The Desk

May 14, 2017

Conflict: Metrics cf. Performance

Filed under: Ethics,Management,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 1:57 PM
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The idea for it was probably spawned by fitness tracking appliances. Whether it becomes a standard practice embraced by employees remains to be seen. Right now electronic badges worn by employees can track their physiology and provide information about their performance and engagement in the workplace. The badges are also equipped with two speakers that track the quality of vocalizations (not the words) in order to detect tension. The only time the speakers aren’t in operation is when an employee enters the bathroom.

Employers and managers use the data provided by these trackers in order to determine who is performing and at what level. The question is whether these badges are then useful for determining who needs additional training or coaching or maybe even a transfer to a different department where the employee skills are better used.

What the trackers do provide is feedback to the employees who elected to use them. The data also provides them with information about what may have contributed to a good, productive day compared with one of those days when their performance wasn’t as stellar.

What are the ethics in using this type of tracked information? One argument is the badges are only issued to employees who are willing to use them. That is the PR statement. It doesn’t address the matter of how many employees submit to using the badges because they fear retaliation or negative consequences if they refuse.

Another thing to consider with regard to performance is the degree to which outside factors, such as family stresses, influence a worker’s performance or reaction to various stimuli. Health conditions can also figure into how people manage situations, health conditions that were previously a private matter. Still another critical issue is the level of ethical practices an employee uses in executing their job. An aggressive sales person will use many questionable tactics in order to close the deal. Concerns about consequences after the fact are negligible, if they exist at all. Obviously, those more aggressive tactics are not going to be reported to the supervisor or manager. And it may be that the manager is the one who set the example for the strategy.

Still, we are told it’s the data that is the payload for the founder of Humanyze. So there’s little incentive to make these badges a pricey item to add to the management toolbox and increases its desirability for increasing productivity, engagement, and more informed management strategies. It provides more information, metrics, insight into what makes the worker tick.

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November 24, 2016

Post-Election Stress

Filed under: Diversity,Leaders,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 12:01 PM
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There are some who are still going through the decompression phase of post-election stress. There are still some experiencing anger, anxiety, depression.

Under Pressure

Under Pressure

According to an interview with Washington-based psychologist Alison Howard, which appeared in Psychology Today, “. . . “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Howard, who stressed that such feelings were natural and not a mental health pathology. (Emphasis supplied)

There are other accounts of how this election has taken a toll on the population. “Stephen Strosny, a psychologist in a Washington suburb who voted for Clinton, said he started noticing a spike in election-related stress in April, when he coined the term Election Stress Disorder, whose symptoms include anxiety, trouble concentrating and nervousness with resentment.”

Although the article recommends being mindful of self in order to overcome the stresses being experienced at this time, there is something more that I would recommend.

  • Find a positive aspect of things that happen.
  • Develop an attitude of Life as filled with teachable moments.
  • See your life as a continuing path.
  • See your role and your activities as purposeful and meaningful.
  • Endeavor to fulfill some aspect (or become prepared to do so) of those activities each hour of each day.
  • Be open to candid and respectful conversations with others about how your endeavors can be a cohesive effort toward improvement – for living together, working together, bein part of the same community.
  • Identify the things in your life that have mutualities with others of opposite positions.
  • Build on the differences of perspectives and how each can be applied to something that is of mutual benefit.

No matter what you do, it isn’t necessary to carry around a mental self image like the one above. Make certain your endeavors are lawful and leading toward a positive outcome.

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June 28, 2015

Compensation

Filed under: Career Tips,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 1:37 PM
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Compensation has several definitions. While it can mean the amount of money that’s paid someone for the work that they do, it can also mean making allowances to balance things out.

There are many times when we find ways to put responsibility for shortcomings on the shoulders of others. That is called blaming.

Compensation, on the other hand, is coming up with ways to meet the goal when there aren’t sufficient resources to do it alone. That’s also considered being resourceful. Read more about several prisms of Compensation in the Career Coach Corner.

September 8, 2014

The Minimum Wage Push

It was May 23 that I said we need to increase the minimum wage and that it would happen. By June 1 I was back on the increase minimum wage soapbox. The Federal Congress didn’t seem to want to listen to me. A few weeks later, they said “no” to increasing the minimum wage. Ah, but that was June and July. This is November.

It seems as though more than just dear George are listening to the populace. Among the election revelations was that several additional states voted to increase the minimum wage. It appears the federal government will adopt a resolution to increase the minimum wage.

