Why I Don’t Burn Bridges

There have been plenty of reasons for me to totally bad-mouth a manager or organization publicly in my career. I have had managers that have completely lied to me about my career growth. I have had executives flat out ask me to perform illegal activities. I have also had an owner of a company make sexual advances toward me. Thank goodness nothing happened.

Human Resources is a small community. A lot of us know each other and we use each other as sound boards. Sometimes we use each other as therapists. We are the only type of people we can trust. Even then, there are a few bad apples in the HR world. Not many though.

The Reasons I Keep My Mouth Shut

In times of financial crisis, human resources is usually on the chopping block by companies that want to save money during a recession or downturn in the economy. I don’t recommend this because you always have employees and you need someone to guide them. However, when looking for a new job, us HR folks need to use our past employers as references and we don’t want anything and or anyone to jeopardize our future employment.

I have “used” one employer several times due to the industry this company was in. It was and is very helpful in my employment searches even though the CEO lied to me about my future with them and the role I would play. I even found out that the person that replaced me was giving out blatantly false and slanderous references about me. This person is retired now and the CEO has since given me his personal cell number for references going forward. He was a jerk to me and now is one of my biggest cheerleaders.

Try Not to Take it Personal

I know this sounds completely ridiculous and very difficult to pull off but once you have gotten over the “pissed as hell” phase of your separation, use this resource to your advantage. Don’t blast your disdain for the manager on social media, don’t trash talk the organization, and don’t put anything out there that would cause them to sue you. Once you get over the fact that you are not with that company anymore and you see how much happier you are, you will be able to turn that employer into a great resource for your next adventure.

It happens to all of us at least once in our lifetime. Whether or not we were in a bad mental space at the time or it came out of the blue, we have all been terminated. Be the adult. Don’t have an outward temper tantrum. Take the opportunity to try something new or work on a project you didn’t have time for. Visit family out of state. Visit family in state. Take the time to enjoy the town you live in and see something or do something that you always wanted to.

Pivot and Shift

This is one of my closest friends favorite sayings. When you pivot and shift your thinking, you change your attitude and make room for something new in your life. When you dwell on the past and the negative, you never really move through it or move forward. The shift in your behavior and emotions will put you in a new head space. One that will open your eyes to new opportunities. One that will clear the bad clutter and let you come out on top.

Use Your Best Cheerleaders

If you have a go to friend or mentor that helps get you through the tough times. Got to them. Tell them you need help. Tell them you will be there for them when they need it but right now you are suffering and need the boost of confidence only they can give you. They are your unconditional friend. They know you are talented, smart, capable, and worthy of greatness. Let them in and forget the past.

Company Leaders Partnering with HR…It’s About Damn Time.

Partners in Strategic Planning

The most important issue I see now when companies are looking for an HR leader is the ability to be a strategic partner to the executives. We are already strategic by nature so put us at the table and let us help you move the company forward.

How do you feel when you have to wait for something you really, really want? A great culture; engaged, motivated, and enthusiastic employees; and exponential organizational growth.

Who is Responsible?

This type of growth is not just the responsibility of the HR team but a business partnership between the C-Suite, HR Leaders, and Department Heads.

Today I’d like to talk to you about First, the need for HR leaders to be at “the table” alongside the C-Suite during strategic planning, Second, the roles and responsibilities of each team member, and Finally, how the organization and employees benefit from this strategic business partnership.

Innovation

Start-up businesses along with small to mid-size companies need to be fresh and innovative to attract and retain the type of employees that will propel your organization forward to reach the goals you have set. The problem is that most leadership teams only engage their HR leaders when they have hit a snag or need to clean up a mess that has been made.

Human Resource professionals are more than just “benefit enrollers” and “overhead”. The Director and the other team members in human resources are the strategic partners and revenue generators you are looking for. We already think strategically. We are already processing each decision we make to see the trickle-down effects. We do this when writing policies and procedures; visualizing new benefit options; brainstorming recruiting and retention programs; and creating training, development, and succession plans. We hire the employees that are producing or providing the services that create revenue to propel your organization to reach its strategic goals.

This is Important

Human Resource strategic partnership is very important. Do you have a five to ten-year strategic plan for your company? What better way to get moving toward the goals of those plans with the subject matter experts that can help establish the necessary programs and team members to get you there.

