FLSA Changes Coming Your Way – Are You Ready?


You may have hoped that President Obama’s proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) would go away in this election year, but they’re actually ahead of schedule and could go in to effect as early as July of this year! Once the changes are implemented employers will likely have 60 days to comply.

Are you ready for the changes?


  • A salary threshold increase from $23,660 to $50,400 (possibly higher)?
  • Annual automatic updates based on inflation or some other index?
  • Possible changes to the Duties Test, which could require even exempt employees to track their time?

Overwhelmed? We can help!

Cornerstone has human resources expertise to help you evaluate the impact of the proposed FLSA changes to your organization and assist you in sorting through options for reclassifying employees, reviewing and modifying benefits plans, and developing a communication and implementation strategy.

Contact us today to find out more.

Operational Excellence Reviews Pay for Themselves

OER logoIf you’ve found yourself asking, “why do we do that?” and no one seems to have an answer, your organization may benefit from an Operational Excellence Review.

An Operational Effectiveness Review (OER) is an intensive audit of processes, systems, and structures that aims to reduce waste, increase productivity, and positively impact the efficiency and effectiveness in an organization. OER’s can be done within a specific function, at the business unit level, or for the entire company.

Through a combination of job shadowing, data analysis, interviews, and focus groups, an OER uncovers roadblocks to performance and unleashes creativity and innovative solutions that don’t get attention during the routine of everyday work. Using lean six sigma methodologies, proven job design models, and systems thinking, an OER pays off big by freeing employees to do their jobs the best possible way.

An OER is an investment in your organization that has a high rate of return. Invariably, an operational audit leads to work simplification through elimination of non-value-adding tasks and activities. Additionally, an OER gives focus to process improvements by the people who perform the work, leading to sustained efficiencies over time.

OER’s done within human resource, training, and OD functions guarantee that business partners are getting what they need without a lot of fluff. The OER process forces functional areas to look in the mirror and ask, “are we doing our best?” Legacy programs, non-value add processes, and misaligned objectives are evaluated and replaced, tweaked, or enhanced through an OER, allowing for lean operation and better alignment with the organization’s strategy.

Because of the savings from streamlined processes, OERs pay for themselves and are a morale boost to your staff as they participate in making sense of the work they do.

Cornerstone Global Training & Performance Solutions provides experience and expertise to conduct an OER at the department, division or enterprise level. Find out more by email us at info@cornerstoneglobaltps.com.

2015 Was a Great Year for Cornerstone Global







What We’ve Been Up To…

  • Developing 3-5 year strategic plans with two non-profit clients
  • Creating process flow charts to improve new hire training and regulatory compliance
  • Writing technical documentation for financial services software
  • Managing multiple curriculum and documentation projects, including creating eLearning, job aids, and user guides
  • Helping a client navigate laws and policies related to transgender issues in the workplace

We’re looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store!

And Other Duties as Assigned

Screenshot 2014-12-08 07.12.35Job descriptions are on equal turf with performance evaluations as tools that are operating below their potential. Most organizations take a “one and done” approach to job descriptions and only dust them off when the position is posted on a job board. We figure that as long as we include the notorious “and other duties as assigned” disclaimer at the end of job descriptions we really don’t have to take them seriously. But when done right, the job (or position) description can be a key piece of the performance puzzle.

I’ve written a lot of job descriptions throughout my career. I’ve found that it’s both an art and a science – using best practices from a career field or industry is a good place to start, but putting the unique organizational spin on a description ensures I’m hiring people that fit with my company.

Using competency modeling helps create a job description that not only reflects the technical requirements of the role, but captures the cultural nuances necessary for success in my particular setting.

Korn/Ferry, a leader in the field of workplace competencies, defines competencies as the skills, behaviors, and attitudes that lead to high performance. (Lombardo, 2009) Defining what makes a person competent in a specific role has impact on both an organizational and individual performance level.

Trying to find a well-rounded person with a cross-section of competencies may not be best for your success. Hiring an accountant who can also sell may sound like a great “two for one” deal, but you might end up with a mediocre accountant or a frustrated salesperson.

Defining competencies for a specific job takes some skill, but there are resources available to help you identify what competencies will lead to the best performance from the individuals in your organization.

