Tag: communication

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.

 Facebook

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.

 

LinkedIn

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

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.

 

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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.

 

Communication

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.

 

Credibility

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. 1 Comment

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.


Retaining Talent Through Alignment, Accountability, and Clarity

Posted on May 14th, by Amanda Papini in Business and Workplace, Leadership. 1 Comment

With the qualified talent pool shrinking across the globe, the pressure on businesses to retain talent grows. In hopes of retention, companies across most industries are accommodating for generation X and Y’s desires by building a flexible, fun, informal environment that includes summer Fridays, remote work days, casual attire, and more. Start-ups are going to great lengths to mimic the Google and Facebook environments that attract and retain talent across the globe. I benefit from, and am a proponent of these environments. Some companies, however, particularly start-ups, must be mindful of, and guard against allowing informality to result in a lack of accountability, misalignment, and ambiguity. Now more than ever, it is critical to keep talent aligned with a clear company mission and hold them accountable. The flexible, fun, informal environment can only keep talent interested for so long. There must be something deeper for talent to identify with.

Talent must first identify with a company’s mission and core values. It is critical that veterans of the organization all understand, communicate, and embody the same message. Remember, Millennials look for guidance from those above them and as we know, businesses are constantly evolving to remain competitive. It is imperative that managers and executives keep these messages consistent. We cannot expect talent to feel secure and have the desire to commit to an environment that has a mission that continually changes, or a list of core values that is adhered to only when convenient.

Secondly, there must be a “fit to role.” When talking about a fit to role, most people will identify with qualified talent fitting the role; however, the fit to role actually starts with the role being appropriate for the department, division and company. Does the role benefit the company, and can it be successful within the current confines of the environment? With the ever-changing business environment, talent acquisition should ensure that an assessment of true business needs occurs or has occurred with each and every job requisition. It would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for someone to remain engaged in a role that doesn’t make sense for the organization and is not aligned with its mission.

After identifying the appropriate role for the company, the appropriate candidate should be determined for the role. Many companies focus on the technical skills of the candidate and hope for a plug and play that will ensure the business doesn’t miss a beat. However, hiring managers cannot omit the importance of assuring alignment and engagement with the role by determining what the potential hire enjoys, doesn’t enjoy, and what drives her to achieve. This can be accomplished through conducting a personal assessment (such as the Harrison Assessment), as well as through technical assessments that assess her technical skill sets for the role.

Hiring the candidate is just the beginning of ensuring engagement and alignment exists throughout the talent’s tenure. There must be a clear relationship among the talent’s job description, career path and development. As soon as talent does not have clarity and understanding around their job descriptions and career paths, one can expect highly desired talent will begin their search for the next step in their career elsewhere. Generation X and Y have had information at their fingertips that allows them to learn; however, simply learning is not enough. It must have a purpose. Aligning short-term, tangible goals to reach the mission at hand will help ensure long-term engagement. Managers should anticipate the need for feedback and the desire to know how this newly acquired knowledge helps talent get from here to there in a career path.

In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to keep your talent aligned with your business and working for a greater purpose. Increased retention rates will be accomplished by creating an aligned environment that is buttressed by accountability across the organization. In addition to the fun, flexible environment that is permeating business places across the globe, leadership must establish and maintain a clear path and hold the talent accountable for accomplishing the plan. After all, how can they be recognized for their accomplishments if their objectives aren’t being established and tracked?

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the author: Amanda Papini, Recruiting Director at Response Mine Interactive started her career in recruiting at Medical Staffing Network in 2005, and moved over to a corporate recruiting role at BKV and Response Mine Interactive in 2007, where she built an internal recruiting practice for both companies. Amanda has since staffed over 250 full-time employees within both companies; an average of 50 hires per year. After assisting with RMI and BKV’s growth over the last 5 years, Amanda decided to move over to focus solely on RMI’s talent acquisition and take on a role more dedicated to employee development.