  • HR Leaders are tuned into Federal, State, and Local laws that can and will affect your organization.
  • HR Leaders can realistically assist in the budgeting for people, processes and programs. This is especially helpful in a brand new organization as well as businesses that are not so new but need a collective refresh. If the organization wants significant growth, the investment towards technological advances to keep up with that growth will need to be factored in the beginning of the process so the company doesn’t outgrow the technology they currently have. HR will facilitate the needs as the expansion happens with the technology that adapts and upgrades in tandem with the organization.
  • HR Leaders bring to the table, metrics on time-to-hire, cost of recruiting, and turnover to name a few.
  • HR Leaders provide professional development for all employees and leadership training for supervisors, managers, and executives as a tool for retention.

Now Do You See It?

I’m sure you can now see the need for this strategic business partnership with human resources. You might be asking yourself, how can I make sure my HR team can get us to the strategic finish line? Let me tell you.

Best Practices

Here are some best practices for partnering with HR Leadership:

  • Communicate with your executive team about the goals and expansion you are looking for and the type of culture it will take to get you there.
  • Solidify HR as a member of your regular executive strategy meetings.
  • Give HR leadership the resources they will need to build a team to support the success of the organization.
  • Brainstorm ideas of culture, benefits, total rewards packages, and trust that your HR leader knows what they are doing. This is why you hired them in the first place.

Budget resources tactically with the anticipation and expectation that pre-planning and extensive research will catapult your strategy into reality.

It’s Not Rocket Science

You can see that it isn’t difficult to partner with your HR leadership. Let’s look at what may happen if you choose to bring HR into your strategic planning sessions and what may happen if you choose not to.

  • If you do invite your HR leaders to be strategic partners, your organization will be the beneficiary. The culture, processes, policies, and procedures will create the momentum to compliment and expedite the forward progress you are planning on.
  • The problem you face when you don’t have this type of partnership is the lack of additional resources and innovation needed at the forefront of your planning to be the type of organization that stands out and leads the pack rather than be lost in the masses.

Your Most Important Decision

Adding HR leaders to your strategic team will contribute to the success of your company and is the most important decision you will make.

Imagine the workload you might face had you not made this decision to include the HR team in your strategic planning. Think of the satisfaction and benefits this alliance can have for your organization.

Remember that HR leaders are strategic by nature. Your organization should benefit from the innovative leadership created by this new and everlasting partnership.

Is Your Workplace Fabulous or a Flop?

How to Fab up Your Workplace

We want to take a look today at a workplace makeover. Where are some small things you can do to switch things up a bit?

We’re going to take a lesson from these amazing guys on TV that consistently change people’s lives for the better. Secretly, I am in love with all of them!

We’ll go through five distinct areas to see if we can zhoosh up the work environment for your team members. it doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but should be selfless. Something you do just for them.

Decor

Some businesses were decorated years before your current employees came on board. Are you still rockin’ the Beige walls? Is your carpet stained? Is the art reminiscent of 70’s landscapes? Please say it ain’t so!

If you can paint all the walls, do it. bright it up! There are ideas on the internet for chic work spaces for days!

A chic office space can make your employees feel like they work in an important place. Not that is wasn’t important before, but this shows the team that you are invested in the company appearance and a safe, fun place for the team.

If not all the wall, how about the employee lounge to start? Slap that colorful paint on the walls, purchase a nice throw rug, some plants (fake or real) and comfortable seating for rest and break periods.

Wardrobe

Depending on the type of business you have, you might require uniforms. What about a bright new color or style of shirt? A new uniform that is crisp and sharp or what about a fun t-shirt given at a company barbecue. A free gift for working so hard for the organization.

Psychological

Instead of a quarterly all-staff meeting, turn one of them into an employee appreciation event and require all of the executives and directors attend (without their cell phones). Their job is to mingle with all levels of the staff.

Work with your HR team to make sure that your total rewards package and benefits are in check and reflect the needs of the team. Ask your team what they would like to have and see if it fits within your budget. Including the team’s ideas shows them that you call about their needs which in turn, will make them more productive.

Self-Care

This can be added in the total rewards package by making their space comfortable and brightening up the decor.

It also can be that you provide:

* A meal or healthy snacks at work in the break room;

* Gym use (if you have one) or a gym membership in your total rewards package;

* Hairspray, mouthwash, or hand lotion in the lavatories

These are only a few things that you could provide at a minimal cost.

Food

Back to the healthy snack conversation. Instead of donuts every Friday, put out apples, oranges, and mixed nuts (be careful for those with nut allergies). Have potlucks with themes, minding different people’s food styles such as vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, and Gluten free. Veggies and dip is always a hit!

Respecting cultural food styles is also important. Ask your employees what foods are culturally appropriate and those that are not.

These “fabulous” five things can make a world of difference in your organization. Show your team how much they mean to you.