Follow these steps to identify the job competencies for each position in your organization:

  1. Make several copies of the table of competencies here. Get 2-4 colleagues together (including anyone already doing the job) and have each person circle the top 10 competencies they believe are necessary to be successful in that job.
  2. Identify the ones you agree on, then narrow the list down to 5-6 by discussing any of those that you differ on. Get to the most critical competencies. 
Use the definitions from the web site, and discuss what the term means to you and your organization. It’s important that everyone has the same understanding of the term.
  3. If you have a job description already, review it to see if what you circled matches with what the job description reflects. If they 
do not match, what is different? Make any adjustments based on your review.
  4. Use the list of competencies to clarify the job description and job posting templates.

Additional Helps

Note: As you consider which of the competencies are required for a particular position in your organization, think about how you define the item. For instance, “negotiating” may mean something very specific to you, but something very different to your colleagues. Come to agreement on how you define each competency. You may also identify competencies not listed on the web site table. This list is just to get you started.

A Google search of particular competencies will likely lead to some definitions that already exist. You may also want to check out the Lominger (Korn/Ferry) book, FYI: For Your Improvement, which provides greater detail on competencies and how to use them. Their competency card decks are pricy, but an excellent tool if you’ve got several positions to evaluate.

Once the job description is complete, it’s important to use it as both as a mirror and a compass. As a mirror, each incumbent in the role should reflect the image of what the position exists for. Not that every individual should look identical, but each should have the core knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required for the role. As a compass, the job description identifies performance management and training focus to ensure continued alignment and skill development.

Regular review of job descriptions should be built in to the audit cycle of the organization. Annual position description audits might be too much for some company’s, but every couple of years makes sense. Any time there is a change in organizational design, or whenever new technology is introduced that has a significant impact on the role, the position should be evaluated and the description updated.

Maybe we don’t hate job descriptions as much as we do performance reviews, but we need to stop blaming the tool for failure. Operations and human resources leaders need to figure out how to build the right tools for their organization, and work together to get them to function for the organization and its human capital, not against. Maybe then people won’t be so cynical when they read “and other duties as assigned!”


Why Are Organizations So Bad At Managing Change?

If only I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard the worn-out truism, “the only constant is change!” I would be wealthy, but possibly none the wiser. If change is so constant, why aren’t companies good at it? If we know that things are predicted to become more complex, more quickly impacted by advances in globalization and technology, why don’t we pay more attention to how change impacts our organizations?

I am a fan of Gandhi’s famous challenge, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I believe people must be ever watching for ways to influence the positive outcomes of the circumstances they are in. Sitting on the sidelines complaining that “someone should really do something about this” creates a cynical, passive community. One more adage that rings true is, “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”

OK, enough of tired maxims and back to the issue of managing change. the point I’m making is that with the wealth of wisdom and experience around us, why are organizations so ineffective at managing change? And what can individual managers and employees do to positively influence the outcomes of changes that are unceremoniously thrust upon them?

When I decide to change something in my life, I confront the reality that something has to give. In order to develop a new habit, achieve a specific goal, or move in the direction I have chosen, I have to give up some things that hinder me from my objective while embracing behaviors and attitudes that propel me forward. But when I am not in control of the change, I naturally resist.

This simple truth is where organizations fail miserably. With a sense of urgency, sometimes panic, managers push ahead and just assume (or hope) that everyone will come along eventually. Forgive me one more maxim: Hope is not a strategy! The lack of a change strategy means certain delay, stunted development of required new skills, and decay of morale within the workforce.

Change management strategy is seen as optional; a luxury if you have the time – and no one has the time. At best, change management is relegated to a functional group, usually human resources or IT (for information technology changes), and consists of some high level communication about the change, and usually some training. But it’s not enough, and often does more harm than good.

The first step toward more effective change in our organizations is to infuse the culture with an understanding that managing change is as important as the change itself – a non-negotiable part of introducing any new procedure, policy, or technology. Accountability across functional and hierarchical lines makes change management a way of life.

So what does a good change management process look like?

Anticipate. Be aware of what changes are likely to occur. Remove the element of surprise and make it everyone’s job to know what new technologies, competition, economic shifts, and efficiency opportunities might have an impact on a business unit or the whole enterprise.

Communicate. Communicate early and often. Get ahead of the rumor mill and share as much as you can, creating truthful messaging, even if there is more to come. Make sure every level of management has talking points and model positive communication throughout the organization.

