Setting Up Employees to Fail

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Implicit within the employment agreement are certain things that the employer owes to the employee to set him or her up for success. If the employer neglects their end of the bargain, the employer ensures the employees’ failure. This is very basic. And I think almost every reasonable person would agree on what the role of the employer is. Yet time and time again, employers fail on this fundamental level. The way this usually plays out is when a manager is sitting in my office complaining about an employee who has barely worked 6 months and all of the shiny luster has worn off because reality has set in. It’s almost like the manager really wants to say (and in some cases does) “well, we hired the employee, now you’re saying we have to something with him:?!?!?!?!”.

Employers owe the following things to their employees as part of the employment agreement. These should be nonnegotiables and HR should be doing everything in their authority to make sure the employer is holding up their end.

The tools to do their jobs. Oh my god. This is so damn obvious. But we have all heard the stories of employees starting work and on Day 1, they do not have a computer, a login, a security badge to get in the door let alone an orientation, a resource to ask questions or a written training plan. Employees know they are hired to do a job. But without the proper tools and training, you, the employer, are making this impossible.

Decent compensation. All companies should have a compensation philosophy, at the end of the day it provides purpose for whether the employer decides to lead, lag or meet the market. This philosophy should be transparent and communicated to candidates and employees. So when the inevitable conversation arises about pay dissatisfaction, the company and the manager are prepared and feel comfortable reiterating the legitimate reasons behind an employee’s compensation.

Expectations. At every position I have been at I attempt to train managers on defining and setting their expectations from Day 1 with their new employee. This is also one of my greatest pain points. How does an employee know what is expected of them if you do not say it? Did you hire a mind reader?

Purpose. Employees need to understand how their individual contributions help achieve the goals of the company. Employees need to understand the purpose of their jobs. Employers who have business plans that flow top down and bottom up, should have no problem defining this line of sight for each employee.

Trust in Management and Leadership. The individuals that represent the leaders of the company must be approachable, they must be honest , they must be transparent and do what they say they are gonna do. Employees who do not trust their management and leadership will do just enough to fly under the radar and will be focused on when the next shoe will drop and not the success of the company.

Safety and security. I’m not just talking about guns or violence in the workplace. I’m talking about workplaces where there is respect for the individual. Employers that allow mockery, drama, off-color jokes, bullying are creating a hostile work environment for their employees. The only thing the employee will be focused on is how long they have to wait for another job to come along to leave their current one. They won’t be focused on helping the company meet its goals.

If an employer does not actively ensure these basic tenets are being met via partnership with HR, they are setting themselves and their employees up for failure.

Things HR Needs to Break Up With

HR- I think we are in a dysfunctional relationship. The things I used to love about you are now driving me freaking crazy. The things are not moving forward and there is really no explanation for it. I think we are just going through the motions. You know this isn’t working. I think it’s time we break up.

Here are some things I think HR needs to break up with.

  1. Performance Reviews- all performance reviews. Not just the annual performance review. Changing the frequency does not make a difference. HR needs to let go of the notion that performance is something that we can or should document and formally discuss once per year, or bi-annually, or quarterly. Within the rapid pace of the modern workplace where projects and priorities change daily, constant and daily feedback is required. The vast majority of the workplace is already populated by Millennials and Generation Z- these groups of folks take in their information best when its short, fast and often.
  2. Traditional Full-time, Part-time Permanent Classifications of employment. Business must flex, flex or fail. The great thing about our current workforce is that there is plenty of talent out there looking for options- options to work on short-term project based assignments, longer-term contract-based initiatives, as consultants, as overseas resources or traditional regular full-time employees. HR should explore this available menu of talent options, build talent pipelines accordingly and present these options to the business as viable staffing options.
  3. Recognition Programs- it’s great to be recognized for a job well done, or for excellent performance on a key project. Programs that mechanize the natural expression of appreciation and thanks come across as inauthentic. Rather, HR should focus on hiring people with emotional intelligence who have a general behavioral propensity for delivering authentic gratitude to their peers. HR also needs to hold those same people accountable for that behavior.
  4. Managers and supervisors. I would venture to say that the majority of managers and supervisors are ineffective. They are ineffective for a number of reasons and mostly it is not their fault. Managers are often working managers and their people management responsibilities are compartmentalized as secondary duties. Most companies do not hold their managers accountable for people management responsibilities. Technically excellent employees are promoted to management because the company doesn’t how else to promote them. And, managing people is not fun or easy, unless you have a passion for leadership, most people do not want to manage (read: babysit) others. In our world where the only constant is change, HR should instead focus on the correlation of various soft skills to leadership, elevate those individuals and focus on readying internal talent to take on short-term assignments as team leaders and project coordinators.
  5. Wellness Programs- I simply believe wellness initiatives and programs do not fulfill their mission, and that employees don’t really put a lot of value in them. I think employers love to say they have them to attract talent. I believe employees like to have the options available. If wellness programs were the answer to the work/life balance thing, and work/life balance is a made-up thing (which I believe it is), then of course it doesn’t work. Most HR teams I know, love the idea of wellness but the actual execution is time-consuming, stressful and ultimately not rewarding for either employees, the company or HR.