Are You Ghosting Your Applicants?

Ghosting in HR

I’m finding that job candidates are getting ghosted by employers. To me this is unacceptable. At the minimum employers should send the standard email explaining that due to the high volume of applicants not all candidates will be contacted. We thank you for your interest in our company.

This is an appropriate email after someone has chosen to work for you.

Phone Interview Etiquette

If you have done a phone screen on the applicant and you know from their responses, they won’t be moving on to the next round of interviews. At the minimum, human resources should send a rejection email thanking them for their time. You don’t want to explain in too much detail why a candidate didn’t make it to the next round but you should give them the courtesy of a response.

In-Person Interview Etiquette

If you have performed a phone screen and brought the candidate in for an interview with the team, and you aren’t going to be moving the applicant further, call them and let them know in person. If they don’t answer the phone leave a voice mail and be sure to thank them for applying and wish them luck in their search.

The most important thing to contact them. We, as employers, should not be so arrogant to think that this employee is desperate to work for us but they have a choice. We should be grateful they wanted to apply. Ultimately without applicants and candidates who want to work at our organizations, we would be out of business.

Reference Checks

Do me a favor and don’t check references until you have your final two candidates. It is disrespectful to the candidate and to their friends, colleagues, and former supervisors taking the time to perform said references for your organization on behalf of your candidate.

Please don’t waste their precious time doing references on everyone. Save it for the two finalists.

Final Thoughts

Please be respectful of job seekers. They have looked at your posted job description and feel they qualify for it.

They have looked at your company website and feel your organization would be a good fit for them.

They have possibly received a referral from a current employee. Show them why this person would say it’s a good place to work.

Give them the respect they deserve and show them their first great impression of your company.

An Employee Coaching Story

I’ve recently been coaching an employee that has had to endure a plethora of manager changes in a very short period of time.

His first manager who was with the organization for many years started going through a change in his behavior. There was a change in his home life which spilled over into the workplace. This happens to managers as well as employees but when it’s a manager it may be even more disruptive than we think.

This particular manager became disengaged and unfocused putting great pressure on this employee that has long term tenure on the team. It added responsibilities that he normally wasn’t required of him and he found mistakes that he had to figure out how to deal with.

My advice to him was to document the mistakes and behavior and turn that information in to his human resources team member. He was hesitant but ultimately did take my advice.

At this same time, the assistant manager at his store transferred to a different location. The reason: this same manager.

This went on for several months until the organization decided to redistribute the management team to different locations. When this happened a new fresh exciting leader became this employees temporary manager. Of course it was short-lived but in that limited time this leader motivated this particular employee to seek a promotion that was well deserved and long overdue. His friends also encouraged him and as his coach I spent time working with him on his interviewing skills and question responses.

This new found confidence and secure feeling he received from this new manager he aced the interview and earned the promotion. The change in this employees confidence was exponential.

The organization decided to make another change and sent this new manager back to his previous location. Once again the morale of this employee and the rest of the team instantly dropped. My client, having gained this new position really stepped up and took control and responsibility for his team.

More Changes from the Business

The company decided to bring in a new assistant manager. This one only lasted two months, again more upheaval. During this two month period, the company brought in another interim manager, a new second assistant manager and a full time replacement for the initial manager that was moved to a new location. Then the first manager suddenly decided to quit.

Are You Confused Yet?

I write this out in such detail because more than likely a situation like this is happening at other organizations and maybe even yours. What do you think the impact of this is on the morale of the tam? Not only the morale but the feeling of safety and security that all employees require for a work/life balance.

From an outside perspective there were several points of breakdown.

  1. The Regional Manager did not step in and take the concerns of the middle managers seriously. The first manager was not held accountable.
  2. The HR Director was not involved and able to help the regional manager.
  3. The second assistant manager was not held accountable and moved to another location like being swept under the rug.

The only stable person in the scenario is the employee that I coached. A person that has no real authority but is left keeping the location up and running.

What is your organization doing?

Is your company dealing with a communication breakdown like this? If this story made you cringe, I ask you to do a deep dive and make sure your managers are happy, trained and supported. We don’t want to burden our top performers with responsibilities that will lead them to resigning from your company. We want to nurture these team members so they stick around and become the next generation of leaders in your company.

Employment Application Dilemma

Dear Future Employer,

Why do you ask me if I have been terminated, laid off, or resigned and not include an “other” option? I know how important it is to find out so you won’t hire someone in your organization that will wreak havoc or cause problems, but there has to be a better solution or question that can be asked. How about another option for people to use?

Sometimes jobs are not a good fit for the employee.

