“The problem is you make decisions with your heart”. That is an actual statement directed at me regarding a sensitive employee matter. The inference is that when the heart is accessed in making difficult employee decisions, the correct business decision will not be made. Well, I could not disagree more and I will take the next few paragraphs to explain why.
Early in my career I had the pleasure, honor, and benefit to meet an executive who was a senior vice president and on the executive team for a multi-billion dollar company. I became friends with his family and he and I spent many hours just talking about life and business. He told me many stories about experiences he had through his career and how he always tried to do the right thing. It is from this executive, who took the time to “teach” me many valuable lessons, that I decided that I would never do anything or make a decision in business that was immoral, unethical, or illegal. Well, my Dad had a lot to do with that as well, but this executive crystallized my thinking. I still recall a powerful comment he made to me once. “Richard, it is important for you to realize that you can be a nice person and still be a success in business.”
In my opinion, doing the right thing and making decision from the heart go hand in hand. Now, before anyone believes I can’t make tough decisions when it comes to employment matters, let me walk through my philosophy. First, I believe it is important that expectations on behavior and performance are communicated clearly. No doubt can be left with what a manager or leader expects from any member of the team. This is the first ingredient to what I call the “secret sauce” for effective talent management. Clearly communicated, articulated, and understood expectations on performance and behavior.
The second ingredient is constant communication with a team member about performance and behavior against the expectations. A team member may have to be redirected to align with the expectations and there should be no hesitation from a manager or leader, even in the face of possible conflict. Helping everyone succeed should be the catalyst for ongoing communication.
The third ingredient is holding everyone accountable in meeting the expectations of performance and behavior that have been established and communicated. There are no exceptions on who is held accountable….it includes the ones we like the least and the ones we like the most. Holding others accountable should never become a beauty contest.
The fourth and final ingredient is practicing equitable, fair, and consistent consequences. Whether it is a verbal warning or a final written warning, team members must know that there are real and lasting consequences for failure to meet performance and behavior expectations that have been clearly communicated. In my career, I have terminated many team members who could not or refused to improve performance and behavior.
Making decisions with the heart when it comes to employment matters takes longer. Making decisions with the heart forces a manager or leader to actually care about others. Making decisions with the heart takes more discipline and courage.
Making decisions with the heart using the “secret sauce” is always the right thing to do. And that is worth thinking about.
Richard Davis, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
“My passion is helping to bring out the BEST in others”
Over the course of the week I receive many phone calls and emails from people who need something. It might be a sales person for insurance or financial services. It might be a referral from someone I know and the person is looking to network for a job. It might be some other call where someone is hoping I might be able to help provide information. Now, I am busy. Not only do I manage my own business as a sole proprietor, I serve on a couple of boards, am involved with Boy Scout leadership, coach a men’s softball team, and am very engaged in my church. I made a decision many years ago that I would show the courtesy of speaking with anyone who contacted me. I may make a list of people to whom I need to respond to by phone or email, but I try to return the contact…..even if it only takes a moment for me to say “thanks, but no thanks”. It may take a few days and sometimes a week, but I am very deliberate in my efforts.
Why do I do this? There have been many times where I needed something or required assistance. I am also contacting potential clients. It would be somewhat hypocritical of me to ignore those who contact me and then get frustrated when others do not afford me the same respect and courtesy. A small part of my business is executive recruiting. I may only engage in 2-4 positions a year and the positions are generally with clients with whom I am engaged in other services. During the course of a search, I contact dozens of people by phone or email. Many of these contacts are referred to me and many are those I find through extensive research. I try and provide specific information in my communication and keep the contact very professional. It amazes me how many people I contact do not respond, even after I know they have read my email or received my message. No response, not even a “Richard, I appreciate the contact, but this is not a good time” or “Thanks, but I am not interesting in speaking about a new opportunity at this time”. What is interesting, is these same individuals would not hesitate to reach out to an executive recruiter if their position was being impacted. I have even received calls from some who said “I know I never returned your call/email, but you were so diligent/persistent in trying to reach me, I would love to work with you to explore potential opportunities”. WHAT? You don’t show me the respect and courtesy when I am trying to reach you and now reach out when YOU need something? Of course, I never would say this to someone because if I preach respect, dignity, and courtesy, I need to practice it ALL the time. It just makes me shake my head.