This minimum wage increase issue is still being fought tooth and nail. Commentary on this morning’s news brought out the fact that for each 10 percent increase in wage there will be an accompanying 2 percent decrease in number of jobs available. The spokes person advocated for retaining the minimum wage. The logic is that it provides a great bottom-line entry-level wage for new workers. It is not fair to increase the wage and then cause minorities and especially minority youth to lose their opportunities at gaining work experience at entry-level wages. Unfortunately, the spokes person did not take into consideration that there are veteran workers who still slave at minimum wage and work three and four jobs at that wage in order to support them selves and their families.

What’s interesting about the conservative argument is that it so profoundly and adversely affects the minority communities. Imagine having someone from any one of those communities turn to you and say they cannot escape from the blight in which they live because they are force to live on minimum earnings, if that. Additionally, they foresee that business in their community will die out because “you can’t buy anything if you don’t have anything to buy it with.” No discretionary income means no spending on entertainment. It means hold the standard low for learning and achievement. It means kill the potential for qualified skilled workers. It means the American Dream will become welfare and less than meager existence. Sloth.

Yes, adjustments will have to be made because of raising the minimum wage. No doubt the cost of goods will be increased in order to absorb some of the cost. The increase will be so marginal compared with the opportunity value of the wage increase that those affected by price increases will hardly complain. In fact, they’ll rejoice at the fact that they are able to purchase and enjoy.

Salary increases are not the means of retaining good personnel. But good, livable wages are the way to attract willing workers who are interested in doing a good job. And those livable wages are a means of saying “thank you” to those who are willing to do their part in contributing to Domestic Product.

[Republished from The Desk (on Recruiter.com), Trends and Forecasts, November 9, 2006]

August 23, 2013

Did You Make the 101 List?

I talked about the issues impacting Detroit in an earlier post. The city and 101 notable businesses that are based there made news in 2012. Now the city is delisted for 2013. Rather than dwell on the negative – and the past – let’s look at the present (okay, not this month’s present, but this year’s).

The name of the company that makes these selections (and the criteria they use for tapping their honorees) is 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For[.com]. Their evaluations and honors are not just focused on the Midwest nor just the East. Their regions cover all 50 states and include Washington, D.C. It’s impressive that they not only have classifications of competition in Human Resources, Sustainability, and Wellness.

This is not some late-breaking phenomenon. It’s possible to search for winners in these categories as far back as 2011. The searchable regions by way of their drop-down menu are Atlanta, Chicago, Metro Detroit, Houston, West Michigan, and National.

Another eye-catching feature of these honorees are the distinguished status in their specialty area. There is the best overall category (for which Capital One was honored for Chicago this year). There is also a category for best small business; Communication and Shared Vision; Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions; and Community Initiatives. Did someone say something about Diversity and Inclusion? Well, 101 Best did. They also talk about even more special categories such and Work-Life Balance; Employee Education and Development; Employee Enrichment, Engagement & Retention; Recruitment, Selection adn (sic) Orientation; and Strategic Company Performance.

Then there are the plain ole vanilla Winners. Each company has a short headnote that describes what they do or what they’re about along with the company URL so that it’s possible to visit their website to get more information about them.

How does this Winners List compare with the Fortune or Forbes “Best” lists? Well, these winners focus more on practice and policy and not on financials. But this is the type of information that a job seeker or someone who is interested in strategic business alignments will want to know about. There’s more involved in the pulse than just the dollars, cents, and locations. How they go about getting the wheels to turn and keeping the functions humming is of significant importance to a company’s longevity and reputation.

Maybe you want to put 101 Best and Brightest on your research list in order to determine whether the company you have in mind even made it onto their radar.

March 27, 2010

Facing Situations

Relationships have peaks and valleys as they form. In some situations, there are struggles for dominance that resolve into one (Alpha person) taking the lead in most situations. There are other situations where the struggle for dominance turns into Alpha’s total domination.

The latter is primed by the fact that the less powerful (Beta) person is more submissive and not as assertive as they could be. It’s driven by the fact that the more Beta person looks to others for validation and support. They rely on others to put forth their argument and either do not know their own “voice” or never learn how to use it. We tend to find youthful, inexperienced people in the Beta position as well as women. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all people with one (or all) of these profiles is actually youthful, naive, inexperienced, or female. It simply means that particular person is less assertive.

There is a danger in putting these two types of people together, especially when they are extreme polar opposites. The Alpha can easily become not only the dominant party but also a bully. Even worse, the Alpha could easily become abusive.

There are methods to avoid these undesirable consequences. One of them is to not put the pair together. We already realize the combination will be like putting dynamite in a nursery. The management costs in terms of labor hours lost in managing the situations that come up between the pair will be enormous, not to mention health insurance costs from depression and other psychosomatic ailments. But the Beta person has value and their talents are beneficial. To lose them is to lose some unique skills, talents, knowledge, and work attitude. It’s better to simply sidestep that can of worms.

