An Example of Operational Excellence
By Tina R. Macon, MA, CBA, CEQC
AllMac & Associates
Organizational Development Consulting & Training
November 6, 2018
I recently met “Mike” who was working at a well-known coffee shop. He was very friendly, talkative and even paid for my cup of chia tea latte because the associate waiting on me was someone I knew. He said “any friend of hers is a friend of mine- it’s on me.” The workers all seemed to love him and called his name frequently to answer a question or help fix a problem. As I was leaving the coffee shop, I thanked Mike again for “making my day” with his generosity. He asked me if I had a minute to talk and I happily obliged him. He wanted me to know why he treated me to my cup of chia tea latte today—because of the way his company treats him. This is a second career for him -he retired 5 years ago. At the urging of his (at home) CEO’s request to find something to do with his spare time, he decided to go to work on a part-time basis. The company quickly recognized Mike’s positive approach to his work as well as his passion for excellence in how he treated not only customers but everyone he worked with. He turned down management roles with the company because he just wanted to be an “ordinary” employee until he came across a manager that changed his perspective about the company. Mike stated that he appreciated how his manager valued, talked to and showed appreciation for the staff and how the staff enjoyed working “with” not “for” this manager. When this manager asked him to consider a management role, he said yes because he knew that he would be valued and supported. It became clear to me that this manager’s style of leadership has become contagious across the organization –the pride amongst the employees in the shop, how they treat customers, and how much passion they have for the work that they do left me with the impression that this must be an excellent place to work. I will definitely be a repeat customer at this location!
As leaders, what type of energy and message do you want to share with those that you are entrusted to guide, coach, and train? What is your definition of Operational Excellence and is it the same message that your team is communicating to others? Operational Excellence is an attitude of working with the distinct intent of showing a consistent, clear, and passionate message of how what you do matters. In today’s job market, applicants are seeking out organizations that are intentional about Operational Excellence and employees are leaving those organizations that are not. Is the message that your employees are sharing about your organization similar to the one that Mike shared with me? Regardless of the number of employees, Operational Excellence should be a part of every company’s DNA if they want to stay competitive and attractive in today’s labor market.
Rosie is a Senior Project Manager for XYA Company. She likes to be involved with the development of new projects and working on new assignments. She makes decisions and really isn’t concerned with how others view her actions. However, her manager has noticed that she seems to “get bored” easily and doesn’t seem to want to see things to completion. In Rosie’s mind, getting the project off of the ground is the “completion” and someone else needs to worry about the day-to-day details. Her manager doesn’t want to lose Rosie, because she has brought some very creative and profitable ideas to the table. Her co-workers find her demanding, a bit insensitive, but she does seem to have the best interest of the company at heart. People are a bit intimidated by her and are reluctant to “make waves” when dealing with her. Anthony was recently hired as a Project Manager to work directly with Rosie. Anthony performs best when he understands the rules and processes that must be followed in order to be in compliance. He has a strong attention to detail and likes to have some time to process information that he is given and doesn’t like conflict. The manager is seeking guidance in how to best Coach Rosie and Anthony and help them build a positive working relationship.
Managers often find themselves trying to “fix” conflicts between their employees without understanding the driving forces of the individuals. When you understand how people think, solve problems, express themselves, and interact with others, you can begin to understand their behavior styles. The significance of understanding these factors is that if offers insight into what is needed to have effective, productive, and relevant conversations in order to build a cohesive team.
You have a great referral for your accounting position and because it was from a trusted source you extend the offer and settle on a start date very quickly. One (1) year later things are not going well at all. There have been some "questionable" transactions made by this employee on the company credit card. You are discussing appropriate steps with your employment attorney and the question is asked about the information gleaned from the background check. Your response is that a background check was not conducted...
Read further to view what Jane McFadden from HR Profile has to say regarding the importance of background checks - regardless of your company's size.
Why does a company run a background check on their potential employees? Security, Safety, Cost, Confirmation?! The answer is all of the above. It is in a company’s best interest to know as much as they can about the person they are getting ready to hire, to be able to assess if that person is going to be a good fit within your organization, environment, and culture. Background checks have become common practice in hiring today, but it wasn’t ALWAYS that way, and not ALL companies do background checks- even though they should, only 96% do. As a small business you might think you know everyone you hire, they’re all family or friends of family. And your company is so small you know what everyone does, so you don’t need to worry about fraudulent behavior. Maybe you think you can’t afford it- but my question is can you afford NOT to? You can’t always tell an apple is bad just by looking at it.
Hiring is expensive. It can cost a company 4-10X a person’s salary to replace them- which is a huge expense to a small company. Small businesses require specialized strategies in order to succeed, and many small companies don’t take into account the benefits of the screening process. Like hiring qualified candidates with a track record of good work, protecting employees from potential safety issues and negligent hiring lawsuits.
