The Election & Thanksgiving is Over: What is in Store for HR/Management Professionals Going Forward

December 2, 2020

When a survey reports 83% of employees have been talking politics at work, you must be relieved that now some work can get done. So what should be top on mind for employers to get employees back to work after a pandemic practically lifted life out of employers and employees alike and it is not over yet.
The priority is to evaluate how you have done as an employer adapting to the COVID-19 situation and comparing that to what employees think.  According, to almost 20k local government employees only 75% of essential workers and 89% of remote works think you’ve done a good job.  A good 1/3 or so think the job has increased after COVID-19.  Both situations do not bode well for employee morale and job satisfaction and can lead to increased turnover and low employee engagement. Currently, 51% of employees are looking to leave jobs which increases the stress on HR and hiring managers.  Do not forget they can burnout too!
In my experience democratic administrations issue more workplace rules and regulations to follow which in some cases require training, administration and documentation.  Biden vowed to issue mandatory safety rules in all workplaces which will be one of the first things to watch for in 2021.  So far, depending on the governor, states have been free to manage COVID-19 the way they saw fit.  While most follow CDC workplace guidelines, they are not necessarily required to do so.  It is likely that OSHA will be put in charge for ensuring employers follow the laws.  While OSHA is primarily focused on the private industry, the Illinois Workplace laws require every employer to follow OSHA requirements, local government included.  While this might seem like a minimal requirement to follow it has major impact when not followed and employees report the organization.  The maximum penalty is $134,937 or $13,494 per infraction.
Ensure your management team understands how to administer the Victims Economic Security and Safety Act Leave.  Why, because this not as popular of leave as FMLA, PTO, etc. and the usage has been increasing due to the pandemic.  Domestic violence incidents are increasing, and some have the possibility of doubling up as FMLA leave in addition to VESSA.  Knowing the details and how to address issues in the workplace will give employers a leg up on those that are now being fined or lowing lawsuits for not administering correctly.
Stop saying “sorry” all the time.  Just because you must implement a policy, conduct a required training, or require managers to document performance discussions that employees of all levels don’t necessary like doesn’t mean you should be sorry your doing it.  Are you sorry? No, most likely you are just doing your job.  Does your accounting department say they are sorry every time they ask for a receipt to pay an expense? Does IT say sorry every time they shut down the computer to install a new spyware software to protect the employer’s computer systems? No they do not.  So stop saying “sorry”.  Perhaps, I understand, or I feel your pain but do not apologize for doing your job.
Finally, as we watch the COVID-19 case numbers likely increase due to Thanksgiving gatherings, take this opportunity to suggest alternative Christmas and New Years celebrations that will minimize the risk in early 2021.  Take time to thank your management team and staff especially those that have been on the front lines.  While they are your rock stars they too are vulnerable, stressed to the max and may entertain an invitation to move to a position where they can have a better mental and physical outcome.  Retention should be key in this environment and doing what we learned in kindergarten such as saying please and thank you is the easiest thing you can do to help this very volatile workplace situation we are in.

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Business and Workplace

November 25, 2020

Like most, Conflict Management is not my favorite subject. Nor am I an expert as I have my own unresolved conflict currently brewing that I need to heed my own advice on. However, in Human Resources you often need to be a mediator of conflict between coworkers and manager/employee disagreements. Other times you simply have to provide advice to other managers who need to help their employees deal with conflict.  Finally, conflict almost always shows up in the board room regardless of how well we try to avoid it.
So unless you are the king of conflict denial or the queen of pushing conflict under the rug, you may have a desire to fix your conflict situation at the earliest possible opportunity. If not you should…life is too short to live with conflict. If you don’t have a desire to resolve, then get ready for the big explosion that is bound to happen sooner or later. You can be sure someone will get hurt post explosion because something is almost always said that is not meant the way it comes out or is taken.
Some studies say we are about 75% responsible for how others treat us. If the emotion is negative then most likely some of that responsibility is in your reaction to the situation. If you are a person who tends to allow others to treat you in a way that causes inward or outward conflict, it may be time to put them in their place and make them think twice about doing it again. Of course I don’t mean to do this in a negative way because what does that do? It feeds the fire and causes more conflict. So here is a quick list of suggestions I recommend based on my own experience, education, and practice resolving conflict.

  1.  Use Your Words – you cannot resolve anything without expressing how it makes you feel. The key word here is you as in “I”.  Choose words that will express but not shame or blame the other person.
  2. Seek First to Understand Then to Be Understood – this is one of the best Steven Covey habits for exceptional people. If you are always trying to be right and never care to understand the other person(s) point of view, resolution is not in your cards.
  3. Understand Differences in Perception – just because you see a situation one way doesn’t mean others will see it the same as you. Everyone comes from a life of difference and that may be something you are not aware of.
  4. Remember It’s About Impact Not Intent – take responsibility when someone shares that you may have offended them. You may not intend to hurt them but consider that you may have.
  5. Maintain Your Credibility and Respect – this is especially important when your conflict is in the workplace, but it can affect family member relationships for years to come as well when reactions go over the line.
  6. What, What and Why? Feedback Framing – this was a tip from a past boss that has always stuck with me and I even use in disciplinary action documentation at times. Explain WHAT happened then go directly in to WHAT could or should have happened in the future (don’t focus on past) and WHY this new suggestion is a better response.
  7. Restate What You Have Heard – say “What I hear you saying is…” to help the other person understand how you may be perceiving what you said as well as helping you further dive into #2 above.  It’s a clarification technique that slows you down from reacting negatively to something that may not have been intended.
  8. Gain an Understanding of Emotional Intelligence – the higher your EQ is the better able you will be in managing conflict.  The skills can be learned if you know what they are and how to work on them.  Some are above but there are more.  Free EQ tests are available online.
  9. Practice, practice, practice – whether or not you need to practice any of the tips above or something you learn by taking your EQ test, practice it every chance you get.  Set reminders on your phone if you must but keep the ideas on the forefront so you learn to make them a habit when the unexpected happens.
  10. Know When to Give Yourself a Time Out – there are times that you heart starts to race or your blood pressure rises and you can physically feel the signs that you are about to blow due to conflict.  This is the time to walk away and let the other person know you need some time.  The time is healthy for both sides of the conflict to help give perspective and determine a plan for resolution.  

Even if these suggestion are just reminders of what you already know, I hope it’s a good refresher and can help maintain a relationship that may be on the verge of being broken.  Remember, life is too short to carry conflict for long.  Take responsibility now and move forward.  I have lost several loved ones (mom, dad, and brother to name a few) in my life recently who I wish I had hugged one more time than I had fought with them.

Don’t have regrets and make a difference in your life and others.

Posted In: On My Mind
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