On behalf of all HR, this is over, it’s not you, it’s us, we are just different now. And we have grown apart. 7f2c652740dc3783adec4aafa05aa2ce

12 More Red Flags You May Work for a Bosshole

Angry businessman shouting to an employee

Angry businessman shouting to an employee

In my previous blog, 11 Red Flags You Work for a Bosshole, I laid out some key indicators of bad manager behavior.

With over ten plus years working in Human Resources, I have either heard of or witnessed all of these behaviors. Without further ado, I present 12 more red flags you may work for a bosshole.

  1. They set unrealistic deadlines and have no respect for your schedule.

  2. They say they don’t like drama, but are literally the epicenter of all drama shit storms.

  3. They do not collaborate well with other managers.

  4. They are immature- calling people names, mocking people, putting people down.

  5. They do not handle intra-department employee conflicts and are content with letting them fester.

  6. They lie or they spin reality to fit their own agenda.

  7. They put you in ethically precarious situations.

  8. They schedule meetings as a means of communicating everything when a simple email or phone call will work.

  9. They put their entire email content into the Subject line. 

  10. They do not say thank you.

  11. They know nothing about you nor bother to get to know anything about you.

  12. They don’t offer any feedback on your performance. Or, only offer feedback when it’s negative. 

    Share your manager horror stories in the comments. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How HR failed Wells Fargo

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Last week, Wells Fargo announced it had terminated upwards of 5000 employees and agreed to pay $185 million in penalties in a widespread scam involving thousands of illegally opened accounts by employees. In articles published after the announcement Wells Fargo personal bankers, detailed the high-pressure sales tactics encouraged by an aggressive incentive-based compensation plan and unscrupulous management. Bonuses, merit increases and other perks were awarded to employees who opened multiple accounts or sold additional services to customers. Investigations completed both internally and by external regulators found illegal ghost accounts, unauthorized funds transfers and forged documents. In addition to actions already taken, Wells Fargo stated it will also change hiring and training practices, cancel their incentive-based pay program (next year), and conduct ethics training for all employees.

Where was HR in all of this? I am left to assume that HR at best, voiced  their complaints but  were then forced to gag themselves by leadership in the name of what was best for the shareholders, or, at worst, actively supported the pay scheme, the unrealistically attainable goals and thus the degrading employment culture of Wells Fargo, where employees had to choose a job or their integrity. In one fell swoop, Wells Fargo Human Resources failed its employees, the company and gave the HR profession a kick to the groin.

1. Where was HR when this incentive-plan was introduced, vetted, approved and rolled out? In a post-2008 financial crisis world, how was there not someone in HR warning Wells Fargo leadership of these inevitable negative and illegal consequences?

2. Does Wells Fargo have complaint procedures? I would assume so, especially for a company based out of California. I’m assuming that at least one employee had to have witnessed the behavior and reported it to the attention of his or her manager and HR. What did HR do with the employee complaints?

