HR Tips to Manage Suspicious FMLA Leave


One most-challenging issues facing employers is the fishy use of leave by employees under protection of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA has been costly to businesses. It has led to productivity issues and disruptions in scheduling and expenses.

Widespread employee abuses have exacerbated employer challenges. Abuse of the FMLA is so rampant, management everywhere is naturally suspicious.

According to the Department of Labor’s web site, the FMLA permits 12 weeks of leave if an employee works a 12-month period.

However, the leave is unpaid. And it’s for the employer who has 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius of the work site.

Employees can use accrued paid leave such as vacation and sick days. Employers may require workers to exhaust their paid leave before taking leave under FMLA.

Three reasons why employees can get leave under the FMLA:

  1. For a serious health issue of the employee or family member.
  2. Reasons pertaining to military employment or to care for a member in military service.
  3. The birth of a child, to bond with it or the placement of a youngster with your employee either for adoption or foster care.

The abuse is difficult to prove under the FMLA criteria. Even just for hinting at employee abuse, companies have been hit with employee claims of either FMLA obstruction or retaliation.

However, if employers can show the FMLA leave is used for fraudulent purposes, they can legally defend themselves against employee complaints.

But that’s not always the case.

Unpredictable courts

Courts have ruled adversely on technicalities.

For instance, when employers have terminated employees after taking FMLA leave but didn’t use it for that purpose, companies have lost in court.

In other words, courts have ruled that when a company has suspected and proved FMLA-leave abuse, the firing did not hinder the employee’s rights.

Even when employers have hired private investigators and obtained proof from the employee’s friends or social media in order to prove fraud, courts have ruled in favor of employees.

Precautions

So, you should get legal counsel and demonstrate considerable care and respect before challenging employees on their claims.

Before approving leave or challenging abuse, you should also monitor submitted information using Department of Labor forms.

Be cautious before approving and scheduling an FMLA leave.

You are legally permitted to request a doctor’s certification about the need for a leave. You can also ask for new medical certification in advance of each FMLA year.

If you’re dissatisfied with an opinion, you can request second or third opinions.

For intermittent leave, some employees have chronic conditions and certifications. So, try to plan in advance for leave schedules.

You can’t refuse leaves, but you’re on sound legal ground if you attempt to plan in advance.

Do your best to anticipate the duration and frequency of intermittent FMLA leave. You can insist on a diagnostic prediction of when a leave will be justified. Until you get such doctor estimates, you can delay approval.

Certifying intermittent leave requests

Specificity matters. Inquire about the employee’s specific situation. A medical certification can only pertain to a serious medical situation. Note: Don’t inquire about the person’s general medical situation.

Adhere to time frames for employee responses to your request for certification. Allow the employees a minimum of 15 calendar days to respond with the documentation.

If the paperwork is not complete, inform your employee in-writing why it’s insufficient. Then, give the employee seven days to provide the necessary information.

If you suspect something is amiss with a certification and the need for a leave, then investigate.

You are allowed to contact the employee’s doctor for clarification. Note: Do not allow the employee’s direct supervisor to contact the physician.

Otherwise, it’s OK for people such as your HR representative, other top managers or third-party administrators.

If you’re not convinced about the veracity of a certification, you can insist on another opinion and compensate for it. Don’t use a physician with whom you work.

Choose a doctor who is totally independent. In the event of differing opinions, you can get a third opinion and make it a mandatory opinion.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources:

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism — Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem.

How to Smoothly Manage Your Employee Vacation Schedules — Depending on the size of your staff, managing around your employees’ vacation schedules can be a thorny issue. That’s especially true for a small operation. With just a few employees, it can be difficult to keep everyone happy and to cover the workload.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints. The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices. You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

 

Nothing surprises me. I’m in management.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

 

 

Management: Coach Your Employees to Better Performance



In talent management, coaching, counseling and giving feedback is of utmost importance.

But it’s a difficult challenge if you don’t have a coaching culture.

When managers become coaches, you get a higher-performing workforce. You will have replaced mediocrity with strong performance. Therefore, it’s best to develop a coaching culture to optimize talent management.

If your employees become toxic or if they backslide in performance and productivity, you need to figure out how to solve the problems.

Essentially, there’s a variety of challenges for you. Be absolutely certain you’re accurate in your employee assessments and avoid errors in evaluations.

For instance, you have to be aware that new workers have a learning curve. Veteran employees are asked to change. Toxic employees are disruptive and destroy morale among your staff.

In many situations, employees are fearful of coaching and don’t respond well. It’s also stressful for you. Avoid management stress. Take the necessary steps to enjoy your job while managing difficult employees.

Frustrations dealing with difficult employees coincide with many management issues – teamwork, morale, organizational dysfunction and weak customer relationships – just to name a handful.

And they’re all related to loss of profit. Especially for toxic employees, it’s vital to develop the best coaching tactics.

In all employee issues, you must always plan well and then self-ascertain how you did in managing the employees.

