Making Decisions is a Lost Art for Many Leaders


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Too many decisions are not being made in a timely manner and the organization suffers for it on every level. Most delays come from leaders that are afraid of making mistakes and paying dearly for the rest of their career. Politics, even in the corporate workplace, play a significant role in decision making, and all this time waiting causes delays all across the organization.

Let’s look at a few that you may be facing in your workplace:

  • Why does the recruiting process take so long? While many want to put the blame on the recruiter, often they are no more involved in the process than pushing paper along. No one usually asks their opinion, and they also are not empowered to push people into making hiring decisions. The hiring managers are unclear what they want, so even if the “perfect fit” is sitting right in front of them, they don’t engage with an offer. Time slips away, and when a decision is finally made, the applicant has either taken another job or just lost interest in the one you have to offer.

 

  • For the last 15 years straight, the number one competency that management says they want to build in their workforce is leadership. Yet for any one of a thousand reasons, each year passes and not a single person is provided with leadership development. A vision never gets implemented because it requires decisions as to what skills need to be included and how the training will occur. In no time at all, another year passes and the need continues to be a “top priority.”

 

  • Have you ever had to work with someone that has screwed up so many times you have lost count, and yet they are still employed? You know, because they have shared with you that they have been given feedback about the need to change, but nothing ever changes and they still have their job. Terminating employment is often the hardest part of a manager’s job, and yet what happens when they avoid those decisions? Not only does the problem child still exist, but it sends a clear message that performance problems will never lead to anything very severe. So if one doesn’t need to fear getting fired, what is the last resort available to correct performance?

 

Yet have you noticed that when leaders make decisions in a timely manner, it is often criticized as being premature. Honestly, you can’t win! However, if I was to have a choice between people that react quickly and people that procrastinate, I will work for a decision maker any day of the week!

What are other workplace issues that you see a lack of decision making?

 

Purple Squirrel Seeks Purple Job


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There is a term used by recruiters when being asked to find candidates that match a long list of requirements and only those that meet every single requirement can move forward. It is a search for a “Purple Squirrel.” The first time I heard it I found it absurd to think that management would put a recruiter through months looking for a perfect fit while the job remains open and unproductive. Yet I am told that it happens a lot.

Managers looking for a “Purple Squirrel” are not concerned with the missing role going without a person for months on end. In other words, either the job duties are insignificant to the operation, or management feels no regret in dumping the extra workload on the remaining people. While it happens that some jobs function well without an employee, most of the time if you are searching for candidates, you also need to hire someone too.

We are all “Purple Squirrels” with a list of talents, skills and experience. The difficult part is finding the “Purple Job!”  It used to be that it was encouraged to apply for a job even if you personally could not check off every single box on the job description. Yet have you noticed that when you do, the automatized system rejects you within second of submitting your application. Sometimes you receive the reject email before you receive the thank you for applying email.

Clerical Recruiters often are the ones that spend their time looking for a “Purple Squirrel” while experienced recruiters will spend more time with the hiring manager resetting expectations. Then they seek a good, but not perfect fit. Good recruiters will remind management that experience allows the job or expectations to change and the new employee will more easily adapt to the new focus.

While I wish the world employed less clerical recruiters that are in their first job themselves a lot of the time, and more recruiters that have had to manage processes and people before, that dream seems to be out of reach at the moment. Hence, this is why this “Purple Squirrel” is looking for his very own “Purple Job.”

Why Do We Have Employment Laws?


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I found myself asking again why we have employment laws if following them is optional. Once again I have discovered a company that has decided that wage and hour laws among others are optional; and if you complain about it you will be terminated. The company gets away with breaking the law and there are no consequences for the law breaker.

