Is Your Manager a Vacation Grinch?


For most Americans, looking forward to vacation is part of the way they cope with their work environment. If you work for a wacky company, or a dipstick manager, vacation may be your only solace from the insanity and you look forward to the eventual escape.

Some managers hate to allow staff to go on vacation because it causes short staff issues. You may even work for a company that all hell breaks out every time someone is out sick, or takes a leave of absence, or is on vacation.

While vacation is an earned benefit right along with your salary, some managers like to play Grinch with the approval process. Your employee manual may encourage vacation notice in advance as possible to allow for planning around the absence, some managers prefer to wait until the last possible minute to approve vacations because they are uncertain if it will cause damage to the operation.

I came from the banking industry, and I will say that if something can happen to cause stress to staffing in any given week it will. It is just part of the random nature of how busy you can get. You can have a full staff and hardly any customer comes in that day, and when you are down to the bare minimum the line of customers will be out the door. But to withhold approval for an employee’s vacation because of the unknown is just a sign of immature management.

Unless you are taking a “Staycation” where you are staying home, most people have reserved flights, hotels, cars, cruises, or tours in advance. Money is rarely refundable, so the employee seeks vacation approval before they book a vacation. To expect an employee to eat the cost because their absence from work would cause a shortage at the last minute is absurd. Yet we hire absurd thinking managers all the time!

Take one gentleman in particular. He is verbally approving vacations, but is withholding a written acknowledgement of the vacation request until he is certain it would cause no disruption to the office. If they need this employee to work, the employee must cancel their vacation plans, eat the non-refundable costs and show up to work. If they choose to take vacation they will be terminated for job abandonment.

Today’s economy does not allow us to disregard employees, as they can find another job a lot easier than 3 years ago. At-Will-Employers must always keep in mind that they hire At-Will-Employees that can leave you without notice just like you can let them go without notice. Withholding vacation is a great way to irritate any employee and force them to play the resignation card. Human Resource Directors that discover Vacation Grinch Managers within the company should consider finding them a new career opportunity.


If You Can Retire, Should You Retire?

Work Retire

While financial considerations often drive the timing on when to retire, if you have planned well and saved enough for retirement, the list of considerations can be lengthy.

  • Will you have something to do with those 40+ hours a week you used to work at a job?
  • What will my family think if I retire?
  • Where are your friends now, at work or retired?
  • Are you healthy?
  • Will you have access to health care insurance if retiring earlier than Medicare age?
  • If you would like to continue working, why are you thinking about retirement?

Today I want to spend time on this last bullet. Too many people leave the workforce “to retire” because working is no longer rewarding. Sometimes they want to work but can’t find employment that is challenging or provides purpose.

Let’s talk about this age thing when it comes to being employed. Age discrimination DOES exist in fact it is alive and flourishing. Even older managers discriminate in their hiring by passing on anyone over 50. Older Workers will cost more. Why, because they are experienced? Oh, we wouldn’t want to hire someone that could do the job, let’s focus on hiring people with just potential for half the price. No pun intended, but this gets old after a while and even the strongest job seeker gives up after being passed over for jobs they are qualified for but never get interview time.

So how about liking your work, but not being energized anymore. Is there a possibility of a switch in jobs at your employer? Or could you be self-employed and you can’t seem to generate enough business to keep you energized?

I’m in this last section myself. I love selling travel and vacations, but can’t find enough people that take vacations and spend money on vacations. Which is amazing since it is a huge industry! Just look at how many cruise ships alone there are, let alone hotels and resorts! I have 1000+ social media contacts, and only a small few have asked me to help them secure a vacation. I have a lot of relatives and friends and none of them have booked a vacation with me in the past 2 years!

So like many that wonder should I retire, I too am about to throw in the towel. I can retire; I just don’t want to retire. But I’m beginning to realize I may not get to choose.

Responsibilities of the Hiring Manager

990  How often does the hiring manager take responsibility for their choices? I mean, have you ever seen a hiring manager that in order to save salary money, hired someone that lacked the skills to perform the job and took responsibility for their failure? Hardly ever do you witness this, but you do see pointing fingers of blame toward the new hire.

