"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.

Leading Through Difficult Times, Part 2

I recently wrote about my own theories on managing and leading in a down economy. Maureen Moriarty, whom I respect and frequently quote, has her own (similar) theories. In a nutshell:

What can leaders do?

  • Communicate frequently with the 3 C’s: clearly, credibly and candidly. During a crisis, communication is more important than ever. Ambiguity and uncertainty equate to stress. If you go silent, people will make up their own stories about what’s really going on with you and the company. Rumors often generate negativity and fan the flames of fear and anxiety.
  • Keep connected. Manage by walking around. You can’t afford during times like these not to know what’s really going on. Be diligent in seeking out information, even the bad news. It’s a mistake during a crisis to hide out in your office with the door closed. Nervous followers need comfort and reassurance from their leaders. Be visible and keep checking in with all levels of staff to see how people are doing.
  • Ask yourself, “What kind of emotional wake do I want to leave behind me today?” The emotions of a leader are highly contagious, so work hard to manage your own anxiety. No one will affect the overall workplace mood and morale more than a senior leader. Be mindful that any negative comments or tone will carry impact. If you show up like a cat on a hot tin roof, your anxiety will spread like a wildfire. Manage your own anxiety by developing a “self-soothing strategy” you can rely on. Find someone you can vent to safely, such as a trusted outside adviser or coach who also can offer an objective perspective.

  • Pay attention to task and people; be alert to their emotions. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking all is well or that your people will simply need to “deal with it.” Develop a proactive plan to recognize, identify and deal with current challenges and emotions in the workplace. Set time aside in team meetings to allow people to vent and talk about their anxieties and challenges. Listen and acknowledge what you hear them saying.
  • Be the anchor in the storm; display calm confidence and optimism. Model what you want from your team. This is your golden opportunity to truly lead by example and live your values.
  • Keep your team focused. Identify the single most important priority goal that everyone needs to commit to in order to weather the storm. Make sure everyone understands it and is clear what their part will be — their action item(s) in helping the team achieve it. Let them know there will be no tolerance for the “it’s not my job” syndrome for this goal! Create a measurable scoreboard for the goal, review it at every team meeting and recognize/celebrate critical milestones.
  • Engage hearts and minds (particularly your top performers’) to increase productivity. Facilitate a session to get all hands on deck. Bring the team or company together to brainstorm creative solutions for the game plan. Focus on core strengths and values, company vision and how to keep customer confidence high.
  • Stay the course. Reinforce the plan with follow-up, recognition, redefining expectations and adequate resource support for weathering the storm. Retaining your top talent during slow growth will be challenging — they get restless. Work to keep them engaged, well supported and rewarded. On that note, everyone’s extra effort should be noted and recognized.

You can read the entire article here.

Courtesy Maureen Moriarty and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

How to Silence Workplace Gossips

This month, I’ll be conducting a nationwide audio conference on issues and solutions to Gossip in the Workplace on behalf of my friends at BLR.com.

I hope you can join us.

The nationwide audio conference is on Monday, November 17 at 10:30am Pacific. To sign up, click here.

There’s also a California specific conference through the Employer Resource Institute on Friday, November 21 at 10:30am Pacific. To join us, click here.

I sincerely hope you can join us!

GOTV

On Tuesday, I’ll have the privilege of voting in my eighth Presidential election. In half of them, I was equally privileged to have an employer who encouraged my vote (since 2000, I am my own employer).

In most states, employers are required to provide time off to employees in order to vote (for the specific state-by-state run down, click here).

I once had a boss who tried to force us to vote by absentee ballot; we revolted. There’s something about going into a voting booth and choosing a President that is indescribably American. It’s something I’m proud of.

Regardless of your political persuasion, I encourage you to encourage your employees to take time and vote. An hour or two is worth the privilege of a free country.

Thanks to Fisher & Phillips.