If you are a Non-Exempt, hourly employee, California law is quite specific about meal breaks, and when you are unable to take that break the company owes the employee a meal penalty. If as a company you require employees to use a cell phone to communicate, and do not provide a company phone you are required to compensate a portion of the personal cell phone cost. If you require employees to use their personal car to transport products you compensate for mileage. And if you have employees out of the facility, but still conducting business, they remain on the time clock. You never have them clock out, so “in case they are in a car accident you don’t have to pay workers compensation.”

But in one Southern California business this is just the first few items on a very long list. But wait, I forgot to mention that this workplace is one of 15 owned as a franchise of a national chain. Although these issues are prohibited in the employee manual of the national chain, this franchise owner feels he doesn’t need to comply. In fact, he has taken the national chain’s employee manual, and removed the pages that he doesn’t want to comply with, and the remaining pages have become the only rules that need to be followed.

So when one of his managers decided to press the issues, they were warned that they would be fired. So this manager went to the national chain’s corporate human resources director and lodged a formal complaint. Two days later the manager is terminated by the franchise owner and there is nothing that can be done about it. The national chain’s HR is unable to do anything.

dollar signsSo I ask again, why do we have employment laws? We have them to force compliance of companies that fail to follow the laws all by themselves. This is also why employment law attorneys have such robust practices with multi-million dollar judgements.

This one franchise has over 150 employees, all hourly and all being treated against the will of the national chain, and the rule of law. Any attorney that wouldn’t launch multiple cases or a class action would be missing a very large payday. This particular chain has locations all across the country, and if they allow this one franchise owner to get away with this, then they are probably allowing it in all of their locations. In addition to lawsuits, which always catch the eye of the state and federal regulatory authorities, these same agencies will start their own investigations and levy mind blowing penalties to send a message.

Now once all this becomes news worthy, stock prices drop, and it is difficult to attract customers and new employees. Everything falls apart because a single franchise owner doesn’t feel he needs to follow the law.

Why do we have employment laws? Because they protect the employee from harm, and if they are followed, they protect the company too!

Dealing With Evil Managers – Part 2


thLast week I discussed the differences between an incompetent manager and an evil manager. What I should have mentioned is the dynamic of a manager with evil motives and is totally incompetent. Yikes! These managers are the ultimate nightmare!

So this week I want to discuss how we should deal with evil managers.

If you like your company and the work you do, but your manager is the challenge, then leaving the company is probably not your first idea. If everything about your job is awful, then it probably is your best option to just find a better job. It is not worth the hassle to get away from a bad manager but still be in a company and career that doesn’t fit either.

If you have decided to stay and try to change your circumstances, then my advice is the same no matter which course of action you take next. Take detailed notes of every interaction with the evil manager. Keep printed copies of all performance records, memos, performance discussions between you and the evil one. Make a list of all people that could speak as a witness or have experienced the same evilness.   And keep this all at home!

Now while I opine often about incompetent human resources, the truth is they are not all incompetent. They may be superstars at your company, but chances are if they were this evil manager would have been gone without any help from you. Since you are now working with a weaker human resource function, your ability to get satisfaction or help at all is not assured. But hear me loud and clear, you must try and give them the ability to do their job. Sometimes evil managers exist simply because human resources have never been informed.

So let’s assume you went to human resources and nothing has changed. I dare say that “nothing” is not the right word after you have turned in an evil manager because retribution has no limits with an evil manager that feels they have been attacked. So be aware that there will be hell to pay for turning them into the authorities; especially if the authorities couldn’t change the situation.

Depending on the nature of the issues involving the evil manager, you may want to file reports with the Labor Board, or the EEOC. These agencies are overworked, and although will get to your complaint, it might be months before they look into it. This is why everyone should have the name of a local employment law attorney and a personal injury attorney that practices employment law injuries.

By definition, until you suffer a financial loss most employment law attorneys won’t have the ability to take your case. If wage and hour laws not enforced caused you to lose money, then you have a financial loss. But if your evil manager screamed and yelled at you, verbally filleted you to the point of tears, honestly there is very little you can do to get you out of your personal living hell.

