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.
Telecommuting policies save organizations thousands of dollars in overhead and facility costs annually while maintaining high standards of productivity and efficiency. An integral component to this winning equation is efficient management. Whether you have years of experience running a remote workforce or you are new to overseeing a geographically dispersed team, these top tips for managing a telecommuting team will help you get the most out of your staff:
Communicate your expectations upfront. If your expectations are not clear from the beginning, you will struggle with holding your team members accountable when deliverables aren’t met. Openly communicate performance goals and desired results early on so your team members know exactly what is expected of them and what will happen if they fail to produce.
Set deadlines. Proper time management is essential to effectively managing a telecommute team. Achieve this by setting deadlines for all assignments. If a project is particularly large or complex, make it more manageable by setting easily attainable or by setting smaller benchmark goals within the master plan.
Stay organized. Whether you use customer relationship management software, create a tracking spreadsheet, document everything in Word, or jot down notes in Evernote, it’s important to find an organizational system that makes sense to you. You will likely have to try a few different approaches before you find one that works, but once you do, ensure that you stick to it. Creating an organizational system is the easy part, keeping it updated is the hard part. Be diligent with your tracking system – it will help you maintain structure and ensure that tasks and telecommuters aren’t neglected.
Avoid a unilateral management approach. No two telecommuters are alike. While it is expected that you will have general guidelines for your entire team to follow, your management approach should not be a unilateral one. Within reason, tailor your management style to accommodate the personalities, learning styles, and work ethic of your team. Doing so will lead to greater productivity and job satisfaction for your team members.
Establish standard hours for communication. Similar to a professor setting office hours for students, as a telecommute manager you should establish standard office hours of so your employees and freelancers have access to you when needed.
Over-communicate. Communication breaks the rule of “less is more.” It’s better to over-communicate than to leave your team wanting for information. Nothing slows down progress faster than unclear or confusing directions.
Get to know your team. Virtual teams don’t have the option to chat around the water cooler or go out for lunch, so it is especially important to maintain friendly working relationships with your staff. Demonstrating that you are invested in the well-being of your employees makes them want to be invested in their jobs.
Be flexible. Telecommuting necessitates flexibility, and as a telecommute manager you should have it in spades. Being malleable to scheduling hiccups, sick days, and project revisions is a necessity. Just be mindful of team members who try to take advantage or your accommodations; if you detect abuse, firmly but gently address your concerns to get staff back on track.
Keep your tech in check. Technology is the lifeblood of a telecommute environment. Regularly update anti-virus programs, maintain a reliable high-speed Internet connection, and ensure that your cloud storage systems are in proper working order.
Continue training. Don’t be afraid to update your policies and adopt new procedures. Continual training with your virtual team will help you stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and keep you and your team interested in your work.
Trust. Frustrating as it may be, you cannot monitor every activity of your telecommuting staff. It is absolutely essential that you recruit trustworthy employees and contractors whom you can trust to complete assignments and handle their own levels of responsibility.
How do you manage your telecommute team? Share your stories, suggestions, and strategies!
Kimberly Back is the Social Media Strategist and Senior Writer for Virtual Vocations (http://www.virtualvocations.com), an online job service that helps job-seekers find legitimate telecommute opportunities while also providing useful and educational resources.
Photo credit iStockphoto
From micro-manager to free thinker, the type of business leader you are directly influences your performance.
When evaluating your leadership qualities there are different categories you can fall into, based on one of two main principles; autocratic or democratic leadership. Confidence in your abilities, determination and an authoritative nature are all shared skills for leaders but that doesn’t mean each one is the same. Which category do you fall into? Read our list of pros and cons to help ascertain your leadership style and gain some tips on how to be a better leader.
An autocratic leader makes decisions alone, determining how the business will run and what systems will be put in place with very little negotiation, collaboration or input from others.
Pros: Where employees or workers require close supervision, this intense leadership strategy promotes growth and development to ensure work remains well focused.
Cons: This leadership style can verge on the oppressive, leading to feelings of resentment and low morale within staff and employees. Leaders face high levels of accountability for poor decisions as they may reject input from others and take full responsibility for everything.
