Over the years I have worked with all types of performance evaluation systems. Most were way too complicated. And I have worked with many companies that had no performance evaluation system in place. But that doesn’t mean managers weren’t evaluating the employees; they just weren’t telling the employees what they thought of their performance. Now, if I ask a supervisor to identify the top, average and weak performers in her work unit she can immediately identify the best and worst employees. Everyone else will fall in the middle — the “good enough” employees. If I ask supervisors to explain why Joe or Jane was in the group of “best” employees rather than with the middle bunch, they will talk about the best employees as the reliable, highly skilled problem solvers.
Every creative, risk-taking entrepreneur with big dreams needs a solid, organized, nose-to-the-grindstone person who will build a sturdy framework to make those dreams a reality. That is a good description of my friend, Roger Vitrano. When I met Roger he had just been hired to work in the financial aid office of the university we were attending. In those days students had to walk around campus and stand in long lines at registration. By the time they reached our office, the students were hot, tired and impatient. Roger had to meet with students whose Pell grants had problems. Telling one student after another that they have incomplete paperwork for a grant is a tough job. But with just a little training behind him Roger was an efficient and calming presence in the office. Within days he was known as the go-to guy for students with financial aid problems.
How much does personality affect your chance for success? If the boss likes you, then your quirks are part of your charm and your mistakes are minor flaws. You get the benefit of the doubt. But if you and the boss don’t hit it off; well, then your mistakes are horrible and your personality quirks are annoying.
In a recent New York Times article I learned that the men and women fighting the forest fires that plague us every summer receive varying levels of pay and benefits depending on their employment status. The teams of firefighters include full and part-time employees from the U.S. Forest Service as well as people employed seasonally or by private contractors.
If I could simplify the Fair Labor Standards Act and make it easy to understand, I would die a happy woman.
I can’t help but notice that people for and against a proposed minimum wage increase use the same word to defend their position: Deserve.
When I read Thursday’s article in the U-B on the audit of exempt staff’s work hours in the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, one question came to mind: Why are nonprofit and public sector organizations so casual in managing their staffs?
It is always difficult to explain why you lost a job you held for 10 years. Melissa Nelson, the former dental assistant to James Knight of Fort Dodge, Iowa, can now show any potential employer a court transcript in which she was described as a stellar employee but was fired because Knight and his wife believed his attraction to Nelson had become a threat to their marriage. Employers do not need a good reason to fire an employee. Most employers include a statement in their written policies or job application material that their employees work at-will. An at-will employee can be fired at any time and for any reason — with exceptions for race, religion and gender, complaining about an illegal activity or for exercising a variety of legal rights. The trouble is that it is very difficult for an employee to prove any of those exceptions. Last week, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled that Nelson’s termination was legal and her claim of gender discrimination failed because her boss was focused on one person in particular and not all women. The other women in his employ must have sighed with relief when Knight made that clear. This case has been lighting up the Internet because it just seems so very unfair. An employee loses her income, can’t pay her bills and can’t easily explain why she lost her job. Knight might have tried to get her another job with one of his friends, or he could have explained his problem to her and kept her on the payroll a few months while she looked for another position while still employed.
The brainstorming meeting — one of the biggest time wasters and consulting hoaxes foisted on western civilization in the past century. An over-the-top statement? Just a little.
In 2012 the average cash compensation of a corporate CEO was 279 times larger than average employee pay. This statistic, or one similar to it, is broadcast by some organization every few months.
For most of the year my dog Charlie eats the same quantity of food everyday: three cups of kibble and four Milk-Bone treats washed down with half a gallon of water. But when the weather turns blazing hot he doesn’t touch the water in his bowl, he eats very little and he becomes weak and lethargic. Charlie was short-changed on the survival instincts I thought all animals have. How good are human instincts when it comes to surviving high temperatures? From what I have read we are smarter than Charlie but not by much. There are many people who think they are tough, “I can handle it.” And there are many business managers who think employee discomfort isn’t something they should have to think about. That’s a mistake for both the employee and the business.
Whose side is the Human Resources staff on?” That question came to me from an old friend recently. A few months ago she started a new job as the head of large department in a hospital and wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with the HR staff on much of anything. My friend expected service and help. She wanted to talk over the situation she found in her department and get some advice on how to make changes and move forward.
Is this a promotion?” That’s the question I received from a former student. He has a new job title, and he assumed he had more responsibility and believed he would get a pay increase.
We need to talk” is an announcement that bad news is coming, and that’s a shame. We do need to talk. We need to instruct a new employee, explain why there’s a change in the work plan or tell someone she did great work. So why is it so difficult to talk about what really matters in the workplace? Some business managers are at ease talking with their employees but most bosses dread meeting with individuals or groups of employees about anything that won’t be good news, requires a bit of finesse or will generate difficult questions.
Good news from Congress is hard to come by but I think we have some, in a House bill called the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. The legislation, introduced in April by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., would allow hourly workers to opt for time off at the rate of one-and-a-half hours for each hour of overtime worked. This is something employees have wanted for a long-time. Unfortunately this piece of legislation, written concisely in fewer than 1,300 words, is not getting the attention it deserves or an accurate reporting of how it would work.
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