Strategize. Adopt a change management model as an organization and make sure everyone is trained thoroughly in the principles of change. Then, as new processes, programs or technologies are introduced, use the model to strategically implement the change. This consistent approach will create trust and will have a calming influence on your organization.

Accountability. Hold managers accountable for how they manage change. If you’ve equipped them with the tools to do change well, then make it a part of their performance expectations.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Organizations need a concentrated changing of the collective mind when it comes to change management. It cannot be optional, it cannot be haphazard; it must be well-designed if it is to be effective.

Here are some resources that will help…



How to Hire High Potentials

I don’t like the term “high potentials.” To me it smacks of elitism and ranking people based on a set of made-up criteria. On the other hand, I believe we are all high potentials and that it is a matter of fit that may make us more successful in one setting and less successful in another. Your set of skills and experience that got you ahead in a formal, bureaucratic organization may not garner you more success if you take that job at the startup. The opposite may also be true. If you feel like you’re always swimming upstream while everyone else is lazily floating down, you may soar if you make the leap to the less formal, innovative company.

So it comes down to finding the right fit, and if you are responsible for hiring, it is your job to find people who can be high potentials in your organization. The following principles will equip you to make the best hiring decisions, giving you the right talent to support your mission while providing opportunity for employees to reach their potential.

Assess Your Organization

Before you hire anyone, you should understand your own organization. If the values and priorities haven’t been well articulated, take some time to think about what you stand for as a company and the types of people who tend to succeed in your organization. What skills and personality traits have proven effective? What individuals have been promoted and which ones have thrived in their new roles? Knowing what makes your enterprise tick will guide you toward better hiring decisions.

Asking good questions is the key to uncovering your organization’s culture. I strongly advise an Appreciative Inquiry approach, which looks for the positive, life-giving aspects of your organization. A formal cultural assessment might be useful to get a broad picture of strengths and opportunities.

Assess Your Position(s)

Dig deeper into your organization’s needs and consider the strengths, competencies, and traits required for the position(s) you have open. Most job descriptions are outdated and incomplete, so go beyond what the position was about when that document was written and consider changes in the industry, technology, or company. There are several tools that can help in this effort, such as the Lominger FYI competency book and accompanying sort deck, or the Position Information Questionnaire (PIQ).

Plan Your Recruitment Strategy

Hiring talent that fits with your organization – those who will be high potentials in your company – takes an intentional effort. Armed with your position assessment that tells you what kind of person will succeed in the position and with your company overall, you need to create a strategy to go where you will most likely encounter those types of candidates. Don’t take the passive approach, hoping that the best candidate will naturally apply for your position.

Advertise in those places where successful people in your industry or the job field hang out. Use social networking, especially LinkedIn, to review profiles and proactively reach out to potential candidates. Talk with current successful employees and ask them for referrals. Attend professional development workshops and networking events to get to know candidates in their native habitat.

It’s best to create a short checklist to ensure you’re considering all of your needs. It’s easy to get sidetracked by one aspect of a person’s skills and experience and ignore something else that may be just as important. The following checklist is from my book: A Small Business Guide to Peak Performance Through People.

Screenshot 2013-12-28 10.19.23You can make your checklist as detailed as you need to; the point is to avoid biases and blind spots that may lead you to hire someone that doesn’t fit.

Read resumes thoroughly, but realize that they are a marketing tool. Some people are really good at putting together a resume, or they get professional help to maximize this important tool. Others may not have an impressive resume, but could have the right experience and competencies you need. Remember, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. It’s best to make a list of observations and questions as you go through the resume. What do you want to know more about? What do you want more examples of? What needs to be clarified?

Once you’ve narrowed your list of candidates and begin scheduling interviews, don’t rely on the interview questions provided by your human resources partner or from a web site. They may be valuable to a point, but to really find out if a candidate will fit well, you have to customize your questions based on your needs and expectations, not a set of generic interview questions.

Intuition vs. Data

Sometimes a hiring decision comes down to a gut feeling. If you’ve done your homework and followed your  checklist, you know whether someone is capable of doing the job and their degree of success somewhere else, but sensing if they will fit and succeed in your organization often comes down to intuition.

Keep a matrix – or scorecard – from all of your interviews and hiring checklists. This will give you a visual of the data (education, experience, technology, etc.). You can choose to give points for different items on the checklist, or simply have a check box. A color-coded system may also be helpful, which allows you to use red-yellow-green to show whether requirements are met, not met, or somewhere in between. Yellow can indicate an area where you’re just not sure how you feel. If you believe the person is otherwise a good fit, but one area is giving you heartburn, have someone else review their qualifications with you, and possibly interview them. It may ultimately be your decision, but it’s important to listen to trusted advisors and second opinions.