To improve: Vary your approach to leadership by offering employees the chance to provide input. Some decisions still need to be made by you, but delegating smaller tasks to trusted employees can encourage them to become more independent and act with initiative. Holding discussion groups where staff can suggest ways for the company to improve can also be beneficial as you’ll gain access to a much wider scope of ideas.
The reverse of the above, democratic leaders place high value on input from their staff and operate with a more fluid and flexible approach towards management and leadership.
Pros: Any elements of change in the business are accepted readily by employees who feel they have been involved in discussions from the very beginning. Staff morale is usually high and employees are likely to feel valued in their positions.
Cons: Relying on staff too heavily for their input can influence decisions negatively. The length of time involved to reach a decision through collaborative meetings can also be detrimental where quick answers are needed.
To improve: Establish a tier system which gives staff input but allows quick decisions to be made where needed. It’s important that you retain an authoritative stance which is both approachable and firm.
Kat Prescott is a young entrepreneur who studied Business Management and leadership style to degree level. She has experience leading a small team and is keen to share her knowledge. Kat’s guest post is provided by Steps, a pioneering company who use drama techniques to enhance learning and encourage the development of business skills. Take a look at leadership development from firms like Steps to learn more.
I was poking around on an HR message board the other day and happened upon a discussion regarding a recently promoted manager who is ‘struggling’ in her new role. It appears this new manager continues to experience difficulties after moving from being a peer to being the leader of her work group. A fairly common scenario.
In her explanation the HR lady posting about the situation stated: “…we believe she needs to ‘come over to our side.’”
Implied in all of this, and based on some details the HR lady had supplied, was the fact that the new manager continued to maintain friendly relationships with her team members and worked to solve their problems and frustrations. She had, as her staff members knew, walked in their shoes. She got it so therefore they trusted her.
The Powers That Be, however, have decided that this manager must make a 180-degree switch and disentangle herself from personal friendships/relationships. They believe she needs to join the pod people other managers and become one of ‘us’ because, naturally, she is no longer one of ‘them.’”
But is that really the answer? Surely there are ways that a newly promoted manager, coming from within the ranks of the company, can successfully transition to being a leader without turning into a soulless robotic drone? Well yes, there are. The new manager can:
- Understand that relationships will (and must) evolve. The newly promoted manager has the opportunity to establish a NEW style of interacting with employees. While she cannot forget a shared history of confidences and (perhaps) communal misery, it’s critical she begin her era with a different focus. This includes having discussions with former peers about performance and career aspirations with the goal of establishing a different level of rapport. Jokes, fun, shared lunches and camaraderie is great but developing work focused relationships with subordinates is also necessary to enable any future performance-related discussions.
- Listen. Think. Then listen again. The new manager needs to determine how best to keep her ear to the ground, tune in to the organizational happenings and sort the wheat from the chaff. She needs to realize she doesn’t know all the answers and can no longer jump to the same conclusions and rally the troops around those conclusions as she may have done when in her previous role. No longer Norma Rae but not quite the crusty Plant Manager either.
- Realize that what got him here won’t get him there. Upon being recognized for competence, performance or potential the newly promoted manager may believe he’s demonstrated his specialness – and been suitably rewarded. But it’s critical that he seek out opportunities to participate in leadership training because sometimes organizations set people up to fail. Scratch that – quite OFTEN organizations set people up to fail. Newly promoted managers are often expected to learn their job by trial and error and sadly managers promoted from within are often given less direction than external hires. It’s assumed, after all, they ‘know’ what needs to be done and it’s certainly assumed they understand the organization’s culture, norms and values. In order to eliminate the risk of not understanding his new role though, the new manager needs to take the initiative to seek out opportunities for learning and development.
- Develop a Personal Style. Every new manager has the ability to blend her unique personality with her authentic self and add in a dash of the attributes she most admired from previous leaders. Empathetic? Coaching? Authoritarian? Could be any of the above – but it needs to be real.
Being promoted at work to a leadership position over former peers can be challenging and organizations need to provide appropriate support to employees who have made this transition.
Gladiatorial combat in the organization is not the answer. Please – I implore you – eliminate us vs. them.