There’s another reason for not putting the pair together. You avoid being in the way of a potential law suit for negligent hiring or allowing an unsafe work environment or a workers’ compensation claim for work related injury (in the form of depression and related psychosomatic ailments).

This pair requires a vigilant managerial style and frequent coaching on communication and work styles. There will be days when it seems like simply doing the work of the two yourself will be less intensive, less headache, and just plain ole easier. But that’s a cop-out and we shouldn’t go that route.

The far better alternative is to establish the workplace ground rules immediately. Outlining what are each allowed to do and defining their limits as well as overlap areas is a prudent option. Also wise is to allow the Beta person to speak up when it appears they are deferring to the Alpha. Ask them for their input with regard to the work. Make certain their opinion is solicited in front of the Alpha. Make doubly certain both offer their input publicly so that the pall of clandestine favoritism is abated.

The alternative of having the Beta voice their input rather than allowing them to be a shrinking violet who defers to the Alpha’s input all of the time is another way of providing assertiveness coaching while still remaining productive.

What also helps with building confidence and assertiveness is allowing the Beta to feel it is all right to voice their objection to something. After they have given voice to their position, ask for feedback from the Alpha. Ascertain where they see the benefits of the proffered input. Ask both whether they have experience with the same or a similar situation or project so that expertise can be established by both. This will allow the Beta to start building their internal confidence; they’ll have the opportunity to talk, without boasting, about their success stories. Eventually they’ll see the benefit of including those success stories on their resume.

The Alpha partner will want the opportunity to share their input and success stories as well. Make certain the sharings don’t become a competition for who’s better. Instead, let those situations become times when they can reveal their knowledge in order to establish where they have strengths and how they can contribute to the overall project as a team member.

But the critical factor for the Beta personality is that they gain skills in assertiveness. No, you do not need to go into hand holding all of the time and being the parent figure who constantly covers for one while holding the other at bay. You hired this oil and water combination because of the unique benefits they bring to the workplace. Rather than allow them to become a combustible, let them be the salad dressing (please forgive the allegory) applied in just the right amounts.

It’s important to recognize the friction that can evolve if Alphas and Betas simply go along their career highways doing what they do best — dominate others and subordinate themselves. Far better is to show them how to play up their best traits while respecting the esteem and benefits of having the team member on board.

September 11, 2008

Yes, I Remember

Filed under: Hostile Workplace,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 8:41 PM
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This day has been inching its way into existence all year long. It shouldn’t be surprising that various formal and informal observances occurred throughout these United States. But for me, the observance was definitely non-traditional and completely unplanned. The spontaneity of the remembrance of what was happening in Hollywood in 2001 compared with what was happening in a run-down house in Jefferson Park in 2008.

As this date approached, I found myself looking around at my environment and considering the existence in my neighborhood and where I live compared with what people in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan endure on a daily basis. It was interesting to reflect on the fact that those people live each and every minute of their lives with the hovering threat of a bomb, missile, or bullet completely crumbling everything about their world or taking them out of it. Life is tenuous but people are able to find some type of joy and celebration in order to make living full of Life.

Some put theirselves under the influence of narcotics in order to withstand the stress. Valium can be bought from the corner drug store for pennies. Each day is an exercise in sublimating reality in order to survive to the next sunrise with most of your sanity. In Jefferson Park, many of the residents do likewise. They see their lives as entities put on hold until they die. So they wait. So numbed are their uneducated minds that the wait seems to be longer than Santa’s arrival for a three-year-old.

Life in those far off places, where we now have troops mustered to protect the American way of life, and the accompanying lifestyles are not that different from the circumstances of the denizen of Jefferson Park. The only difference is that the bombs and missiles aren’t as imperative a threat and the bullets fly a little less frequently. But the hand-to-hand combat, the guerrilla vocabulary, the instinct reactions that have replaced reason are all there. Some are completely oblivious to not only national news but local as well.

In 2001, I forced myself to make all of the rounds that were scheduled for that day. The bus took forever to arrive so I walked up the hill to deliver an envelope. And that was when I learned that the plane crashes were not the end of the story. That was also when I learned that downtown (my next stop) was closed. And I remember considering the Hollywood transvestite prostitutes. They, like the denizen of Jefferson Park, were oblivious to any of the events occurring outside of their particular bus stop bench. The only thing that was important to them was where the next $5 was going to come from and how to get it.

This year I remembered the 2003 observance of the events of this date at church. It was close to a month-long observation of domestic violence as it affects the workplace and I was hosting the event. With the attack, I saw the parallels of the two evils and created a chart that compared domestic violence to terrorism. It was a popular chart. It helped people get a sense of the two situations and put things into perspective.

