Tag: communication

Warning Letters: What Can You Do If You Get One?

Posted on March 12th, by Judith Lindenberger in Business and Workplace. No Comments

In many cases, there are signs that can signal a problem at work. If you are not included in meetings, if your boss ignores your calls or doesn’t meet with you, if you learn about changes after everyone else, and if you feel excluded by your co-workers, a warning letter may be coming your way.

If you do get a warning letter at work, here are some things you can do:

  1. Seriously and honestly reflect on the concerns that your boss voiced.
  2. Write a response to the warning, stating what you agree with and what you do not agree with, and copy Human Resources.
  3. For concerns that you agree with, state your intention to turn things around and list specific actions that you will take.
  4. Defend yourself against concerns that are not true by stating the facts.  Keep your opinions and feelings out of your response. Include facts like dates, times, and others who were present.
  5. Ask your boss to put in writing what success looks like by giving metrics and time tables so it is crystal clear what you need to do and by when.
  6. Ask for help and support. Ask what your boss will do to support you. Prove that you have not been included in meetings or have not had access to important information, etc. by stating the facts. Ask for regular check in meetings with your boss and give suggested dates and times to meet.
  7. Ask how you are doing and what you could be doing differently each time you meet with your boss.
  8. Start looking for another job to keep your options open.

Warning letters can be the beginning of the end, but in some cases, if you can discern exactly what your boss wants you to do that you are not doing, if you are willing and able to make changes, and if your boss is willing and able to help and support you, you might be able to save your job.

Tell me your experiences with warning letters and what you have done to turn things around.

Photo Credit


About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.


I Know They Said That Honesty Is The Best Policy, But…

Posted on July 1st, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind. 1 Comment

Honesty is best but there are times when you can and should choose to refrain. There’s always levels of complexity  involved and there is the risk of appearing hypocritical. Also, you have to choose what to be honest about. I don’t think that your goal of maintaining honesty should mean a complete and thorough application of the principle regardless… although I realize that the more exceptions there are to the rule, the more the rule gets a bit hazy.


But here’s what I do know.


I have, to the best of my ability, tried to live an honest life, in that I tried to be true to my goals, desires and emotion. I worked hard at ensuring a meeting of minds between my mental and emotional state and the actions resulting thereof.


I had to. I could not live any other way.


As far as I could, I wanted to be authentic in my communications and relationships. It was necessary for me to be truthful, to the point of pain, about what I saw, what I felt, what I believed, even if it was at odds or brought conflict to bear in a given situation.


Honesty, in this case, was therefore merely an alignment between my thoughts and my actions. Living a lie, where what I thought was distinct from my actions, would prove too difficult to endure or to sustain.


I have, in recent times, been privy to two sets of close relationships where I see that honesty is critical to the nature of the relationship. I have seen how inaction or uncertainty about how to respond in a given situation can be taken as acquiescence of the current status quo. I have seen how silence can be taken as tolerance or worse still, willingness.


These situations and relationships, and how people make sense of it all, take years to develop. Like an onion, it is built layer upon layer and the demarcation is blurred.


You owe it to yourself to be honest. So that you can move on, so that you can achieve the life and relationships you deserve to have. Yes, it is scary to realize the potential negative reactions that we could be called on to face, and sometimes, we will need to face this, all alone.


But in our quest for a life that is true and authentic, for relationships that are based on something meaningful and deep, for decisions that are anchored in something sturdy and substantial, we need to aim for honesty.


If only so that we can reconcile our desires and needs with our actions.


If only for us to live a life with minimal regret.


If only to make real impact on those around us.


Photo Credit

Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.


Tending The HR Garden

Posted on May 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment


“I praise loudly, and condemn softly.” Catherine the Great said that and it’s not bad advice. HR is overloaded with responsibilities, from minutia to policy issues, yet all tasks are important. HR has a significant role in shaping the company culture and thus the success of a company. Their behavior impacts perception, branding, turnover, and profit by the processes they put in place. How HR manages their role with upper management peers significantly impacts their ability to implement positive changes and morale.