While there is no test or check that can guarantee you’ll never have an issue with an employee, it is true that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. Due diligence is necessary to protect your business and your employees. There is no law that says a company must run a background check on every employee before they hire them. But there are laws that guide how a background check must be performed, and those laws are mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Background checks can include criminal records, credit checks, driving record, social security number trace, employment and education verifications, violent sex offender searches, and many more- all determined by the type of position you are looking to fill. FCRA’s biggest requirement is the candidate must know the check is being performed. Under the FCRA, as a small business you can have limited legal immunity, by using a third-party background pre-employment screening company, like HR ProFile.
A job application won’t provide all of the necessary information that employers need in order to make an educated decision about whether or not they can trust the person applying. Conducting employee background checks allows employers to review an applicant in a comprehensive manner to help small business stand out among the competition and operate in a cost effective manner. Employees who don’t need to worry about hiding something can devote their time and attention to the success of the company, creating a positive atmosphere and culture. Running a background check ensures that you will hire better qualified candidates, improve turnover, safety, and security within your company.
My biggest rebuttal when talking with small businesses is “we only hire people we know”, which is great! But what you talk about with people personally rarely involves any derogatory information that would come up in a background check. People don’t tend to brag about their criminal records, especially to friends and family.
Background checks don’t only highlight the bad and wrong candidates have done, they also highlight the success and experience the candidate possesses. It is a great way to determine in a broad and thorough way if the candidate will be a good fit for your company. A background check will confirm your candidate has what it takes to make a difference in your organization based on their past experiences.
Studies have shown that 50% or more applicants have lied on their resume. 25% of applicants have a criminal record. Wouldn’t you like to know who? Invest in background screening services that will allow you peace of mind, knowing you hired a qualified professional.
Your company needs more help but you aren’t sure if it’s time to add more staff. Your Senior Leadership team approaches you about bringing on temporary workers or Independent Contractors to fill in the gaps indefinitely until they can “figure it out.” Read what guest columnist, Anitra Walden-Jacobs of Jackson Lewis P.C (Cincinnati, Ohio) advises what to consider when considering utilizing a “Contingent Workforce”. Jackson Lewis P.C. specializes in representing management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation.
Attorney at Law
As employers continue to look for ways to do more with less, they have increasingly relied on a variety of arrangements commonly known as "contingent work." The contingent workforce typically consists of independent contractors, temporary employees, and seasonal and leased workers.
Companies have many reasons for choosing to utilize a contingent workforce, including avoiding certain obligations and potential liability associated with regular employees. However, a contingent workforce is not without its own risks, especially when the company – or someone authorized to act on the company’s behalf – does something to change that relationship in the eyes of the law.
To maintain the benefits of a contingent workforce, employers must be careful to safeguard the scope of their intended relationship and ensure that contingent workers do not become employees under the law. At the same time, it is also important to create a sense of inclusion for your contingent workforce. To assist with that endeavor, here are a few best practices for utilizing a contingent workforce:
About the author….
Company policy states that all expense reports must be reviewed and approved by the employee’s direct supervisor before they will be approved for payment. You as the manager tend to overview expense accounts and do an occasional “spot check” to ensure accuracy-for the most part they are typically accurate. On a recent “spot check” you discovered a $100 charge that seemed out of the ordinary. As you begin to dig deeper you discover that this employee has charged several thousands of dollars to the company for their personal use. When you question the employee they dispute the charges. In fact, they get agitated by the fact that you seem to be “snooping” on them. They accuse you of unfair treatment and state that “everyone else is allowed to spend a few dollars” so why are they being singled out? What should you do?
Q. Should you deduct the total amount in question from the employee’s paycheck?
A. No! some states prohibit an employer from deducting money from an employee’s check without authorization
Q. Should you fire the employee on the spot for falsifying expense reports?
A. No! you should consult with your Human Resources office to conduct a thorough investigation prior to termination. Human Resources will consult with their legal resources to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal laws.
Q. Should you consult other managers to gain an understanding of how they have handled previous situations?
A. No! You should have a confidential conversation with your Human Resources Representative to ensure that this sensitive matter is handled appropriately.
Once the investigation has been completed you will work with your Human Resources Representative to develop a plan of action that will address several issues;
Be alert to the widespread implications of company policy and process violations and the impact they can have from both a fiscal and legal aspect.
If you would like more information on this topic please contact us at AllMac & Associates for further information.