For example, ask yourself:

  • What went well and what didn’t?
  • What would you change about your approach with the employees?
  • How can you better prepare for such conversations?
  • How can I best support the employees and capitalize on the counseling?

A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written well with the right phrasing.

Concurrently, give employees a chance to mull over what you said and to respond by engaging with you. This helps to guarantee the best results.

The employees become more confident and feel management support to implement an action plan with autonomy in their duties.

Always remember your approach must be to discuss employees and inspire them to work out their challenges vis-à-vis just telling them to improve or telling them what to do.

What if your coaching isn’t working?

Then, you must continue to be fair but to embark on progressive discipline to fix the problems while guarding against possible wrongful termination lawsuits.

Here’s how:

Oral reprimand

Immediately when spotting a performance issue, you should issue an oral reprimand and document it in detail and put it in a separate file (not the employee’s file).

In starting your reprimand, remember to ask if the employee if there are any skill shortcomings or long-term problems.

Outline an action plan.

Do your best to save the employee. This might or might not include referring your worker to your Employee Assistance Program, especially for drug addiction or alcoholism issues.

Written reprimand

If the employee fails to improve or if more problems develop, give the employee a written reprimand about the deficiencies, what’s expected and the possible consequences.

Be sure to explain your benchmarks for improvement in performance.

Have the employee sign an acknowledgment of your written reprimand. Insert in the employee’s HR file.

Ultimate reprimand in writing

Should your efforts fail, give the employee your final written warning. Usually this includes probationary status.

With your warning, include copies of the previous reprimands. Be specific on expected improvements. Specify time frames for improved performance.

Continually review the process

If you have a human resources department, of course, by now HR showed be notified about the issues. Prevent possible challenges to terminating the employee.

For instance, be aware of any discharge-related considerations:

  • Determine whether you have a contract with the employee and any possible restrictions.
  • Check on employee complaints – whether the employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim, complained to government regulators, or strategized to make it look as though you’re retaliating. Retaliation is a huge no-no.
  • Review all your steps to maintain fairness with the employee. You must be able to prove your case should there be legal ramifications.
  • Keep in mind that if you’re forced to terminate workers, you must first ask yourself three important questions.

Commence firing

After you’ve given the employee adequate opportunities to improve, start the termination process.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

HR: Avoid Bias in Evaluating Top Employees Who Backslide — Don’t be too lenient with talented employees with a history of strong performance but who decline in their work. Document every event in any downtrend of performance. Inevitably, many terminated employees will file claims accusing you of discrimination.

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees — With difficult employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s what to do.

Management: 7 Tips for Success if You Must Layoff Employees — Companies typically make two short-sighted errors in a business downturn. They slash the workforce and marketing investments. To the contrary, it’s important to place a maximum value on your human capital and avoid layoffs, and to expand marketing.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

“Resources are hired to give results, not reasons.” 
-Amit Kalantri

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.







HR: Avoid Bias in Evaluating Top Employees Who Backslide



Management of employees can be the most challenging with rollercoaster emotions. That’s especially true in employee terminations.

Employee terminations are the most stressful and legally treacherous events for any human resources professional or manager.

Naturally, if you find it necessary to terminate employees, you must be legally and morally prepared with a paper trail that show your documentation in your evaluations of them.

The five most-common reasons to fire employees:

  1. Lack of productivity
  2. Toxic behavior
  3. Cannot cope with change
  4. No call or no show
  5. Customer and supplier complaints

But what about high performers who decline in their work?

Don’t be too lenient with talented employees with a history of strong performance but who decline in their work. Document every event in any downtrend of performance.

Inevitably, many terminated employees will file claims accusing you of discrimination.

So, it’s vital to be mindful of your biases when you assess the performance of employees. Don’t be misled about your high-performing employees. Sometimes, their performance decline.

If they are given excellent reviews but there are is no documentation of their declining performances, you risk legal trouble.

To reiterate, when a previously high-performing worker starts to go south, you must avoid playing favorites. Be very careful to document the person’s waning performance.

Their past excellent reviews don’t mean you’re stuck. The person is not impervious to scrutiny and unassailable.

Before terminations, ask yourself three questions

  1. “Am I following all applicable laws?”

You should be diligent in your human resources paper trail. That should include progressive discipline and counseling.

Be careful in what you do, say and write. If there’s any doubt, check with an expert. Actually, it’s a good idea to do it anyway.

  1. “Am I acting on facts and irrefutable information?”

Take and use copious notes.

Employees are entitled to know the answers to three questions:

  • What’s expected of me?
  • How am I doing?
  • What’s in it for me?

Don’t allow your behavior to become less than polite.

  1. “Am I fair and compassionate?”

Follow the Golden Rule. Treat employees as you would like to be treated in a termination by a world-class employer.

If an employee is not expecting to be terminated, remember the fault does not entirely lie with the worker. It’s your fault. 

Appearances

To avoid appearances of discrimination or favoritism, you must be 100 percent objective with all your employees. Show how each of their performances are improving or declining.

All too often with older employees, companies face accusations of age discrimination.