{Random Encounters} On the Road to Alignment and Purpose

Posted on March 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Women of HR Series: Random Encounters. Comments Off

Encounters with your boss aren’t really random, I guess, but I had an unexpected encounter with a boss when I was a young leader moving up in the organization.

I was one of a very few women in the middle management of the firm and was being promoted to the next level.  After accepting the new job and agreeing to deliver the outcomes as described, I praised my boss for being one of two executives in the company who had a track record of developing and promoting women into management positions.

He looked at me like I was a little nuts and said, “Are you kidding? Any time I have a women who is even marginally qualified for a management job I’ll give it to her.  She’ll work twice as hard and produce three times the results – for half the money!”

Heart stopping, right?

Now, he was a good guy. He had hired me and promoted me twice already. I knew he was pretty chauvinistic – what male boss wasn’t in the early 1990’s?  But here’s the thing: he thought he was being complimentary. He thought that telling me that he noticed that I worked harder than anyone else and produced results better than everyone else was a good message.  But you know, all I heard was the “half the money” part.

A few months later I got my bonus. It was fantastic. The biggest check I’d ever seen. But you know what I wondered?  I wondered if this bonus was a “half the money” bonus. I didn’t know what anyone else got and I didn’t know the bonus formula. So even though I thought the check was huge, I didn’t know what it meant.  And I always suspected that, although it was big, perhaps i

t was less than I would have received if I had been a man.

I came to peace with that pretty quickly. He really was a good boss. In the best way he knew, he was trying to acknowledge my performance and contributions. But I’ve always remembered that experience and have used it to be sure I’m clear in my communication with my team – communication about performance, money – and what it means, career opportunity and more.  Making sure that highly valued – and other – employees know I value them for what they do, how they do it, the results they produce and how those dynamics impact their career progress is critical in building manager/employee relationships.

I think back to that time and am glad he promoted me – even if his motive was a little suspect. We all got what we wanted: the organization got a highly effective leader, he got a region that blew out its numbers, and I got higher into management with a larger compensation package. Win-win-win.

Funny how those random conversations can change your perspective forever.  I chose to learn an important management communication lesson that I never forgot.  I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “I can learn something from any man – even if it’s what not to do.”

About the author: China Gorman is CEO of the CMG Group, connecting HR to business and business to HR, and author of the Data Point Tuesday feature at www.chinagorman.com.  Connect with her on Twitter as @ChinaGorman.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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{Women of HR Unwrapped} Let Others Take Responsibility for Their Own Mistakes

Posted on January 2nd, by Franny Oxford in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

We are unwrapping some posts from the Women of HR archives for you this holiday season. Relax, enjoy and let us know if there is a favorite of yours you'd like to see unwrapped and run again.

Our fearless leader over here at Women of HR recently sent us a link to an awesome manifesto titled, Six Rules Women Must Break In Order to Succeed. The list includes provocative ideas such as taking center stage, being politically savvy, and playing to win.

I have a rule I'd like to add to the list and it's a big one:

Care Less.

In this instance, by care I mean taking responsibility for anything outside your own purview and trying to fix, make better, help, show concern, or apologize for problem or issue that you did not create.

The fact is, women already apologize far more often than men. And we apologize for different reasons, often to convey sympathy rather than responsibility. Here's a great example from dinner with my brother and sister last night. We were going to a football game and meeting the rest of our family. The waiter forgot to put in her order and then came back to discuss it as the rest of us were finishing the meal. She told him to forget it. He tried to argue with her about it, since he'd just put the order in.

My sister said, “I’m really sorry, but I had said I didn’t want that shrimp dish after all. We’re trying to get to a

football game. Since you forgot to order the dish, everyone else is finished. Please cancel it.”

He brought it out ten minutes later. She said again, to the waiter: “Thanks, but like I said, we don’t want this shrimp now. I’m sorry.” He left it on the table as he went to get the check. The shrimp dish was on the bill.

