Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Need for Compassionate and Courageous Firing

There was a disturbing story in the newspaper today:

The trial dragged on for two years — marked by 46 days of hearings, 18 witnesses on the stand, and a hefty 89-page ruling by the judge. Mob crime of the century? Complex terror case?  Nope. Just trying to get rid of a bad public-school teacher.

The article went on to detail the almost unimaginable lengths that one had to go to terminate a demonstrably incompetent teacher in New York City. Not surprisingly, few administrators even try.

Do we always have the courage (and well-placed compassion) to fire an employee in the best interests of the company?

Fortunately, most of our workplaces aren’t nearly this extreme in protecting poorly performing employees.  Yet and still, I wonder if in trying to guard against lawsuits by forcing managers to “dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ ” before signing off on a termination,  HR professionals are often guilty of damaging the organization and its employees in unintended but real ways.

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Happy Easter!

For all who celebrate the holiday, I’d like to wish you a very Happy and Blessed Easter, and a season of re-birth, renewal, and great rejoicing!

A Fresh Breath

The Easter and Passover season is a time for personal reflection for many. How do you renew yourself from a professional perspective?

The Easter and Passover season is a time of personal reflection for many, as well as a time for renewing one’s spirit and celebrating cherished ancient traditions with family and close friends.  In this same vein, I’ve been reflecting on the question of “renewing one’s spirit” from a professional perspective.

Getting a “Fresh Breath”

 On Sunday mornings, I enjoy listening to “Sunday With Sinatra” on the radio.  Recently, they played a clip of “The Chairman of the Board” chatting with the audience in between songs. In the clip, Frank Sinatra was talking about how, after singing his huge hit “My Way” for many years, he got a bit burnt out on the song.  But his audiences always asked for it, so he kept singing the song.  Then one day, he got what he called “a fresh breath,” and it was as if he was singing the song for the first time again.

As an HR professional, you often have to do the same thing over and over again — such as training new supervisors on exempt/non-exempt and overtime pay issues, for example.  You have to “keep singing the song,” even when it has gotten a bit  old for you.  What can you do to “get a fresh breath” and keep going? Continue reading

Doing What You Were ‘Meant To Do’

Did you ever meet someone who was doing exactly what they were meant to do? If you’ve ever been responsible for hiring someone who was a perfect, passionate fit for their job, how did that make you feel … and what effect did it have on the person, the organization, and everyone they came in contact with?

What a difference it can make when we place "the right person in the right seat" -- where they were meant to be

“I Love This Job”

A scene I’ll never forget: Cold, dark mid-winter morning.  Sophomore year in an all-boys, Catholic high school.  “Modular” (trailer-like) classroom.  Western Civ, second period.  Teacher walks into the room — and slams his grade book on the desk!  He had our attention. We all sit up, expecting angry words about poor grades on an exam, or assignment, or something like that.  What does he say instead? Loudly, boldly he exclaims: “I love this job!”

(He might have actually said, “I love this place” — but the point is the same, of course).

A Tale of the “Right Fit”

Mr. Haig. 24 years old. Skinny. Passionate. Utterly sincere. Being paid probably Continue reading

Is “Team Building” Always the Right Prescription?

Albany Medical College - New Student Orientati...

Team building exercises might not always be the answer

I listen to a lot of sports talk radio on my commute to and from work.  Several times each year — especially now, with the opening of baseball season — the hosts will get into impassioned discussions about “team chemistry” and whether or not it adds up to wins and losses.  This got me to thinking about “chemistry” on management teams.

When a management team is struggling, inevitably the suggestion arises that a “team building” event is needed.  Is this always the right prescription?  It strikes me that “team building” efforts — besides often being half-hearted or poorly conceived — are frequently premature, and actually deal with the symptoms of a problem, rather than addressing the underlying issues themselves. Continue reading