Take notice the very day an employee starts missing goals or otherwise performs poorly. Don’t risk firing a worker after giving a sudden negative review after years of excellent reviews.

Should you find it necessary to terminate an employee, be prepared:

Present evidence that you had discussed errors and poor productivity, requested improvements in the person’s performance, and to conform with your company’s objectives and plans.

Yes, it’s kosher to terminate employees who fail to adjust in this Digital Age.

You can rest assured that courts don’t automatically condemn your decisions in human resources.

What judges, juries and the Equal Employee Opportunity Commission want is to see is your documentation that you’ve discussed performance issues with your employees.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant articles:

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations — How should you properly evaluate employees? Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad. What are the best ways? Here’s how to avoid making those classic mistakes.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

Management: 7 Tips for Success if You Must Layoff Employees — Companies typically make two short-sighted errors in a business downturn. They slash the workforce and marketing investments. To the contrary, it’s important to place a maximum value on your human capital and avoid layoffs, and to expand marketing.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices. If you’re so accused, here’s what to do.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

-Benjamin Franklin


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Hiring Applicants: 5 Deadly Sins of Even Savvy Managers



In this competitive and litigious marketplace, small details in human resources can make or break a company.

Even though an organization’s performance matters, many managers unfortunately take shortcuts in the hiring process.

The reasons range from being too busy for due diligence in screening resumes to inability to take sober looks at applicants in the interview process.

This can drastically affect businesses’ cultures such as leading to lack of teamwork, inattention to details or poor customer service. Ultimately, profits are adversely affected.

All positions in the organizational chart, including receptionists, are important.

For instance, if a furniture retailer hires the first person to walk in the door to work in the warehouse, the wrong employee will hurt customer service and sales – either in the slow delivery of products or the delivery of wrong products.

Managers need to avoid five deadly sins:

Inadequate checking of references

True, in our litigious environment, businesspeople are increasingly reluctant to answer questions and to give accurate information.

But a skilled boss knows how to call the applicants’ former bosses and references about specific matters to ask open-ended questions, not close-ended questions. In this way, they get better answers.

Moreover, the questions should correspond to an HR tool: A reference-verification form.

The form asks the applicants questions such as how they believe their former companies will evaluate them in precise matters.

In this way, the bosses can compare the applicants’ answers to the answers of the former employers.

Complacency about honesty

Many bosses are too complacent about honesty and attitudes. The right applicants are people who want to do a job well. Don’t settle for just anybody who can do the job.

Astute bosses won’t focus on trying to catch applicants in lies. They have a process to help them determine that will prompt applicants to tell the truth.

Assuming applicants who interview the best will perform the best

Not true. Consider this fact: Applicants, who are mesmerizing in their interview answers, typically have the most experience in answering questions.

They’ve had lots of coaching and practice in smiling and answering obvious questions.

Case study:

As a business-performance consultant with a home office, I’ve had to be very careful in hiring personal assistants. I asked people I trusted for referrals. Once, I asked for a referral from the owner of my dry cleaners, who had been doing an outstanding job on my apparel.

She recommended a retired Air Force mechanic to me. But on the surface, there were some reasons for me not to hire the person. She appeared to be very shy with no bookkeeping experience.

But I saw something special in her. She was due diligent in showing up for the interview, asked good questions and asked her husband to interview me as the employer. Upon getting his blessing, she accepted the job.

Not only did she prove to be honest, accurate and extraordinarily dedicated in managing my receivables and payables, she did a stellar job in other unrelated tasks for three years.

She literally saved me a lot of time and money by performing at a high level. Years later, I’m told she launched her own business based on her experience in working at my firm. That’s a very proud memory for me.

The moral: Always keep an open mind to consider all factors.

Failure to place a high value on each position

If you hold your applicants to highest-realistic standards, you’ll benefit from their performances.

On the other hand, if you don’t place a high value on positions – at all levels – the employees will get the impression they don’t matter.

You should want people who want to perform well at the best company.

Overconfidence in hiring

If your instinct about an applicant is positive, look for every possible reason to disqualify the person. Don’t ever make a snap judgment in hiring. Make absolutely certain the person is right for the job.

On the other hand, if your instinct is not to hire an applicant, don’t. Always keep in mind this adage, “When in doubt, don’t.”

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:

Hiring An Impact Person Starts with Screening Resumes — 5 Tips — If you want to hire an impact person, your hiring process is really important. The place to start is using best practices in screening resumes.

Risk Management in Hiring: Pre-Employment Screening Tips — Here are two questions about hiring: 1) what’s the biggest mistake companies make in hiring employees; and 2) what’s the biggest legal obstacle employers face in hiring? Here’s what to do about background screening.

Hiring a Personal Assistant? Hire for 8 Qualities — The right choice of a personal assistant can make a huge difference in your operation. Basically, you need someone who can manage you – represent you well in a variety of tasks – an assistant who can make you look good.

Increase Profits by Hiring Talent with the Best Trait — You’ll increase your odds for profits with high-performing employees with the right culture — if you hire for the right personality trait – enthusiastic people. That’s right. Look for people who have the makeup to being committed and who will care for the welfare of your company. You’ll increase your chances for the strongest results.