When I got my first opportunity to become a Training Director, I had the necessary skills in learning development, but I had never assumed a single role that required using everything I knew how to do. So while I had the necessary skills, I lacked relative experience leading a function. My manager realized this, yet didn’t short me on salary, and as I proved his decision correct, my salary continued to grow. What he realized is that I had the skills, and his gut said I could pull them all together to do this job. I had some rough spots but guess who was there to support me?

Okay, so let’s say you hire someone to build a training function, and their only skill set is facilitation. They have no formal instructional design skills, and have never done needs analysis, organizational development or performance consulting. That is a lot to expect this person to do, since they simply lack the experience and skills to perform. They expect this person to interact with senior management, but they have never done that in all their work history. They expect this person to manage the function, the processes and a staff, and they have only had a little supervisory experience.  This has already happened this past week in a company.

Next week in my blog at I will continue this discussion from a different angle, for when this happens in the training function. The dangers of hiring limited experience invite expensive lawsuits. Yet if the hiring manager is taking responsibility for their hiring decisions, most issues can be reduced.

Why Are We Connected?


Isn’t it amazing how many people we connect with on Social Media platforms and have no idea why? LinkedIn at least tries to describe their purpose as Social Media for Professionals, a networking tool, and even an online resume. But if you take a glance at the list of your connections, you got to ask yourself, why we are connected to so many of these names.

When I first got online with LinkedIn I was in the Learning Development profession and looked for collaboration from my peer group. Later when I became a consultant I looked to these same people as resources for work and referrals. While only a handful of connections reached out to support me, I always felt I could help others flourish. I made referrals often but after awhile I realized I was not getting any benefit playing this role.

At one point I started to disconnect from those that knew me well but after 10 years or more never reached out for help and I figured never would. Then one of my contacts noticed and asked me why we were no longer connected. He was actually hurt, so we reconnected and I immediately stopped scrubbing my connections.

A few years later when I started to sell travel I began to believe that everyone was a potential client because everyone takes a vacation. I couldn’t have been more wrong! After 18 months, and a zillion postings, I’ve had 2 clients from this source. While it is not a zero level of support, it is close.

So why are we connected? If I can’t do anything for you and you can’t do anything to help me, what is the purpose? LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that doesn’t meet my expectations. Yet Facebook filled with family and friends is no better. Twitter is just a chance to comment on everything going on, and Instagram is for storing your pics online.

Something either doesn’t work as advertised, or I do not understand the whole social media concept. Your thoughts are appreciated.


Are Servant Leaders Becoming Extinct?


In a world where everyday interactions becoming a series of activities that promote your value over helping others achieve success, I wonder if Servant Leaders are becoming extinct.

With a lot of leadership styles to choose from, I glommed on to Ken Blanchard’s work almost 30 years ago as something I could understand, remember and implement because it aligned well with what I was sort of doing without a guidebook. It was easier back then to be a Servant Leader because I had a lot of role models. Now granted I had a lot of the dark side cousin, Self-Serving Leaders, as role models too, but I saw that style as a losing proposition.

In the past 15 years, Self-Serving Leaders have taken over most of the management roles in corporate America, and in their midst of self-promotion have left carnage in their wake. It is tougher to be a Servant Leader in a corporate culture that rewards self-serving activities more. It used to be a self-serving leader was called out for their behaviors but now they are ignored, or worse, out of fear they are supported.

I bet there is a self-serving leader in your company that you can identify because they do everything to promote themselves, while they work overtime to diminish the value of others. In fact it is this last point I want to emphasis in this blog today.

This individual will often performance manage other employees around them in order to build up themselves as being indispensable. If the only person left standing that knows their job is the Self-Serving Leader, then mission accomplished! It doesn’t matter if you are a subordinate, peer or the manager; you must never come off knowing more than they do. They want to be feared and often they are, so they remain the center of attention.

Servant Leaders are more productive and have less time to play games, especially defense. They will fight to protect their team members, yet often lose their own battles with the dark side.

The only times I see Servant Leadership completely win out over Self-Serving Leadership is when the top boss in a Servant Leader. They simply do not tolerate the disruption of the Self-Serving Leader and eliminate these people. Ask any CEO that is a Servant Leader if they have Self-Serving Leaders in their organization and they will either say No, or yes but not for much longer. Powerful!

