DeVaughn Narratives

Creating digital stories that resonate and inspire

Category: Management

The Misconception About Being “Downsized” or “Let Go”

The Misconception About Being “Downsized” or “Let Go”

In the last four years, my career has taken some unexpected turns. First, the hospital where I worked for years needed to become as lean as possible given that the healthcare industry was undergoing major changes. The uncertainty of how healthcare reform would affect our industry, including how hospitals would be paid for their services, called for conservative measures. Our department, along with many others, was streamlined in anticipation of this trend. I was “downsized” or “let go” as were many others in the organization. I was out of work for seven months.

After I lost my job, I went through an outplacement agency. Unbeknownst to me, the outplacement agency sent my resume to an outpatient facility dedicated to treating patients with opioid addiction and substance abuse. One of the job responsibilities was to detox patients for their inability to pay. I was so worried about never getting hired again that I felt I had to take the job. At the time, I was in school pursuing a degree in communications, so eight months later I decided to leave the job to pursue other possibilities within my chosen career field.

I was so happy to receive a job offer where I would be gaining experience in my chosen field. During my interview, I was informed that the company was going through a rebranding and a Board restructure. Six months later, it happened again. I was let go, along with many others, as part of the restructuring process.

It took me 11 months to find my next job. During that time, I focused my efforts on doing an internship in marketing and communications and taking classes to enhance my current degree.

Once again, worried about never getting hired, I took the first job offer. The company was not quite the right fit for my long-term goals and there were no opportunities for advancement. After six months, I left for what I thought was a better opportunity.

“Let Go” Not Once, Not Twice…But

DownsizedTwo weeks after I was lured away from a secure job, I was informed by my new employer that the company had been sold and my job eliminated. I was devastated.

I’ve now been looking for work for seven months.

After the first two layoffs, I was confident that my long time excellent work reputation and continuing determination to find the right position would serve me well.

Millions of people have been let go.

Today, it’s the norm for employers to regularly restructure to keep their staff lean and mean. Layoffs are never going away.

From what I have seen, companies are hiring more contract workers. Contractors are here to stay. Why? Essentially, companies no longer feel they have the ability to offer long-term, full-time jobs. Full-time employees are very expensive, or many companies have implemented hiring freezes; however, they still need experienced people to perform the work. Also, contractors can cost less in terms of fully loaded costs as companies are not required to pay for benefits like vacations, sick leave, or medical insurance. Even if the contractors are higher priced on an hourly basis, it might be less expensive for the company to hire them for a project or limited time.

I feel that stable employment may be a thing of the past. Furthermore, as long as employers have the power with the “at will” state law to terminate employment, there will always be many unjustifiably terminated employees.

Four Ways to Stand Out and Grow Your Business

Four Ways to Stand Out and Grow Your Business

Creating a successful business is about so much more than creating a website and selling your wares. Here are four ways to stand out and grow your business.

Four Ways to Grow Your Business

Creating a Great Culture – Whether you are a Fortune 1000 company or a two person company it’s never too early to decide the kind of culture you want to create and determine what your culture stands for. For example, Whole Foods Market started from the humblest beginnings by two unique individuals, John Mackey and Rene Lawson Hardy, and as they grew they hired those that fit their culture. Whole Foods Market’s culture is a critical factor in the firm’s success. A company’s culture influences every aspect of its business. Whole Foods Market shows that its culture is a major contributor to the brand’s strength. The firm has become popular not just because of its quality products, but also because of its culture. When you focus on your culture, you create a strong foundation of values, beliefs, and expectations that cause you to stand out in the marketplace that will ultimately allow you to grow your business.

Showing Your Customers You Care – Customer appreciation is a lost art. But smart businesses know that showing customers how much they genuinely care is an opportunity to win people over for life. A little personalization goes a long way. I feel that the most successful companies find unique ways to show their customers they care about them. “You want to go where everybody knows your name,” is the theme song from the popular 1980’s TV sitcom Cheers. After a warm welcome, Jonathan from Central Asia, a popular neighborhood Chinese takeout restaurant, not only knows my name but he knows exactly what I want. Fifteen minutes later, I head for the door a happy customer. On the rare occasion when my meal is not to my liking, Central Asia will pick up the cost the next time I order. My hair stylist at Facets of Hair will accommodate my hectic schedule even if it means opening the shop on Sunday morning. When you show your customers you care, the news will spread and you will gain a competitive advantage.