Hiring? 4 Pointers on Negotiating Wages with Applicants — Some employers have had difficulty in successfully extending job offers to applicants, especially Millennial professionals. Here’s what to do.

“If hard work is the key to success, most people would rather pick the lock.” 
-Claude McDonald

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


For Profits, Align Your HR Program with Your Business Strategy



For profits, a successful human-resources management strategy should complement your overall business strategy. This is just as important as a business plan and marketing plan.

By aligning your HR program with your organization’s plan and objectives, you are more likely to be profitable.

Overall, you need to implement some crucial elements.

For instance, analyze your HR strengths and weaknesses; train your employees; forecast what you’ll need in staffing; prepare for employee turnover; hire strategically; and prepare a succession plan.

To align your HR program with your business strategy, here’s a more detailed checklist:

1. Review your business strategy and goals

This is important so you don’t overlook anything to be in the best position to align your employee-development planning with your organization’s goals.

Identify and analyze critical roles in your business.

2. Plan for transparency

Inform your supervisors and key employees about your plan to make sure your company is effectively aligning your human resources program with business strategy.

Educate them on the process. Change make employees nervous. Be sure supervisors are ready to alleviate any concerns of their staffs and to explain how changes may or may not affect them.

3. Evaluate your staff

Check to be sure your employees fit well with their job descriptions. Identify their abilities, knowledge and skills including their certifications and education.

Evaluate your employees. Take steps to avoid making errors in your evaluations. Continue to assess the quality of their completed projects.

If you’re good at engaging your employees, you’ll discover tangible qualities. Look for any other salient talents, especially their soft skills for interacting with each other, customers and vendors.

Inspire them to maximize their performance. Determine if they’re promotable or at least willing to accept additional responsibilities.

Answer their questions. Be sure to give positive feedback at every opportunity.

4. Craft a set of employee-development blueprints

Engage your employees to fully ascertain their career goals and their talent levels. Compare their opinions with your impressions.

Determine what your workers need in the way of skill enhancements. Be positive in your interactions with your employees.

Develop your plan of action for each person.

Provide necessary training and education to fill in the employees’ skill gaps. Always focus on helping your employees to grow professionally.

Once they appear ready for advancement, test your approach. Create a few scenarios or projects to test their new skills and progress and enthusiasm for the additional work as growth opportunities.

5. Develop a succession plan

Turnover is inevitable. Your succession planning must be capable of helping you to evaluate and to have employees ready to overcome unforeseen obstacles.

It’s best to at least involve your supervisors and key employees in the process. If it isn’t feasible, it tells you important information about your culture.

To keep growing a business and long-term sustainability, it’s vital to preserve the trust of customers, employees, partners and investors. Therefore, succession planning is essential.

6. Do a gap analysis

You’ll need to fully understand your current situation – strengths and weaknesses – and what you’ll be needing to do in improving processes as well as designing and implementing best practices to achieve your goals.

Examine your job descriptions to evaluate whether they are compatible with what you want your employees to achieve.

Review your employee handbook to see if it’s current in terms of employment laws and regulations in the locales you plan to operate. Update where appropriate.

Remember companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. If you haven’t already use best practices for an online employee handbook.

Have your employees read it and acknowledge their understanding.

Ascertain your training programs and what they’ll be needing.

Assess your health and benefit policies and procedures. Make sure you’re in full compliance at every level and meeting the needs of your workers.

Don’t forget about your technology. What works? What will you need?

7. Develop your new HR approach

Create an effective HR mission statement.

Ascertain your culture and skills inventory – if you have the right people and enough of them and whether they’re prepared for your growth. If necessary, plan to fix any culture shortcomings.

Promote a trust culture that’s appealing to everyone so you will profit from cross-generational teams.

Plan for the best-possible rewards package for your current staff and for any new employees.

Upgrade your technology and make sure your talent will be able to operate it.

8. Continuously monitor your HR approach

Review your plan on an ongoing basis to keep it aligned with your business strategy. Anticipate employee issues to keep a desirable culture.

Situations change. Regularly update your plan and procedures.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant articles:

Management Strategies for Productive Applicant Interviews — You must be assertive – ask the right questions and listen intently to cut through the morass of canned answers to get the answers you need to make good hiring decisions.

11 Categories of Mistakes Face HR Departments – Biz Coach Tips — Beware: Many problems are not caused by HR professionals but by managers who don’t use best practices.

16 Best Practices to Stay out of Legal Trouble with Employees — Generally, in human resources, companies find themselves in legal hot water because they inadvertently make mistakes with their employees. It’s important to triple down on preventative measures and responses to legal hazards when necessary.

Tips to Prevent or, if Necessary, Eliminate Employee Toxicity — From time to time, nearly every boss has to cope with an employee’s negativity. That’s annoying enough, but you’ve got a nightmare if toxic attitudes spread among the rest of your workers. Here are solutions.

