of the slides in the presentation talks about technology and how lack of technology for small business is no longer a valid excuse for not functioning like a business partner. While the small business market is still an under served market in the HR tech space, it’s so much better than it was even 10 years ago. With freemium and monthly subscription options, there is tech out there that even the smallest of budgets can afford.

Whenever I say this in this presentation, the questions immediately come back asking me for a list of resources. I push back and ask why they haven’t researched any of this themselves and the answer often remains the same.

We assumed there wasn’t anything out there we could afford.

This, and two other beliefs held by small businesses, hold leaders back from being able to serve the business in the way they should. The idea that small businesses can’t do the same things as big businesses is rubbish. They may not be able to do it as fast or at the same level, but that’s not the same as not doing it. Further, small businesses often don’t need to do things at the same level as big business because doing so would be overkill. A performance management system with 18 steps and triggers using artificial intelligence is just not necessary in a 72 person firm.

Small businesses get stuck because they believe there is nothing they can do until they get bigger. Until they have a larger budget. Until they have more resources. Let’s explore three beliefs based on this idea that hold small businesses back, starting with the one I already mentioned.

Lack of Budget Means No Technology/Resources
As mentioned, HR tech available to small businesses is growing. There are companies in nearly every category; payroll, ATS, HCM, documentation and more that either cater solely to small businesses or are lowering their minimum employee numbers allowing small businesses to buy at a much earlier stage. I will be doing an entire series or ebook (yet to be determined) on HR Tech for small businesses to be released around the time of the HR Technology conference (join our mailing list below to receive those posts before they go public).

The same is true for resources. I will often have HR leaders from a 150 employee business reach out and say, “we probably can’t afford your help, but I wanted to ask anyway” only find out that they can in fact, afford our services. Depending on need, and the fact that we work solely in this space, we can usually work within the budget available. There are resources like us available for small businesses that are affordable.

Because We Are Small, We Don’t Need X
In speaking to a potential client recently, I went over how our services provides small businesses a complete HR team. That is, working with us is like having a Chief Human Resources Officer, generalist and recruiter on your team. The CFO responded with, “but I don’t think we need all that.” When I explained how it works, he realized he did need all that and actually could afford it.

This way of thinking is the easiest to fall into. I do it myself with my own business. We’re small so I don’t need an ATS, I can just use spreadsheets. We’re small so we don’t need admin support, our (insert random employee here) can handle it.

The reality is being small doesn’t mean you don’t need certain infrastructure and support systems in place. And being small is definitely not a reason to delay building or growing the people side of the business.

Size is a Disadvantage Instead of an Advantage
I hear this one most when discussing recruiting challenges. “We are small so we can’t pay the most and our benefits aren’t that great so we have a hard time hiring.” If you think that your size is a disadvantage, it’s going to be. There are many candidates who want to work in a small business environment. Many who thrive on the chaos of a startup. If leaders focus on the advantages that small businesses offer instead of the negative, their recruiting and retention programs would change forever.

Again I’ll say and forever I’ll stand by the idea that small businesses, can in fact, do anything big businesses can do. I do have to preach to the choir a bit because I catch myself thinking some of these things myself. But I know when I think about what I can do with the budget and resources I have and that are available to me, I can make it happen.

And so can your business.

 

Managing Human Resources in a Small Business? Join Our Mailing List for Our Best Content Designed Just for You.


post

What You Want Employees to Say When They Leave

Scrolling through LinkedIn lately I’ve seWhat You Want Employees to Say When They Leaveen a number of posts marking someone’s last day with their current company. The post, often of someone moving on to another opportunity, are appreciative of the opportunity they had, grateful for the relationships they forged and overall very positive. The comments on the post from current co-workers and leaders are more of the same. They share their sadness over the person leaving and congratulations for the new opportunity. And every time I see it, I think the same thing.

That’s really the way you want someone to go.

Before the cynics jump in, I completely realize that for every one of those positive exits there are many more negative ones. I know that employees don’t always leave on good terms, but this post is about how you want employees to leave so I’m going to focus on that.