Return the call! Respond to the email! If you work for a company that provides a product or service, I am sure your company has people contacting potential clients. Wouldn’t you want your sales staff to be treated with respect and courtesy and not ignored? Jesus put it as succinct as anyone when He instructed “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” Sounds good to me.
To Your Success,
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
A speaker in a conference I was watching online in a DistruptHR event talked about the different levels of teaching that takes place for employees. When I graduated from college with a BS degree in business and started my first job, I had to be trained on what was expected and had to learn the operations. Organizations worldwide hire employees who have been taught and educated in school. Once hired, the same employees are taught and trained how to do the job for which they have been hired. In almost every occupation this is the case. Those who graduate in software engineering or programming know code and kernel level development, but they still need to learn the applications utilized by companies to be productive. Those who graduate in accounting still need to learn the organization’s accounting system and reporting mechanisms. Medical professionals go through extensive training after college or graduate school before they are ready. I could give many other examples, but suffice it to say, in almost every occupation and profession an employee must be taught or trained to contribute.
I say “almost” every occupation and profession because the exception is teachers. Most education majors who attend a reputable college or university are required to spend significant time in an early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school classroom. The students are not just present, they are active in teaching students while a student. Education majors could walk across the stage at graduation, receive their diploma, and step right into a classroom and be immediately productive. Many education majors, like my daughter graduating from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, have already been developing and presenting lesson plans. She has been observing, working, and teaching in the classroom since she was a Freshman.
Imagine the value of an employee in any industry with this ability. Day 1 they are ready to do the job without additional training. Training costs would be slashed. Profitability would soar. The learning curve would be miniscule. The economic impact would be in the billions of dollars.
Our teachers have been prepared to create immediate value. But how do we in the US treat this incredible resource? We under pay and overwork them. We create work environments filled with politics that have nothing to do with educating children. We make them beg and borrow just to get financial resources to purchase supplies for the classroom. In many cases the teacher pays for these supplies out of their own pocket. We treat one of the most important professions a person can pursue as one that is less important than most. I think it is shameful.
My daughter chose her education path because, from a very young age, she wanted to teach and help young people learn. She never imagined doing anything else. She will graduate with high honors in May and a school will be incredibly fortunate to get her skills, dedication, and passion. Many students do not consider education in college because of the reasons above. It is time for us to get mad. It is time for us to demand that a system be created that attracts the best and the brightest and produces a product anyone would want to buy. It is way past time that we take education seriously and make it a priority. And if you think teaching is easy, just go spend a day in a school and see what the job is really all about.
Know a teacher? Thank that person for their commitment to selfless service. If you are teacher and are reading this: THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!
To Your Success!
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Charles Dudley Warner, a co-author with Mark Twain, once wrote “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” In my experience working in industry and as a talent management consultant, this phrase accurately applies to employee performance. Many business leaders, managers, and supervisors complain about issues related to performance or behavior, but do little to improve the situation.
During my tenure as Vice President of Human Resources at a regional healthcare provider, we began a process of identifying those employees who were not meeting expectations. We called it our “C” player list. Now before I am accused on being heartless or not being compassionate, please know that my definition of a manager is one who provides all the tools, resources, support, and encouragement for all employees to be successful and reach their full potential. We had an expressed goal to help every identified C player to become an A player. All actions were positive performance improvement measurements where the manager had just as much responsibility in affecting a positive outcome as the employee.
The first big question that surfaced from leadership was how an A or C player is identified. This is very important because many managers will identify the top employee based on the personal relationship he or she has with that person. Who gets along better is sometimes the measurement of our good employees. A more objective way was necessary, so we spent a great deal of time developing those characteristics to identify where certain employees fell in the list. The following are a few characteristics of an A player.
