Hot Button Employee Issue #3: The Skater

For nearly three years, Tracy has been a wallflower. An employee who stands on the sidelines, does enough to not be recognized as a poor performer, but not quite enough to be praised and acknowledged. And she’s happy with that. She comes to work, does only what is expected, and heads home. Not having any stressors or responsibility at work is what she wants; an easy job that requires little effort and pays the bills. She has no desire to step up and participate in new projects or cross-training, and just wants to continue gliding along.

Tracy was a skater. We run across these types of employees in nearly every industry. The ones who do the bare minimum to meet expectations and not get into trouble, and are just biding their time until the next payday. They aren’t highly motivated, and lack a plan or a purpose in their career. This month we have been discussing how to remedy common “Hot Button Employee” types, including the employee who is always absent, and the know it all employee. How do you manage a skater?

Hold Employees Accountable – Some employees will simply never step up to the plate. By holding each member of your team accountable for responsibilities that are constantly new and changing, you will prevent stagnation and burnout. Additionally, encourage your team members to work out issues with accountability amongst one another which further builds a strong team dynamic.

Encourage Engagement – As a manager, it is your job to keep your employees motivated and engaged, as difficult as that may be at times. Three rules for encouraging effective motivation and engagement are: never ask others to do what you wouldn’t do yourself; provide your employees with feedback; and, encourage discussions about the good and bad aspects of their job.

Praise a Job Well Done – Particularly for those who are unmotivated, recognition is a huge deal. Praise your employees both publicly and in private and they will be motivated to repeat and build on their moment of excellence. All the perks in the world cannot make an employee feel as good as genuine praise and acknowledgment.

We have all experienced a Tracy, and frankly many of us have been in that type of position. Skater’s are in no way self-starters and most teams need go-getters to do their part in encouraging engagement and motivation. These employees will slip through the cracks if you let them, so be proactive with nipping mediocre behavior in the bud before it becomes a more serious issue.

When Change Doesn’t Work – Cut Bait and Run!

Upon returning to work from maternity leave, Elizabeth was faced with a number of changes to the organization that had transpired in her absence. Her department underwent a major restructuring resulting in new management and significant changes to the scope of her work. Always up for a new challenge, Elizabeth hit the ground running and was initially optimistic about the recent transitions.

After a few months however, Elizabeth struggled with balancing work and motherhood, and as her new duties were no longer a source of passion and fulfillment for her, she found herself struggling to adapt to the direction her organization was going. Deciding to cut her losses and view this as an opportunity to focus on her family for the time being, Elizabeth made the decision to resign from her position.  

Fortunately for Elizabeth, her story had a positive outcome although she struggled with the change she was presented with. In so many instances of change in the workplace, we often try our very hardest to maintain an optimistic mindset when presented with a difficult situation. Sometimes, we can overcome the challenge and are able to learn and grow from the experience. Other times, we need to be able to recognize when it is time to take a step back, cut bait and run.

There are a few questions you must ask yourself with determining when we should keep trying, and when we should admit defeat. Have you adopted a positive mindset and approached the challenge with a willingness to succeed? Have you accepted that change is inevitable and attempted to use the situation as an opportunity for growth? Have you been successful in dealing with other transitions that you’ve been faced with, but just can’t seem to overcome this one? If the answer is yes to even one of these, it may be time to move on.

Even the most professionally successful of us don’t win every battle. We are all human and all have to take a step back and recognize that moving on from a situation that is unwinnable is not a sign of failure, rather an indication of professional maturity in understanding that the stress and negativity that some circumstances bring about are simply not worth our time and energy.

Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, Oh My!

On oldie but a goodie, we would like to share with you a message from our President, David C. Noland, that he shared with our clients and colleagues in December, 2013:

The holiday season is upon us and people are bustling about in eager anticipation of time spent with family, celebrating their holiday traditions.  This time of year is a great reminder of how we each come from different cultural backgrounds.  These differences should be celebrated, accepted, and should provide us an opportunity to get to know each other better, not create battle lines.

The basic definition of culture is a set of beliefs or customs pertaining to a particular group.  Each of our traditions and beliefs that go with this joyous season are part of our cultural make up.  These differences, no matter how great or small, should be celebrated.