Leading with Optimism – Optimism is a competitive advantage and is an essential ingredient of innovation. Optimists raise the aspirations of people to achieve their individual best by focusing on innovation, problem solving and creative failures. Research has shown that positive emotions actually fuel creativity and enhance your reasoning skills thus creating more successful results. It’s the optimists who believe that success is not impossible and will take the actions necessary to grow your business. At AOL, optimism is a part of the culture while negative thinking is actively discouraged. AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong for example doesn’t allow loser talk.

Pursuing Excellence – To succeed in the marketplace, companies must embrace a competitive strategy. It takes excellence to make a company work, and it involves putting quality into everything you do. It is clear that those who pursue excellence and share this attitude will stand above the competition.

Do you have any stories that you’d like to share of companies that show their customers how they care?

Does More Time Off Makes Us More Productive?

Does More Time Off Makes Us More Productive?

Time off - VacationMost Americans take some time off during the summer, and I’m no exception. Most years I take a staycation. But, in 2013 and again in 2015, I was blessed where I could take my family to Europe. Since I would have no access to phone or email, I had to wrap up all loose ends prior to my vacation so my co-workers wouldn’t have to deal with any messes while I was away.

Those weeks leading up to my vacation turned out to be some of my most productive weeks. Essentially, I had accomplished more work in less time. So, I began to ponder if it was possible to work fewer hours and actually be more productive.

Europeans certainly get more vacation than Americans. By law, every country in the European Union has a minimum annual entitlement of four weeks’ vacation in addition to bank and public holidays. In stark contrast, the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not have statutory requirements on employers to provide paid vacation, holiday, or sick days. Most U.S. companies, of course, do provide vacation as a way to attract and retain workers. When companies do give vacation time; however, it averages only 10 days a year.

In the U.S., our culture believes, at its core, that the harder we work, the more we will succeed. But, there’s actually no proof that working harder and not taking time off leads to greater success.

The truth, in fact, is that vacations are necessary to our well-being and performance. Taking regular breaks from work greatly improves productivity while skipping vacation often leads to stress and exhaustion. This is why vacations from work are important. Our brains and body need time to recharge. Rest, relaxation and stress reduction are important for people’s well-being and health. Therefore, vacations are necessary for mental and physical health and, in turn, productivity.

Americans need to reassess their perceptions surrounding the relationship between time spent working and productivity. In turn, they will find that they’re healthier, happier and better at their jobs.

Why do Europeans and Americans differ so much in their attitude toward work and vacation? I feel that it comes down to culture. Europeans have a fuller appreciation that life is to be enjoyed. Work is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In stark contrast, Americans are more materialistic and values stuff such as their big homes and cars more than they value time. We all have to pay the bills. But, life will slip past you if you’re not careful. There is a world to be explored beyond your place of work.

Based on my previous experience, I think that awarding more vacation in order to boost productivity just might work. It’s time to start planning my next vacation.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) has become one of the hottest buzzwords in corporate America. When you open your eyes and look around, there are a lot of examples and anecdotes that may come to mind. Here is an example that drives home the concept of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Many executive assistants have a high degree of emotional intelligence. They respond to subtle cues and react appropriately. Moreover, executive assistants quickly learn what an executive needs, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what might trigger anger or stress, and how to best accommodate his or her personal style. During my tenure at a large organization, the two senior-most executive assistants had very different personalities. One of them was emotionally intelligent and the other wasn’t. The President’s assistant was always uptight, unorganized, panicked under stress, and did not take accountability for her mistakes or behavior. Oftentimes she would yell at the other assistants. In stark contrast, nothing rattled the other executive assistant. The Chairman’s assistant had a strong personality and was professional, articulate, decisive, sociable, and always remained calm under pressure.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

emotional intelligenceIn a nutshell, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own moods and emotions and the moods and emotions of other people. When individuals experience stressful feelings and emotions, emotional intelligence enables them to understand why and helps them manage these feelings so they do not get in the way of effective decision making. Individuals with high EI are proven to be effective leaders as they are empathetic, self-aware and hold themselves accountable to how their behavior influences those around them.