An A player has a very positive outlook on their position, the responsibilities, and the company. Even with obstacles and difficulties, an A player has a “glass is half full” frame of mind.
An A player sees his or her roles and responsibilities as fluid and are very versatile in changes or revisions that may occur to compliment the needs of the business. An A player can easily adapt to changing circumstances and add or revise tasks to overcome obstacles.
An A player is always dependable. No matter what task needs to get done, an A player will be the first to raise their hand. They are unquestionably reliable in accomplishing or at least giving their best shot to any activity, whenever needed.
An A player is selfless and does not think “what is the best thing for me” when doing the job. An A player looks at the whole to evaluate and pursue what is best. In the end, this pursuit creates a win-win situation.
An A player has an inclusive approach that involves the ideas and opinions of others. An A player realizes that everyone is connected and that a collective knowledge, wisdom, and thought will provide better results.
An A player realizes the need for constant learning and takes every opportunity available to increase knowledge and skill. Even if there is not a structured continuing education program, an A player looks for ways to learn new things independently. An A player also looks for ways to make those around better by bringing new found knowledge to others.
As easy as it may seem to recognize an A player, C players can also be easily identified….if you pay attention.
A C player gets defensive very quickly when asked to explain why something was or was not done.
A C player frequently blames other people for any shortcoming in their performance. It is never their fault.
A C player will be very protective of their own turf and will not share crucial information to solidify their perceived importance.
A C player constantly makes excuses for not meeting expectations and generally perform just enough to do what is necessary. A C player will rarely take extra measures with any assignment or task.
A C player is very good at always coming up with reasons why something will not work. In a project setting, a C player will be the constant naysayer.
A C player has little motivation to develop personal or professional skills. A C player will look at learning and growth opportunities as just another burden on top of other responsibilities.
A C player also believes that they know what is best and truly feel they bring value. They have rationalized an unrealistic sense of importance to the organization.
The other groups of employees are those who exhibit the characteristics of an A player, but lack consistency in performance and meeting expectations; and those who exhibit some of the characteristics of a C player, but may seem to try and meet performance standards and expectations.
The primary goal is to develop everyone up. The steps are: Clearly communicating expectations; providing constant feedback on performance; holding all accountable for meeting the expectations; and administering consistent consequences for performance and/or behavior issues that do not meet the expectations.
The success of the process of moving employees up is very much dependent on the attitude of the manager. A good manager recognizes that all employees have the potential to be A players and has a passion to help all succeed. A good manager sees worth and value in everyone and works hard to develop everyone up. A manager who does not look at this way may be, I don’t know, A C player? It is worth the effort to create the A Team.
To your success!
As a Baby Boomer, my high school years in the 1970’s consisted of listening to the best rock and roll bands of all time. The classic music of numerous groups has survived a couple of generations and many Millennials (including my kids) are fans of some of the great ones. I never thought I would use one of these groups and one of the greatest songs in an article about talent management. But after conversations with my wife and several friends this past week, it just popped into my head. The first two lines of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Ah, I hear you singing it now! I am hopeful that my little explanation will make sense when I am finished.
My entire business life is focused on talent management. The tag line for my business is “We help companies bring out the BEST in their employees”. It might seem kind of weird to some, but it is a passion of mine. I dream of business cultures and environments where we wake up in the morning excited to come to work. Not that we don’t want to spend time with family and chill from time to time, but we are inspired everyday by our co-workers, supervisors, managers, and business leaders. Those with whom we work make us better people and we are motivated to work as hard as we can toward success of ourselves, those with whom we work, and the company. Every day we work toward our PIPability-Peak Individual Performance™.
My wife and I talked about my dream for the worker world and she commented that she does not think it is possible. She opined that the work itself creates a myriad of obstacles that impacts how we think about our work regardless of the nature of the work environment. She said “it is nice to think about and a good goal to pursue, but in reality, it will never be like that”.
Then, in a weekly social gathering with college classmates, we discussed the work environment in which they spend their time. They talked about leaders who don’t lead, work that doesn’t get done, and behaviors toward other people that are negative and punitive. After providing me numerous examples of what I call “management maleficence”, the bottom line was stated bluntly; “people just don’t care”.