While I have been in the training, learning and performance improvement industry for the past 26 years, I realized that learning and behavior changes often require different approaches for different learning styles. In my everyday life this means how the training should be delivered to get a behavior to develop or change. When dealing with evil managers, driven by evil motives, it doesn’t matter if they are incompetent. The first thing that needs to change is their spirit.

Since it is not practical to perform an exorcism on your evil manager, the next best thing begins with serious consequences from human resources that usually require termination. When you need an attorney, the problem is deeper than just the one evil manager, and so the entire organization must be penalized. Not only does the company need to terminate the employment of the evil one, they will need to take a financial hit to the bottom line that motivates changes so this never happens again.

In my younger days when I was confronted with an evil manager, I would often respond with the same level of emotion that was being dished out in my face. I never sought legal help and fought my own battles. Because I know HR laws inside and out, I can defend myself against evil people. As long as I fight fair and play by the rules I am protected. It is a fine line I never want to cross in doing battle with evil that I go as far as to join “the dark side” in my quest for winning right over wrong.

But while I like a challenge, when it comes to advising other people, I say keep good records and get outside help if necessary. Evil does exist, but it doesn’t need to win.

Dealing With Evil Managers – Part 1


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If we can admit that there is evil in the world, it is not a stretch to believe that some of that evil resides in the style of many managers. Chances are that if you have been in the workforce for any real length of time you have had the unfortunate privilege to have had one of these evil managers as the very person you report to, or somewhere up the food chain. Knowing that these people exist in the workplace is one thing, but dealing with them is a whole other challenge.

The first thing to understand is the difference between incompetence and being evil. There are an awful lot of incompetent managers spewing out stupid and sometimes illegal statements. Because they were hired or promoted into a management or supervisory role without the right training, they simply lack the skills and knowledge to prevent saying and doing the wrong things. These people may be trying to do a decent job but sometimes they don’t know what they should know in order to manage people correctly.

Let’s make sure we understand incompetence well before we contrast an evil personality. An incompetent manager will make statements or set policies that are in direct violation of Federal and State laws, and company policy.

Incompetent managers will at times quote a policy incorrectly and tell an employee they must do something they know is against policy and the employee knows that they just get it in writing to have proof later when it gets caught. Employees have learned that human resources are usually their go to relief against incompetence in getting protection from a manager.

Yet, the current Millennial Generation has been the best demonstrator of dealing with incompetent management because they have no problem voting with their feet. There tolerance is very short, and rather than argue or struggle with an incompetent manager, they simply quit and try somewhere else. To the older generations, this is frustrating, but as a Baby Boomer myself, I applaud their willingness not to put up with the incompetence.

 

Evil is Incompetence with a Motive

Many times evil managers are also incompetent. They do and say things that are against the law but are also in positions of shielding themselves from other authorities. They might have incompetent human resource people or other management that are scared to confront their behavior. I’ve seen evil managers so high up the food chain that they simply feel accountable to no one.

But evil is better described as motive. These jewels of management drip superiority, hatred and revulsion for others. Some are driven to evil through a need to be all powerful and they sincerely enjoy making other people submissive to them and controlling other lives. Think about how your employment choice dictates your life. The type of work you do either aligns with your passion or it does not.   Your job either compensates you enough to pay for your needs or it barely keeps you alive. If you lost your job you might also lose your home. An evil manager wants to control you and often does this by the simple act of holding termination over your head anytime you might disagree with them.

But in my years of working with some of the better examples of evil managers, the one most common trait they are outstanding at is manipulation. They want their way all the time. They want to be seen as being right all the time. So the easiest way to reach these goals is to manipulate others. If you have ever been verbally crucified by a manager to the point you want to fold up and quit, don’t be surprised if the goal was to force you to resign. While illegal, it works more times than not.