Emotional intelligence also plays an important role in how leaders relate to and deal with their followers, particularly when it comes to encouraging followers to be creative. People often talk about creativity in terms of artistic expression. For most people; however, creativity comes from solving the problems we all encounter every day. Creativity involves coming up with something that challenges the status quo. Oftentimes people feel more comfortable sticking to a familiar routine rather than thinking outside the box and heading down an unfamiliar path. Attempting to create something new is often accompanied by anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.

Leaders can either encourage or discourage employees from taking risk to come up with new ideas. Moreover, leaders can also create a favorable work environment that stimulates creativity. Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence will excel at stimulating and encouraging their followers to act on opportunities that enables creativity to flourish in organizations.

Primary Dimensions of Emotional Intelligence

Researchers have identified five primary dimensions required for effective emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness – This can be defined as having the ability to recognize and understand your own moods and emotions as well as their effects on others.
  2. Self-Regulation – This is also known as discipline. It’s the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and emotions, thinking before acting, taking responsibility for your behavior, and adapting to change.
  3. Empathy and Compassion – Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react in certain situations. The more skilled you are in recognizing and anticipating other people’s needs or what motivates or upsets them, the better we can relate to others.
  4. Motivation – Motivation is a passion or internal drive that goes beyond the extrinsic value of money in order to pursue your goals with energy. In order to motivate yourself for any achievement whether professional or personal, you will need clear objectives, a positive attitude, commitment, initiative, optimism, and the desire to achieve.
  5.  Social Skills – Developing good interpersonal skills and cultivating productive relationships is essential to one’s ability to gain higher emotional intelligence and will equal success in your life and career. You must have the ability to effectively communicate clearly and concisely while working with others towards reaching common goals.

In conclusion, the moods and emotions leaders experience on the job, and their ability to effectively manage these feelings, can influence their effectiveness as leaders. Emotional intelligence is a critical tool that has the potential to contribute to leadership effectiveness in multiple ways including encouraging and supporting creativity among followers, exceeding goals, and developing and/or improving relationships.

The Importance of Internships

Internships

As you search the job boards, you may notice that internship hunting season is upon us and is quickly becoming commonplace—at least on college campuses. Many universities require seniors to complete an internship in order to learn more about their proposed career. College Career Centers help connect employers seeking interns with students looking for field experience. Internships can vary in nature depending on the employer and the student. Furthermore, they can range from local to international, for-credit or not, paid or unpaid.

The hope of gaining a competitive advantage for future employment has increased both the number and quality of internship applications. In today’s economy, internships have become a significant and important way for graduates to catch the eye of potential employers.

Even employers place more importance on their own internship programs as a recruiting tool for full-time employees.

Internship programs have taken a lot of heat over the past few years. Some for good reason—not every internship is legal according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, especially opportunities where for-profit companies expect candidates to work full-time for no pay.

 

Internship Law 101

As more internships have developed across the country, Congress passed a number of laws regulating them, including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. More recently, the Department of Labor has come up with six conditions that firms must meet when offering unpaid internships. As long as companies abide by the laws surrounding internship programs, these opportunities should not be written off.

  1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees;
  4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern;
  5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and
  6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages.

Benefits of Internships

Besides getting a foot in the door with a potential employer and looking good on a résumé, internships have other advantages:

Internship Benefits

Gain Industry Knowledge You Don’t Learn in College

I took a different approach to interning. Returning to college as a highly motivated adult, I was looking to transition into the field of marketing communications after graduation. When I lost my job in healthcare, I decided to pursue an internship in my new chosen field. In 2015 my internship in marketing and communications with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter was productive and inspiring. During my undergrad coursework, I learned concepts and theories but I didn’t have the practical hands-on experience necessary for the workforce and this is where the benefits of my internship became apparent.

Acquiring New Skills

Employers know that internships are designed to be learning experiences for students, so not only do you get to participate in multiple tasks, but you are given the hands-on training and feedback that empower you to leave your internship with the confidence to tackle any task at your next job.

I remember very clearly my experience as an intern. I developed digital marketing collateral in line with brand standards that included postcards, brochures, print ads, digital ads, banners, posters, and website images. Additionally, I was assigned an interesting social media project where I created photographic and video communications from storyboarding to publishing in a weekly video series. These videos were then posted to a different media channel. Now, I can demonstrate new talents to prospective employers.