Sometimes the employee is leaving a toxic manager or environment.

Sometimes employees are not a good fit for the organization.

Sometimes employees are asked to do things that are in opposition of their personal and business values and morals.

This is the tough one. What happens if an employee was asked to do something illegal and wouldn’t do it? Is that insubordination? It could be seen as such, but in my opinion it isn’t. There are toxic work environments and shady leaders out there and we must be mindful of them and the employees that work in them and for them.

Certain positions require the utmost ethical and moral behavior. When it is tested you must prevail with your ethics intact. The problem is, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you give in to the request of the leader, then you risk having it backfire on you and end up being thrown under the bus when shit goes sour. If you don’t give in to the request you end up getting terminated. This is where looking for a new job is difficult.

So, I ask you first….PLEASE stop asking people to do things that are not legal, moral, or ethical. Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Just don’t.

When we answer truthfully that we have been terminated on your form, don’t use this as a reason to not bring forward for an interview. Instead provide us with a drop down comment section to write something that will give us a chance to explain and ease your mind at the same time. This will provide you the ability to ask more questions when you interview us. Remember too, we may be under legal documents that prevent us from saying anything against our former employer (release documents). That doesn’t mean that we are bad employees. That doesn’t mean that we are trouble makers. It could mean the employer had something to hide and this was the easiest way to deal with it. If you read the information we provide and you deem it to be legitimate then you already have a glimpse of the person you are thinking of bringing into your organization and the higher standards they strive for. Don’t you all want an upstanding employee with high integrity? I surely do.

Think of it this way, can you imagine how hard it must be for them to have lost a job for doing the right thing? For following the law? For standing up?

So future employer, not only should you update your applications with legal items, you should update this termination question section too. Please do the right thing.

Signed, Everyone.

Hot Topic: Diversity and Inclusion

I would like to have a conversation with you. Show of hands…How many of you feel that your organization is diverse and inclusive?

How many of you have had training on it?

Today we’re going to discuss ideas of what you can do for your white employees and your employees of color.

One of the most awkward things you’ll be hearing from me are the words “white people”. Yes, I know its cringe worthy but it has to become normal because white people are in the majority of roles such as managers, supervisors, and executives. Even the majority of most organizations.

Fortune 500 magazine wrote that white men account for 72% of corporate leadership. 73% of the senior executives of men and women are white. The rest are 21% Asian, 2% Black, 6% Two or more races, 2% Native American, and 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. This is just a look at only 16 of the 500 Fortune 500 companies that reported.

Most would say that HR is responsible for leading diversity efforts. It takes more than just HR. It involves management and the C-Suite to be motivated diversity leaders.

Why is this so important?

So how do we show the leadership why this is so important? Education. We need to really learn the history of how institutional racism began in our country around 300 years ago. Once you have shown the history of how the white man has oppressed people of color and not just by slavery, we can see how ingrained it is in our daily lives.

It is important to teach your entire team because it honestly isn’t what we learned in school and from my experience, depending on where you grew up, the history lessons varied greatly. My team members were shocked at our country’s history and stated that they never learned in school what we were taught during this training.

So after we learned the history of institutional racism what do we do to fix it? Well let me say in our lifetime we will not fix it no matter how hard we want to and believe me you will want to. If this has been going on for 300 years, how can we expect to fix it overnight.

Here is what we can do.

We can create an atmosphere and attitude of inclusion that creates an environment at work that you can be proud of. You can change your recruiting processes. Are you recruiting for diversity? I know you want to hire the best person for the job. So are you making sure the opportunity is open to all people and gathering a diverse pool of candidates to choose from? Committees: Do you have a diversity and inclusion committee? Is there a specific goal that the committee is trying to reach? Is the committee following the mission and vision of the organization?

Mission and Vision

Is your company’s mission and vision inclusive? That’s a big question. We have talked about company culture before and how the mission and vision needs to be easily stated by your team. So answer this question? If you asked your team members if they felt that your organization is diverse and inclusive would their answer be what you are looking for? Maybe it’s time for a complete overhaul.

I want this to be a thought provoking article. It is only a little bit of information of what you can do. I want you to look at your organization and see if you can mix it up and do at least one thing differently. Hire a diversity consultant. Hire a diversity director. Organize a committee. Change your recruitment strategy. Just make a change for the better and keep going. Keep changing, keep getting better. If you show your employees, customers, and vendors that you are pro-diversity then others will follow suit. More and more companies will do what you are doing. Every little bit helps. Diversity and Inclusion is not something that every stops. You must keep working on it. Every. Single. Day.