Productivity: 5 Management Tips to Motivate Your Employees — A major quandary for managers is to bring out the best in their employees. Every manager wants to do it, but it’s not always easy. What’s the reason? Usually, it’s because employees are disengaged – disconnected from their managers and companies. Here’s how to fix it.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

-Henry Ford


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Management – How to Alleviate 10 Trending Issues in HR



Along with the 21st century revolution in technology, there have been dramatic changes in human-resources management in every industry and profession.

This means there are many pitfalls to avoid in our evolving litigious society. Everyday it seems there are changes in law and societal norms.

You have tons of responsibilities in order to stay profitable, maintain employee morale and to avoid legal issues. Whew, it’s seemingly overpowering.

You know, of course, if you make a mistake there could be disastrous ramifications.

In general, bear in mind these emerging issues:

1. Teaching moments

First and foremost, it’s increasingly important to read and stay current on events in business.

When other companies and nonprofits make negative headlines, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and if necessary to implement improvements in policies and procedures.

As a starting point for a safety net, use Google Alerts for any or all the appropriate HR keywords. Plan carefully as it’s a long list of subjects.

This also means using the news events as teaching moments to educate your employees.

2. Handbook updates

Neither you, nor your company, and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. To avoid legal issues, make certain you have the best handbook values.

For your handbook, consider mandating arbitration to discourage frivolous complaints and lawsuits.

With all due disrespect for the legal profession, any time lawyers and juries are unnecessarily involved you can expect uncertainty.

Incidentally, companies that don’t have online employee handbooks are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources.

3. Choosing words carefully

Whether you’re counseling one of your employees, documenting behavior and performance, or writing your handbook, be careful with your choice of words.

For example, a well-written set of performance goals work will help motivate employees and will help them focus better on their responsibilities. You can see 10 sample goal phrases here.

Avoid what an outside observer, such as judge, would consider to be “opinion.” So be specific about events and examples.

Times have changed. Above all, don’t use the word, “attitude.” You’ll be inviting legal trouble.

4. Gender bias

Actually, any form of bias or discrimination should be eliminated from your workplace, but gender bias has seeming been making more headlines.

ASAP, make sure to audit your benefits, policies and salaries to guard against gender bias. Continue to monitor your records. Make sure supervisors know to avoid gender bias.

These steps will help avert litigation or government involvement. But you need to do more to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.

Besides, know that your employees surf the Internet and pay attention to news coverage about inequality.

5. Terminations

Even if immediate termination seems appropriate, in most cases take a deep breath, document events, and pause for strategizing.

Instruct your employee to leave and report to HR the next day. Then, give the employee the opportunity to explain any possible extenuating circumstances.

Keep in mind that if you’re forced to terminate workers, ask yourself the right questions.

6. Pre-emptive legal action

In other words, don’t wait until an event blows up in your face. You’ll be more productive and will save money overall, if you use your outside attorney as an advisor.

Hopefully, you develop an intuitive antenna for HR issues before they become a crisis. When you anticipate a problem, call your attorney and ask questions before a crisis develops.

It’s much less costly to avoid courtroom litigation. By warding off problems, you’ll avoid an expensive legal defense.

You’ll need an HR specialist. Generally speaking, selecting the right business attorney, talent and skill levels are among the crucial traits needed for your success. So, have the right attorney for your business.

7. Anger in discipline

One rule of thumb is that it’s never OK to get angry in disciplining employees.

Not only does it help keep your blood pressure low, you can discipline or fire workers without causing unproductive drama and legal hassles.

Civility is important. So be tough on problems but soft on employees.

Careful planning is necessary before you give an employee an appraisal or before you terminate a person. In difficult situations, it’s vital for you to say the right things.

8. Employment Eligibility Verification forms (Form I-9)

Asking for green cards creates a huge risk factor. Don’t ask a lawful permanent resident for a green card.

Instead, request to see a driver’s license or other documentation. And make sure your I-9 records comply with the federal government. That’s an important step in preparation for an unannounced visit from ICE.

9. Retention of documents

Think about your retention of records. There are, of course, laws for records you need to keep. Laws require certain records anywhere from one to 30 years.

To avoid possible mistakes by destroying employee records too soon, add two or three years to the required duration in your retention of documents.

If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price.

In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee so use best practices to guard against legal risks.

10. Rules regarding tattoos

As the adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you have a rule regarding tattoos, avoid a mistake.

It’s not enough for your policy to inform employees that they can’t show “offensive tattoos.” Therefore, prohibit “visible tattoos.”

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

Tips to Prevent or, if Necessary, Eliminate Employee Toxicity — From time to time, nearly every boss has to cope with an employee’s negativity. That’s annoying enough, but you’ve got a nightmare if toxic attitudes spread among the rest of your workers. Here are solutions.

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy?  — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

Tips for Productive Meetings to Improve Performance — Here’s a checklist to engage your employees in energetic, inspiring staff meetings that will increase profits.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC complaints are a nightmare for management.

“The value of a business is a function of how well the financial capital and the intellectual capital are managed by the human capital. You’d better get the human capital part right.” 