Establishing Relationships and Chances to Network

Another benefit I took away from my internship was the personal references I can use when prospective employers ask for them. While interning at Alzheimer’s Association, I’ve also been able to do some networking and got a few informational interviews and prospective leads on other workplaces that might be hiring.

Your Confidence Will Improve

I’m in the process of searching for a job, and I have a great résumé. I have the confidence and I have the names, references, and organizations to back me up.

In conclusion, internships are a proven way to gain knowledge, skills, and experience while establishing important networks in the field. Moreover, internships are a great way to find out if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job.

Factors that Contribute to Whistleblowing

Whistleblower

Whistleblowing: Factors that Contribute to Management Accountants Reporting Questionable Dilemmas

Whistleblowing is a term used to describe when a person with inside knowledge, usually a company employee, discloses corporate wrongdoing to the public or to internal or external authorities. In the 1980s states began to provide protection to employees who reported corporate wrongdoing. The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 extended these protections to the federal level. Over the last decade whistleblowing has escalated in an environment of increased corporate misconduct. Increased legal protections for whistleblowers can also be attributed to this rise. The enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate Reform Act of 2002 provided whistleblowers with a new level of increased protection. These increased protections include, but are not limited to, discharge, demotion, suspension, harassment, or discrimination in any way against whistleblowers. The law also established criminal penalties where executives who retaliated against whistleblowers could receive up to 10 years imprisonment. Sarbanes-Oxley also required companies to adopt procedures so that whistleblower complaints could be brought forth without fear of reprisal. The law also includes provisions that streamline whistleblowing cases so they are not delayed for many months or years by administrative hearings and other time-consuming procedures.

The passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act placed an increased emphasis on ethical values of accounting professionals. In their article entitled, Whistleblowing: Factors that Contribute to Management Accountants Reporting Questionable Dilemmas, Tara Shawver and Lynn H. Clements looked at various factors that affect the likeliness of an accountant blowing the whistle. These factors include philosophical values, anonymity, cash reward, ethical climate, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, enforcement of a code of ethics, and job guarantees. This study found the most important considerations when it comes to predicting whether the accountants would blow the whistle were that they were guaranteed their job security and assured anonymity. Other factors such as “job satisfaction, organizational commitment, perception of ethical values, and perceptions of an enforced ethics code are not significant factors in the whistleblowing intentions for this sample of practicing management accountants.” (Management and Accounting Quarterly Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, Winter 2008, p.26).

This article reports on a study containing three scenarios involving unethical behavior in the workplace. The first case involved approving a company purchase of a software program for personal use valued at $29.95. The second case involved using company funds to purchase a laptop and printer for $1,900 intended for personal use of a family member. Case 3 involved the embezzlement of $100,000. The study’s findings showed that the respondents felt that all the scenarios presented were unethical; however, they were more likely to blow the whistle on situations involving higher monetary amounts.

Relation to Ethics

When a company incorporates a code of ethics into its business practices, it helps assure that business is conducted in a fair and professional manner. A company’s ethical conduct should be an integral part of its corporate landscape. Management should encourage ethical conduct in the workplace with the aim of creating an atmosphere of trust within the organization. In that way, if workers trust that managers will listen and fix a problem, then they do not feel compelled to resort to whistleblowing. When trust is present in the workplace, the need for whistleblowing is greatly reduced due to the open and honest policies management has fostered when employees feel safe and secure raising any issue and are confident that the issue in question will be resolved. Research shows that employees are much more likely to report corporate wrongdoing to outside authorities when they feel the company’s management will not be responsive to them. Research also indicates that employees are much more likely to report corporate wrongdoing internally when they believe the company’s top management will address the issue that lower level managers have ignored.

In its own way, whistleblowing can be a positive piece of a company’s overall strategy for social responsibility. Social responsibility can be defined as “the way its managers and employees view their duty or obligation to make decisions that protect, enhance, and promote the welfare and well-being of stakeholders and society as a whole” (Gareth R. Jones and Jennifer R. George, Contemporary Management, Sixth Edition). Socially responsible companies promote an environment of trust, good will, and confidence which are all attributes for a good corporate reputation that can be a competitive advantage when promoting its good and services. That in turn can lead to increased business and profitability.