A Fit From Both Sides

Finding high potentials is about intentionally identifying what you need from a person in each position you’re hiring for, then developing a strategy to find and assess candidates until you are certain you have the right fit. But the candidate is accountable for doing their own fit assessment throughout the selection process, and they are easily distracted by the need to be gainfully employed.

Candidates, especially ones who are unemployed, shoot themselves in the foot when they allow the potential for a position to cloud their judgment. Suddenly things like values, company culture, daily tasks, and management philosophy aren’t as important as a regular paycheck and health insurance. So a company committed to ensuring best fit – of hiring people who will be high potentials in their organization – must be diligent to help the candidate think through the process.

High potentials in your organization won’t look exactly the same as high potentials in another organization. It’s about fit and the process used to identify someone who will thrive in your culture. Taking the time to evaluate your organization’s values, the requirements of the position (beyond the job description), and intentionally going about the selection process, will ensure you find high potentials who will move your organization toward achieving its goals. You’ll reduce turnover and frustration associated with managing performance that doesn’t fit with your needs. Instead, your attention can be on maximizing potential that aligns with your company and optimizes your culture.

Four Keys to Influencing Up the Org Chart

(Getting the boss’s attention when you know something you wish they did too)

I led a training session recently for a group of production and operations supervisors from a mid-size global firm. Our topic for the day was teams and trust, and our focus was on optimal functioning for work teams that they managed. They described, however, a scenario that is all too familiar: their new leader (less than a year) was clueless about how to run the operation. Hired for his lean manufacturing experience, he suggested skipping over some critical aspects of the operation to save time. Based on these “efficiencies” he suggested the product would be defective, even unsafe, and would require hours of rework.

For nearly a year these supervisors, with an average tenure of 15 years, had tried to explain the process to their boss. He took notes, smiled and nodded as though he was in agreement, then went away and disregarded not just their advice and experience, but the scientific facts of the process.

We had a long discussion about how they could influence the boss to do the right thing, to listen to them and heed their warnings. They were frustrated and disillusioned. Some of their peers had already left the organization, taking with them decades of experience. We needed to figure out a way to stop the exodus of talent and have a meaningful impact up the organizational chart.

Whether we want to share a new idea or fix a broken process, influencing up the organization chart is an important skill for everyone in the chain of command.

The best managers, of course, want to hear from people – they welcome new ideas, challenges to the process, and suggestions for adopting technology to make work easier, cheaper, or faster. But not all bosses are open to others’ ideas.

I’m reading Henry Cloud’s book Necessary Endings. He describes three kinds of people that we encounter in life:

  • Wise
  • Foolish
  • Evil

If you’ve ever read the Old Testament book of Proverbs, these designations will be pretty familiar to you. For instance, Proverbs 3:35 says, “The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.” Proverbs 6 talks about the evil person who “plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up conflict.”

Influencing a wise boss is easy, because they are open to feedback, want to learn, and don’t get defensive when you challenge their ideas. The wise person has understanding and discernment, an ability to take in information and objectively and skillfully accept the facts without feeling challenged.

A foolish boss listens, but takes not action. They nod and smile, but lack the motivation, resolve, or interest to make things better. They may be prideful or lacking in judgment. The foolish person is often insecure, which leads them to hoard information and shut down any ideas that did not originate with them.

The evil person covets control and power, acting like a puppet-master to direct the outcomes that put them at an advantage over others. They are untrustworthy, deceptive and, often, disagreeable. They may tell you what you want to hear, but will use the information to put you in your place later. Though rare, bosses like this exist – I know from experience!

Whether you want to upward-influence a wise, foolish, or evil boss, there are some keys to help you succeed:

Know Your Stuff. The best way to influence others is to be seen as an expert. Subject-matter expertise opens many doors and allows you to be an internal consultant. Don’t settle on past knowledge – actively pursue professional development and educate yourself on new technologies and trends in your field.

The wise manager will readily accept your insights and suggestions because they trust your experience and know-how. Do your homework, though, since a really wise person may probe to get the full picture.