-Dave Bookbinder


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Employer Tips: How to Deal with a Visit from ICE



A visit from ICE – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is a cause for concern.

Of course, there’s no need to panic if you’ve already taken the right precautions to avoid legal hassles with ICE.

However, if you haven’t completed your due diligence, you risk massive fines.

Worse, historically employers and their HR employees have also been jailed for violations.

So not only do you have to be diligent in organizing your I-9s, you have to be very diligent in your response to a notice of inspection (NOI).

Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

Assuming you sanction your receptionist to accept and receive important documents like an NOI, require the person to immediately notify you and/or your second-in-command and your human resources manager.

Your attorney should advise you and take the lead. Otherwise, only a designated manager should have further contact with ICE.

You’ll be required by law to respond within three days – 72 hours.

What NOIs mean

ICE wants to see:

  • Your I-9 forms for both current and recently terminated employees
  • Payroll records
  • List of current employees
  • Information regarding the company’s owners

If an ICE agent shows up at your office with an NOI, here are two strategies:

1. Interfacing with ICE 

Don’t be lulled into thinking the person is on your side. Don’t let the ICE agent trick you into saying something that could be used against you later.

Assume the agent is there to build a case.

Be civil, honest, brief and thoughtful. That also means being careful what you say – like you would in a courtroom – don’t say more than is needed.

Don’t rush the process even if you’re confident. Take your full allotted time to respond.

Your immigration attorney should audit your paperwork.

Additionally, your lawyer should help you respond by interfacing with ICE – for the audit and any extenuating circumstances.

Ideally, you have been thorough in your planning.

However, if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in the NOI, it’s businesslike within the three-day period to ask for two things: Elucidation and confirmation of your request and ICE’s answer.

(Again, your attorney should be involved.)

2. Paper trail … paper trail … and paper trail

Accuracy is vital and make certain you make a list of the information you give ICE.

The ICE audit won’t be conducted at your office. It will be on ICE’s turf – the government office.

Consider giving the agent a carbon copy of your I-9 forms with supporting records. Then, ask for a receipt of your list and documentation.

Finally, keep careful notes of any verbal communication, and document all details in an e-mail or letter to ICE.

From the Coach’s Corner, more HR tips to avoid legal problems:

Employee Records: Which Ones to Save and for How Long — You don’t want to keep unnecessary employee records. Nor do you want to make a rash decision on whether to destroy records. Here are the laws you need to know.

Management/HR Tips: Checking References of Applicants –– Even if you believe you’ve found an impeccable candidate, you must conduct precise reference checks. If you don’t, you risk paying a high price later.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations –– As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees — With difficult employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s what to do.

With Fraud Running Rampant, How HR Can Help Prevent It — By taking alert measures, human resources can play a major role to put a dent in the global epidemic of fraud in the workplace.

Tips for Handling Your Employees’ Wage Garnishments — Handling wage garnishments of your employees’ paychecks – including communication – is a very sensitive issue. Here are four management tips.

“Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.”

-Warren Bennis


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




These 13 Red Flags Are Signs Employees Dislike You



Your employees might not tell you that they hate you, but there are many signs that will tip you off.

There might be reasons for it. Whether you’re lacking in soft-communication skills that create warm fuzzies or you’re simply an out-and-out tyrant, either way your employees will think you’re a bad boss.

You’ll be in the dark if they want to make sure they keep their jobs.

However, you’ll find out what employees think about you if you learn to enhance your EI, or emotional intelligence.

That’s the first step whether to improve your communication skills or to learn best practices in management.

(Scroll down to the Coach’s Corner for helpful hints.)

Obviously, it’s best if employees respect you. They’ll have better morale which leads to creativity, teamwork, productivity and profits.

If you’re a manager it also minimizes the likelihoods of you getting fired, or with employees filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If employees dislike you, here are the red flags:

1. Your instinctive feeling

Consider what your gut tells you. Perhaps you don’t know why you’re uncomfortable, but you simply feel something’s amiss with your relationships.

2. Employees aren’t enthusiastic

If it appears they’re not enthusiastic about pitching in on projects or they don’t seem diligent in their work, that’s a sign.

3. High rate of tardiness, absenteeism

Employees, who are often late, take long breaks, leave early or don’t show up at work because they’re sick or stressed, it’s often because they don’t like your company.

4. Employees avoid you

People avoid a boss when they feel intimidated or they don’t like the person. For instance, employees might turn their back when you’re nearby or head for the stairs when you’re near the elevator.

5. Poor eye contact

If you have an employee who maintains good eye contact with others but not with you, it’s not a good sign. Weak eye contact makes it easier for them to hide their contempt for you.

6. Employees don’t smile around you

If employees habitually don’t smile when with you but smile or laugh with others, you’ve likely got a problem.

A related omen: If employees stop smiling or joking when you enter the room. They obviously don’t feel comfortable with you.

7. You’re not included in social events 

If you’re not invited to happy hours or other get-togethers, your employees indirectly are telling you they want to minimize their time spent with you.

8. Negative body language

You know what it means when someone constantly folds their arms or when their eyes glaze over when you talk, right?