So, I find myself wondering, “do I live in a dream world?” Can a work environment be created where everyone is inspired, motivated, happy, encouraged, driven, and working toward the good of all and not just themselves? I still say “YES!!”
A business owner I met a few months ago, said that their daily goal is to “delight and surprise their internal and external customers”. I believe the environment and culture at his company is close to my perspective of what is possible. When expectations are clearly communicated; when supervisors, managers, and leaders are providing all the tools and resources to help all be successful; when feedback is constant; when all understand that accountability must exist for success; and when consequences are fair, consistent, and transparent, a business will thrive. I guess I will leave it up to you. “Is this the real life” or “Is this just fantasy”?
To Your Success!
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Many of us spend the last few days of a year thinking about or discussing what we will give up or start doing in a new year. Most of the resolutions we make revolve around us losing weight, eating better, exercising, traveling, reading more books, etc. I propose that we look outside of ourselves and LOVE more in 2017. Here is what you can do.
Lead others by setting a positive example. You don’t have to be a supervisor, manager, or executive to lead. People notice how you act and speak during situations at work. Every day you have an opportunity to respond in a way that sends a positive message. Rather than criticize, praise. Rather than complain, solve. Don’t go along just to get along….blaze a path that others want to follow.
Offer assistance to those who need support, guidance, and motivation. It is rather easy to notice when others need help if you just look. You can sometimes see the weight someone is carrying on their shoulders just by the way they walk and talk. Really pay attention to your co-workers. Look in their eyes and take a peek at what they see. The burdens of life are considerable, but every day we can provide a helping hand and lighten their load. By helping others you feel better about yourself and lighten your own load.
Value the opportunities to help other people every day. Don’t look at others needs as a burden, but a chance to be that kind word, that helping hand, that bright smile, that lift they may need. You can try and avoid these opportunities, but you will be far less enriched.
Encourage as many people as you can within your sphere of influence. If you stop and think about it, the number of people with whom you associate every day is incredible. The cashier at the convenience store. The server in the restaurant. The person pumping gas right beside you. The people you stand with on elevator rides. Not to mention the many people with whom we work, play, and live. Think about what would encourage you and throw it back out. It will make an incredible difference.
It has been said that love is hard. I believe it is supposed to be because it requires us to give a little of ourselves. The kind of LOVE described above does require us to be selfless and that is not always easy. But is it worth it? You bet it is. So, go out there and LOVE someone.
To your success,
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Early in my career working in the medical device space, I was promoted to a regional management position and transferred from Charleston, SC to Boston. I was responsible for all service operations …
Source: Effective Talent Managment
Early in my career working in the medical device space, I was promoted to a regional management position and transferred from Charleston, SC to Boston. I was responsible for all service operations in 15 offices throughout New England, Upstate New York, and Northeast Pennsylvania. I was fortunate to have 6 managers divided among the offices providing support to over 50 employees. Soon after moving to a suburb of Boston I set out to visit each office, get to know each employee, and assess the management style and ability of my direct reports. Regardless of information I had received from others, I evaluated each of the managers from a blank sheet of paper. I wanted to hear directly from them about their struggles, successes, and perspectives on how to best deliver world class service while developing high performing teams.
It became evident that the former management support was lacking. Each manager was doing what they thought were best practices while operating in silos from other locations. Most of the employees in the service locations just came to work each day without thinking about the purpose of the job and how they made a difference within the organization. It broke my heart that so many hard and caring workers were just going through the motions to get the job done. Within 3 months of my assuming my new position, I had replaced 5 of the 6 managers. On the surface it may seem harsh, but herein lies the lesson and purpose of this post.
I strongly believe that a manager’s primary responsibility is to provide all the tools, resources, support, and encouragement to help each employee under his or her span of control to be successful and happy. No employee should be surprised when their employment is terminated. None of the managers whose careers I freed were surprised. Here is why.