HR continually must balance multiple functions. Two crucial areas are:

1. Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, and

2. Communication


As a leader, I’m all about empowerment and engaging others. Here are my tips for staying in the loop, managing information, and solving problems at the first sign of trouble to prevent larger problems. HR is in the business people risk management.


Hire the best person for the job, not the most available one.


Recruiters learn to manage the process by asking questions and listening closely to the answers given. Insist on genuine engagement with candidates and co-workers alike. Look directly into a person’s eyes when asking for information. Be direct. Be kind. Speak with purpose and authority. Ask for help when you need it. Say, “Thank you”.


Verify skills and discover what a candidate feels they need to stay at your company 3 – 5 years. Listen to how they define management habits they respect and what motivates them to do a good job and contribute to the goals of the entire operation. Can your company meet the ideal candidate’s expectations?


The typical interview HR has with applicants may not touch on what a candidate believes is significant. In the rush to get to the next task it’s easy to treat candidates like one of the herd. An extra few minutes spent uncovering and discussing the needs and career aspirations of an ideal candidate will go along way to winning them over in a competitive market. Be personable, not gooey or pretentious. Be authentic and sincere.


When 50% of the population says they would change jobs today if they could, taking a few minutes to qualify candidates properly can reduce turnover. Employee retention is risk management.



HR has a responsibility to model excellent communication skills for the whole company. They set the tone. Saying one has an open-door policy is one thing, but being specific leads to actual conversations.


“Tell me when a recruiter contacts you. I want to know! What salary range did they mention? Help me keep our salaries competitive!”


“Tell me when you’re having trouble handling an issue with a manager or co-worker, I can help you prepare for a meaningful conversation.”


“Tell me what you like about our company!”


“Tell me what stinks, what works, and what does not work, not once a year but all the time.”


“What can we do to improve a process? What process in place now slows you down?”


If someone does not feel comfortable going to their manager, having them come to you rather than quitting, informs you of a systemic, or broader issue. Use your expertise to empower employees to have direct conversations within their department. Continue to offer varied communication skill training.


Surveys demonstrate, “90% of people report they experience stress due to ongoing issues with someone who matters at work.”


If HR can help chip away at that problem they will be outstanding.


“Let’s use critical thinking skills to make this a better place to work.”

“If you could improve one thing, what would it be?”

“What would you like to develop about yourself?”


Celebrate success! Yeah us! People love short newsy announcements.


“This many people completed their MBA coursework, congrats!


6 people completed the communication skill-training this month…thank you!”


“We changed a minor process this week (weekly reports are suspended for one, end-of-month report). This will make all our lives easier. It took a multi-department collaboration but it was worth it!” Success breeds success.


“We’re looking to fill 3 positions in engineering. Who do you know with a background in engineering? If each-one-refers-one we’ll have these filled by the end of the week!”


Set the tone. Promote a policy of, “Don’t complain”.


Instead of complaining to a co-worker, let’s fix the problem; tell me!


Sometimes people need to vent. The problem with venting is the negative energy brings down the person who must listen. Encourage people to vent to you. Issues can be identified and fixed once they’re voiced. More importantly, the poison of negativity does not spread to contaminate the ranks.


Negativity is insidious.

Negative talk is a time waster and work preventer. It’s distracting. Empower people to stop complaining and turn the situation around. People grumble when they don’t know how to proceed productively. We’ve all been guilty of this until we learned a better way.


HR can inform employees on how to alleviate stress, and negativity. Continually talk about the benefits of positive thinking, practicing pro-active problem solving, or positive brainstorming. Discuss positive alternatives like yoga, and provide skill training to help employees grow professionally, intellectually, and consciously.


Think and talk in terms of solutions.


Encourage employees to voice their ideas on how to improve processes. Will everything be implemented? No. But studies show when management asks for input, workers feel heard, validated, and believe they made a contribution. They did what they could to help, even if they were ignored, and that makes people happy.


