Managing A Moody Employee

I like to surround myself with people who are positive. There’s nothing more disheartening than having to spend time with people who are negative. Energy – whether positive or negative – absolutely can affect your attitude and those around you.

It’s one of the reasons I counsel my clients on interviewing to focus solely on attitude and aptitude. Those are the two things you cannot manage or train.

But eventually we all come into contact with a moody employee – someone who’s attitude swings up-and-down all too frequently.

How do you manage a moody employee?

The first step is to focus on why they’re moody. Is it a personal issue, or an issue with you, or your company?

Annette Fazio of Seacoast Online has some good tips. All deal with communicating with that employee and asking him or her:

What do you like best about working here?

What do you like least?

What specifically do you like about the way the office/business is handled?

How do you think the phone should be answered? How many rings? Why?

Ask for the employee’s solutions to the problem. If he or she doesn’t see a problem, that’s another red flag. Unless you are skilled at open-ended questions, write them out first. We tend to ask closed-ended questions that require a yes or no answer, and they don’t lead you to any solutions. Your aim is to get your employee to talk.

Asking open-ended questions puts the burden on the other person to be responsible for their own attitude and behavior.

Ask permission to take notes. It makes a statement about the serious commitment you have to the employee and your team, and the notes will be handy if you need to have future conversations regarding the situation.

Notice the questions are open-ended; they require more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

This takes care of the business issues that can cause moodiness. If it’s personal, don’t get into the issues – but remind that employee you expect that everyone’s personal life should be left at the door when work starts.

If an employee can’t do that, then it’s time to start counseling that person out. Negativity is a killer in any workplace.

How To Inspire Like Obama

The bad economy brings out fear among workers across America. These workers are looking to their leaders to take measures to improve the situation both in government and in their own workplace.

Instilling confidence is a key trait of all leaders, and inspiring passion is one of the most difficult traits for a new managers to learn.

How do you inspire your team when there’s gloom and doom all around?

Effective communication is the key.

Carmine Gallo, a communications coach, points to Barack Obama, who is without question an inspirational figure. But Obama is both inspirational within himself (just look at his life story and who he is) and has the unique ability to inspire others with his remarkable communication skills.

In the November 11 issue of Business Week, Gallo illustrates 7 techniques Obama uses that you can use as well:

Exude passion.
Have a clear, concise vision.
Sell the benefit.
Paint pictures.
Invite participation.
Radiate optimism.
Encourage potential.

I’ll add one more – be realistic with your employees.

Managing Proactively

Many managers make the mistake of letting poor behavior get out of control before stepping in.

One of my maxims on management is: What you allow, you encourage.

When you see inappropriate behavior, address is immediately.

In this Q&A from the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette, a manager asks if she needs to address issues stemming from a direct report. “Even if she bugs me, do I need to talk to her?”

The answer, from Daneen Skube, is correct of course: “Yes, you do.”

A better question, from my perspective, is – “Why did you wait so long to do it?”

Good managers – like good parents – address bad behavior immediately. It may seem easier to avoid a potential confrontation, but once the issue exacerbates, it’s must more difficult to correct it.

Workplace Investigations Actually Work!

When faced with an employee issue – whether an allegation of harassment, a general complaint, or a potential for trouble – the first thing to do is conduct a workplace investigation – pronto.

An independent investigation can alleviate much of the power of a lawsuit, because it shows that steps were taken to solve the issue in a deliberate and professional manner.

Howard University’s hospital was recently the beneficiary of conducting an investigation. An independent review undertaken by the Hospital’s senior officials satisfied the U.S. Appeals Court that the Hospital’s decision to suspend an employee was free from any influence by her supervisor and the court reversed a jury’s determination.

The case – Furline v. Morrison – is summarized very well by Karen Gieselman of Fisher & Phillips.

The Best Boss I’ve Ever Had

I frequently conduct Leadership Development Programs for leaders at businesses throughout the country.