WhistleblowerWhistleblowing prevents unnecessary harm to stakeholders by exposing unethical practices and corporate wrongdoing. A company is in business to make a profit, but not at any cost. Whistleblowing would identify financial fraud, abuse, waste, and corruption which would negatively affect a company’s performance. Fraud and corruption destroys shareholders value and can seriously threaten a company’s development. Companies should incorporate ethical corporate excellence into their business practices. It is important that companies place a high value on fairness, honesty, integrity, and respect with all stakeholders of the company. These stakeholders include, but are not limited to, the stockholders, managers, employees, customers, suppliers and distributors.

Stockholders who see managers behaving unethically may refuse to invest in their companies, and this will decrease the stock price, undermine the companies’ reputations, and ultimately put the managers’ jobs at risk.

Ultimately, companies will be more effective and efficient so business will be more viable due in part to the companies’ positive reputation and integrity.

My Reaction

I feel that even with protections in place, whistleblowers can still face potential retaliation and can be blacklisted in the industry. Is speaking out going to be in the company’s or public’s best long-term interest? When you make the decision to whistle-blow, you must carefully consider your reason. It should not be out of revenge. You should have the company’s or public’s best interest in mind when you make the decision to go public. Sometimes whistleblowing might be the only way the company or the public can find out about a serious problem or the only way it can get corrected.

The study found that theoretically that whether there was a cash reward or not was not significant. In reality, whistleblowers have received high monetary rewards. Some whistleblowers have undergone retaliation by job loss or in some cases imprisonment where whistleblower protections breakdown. Consider the high-profile whistleblowing case of Bradley Birkenfeld.

Birkenfeld was a banker who exposed the illegal tax shelters created by Swiss banks for Americans. He received a federal prison term as a result of the information uncovered by his whistleblowing. Ironically, he could also be the recipient of a significant cash reward when the IRS recovers tax revenue that the American accountholders were trying to shelter in the Swiss accounts. What sounds good in theory may not hold up in real life situations where human nature comes into play. Another problem associated with whistleblowing is the stigma of being a snitch, which has a significant negative image within our culture.

Also, gender may have an impact on whistleblowing. The authors also note that future research would be helpful in considering gender differences when it comes to whistleblowing. Other research casts an interesting light on gender roles. Some researchers believe that men are more likely to whistle-blow than women due to their potential financial gain. Other data suggests that within the last several years women are more likely to become whistleblowers as a result of their perceived ethical duty. Such were the high-profile whistleblowing cases of Sherron Watkins, Vice President of Enron, and Cynthia Cooper, an auditor with WorldCom, who were named Time Magazine “Year of the Whistleblower” Persons of the Year for 2002.

The article examines different hypothetical situations for whistleblowing but does not take into consideration human behavior especially in today’s tough economic climate even with protections in place. I believe that it is somewhat questionable that employees would whistle-blow which could place their career in jeopardy. There is always going to be doubt as to just how secure organizational safeguards protect anonymity.

There are a lot of personal variables involving whistleblowing and one is how well people are educated about ethical and moral issues. Another variable centers around cultural differences because different cultures may have varying standards of what is acceptable. That said, whistleblowing can also be open to personal or organizational biases. An additional variable is to what extent these behaviors are traditionally acceptable or professionally acceptable. In my opinion, whistleblowing often is far from black and white – it is more like varying shades of gray because of all the different human variables involved.

Is Your Boss a Bully?

My Boss is a BullyIs Your Boss a Bully?

Margaret arrived at work early as always and turned on the lights to get ready for her day in a busy hospital in Baltimore. As soon as she arrived, a lost and scared patient had wondered into her office needing help. Margaret’s peaceful morning was shaken when her boss, a VP and a member of the senior management team, arrived shortly thereafter in a particularly foul mood rudely interrupting her discussion with the patient yelling at her to turn on the copier because she needed copies. Margaret’s boss insulted her in front of the patient then later wrote her up insisting it was more important to turn on a copier for her boss rather than helping a patient. Although Margaret knew that her performance was satisfactory, her boss always made her think she could lose her job. In fact, Margaret’s boss often made derogatory comments that she was stupid or that she was never going anywhere in the organization except out the door. Never was any respect shown to Margaret.