If someone voices a solution to a problem management does not want to acknowledge, and thus they punish or reprimand the one who spoke, communication shuts down. Prevent the ‘us vs. them’ atmosphere. People leave unhealthy, negative environments when the opportunity arises. We are sensitive and want to feel respected and valued. It makes sense.


HR has a powerful role in tending the garden that is the culture and soul of a company. Empower people to contribute more. Demonstrate how to engage and lead by modeling how problems can be discussed and solved. The act of discussion is healthy and productive work. Watch your garden grow!


Photo Credit

About the Author:  Kimberly Schenk is an entrepreneur and executive recruiter. She is author of the book Top Recruiter Secrets and provides recruiter training for organizations and individuals. Get more recruiting tips and tricks at her blog http://www.toprecruitersecrets.com/blog.


How Many Words Paint the Picture?

Posted on May 20th, by Lois Melbourne in Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 1 Comment

It’s wonderful to hear simple words that trigger a response. While I fidgeted at a writer’s conference, in another taupe colored hotel ballroom, a gentleman hopped on stage.  He breezed through a few stories of his career happenstances.  I became connected to this man immediately.  No, there was no attraction.  It was  a mental connection.  He elicited the connection because his word choice was delightful.  He wasn’t flamboyant. He was calm. He wasn’t bouncing around the stage or overly modulating his speech to attract attention.  He simply told good, relevant stores with words that leapt off the stage. 


He described an office where  he had been interviewed as a having “burled, blonde bookcases.” Say no more, I thought. I was in the room.  He said so much more about the office then if he had said “lined with books”. His words painted the picture. He wasn’t even among the writers in the speaker line up, yet he knew the power of words.  He was a literary agent.


I think about the criticality of choosing words when communicating with all types of people. A strong vocabulary is like an shiny tool box, holding all the other skills together as protection, transportation or the display of the other skills.


If someone provides a report to you, think about the different responses you could garner, based on your choice of feedback.

This report is crap.

This report is not going to work.

This report is disappointing.

This report could get us sued.

This report is inaccurate.

All of these statements could be used to describe the same issue you have with the report. Yet, you will elicit very different responses to actions from each.


If you are presenting a new decision or policy, give clues to the process and articulate with transparency.  Is this the pragmatic decision or was it agonizing to make.  Is the policy designed to liberate or motivate/refine or contain. Your audience will better understand what they need to do with the information, if you illustrate the intent or process clearly.


Leaders and presenters can utilize words to move people. I found the TV series West Wing invigorating, largely due to their wit and intelligence.  The predominate way they could showcase those traits was their word choice. It wasn’t like we could see the ramifications of their policy decision or their real reports. We listened and responded to their articulate conversations.


I am on a quest of enhanced vocabulary utilization. There is no desire to be a show off. I simply want to articulate with more vibrant words to create the imagery within the audience’s mind.


The book “Poemcrazy Freeing Your Life With Words” by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge speaks of collecting words.  To the average business person her approach may seem extreme.  She collects words for writing poetry.  Yet if professionals can be business wisdom through tales of savage wars or of fridge, death defying despair on a mountain tragic expedition; then they can build word skills from a poet!


If you have a presentation looming on the near or distant horizon of your calendar, consider that end goal of people standing, rising, leaping or SHOOTING out of their chairs at the end. Which word is it?  If it will warm your heart if they take notes during your presentation, ponder your word choice.  Do you desire a room full of doodling pencils, scratching pens or frantic writing devices?


I am not advocating the use of words that do not fit you or your personality. You shouldn’t leave your audience needing a dictionary while listening to you, or they will find colorful words to describe YOU. Pompous or arrogant are not the target descriptors desired. Curate words you love to use. You may find you can use fewer words, yet the picture will be more inspired and more vivid.


Photo Credit

About the Author:  Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions.  She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.

HR & Social Media: Mending the Uneasy Relationship

Posted on March 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Society has gotten to the point where it is more interesting to find that a person does not use some sort of social media platform, than one that uses a platform daily. This deeply personal display of information, however, often finds its way into a workplace environment, and not always in a positive way.

