Getting Too Friendly At Work


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I’ve never been too social in my working environments because I think it makes getting the work done more of a challenge when you are working with and for your friends. Managers that make friendships with staff often will not hold their friends as accountable or they show obvious favoritism. And then there is the too friendly relationships that don’t belong in the work environment, but because things went too far sometime in the past, problems arise that need not exist.

Yet advocates of lunches with others at work, shopping at lunch time, or happy hour after work all point to the team building concept at work. “Friends will support friends” and other nonsense is used as excuses for beginning down a path that can go south with even the best of intentions.

Now although I was never really social with my co-workers, I created working relationships that fostered respect for each other’s abilities and talents. I’ve supported people with their career goals years after we stopped working together and I have been shocked when people said they would work with me again in a heartbeat because I treated people as professionals while being supportive.

So when I began a consulting career with a business partner 16 years ago, we both thought our “friends” would be there to support us. Both of us had developed a list of decision makers that we had worked with and would surely hire us as contractors to support our new business. We were only too surprised after a couple of years to realize not a single client we had was someone we had worked for in the past. Not a single “friend” supported us.

We broke up the business partnership after two years because we were not making enough to live on. I went on as a solo consultant for 13 more years with just enough success to keep my head above water, but still the list of “friends” did nothing to help.

I will admit that HR & Training may not be the most exciting sport to support, so a year ago I decided to transition into working as a travel agent. Thinking that my friends and family all take vacations I expected support from many of them as I launched this new career. But once again I am the one that is surprised that my clients all began as complete strangers. Not a single “friend” or past associate has lifted a finger to shop for their next vacation.

This is not to say that those folks on LinkedIn & Facebook don’t still reach out to me for help in their own worlds. Whether it is an endorsement, recommendation, referral or their extra pair of eyes in the marketplace, my “friends” don’t hesitate to let me know when they need my help.  I mean my family has always thought of me as their personal ATM for time and money and still do.  But it is the 1000+ working relationships turning away that has me wondering if I should have made different kinds of friends in the work environment.

 

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When Ignorance is Not an Excuse for Bad Behavior


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In most workplace environments of any size you will find an employee that just seems to do and say things that the rest of us chock up as bad behavior. Things that can range from mildly offensive, to terminate their employment type of offensives. But what would you do if you found yourself working for a company where everyone on the senior management team seems to be clueless? It’s bad behavior run amok and getting worse each day.

I’ve been wrestling with a situation and company that seems to be infected with foot in their mouth disease. Everything that is said is blindly offensive to a number of what we in the HR world like to call protected classes. I listened to a former employee for over 3 hours who kept detailed notes of his 6 month tenure and was flabbergasted at the level of cluelessness among these players and that they are doing anything wrong. Even when caught, they dig a deeper ditch for themselves trying to explain their previous transgressions as normal.

At the top is a CEO who appears empathetic, and promises to get things worked out, and then does nothing. His leadership style is wait and see, and lacks the will for any kind of confrontation. And in private, he is known as the biggest closet bigot in the company, and he is a minority himself. One lone individual at the C level acts like a well-informed adult with professional behaviors. He sees everything that is going on, but realizes he is only one against the crowd. Rather than affect change, he is seeking new employment.

For those of you that have been reading my blogs for the past several years are probably asking yourself by now where the head of HR is and what are they doing to change things? Sadly, they are grossly incompetent, and often join in the bad behavior. In fact they act as the group leader of the internal gossip club making things worse. While a strong HR Leader would be challenged to turn this management team around, at least a freckle of awareness could be achieved.

This story doesn’t have an ending yet. An attorney has been retained, and an older EEOC complaint that was withdrawn has been reinstated and will be broadened. Things are going to get ugly and costly. I’m perplexed as to whether I should insert myself or stay back and be a spectator.  For those that are thinking that the board should get involved you are correct. In a normal world yes, but this is a puppet board, and every employee is told that management has them wrapped. Say anything to the board and you will get fired. So, now what?

Thoughts?…………….

Time’s Up! – HR & Training Need to Become Indispensable!


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For way too many companies, the Human Resources (HR) and Training functions have been treated as completely dispensable cogs in the corporate wheel. They are staffed with less than competent people which only adds to their inability to add value so when things get tough, these functions are cut.

And here might be the greatest rub. If in fact these functions have allowed themselves to become dispensable, well they got what they earned! They need to be removed so better talent can be put in place. Sadly, many companies that close or scale down these functions does so because they expected nothing better based on their experience.

 

Explore with me a couple of examples that will lead to disasters in the future that I can pin squarely on the incompetence of these functions.

EXAMPLE #1

We have a company that recently had an unpleasant experience with a manager that was a little too friendly with an employee. The employee reported it; the HR department launched a full scale investigation and discovered the manager had been out of line. The solution was to put ALL managers through a sensitivity training program. No learning outcomes needed, just a CYA training program to mitigate future problems.

You may be asking if this company regularly trains managers in preventing workplace harassment, and/or do they train the entire workforce in what a harassment free work environment is and what to do if it becomes the opposite. The answer would be NO to both. No Training, only HR covering it up after the fact. HR is totally reactive and not proactive and therefore provides little value. How do you retain good employees when this is how HR has your back?

 

EXAMPLE #2

Another company where a manager is openly bullied by her manager has had enough and decides to report him to HR. Another full blown investigation that involves interviewing a dozen employees who witnessed the bullying resulted in an admission that it all happened like it was reported. However, the manager was required to continue working for the bully manager because, “although he did a lot of awful things, none of it violated our employee handbook policies.” However, the bully manager “was encouraged to retake their online harassment training.”

Another inept HR function with a training function standing around buying off the shelf compliance training THAT DID NOT WORK! Yet this is a big organization with over 10,000 employees. Guess what happens when something this stupid happens and HR fails to stand up for the company and protect their employees, they get sued. Oh, and not by just this one manager, this has turned into a class action because the behavior was endorsed by the HR department.

And one other result that I doubt will be expected is that news like this travels quickly. Not only are employees aware of the class action suit, other employees that belong to the Bully Club are feeling empowered. Heck with HR behind bullying behavior, they feel they have a free ticket to abuse their fellow employees. Fun place to work huh?

 

CONSLUSION:

Bottom line if you have a dysfunctional HR and/or Training function it is time to get them help. Or at the very least find better talent to replace them. Your company’s future is at stake, and as long as these functions are viewed to be dispensable, they will continue to meet that expectation.

If you need help, you need only email me at Jim@JKHopkinsConsulting.com

 

 

Taking a “REAL” Vacation


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How many of you spend your vacation at home doing chores? How many of you regularly skip vacations and work nearly every day of the year without a break? While sometimes bigger projects like painting are worth saving until you have more time off, if your only alternative to skipping vacation to avoid home projects is staying at work you are not doing yourself any favors.

Health wise, and mentally we benefit from checking out of the daily routine to decompress. Spending any vacation away from work is a good beginning. However, if you can step away from home too, and experience something new, you come back refreshed, and that is what vacation is supposed to do.

You don’t have to take your whole two weeks at the same time, but devote at least a week to an away vacation. With time away at a hotel and different food than the home kitchen, you are treating yourself to new experiences. Cruises, Land Tours and Resorts in varying degrees can transport you to new experiences and new places.

But if you are like most of us, you may have experienced a poor vacation. Hotel reservations that got screwed up, or air travel disruptions that caused delays. Maybe that driving vacation was going great until the car decided to die. Don’t let those times mess with you. Stuff happens, and the key is to find vacations that minimize the bad experiences.

Take cruising vacations as an example. We all hear about the ships that hit bad weather, miss ports, or have mechanical problems. The difference is the cruise lines make up for these very rare inconveniences. After 30 some cruises without incident, I found myself on a ship leaving Los Angeles that found the need to be towed back less than 24 hours later due to mechanical problems. It took 2 days to be towed back, and yet it was the healthiest cruise I’d ever been on with mostly fresh fruit and vegetables eat, and lots of sleep. We got a full refund and a free cruise for next time. It was an experience I would never want to repeat, but I ending up on the winning side of a bad stroke of luck.

Many people skip travel insurance, and yet it is inexpensive and covers delays, cancelations, lost baggage and medical costs to name a few, and one more thing that can save your vacation from disaster. How about taking tours on your own that get you lost versus professional tours with guides that don’t get lost and don’t lose you?

Now while I love to cook, I hate trying to decide where to go eat at each meal. I can nickel and dime a vacation into a rather miserable experience for my whole party. This is why I love resorts with meals included, or my favorite vacation on a cruise ship. The only work I have is packing and getting myself on the ship. After that they take care of everything and I get a real vacation.