I hope you have had the privilege to have worked with at least one Servant Leader. Chances are all of you have had a Self-Serving Leader in your career. Share in the comments the pluses and minuses you have experienced. But please don’t use their real names.


Are You Happy With Your Job?


A good friend I worked with 25 years ago once gave me the best advice about a job. She said roughly, that a job was a source of income to pay for the bills you have now and to save for your retirement. That if I found myself doing what I loved to do and it filled my passion, then I was a very fortunate person. It reminded me that being happy was just a bonus I could hope for if lucky.

Many of you may argue that finding your passion is the first goal, and seeking out that job is the second goal. Yet I realized that day I was finally in a job that made me happy. I had given up a career in retail banking for a career in learning development. I spent 30 years in that field and left after it was no longer fun. I had only been doing this job for a couple of years, and I didn’t recognize all that was part of being happy.

While the actual work became more of a challenge, that only kept me more engaged. But when my manager and mentor left and I began reporting to a real piece of work that was clueless about training, my little world of happiness took a quick dive. The location of my office was changed to a new downtown address with a lengthy and dismal commute. And did I mention to save money this manager had us cubicle sharing? Two days a week it was crowded!

Then one day, I got a new manager that was brilliant in instructional design, performance consulting and wanted me to learn what she knew so well. I had a Servant Leader again for a manager, and a new mentor. We had home offices setup, so no commute and I only shared my space with the cats. Life was actually quite happy for the next 6 years until I chose to leave for a new company and new challenges.

But with that new company, all the money and benefits, great office I also landed one of the most Self-Serving Leaders I’ve ever worked for. He was great when things were going well, and a real monster that liked ripping people apart. While I built up an awesome team of people, everything was fine if I blocked my staff from the top floor chaos. When I had finally had enough I left, and the flood gates were let loose on my team.

I became an independent consultant, and have never worked for another manager since. Instead I am the mentor to many paying forward the good fortune I received. I am happy again. What kept me from my happiness in the field of my greatest passion was poor leadership. So few companies bother to find out why people leave. They just process the paperwork and look for a replacement. All of these terrible managers have done quite well for themselves, and my faith has allowed me to forgive them and move on.

Bottom line though is I have worked to earn money to pay my bills and save for retirement. I have also been happy a good percentage of the time, so I guess I have been fortunate too!

Sending Mixed Signals to the Staff


You got to love the senior manager that just yesterday preached to the team the virtues of treating people with respect, even pointing to the ever present value statements on the wall, and ripping your face off today for something that happened. What the heck?


Nothing to see here, this is Corporate America on most days of the week.

Get used to it. “Do as I say and Not as I do.”


While I published two books on how to have a productive learning function, I’d be a lot richer if I had come up with another culture book with some new idea for how to motivate and get everyone on the same page. CEOs would be lining up to buy all of their managers a copy of my book, and no doubt I would be engaging in some pointless, yet very expensive workshop to train their leaders. Everyone would be hyped for a couple of months and then only Sherlock Holms would be able to locate the enthusiasm that once existed.

It is very trendy to spout from on high the latest ideas, and jump head first into an implementation with no outcomes. It makes everyone, (including the board of directors) think you are engaging people. At the same time you are leading the new direction, you fail to monitor behaviors. When people are told one thing and they experience another, the energy dissolves away quickly.

Like lawmakers that pass new legislation to fix one problem while ignoring the five other problems the legislation creates, managers often implement processes that do the same thing.

I know a company right now that struggles with hiring even basic roles, so current staffs remaining are stretched thin keeping up on the work being short staffed. Yet management adds work to the teams that one could argue would challenge full staffs to complete, to already overworked people, because it supports their new initiative. No one thinks about the effects on existing staff, just their newest initiative. Team members start to quit, and HR fails to alert anyone because it means throwing a curve that will slow down the new program.

How does this happen? People are scared to send up yellow flags let alone red flags. Management has made it clear “we are here to support you” while in reality they don’t want to hear about anything that is negative. I know of a CEO that was called in to fix an ailing company that was full of mixed signals. His solution was simple and direct. In the course of 90-days he evaluated all senior managers and fired a whopping 90% of them and replaced them with people he knew walked their talk. It has been almost a year since then and the company is back and doing good.

So if you tell someone to act a certain way, it isn’t hard to succeed. Model the behaviors and hold people accountable.