Employees take on new opportunities for all sorts of reasons. Sure the statement about people leaving their leaders is mostly true, but my time spent every week recruiting tells me that often people aren’t looking to leave. They aren’t dissatisfied in their current role, but something intriguing came along and they jumped on it. Many times throughout my day, a person I reached out to with an opportunity will say, “I’m not really looking now, but this does sound interesting”. They then go down the path of pursuing an opportunity not because they are dissatisfied in their current role, but simply because the timing is right for them and the opportunity allows them to move forward in their career or work on something they wouldn’t get the opportunity to in their current role.

Sometimes it isn’t about a poor working relationship with their manager or dissatisfaction with the business, but simply the right opportunity at the right time. And when it is, that employee leaving a positive note on social media about your company is amazing branding. It also may serve as great advertising that a position is open.

As I think about what I would want employees leaving my company to share, a few things come to mind. I want them to share that…

Their decision to leave had nothing to do with leadership or dissatisfaction, but one of opportunity.

They felt supported, challenged and appreciated while working for my company.

They are sad to be leaving so many great colleagues including leadership behind.

If the door were ever open for them to return and the opportunity made sense, they would do so in a heartbeat.

These are the things that speak to people these days. Pay, benefits, flex work and promotional opportunities are always important, but what people gravitate to now are places that check the boxes above. People are more willing to exchange more money for feeling valued. The highest paying environments, that are also the most toxic, are not as appealing as they once were.

I believe statements like this, when employees leave, are powerful. They are also powerful from current employees and the more you can accumulate the better. Now the question of how to make sure this is what employees say is a whole other blog post -or series – or leadership development program. But knowing what we want them to say is a good start.

Managing HR or Recruiting in a small business? Join our mailing list to get survival tips delivered to your inbox.


 

post

Does Your Business Need a Social Media Policy

Does Your Business Need a Social Media PolicyOur team spends a lot of time writing and revising handbooks. Many of our clients come to us with no handbook in place or one that hasn’t been updated in several years. For this process we have a standard list of policies that should be in every handbook and then we have a few policies we ask the client to consider based on business, industry or culture.

One policy that usually generates conversation is the social media policy. Our clients usually find themselves in one of two schools of thoughts about social media. They either don’t care entirely and want no policy in place or they want to lock it all down and make sure employees are never on social media at work.

We prefer a policy somewhere in the middle couple with training on effective use.

The reality is employees are going to be on social media. You can lock your work computers down from accessing Facebook or Twitter, but you can’t lock down their personal devices. Social media, like taking a smoke break, has become a routine part of most people’s day and locking it down only make them find some other way to do it. At the same time, giving employee’s free reign, in some environments, can lead to lost productivity or situations where social media is used inappropriately creating larger issues for the company.

Further, as I’ve talked about many times on this blog, small businesses may need their employees to help spread the word about hiring or branding initiatives and locking the networks down only prohibits advertising that could help the company. Your best brand ambassadors are often your current employees and if their social networks are active, you want them talking about your company.

Our compromise is to create a policy that speaks to proper usage of social media. We point out that social media should not take the place of other work being done, but that when time permits we encourage employees to use social media and talk about the company (positively) when the situation allows. The policy highlights a few areas that the company wants their employees talking about; recruiting, fun employee events, big initiatives the company is working on. It also shares areas where social media is not the proper outlet; employee grievances, intellectual property, anything covered by a non-disclosure.

We encourage employers to go over this policy and add training tidbits during employee onboarding. Training employees on the proper use, what will and will not be tolerated can reap major benefits for companies wanting to allow for social connection, but mitigate the risk of that connection causing headaches.

Social media is not an area where an all or nothing approach is the only option. There is middle ground that can and should be found for both parties. Companies recruiting on social can’t expect those employees hired through social channels to live for a locked down social media policy.

Admittedly, I do have clients who still think social media is unnecessary, do not have a social presence as a company and therefore want a completely locked down policy. I can honestly say that in the last two years those companies are and few between and those who used to think this way are starting to change their mind as their marketing departments get more and more involved with social. For the companies still in the social media dark ages, I tell them a prohibitive policy is legal, but don’t expect employees to follow it. Also, expect it to be the first place employees go with grievances because chances are good the company without any presence won’t see it anyway right? It may be legal, but isn’t realistic.

Modeling the behavior you want to see on social, training employees on proper use and having a policy that protects you when things do turn negative is the approach we have seen work time and time again. Middle ground, in this instance, is the best place to be.