Margaret endured repeated verbal abuse in both the office and at off-site company events. Her boss’ offensive behavior and unreasonable work demands led to Margaret’s on-going humiliation.

Margaret’s boss is considered the classic bully boss. Bully bosses use intimidation and humiliation to keep their employees on task, not realizing that their behavior often has the opposite effect.

Other Signs of a Bully

Since a bully doesn’t always show you their hand, you need to be wary of these signs:
• Your boss ridicules or humiliates you in front of peers or colleagues (or in office-wide correspondence).Examples of Bullying
• You find yourself routinely excluded from important meetings or conversations.
• Your boss reassigns your projects without apparent cause and without consulting you.
• You used to socialize with your coworkers, but now they no longer ask you to join them.
• You dread going to work and feel anxious or nauseated at the thought. You’re often tempted to call in sick.
• Your health deteriorates: Your blood pressure goes up, you experience cardiovascular or neurological problems, you gain weight, or you can’t sleep.
While it may be immoral and unprofessional, it is not illegal in the United States for managers to threaten, insult, humiliate, ignore or mock employees. Nor is it illegal to gossip and spread rumors, withhold information, or take credit for someone else’s work.

Unfortunately, these types of bullying are not rare; they take place with distressing frequency.

Health Risks

Anyone spending a significant amount of time in a hostile environment is going to feel somewhat stressed out. But nearly half of bullied workers go on to develop serious anxiety and depression or other physical health conditions.

Emotional angst affects physical health. When you’re continually stressed, your body pumps out fight-or-flight hormones like Cortisol and adrenaline, causing your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar to skyrocket. That ups your risk of heart problems and diabetes. Adults who are harassed at work are also more prone to migraines, stomach upset, body aches, panic attacks, neurological conditions, immune system disorders, and other ailments.

Margaret suffered with chronic migraines for years when she was continually bullied by her boss.

Impact of a Hostile Work Environment

Bullies do a lot of damage in organizations. A bullied employee shows signs of disengagement and lower productivity. They make subordinates run scared and puts people in a protective mode, which interferes with the company’s ability to generate innovation. Add to it the rage the bullied employee feels towards the bully and the negativity felt for putting up with such behavior. In fact, these are hardly prime conditions for doing your best work or any work at all.

Fighting Back

Some quit their job after months of torture, but many employees end up staying for months or years in an abusive situation because of a shaky job market or feel the situation may get better. Even if you want to salvage your position, it can be difficult to get help.

Filing a complaint with human resources may seem like a logical first step, but oftentimes it backfires because HR is loyal to top management. Normally, HR does not want to get involved unless there’s a legal reason to do so. As long as your boss isn’t sexually harassing or mistreating you because of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, they are generally within their rights to make snide comments or squash your self-esteem.

Tactics You Can Use

Studies have shown that workers who fight back might have the upper hand in the long run. If your boss is hostile, there appears to be benefits to reciprocating. Employees felt better about themselves because they didn’t just sit back and take the abuse.

Confront the bully in private: For example, “I’m sorry you feel you have to do that, but I will not put up with that kind of behavior.” It can be startlingly effective. Bullies lack boundaries on their own behavior.

The Boss Sets the Example for the Team

Good leaders will see the decentralization of the group and will work to correct it. Bully bosses, on the other hand, will exacerbate the problem by supporting their favorite workers and further abusing the employees they dislike. From the CEO down through each layer of management, every leader sets the tone for how the individuals beneath him or her will behave and is ultimately responsible for the atmosphere in which people work. The boss sets the example for the entire team.

In conclusion, if you ever find yourself in this situation, ensure your résumé is ready in case you need to find employment elsewhere. It may not be easy to secure a new position but no job is worth jeopardizing your health.