Photo credit iStockphoto
With 25 years of HR Management experience, Robin Schooling, SPHR, has worked in a variety of industries. In 2013, after serving as VPHR with a Louisiana based organization, she left corporate HR to open up Silver Zebras, LLC, an HR Consulting firm. She blogs at HRSchoolhouse and you can follow her on twitter at @RobinSchooling where, on football weekends, you can read all her #whodat tweets.
I have had a really, really, really good year so far as an HR consultant. I have not been able to say that since 2007 and 2003 before that. In my opinion, one of the main reasons I have been so busy is because managers are consistently getting the wrong people on the bus (a Jim Collins term for the organization). I suspect it is because they don’t know what they don’t know and they are not putting the time and effort in the beginning of the process to get it right from the get go.
In order to be successful at interviewing and selection, I think it would benefit all managers if they read the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He refers to getting the right “who” (people/employees) on the “bus” (the organization) and making sure the “who” is going the right direction. Going the right direction is the “what” (the specific job) which ultimately means making sure they are doing the right things the right way. He says the first and most important thing is getting the right “who” aboard. You have to do a good job in recruiting and selection, getting the “right” people on the bus first. Then you worry about the what.
One of the main reasons I have been so busy this year is because many companies are just not focusing on the number one thing – they are not doing a good job of recruiting and selecting the right “who.” I don’t think it’s purposeful at all; I think perhaps they just don’t have the right tools in the interviewing toolbox, and in some cases never had them or don’t realize they are missing. Perhaps it’s one of those skills that everyone thinks they can do without any formalized training. Just like everyone thinks they can do HR — everyone thinks they recruit, interview and select.
They are WRONG!
Not everybody understands how to screen, probe, and research the who to make sure they are the right “who” to fit in the job and organization for which they are interviewing. Talent management is really and truly an art to perfect once the basic skills are learned. These skills are not ones that you are born with; you absolutely have to learn the best tips and techniques.
The result of assumimg you “got it when you don’t” is BAD Hires with BAD attitudes!
Here are just a few examples of problems I have been dealing with as a direct result of bad hires (“who’s” that have):
• Become disgruntled employees
• Sabotage the employer
• Do whatever they can to get back at the employer
• Call the attorneys to initiate a lawsuit against the employer and/or coworkers
• Call the federal agencies like the department of labor or EEOC
• Call the state human rights department
The list can go on and all this creates drama and takes a lot of time, energy, and money away from the success of the organization, and quite frankly away from the employees when you consider the bigger picture. The afterthought: “Had the management done a good job in the beginning they might not be in the place they are now – calling consultants, like myself, or an attorney to help bail them out of these kinds of problems.”
Additional skill is required to develop the right behavioral based questions to help more accurately predict the KASO’s needed for the “what.” Are the right questions being asked even once you do have the right who? The “what” interview questions determine prior training for the job and doing the right things the right way. Often interviewers will tend to ask questions around the topic but not specific enough to really determine whether the interviewee knows the job and can perform the job effectively. In some cases the “what” can be taught, and other cases you don’t really have time to train the person. Managers should seek the right training and not assume they have it. The cost of replacement can be up to a year’s worth of salary.
Learning how to effectively find the right ”who” and “what” need a formalized training program. Over the years I have use DDI’s Target Selection Program, which I was trained on early in my career and have used ever since. My training included not only how to use the program as an interviewer, but also how to train others on it. While I have not formally trained anyone using the program, I still feel it is one of the most effective tools available.
There are a number of books by William Byham, Ph.D. that are very good resources for both the interviewer and the interviewee focusing on the targeted selection process. I often recommend The Selection Solution: Solving the Mystery of Matching People to Jobs and Landing the Job You Want: How to Have the Best Job Interview of Your Life. The basis of both is looking at prior experience as a predictor of future success.
I know there are many other techniques available; what I would like to emphasize is there are preventative measures managers can and should take to ensure that they are interviewing the right way. Thus they need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for the bad hires they make instead of blaming the employee.
Get the right “who” and then determine if the right who knows the “what” and/or can be trained. You have to know what the “who” and “what” is in the first place to know how to ask for it in the right way. Turnover will go down, retention will go up, replacement costs will go down, and everybody will be happy, happy, happy!
