Nine Great Questions To Ask Your Boss

Too many employees are reactive to their boss – they simply respond to orders and direction. This leads to a lack of mutual understanding, and tasks that don’t get done the way the boss intends.

Being proactive, however, can mutually benefit both you and your manager.

It’s always better to clarify with a boss. Clarify, in this instance, means making sure you and the boss are on the same page when it comes to tasks, goals and team-building.

A major mistake most managers make is they simply assume their team knows exactly what his or her expectations are. This ‘top-down’ approach does not work in today’s modern workplace.

By asking questions, an employee and manager become more mutually joined; tasks get accomplished quicker and more accurately; and the overall organization improves. It’s about communication – two-way communication.

This list of questions, from Careerbuilder via, is an excellent way to begin the process.

Cat’s Paws, Discrimination, and Coca-Cola

When charges of discrimination are made in your business, the smartest move you can make is to conduct an immediate investigation.

If an investigation isn’t made, there are too many issues that can arise, as in the case of Coca-Cola Bottling of Los Angeles (BCI).

A manager told an HR staff member that an employee was insubordinate. Without getting corroborating evidence (or even conducting an investigation), the HR person gave permission to terminate the employee, who is African American. (The HR person never met the employee or knew he was black).

As it turned out, the employee was accusing the supervisor of harboring racial animus towards black workers. Lawsuits ensued. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit, but an appeals court reversed the ruling, and the case was headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, when BCI settled with the EEOC for $250,000.

Of course, the legal fees for BCI are likely many times higher than the settlement.

If only the HR department had conducted an investigation (or had an outside consultant do it).

Thanks to HR.BLR.COM.

Another Reason To Have An Employee Handbook

There are many good reasons to have a good, frequently updated employee handbook – and very few reasons not to have one, regardless of the size of your business.

One of the most important reasons is to reiterate that you are an ‘at-will’ employer – meaning an employee can be terminated at any time, and that an employee can quit at any time.

In Kang v. PB Fasteners, a long-term employee attempted to prove that his longevity at the company implied a contract. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected that claim, in part because the employer’s handbook stated all employment was “at will” and that employees could be terminated without cause at the employer’s discretion. The handbook also stated that it was not intended to “alter the at-will status of employment with the company.

Make sure the at-will statement is included in:

  • Your job application (with a signature from the candidate)
  • Your job offer letter
  • And in the Employee Handbook

Thanks to Jackson Lewis.

Violence Prevention in the Workplace

It’s impossible to eliminate violence in the workplace, but there are techniques and methods to reduce the possibility of it happening.

According to Dr. Jeffrey L. Sternlieb, president of MetaWorks, homicide is the number one cause of death of women in the workplace.


CA Supreme Court Rejects Liability for Supervisors in Retaliation Cases

Supervisors cannot be held liable for retaliation under the California Fair Employment & Housing Act.

The California Supreme Court in Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership issued the decision.

Retaliation is becoming much more popular in employee relations cases, since it’s much easier to prove retaliation than harassment. Often, a harassment investigation can only reveal a ‘he said, she said’ scenario. The standard for proving retaliation is much lower, and many plaintiff’s attorneys are dropping the harassment allegations and staying only with retaliation.

According to Jackson Lewis:

Although individual supervisors cannot be held liable for retaliation, employers should not jump to the conclusion that this decision will reduce FEHA claims significantly. Retaliation claims against individual supervisors are usually only one of several claims asserted by former employees who sue. Indeed the history of this case aptly illustrates this point: Jones asserted claims for harassment and discrimination, as well as retaliation. While litigation costs may diminish somewhat, employers can best avoid the courthouse by adopting and enforcing anti-harassment and -discrimination policies and by training their supervisors to recognize workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

That means training your supervisors, conducting an effective investigation, and implementing policies that absolutely forbid harassment – and retaliation

Managing Your Boss – 30 Years Later

In 1980, one of the most significant articles on modern leadership was published in the Harvard Business Review – “Managing Your Boss,” by John J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter changed conventional wisdom from a didactic (‘the boss tells you what to do’) into a collaboration between employee and employer.

Nearly 30 years later, those concepts are as important as ever. And ‘managing up’ is a critical component in my book, “Managing People in the 21st Century”.

If you manage people, encourage your employees to manage up. If you have a boss (and it’s likely you do), make sure you understand the world he/she operates in – what his or her goals and objectives are.

The key to successful leadership is communication.

A conversation with the authors of that article is posted at