As an HR Professional, I am asked this time of year about maintaining the neutrality of the holiday season. Rather than basic neutrality, this season should be defined by strengthening relationships with one another. To clarify, this means that everyone, regardless of their beliefs or traditions, should feel welcome to celebrate their background.  The neutral terminology stems from this desire to ensure that no one feels left out.

Religious beliefs and customs become more prominent during the winter holidays. In the workplace, it is important that HR professionals be alert to employee needs and be open to accommodations.

Make sure that managers are aware of how to handle requests for religious accommodations. To encourage the acceptance of various religious traditions and customs, educate employees on various religious customs and holidays to aid in understanding these different customs and traditions.

We all have beliefs and traditions that we hold close which have become integral parts of who we are.  Recognizing those differences can either divide us or bring us closer together.  Each of us has the responsibility, especially in the workplace, to demonstrate respect to each other.

This time of year is a great time to practice respect and dignity for everyone you come into contact with. Keep in mind that understanding and listening to someone else’s viewpoint doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them. I encourage each of you to take the time to learn to celebrate the diverse traditions, customs, and beliefs that are unique to each of us this time of year.

HRCentral wishes you and your families and safe and joyous holiday season!

Holiday Gift Giving – Yay or Nay?

In recent news, a former news anchor for a popular morning show was recently terminated due to allegations of inappropriate, sexual behavior in the workplace. One of the examples of behavior that was given was his once giving a colleague an “adult toy” as a present. When considering what gifts to bestow on your coworkers at holiday parties this season, use this situation as an example of what NOT to do!

With the holiday season upon us, many organizations are gearing up for parties to celebrate the holidays with their employees. A common tradition is gift giving, with white elephant and name draw gift exchanges being popular types of activities. While exchanging presents at parties or during this time of year can be a fun way of letting loose and having a good laugh, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your gift to ensure that boundaries are maintained and no lines are crossed:

  • Clarify a Price Point – To ensure all employees get somewhat fair gifts with regards to “quality” set a price range for everyone to abide by (say $10 – $20) to help make certain no one feels left out when they receive a keychain and the person next to them gets a $50 gift card.
  • Maintain Appropriate Standards – Stay PG rated and steer clear from anything that may unnecessarily offend (such as religion-based gifts) or from items that you are uncertain if everyone would like (e.g., giving a set of pint glasses for a sports team that not everyone is a fan of).
  • Avoid Unfair Treatment – If the company as a whole is doing a gift exchange that everyone is participating in, that is a great way to strengthen camaraderie. If not, and if individual gifts are being exchanged, do so in private and make sure to not do anything that would leave anyone out (particularly as a manager giving gifts to your employees, or only certain ones).

Holiday gift giving can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow a few guidelines to make certain that everyone is comfortable and enjoys themselves which will make this season at work fun and engaging for all!

Holiday Harassment – Bah Humbug!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about all the powerhouse men in management and in the entertainment and media industry that have been accused of sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace. A serious issue that is sadly just now getting the attention it deserves, this unfortunate occurrence isn’t anything new. With any luck, the waves of attention that this topic is receiving of late will be the motivating factor that employers need to make significant changes in how their organizations handle cases of harassment.

So much of this behavior and conduct we would like to think of as common sense, but having expectations clearly communicated and outlined is of vital importance and incredibly necessary. Not only does having a policy in place protect you as an employer, it holds your employees accountable for their behavior and helps those who fall victim to harassment navigate through the proper channels to have their case resolved.

Not surprisingly, many companies either don’t have a harassment policy in place or lack one that is detailed and comprised of the procedures and steps necessary for the employee and management/HR to take to ensure situations of harassment are investigated and handled appropriately.

This is where HRCentral comes in. With so many laws and regulations governing harassment in the workplace, developing and implementing a policy and process for harassment can be tricky; not to mention properly training your management team and employees to ensure compliance with applicable state law. Cultivating a work environment that is productive and welcoming for all employees is a goal we want to help you achieve!

Follow us this month as we discuss this trending topic and how, particularly during this time of the year, we all need to work together to ensure all employees are treated in a fair and dignified manner, allowing us all to enjoy the holiday season without fear of retaliation or unnecessary stress.