Managing HR or Recruiting in a small business? Join our mailing list to get survival tips delivered to your inbox.


 

post

Create a Robust Benefits Package That Makes (Most) Everyone Happy

Create a Robust Benefits Package that Makes (Most) Everyone HappyIn today’s world, people want a variety of benefit offerings from their employers- in fact they pretty much expect it.

Companies used to be considered great employers if they offered decent pay and medical benefits, but that is not the case anymore.  Employees are looking for employers who have the same values as them and therefore make offerings that meet their individual needs. They want more flexible work environments and therefore flexible benefits packages. For example, millennials strife with overwhelming college debt, may be interested in student loan payback benefits. Boomers and Gen X may be  more interested in 401(k) vesting schedules or long term care benefits.

Being an employer that has a robust benefits package doesn’t have to be daunting or bankrupt your business either.  Offering a benefit doesn’t necessarily mean you have to foot the bill.  If you get the right mix of plans it will also help your business stand out and recruit top talent.

So where to start? Here are a few simple steps to help you get started towards a more robust benefit offering.

Create a Benefit Survey

How do you know what people want for benefits if you do not periodically check in with them? While you may already know your benefit offerings for 2018, your may want to schedule a benefit survey for the end of Q1 next year. Ask questions to get a pulse of how your employees feel open enrollment went (the good and the bad). During this time, also ask some direct questions about the current benefit offerings and rank how important this is to them. If copays are the most important, that should be the last benefit you touch and make negative changes to.  After you get some info on the current state, throw in some new benefits the organization are considering. If your employee base is older, they may not find any value in student loan payback benefits. If your population is younger they may be really interested in pet insurance or maternity/paternity benefits. A simple survey can get you those answers and help you offer new plans that really add value and aren’t just another administrative headache.

Get Quotes and Plan Information

After you have conducted a survey and know what benefits your employees are interested in, start researching what is out there from different providers. Get as many quotes as you can and start reviewing networks and payouts. Many times employers feel like they can’t offer certain benefits because of cost. Remember, they are called voluntary benefits for a reason, and employees don’t really expect employers to pay for pet insurance or universal life, they just want to have the ability to enroll in them and therefore are happy to pay the cost.

If you are taking a look at current offerings, begin talking with your broker about options for the next plan year as soon as results of your survey are back. Make them aware you want to see some costs of changing the plans based on the feedback you received. Maybe your employees thinks their co-insurance is too high, or they want more contributions to their HSA.  This allows you to price out some options and start analyzing the impact on the bottom line. Maybe you make some, all or no changes.

Make a Decision and Rollout

Once you have reviewed all the plan designs including costs and ease of administration, get the right players together and make a decision of what you should add. If you need Finance’s help to reconcile bills make sure you get their buy-in.  Also, be sure to think about the number of plans you want to add. Too many options and you may not get the enrollment numbers you were hoping for and the rollout may flop.

Finally, get together a rollout timeline. For new benefits, you may not want to wait until the next open enrollment and instead would prefer to do something in the summer so you can properly communicate it.  For other standard benefits like medical and dental you may be required to wait unless you want to amend the plan, so it may make sense to look at the numbers and make changes for the upcoming plan year.

And after all is said and done, make sure you communicate that these new plans/changes came from the survey feedback to tie it all together. You might not make everyone happy, but at least MOST employees will know that you take their feedback seriously and a little of that will go along way.

 

post

Get Your Employees Excited and Engaged About Open Enrollment

Get Your Employees Excited and Engaged About Open EnrollmentAcacia HR’s Christine Kopp is getting you ready for Open Enrollment in today’s post.

That’s right, the title says get your employees EXCITED and ENGAGED about open enrollment this year. I know it’s August, but now is the time to start planning for open enrollment. Hopefully you have already met a time or two concerning your plan performance with either a broker or TPA and you likely are in wait mode until you get your final quotes in.

