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!
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
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