"Connecting People, Processes, and Productivity"
You are the Director of Human Resources and it’s a typical Monday morning-(traffic, coffee, check emails), and then you are summoned to a meeting with your boss (the CEO). You sense something is wrong and you begin to do a mental inventory to determine if you missed something that would have caused the boss to call an unannounced Monday morning meeting. When you arrive you are met with a room full of people with the same perplexed look on their faces as you- now you know something major is going on and are growing concerned regarding what is about to happen. Your boss announces that she is leaving the organization and the “second-in-command” is charge…effective immediately! Your boss is highly regarded and is viewed as a caring leader towards the employees. The culture has been very relaxed; inclusive with open communication at all levels of the organization-except with the COO. Some long-term employees have stated that it has been a pleasure to come to work under her leadership and for the first time they have really felt a part of the organization. The COO is the second-in- command and has a very different style. He has a reputation for being a bit of a “bully” and very confrontational. People tend to avoid him for fear of being criticized and disciplined if they go against his wishes. Now that he is the new CEO there is a fear that anyone that is on his “list” will be let go soon. The COO views himself as a good manager with strong leadership skills. He frequently reminds the staff that his decisions are based on what’s in the “best interest” of the company-- not what’s popular with the staff. After the meeting, you get several requests for meetings to discuss employee concerns about the change in leadership and what this all means for the organization. As you adjust to the news, how will you help to navigate the organization and stabilize concerns?
In your role you are viewed as the “stabilizer” in the organization and you must help others begin to embrace the new organizational structure. Some conversations will be unpleasant and difficult and others will involve simple clarification in order to move forward. Utilizing the MGD© process (Meet, Greet, & Defeat) will aid you in helping employees to handle unpleasant, confusing and difficult situations in a productive and positive manner;
Help the employee understand why the change is a problem for them
Probe to determine if they have ever been through a change in leadership
Discuss how they have previously handled a change in leadership
Allow voice space for employees to express how they are feeling about the change
Ask them to clarify what they would like to see in the new leadership
Ask them how they would like to proceed (some may choose to exit the organization)
Coach the employee on how they may begin to adapt to the change in a positive manner
Remind them that it is okay to acknowledge and own their feelings
Provide guidelines for properly channeling their feelings (calm discussions, asking clarifying questions)
Once you have attained employee feedback it is critical that you present solutions to your new boss that are positive for the organization and are in line with company goals and objectives. For example, stating that employees are interested and willing to continue to pursue new ideas to grow the business by 25% over the next fiscal year and would like to continue the employee feedback committee are tangible deliverables that the CEO can attach value to for the company and would be willing to continue. Being able to effectively communicate at all levels of the organization in ways that share a consistent message and in a manner that is easily understood by the recipients (no matter what level/rank within the organization) will aid in you becoming a strategic partner with your new boss as well as maintaining a trusted culture that your employees desire to have.
If you would like more information on this topic, please contact us for further information.
Tina R. Macon, President/Senior Consultant
AllMac & Associates
"Connecting People, Processes, and Productivity"
Your company policy states that when an employee is on short term disability they will not be expected to work and in order to ensure that they focus on their personal health their work email will be disengaged until they return to work. After a bad performance review, employee X complains about how unfairly they are being treated, especially since they were forced to work while out on leave. From your investigation you discover a copy of an email trail that clearly reflects that the manager had been communicating with this employee while they were on leave. When you confront the manager their response is that “the work needed to get done and the employee was willing." Upon further investigation you discover that other managers have also been communicating with and having employees work while out on short term disability.
Can you rectify this situation and get your organization on track?
The answer to the question is YES you can! Several things need to happen quickly in order to restore organizational balance within your organization.
Educate the current manager on the long term effects of operating outside of company policy. While on leave, if the employee gets injured while performing work for the company, it may become a worker's compensation issue. It also could become a violation of FMLA as well as a possible workplace bullying issue (if the employee can produce enough evidence to prove they felt bullied into doing the work). Review the performance review with the manager and determine if some areas need to be revisited. A performance issue may truly exist and the manager may need help in properly addressing it outside of the review process.
Train all managers on the legal implications of violating company policies and setting precedence. Many managers are unaware that they can be personally sued for their actions and they may/may not be covered by the organization.
Oftentimes once an issue is brought up or a complaint is filed, there is little to no follow-up with the employee. In order to restore harmony and build trust, communication is key. Depending on the circumstance, HR professionals may find themselves in the role of mediating or facilitating conversations with the affected parties. Ensure that all parties are given proper voice space, courtesy, and respect throughout the process. Managers need to feel that they can continue to lead their departments and employees need to feel that they are valued and respected. Both parties need to feel that they are being heard and treated fairly throughout the process.
Human Resource and Organizational Development professionals play a significant role in building and maintaining a work environment that is built on trust and respect. Through proper coaching, education and training of all staff it will become easier to build a cohesive team across the entire organization.
If you have any questions or need more information on this topic, please complete our Contact Form, or contact Tina Macon by telephone at 513-289-5073.
Tina R. Macon, President/Senior Consultant
AllMac & Associates
"Connecting People, Processes, and Productivity"