So instead of waiting until the last minute to plan everything, start putting together a strategy. I know I probably got a few eye rolls on the engaging part but it’s true. Instead of passing out the proverbial memo or sending a bunch of emails that no one is reading, make open enrollment something employees can get excited about. (Even if there isn’t much to be excited about these days)

With the ever-changing climate of Healthcare Reform and the Affordable Care Act’s future, employees are more engaged in their benefits than ever. Use this to your advantage to really sell all that you do for your employees around their benefits. Its also a great time to make employees feel like you are listening to them, even if listening is all next years budget allows for- and trust me I’ve been there! Here are a few ways that you can make this year’s open enrollment smooth and engaging:

Get ahead of the changes- good and bad

So maybe your plan experienced high claims and your renewal is out the roof.  The company can’t take on more cost so something has to give, hello rate increases and plan changes. Employees may not like it, but they will understand if you explain to them the why part. Understanding the why behind the changes is especially important with the millennial bunch, but really, who doesn’t want to know why the changes are occurring.

Take the guess work out of what is changing by putting together a comparison sheet that explains the changes to co-insurance or co-pays.  People will get upset no matter what, but explaining that you started with a 40% increase to the premiums and got it down to 15% by making changes at least helps people understand that you weren’t some heartless HR person who doesn’t care about employees. (okay, maybe that was just me called that) Don’t let open enrollment disengage employees, instead rally your message about we are in this crazy open enrollment thing together.

Communicate

Yes, you must talk to your employees and even if you have less than stellar news to share, please, I beg you, do not hide in your office all of open enrollment!  You laugh, but I would have HR generalists who would call out sick most of open enrollment or sit behind locked doors on conference calls the entire day and people would be gathered around the door!  I know your other duties aren’t stopping because it’s open enrollment.  If you can’t handle large crowds outside your door schedule time to hang out in the break room to take questions. Just be sure to cover all shifts.

Don’t forget to make sure the communication is consistent and often. Most employees feel like they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision during open enrollment. I used to put together a communications plan including exactly what, when and how we were going to communicate to employees. Share this plan with  your management and operations teams. Define the key messages about the changes and how you want questions handled. I always preferred them to be sent to HR but if you are an HR department of one that might not be an option, so get your managers answering questions how you want them answered.

If you have a communications team, use them. I don’t know about you but I am hardly creative. To me typing something in Comic Sans MS constitutes a fun communication to me. If you use a brokerage firm, see what services they offer, don’t forget, you are paying them commissions.  Smaller broker firms may not offer much else but larger ones may be able to help you draft some communications. And finally, If none of those are an option, there are companies out there who specializes in employee benefit communications. The possibilities are endless.

Make it fun! 

So I promised you that we would talk about getting your employees excited for open enrollment.  I had some employees who couldn’t wait to get into the employee portal and review and make changes. Some call them early adopters… or but to me they were my favorite employees. But not everyone is this enthusiastic about open enrollment, and if you are dealing with a lot of changes that could be perceived as negative you would want to take more of a empathetic tone. You are dealing with many types of employees who want to receive their information in different forms so give it to them. Some want videos, some want one on one time and others just want a newsletter and left alone. Offer lots of variety to keep them engaged.

If you are looking for some fun ideas, try playing some games like benefit bingo during a meeting or watch some funny (yet appropriate) videos that go with your open enrollment theme. If your employees don’t have much use for fun you can still make information interesting and engaging.  If you are sending out a newsletter put in some extra credit questions hidden in it. Then instruct employees to submit their answers to HR and be placed in a drawing for a semi-fabulous prize to see if they read it.  If you have group chats send out one to two sentences about a specific benefit, SMS texting works great for this too. And don’t forget the visual. Posters, postcards are all great, but if you are trying to be more green, change your company screen savers with some information about open enrollment.

Hopefully this post will get you thinking about doing a couple of new and engaging things to refresh your open enrollment. Remember this is a time to showcase what you do offer your employees. Make them excited about the good stuff, have fun where you can and most importantly help them understand why there are changes.

 

 

post

Manager Mistakes that Could Cost Your Small Business

Manager Mistakes that Could Cost Your Small BusinessLeading people is tricky. Not only do you have to get the work done, but you have to deal with different personalities and characteristics that can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Top all of that off with legal compliance and managers can feel as though they are walking through a minefield every day.

Because leaders are human beings, they are going to make mistakes. They are not always going to get it right when it comes to interacting with their people. Most of those mistakes can be overcome. Some may take a while, but if diligent, a good leader can overcome. Some of those mistakes however, can be financially costly. Here is our short list of manager mistakes that could cost your small business big money.