There are numerous ways that Human Resources departments can use social media. For example, businesses have successfully utilized the content for team building, training, communication, work delegation, research and blogging. However, there are 3 fundamental areas that social networking sites could positively affect.

  • Communication: Clear communication between Human Resources and employees is critical for the health of a company. Through social media, it is much easier than ever before. Using these networks as a tool, Human Resources departments can easily communicate a message to everyone in the company, regardless of their location. A tweet or a status update can quickly convey a short message to hundreds in an instant.


  • Employee feedback: Long ago, Human Resources departments relied on suggestion boxes or private meetings for employee suggestions and concerns. Now, using social networks or online forums, employees can voice their opinions and have open discussions.


  • Recruiting: Human Resources departments know that today’s job seekers are online. Recruiting departments now use social media to market their company and talk directly to potential employees. Many Human Resources departments also use social media when conducting background checks on applicants, looking for additional information not provided in a traditional resume.


But what exactly can each social platform do for Human Resources? Let’s look at the 3 main networks.


The social media giant has literally millions of users from all over the world, making it a handy  tool for Human Resources personnel. Since Facebook is so popular, the chances of an applicant having an active profile are high. It is a great place to start additional research on a potential hire.



The professional social network, LinkedIn is perfect for recruiters looking for qualified applicants. With an active job board, it is also a good place to post a job ad that will be seen by the right people.



Twitter has an excellent search feature which allows Human Resources departments to look for potential employees by searching relevant hashtags and keywords. Like Facebook, Twitter is also a good screening tool for looking up applicants.


The way Human Resources departments run themselves have evolved as the use of social media has become crucial. And they continue to evolve. Here are a couple of issues that Human Resources need to keep an eye on and be ready for.


Employees using their own devices

Before the widespread popularity of smart phones, companies used to provide handheld devices for their employees. Today, Human Resources departments need to understand that they can’t control the communication channels of their employees, and prepare accordingly.


The ever-changing legal side

Since social media changes so frequently, some states are making efforts to regulate what employers can and cannot access on applicant’s social media profiles. Currently, 6 states have passed laws that prohibit employers from obtaining information on applicants via social media. While these laws haven’t hit the majority of states, it’s definitely something that could happen and businesses should watch the legal and regulatory developments.


Social media has become increasingly accepted in the business world. Once mainly used for marketing and advertising, social media networks now serve a purpose for Human Resources departments as well. It can be used to make companies run more efficiently, as a hiring and job search tool. Smart HR departments are now using social media to their advantage and keeping an eye on the constant changes that could help or hinder their efforts.


About the Author:  Today’s guest contributor for WomenOfHr.com is Mark W. Kirkpatrick,  an enthusiastic writer and infographic designer who focuses primarily on public relations, tech and the business globalization. You can also find more of his writing at 1800-Number.com, which covers all things related to business communications.

Three Things Employees Need

Posted on March 6th, by Judith Lindenberger in Business and Workplace. 9 comments

Three things needed for a long term relationship are commitment, caring and communication. Just as partners in a successful marriage, who are committed to one another, understand the benefits they receive from one another, employees and employers require the same. Employees need to achieve results and employers to provide stability.

Caring is not a word used often in employment agreements but love has a place in the corporate world. The best employers treat their employees well by providing competitive salaries and benefits, training supervisors to manage effectively, giving employees the tools that they need to do their jobs, and, most important, letting employees know how they are doing. Employees show that love back by being passionate about quality and loyal to the companies for whom they work.

And then there is communication. In order to sustain a long term and healthy relationship with employees, smart companies provide job descriptions, mission statements, vision, goals, and frequent performance feedback. And smart employees, who understand where the company is headed and what they need to do, offer innovation.

Just like a successful marriage takes work, the relationship between employers and employees requires the same commitment, caring and communication, not just offered once, but provided continuously over the long term.


Photo credit

About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.