A manipulator knows what to say and do to each and every target to get under their skin. And sometimes the manipulation takes the form of the opposite traits and comes off as warm and fuzzy. Either way, evil managers are more like puppeteers, and they are a challenge to deal with. In these cases it is easier to quit than to fight, and my friends the evil manager knows it.

Next week I am going to discuss ways to deal with the evil managers in your world. Maybe you are working for one of these people now, or maybe your time in hell is over. The sad reality is that there are a lot of evil managers out there, and I want to equip you to deal with the next one and win.

Is It Really A Teambuilding Event?


teambuildingYour manager tells you that you need to hold a team building event to encourage staff to work together and support the common goals of your unit.  You can see the merits in getting everyone to join that kind of thinking.  You know it will make your job as the manager easier if everyone is on the same page.  But, you don’t know what kind of event to conduct.

Your manager suggests an after work event for dinner and drinks.  You blink in response.  Your manager tells you not to worry, that you can expense everything.  You blink again.  It wasn’t the cost that caused you to blink, it was the event.  Eating and Drinking will build a teamwork mentality?

For many managers, a social event is thought to be a way to train teamwork.  It is not!  It doesn’t do much other than to create a social environment among co-workers to let down their in habitations, create friendships, and open up conversations that may not be totally appropriate among this group.  It doesn’t forge any kind of support system that will build a team.

Now what do you do if you are the manager that understands that social events are not the same as team building events?  What do you do if you also don’t want to socialize with your team outside of work?  Are you being forced to make your co-workers and staff your friends?

My suggestion would be to first recognize that your manager is not aware of what a team building event is, and that they are working off their own experiences.  Be gentle, but inform them of other options.  If you have a training functions, call them in to run a teamwork exercise with you and your staff.  Or go buy a book on team building and learn an alternative approach.

Bottom line, if you want to socialize with fellow employees, save it for birthdays, promotions and retirements.  And when you run a team building event, make it about team building!

Relinquishing Control To Staff


th6Relinquishing control to your staff can be a challenging feat if you are an old school control freak type of manager that feels only you have the brain cells necessary to make decisions.  And when key members of your team leave, especially a management team member, all of a sudden you are doing their job too because once again you can’t believe anyone else is capable of stepping up.

When you don’t allow others on your team to perform their roles without your constant active participation, they simply cannot grow.  Their skills never get built, let alone stretched past their known capabilities when you as the all-knowing manager must approve everything being done.

But let’s say you have a section of the company being run by a manager that actually does know how to empower his or her team to perform their job.  You probably still try to run this direct report, but their team is spared your constant interventions because they have a shield between them and you.  That is until this person leaves and you become them until you hire a replacement.

While this goes on in numerous corporate environments, and I’m watching such a disaster today in a company, I want to share with you the results of a personal experience in my own career.

I reported to a senior level manager that was one of these controlling managers that felt the need to participate in everything.  Whether warranted or requested, he had no ability to control his two-cent comments on any subject.  He managed multiple lines of business that were each staffed with very competent managers.  Two of us did not do well with the micro managing and were able to build very robust operations that functioned well.  The rest of our peers struggled to have any control and their operations struggled too.

However, I had not realized at the time that my particular department ran as well as it did because I acted as a shield.  It wasn’t until I had left the company, that a former staff manager that reported to me said that “it was all rolling down the hill now” and things were falling a part.  My former manager was not a subject matter expert, but thought he was, and so his decisions caused all sorts of havoc.  Even though he hired a replacement for me, it was another puppet that he could control, and the function fell completely apart within a year.

Anyone that has studied Leadership Development will tell you that in the past couple of decades, little is actually new.  We repackage concepts to encourage learning, but empowering employees is still a necessity if we are to have well run organizations.  If you struggle with turning over control to staff, eventually it will do you, your staff, and the organization harm.  It has always been that way and it always will be.  So get on board with the game and learn to relinquish control.  Not all control, just the parts that make sense.