In the Interview:
A classic line I heard from a leader once who I was chastising for asking about marital status in an interview was, “It’s only bad if they sue us.” While that’s true, someday, someone will and then what? The law is very specific about what can’t be asked in an interview. Crossing the line here will be costly at one point or another. Leaders need specific interview training the minute they assume a leadership role. Company’s can not assume that the questions not to ask are common sense. I have seen leaders with tons of common sense ask questions they shouldn’t and not realize they were crossing a line. Anytime a new law like the salary history law comes up, leaders should be aware and given appropriate ways to have the conversation in accordance with the new regulation.

Employee Relations Issues:
Handling employee performance issues and employee complaint properly is crucial to the success of any business. Not doing so can be financially detrimental, especially to a small business. In 2016, 45% of all claims handled by the EEOC were for retaliation. If you look further down the list you’ll see areas that could have been avoided with proper leadership training and appropriate handling of employee relations issues. Now certainly, some of these cases are frivolous and ended in favor of the employer, but they still had to bare the cost of defending the suit and that can sometimes be costly enough in and of itself.

Classifying Employees Incorrectly:
For a while now, the issues of exempt, non-exempt, employee or independent contractor has been a thorn in the side of employers. Employees who are classified as salaried in an effort to avoid paying overtime may be due tremendous amounts of back payment if found to be classified improperly. Independent contractors who should be classified as employees can be due not only back pay but all other rights employees are afforded such as benefits or payment for time off. Small businesses should check with a knowledgeable resource whenever creating a new position to ensure it is classified properly. If there is any doubt that current employees are classified correctly, a full audit should be conducted.

Inconsistency:
Closely related to dealing with employee relations issues is inconsistency in word and deed. This inconsistency could manifest in the way one employee is treated over another or by a handbook that highlights benefits employees actually do not receive. Inconsistent behavior, however it presents itself, is an easy gateway for a lawsuit. Handbooks should be reviewed annually to ensure they are up to date and leaders should be trained on focusing on equality and consistent behavior.

As mentioned several times throughout this article, the key to avoiding many of these costly mistakes is proper training. If your company does not have some level of leadership development program, or at a minimum, a leadership orientation, then one should be considered. Any one of these issues can be taken to the point that can be financially crippling for a small business.

At the same time, these are issues that can be easily mitigated with the right processes in place. It is one of those areas that the time it takes to ensure compliance and consistency is much less than the time it takes to defend the reverse. It’s time well spent for any business.

Managing HR or Recruiting in a small business? Join our mailing list to get survival tips delivered to your inbox.


post

What It Means to Think Big as a Small Business

What it Means to Think Big as a Small Business

I’ve been using this tag line of “small business who think big” for just under a year now. I took some time last year to really understand my target audience and focus my work and thought that best defines the clients I want to work with. It seems to be resonating because when potential clients reach out they often mention how they really like that line and thought it fit them well.

And then they ask me what it means.

Funny isn’t it how something can speak to us, but then we wonder if it means the same to us as it was intended? Over lunch last week a new acquaintance asked what I did. I gave her the tagline and she, quite enthusiastically (which I don’t think was feigned) said she really liked that….and then asked me what it meant.

I told her and realized that maybe it would be worth sharing with you. I’ve explained it on the website, but never through the blog, where most of you meet me. So here’s the story.

When this business first began I hadn’t really defined my target market. I always tell people to ask how I got started to never, ever, start a business like I did. I had no idea what I was doing, did not do any of the conventional things that people tell you to do (like you know, have an actual plan) and somehow stumbled and fumble into a growing business.

In the beginning, I would take almost any project. I knew I wanted to focus on small businesses, but that’s about all I knew and very early on most small businesses only wanted me to write a handbook or be someone they could call to talk through a termination. All of those things are necessary, but not indicative of businesses who think big. With these clients I would deliver on the service they asked for and then talk to them about other things. For the client who only wanted a handbook, I would ask them what message they wanted the handbook to send. What policies did we absolutely need and what could we leave out. For the business that wanted an employee termination hotline I would ask them to think about leadership training or better onboarding so that we could maybe come to the place of termination a little less often. And often I would be met with the same response.