Women Talking a Great Game – Business Isn’t Just His Domain

Posted on March 4th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

“Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” - Gail Blanke, President and CEO, Lifedesigns


Maybe being a man writing this undermines all credibility. My career has been all about embracing the importance and value of a diverse workplace. Having a silent or marginalized voice isn’t easy. Being an ignored or disrespected voice is soul crushingly depressing. I’ve long been having this conversation with my female colleagues about the importance breaking the silence and finding my voice.


Let’s not kid ourselves though, there’s still knuckledraggers wandering the workplace halls. The staff room at times is more like a locker room. You need hipwaders every time you pass the watercooler, because there’s so much BS and testosterone fueled bravado surrounding it.


There are talkers in your midst. They’re also getting ahead by only talking a good game. It’s time to rise above the bad smell, of less pay, less recognition, and lesser titles. You’re educated, you’re smart, you have skills, and you work harder than most. You’ve got game. Communicating a great game will raise the bar in your workplace.


Improving your verbal and non-verbal communication skills will get you noticed, will help get you ahead, and make for a better workplace. Here are some things to keep in mind.


  • Being overly apologetic is undermining. It’s not your fault the network is down, or the caterer messed up the the lunch order. Working late to meet a deadline, don’t apologize for asking your team to join you.
  • Your behavior shapes the universe. Your competence and confidence always need to be on display. Showing courage and conviction will inspire and mobilize others to take action. Turning your words into action will get you noticed. Remember the fine line between arrogance and confidence. Speak directly with authoritative tone. Being loud, condescending, or defensive won’t carry the day.
  • Do not talk down your achievements or undervalue them when working in a successful group and alongside men. Teamwork matters. Undervaluing yourself in group situations, in front of co-workers or employers, will hold you back. Take the credit and recognition you’re due. Kudos aren’t just a man’s domain.
  • Of course there’s merit in wanting to be helpful, and having the get things done attitude to achieve your teams goals. Remember the delicate balance between taking on meaningful tasks versus the busy grunt work nobody else wants to do. You want to be a meaningful and effective contributor. Communicate with the boss about projects that excite you. Let them know what you’d like to work on.
  • Ideas are essentially gender neutral. Work at generating good ideas, communicating the value of those ideas, as well as helping others articulate their ideas.
  • If direct and open feedback is constructive, don’t personalize or internalize it. Be direct and open in receiving it. Take action on it.
  • Be authentic. Know and respect what you are about, and true to your beliefs. You’re more than just what’s on your resume.
  • Focus on your own growth and contribute to the growth of the people supporting you.


A truly diverse workplace embraces different voices, with different perspectives. By making your voice is heard and your presence known, you’ll be making a difference.


“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypant


Photo Credit

About the Author:  As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing.  Before joining Celayix, Bimal was Vice President of Marketing at Faronics, a leading provider of IT solutions for the Education vertical where he helped grow revenue over 50% and launched exciting new solutions. Prior to that Bimal held senior marketing and product roles at technology companies such as Business Objects and McAfee Security where he gained significant international experience working with global companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Sony, HP, Orange, Telefonica and Ricoh.

Writing in the Workplace – The Lost Skill?

Posted on January 16th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

Editor’s Note: Though our guest posts typically come from established business professionals, this post gives a voice to an aspiring future business professional, as she explores her take on the importance of solid writing skills to success in your career.


In our current era of 140 character tweets, quick status updates and instant messaging, one might assume that writing skills have taken a backseat to efficiency and expediency. Unfortunately, those hoping to someday write their business reports in emoticons will have to wait a while longer. If you’re one of the many that feel technology has replaced the need to be a good writer, think again. Writing is as important now as it has ever been.

Unfortunately, writing isn’t held in such high esteem as it once was. Many view it as a necessary evil of the workplace instead of the invaluable communication tool that it is. When we think of improving our communication skills, most of us think about speaking abilities or ways to improve our listening skills. Good writing skills can help us in a number of ways,  from improving our credibility in the workplace to improving our persuasiveness.



