Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Contributing to the Memorial Fund

Yay, my first question!!!

Question: The wife of one of the guys that works at my job passed away after a long battle with cancer. I've only ever met the coworker in passing (he works at a different location) so I don't know him well and didn't know his wife. My boss sent me an email stating that she was gathering contributions for the wife's memorial fund. Am I obligated to contribute?

Answer: Well, no, you're not obligated to contribute, but before you decide not to I'd evaluate whether or not contributing will be seen as a political no-no in your workplace. You don't mention whether you're a member of management or not, or whether you're known as a highly compensated employee, and while this shouldn't matter, when it comes to office politics it does.

So, basically, if your boss is expecting you to contribute, and will hold it against you if you don't, I'd go ahead and do it. But if not, skip the contribution if you want to.

**NOTE: This is why I hate crap like this! This poor guy now feels obligated to contribute money to something he isn't interstesd in contributing to, and may be ill equipped to. When will employers (and employees for that matter) get that not everyone wants to give money to X cause but they will feel obligated to do so once asked.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obvious Interview Tip #2

Well, this is actually an obvious "applying for a job" tip, but could easily apply to interviews as well.

Don't tell your female recruiter that you were expecting to speak to a man, and then tell her that you need to speak to her boss when you're not getting anywhere in the recruiting process.

I was once recruiting for an position in a male-dominated field. A gentleman had applied for the position and I had not called him for a phone interview because I noticed that he had 5 million short-term temporary positions (this is a field where temp positions frequently turn into regular positions so this was a red flag.) He called me and the first words out of his mouth were, "I was expecting to speak to a man." He then went on to explain that he would like to come in for an interview. I informed him of our recruting process and told him that IF we were interested I'd contact him about a phone interview.

Maybe a week later he calls back to tell me that, he's highly qualified, and that he really needs a job, so I need to "hurry up and call him in for an interview." I again explain the process. He then says, "Well, I need to speak to your boss, what is his name?" I said, "Well, her name is X, but she's not involved in the recruiting process." I also basically told him to knock it off with the calls as he was not helping his chances.

He ends the conversation by telling me (again) that he really needs a job, and that he's had all these temp positions and can't figure out why he hasn't been hired on full-time yet. I wish I could have said, "Gee, I wonder if it's your sparkling personality."

A Train Wreck of An Interview

I was in a fast food restaurant that rhymes with Bendy's while eating my lunch I overheard an interview being conducted by the manager of the restaurant and a prospective employee. It was quite possibly the worst interview I'd ever seen in my life, and there was plenty of blame to go around, but the interviewer would give any HR person chills up their spine.

  • He opened the interview by stating, "Oh, I see you worked in Canada." And then asked, "Is that where you were born?" She responded yes, and he followed up with, "So you're Canadian?"

  • He asked how she'd get to work, and she stated that she could take the bus, walk, or get a ride from her husband. To which he responded, "So you're married?" followed by, "What does your husband do?"

  • Hannity and Colmes was playing loudly on the flat screen in the dining area.

So, what's wrong with this?

Umm, number one, we don't ask peope about their national origin as it is not relevant as long as they are legally able to work in the US. At first, his bringing up Canada seemed like small talk gone wrong, but the more he asked the more it seemed like he might have an issue with her being Canadian.

Number two, what does her being married or her husband's job have to do with her being a quaified candidate? I was scared he was going to next ask her whether her husband approved of her working outside the home. It's 2008 people not 1948.

Finally, Hannity and Colmes? While there is nothing illegal about Hannity and Colmes playing during an interview, and I understand the need to entertain your dining guest, it just seems like it'd be hard to concentrate on the interview with Hannity flapping his gums.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Deducting employee's pay is not an acceptable form of disciplinary action. So, yes, you must pay for that unauthorized overtime.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Inspired by HR Blogger

Okay, after a long delay, I am back. I have been inspired by Human Resources Bloggers. You will begin to see more post from me in the near future.

In the meantime, here is my top 3 reasons I haven't posted in over 2 months.

  1. I didn't have anything good to post about. Actually, this is a lie. I have had a lot of good things to post about, but I am struggling with how to make a fun entertaining blog while maintaining my anonymity. If I divulge too much good stuff, someone may be able to figure out who I am.

  2. No one has sent me any questions. This is probably (actually definitely) my fault. If I don't add new post, I can't possibly expect anyone to ask me a question.

  3. I've been dealing with open enrollment. There is some truth to this excuse, although it doesn't explain why there were no late April, early May post. When I decided to get off my bum (or maybe on my bum) and make some new post, I was too exhausted from open enrollment.

Anyway, this time I am truly committed to doing, like, at least 3 post a week, so stay tuned!.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Firing People Sucks

I had to fire someone today and while I felt horrible last night and this morning I feel much better now. I always feel better after it's over, and in this case I actually really feel better because the person did some things after the firing that led me to believe that they were even more of a bad employee than I had initially thought.

If you're like me (and like most HR people and managers) firing people will always suck, but, you can do a few things to make it suck a little less.

  • Make sure it's not a surprise. If someone has ongoing performance issues you should have already mentioned it to them. They shouldn't hear about it for the first time at their termination meeting.