“Sabrina, that’s all great, but that’s big business stuff. We are too small to worry about that right now or put any of that in place. It will just change when we grow anyway.”

I would get so frustrated thinking about what they could do. I would try to explain that setting those things up now would be easier than doing it when they were big.

About two years in, I received a call from a potential client for onboarding help. He had 14 employees, but had just received his second round of funding and would be adding nearly 40 more in the coming year. He wanted to get all of the “HR stuff” setup, but most importantly really wanted to talk about onboarding. He felt that he needed to start these 40 employees off right and wanted to establish a process for future growth.

I was in love. In a total, business sense of course.

I decided right then and there that these would be the clients I chose to work with going forward. Not that I would write a handbook or be on call for term issues, I still do those things, but I do them with businesses who also care about setting up, what have been traditionally held as big business issues even though they are still small.

Things like onboarding.

Culture.

Leadership Development.

Employee Development.

Branding.

Workforce strategy.

I know it’s hard to think about some of this stuff when you are just trying to get a business off the ground, but I firmly believe it’s even harder when that business is grown and some of these things have created themselves – and not in the manner the leader would have intended.

Or worse, you find out way to late that your business is behind the competition and can not compete for talent because some of these human capital strategy areas weren’t addressed.

So a business who thinks big is a business who realizes, regardless of employee population, they can still think about and focus on advanced human capital concepts. They think about how they want the business to look in five, ten or twenty years when the population size may be double, triple or more and decide what they want things to look like then and put practices in place now to make sure they do.

They are businesses who realize that regardless of whether they have one employee or 2000, they are the spirit of the business, the thing that keeps customers coming back for more. They realize it and let that drive their strategy from day one.

Thinking big as a small business means not limiting your actions to the size you are now, but the size you can be.

And those are the small businesses I most want to work with.

Join our Community! Exclusive Content and a Weekly Digest of Blog Posts Delivered to Your Inbox!

* indicates required



Send me information about…..


 

Photo Credit

post

Leading Employees with a High Need for Drama

Leading Employees with a High Need for DramaAs a mother, I can tell you that within a short time after birth you get a sense of whether your child will be a high drama child or more relaxed. As the mother of a kindergartner I can tell you that by the time all children turn five they are fully entrenched in their need, or lack thereof, for drama.

Luckily I have a low drama kid.

What’s unfortunate about that need for drama is that rather than leave it behind during our school age years, it simply ingrains itself into who we are and we carry that into the workplace.

And some of us have a very high need for drama.

I bet you are already thinking of someone before I even describe them. That individual who has some traumatic event happen at least once a week. That person who turns every molehill into a mountain. That individual who seems to thrive off of things being a little bit cray cray at all times.

Do people still say cray cray?

Psychologist Scott Frankowski worked with one of these individuals years ago and thought that there had to be some underlying trait that made these people, as he put it, “sincerely believe that their lives are laden with gigantic problems, no matter how small the problems actually are”. So he created a scale to measure a person’s need for drama. You can see where you fall on the test here. I’ll wait.

If you’re wondering my need for drama is extremely low. I really can’t stand unnecessary drama.

I kind of love this scale and wonder if it doesn’t have its place as a pre-employment assessment. I mean, as a leader, I’m thinking it would be helpful to know whether that person you are about to hire is the biggest drama queen to ever walk this earth.

But until they find a way to validate it and prove it’s worth, we’ll just have to be surprised.

So what do we do when we find out we are dealing with the overly dramatic. How do we lead an employees whose life is moving from one crisis to the next? How do we help others, especially with a low drama scale, work with those who are always on the edge of disaster?

Realize You Aren’t Likely to Change Them
The more scientist study those with a high need for drama, the more they realize that it is a deeply embedded trait and one not likely to be changed without professional help. As a leader, we are highly unlikely to be able to offer the type of help they need to make that change. What’s more we aren’t qualified nor have the time, so changing them should not be a goal.

Don’t Feed the Drama:
We can’t change their need for drama, but we don’t have to feed it. I have a few highly dramatic family members. We all do right? I’ve recently had to instruct others who deal with these family members to not feed into the drama. We can call these family members, do our duty as a family member to check in, but the minute the conversation gets to a dramatic level, we can move on. If everyone is feeding into it, it will consume everyone’s time.