There are more ways than ever available to us for communicating our ideas through the written word. We have emails, texts, Tweets, letters, notes, reports, presentations and more. If you think about it, we spend a large portion of our time at work communicating to one another through writing. Our writing skills or lack of them are on display every day to a wide audience of co-workers, customers, managers, and stakeholders. Below are some tips for improving your writing skills in the workplace.

Be clear. Eschew obfuscation. That is, avoid confusion. While you want your co-workers to think               you’re intelligent, don’t use big complicated words when simple ones will do. On the other hand, nail down the exact message you’re trying to convey by drawing on a large vocabulary. Consider your audience and drop the jargon.

Be persuasive. A big part of your writing efforts are aimed at convincing others to do something you want. Sales and marketing professionals are particularly adept at using this skill. But it is an essential skill at every level of the company.  Pay attention to the tone of your writing. Be energetic and positive. Use the active voice.

Be courteous. Don’t become too abrupt in your messages to others. While some forms of communication require you to get straight to the point, this abrupt method shouldn’t be used in every form of written communication you send. Be aware of the sort of language you use and again, consider the audience you are addressing.

Be complete. Don’t leave out information that may leave the recipient with lingering questions. A well written message should be self-explanatory. It should contain enough information so that the person receiving it won’t have to ask for further instructions or information.



If you have effective writing skills then you are viewed as more credible in the workplace. This is a no brainer. Think back to a time when you received an email from a co-worker that was full of grammar mistakes and typos. What was your impression? Chances are you focused your attention on the mistakes rather than the message. At the very best, you assumed the writer was sloppy and didn’t take the time to check their work. At the worst, you viewed them as incapable and perhaps less intelligent. If you want to earn credibility in the workplace, make sure your writing is clear and free of grammatical errors.

Photo Credit


About the Author: Jasmine Lloyd is in her senior year of college and looks forward to entering the business world after graduation. When not studying she is often blogging for Essay Edge or working on her writing skills.

Five Attitudes Effective Leaders Must Have

Posted on September 24th, by Anna McCarthy in Leadership. 3 comments

Given the amount of advice available on how to be an effective leader, one would think that those who lead would have it down to an art. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to parse through the wealth of sometimes paradoxical information, and I’m sure we all encounter leaders that believe that doing anything to get their own way is the only way to lead. While everyone has a natural leadership style, the potential leader may not know how to deliver this style effectively or compassionately.  I’ve found that the following five attitudes, in addition to being easy to remember, help those tasked with the charge to be in charge get in touch with their inner leaders and exercise their skills towards achievement and outer peace.

1. Meditate. I’m not necessarily talking about literal meditation here, but establishing a daily practice can help you achieve the self-awareness that is at the root of genuine confidence. Simply paying attention to your breathing for merely five minutes a day can boost your ability to focus on both the task at hand and the way you present yourself to others.   Self-awareness is one of the most desirable qualities in a leader because you need to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to build a team that best complements your skillset.  Of course, there are other ways to get to know what kind of a leader you are, such as personality tests, 360-degree assessments, and journaling.


2. Concentrate. A focused leader is an effective leader. Concentration, while supported by practices like meditation, is much more than just tuning out distraction while you work—it also involves believing in a cohesive, coherent vision. Effective leaders know what their goals are, and are able to articulate what they need to achieve that end. Leaders often fail when their main motivation is to be liked or be everything to everyone, and a failure to set boundaries will allow the execution of your vision to become diluted.  For instance, if you have an employee that you feel consistently takes projects in her own direction to the detriment of their completion, take the time to respectfully listen to her ideas but be able to restate your clear goals. Be willing to tell your employee how she can best serve these, and what the consequences will be if she does not follow through.


3. Relate. Nevertheless, it is important to treat your employees as people, not pawns in achieving your clear, stated goals. Effective leaders listen and make an effort to understand behaviors and reactions that may not appear to make sense on the surface. Even habitual lateness may have its roots in something understandable. Just as you are motivated by things that are unique to you, others—your employees, your clients—have their own unique life circumstances and deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. People who feel seen, heard, and understood are much more likely to see, hear, and seek to understand when you communicate how they can help you achieve your goals.