3. What about Whistleblower provisions? Publicly traded companies are REQUIRED to have whistleblower provisions and are REQUIRED to communicate these policies to employees, usually by way of a Handbook or Governance Manual that is acknowledged at time of hire. Did HR encourage or discourage protected whistleblower activity?

4. Did HR conduct an internal investigation at any point leading up to this ? If so, what actions were taken? If 5300 employees have since been terminated, the behavior was widespread, chronic and conspicuous. Even if an employee did not make a complaint, HR had to have known what was going on. The unethical and illegal practices actually had names, for example, “bundling” and “pinning”. If these practices were so blatant as to have been named, how did HR not know? Did they turn a blind eye? Or, were they oblivious? In this scenario Wells Fargo HR was either complicit or ignorant, and neither are a defense for illegal or unethical behavior.

5. How were employees promoted to management? Based on reaching sales goals? If promotions were based on performance and performance tied to meeting sales goals outlined in the incentive pay plan that is under fire, then Wells Fargo’s management was populated by unethical and unscrupulous individuals. No wonder they had an environment where employees were encouraged to do whatever was necessary to fulfill sales quotas. And, no wonder employees with questionable or flexible ethics were hired by said managers. Again, where was HR’s involvement in internal Wells Fargo hiring and promotion procedures? Did they have any oversight of hiring practices at all?

6. Right or wrong, HR is the cultivator of culture. HR with the partnership of leadership, intentionally brands company culture by designing missions, visions, company values and standards of conduct. HR is charged with measuring that engagement to culture and fixing it when it’s broken. How could Wells Fargo tout Company Values all the while knowing its employees were fraudulently opening accounts, and receiving monetary incentives for doing so?

7. In a more recent article, the CFO of Wells Fargo pointed the finger at underperforming employees. Not management and not HR. Who hired these under performers? Who was in charge of monitoring their performance? Did these employees get put on progressive discipline or PIP’s when their performance did not meet expectations? All of these things sound like stuff HR handles. Was Wells Fargo’s HR department on vacation during all of this or completely inept? In this case, they are not even worthy of a good
finger-pointing by their own CFO.

It is clear that there is plenty of blame to go around at Wells Fargo. As I continue to read all of the articles about the continued fall-out from Wells Fargo, the question I continue to ask myself is, Where was HR?

 

 

 

 

11 Red Flags You Work for a Bosshole

Quintessential Bosshole

Quintessential Pop Culture Bosshole

A bosshole in modern vocabulary is the conjoining of the words boss and asshole. Bossholes come in many shapes and sizes. Some managers can be described as having bosshole tendencies while others may be full-fledged bossholes.

Bossholes are not to be confused with Managers who actually manage and lead. Managers who set high expectations for your work product, who demand your professional best, who push you to develop yourself, who offer constructive criticism and who may have to get very real with you on your potential with the company are not to be confused with bossholes. If you work for a Manager who does these things, keep on, keepin’ on. This type of Manager likely wants to see you succeed. Listen to them. Do what they tell you. And learn from them.

Bossholes are career vampires. They will suck your professional soul leaving nothing but an empty shell of an employee who at best is disengaged and at worst, operates with underlying hostilities. Depending on the degree of boss-holishness, you have some choices. You can possibly have a candid discussion with said bosshole, you can skip-level that conversation to his or her boss, seek guidance from your HR professional, seek a transfer or look for a new job.

Here, in no particular order, are 11 red flags you may work for a bosshole:

  1. Their office door is open, but they do not have “open-door” policy.
  2. They avoid one-on-one meetings with you and your team members like the plague.
  3. They delegate all tasks but zero authority.
  4. They delegate all tasks and all authority to senior team members in order to avoid their supervisory duties.
  5. They throw employees under the bus to make themselves look better.
  6. They take credit for their employee’s work.
  7. They do not  show genuine gratitude for your hard work and effort.
  8. They change their mind on goals and objectives for the department every 7-10 days.
  9. They can’t or won’t roll up their sleeves in times of critical need.
  10. They do not follow through on commitments.
  11. They drive-by drop a bunch of stuff on your plate.

Have you ever worked for a bosshole? Share your bosshole red flags in the comments.

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