The expectations were clearly communicated. I spent a great deal of time with each manager discussing what each location needed to accomplish to meet the objectives of the corporation. We reviewed in detail the plan of action they felt was best to meet the goals, what I would do to support their efforts, and how we would measure success. I made sure the what, why, how, and when questions were answered. Everyone agreed to the plan.
Positive and frequent communication was provided. I made a point to visit each location often to review performance, redirect when necessary, and provide continued encouragement and motivation. I asked “what can I do to help” with every face to face and phone conversation. There was no doubt that I wanted to be each manager’s advocate for success.
Each manager was held accountable for their performance. I encouraged each manager to treat each location as if it were their own business. I wanted them to feel personally responsible for each employee under their supervision. I would always listen to the reason why things did not get done or why something happened, but each manager was still held accountable for performance or behavior issues for which they had total control.
The consequences for behavior or performance issues were enforced consistently. As difficult as it may be, I followed through with what I said would happen. I was consistent. If I said “if this occurs, then this will happen”, it happened. Of course, I always allowed for extenuating circumstances and I always tried to be fair. But, I always did what I said I would do.
Over the years, I have implemented and coached others to follow this formula for effective talent management. I have always cared deeply about those who fell under my area of responsibility and I want everyone to be successful and happy at work. For me, this formula has always worked. Is it easy? No. But, in the end, the goal is to create high performing teams with highly engaged and inspired employees. That makes it fun for everyone….and it is well worth the effort.
To Your Success,
The Princess Bride is an entertaining fairy tale for young and old that was directed by Rob Reiner and released in 1987 by Twentieth Century Fox. If you have not seen it, you are missing a very fun and funny movie. The production featured a giant, a fire swamp, lightning sand, rodents of unusual size (R.O.U.S.’s), and The Cliffs of Insanity. Throw in a six finger man and a priest with a lisp and you have the makings of a classic.
In the movie, Princess Buttercup is amazed that her sweet Westley is still alive after being captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts on the open seas; “And the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners”. Westley later explains that he is now the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) and that the previous DPR was not the original one either. As a way of keeping the name DPR alive, each DPR would choose an understudy, replace the entire crew, and begin a new voyage as the first mate of the new DPR. If that is not clear, watch the movie.
Since I am a talent management consultant, I guess I need to tie The Princess Bride into some kind of management lesson. Well, in working with many business owners, leaders, and managers, I have heard the expression often “Gosh, it would be so much easier if I could just replace everyone and start all over”. It might work for the DPR, but it certainly would not work for most business operations.
Recently, I was at a swim meet for my youngest son and had the opportunity to speak with a couple of fathers who happen to be business owners. We were taking a break from the action in the pool and catching each other up on what was happening in our individual business worlds. One of the dads was expressing gratitude for being busy, but began talking about some employee issues. Specifically, he mentioned a former business owner who was on his team. He talked about how this individual was alienating other employees and was a negative element in the business environment. After detailing some of the employee’s performance and behavior issues, he said “I just don’t think he is going to make it”. I could not let it go and asked “have you sat down with the gentleman, reviewed the specific performance and behavior issues, and developed a plan to help him improve?” The response was what I hear often. “No, I have not”. I then asked if he was aware of any personal issues in this gentleman’s life that could be impacting his performance or behavior. The response was “No, I do not”.
My friend’s responses are the equivalent of just replacing the whole crew. I am confident that this business owner wants to help this individual, but the business is booming and he is busy taking care of the tactical steps to success. It is not that he does not care. He has other employees that also need his time and attention. Taking the time to develop a performance management plan for someone who seems not to care does not seem like the top priority in the midst of just getting the job done and satisfying clients. But shouldn’t it be THE top priority?
Imagine for a moment a work force comprised of employees who come to work every day fully engaged, enthusiastic, excited, and motivated to do the best job they can and to reach their full potential….their full PIPability-Peak Individual Performance™. I am passionate about helping companies bring out the best in their employees and I do not think it is a Utopia that is out of reach. I mean, if the employees in an organization are the most important asset, then why is this asset not treated with the care and attention to maximize the potential?