If you have never had a really good vacation, or you wonder if you have paid too much for ones in the past, you may need a new Travel Agent. I would love to help you, so stop by my website – www.JimLoriTravel.com and you will be routed to my Cruises Inc. website. Call me or send me an email at jhopkins@cruisesinc.com and let’s put together your next “Real Vacation” – One you will remember!

Consequences of Unqualified Hiring


thT8EBKFKNIf you are the type of person that needs to be the smartest one in the room in order to maintain your self-esteem, you likely hire people that are less qualified than you. When everyone around you is less qualified to do their job, they have no other recourse than to fall back on your vast depth of knowledge and experience to survive. You remain the smartest person in the room by default because everyone else around you is incompetent compared to you.

And while everyone else in the organization sees you as indispensable, you have created a domino effect by setting the standard. The people you hire then hire people that are less competent than they are too, and the dumbing down of your part of the organization is well on its way to 100%.

I’m watching the fallout of an organization that normally does not hire like this and looks for people that are smarter and bring new talents to the organization. However, one senior leader is very insecure and staffs her department with people that don’t meet minimum job responsibilities, and must lean on her to solve work challenges. This makes her become indispensable because her team really does need her. Where it shows up most often as a problem is when she is on vacation or out of the office. Everything gets backed up waiting for her return.

I forget who said it first, but I have always agreed with the statement that “if I am the smartest person in the room, I need to add more people to the room.” I have always hired people with more expertise than me so my department not only survives in my absence, but we continually grow. While the direction may change with a new leader that replaces me after I leave, the team still functions because no single person was dependent on me for wisdom.

As a leader, if you hire someone that is totally incompetent for a job, you send a single that no one needs to be qualified to work for you and/or get promoted. Your managers will also mimic you and hire less than qualified people to remain looking indispensable themselves. Before long, the only person that can do their job is the one leader at the top; so what happens when they quit?

Odd Qualifications for TOO Many Managers These Days


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If you have children in their late teens to mid-twenties in the workforce, you may have heard a few dozen horror stories about their managers and thought they were exaggerated. Unfortunately your ears did not deceive you nor did your kid’s experiences get blown out of proportion. The minimum qualifications to become a Shift Lead, Assistant Manager or even the Manager are nonexistent; unless of course you consider the following requirements as standard guidelines these days.

 

“Managers Wanted For Hire”

We are seeking warm bodies with zero previous supervisory or management experience to lead our retail locations, restaurants, and revolving door enterprises. The following requirements are mandatory unless otherwise stated as preferred:

  • You must have zero knowledge of any Human Resources Policies, Federal or State Employment Laws, and be completely unable to identify Workplace Harassment (even if it happens to you).
  • If your staff members should have the audacity to report your management style to senior members of the company or Human Resources as “Hostile” or “Illegal” you have the assurance that these complaints will be fully ignored until such time as you are able to terminate these staff members.
  • In order to make your sales, service and expense goals, it may be necessary to work staff without paying them regular or overtime wages, skipping meals and breaks, and learning how to trick the time clock.
  • You should understand that your role makes you the superior life form in your location and all staff are considered your subjects and/or slaves and should be treated with very little regard.
  • Giving Directions and Feedback should come from your emotional stability at the time and never from your brain. Ripping an employee’s face off is a sign of a strong manager. If you are referred to as a Witch with a B, consider it a badge of honor and that you are doing things correctly.
  • Experience with Performance Improvement and Team Building is not necessary. If any employee doesn’t perform as expected within the first two days on the job, they should just be fired. You can always hire someone else to replace them.
  • You do need to be a proficient recruiter and interviewer with an emphasis on telling each person what they want to hear so they accept the job. You will not be held accountable for any promises you make as we put nothing in writing. We do not have a written list of prohibitive interview questions either and we discriminate in our hiring process based on each manager’s personal biases.
  • It is vital that you have never received any management or leadership training in previous positions and we make the promise to you never to require any such training nonsense as long as you work for us.

 

NOTE: While this blog was meant to be humorous in nature, unfortunately it is the sad truth that many employees are working for managers with these skill sets. Your friends and family are being subjected to poor management because these issues are allowed to exist up the food chain. If you ever wondered why a company only wants the younger employee and not older ones, it is because the older employee knows the rule of law and will not put up with this nonsense. They also are quick to report bad behavior and hire attorneys if needed to resolve issues. Parent need to be vigilant in their efforts to educate their children on proper workplace behaviors and rules.

 

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?