  • If it is a surprise it should only be because they've done something really bad or are horribly clueless. Some people are really clueless, and there is nothing you can do about it. These are the people who don't understand why they are being fired for assaulting someone because it was only the first time.

  • Leave out the emotion, i.e. don't make it about you. Sure you feel bad, but they feel worse. You don't want to have to do it, and believe me they don't want you to. Telling them how you "didn't want to have to make this decision", or how you "really thought they were a great employee, but..." only serves to make you feel better about what you're doing, but I guarantee it does not make them feel that way. It makes them confused, after all, if you don't want to do it and they've been a great employee, why are you firing them?

  • Don't waver. Don't argue. Once you've come to the point that you are going to fire someone the decision should be final. It should not be up for discussion so you shouldn't entertain the person by giving them false hope that they can talk you into changing your mind. Don't argue about the facts either, it will only frustrate you and throw you off of your game, and if you're arguing with the type of employee I mention in item 2, you won't win, so you might as well not try.

  • Do not get angry. The decision you've made is a business decision, not a personal one. You are in control of the situation so you have nothing to be angry about.
  • Be organized and prepared.Even though you don't want the person you're firing working for you anymore, the way you fire them still matters. Treat them with dignity and respect, and have everything organized and prepared. Have all your final paperwork ready, their check available, and any escorts prepared. They may spread horrible rumors about your company anyway (some of them may actually be true) but you don't want to make them more angry by being unprepared and disrespectful.

There are tons of other firing tips I could think of, but right now I'm too drained to do so. If I've missed any feel free to let me know in my comments section.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Obvious Interview Tip #1

When you show up for an interview make sure you know the name of the company you're interviewing with, the position you're interviewing for and the name of the person you're supposed to meet.

The Clueless Applicant

Names and positions have been changed to protect the moronic.

A woman came in to interview for a call center position. She approached the receptionist who later described the woman as "looking lost."

Receptionist: Hi can I help you?
Applicant: Yes...
Receptionist: Are you here to meet with someone?
Applicant: Yes, but I don't remember who.
Receptionist: Are you here for an interview?
Applicant: Yes
Receptionist: What position are you interviewing for?
Applicant: I'm not sure.

After being briefed by the receptionist I sit down with the applicant - I already know I'm in for a treat!

Me: So, you don't know what position you applied for?
Applicant: I applied to a lot of places. It's either a lifeguard position or a call center position.

Note: There is no pool at our location and it's obvious that there is no pool. We are not near a beach or lake and it's pretty clear by the office decor that our business has nothing to do with water.

I won't bore you with the details of the rest of the interview, but let's just say that there was almost nothing this applicant could have said or done to turn this interview around.

Some people will tell you that you should research the company, and that's true, you will certainly impress your interviewer with that type of research. But, if you don't have time to review the company website, at the least know the company name, it's a minimum requirement.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Not and HR issue

You wouldn't know it from reading advice columns and forum posts, but not every issue is an HR issue. It seems that everyday in a paper somewhere you can find a columnist or a forum poster who insists that you should "visit your HR department." But really you shouldn't, I mean I don't know how to deal with some of these issue any better than you. So, I've compiled a short list of things to not bring to your HR dept.

1. Your coworker stinks (spinoff: your coworkers cologne is too strong.) This is not an HR issue, it's a management issue. Your manager should deal with this, not me.

2. Someone is peeing on the floor in the bathroom. No, I cannot install cameras, and I will not conduct an investigation. I can send out an e-mail to all employees asking them to be considerate, but I guarantee it's not going to work. Suck it up and roll up your pants legs.

3. Your coworker double-dips in the shared salsa at the office party. Seriously? I've been asked to address this issue and I absolutely refuse to. If you see someone double-dipping you should be able to deal with it yourself.

4. The janitor is not cleaning behind your space heater. Do I manage the janitor? No? Then why are you bringing this issue to me? Heck, he doesn't clean my office thoroughly either. Speaking of space heaters, are you authorized to have one of those in the office?

5.I feel like Jane doesn't like me. I don't care, and forget what you've been told about us HR types, I don't like people. Frankly, I understand why Jane doesn't like you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The One, The Only.... Tina Turner

My favorite artist of all time....

If you've read my profile you already know that as a child I wanted my hair JUST LIKE Tina Turner's. I even cried when my mother insulted her hairstyle. In retrospect, the hair would have been a bad look for me.

Hello Everybody!

Well, it's my first post. I didn't know what to write until my uber hip husband informed me that the first post is supposed to include information on me and the topics I'll be covering in this blog. The only problem is, I'm not sure what topics I'll be covering.

Obviously I'll be talking about HR, I know that I'll include funny stories from my adventures in HR, maybe one day somebody looking for advice will even e-mail me and I'll answer their questions.

I am an HR Generalist which means that I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. I work for a smallish company (more than 50, less than 100) in CA and do a little of everything... benefits administration, compensation, performance management, workers' compensation, training and employee development, recruiting (God help me), policy development, etc. I am a one woman department (but I'm hoping to get help soon!)

In HR, you have all the best stories in the world and no one to share them with. This blog will be an outlet to share some of my funnier stories. It will also serve as an opportunity to fulfill my life long dream of becoming the next Dear Abby