9. Employees are abrupt

Try an experiment by cordially greeting your employees. If on Monday you ask them how their weekend was or how their day is going, if they always say “fine,” you’ve got troubles.

10. Their preferred communication is email

Unhappy workers will minimize their personal contact with you. This is especially true if their emails don’t have a greeting, such as “hi” or “hello.”

11. Their office door is usually closed

A frequently closed door usually means the person is on the phone looking for another job, commiserating with friends or family, or asking someone for advice.

12. Consistent disagreement

Aggressive personalities are less likely to avoid you. But they don’t refrain from conversations because they want to argue with you.

It’s also possible they aren’t afraid of personality clashes because they’re sick and tired of working for a tyrant. Whoa.

13. Employees are quitting without offering a good reason

To paraphrase an axiom: People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss. If, on exit interviews, employees don’t cite a reason, it’s often because they don’t like or respect you. Ouch.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant topics:

How to Grow Your EI for Leadership Success — Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism — Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem.

10 Tips to Plan for Your Critical Discussions with Employees — Careful planning is necessary before you give an employee an appraisal or in advance of terminating the person. Here are 10 tips.

‘That’s the Way It Is’ – Often a Lazy Reaction to Employees — When employees question your policies, don’t let your ego dictate how you react to them. Consider it as though they’re merely questioning you. They just might be positive change agents for you. So here’s how to profit from change agents.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

5 Quick Management Tips to Motivate Your Employees — A major quandary for managers is to bring out the best in their employees. Every manager wants to do it, but it’s not always easy. What’s the reason? Usually, it’s because employees are disengaged – disconnected from their managers and companies. Here’s how to fix it.

The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate you away from those who are still undecided.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

‘That’s the Way It Is’ – Often a Lazy Reaction to Employees



Do you get annoyed when employees criticize your decisions or policies? When they don’t make any sense such employees are frustrating.

With frustrating employees, especially if they’re difficult, you have two obvious problems: 1. The impacts on your organization. 2. The behavior of the individual.

Their ideas are often a waste of time and energy – theirs and yours. The impacts are all related to the loss of profit. Toxic employees warrant your best coaching tactics.

Frustrations from dealing with difficult employees coincide with many management issues – teamwork, morale, organizational dysfunction and weak customer relationships.

These issues also translate into an growth opportunity for you – to learn how to enjoy your job managing difficult employees.

Case study confession

As a business-performance consultant, I advise clients to listen and keep an open mind.

Why? I’ve seen both sides of the equation. Some criticism is warranted.

Prior to my consulting career, I was once the employee who consistently came up with ideas to improve operations. With an eye on profits, inefficiency frustrated me.

My enlightened bosses readily accepted my ideas.

However, my ego-driven bosses readily rejected the ideas without considering their merit. It was frustrating to hear the phrases, “That’s the way it is” or “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Ugh.

But here’s the moral:

While I can honestly say my suggestions were creative and profitable, I was part of the problem. How?

As in any differences of opinion, no person is 100 percent in the right. It might be a 50/50 or 90/10 ratio. The latter ratio was my case as I was too abrupt in presenting or implementing my ideas.

By extension,  your employees can be sophisticated in their thinking with productive ideas, but they can be unpolished in presenting them to you.

Personal lessons

The mistake I made was not learning and using soft skills in order to persuade bosses on my ideas.

Behaving and speaking with finality – as a self-appointed efficiency expert – wasn’t the right choice to make. I learned the hard way the importance of using the tools in the art of persuasion.

So, as an employee, my practice of submitting ideas taught me lessons that helped me later in my management and consulting careers.

For bosses, there is tremendous value in their soliciting ideas from employees as well as using proper listening skills.

For employees, it’s best to adopt the best practices in marketing ideas to the boss.

Respond; don’t just react. In other words, think about what they’re saying before you respond. They just might be your best change agents.

The No. 1 mistake managers make is their failure to listen to employees.

The No. 2 mistake bosses make is their poor interaction with their employees.

Change agents

Ironically, many employees just might be the best change agents.

While a company needs policies and procedures, not all are productive in serving customers or providing protection from lawsuits or regulations.

On the other hand, some policies don’t make sense but they’re not challenged.

When employees question your policies, don’t let your ego dictate how you react to them. Consider it as though they’re merely questioning, not challenging you.

Respond to them. Don’t just react.

In other words, think about what they’re saying before you respond. Give a thoughtful response. They just might be your best change agents.

Seriously, one good idea could be worth $1 million to you.

And if your employees seem too abrupt in asking a question or making a suggestion, consider coaching them. Stellar bosses help employees to grow professionally.

Along the way, count your blessings.

Such employees might very well be your talented change agents. They’re to be recognized. Don’t risk them quitting and leaving only to help your competitor.

The bottom-line: You will enhance your profits if you partner with your employees. Don’t be lazy – respond, don’t react.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related management strategies:

For Strong Profits, 5 Tips to Develop Employees as Leaders — Strong leaders will help your business grow and enjoy excellent profits. That’s because, as role models, they’re instrumental in helping you develop a performance culture.