The foolish manager will require some careful planning. Since they resist influence due to their self-protective nature, you will need a heavy dose of humility to sell the idea as theirs. They may feel threatened by your expertise, so you have to be careful that your know-how doesn’t come across as know-it-all.

Learn to read people. Emotional intelligence is extremely important in trying to upward-influence. Learn to read social cues and understand personalities and what motivates the person you want to influence. You don’t have to give someone a formal assessment to get insight into what makes them tick. Knowing motivations is perhaps the most useful awareness when it comes to influencing.

Take a look at their work space and listen to what they talk about. Is it all work and know play? Is it centered on family, friends and relationships? How do they learn best – reading, hearing, or hands-on?

We sometimes use our own preferences when we’re trying to influence others, which is not very effective. Get to know the person you want to influence and you’ll be seen as credible and trustworthy. Your wise boss will appreciate your insights, the foolish boss will probably be surprised you understand them so well, and the evil manager may watch you a little more closely to see if you have ulterior motives.

Choose your words carefully. Once you’re able to read people you can much more easily decide how to talk with them. Words are important, as is the way you deliver them.

Our attitude impacts the words we use and the way we say them. If we are angry, we’ll sound it. If we’re fearful of how the other person will react, we’ll sound timid and unsure.

If you have done your homework to become a subject matter expert, and have some insights into what motivates the person you want to influence, you can come across as confident and smart. Make a case for your idea or suggestion, always keeping in mind the point of view of the other person. Use terms that make sense to them, speak to what is important to them (quality, the bottom line, customer service, etc.). Clearly show how your idea will help achieve their goals. Make your pitch compelling, interesting, factual, and wise. Don’t make it an information dump, but do give some materials and bullet points that they can refer back to later.

Be patient and persistent. This last key is the hardest one to apply. When we have an idea or suggestion, especially when we see an urgent need to change the current course, we find it hard to wait patiently for the boss to weigh the merits of your case. They may not have the same level of pain or concern as you.

Give them time to consider, realizing that they probably have greater insight into the big picture and may need to do their own upward-influencing to get the ear (and budget) of their boss.

Don’t dump and run! Follow up within a week after the initial conversation, possibly adding some additional information, answering questions, and asking when they think a decision will be made. Don’t be a pest, and accept their decision graciously.

What if They Don’t Change Their Mind?

You may do a great job of presenting your case but still not influence your boss to adopt your suggestion or change their mind. Ask them for some feedback so that you can understand their thinking and decision-making process. They may or may not have a good reason for saying no, but their response may give you insights that will help you in the future.

You have a choice whether to accept their decision and move on, determine to try again with a different tactic, or decide to move on because of the critical consequences you see for not changing the current course. Just as a salesperson has to make a lot of presentations before they get a buyer, someone who wants to influence upwardly must be OK with a little rejection.

Influence is the primary task of leadership, and when we are able to influence up the organizational chart we show that leadership can happen at any level and go in any direction. It takes skill to influence others, since we are breaking them out of a particular way of thinking. Our minds are not easily changed, but when we show our expertise, tap into the other person’s interests, frame our case well, and are persistent and patient, we greatly improve the odds of winning someone over to our way of thinking.

Right Management: Only Half of Firms Regard Talent Management as Top Priority

Right Management Survey Reveals Only Half of Major Firms Regard Talent Management as a Top Priority (via PR Newswire)

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Only half of major organizations regard talent management as a top priority, according to a survey of 537 U.S. companies by Right Management, the talent and career management expert within ManpowerGroup. For 13% of organizations talent management is a secondary…

Continue reading

Change Management Is Key to Success in Business – from Mary C. Kelly, PhD

Leadership Expert Mary C. Kelly, PhD Says Change Management Is Key to Success in Business (via PR Newswire)

DENVER, Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Keeping ahead of advancing technology and a changing business environment means continually adapting and implementing new ideas to remain successful. “Many executives shy away from making changes both in their organization and with new products. Many business leaders…

Continue reading

Managing Your Crazy Employees

If you’ve been a manager for any length of time, you probably have your share of crazy employee stories– the employees you probably inherited and didn’t hire yourself, although I’ve been fooled a few times and created my own nightmare! Several faces and experiences come to mind, raising my heart rate just to think about them! Crazy may not be a politically correct term, but there’s really no better way to describe that employee that’s like the static-charged shrink wrap that you can’t get off your hand.