That may mean that it’s better to limit the personal conversations or extra interactions with this person. That isn’t to say ignore them, but don’t ask questions that you know are going to lead to dramatic stories that have no relevance to the work at hand. This is good advice to give co-workers as well if they find themselves taking unwanted rides on the drama express.

Focus on the Good:
There are likely many things this person does well. As a leader we have to separate situations and actions from the person. We need to be able to exploit the good and minimize the bad. It is a key characteristic of any successful leader. This focus will be increasingly important when dealing with an overly dramatic individual.

Drama queens (which isn’t a title reserved for the ladies by the way) may be some of the hardest individuals to lead because no amount of feedback or help are going to change the core of who they are. Their ability, and need really, to turn every situation into a day time soap opera can be very trying for everyone around them. Yet, they have valuable traits that they bring to the workplace and have a place on any team.

Have you led a drama queen? How did you learn to work with that person? What are some things you did to make it better?

Photo Credit

post

Handling the Anonymous Complaint

Handling the Anonymous Complaint

I wanted to follow yesterday’s post with the worst, and sometimes most confusing, type of complaint for leaders to deal with. The anonymous one.

It is the letter, email, scribble on a napkin, Facebook message from a made up name that shares something sinister going on at the company where the writer refuses to share who they are or how they know this information. Anonymous complaints can be difficult to deal with because you have no idea if they are from a current employee, former employee or well-meaning friend of one of the two. You have no idea if the intent is genuine or malicious. You may have no idea how to even begin to investigate depending on the amount of info they have given.

I was visiting a site once and stepped away from my computer to use the restroom. When I came back a torn off piece of paper laid covered my screen that simply said, “someone in the center is stealing money”. Um ok. There are 300+ people in this building and that isn’t much to go on. Let’s file that away in the “I’m a good HR person so I won’t throw it away, but I’m not going to take it too seriously file.”

Still some anonymous complaints are valid and could alert leaders to a serious issue going on inside the company. So how do you know the difference and how do you work through what should be done, if anything, with an anonymous complaint.

Let’s talk through it.

First, I always tell employees they have the right to remain anonymous. I will not force them to give me information they are uncomfortable with – sometimes that is their name. However, I let them know that remaining anonymous or refusing to give me names of people who can corroborate their story may make it difficult for me to actually do anything. If they really want to affect change they should trust me to handle it in a way that will allow them to share information while not feeling retaliated against (which is almost always illegal by the way).

If that doesn’t persuade them I let them go on with their complaint. I take notes on what they share and depending on the topic may probe further again asking for others who can corroborate. If the complaint is a venting session about their or other leaders in the company, I listen, take notes and then thank them for their time. If their issue is part of a pattern of behavior that we have been seeing or is a good training topic anyway, I may put together some information around the topic to send to leadership. If not, and there’s really nothing to follow up on, I just file my notes away in case something else comes up.

If the complaint is much more serious, such as sexual harassment, I probe until I think I have enough to follow up on. Then I would follow a normal investigation procedure to determine if something serious was going on and take the appropriate steps to correct it. Often someone who wanted to remain anonymous will end up giving you something in the way of names if you remind them that the issue is a serious one but unless you know more you can’t do anything about it.

Of course all of this is if the complaint is called in. If it is a letter or some other form of communication you may not even be able to do any of this, but simply decide if there is anything actionable at all.

I always document like crazy and even write in any advice I gave. I notify the appropriate leaders of the complaint and what we need to do, if anything. Sometimes the anonymous complaint lives and dies with that one interaction. Other times, that one complaint opens the flood gates for others and then you really have something to work on.

To summarize, often, there isn’t much you can do with an anonymous complaint. You can take the information and act on anything possible, but ultimately you may just have to put it in the “in case I need it later” file. However, if the complaint is of serious nature it is important to keep probing or investigating until you find out what truth there is. This can be done by talking to others in the department or to leadership.

However, the complaints come in, a proper grievance procedure is absolutely necessary and will help employees understand how to lodge a complaint and the process from there.

Find Out How We Can Help!
If your concerned your business isn’t handling employee grievances properly, let us show you how we can help. Fill in your email below and we will send you info about how we seamlessly provide this service just as we were a member of your staff.

Photo Credit