This year, I find myself living involved in several case studies on group dynamics, management and leadership, ethics, morale, abuse of power, fear, signs of lack of power, the consequences of either having no rules or else not enforcing them. This year, I find myself living in my own Iraq and dealing with five terrorists who are all under my roof. Each week one of them takes their turn at inflicting some sort of brutality upon me. Sometimes it’s twice in the week. Whichever frequency, the abuse continues. The police have stopped protecting me. The landlord doesn’t seem to respond to the messages I send him. Thus, it’s up to me to determine how best to defend myself from further harm. This is training on how to handle a hostile situation and then teach others.

While rather simplistic, one of the things that helps get through each day is doing something simple or reading a joke. It’s fortunate that I’m freelance. If I were on the clock, my innui would be considered failure to work. I would be a cost to the company and others would not understand why my attention span is so short. They would not understand why the slightest incident (say, getting bumped by a backpack and losing your footing) will cause the me to go into self-defense mode, ready to fight to defend and protect self. There would be no comprehension of why the mood is so surly nor why there are so many mistakes in the work product.

Dazed and stunned was what we all felt in 2001. “How could this have happened here?” we collectively puzzled.

And those precious lives that were lost that day are also a pity. Many of those caught in the first hits were the people who had worked all night and were about to leave work to go home or else were those who opened the buildings to prepare them for the thousands who would stream through the doors. They were merely doing what they were supposed to do. They were the simply folk who formed the strong base of our commerce. But on September 11, 2001, they became not only martyrs but also national heroes, especially those on Flight 77.

Yes, I remember September 11, 2001. In a way, I probably remember is everyday, just at those in the Middle East live their existences. The numbness that we felt for a week or more after the attacks was blessed. The numbness I feel is comforting but I realize it is not normal. I’m glad of the friends and support system I’ve managed to build. It is through these outlets that I have the ability to focus on things outside of my self and look to the more remarkable.

I remember September 11. I’m reliving September 11. And I will get through it with fire and victory.

July 22, 2007

Continued Hiring and Raises in Spite of Tight Labor Market

Filed under: Hiring,Job Search,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 7:52 PM

News reports say we’re in a tight labor market. In spite of that, hiring managers will not be firing workers. Instead, they will continue to hire and will offer salary increases. The logic — once you’ve got the good ones, why not do what’s necessary to keep them.

Isn’t it nice to be able to spout off all of that official sounding information? But who understands what it really means? Few, very few. So what is this “tight labor market” rhetoric? First, it isn’t rhetoric. It is a fact that annually, fewer people are prepared to step into the workforce and deliver the type of performance that is required as measuring up to “good work” or “quality performance” for the employer’s needs. What this means for those who are already employed is they have done what’s necessary to prove theirselves; they’re now in the desirable position of being able to ask for (and probably receive) a higher salary. They’ve shown that they have the right stuff to make it.

In doing research for this post, a Federal Reserve publication called The Beige Book was found. It looks at all parts of the economy across the country and examines the various pressures and dynamics that are happening to cause growth or contraction. You’ll want to add this to your industry and company research links tools so that you can learn more about what’s happening in your target industry. Then you can make your entrance with knowledge and insight. You may even want to spout a few of the statistics during the interview, just to show that you know what you’re talking about and would make phenomenal talent.

But let’s get to the nuts and bolts of what’s happening in the labor market. According to the Beige Book, the economy is tight. We don’t have enough well qualified, well educated, properly prepared workers coming into the market to offset those who are leaving for retirement. In fact, the labor market looks very much like it did in 1999. labor-force-status-1999-from-bls.gif

The underlying message also includes the fact that it takes more to train the new worker than it did before. Adding to that is the slap-dash attitude that whatever it takes to get product out the door is okay; quality can be sacrificed. Indeed, pressures to deliver on time sometimes demand that the “little things” be let go for the sake of living up to the reliability factor. This, many times, is a very short-sighted attitude in consideration of the long-range possibilities of product failure and consequent consumer lawsuits for personal injury or death.

Ah, that legal background causes all manner of detours. Forgive me. Back to tight labor markets and the impact on hiring and raises. There will be less hiring but less than in the previous quarter. There is a reluctance to fire workers because firing tends to create gossip that makes people worry and reduce morale. Reduced morale means lower productivity while workers are checking out want ads in case they are one of those on the block. And lowered productivity means less work that gets delivered to the client — who pays the bills.

Sounds a bit like a Catch-22. It’s actually a fact of Life and part of the business life cycle.

If you’ve got a job, do whatever is necessary to keep it. If you just can’t sweat it out, hold on until you find something else that’s a better fit.

More importantly, this is a critical time to purposefully network.

Productivity and spending in nearly all sectors is up; one exception is residential mortgage origination and refinancing as well as construction. People are willling to spend. They desire product. The news is that wages are increasing.

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