Photo credit iStockphoto
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.
With social media, what you don’t know can seriously hurt your organization. One 2010 survey found that employees estimate spending roughly four hours every day checking multiple email accounts, with up to two hours spent on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A 2012 Salary.com survey found that 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites daily. And don’t think blocking employee access to social media on company networks is the answer; personal smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, and easily fill the gap.
The rub for today’s organizations is that while social media use at work has definite risks, it also is one of the best ways to empower and engage employees. Increasingly, in our connected 24/7 businesses, the line between work and personal time is blurring. This is especially true for Generation Y employees; as long as they meet deadlines and deliver, these employees don’t feel that it’s particularly useful to distinguish between time spent updating Twitter or engaged in team meetings. Organizations may beg to differ, especially when an offensive or inappropriate blog post or tweet can damage their brand, lower employee morale, and even lead to workplace lawsuits.
Yet, most organizations don’t really know how their employees are using social media, either personally or professionally, let alone what impact it’s having on employees’ overall levels of productivity.
That’s why it’s so important, before you set policy, to know how your managers currently handle social media use at work, as well as how its use by employees is effecting their management. Get at these fundamental issues by asking managers five key questions:
- Have your employees’ use of social media ever triggered a workplace lawsuit or regulatory investigation?
- What impact have your employees’ personal use of social media during work hours had, if any, on their productivity?
- How do you use social media, if at all, to help manage your projects and employees?
- Have you reviewed all applicable federal and state laws governing electronic data content, usage, monitoring, privacy, e-discovery, data encryption, business records and other legal issues in all jurisdictions in which you operate, have employees or serve customers?
- Could you comply with a court-ordered “social media audit”, by producing legally compliant business blog posts, email messages, text messages and other electronically stored information (ESI) within 990 days?
Social media can speed innovation and collaboration, but ONLY if your employees know how to both use it as well as steer clear of its many pitfalls. Start by asking managers these simple questions; they often surface extremely important information that, especially in larger organizations, you may not have been aware of. Finally, remember that for reasons of both confidentiality and fear, getting access to this sort of information is not always easy. It’s therefore important that organizations create mechanisms by which examples of social media use (and abuse!) can be regularly shared with the broader employee base.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Steve Miranda is Managing Director of Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS), a leading partnership between industry and academia devoted to the field of global human resource management. He is also a faculty author of the new eCornell certificate program,Social Media in HR: From Policy to Practice. Prior to CAHRS, Miranda was Chief Human Resource and Strategic Planning Officer for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest professional HR association, serving over 260,000 members in over 100 countries.
Company executives often appear to be Jekyll and Hyde to regular employees. What do I mean by that? Take the current trend to include “entrepreneurial mindset” on job descriptions.
By including this item, executives are saying they want people who don’t just “do.” They want people who ask meaningful questions, look across disciplines for better opportunities, identify and manage risk, and work hard, oftentimes with long hours. It’s not uncommon to hear, “create an ownership feeling with the employees.”
The problem with this desire is that most employees don’t have any ownership in the business. Their efforts may be rewarded with a bump in pay or a bonus, but those things are not normally directly related to profit. They’re calculated by many different means, but in the end it often comes down to a subjective measure by management about how well they felt individual employees performed.
So what employees hear is that they should work long, hard hours, question the status quo, and take risks. Questioning and taking risks means there will be failure. This fact is inevitable. When an employee fails, he is not rewarded. In fact, he is often punished. His potential raise or bonus is decreased or eliminated.
To add to the confusion, managers often criticize employees for asking questions or offering alternatives to the task at hand. It takes a very strong manager to create an environment in which employees feel safe asking questions or offering suggestions.
Most companies would benefit if all their employees had an entrepreneurial mindset, and felt safe enough to exercise it. When you find yourself including this item on job descriptions, perhaps you might take a step back and look at the management staff in place. Are they strong enough to allow people to question them?
About the author: April Kunzelman spends her days working with the non-profit organization Chemo Cargo, aimed at assisting first-time chemotherapy patients. Connect with April on Twitter as @akunzel and @chemocargo.