4. Communicate. Especially when you find that you were wrong or that you need to change course, be open and honest. Share your vision or strategy with your team, and be clear about what your plan is to see it to its completion. Too much secrecy may make those you work with feel disconnected from your mission and less likely to meet your expectations (especially if they don’t know what those expectations are!)   Additionally, it is helpful to establish a standard for communication. Know how you will communicate with those you lead, and stay consistent. This will keep everyone on the same page.


5. Motivate. Provide tangible rewards for your employees’ efforts. People are much more likely to feel like they’ve made a positive contribution if they have something to show for it.  Incentives can come in many forms, such as awards, lunches, or even monetary bonuses. It is also helpful to remember that it is motivational to offer five positive comments for every piece of negative feedback, not because you’re sugary or a pushover, but because we’re more likely to remember the negative. Both negative and positive feedback can motivate those you lead towards greater self-awareness.  Positive feedback and tangible rewards will let your employees know that you appreciate their willingness to participate in a larger vision.


About the Author: Anna McCarthy is an HR specialist who writes primarily on topics ranging from business relationships to employee satisfaction for Able Trophies, a supplier of glass awards and acrylic awards.  She spends her free time going on weekend hikes and writing short stories.


Photo credit iStockphoto

Three Tenets of Discretionary Discipline Done Right

Posted on September 17th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Leadership. No Comments

When it comes to maintaining order in the workplace, negotiating employee discipline can seem like a high wire balancing act. On the one hand, we need to retain authority and some modicum of control over subordinates, but at the same time, dealing with personalities is an inherently touchy issue. After all, especially in the case of a non-fireable offense, the point is rehabbed behavior and not resentment, right?

Moreover, in this day and age of rampant lawsuits and claims of workplace discrimination, even if you have at-will employees and independent contractors making up the majority of your workforce, you need to handle discipline delicately to ensure a safe and functional work environment for everyone.

So here are some things to keep in mind when navigating the potentially murky waters of maintaining order at work through employee discipline.

Keep the issue on a “Need to Know” basis
In high pressure environments where time and money are at stake, emotions run high. Accordingly, if you believe an employee is taking advantage of the company or otherwise not living up to his end of the bargain, it can be easy to fly off the handle without taking a step back to assess the situation.

Likewise, if an employee is approached from a place of accusation or similarly confronted by multiple parties, your actions can trigger a defensive reaction rather than a willingness to engage in a calm, problem-solving discussion.

Accordingly, do not discuss your concerns about your employee with anyone else before ensuring their involvement is absolutely essential or their knowledge of the situation is necessary. You cannot un-ring a bell so don’t sound the alarm lightly.


Stick to the current, relevant facts
Yes, that means you should incorporate all three when you address your employee:

  • Current: Don’t bring past issues up that have been dealt with before, unless they are prior examples of the same type of behavior.
  • Relevant: Keep the discussion centered on the task at hand and avoid incorporating unrelated information that has no bearing on the current situation.
  • Facts: This is the most important aspect of your disciplinary action – do not mention feelings, thoughts or emotions at this point. You need to tell her what she has factually done or not done to warrant “the talk” and be prepared to back up your position with actual proof if necessary.

Once you have set the stage for the discussion, allow your employee to fully respond to the current, relevant facts you have presented.


Perception may be reality but that doesn’t make it true
It is often said that there are 3 sides to every story: mine, yours and the truth. Unfortunately, most of us stop the investigation after we mentally process our own perception of an event – what we see is what we believe is actually going on and we make assumptions about a person’s motivation for acting in a certain way.

However, one of the most important things to remember is that the way we perceive an event is not the whole story and we need more facts to truly, accurately and fairly judge a situation. Be willing to listen and do not enter into a discussion with your mind made up one way or another.


As a final note, by establishing clear and unambiguous guidelines and expectations up front, you can avoid many issues and misunderstandings before they develop into full-blown problems.

What are some of the ways you have effectively handled employee discipline?


About the Author: Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing (www.amsterdamprinting.com), a leading provider of custom and promotional pens and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.