The Subjectivity of Performance Appraisals

The Subjectivity of Performance Appraisals

In a perfect world employee evaluations can be an excellent tool for both managers and employees to maximize productivity to achieve personal objectives and organizational goals. But the workplace is not a perfect world, and in reality some surveys of managers indicate that they hate conducting performance appraisals, second only to firing employees. The vast majority of U.S. organizations use some kind of performance appraisal as a means to evaluate their workforce. These appraisals are important since they are often used when it comes to human resource decisions such as salary increases, promotions, career advancement, and training opportunities. While performance appraisals can have a positive influence on the above personnel decisions, other research has found that many U.S. organizations face difficulty when it comes to terminating employees that demonstrate unsatisfactory workplace performance. Why? Managers are reluctant to give truly candid performance appraisals for fear of creating conflict and possible recrimination by the employee against the manager. This subjectivity raises some ethical questions about the performance appraisal process.

Due to their widespread use and substantial influence on the status of an employee, Performance Appraisal Subjectivitymanagers have an ethical obligation to conduct employee appraisals in the most impartial and unbiased way possible. Researchers have recently distinguished two different types of performance appraisals: one based on the rational and the other based on the political perspective. The rational approach is designed to use objective criteria to assign accurate ratings. The goal of the political approach is subjective in nature and can use ambiguous standards which are designed to increase the degree of latitude provided to a manager when evaluating an employee. Prior studies have found that many managers have manipulated the performance appraisal process for political purposes. To reduce employee discord and workplace dissonance, managers have been found to give higher ratings to employees to keep them content. Higher ratings can also be given to obtain a promotion for preferential employees. Lower ratings can often be given to employees as a signal that they are no longer held in high esteem by the organization and it may be time to seek employment elsewhere. Low ratings can also be given by managers as a form of retaliation. However, lower ratings can be detrimental to employers because it can lead to decreased motivation, increased turnover, and increased risk of litigation.

Manipulating ratings either higher or lower is unethical. Performance ratings should provide an honest appraisal of an employee’s abilities. To intentionally lower a worker’s rating for political purposes is unethical because it deprives deserving employees of rewards and promotional opportunities. An inflated performance rating is unethical because it fails to provide an employee a true assessment of their abilities and where they can improve. Furthermore, it decreases employee morale because it fails to differentiate higher achieving employees from the average.

When a company incorporates a code of ethics into its business practices, it helps assure that business is conducted in a fair and professional manner. A company’s ethical conduct should be an integral part of its corporate landscape. Managers do not always act upon ethical issues. For example, the overall objective of a performance evaluation is to provide an honest assessment of the employee’s performance and to develop an action plan when there is need for improvement.

Communication is an integral part of the performance evaluation process and should be ongoing throughout the entire year. Specific performance feedback should be communicated to subordinates about any unsatisfactory behavior and what alternative methodologies can be incorporated to improve their performance. Continual feedback and communication are important in fostering a harmonious working relationship. Ideally, a manager should not wait until the formal evaluation process to convey performance problems that have occurred during the course of the year.

In my work experience, I have found that performance evaluations are frequently based on the manager’s opinion and are often subjective. The evaluation reflects what the manager can remember which is usually the more recent events when evaluating a subordinate. Thus some managers tend to evaluate employees on what they have recently done rather than looking at the entire year. This, of course, does not accurately reflect an employee’s overall performance because it only reflects the employee’s most recent behavior. Other managers can place unreasonably high demands on subordinates that makes it difficult for them to achieve positive performance evaluations. Less than positive ratings can result in decreased motivation. Often managers may give inflated ratings in order to avoid conflict. In today’s tough economic environment where organizations are giving modest to no salary increases, managers may create a discord in the work environment when giving an unsatisfactory performance evaluation. This internal conflict can be devastating on workplace morale and can last for a long time. To avoid this, many managers try to prevent conflict and opt for a more harmonious workplace by giving inflated evaluations. However, by not providing honest feedback, the purpose of the performance evaluation is ultimately defeated.

Performance evaluations that are not properly conducted can have a negative effect and can be subject to legal action particularly in the areas of discrimination and EEOC compliance. Some organizations use forced rankings. Forced rankings is a process where a company ranks its employees against each other than can terminate those employees at the lowest end of the ranking. Consider the high-profile cases of Capital One, Ford Motor Company, and Goodyear who have been sued for age-related discrimination associated with forced rankings. In another instance, a class action lawsuit was filed against 3M for alleged age discrimination in training, performance reviews, pay, promotions and layoffs. Lawsuits can be costly to a company’s reputation and its bottom line.