My brother said to the waiter: “Hey, man, you screwed up. I guess you’re eating shrimp for dinner. But we’re not paying for it. And we don’t want to drag this doggy bag full of shrimp all over town tonight.”

Notice the difference?

My brother is not known to be especially assertive, but my sister is known to be particularly so, for a woman. And she still apologized twice for a mistake she didn't make. My sister was trying to convey sympathy, but the waiter apparently heard responsibility – why would she apologize if she hadn't somehow helped create the problem?

Care less. Apologize less. Or at least count the number of times you say, “I'm sorry,” compared to your male peers. Let people take responsibilities for their own mistakes. It won't kill them. And continuing to care too much about the people around you might kill you. Or worse, send you driving home with a dish of shrimp scampi that has been sitting in your car for 3 hours on a hot Houston night.

About the author: Franny Oxford, SPHR is an HR leader for Texas entrepreneurs and privately held companies. Franny is committed to helping all members of the HR profession become better risk takers and stronger questioners of the status quo. You can connect with her on Twitter as @Frannyo.

Photo credit iStockphoto

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{Women of HR Unwrapped} Bully Boss or Tough Boss? How to Tell the Difference

Posted on December 20th, by Jennifer Miller in Business and Workplace. 7 comments

We are unwrapping some posts from the Women of HR archives for you this holiday season. Relax, enjoy and let us know if there is a favorite of yours you'd like to see unwrapped and run again.

These days, the Peanuts character Lucy is a bully and they’re not going to allow it anymore.

At least, that’s the deal according to the administrators at my kids’ school system, who ditched the time-honored tradition of watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in the elementary schools during their Halloween parties because “Lucy is a bully.” I confess to doing some heavy eye-rolling at this decision. After all, Lucy’s been bossing people around since 1950. It’s Lucy for crying out loud; that’s how she rolls.

But consider the larger context of this decision: it’s not only our schools where the definition of “bully” has changed. The term “workplace bullying” is becoming commonplace and this has implications for both managers and human resource professionals. Employees are paying attention to bosses who retaliate, which is considered a form of bullying. According to an EEOC press release, in 2010 for the first time ever, retaliation surpassed race as the most frequently filed discrimination charge.

The Workplace Bullying Institute website defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
  • Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done”

If using the definition above, most managers would absolve themselves of being a bully. They understand that blatant verbal abuse and aggressive behavior of any type is not acceptable managerial behavior. But what about those behaviors that might have been deemed OK in the past, but are now seen as

inappropriate? What about the Lucys out there who are navigating a changed boss/employee landscape? They are the self-described “tough” bosses. Their reaction to claims of bullying might be: “Geez, lighten up, I was just joking!” or “Tell them to quit whining”.

As a human resources professional, how do you help managers sort out the difference between being simply “tough” and being a bully? This is how I break it down:

A tough boss has employees’ best interests in mind. The tough boss challenges employees to think beyond their current capabilities, to go beyond what they thought they could do. Tough bosses have difficult conversations. They don’t shy away from poor performance; they address it immediately. The tough boss might not be “warm and fuzzy” but they are compassionate. The one thing a tough boss will never do is belittle their employees in any way.

If a manager’s actions create a sense of feeling belittled by the employee, then the manager has crossed the line into bullying. It may not have been intentional, but there it is.

In human resources, one of the most difficult tasks you face is that of ensuring your employees’ safety— and not the kind that you report with OSHA. It’s the lack of psychological safety that takes a hard-to-measure toll on your workforce. You can help your management staff see their role in providing this type of “safety” by helping them understand the evolving use of the word “bully.” Helping them stay focused on being a tough boss rather than a bully helps create the productive, non-toxic work environment all human resources professionals should strive for.

About the author: For 20+ years, Jennifer V. Miller has been helping professionals “master the people equation” to maximize their personal influence. A former HR generalist and training manager, she now advises executives on how to create positive, productive workplace environments. She is the founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource and blogs at The People Equation. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter as @JenniferVMiller.

Photo credit: peanuts.wikia.com

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