5 Quick Management Tips to Motivate Your Employees — A major quandary for managers is to bring out the best in their employees. Every manager wants to do it, but it’s not always easy. What’s the reason? Usually, it’s because employees are disengaged – disconnected from their managers and companies. Here’s how to fix it.

Employees Will Help You in Strategic Planning If You Use 3 Tips — Have you developed your strategy? It’s important to proceed without engaging in self-doubt. But you’re concerned about involving your employees? There are three closely related basics in working with your employees to get the job done.

Advice for Men: How to Manage Women Employees — You must exercise due diligence to motivate talented employees and retain them for an efficient and productive workplace. But many male managers unwittingly mismanage their female employees.

4 Tips to Motivate Employees When You’re Facing Adversity — Effective bosses have antennas to alert them over looming challenges. If they don’t have such an antenna, it’s important for them to develop one for multiple credibility reasons. Even the bosses of small companies can suffer from image problems externally and internally. Either one or both will adversely affect profits.

“I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Leadership: 4 Strategies Dealing with Incompetent People



Yes, incompetent employees – whether they have difficult personalities or they simply under-perform – can be aggravating. But they don’t have to be.

For whatever reason when employees fail to perform, it’s still vital for managers to show leadership by maintaining their cool.

Why? For two reasons:

Firstly, managers should never give away their personal power by getting angry. Secondly, it isn’t always possible to fire incompetence.

So a manager must step up and show leadership – with detachment, not indifference. Yes, there is a difference.

With detachment, leaders methodically reflect on a problem with emotional intelligence. (More on this later in the Coach’s Corner.) They understand the root causes and take positive action.

However, with indifference, managers don’t act with leadership. They don’t accurately analyze the reasons for the problem. Consequently, they act with haste not with emotional sobriety.

In fact, great managers actually know how to enjoy their jobs even with difficult employees.

id-10091536So leaders know to use four techniques:

1. Communicating

The first indicator of issues is a lack of communication and missing information.

As a result, people resort to making false assumptions.

When issues manifest themselves as problems – poor sales, for example – employees point fingers.  That results in stress, tension and poor morale.

Despite being surrounded by incompetent workers, leaders know they have to act like the only adult in the room.

Leaders set parameters and procedures for communication. They give examples of how they want the employees to engage in discussions.

This usually entails meetings or one-to-one discussions with documentation. That means written follow-ups on which employees can refer later.

2. Record-keeping

For situations involving toxic workers, there are always unnecessary challenges. But they must be addressed.

The best option is always to take preventative measures – with transparency and documentation. That’s right, document everything.

3. Staying calm

While it’s true that incompetence is infuriating, leaders don’t show it.

They take precautions with plenty of rest, recreation and exercise. Should tensions rear their ugly heads, leaders do what they need to do to stay calm.

That might mean taking a break, going for a walk or talking with a sounding board.

Even leaders get to where they are because they have a role model or mentor – someone who listens, provides empathy and provides objective feedback.

They brace themselves.

Leaders always consider the big picture – the overall welfare of the company. Leaders know that emotional sobriety with mental preparation is vital for success.

They know if they’re detached, other employees rise to the occasion and deliver strong performances to offset incompetent team members.

In other words, they deliberate and they don’t make rash decisions with hurried actions.

4. Coaching

Frustrations from dealing with difficult employees coincide with many issues for management – teamwork, morale, organizational dysfunction and weak customer relationships – just to name a handful.

They’re all related to loss of profit. So, toxic employees warrant coaching tactics.

Furthermore, to effectively replace mediocrity with strong performance, leaders optimize talent by developing a coaching culture.

If your suppliers or strategic partners are dysfunctional, you can effectively deal with them. The key is to coach your vendors and strategic partners.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

How to Grow Your EI for Leadership Success — Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

Trending – the 7 Biggest Challenges for Management — In our complex Digital-Age economy with Millennials replacing baby boomers, we can draw some conclusions about developing trends. Management typically faces seven workforce challenges.

5 Top Leadership Philosophies in Business Management — From Seattle to Singapore, top managers show leadership by coaching their teams to success. They accomplish goals with five habitual philosophies.

Leadership Tips for Executing Strategy to Defeat Threats — Multiple solutions might work to triumph over a threat, but a global study in 20 sectors in 20 countries shows execution trumps strategy. Here’s how leaders execute strategy.

5 Traits of People Who Deliver Bad News Well — Are you nervous about giving bad news to others? Do you wish you were good at it? If you answer yes to either question, here are five traits of good messengers.

As Trustworthy Leaders, Great Bosses Have 5 Traits — Trust, or lack of it, is an obstacle to leadership. It’s a mega issue in America. It’s reached crisis proportions. Published polls show Americans distrust their political leaders, journalists and CEOs. So it’s obvious there are countless missed opportunities in politics, the news media and business. A Stanford professor provides solutions.

“I always tell employees: ‘The group’s benefit is more important than your personal benefit.’”

-Terry Gou


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Courtesy of imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.