Recently, I was conducting this program for a professional services firm in Nevada. I asked the 6 executives in the room to think of the best boss they ever had. Once they had, I asked what was it that made them a great boss.

Their answers were so insightful I thought I’d share them with you:

  1. Believes In Me/Looks Out For Me
  2. Pushed Me; Has High Expectations for me
  3. Lines of Communication are open; asks my opinion
  4. Does not micromanage, but holds me responsible
  5. Supports and encourages me
  6. Treats me as an equal/respects me
  7. Teaches me about both techinical and management issues
  8. Works With Me

Can you say that about your own management style?

Treating Employees With Fairness

The way you treat an employee often makes more points with juries than legal technicalities.

Jeffrey Wortman, a partner at the Los Angeles office of Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, spoke on ways to treat employees fairly at a recent BLR National Employment Law Update conference in Las Vegas.

His Fairness Tenets:

  1. Adequate notice.
  2. Opportunity to achieve.
  3. Consistency.
  4. Document as you go.

But most the most important concept is that fairness starts with you – the manager.

The entire article, courtesy of the California Employer Advisor, is here.

Communication is the Key For Employers in Difficult Times

In every employee survey nationwide, workers frequently complain about the lack of communication they receive from their bosses. Employees want to know what’s going on.

And in this dreadful economy, communication is more important than ever. It’s my #1 recommendation for clients asking about how to manage through this downturn.

Some more validation for this advice comes from Hanah Cho at the Baltimore Sun, who quotes a study that says

71 percent [of workers] believe that their company’s leaders should be communicating more about current economic problems. And 54 percent of workers said they have not heard from management at all on the impact of the financial crisis on their companies.

Employees have a right to know what’s going on in their company. Avoiding these discussion leads to higher anxiety, and lower productivity.

"Cheaters" Caught Cheating?

According to the Dallas Morning News, the popular television show “Cheaters” has been sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged sexual harassment.

No business is immune from charges of sexual harassment; but I frequently run into businesses that attempt to refute these charges by saying something like, “but that’s the way our business is.”

Nonsense. No business is immune – whether it’s in the pornography industry or a white collar, high-tech office.

Take steps to prevent harassment from occurring and remember, no one is immune.

Brinker Gets A Review

As we suspected, the California Supreme Court has granted review of the California Court of Appeal’s decision in Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court, which interpreted California’s meal and rest break requirements.

A California Court of Appeal held, back in July, that:

  1. Employers need only provide, not ensure, that rest and rest periods are taken;
  2. Employers need only authorize and permit rest periods to be taken for every four hours or major fraction thereof worked;
  3. Employers are not required to provide a meal period for every five consecutive hours worked; and
  4. Employers can only be held liable for employees working off-the-clock if the employer knew or should have known employees were doing so.

The Court may take up to one year to final decision in Brinker. In the meantime, employers are strongly urged to stay the course, or consult your employment attorney or a qualified HR consultant.

With thanks to Ford & Harrison’s Jesse Caryl.

2009 Pay Raises in a Bad Economy

The economy is not good (not a surprise there). But how does a business in the midst of that economy find an equitable way of managing any increases in pay for employees?

First, understand that the most valuable employees are the ones who contribute the most to your bottom line success. Identify them. What are they currently making, and are they in an acceptable range versus your competition? (Compensation studies can be incredibly helpful and well-worth the cost).

Secondly – what is the level of difficulty replacing that employee? If they leave, who is going to replace them? The best employees always have the most options for success outside of your company.

Finally, communicate. Consider a modest employee satisfaction assessment program. Find out what employees’ concerns are; what they are looking for from you (or in the job marketplace). Take those general trends and apply them to each individual working for you – and then sit down with them one-on-one. Let them know what’s going on in the business.

The short-term economic difficulties are just that – short-term. Make sure to balance your long-term corporate goals against your short-term needs.