After some recent reflection, I am convinced that my childhood has had a huge impact on how I consider various circumstances thrown my way as an HR professional. I can’t help but wonder how many others feel the same way.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to pick up some books for the ILSHRM Leadership Conference at our treasurer’s office. I got the idea of taking pictures of some of the homes I grew up in because it was on my way. I thought I might use them to share with my kids one day.
While doing so, the idea of writing this blog post for Women of HR popped in my head because the memories from seeing the homes brought back visions of similar employee circumstances I have had to deal with in the workplace. Some of these circumstances impacted the employee and their co-workers’ performance while others would just come in and share to get whatever was bothering them off their chest and back to work they went.
My experience has helped me to be a better problem solver and listener with employees dealing with adversity of any kind.
Just the number of homes I took a picture of, eight not counting the three no longer standing or out of state, tells a story. So many employees deal with instability in their life for a number of reasons. For me, I lived in 11 different homes growing up compared to the stability of my 20-year-old (2 homes) and my 11-year-old (1 home).
How many of our employees bounce from home to home? What impact does that have on their job? Psychologists typically only look at your life between the ages of 0-17 as it relates to the impact the experiences between those years makes on the rest of your life. I have a lot of empathy for instability and so much more that employees go through. For example, as I think back to my childhood, I have a much better understanding for employees dealing with:
- alcohol and drug abuse
- emotional and physical abuse
All of these personal problems have a huge impact on employee performance, attendance, and quality.I think overall my background has helped me be a better more understanding human resources professional. It affects how I handle things and how I communicate with people.
It’s not just what we learn in books or on-the-job that makes us good solid human resources professionals; it’s also what we are made of. Our early beginnings, where we came from and how we grew up has a lot to do with how we work with and influence others on a day-to-day basis. It can have a significant influence on our performance and ability to connect with employees, managers, owners and other relationships related to our work.
In HR, no one situation is anything like the other and that is what makes this profession so exciting to work in. I say be proud of your humble beginnings because all in all it is who you are and who you are is an outstanding professional who can handle whatever situation that is thrown at you.
I enjoy organizing employee engagement programs. I was recognized by employees and they acknowledged my work when they made our office the best place to work for employee engagement.
I was doing an amazing job with employee engagement – or so I thought.
We decided to organize an extensive event at all of our office locations to celebrate a national holiday; we had offices spread across several cities throughout the country. I was busy with the coordination of the event at the central office where I worked and assigned various city office representatives to take care of programs at their respective locations.
In the middle of the event, I received a call from one of our employees from a city office location who asked, “Are we not fortunate enough to have the HR presence during the celebration day, or what?”
He made known to me his feelings of being neglected because there were not any HR personnel to organize the event at his office. Like any other employee, his intention was to inform me through constructive criticism. A reasonable demand of a normal employee, it is not necessary that a celebration day has to come around for us to visit our employees.
It hit me. I had made myself comfortable and played it safe by placing myself only where management team works.
From then on, I decided to travel to all the locations, move out of my comfort zone, reach out to the employees and be one among them. And I must tell you, until that moment these employees had known HR only through emails and other correspondence and I was really happy to see faces of people who I was familiar with only through phone conversations.
My HR visit to their offices was really an eye opening experience to me – and for them. By putting myself out there and moving out of my comfort zone, I gained an in-depth knowledge on how the whole business runs. I was able to understand the difficulties faced by employees at the grass roots level where the work is really done. I got to know where the real revenue was generated.
I got to know the employees and they got to know me. They were able to address their concerns directly to HR and get a quick resolution. There were reduced queries and concerns from employees, happier and more engaged employees and a renewed respect for HR.
So the bottom line is small company or large, on-site or off – make sure HR is easily accessible and the presence of HR is felt everywhere in the organization. Don’t spend too much time at your desk by sending mails and reading articles. Reach out to employees, spend time with them to understand their problems and concerns and proactively act on them before they have to approach you.
Don’t just think it . . . do it. Explore the opportunities that await you outside of your comfort zone.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Nisha Raghavan, is an HR professional with hands on experience in Talent Management and Talent Acquisition from Telecom Industry. Nisha shares her views and experiences in the HR field on her blog, Your HR Buddy . You can connect with Nisha on Twitter as @thehrbuddy.