No matter how objective performance appraisal rating systems appear to be, they are still substantially influenced by the subjectivity that is part of human nature.

The Importance of Well-Traveled Employees

Well-Traveled

The Importance of Well-Traveled Employees

There are some people who never feel the urge to leave their home. They’re content to stay in the city they came from. Then there’s the rest of us: the people who can’t sit still. Having an incurable case of wanderlust, we returned home from our latest vacation in pursuit of our next big adventure.

In today’s competitive market, you must find ways to differentiate yourself from your peers. The skills and experience gained from traveling abroad can give you a competitive advantage and enhance your career. When traveling abroad you are likely to possess the skills needed in the global economy – economic and geographical knowledge, cross-cultural communication skills, analytical skills, flexibility, an understanding of and familiarity with local customs, an ability to adapt to new circumstances, and may be proficient in multiple languages.

Traveling Improves our Communication Skills

When trying to converse in foreign cultures, verbal and non-verbal communication is necessary to overcome language and cultural barriers. Being able to communicate with other people from diverse cultures and backgrounds is an important skill in any job.

Traveling Improves Negotiation Skills

Whether you’re haggling at a market or negotiating a fare with a taxi driver, bargaining is a regular part of traveling abroad and is an important skill to hone. Employers want people who are savvy negotiators.

Understanding Cross-cultural Sensitivity

Today companies both large and small are effectively competing on the global stage in order to survive and prosper. Living among people as you travel abroad, talking with them and learning their stories and culture gives you a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Becoming Self-sufficient and Confident

When you’re traveling abroad, you don’t have anyone to call for help. As you figure out how to get around in a foreign country, you build confidence and adaptability in foreign situations. Things can go awry and plans change. As a traveler you are forced to change plans constantly.

While in Turkey, we were suddenly left without travel arrangements to Greece. Without internet service in our hostel, we found a nearby internet café and had to research a new flight to Greece within time frame and budget. This turned out to be no easy feat.

The ability to adapt is important and appealing to employers.

Learning to Budget and Plan

Prior to traveling, I had to plan and save for each of my vacations abroad. In addition, I had to continue to monitor my budget once we arrived.

In conclusion, employers are looking for people who are versatile and adaptable. By embracing your travel experience on your resume, you are demonstrating your willingness to seek out new experiences. Having relevant global experience on your resume can be an advantage.

Employee Retention Tips

It’s Friday afternoon and one of your employees asks for a private meeting. The conversation ends with an unexpected resignation from someone you’ve grown to reply on. Perhaps the person was reliable, knowledgeable, or working on a critical project. If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone. Although you didn’t see it coming and you hate to lose the person, abrupt employee departures can be especially hard for managers.

Intrinsic motivation means that an individual’s motivational stimuli comes from within and can include acceptance, appreciation, curiosity, independence, social contact, and social status. In contrast, extrinsic motivation is controlled by outside forces such as money, benefit package, bonuses, and employee of the month.

When employees feel that their work is not appreciated, their morale can quickly deteriorate. This can ultimately lead to reduced performance and productivity and can cause some employees to look for employment elsewhere. Keeping employees engaged and motivated is essential. Verbal recognition and rewarding performance, even for small contributions, is important. If employees feel valued and appreciated for their achievements, they make a difference to you and your company.

Employee retentionThere are many ways an employer can show recognition and appreciation to their employees. Shouldn’t you take the time to find out before they end up leaving? Sometimes all it takes is a thank you or a pat on the back or a small luncheon or perhaps some schedule flexibility. If a client or someone from another department sends you an email sharing an amazing experience they had with one of your employees, then share it. Showing appreciation could even be as simple as asking employees for their input or opinions about something important on a project. The possibilities are endless but one thing is for sure. Showing appreciation for each employee will improve staff retention.

All employees need positive reinforcement. It is important that you do not take employees for granted especially in an already overworked and understaffed workforce.

Even if managers do all of these things effectively, some people will still leave to pursue other opportunities. This is particularly true for top performers.

Retaining employees takes a lot of hard work, but so does replacing them. Research has shown that retaining staff is not related to extrinsic motivation and compensation—it’s about intrinsic factors such as appreciation, recognition, acceptance, social status, communication, and teamwork.

 

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