I’ve classified crazy employees into four categories:

  • The Manipulator
  • The Clueless
  • The Paranoid
  • The Drama Queen/King

Maybe you can come up with some additional categories based on your experience! Does the uber-creative type, the outstandingly nerdy, or the socially awkward employees require their own classification? What about the ones who are a combination of several categories? You can draw your own conclusions, but here’s a look at the four I identify:

The Manipulator is smart. He knows what he’s doing and approaches every interaction as a game of cat and mouse. Some manipulators have no ill motives, they just enjoy seeing what they can get away with and how far they can push you until you snap. They play everyone and are hard to catch because they’ve spun a web that is hard to untangle. ‘Terry’ was an expert storyteller and could weasel his way out of any situation. But when I tried to verify his story it quickly unraveled.

Solution: Resist making on-the-spot decisions or judgments. Check the facts, get different perspectives. Most importantly, make sure the Manipulator understands the expectations and consequences. Avoid getting into emotional arguments, which is the genius with manipulators. If possible, pair them up with someone you trust and who is manipulation-resistant. Stick to your guns and repeat your expectations in a matter-of-fact manner. Put the burden on them – often they want to make you the ‘bad guy’- involve them in solving their own problem and the issue may quickly disappear. 

The Clueless employee is simple. She’s the one you wonder about how she got hired in the first place, and even how she gets from her house to the office every day. You pull out all of your tricks to explain things in a way she can understand, but still there are mistakes in the books, or miscommunications to customers. It’s hard not to be sympathetic, but it’s exasperating to put so much effort into someone who clearly is out of their element. ‘Shirley’ had a great heart, really wanted to succeed, and made me want to help her with her sincerity, but the business was suffering because of her inability to perform at the lowest requirements of her job.

Solution: Spend some time trying to figure them out. If it’s a matter of learning style, then be creative. Ask them how they like to learn things. Ask them what their perspective is to see if they ‘get’ that they have a problem in learning & retaining knowledge/directions. For some it may be a simple solution, like allowing them to make step-by-step drawings of the process they’re supposed to follow. If all of your creative solutions don’t work and you don’t have another position to move them to for which they might be better suited, you may have to let them go. Always document the steps you’ve taken!

The Paranoid staff member thinks everyone is out to get them. He is the conspiracy theorist that sees hidden motives behind every action and looks for trouble under every rock. You spend a lot of time trying to convince him that the new computer software is not a means to get rid of him. You can almost bet that any announcement of a change in policy or procedure will result in a visit to your office by the paranoid employee. ‘Daniel’ was a trainer that would share his paranoid thoughts with new hire trainees about how he was sure we were trying to fire him. Well…he may have been right!

Solution: First, you need to determine if the paranoid behavior is getting in the way of their performance, or negatively impacting their coworkers. If it is, then you have to clearly communicate your expectations. Do what you can to assure them that you’re not out to get them and ask them what would help them feel more secure. They have to understand that you will hold them accountable, but that it isn’t personal and you don’t expect perfection. Consider a simple ‘contract’ to spell out what can be expected on both sides – just make sure there is no language that sounds like you’re guaranteeing them a job. This is a ‘rules of engagement’ document, not a job contract.

The Drama Queen/King seems to have crisis follow them day in and day out. Whether it’s a personal crisis (boyfriend/girlfriend troubles, financial setbacks, and transportation breakdowns are the top three), or work related challenges, this type of crazy employee can wear out a manager between tear-filled counseling sessions, documenting performance and attendance problems, and trying to find someone to cover their shift at the last minute. ‘Debbie’ had an eventful life, and sometimes the drama wasn’t created by her so it was hard to administer discipline without seeming heartless.

Solution: Separate work issues from personal issues. Offer sympathy and general advice, but don’t get roped into solving all of their problems for them. Do what makes sense for the business without enabling them to rely on you every time they get into a bind. Address the work issues and show them the impact to the business when they are absent, late, or disengaged because of outside drama. If they’re making drama in the workplace amongst co-worker or customers, clearly communicate your expectations and spell out the consequences if they can’t keep things under control. Let them know of benefits or resources that may help (employee assistance program, leave of absence, etc.).

You may have picked up on the common thread in the solutions for each type:

  • Clearly communicated expectations
  • Reasonable solutions, empathy & concern for the individual
  • Accountability, with burden on the employee
  • Documentation of what you’ve done and the results
  • Ultimately do what’s right for your business AND the employee