It takes a willingness to discover the root cause of a specific behavior or performance issue and then develop a plan to help the employee improve. It requires us to show patience, have compassion, display empathy, and gain understanding. It requires a human approach to managing others, not a tactical approach.
Does it always work? No, we have all experienced employees who just don’t want to meet expectations. But if you have ever experienced working with an employee who is not meeting expectations and then helped them transform in to a top performer, the incredible feeling will never leave you. Human potential is amazing and it is just waiting to be unleashed. Once you tap the potential, great things happen and a business can soar. Wouldn’t that be fun….and you don’t have to worry about pirates!
To your success,
Wage and Hour Changes
Over the past few weeks I have had many clients asking what the changes to the overtime regulations mean to their business. For some companies the changes will have a huge impact and for others not so much.
Let’s first look at what started this whole process. In 2014, President Obama began speaking publicly about the outdated overtime rules and how many employees were working many hours for which they were not being compensated. I recall one such speech in which he mentioned those managing clothing stores who were considered exempt employees, working 50+ hours a week, and not being compensated for those hours. Early in 2014, the president directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to update and modernize the regulations governing the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) employees from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL published a notice of the proposed rule making on July 6, 2015 and received over 270,000 comments for individuals, organizations, and corporations. On May 18, 2016 the Final Rule was published updating the regulations.
Before describing the changes to the regulation, I want to clarify two terms. An employee is either exempt or non-exempt. An exempt employee is one who is exempt from the overtime provisions of the wage and hour regulations. A non-exempt employee is one who falls under the provisions of the regulations and must be paid overtime for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a week. Some states have stricter overtime regulations, but I won’t go into that.
Currently, the minimum compensation for an employee to qualify for exempt status is $455 per week or $23,660 annually. The new minimum compensation, which takes effect December 1, 2016, is $913 per week or $47,476 annually. The Final Rule sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest wage Census Region, currently the South.
Highly Compensated Employees
Another change in the Final Rule is the exemption related to highly compensated employees (HCE). Under the current regulations, an employee who is compensated a minimum of $100,000 annually is exempted from overtime provisions regardless of job classifications. Under the Final Rule, the compensation requirement increases to $134,004 annually.
As mentioned above, the standard level was established using the 40th percentile. The Final Rule includes a mechanism to automatically update the minimum standard salary level requirement every three years beginning January 1, 2020 using the percentile test.
Nondiscretionary Bonuses and Incentive Payments
For the first time, employers will be able to include nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level.
The Final Rule requires that HCEs must receive at least the full standard salary amount each pay period on a salary or fee basis without regard to the payment of nondiscretionary bonuses or incentive payments. Again, the minimum compensation for HCEs is $134,004 annually.
The Final Rule is not changing or modifying the existing job duties requirements to qualify for exempt status. From the DOL’s perspective, as a result of the change to the salary level, the number of workers for whom employers must apply the job duties test to determine exempt status is reduced, thus simplifying the exemption. Both the standard duties test and the HCE duties test remain unchanged.
What Should You Do?
1. Review all your current job classifications to determine the number of employees who meet the job duties test for exempt status, but fall under the new minimum compensation guidelines.
2. Decide whether it makes sense to increase the compensation of these employees to the minimum compensation or develop a process to manage overtime.
3. Review and revise your policies on cell phone use and email use during non-working hours. Any time a non-exempt employee is making business calls or checking and responding to emails outside of the normal work schedule, is considered compensable time. Many managers and supervisors stay connected to the company after work. The Final Rule could have an impact on anyone in this group who will be considered non-exempt once the Rule goes into effect in December.
4. Develop an effective communication strategy to all those employees who will be impacted once the Final Rule takes effect. Be proactive and not reactive to issues that might arise once the change is implemented.
Although the Final Rule does not go into effect until December of this year, don’t wait. Take action now and be prepared. If you need assistance in developing an effective strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to a subject matter expert who can walk you through the process. As always, I am happy to help. Good luck!
To your success,
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP