Category Archives: Human Resources

Payroll, Paychecks, and People: Jessica’s Story

Medical office

Jessica had worked temporarily for Dr. Bean two weeks, and had two more weeks until her work order was completed. The permanent staff was getting paid this Thursday – a day Jessica was not scheduled to work. The following week the office would be closed.

Jessica expected a check in the mail over the weekend from Dr. Bean’s office. When It hadn’t arrived by Monday, she called the office to leave a message – hoping that someone would be checking the messages while the office was closed.

“Hello, this is Jessica. I understand the office is closed this week and that the pay period ended last week. I was just wondering when I might expect my paycheck. Will it be mailed to me?”

The temp agency called Jessica the next day, Tuesday.

“Hi. This is Keri from Temporary Professionals. We received a call from Heidi at Dr. Bean’s office who wanted me to pass along a message to you. Your paycheck is in the mail.”

Cliche’ yet appropriate, Jessica thought. However, as the days passed with no paycheck, the cliche’ seemed to prove true to its reputation of insincerity and dishonesty. There would be no point in leaving another message at the office so late in the week.

By Monday morning – now 10 days after the pay period ended – Jessica was worried about how long it might take to fix the problem or find the lost check. She sought out the office manager and stated her concern.

“Heidi, I never received my paycheck. I heard from the agency that you’d sent it out, but I never got it.”

“I sent it.”

“Do you know what address it was sent to? Perhaps it went to the wrong place,” Jessica inquired.

“Well,” Heidi said. “Kelly sent it out. She does payroll. I’ll have to call her. If it went to the wrong address, then we’ll see if Kelly can put a stop on the check and reissue one for you. I’ll give her a call this morning.”

“Thanks.”

Lunch was several hours later, and Heidi had not mentioned the paycheck issue to Jessica again. Just before going to lunch, Jessica approached Heidi a second time.

“Heidi, did you get a chance to speak with Kelly yet?”

“No. I’ll do that right now.”

Jessica expected to have news from Heidi when she came back from lunch, but Heidi was busy and didn’t report anything. Another hour passed, and Jessica noticed an employee list on the wall near the desk she was working from. Kelly’s name and cell number was on the list.

Doctor-Phone

“Hello, Kelly. This is Jessica, who has been doing some temporary work at Dr.Bean’s office. Heidi said she was going to call you about an issue with my paycheck, have you spoken with her today?”

“No. What’s going on?”

“I didn’t receive my paycheck from the last period. I was told last Monday that it had gone out in the mail, but I haven’t gotten it yet a week later.”

“I left your check in the outgoing mail on Friday, and I told Heidi it was there. I don’t know if she sent it out then or later. If it didn’t go out, then it still might be sitting there. Has the mail gone out today?”

The mail had been taken to the post office that morning. Jessica had minded the desk while Melanie left to get mail from last week.

“Oh, no! Is there a chance that it just went out today???” Jessica was disappointed to think that her paycheck may have slipped from her grasp. Maybe Heidi was not truthful in her statement the check is in the mail one week ago.

Kelly asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“I guess not. If it just went out today, then I won’t get it for a few more days yet. Ugh!”

Kelly offered a solution, “If you don’t get it by today, then we can reissue you another check tomorrow.”

Jessica began to feel as if the paycheck she worked hard to earn and deserved to have, was not sent when she was told it was. Why would she get the check today when it had not come everyday last week?

Why didn’t they call me that Thursday it was processed and give me the option to come pick it up? Jessica thought. She was aware of the law – Dr. Bean legally had 30 days to pay her. That would be fine had she not been told it was on it’s way to her.

As the minutes passed, Jessica was feeling more and more mistreated. And it wasn’t the first time. Just three months earlier this same scenario played out with a different temporary employer. That office had also claimed her check was in the mail, but each day that passed, and with each day it didn’t arrive, she felt more and more betrayed. Finally, when the legal 30 days was up, Jessica walked into the office to ask for her paycheck. Oh, the run around that occurred, and the passing of the buck she witnessed confirmed to her that they had no intention of paying her. Excuse and defensive excuse after another made it easy to see that she was being lied to. Was it happening again????

After a few more minutes of stewing over the situation, Jessica approached Dr. Bean in his office.

“Dr. Bean, may I talk to you about something?”

After his approval, Jessica continued.

“I didn’t get my paycheck.”

“What? Say that again?” Dr. Bean asked.

“I didn’t get my paycheck, and Heidi says it was sent, and she was going to talk with Kelly but she didn’t…”

He interrupted. “I know nothing about payroll. I don’t even know how to do payroll. You’ll have to talk with Kelly about that.”

“I did talk with Kelly, and no one seems to know where it is.”

“Well, I don’t have any solution for you. I don’t know anything about payroll. Do you have a solution? Why are you telling me this?”

“Dr. Bean, the solution I would suggest is to put a stop on the first check since we don’t know where it is and reissue a check for me.”

“I don’t know how to figure out payroll. I never write checks.”

“If I called Kelly and learned the amount the check was written for, would you write a new check? Do you have a checkbook here?” Jessica asked.

“Hold on. Let’s figure out what’s going on here.” He stormed out of the room, and Jessica assumed he’d be heading to Heidi. She was right.

A few minutes later, Heidi approached Jessica at the desk where she’d been working and said, “I need to use your desk so I can call Kelly.”

Mailbox

It was 5:00 now. Jessica used her cell phone to call home. “Please check the mail. Is there a check for me from Dr. Bean?”

“Yes. It’s post marked with Saturday’s date – just last Saturday.”

UGH! There was no way Jessica’s check would take one week to get to her mailbox if it had been mailed out when Heidi said it had been. Jessica felt lied to, and worse – she’d gotten the run-around because no one wanted to confess that they’d not been telling the truth! It appeared to Jessica that paying temporary employees was not a priority at this practice.

“I mailed it on Monday. I don’t know why it would take so long to get to you,” Heidi explained. “I would never lie to you, Jessica. I would not try to deceive you in any way. I didn’t mail it at the post office, though. I put it in an outgoing mailbox at Safeway. I guess I don’t know when their mail is picked up.”

“Heidi, it’s just not possible that it would take that long to get to me and contain a post mark from this past Saturday.” Jessica replied.

Jessica worked two more hours that day, finding it hard to do. She was thankful her check had been found, but she was still feeling upset that no one else associated with Dr. Bean saw reason for her to be upset about not being paid when she was told she would be.

Jessica had creditors who’d been calling her about monies owed them. Getting her paycheck was necessary to pay her overdue bills. She was experiencing a financial crunch, and waiting for her paycheck, then worrying that she may not get it for a few more days was very disheartening.

The next day, Heidi explained that she and Kelly had been offended by Jessica’s actions and attitude. Jessica was surprised to learn that THEY were offended. Didn’t they understand what SHE was feeling?

Heidi confessed that Jessica’s check was likely left in the outgoing mail at the office for the entire week the office was closed until Heidi had come into the office the Friday before, saw a pile of mail to go out, and took it to Safeway.

“I didn’t see your check in the pile of mail, but I can only assume it was in there. It probably went out five days after I told you it had.”

No apology came from Heidi. She simply said, “I would never lie to you. There would be no reason for us to hold your check.”


 

Are there lessons to be learned from Jessica’s story?

How did it make you feel?

Who is in the right?

Who is in the wrong?

What, if anything, should have been done differently?

What if You’re C.) “All of the Above”?

*WARNING: The following post contains a rant. The writer is subject to:

A.) Fly off the handle

B.) Break down in tears

C.) Crawl under a rock

D.) Be prepared for whatever LIES ahead.

I rarely rant (okay, my husband and children would say otherwise) Yet, today I have stewed about a particular situation all last weekend, and it’s time to let it out! WHAAAA!

I am embarrassed to say that I’m looking for a job. I have owned my own business (Emerald City Consulting) for 8 years. It has been profitable at times, and not so profitable at other times. It takes money to advertise in the never ending fragmented ways that exist in today’s ever changing marketplace, and my marketing budget is non-existent. Therefore, since August I have been actively seeking employment.

In the course of my 35 year career, I have accumulated vast and varied skills. Rather than be viewed as well-rounded, I think it’s probably working against me in the hunt for a job. It’s like taking a true/false test, when I have a multiple choice background.

“Yes, I can do all of the above”. Therefore, my search for a job has been vast and varied. I have experience in many areas, rather than 35 years building on just one skill.

For this reason, I don’t remember exactly what the ad on www.Indeed.com said that caused me to apply for a particular job last week. There were likely a multitude of ways I “fit the bill”.  I was happy to receive an email last week from Catherine Smith in HR at Dynamic Concepts, Inc. She was requesting an interview with me. In 10 weeks of submitting over 100 resumes, this would be merely my second actual interview. (Perhaps I should have been suspicious).

Even though I had no memory of placing the application, nor did I remember the job description, I took the opportunity to look at the website for Dynamic Concepts, Inc. Here are a few screen shots from their website.

What would YOU believe Dynamic Concepts, Inc. to be known for?

My interpretation was thus:

They are a company who works with clients to increase the client’s branding and marketing efforts.

It sounded to me as though they had a unique approach to helping their clients manage and market their businesses. I was ALL ABOUT these ideas, and I was excited for an interview. Furthermore, their website touted the following (I’ve bolded the words/phrases that appealed to my skills and abilities):

  1. Success in unprecedented growth for the clients we work with by following a couple of core principles. Targeted outreach programs place branding specialists in front of an ideal buying audience to produce rapid returns. An emphasis on team building allows for the highest standard of service to be duplicated into new markets at an accelerated rate.
  2. The standard of excellence we provide has allowed us the opportunity to partner with nationally recognized name brands. As such, we are committed to maintaining the highest levels of professionalism because we know that we are not only representing ourselves, but the top-notch clients that put their faith in us.
  3. We are continually able to reach new markets and demographics with the help of our global network. Our clients know that we are not alone when marketing their brand. A solid network of marketing executives enables us to become fast and efficient problem-solvers. We can respond immediately should any situation arise.
  4. The most significant factor in our success is the experience of the consumer. We are diligent about following up spectacular campaigns with exceptional support and customer service. Our approach is convenient and cost-effective for the consumer, allowing them more freedom with their time and money without sacrificing on quality.

The Dynamic Concepts, Inc. website was done very well. Large amounts of money had been spent on its engaging and motivating content and layout. I looked forward to my interview in Renton – a few miles from where I live!

A few minutes before my scheduled interview time last Friday, I pulled into an industrial park. Industrial park? The first clue that Dynamic Concepts, Inc. may not meet my expectations.

I found building 10. Amid a sea of doors, I saw one labeled “Dynamic Concepts, Inc.”

Upon entering the door, I came face to face with a young man sitting at a desk. He looked like an adolescent trying to look like an adult. He was wearing a bow tie and a suit jacket that was at least three sizes too big.  It reminded me of this scene in the movie, Beetlejuice:

Okay, he was a nice enough looking young man, but this picture illustrates the thought that came to mind because of his over-sized clothing.

I was feeling uneasy, but took the one-page application form he offered and filled it out. Then, an adolescent-looking girl asked me to follow her into a small, poorly decorated office. She explained that this was a short “get to know you” meeting.

She asked what had drawn me to their ad.

“I actually don’t remember the ad, but I am drawn to some words and phrases on your website – mentoring, management, marketing, and client support”, I replied.

She asked, “What two words describe you?”

“Professionalism and eloquence” I said. (Yeah, corny. Whatever)

She began to describe Dynamic Concepts, Inc. as a company that uses event marketing to support their clients. “Clients”, she said “like Kroger, Costco and gas stations.”

She then showed me a picture of “what our members do”. It was a picture of three young people wearing orange safety jackets standing under a portable pop-up tent behind a table with spray-paint-can-like objects on the table.

“Where are they?” I asked.

“This is at a Kroger store. Right now, we are new to Washington, so we have two products we feature – a car wax and windshield repair. But the company has over 75 products.”

I’m trying to wrap my brain around what I’m hearing. I point to the picture. “Are these Kroger products?”

“No, these are our products, but Kroger, who is our client, partners with us.”

My stomach is getting queasy, and I realize I’ve been duped. This is nothing more than a sales position. A freaking position selling car wax under a tent in the parking lot of major retailers. Retailers who rent their space to Dynamic Concepts, Inc., who call the retailers CLIENTS.

By this definition, my landlord is my client because he lets me use his home to live in. WTH???? (“Honey, did you send a check to our “client” this month to pay our rent?”)

My choice: D.) NONE OF THE ABOVE!

Holy Crap! This company went to a lot of trouble to lie about what they do, so that they could get stupid people to apply for a stupid sales job, who would then be taught how to manage and lie to more stupid people about how to sell stupid products for “clients” who are anything but clients!

On my way home, I began to realize that they saw my resume, and thought I was stupid enough to be taken in by their masquerade. What does that say about me? I’ve struggled with this all weekend, and my ego is bruised badly. I am both angry that there are people out there making money off of lies and dishonest methods, and sad that I was viewed as someone who could be taken in by people making money off of lies and dishonest methods.

My job search has been essentially unproductive, and I’m not sure what to do next. I’ve never considered myself unskilled, but I’m sure beginning to feel that way. Perhaps it’s this way for everyone. I mean, I haven’t looked for a job for more than 10 years. Is this what it’s come to? Lies, dishonesty?

Or, am I simply going about it the wrong way? I have NEVER had trouble finding a job in the previous twenty years of my career. Yet, I am so much more experienced now. I have accomplished amazing feats. I have run a business, and directed a non-profit successfully. But I am under-valued by potential employers.

It seems that when it comes to true/false job searches – false is okay. People make lots of money being false.

It seems that in multiple choice job searches, A or B are appropriate answers, but never apply if your answer is C.) All of the above or D.) None of the above.

Therefore, I have written a 1000 word essay about my job search. Will it help? Will it matter? Heck, I don’t know. I just don’t want to be duped again.

Anyone out there want to hire an “ALL OF THE ABOVE”?

 

 

People Are the WORST!

“I hate people. They are the worst!”

I admit to saying these very words on occasion. I suppose everyone gets frustrated and angry with our fellow humans from time to time. Yesterday was one of those times for me. I’m flabbergasted by the choices people make in business, and try to understand the reasons that people get away with bad customer/employee service.

Before you judge me as a mean, negative person for saying I hate people, let me share my story.

As a consultant, I help business owners and organizations recruit new team members. In order to increase my network, make a few dollars, and get a feel for what businesses deal with on a daily basis, I occasionally accept temp work from an agency I’ve had a relationship with for 25 years. My story begins about a month ago when I accepted one of these temp jobs.

I arrived at a dental office in West Seattle on Monday morning August 31st. I worked an entire day in an administrative/customer service role. The office manager (let’s call her Della) was very unorganized, harried, and generally stressed out. I stayed out of her way as much as possible because we just didn’t gel. None of the other staff members initiated contact with me, nor seemed to appreciate the help I was giving them. The dentist business owner (let’s call him Dr. Tooth) seemed nice, but aloof.

At day’s end I left my completed time card, and was told payday was that Thursday, and I could expect a check in one week.

I didn’t get my check when expected. As I considered calling Della to follow-up, the agency called with a request to temp another day for Dr. Tooth the upcoming Monday – September 14th. I thought to myself, “If my check doesn’t come this weekend, then at least I’ll be able to inquire about its whereabouts when I’m working IN the office”. I took the job.

“I never received my paycheck from the last time I worked here”, I said to Della when I saw her that Monday morning.

“Oh, what do you mean?” she asked.

I replied “According to the agency, Dr. Tooth is to pay me. You told me last time I was here that payday was that week. But I haven’t received a check”

Della began to shuffle papers around her desk. She couldn’t find the time card I had given her a copy of when I left on the 31st. “Oh, I guess I forgot.”

I FORGOT was inexcusable, but I’ve made mistakes myself, so I kept my cool and suggested she add that day to the pay period that will cover today’s hours. Della was happy with that solution. She then told me payday was the coming Thursday (three days from then), and I could expect my check on Monday.

The rest of the details are best understood in the following timeline:

MONDAY: I was delighted to find an envelope in my mailbox with Dr. Tooth’s name in the return address area. However, inside the envelope was a check stub showing the hours for both days I worked and the proper rate of pay….but there was NO CHECK. That’s right, NO PAYCHECK in that envelope. Strange.

TUESDAY: I called Dr. Tooth’s office. No one answered, but I left a voice mail explaining my confusion in getting the check stub but no check.

WEDNESDAY: I received a voicemail from Helen (likely the person I had filled in for) at Dr. Tooth’s office. Her message claimed that she had alerted Della to the problem, and that another check had been issued and that she mailed it out TODAY. She ended her message with, “If you don’t have the check by Monday, please let us know”

THURSDAY: No check

FRIDAY: No check. Dr. Tooth’s office was closed according to their voicemail, and I did not leave a message. What would be the  point if they weren’t in until Monday?

I did call the agency, though. They had empathy for my position, but explained that Dr. Tooth had 30 days from the day I worked to pay me. My only recourse was to wait until the 30th (Wednesday) and then file a report with Labor and Industries if I didn’t get paid by then.

SATURDAY: No check.

MONDAY: UGH! Dr. Tooth’s voicemail again! “This is Jackie Bailey. I did some temp work for you on the 31st of August and the 14th of September. I have not been paid for either day. Helen’s message on Wednesday last week reported that a re-issued check had been mailed to me. I still don’t have it.”

I continued, “Because I know you legally have 30 days to pay me, I will be driving to your office tomorrow to pick up my paycheck. I’m tired of chasing my check, so I will expect it to be ready for me tomorrow.”

TUESDAY (yesterday) morning: Helen called me to say, “I’m sorry you still haven’t received your check. Dr. Tooth says he will re-issue you a new check, and it will be ready for you today. What time will you be coming by?”

I told her I would be there after twelve o’clock noon. She asked me the amount I’m owed. I provided that for her, and she said there would be someone at the desk all day until 5:00.

I walked into Dr. Tooth’s office at 12:30. There was no one at the front desk, nor was Della at her desk. I stood there for about three minutes. Then Dr. Tooth walked out front. He recognized me immediately. “Hi!”, he said. “I don’t know what happened to your check, but we’re going to issue you a new one.”

“Thank you” I said.

Then I watched Dr. Tooth walk into an operatory where a patient was waiting in the dental chair. I was alone again, standing at the front desk.

Soon, Della walked out. “Oh, hello” she said when she saw me. “How are you?” We exchanged pleasantries, and then she asked, “You still didn’t get your paycheck?” (silly question)

“No”.

“I don’t understand because the payroll service does that.”

I took out the pay stub I had received and handed it to her. She looked at it, took it into her office and began digging through drawers and overturning papers on her desk. I watched her make a copy of the pay stub I’d given her.

At that moment, a patient came out of the back office, and another one entered the office from the street. They both stood at the front desk next to me. Della came back to the desk holding the pay stub. She said, “It’s really strange. I don’t know what happened to it. I may have written your address incorrectly.”

I said, “Obviously, the address is correct – I received the pay stub”

“Yes, but I may have written it down wrong when sending the check. I went off of your hand written time card. They probably used your W2, so I don’t know what happened.”

I asked, “This isn’t the first time you’re hearing about this is it?”

“Well, no” she said.

“I called last week,” I said.

She said she needed to take care of the patients standing at the desk, and she’d be with me in a few minutes. I took a seat, frustrated that this was taking longer than I had time for – especially since I was told the check would be ready for me to “pick up” which denotes being ready ahead of my arrival.

A third person entered the office and sat down in a chair near me. The other two patients were checked in/out as the situation called for. Della was gone again. About that time, a younger woman walked in and stood behind the desk. I assumed she was Helen. She greeted the man sitting next to me, then asked me, “Has anyone been helping you?”

“I’m Jackie Bailey, and there are a few people dodging me.” I said. (I know, not real professional, but I feel like I’m being taken for a ride, here.)

Helen laughed uncomfortably and said, “I’ll see what’s going on.” She came back a few minutes later to say, “Dr. Tooth is with a patient, so it will be a few minutes before he can sign it”.

Della came out to where I was sitting and handed me the pay stub. She repeated the same line, “I just don’t know what could have happened.”

I said, “At this point I don’t care what happened to the first check, I just want to get paid”

Della replied tersely, “Well, I care what happened.”

“I understand,” I said. “You can continue to investigate that, but I was told by Helen this morning that my check was ready to be picked up, so I don’t know why we’re going through this now. I called LAST week about this.”

Della stormed off. A few minutes later, Helen handed me a check. “He finally got a moment to sign it.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“Have a great afternoon,” Helen said.

“You, too.”

This whole situation just angers me because there seems to be some deception from one, two, or all three of these people. I’m not convinced that a check was EVER issued for me. Especially since no one mentioned what to do if/when the original check shows up in my mailbox. Could there be some embezzling going on? It’s possible, but certainly Dr. Tooth would not be involved in that.

Della is either dishonest or was incompetent when she “forgot” to pay me the first time, and then somehow “lost” the check the second and third time. It shows compete lack of concern for employees that this situation was not resolved last week when I called about it. If a business DOES NOT care for their employees, then they certainly won’t care about their customers.

Helen said in the first voicemail that Della had been told about the situation and that a check had been sent. Parts of that situation surely must not be true. Was Helen lying? Or was Della dishonest to Helen? Della either didn’t know about the lost check in the first place, or she had no urgent concern regarding it. Either way, it seems fishy.

Dr. Tooth obviously didn’t feel any urgency in getting me a check when he saw me standing at his front desk. He had no intention of taking action when he told me he would. If he’d had the attitude of concern for someone who worked for him, he would have had a check ready for me BEFORE I arrived. But even if he didn’t have time that morning, once he saw me there, he should have made it a priority to take action.

It is all so frustrating, yet sadly not all that unusual. Having worked in dentistry most of my career, I’m qualified to report that the worst leaders/managers I’ve ever known have been in dentistry. That being said, I’m sure integrity and leadership are lacking in many businesses. In fact, I know it does.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though! There are tools that, when used, will ensure a greater chance of having team members and employees who not only CAN do the job (based on skills and experience), but who WILL do the job (based on emotional intelligence and personality traits). The tool I speak of, called Drake P3, can also ensure you secure a team member who will FIT your business culture.

Would you like to be a better, more successful leader?

Would you like to have employees or team members whom you can trust, and whom will treat your customers and clients in a professional, personable way?

What would it be like to go to work and know that your team will be effective, efficient and in harmony with each other?

Would you like a team where each member of the team does his/her job, and where individual strengths are used to lift the success of every team member?

It IS possible!

You don’t have to hate your team! and you don’t have to ever say, “People are the WORST!” when it comes to your team.

Tell me what you’d change about your current team……

Three Basic Leadership Skills and How to Have Them

I once worked for two oral surgeons who had decided to make changes in a benefit that their employees had enjoyed for many years. Prior to any official announcement to the team, rumors began to circulate, leading employees to panic because the changes sounded drastic enough to affect our paychecks.

The manager of the office alerted the doctors to the quickly sinking morale in the office and suggested that rumor may be worse than reality, and that they should make an official announcement. The doctors set aside time from the surgical schedule to gather for discussion about the amended policy.

At the appointed time for the meeting to commence, the team members gathered in the front office waiting for the doctors to join them. Then, through the front window of the office, we noticed that the doctors were leaving the office, getting in their cars and driving away.

The office manager sheepishly entered the front room and was greeted by angry team members who now knew that the rumors were true. Rather than courageously face their team and respectfully explain why changes were to be made, the doctors had delegated the ugly task to the office manager. We all felt betrayed and belittled with no chance for open discussion to ensure understanding. It was obvious that the doctors knew they were hurting their employees, and didn’t care.

Being a leader, CEO, business owner, or manager is not easy. And if responsibility for such a title is taken lightly, the role becomes even harder.

I suggest three basic skills that all leaders should strengthen in themselves. They are COMMUNICATION, DELEGATION and APPRECIATION.

Communication:

  • After one airplane mysteriously disappeared and another was tragically blown up, Malaysia Airlines tried to appeal to travelers’ sense of adventure in a year-end promotional campaign this past November: “Want to go somewhere but don’t know where?” the airline tweeted.
  • As the SARS super-pneumonia swept Hong Kong, the local tourist board continued to use the slogan, “Hong Kong will take your breath away.”

We’ve all made communication blunders. The key is to minimize mistakes.

As a leader, you must have the ability to concisely state your vision and mission so the team sees it as clearly as you do. Communication is less about the words you use, and more about the way you use those words, and the actions you take to illustrate your words.

  1. Write a vision and mission statement. Introduce these statements to your team; allow time to discuss; encourage understanding and buy in.
  2. Use simple words and ask your team to explain your vision and mission in their own words.  Clarify any misunderstandings.
  3. Communicate in person more than email. Email cannot relay emotions and is a communication method that will most likely lead to miscommunication. Discipline in private and praise in public.
  4. Behave as you want your team to behave. Be consistent, positive and available.

Delegation:

Peter Drucker said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”

What is the right way to do the right things in leadership when it comes to delegation? You must supply the WHAT, WHY, WHEN and HOW to those to whom you are assigning tasks. In other words, a leader clearly defines:

What the task is.

Why the task is important, and the risks to not doing it.

When the task needs to be completed, and when to report back as specific milestones are met.

How the task is to be accomplished. This means that the tools to implement and complete the task must be supplied.

Part of making sure your team has the right tools is by providing training and opportunity for advancement. Show them that developing skills to do more will be rewarded with more – more pay, more benefits, more responsibility – whatever makes sense in your case.

Delegation requires follow up and feedback.

Appreciation

In a pole given to employees around the nation in varied genres of business, they were asked to rate what’s most important in keeping them engaged at work. You may think that number one would be wages, and you’d be wrong.

Clearly defined job descriptions, recognition and appreciation all rank higher than salary when employees are asked which aspects of work are most likely to keep them engaged at work.

Most recent stats in the American Workplace Report tells us that only about 17% of the American Workforce is engaged. Imagine how this lack of engagement affects profitability. Imagine how much company profits would increase if employee engagement was increased?

Appreciation is the key. Showing appreciation is done through listening, understanding, giving feedback, mentoring and team building. The most successful companies are those who focus on their TEAM ahead of their CUSTOMERS. When the team is happy, your customers will automatically happy. When the focus is reversed, the outcome is not as predictable.

Three basic skills of leadership are COMMUNICATION, DELEGATION AND APPRECIATION. You may readily see how you can improve in these areas, AND I’m sure you can identify employees who would be more effective in their responsibilities if they were to improve in these areas. Empower them to do so by showing them how.

Tough decision? There’s An APP for That!

Life.  It’s a daily process of decision making.

  1. Should I wear blue or green?
  2. Should I drive to work or ride my bike?
  3. Should I quit my job and go live on the beach in Hawaii?  Or, maybe Tahiti?

Hawaii

Rory Vaden may call you a Should-Head for asking those questions.   He is the author of one of my favorite books, Take the Stairs.

Making decisions can be tough.  Sometimes, it’s not a matter of good versus bad.  Sometimes, making a decision is a matter of good, better and best.

I address the task of good, better and best decision making in my upcoming book SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional.  I share an APP to help you determine which option is the best one when faced with a decision.

Having access to my APP is reason #28 for reading my book.  It will be available soon.

I realize that you may have another daily decision to make:

  • Should I read Jackie’s book or not?

Since you won’t have the APP to help you with your decision until you get the book, I have begun a countdown of reasons WHY you should read SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional.

Reason #30: How to prepare for, and survive an ODYSSEY

Reason #29: How to spot the IMITATION

(Be sure to use the links to read previous posts)

And today’s reason, #28: How to use an APP to make tough decisions.

More reasons to come.  But for now, have a successful decision-making day!  See you in Hawaii?

4 Ways To Be An ACTION Hero


The
facts tell us what to do and how to do it, but it is our humanity that tells us
that we must DO something, and why we must do it
“.
 
~ Sully Sullenberger

On January 15, 2009, Sully Sullenberger DID
something courageous that resulted in something miraculous.  That was the day
 U.S. Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York, struck some birds on its assent, and lost both engines.

But a “Miracle on the Hudson” occurred when the plane was successfully guided to a safe landing in the Hudson River off Manhattan by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles.

All 155 people on board were saved because swift and sure action was taken!

Looking back on that day, Sully told CBS This Morning on the 5th Anniversary of the miracle, It was one of those events, in the first couple of seconds, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was going to define my life into before and after.”


Sully was quickly labeled a hero, and he certainly was. The Guild of Air pilots and Air Navigators awarded Sully and the entire crew of Flight 1549 a Master’s Medal. The citation read:

The reactions of all members of the crew, the split second decision making and the handling of this emergency and evacuation was ‘text book’ and an example to us all. To have safely executed this emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement. It deserves the immediate recognition that has today been given by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators

It is clear that the crew reacted to the emergency as they had practiced in training.  However, Sully had not only logged 19,000+ hours in airplanes, but he was also a glider pilot.  It was the know-how of flying glider planes, and Sully’s quick action that resulted in the miraculous outcome on that particular day.

Sully Sullenberger is an ACTION HERO!  


Your ACTIONs can make you an ACTION HERO, too!  Here’s how:

1. Participate in activities that empower you.

Never confuse movement with action” ~ Ernest Hemmingway

“Busy” people are not necessarily successful people.  “Busy” doesn’t empower you or make you wealthy.  You must take the right action to progress forward.

Take time to analyze how you spend your time, and decide if your actions are really helping you to go where you want to go.  

2. Be on the offensive side of action – not the defensive side.

The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react” ~ George Bernard Shaw

If you spend your time always “catching up” and not “moving up”, then your actions will likely not make you heroic.  Sully Sullenberger and the other crew members were expected to react in the way that they did during the flight emergency in 2009.  But Sully surely could not have foreseen that his time in glider planes would ever be used to safely land a jetliner. Sully Sullenberger saved 155 people because he acted from knowledge and experience instead of simply reacting from training. 

Take time to analyze whether you are making decisions defensively, or if you’re taking action that will lead to more positive action.

3. Don’t wait for _______, just take a step forward from where you are.

Action conquers fear” ~ Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Zarlenga also said, “The difficulty of every individual who ever desired to achieve something worthwhile, comes in the movement“. 

I have been in a place where fear created so much fog, that I wasn’t sure which direction I should step in.  I learned that the direction didn’t matter as much as the action to simply start moving.  You can always get back on track if you head in the wrong direction, but there IS NO progress in a stand still.

Take time to analyze your fears.  Face those fears.  Make a move offensively. Do it scared.  Just DO IT.

4. Do something unpredictable and vary your experiences.

If you only do what you know you can, you never do very much” ~ Tom Krause

Try something everyday that you’re not convinced you can do.  You’ll have one of two results:

1. You’ll do it, and now you’ll KNOW you can do it! You’ll be an ACTION HERO.

2. You won’t be able to do it, and now you’ll KNOW where you need to grow.  Your decision to grow will make you an ACTION HERO.  

Just like Sully Sullenberger relying on his glider experience, you may never know where your simple action will take you; OR how it may save the life of another. 

Remember, “…it is our humanity that tells us that we must DO something, and why we must do it”


Today is the day to define your life into

 “before” and “after”.

No matter what life throws at you, you can

 always be an

 ACTION HERO!

The Tricks and Treats of Staff Turnover


Happy Halloween!

Today is the day in America when we have come to expect more treats than tricks.  Tricks are fun sometimes, but treats are much more appreciated!

It is the same in business.  We’d much rather get treats than be tricked.  “Tricks” are the cause of employee turnover.   Staff turnover can be the worst, most expensive “trick” for any business.  Turnover realistically cannot be eliminated, but it can be reduced greatly when you provide staff with more “treats”

By treats, I don’t mean more money.  In a list below of 12 items that contribute to greater satisfaction on the job, adequate compensation is 10 on the list.  There are 9 other items that staff members view more valuable than pay. (Find the complete list at the end of this post) 

“The back office staff does not need training (staff meetings) because they just do what we tell them to do.  It is the front office team that can benefit from consistent conversations and idea sharing”.

The picture above depicts my reaction when I heard a doctor actually say the quote above.  (blood-curdling scream)

This was said by one of two partner doctors who I have discovered think very differently from each other, but who also think very differently than what experience has taught me will bring them the greatest success in business.

These business owners were inadvertantly playing “tricks” on their staff members by non-verbally making three statements:
1. “Your ideas are not necessary, and probably unrealistic”
2. “Your abilities are just not that important to your job”
3. “Your role in our business is to show up and shut up”

I also learned that salary increases were being made arbitrarily.  The senior partner (who handled payroll) would occasionally say to an employee “I’m giving you a raise”.  There was no further conversation.  No reason was given for the increase, and no explanation for the amount of the increase.  Because the senior partner had decided on a “cap” for salaries, this pay increase was very rare.

Besides the arbitrary pay increase, no employee had ever had a performance review at this practice.  There had been no protocol for either praising or disciplining employees.  There was no vision, no mission, no values to align with.

I could imagine a group of 6 people coming together, and an assignment being given “we’re going to build a house”.  Without any instruction, the work would begin.  How do you think the “house” would turn out? 

It had become very clear to me why the staff at this particular practice were not communicating well with each other, nor well with their patients.  I also understood why the competence level seemed so low–there was no set criteria for a level of competence.  Even if there had been, without feedback and performance review, how would you ever know if you were measuring up?

The unspoken rule in this workplace was, “Do your job, get paid, and don’t try to improve anything.”

If this practice would just incorporate 3 “treats” into the character of their employee communication standard, the practice would have greater productivity, increased teamwork, and greater profit.

1. Have a written personnel policy manual stating expectations, protocols and communication standards.
2. Develop a written job description for each team member–highlighting the strengths and abilities needed to perform up to the defined standard.
3. Provide opportunities for training and collaboration to enhance a sense of ownership.

These changes won’t happen overnight–especially when expectations are introduced.  There will be some resistance.  However, those who resist a better work environment, better communication, and accountability are probably not the employees who are loyal anyway.  These are the types of employees who play “tricks” on their employers.   Let them go!

If you are an employer, and identify any of these characteristics in yourself, think about your outcomes.  Are you making the profit you’d like to?  Are you happy with the performance of your employees?  Do you recognize that a change may be the difference between success and failure?

“Oh, Bee-have”! says Jackie the Bee.
When you “bee”have like a leader, you will have greater success in business!


Based on surveys by Bent Eriksen & Associates of hundreds of staff members, here is what employees indicate would contribute to their productivity and sense of satisfaction on the job (“treats”):

1.     Ethically sound business principles and quality services. 
2.     A consistent and fair management style where policies are friendly, frank, fair and firm, consistently applied and clearly explained in writing.
3.     A pleasant and harmonious work environment with minimum stress. 
4.     Adequate facility, instruments, tools, equipment and supplies. 
5.     Competent, supportive and compatible team members. 
6.     Assistance in learning: to become more skilled, develop communication skills, make decisions and take initiative. 
7.     Clearly defined job responsibilities and expectations. 
8.     Recognition as an individual and as a team member. 
9.     Knowledge that their efforts are being appreciated and that inadequate work performance will not be tolerated.
10.  Adequate compensation and benefits. 
11.  Evaluation and feedback by the employer.
12.  Worthwhile staff meetings.

Art Without a Frame

Washington Post Staff Writer, Gene Weingarten shared a story in the Sunday edition on April 8, 2007.


It seems that on the morning of January 12th, 2007, Joshua Bell stepped into the L’Enfant Plaza of the Washington DC Metro station and offered a free concert to commuters there.  Wearing jeans and a baseball cap, he stood against a wall near a trash can and played his violin.   

Most of the commuters in the station that morning were mid-level bureaucrat federal workers with titles like, policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, and/or consultant.   Evidently none of these well-educated, skilled people knew the impressive title of Joshua Bell

Knowing the man playing the violin that morning was an “American Grammy Award-winning violinist“, or “one of the finest classical musicians in the world” may have caused the commuters to pause and listen.  Maybe the fact that Joshua Bell plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin would have, at least, aroused curiosity in the people who walked by while he played that day in the station.  And surely, once a musician of such caliber begins to play a piece of music like “Chaconne” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor (which has been called, “not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history“), people would take notice, stop and listen, and drink in the magnificent sound.

But that IS NOT what happened.  According to the article, Mr. Weingarten reports that, in the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.  $32 for a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.

You may read the entire Washington Post story here: Pearls Before Breakfast

Following this experiment, Joshua Bell said, “at a music hall, I’ll get upset if someone coughs or if someone’s cellphone goes off.  But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change.” 

Before he began, Bell hadn’t known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.

It wasn’t exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies,” he says. “I was stressing a little.”

Bell has played before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?

When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .

Joshua Bell was, in short, art without a frame.


I was reminded of this story because of an experience I recently heard about – a story that has very similar outcomes to Joshua Bell’s story. 

It seems that a business owner hired “Mack”, a talented consultant, whom the business owner had met before.  The business owner had personally witnessed Mack’s strong work ethic and varied skills.  Mack was hired by the business owner to accomplish a very specific task in the business.

Mack accepted a position as an employee in the business – with the idea that once the specific task was completed successfully, the business owner would see the worth of Mack’s skills.  Mack wanted to be viewed as a consultant to this business owner, and they agreed that after a 90-day period working together, that the business owner would pay Mack closer to his professional rate and their relationship would move more toward a partnership and away from an employer/employee relationship.

Well, just as in the case of Joshua Bell, the business owner in Mack’s story did not understand the worth of Mack’s talent and skill.  Even though the specific project was successfully completed, Mack’s position as an employee was hard to shake.  After 90 days, the business owner did not renegotiate the terms of their relationship with Mack, and instead kept treating Mack as an employee – including wages well below Mack’s worth.

Mack, on the other hand, felt that if he kept providing examples of his talent, and continued to serve the business owner with the tools of his consulting knowledge, that the business owner would see the worth of his position as a consultant, and that Mack would be paid what he was worth.  Mack believed that it would surely work out in the end, and that this business owner would become a client instead of an employer.

But that IS NOT what happened.  Mack reports that, in the 22-months that he’s worked with this business, and has provided the company with “solutions to their greatest challenges, tools, resources and innovative ways to improve essential aspects of the business, and opportunities to have greater security and safety in the business“, Mack has been given a $1 an hour raise.   

Mack, like Joshua Bell is “Art Without A Frame”. 

This business owner, like the commuters in the DC Metro Station, can’t see the pearls before him.  Many of us don’t know the priceless opportunities before us, or the valuable relationships we have been blessed with  We get too busy to stop, listen and drink in the music and the talent around us.

Are you guilty of this? 
Are there people you work with who are pearls in their talents and abilities? 
Are there individuals that add to your life, your business, or your happiness that you have failed to notice or value? 

Are you a pearl? 
Are you someone who, for whatever reason is not being valued? 
If so, what can you do to change the situation? 
What could Joshua Bell have done? 
What could Mack have done?

The S in S.E.L.F. is for SACRIFICE

My last several posts have been about SACRIFICE.  I have been thinking about the way we learn leadership, and I’ve discovered that it is really about self-leading.  My new campaign is shown in this image:

For the short-term , I will be talking about these four areas of self-leadership:

  • SACRIFICE
  • EMPOWERMENT
  • LOVE
  • FRIENDSHIP

In my past posts, I have given examples of BIG ways people have sacrificed for others…..
Sacrifice, Seeds and Starvation
Sacrifice and Heroism
The #1 Characteristic of Exceptional Leaders

Today, is a personal experience.  No heroics, just personal sacrifices I’ve made toward becoming a better leader.

In his Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith tell us,….a religion that does not require the sacrifice
of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary
unto life
….”

Sacrifice of all things.  That’s pretty big.  This doesn’t just apply to religion, though.  Religion is something we are accountable to; but we are accountable to ourselves as well–perhaps even more.  Therefore, WE must sacrifice all things if we want to have sufficient power to produce faith unto life.

In my journey toward leadership, I have sacrificed much.  Facing fears of rejection, humiliation, friends, even family relationships required sacrifice.  When I decided to break the silence of childhood abuse many years ago, I sacrificed all of these things and more.

I have sacrificed my own desires many times because of my loyalty to an employer, an organization, even my church and family.  These sacrifices have NOT weakened me.  They have empowered me.  I have not lost who I am, but I have been able to find who I am.  Sacrifice.

On July 1st, 2010 I began serving as one of the top three leaders in a non-profit organization. This organization was Toastmasters International, and I was the third in charge of roughly 3500 members as the Lt.Governor Marketing for District 2. 

On July 1st, 2011 I had moved up one seat, and served as the Lt. Governor Education and Training.  By July 1st, 2012 I was the head honcho, the big cheese, the lady in charge of District 2.  I was the District Governor.  Yikes!  I thought I had been working hard the two previous years; but because I never do anything less than 100%, I charged in full speed and set out to motivate and lead a team of about 75 volunteers in this very large organization.

What did I sacrifice for leadership? 

  • Sleep
  • Meals
  • Vacations
  • Blogging
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Career advancements
  • Income
  • Client relationships
  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Time spent with family

I’m not complaining, because I’m VERY glad I took on the challenge to lead in the Toastmaster organization.  I don’t believe that I would have had the opportunity to learn the leadership lessons I did any other way.  I had the chance to be the CEO of an organization with 3500 + “employees”.  Wow!  And did I mention that every minute of it was voluntary?  I was never paid anything.

With all the sacrificing it took to lead District 2, I never sacrificed my integrity, my religious beliefs, or my self-respect.  Nor did I ever compromise on the goals I set out to accomplish. 

I did not meet all the benchmarks that I wanted to as District Governor, but I left District 2 stronger and better than when it was put in my charge.  I’m happy with that.

The sacrifices I made gave me power sufficient to produce necessary
results. 


What have YOU sacrificed?

 What power have YOU been able to produce because of your sacrifice?

The #1 Characteristic of Exceptional Leaders

Navigating your fishbowl and defining your leadership ability requires 4 skills:

  • Sacrifice
  • Empowerment
  • Love
  • Friendship

The last few blog posts have been about Sacrifice. Please see the previous posts:

Sacrifice, Seeds and Starvation

Sacrifice and Heroism

Leaders must sacrifice.  Following are examples of the way others have Sacrificed:

Transplant recipient struggles to go on after brother’s death


Miki Endo warned others of a dangerous tsunami


Dog dies saving drunken owner from oncoming train


These are stories of people and animals who have sacrificed their own lives and/or safety for others.  I don’t share these stories to suggest that leaders must be heroes.  All of us are put into positions of leadership at one time or another, and rarely do we have opportunity to be heroic.

However, I share these stories because the characteristic of sacrifice is important to be an exceptional leader.  Inspiring others can come only through self-sacrifice.

¤ “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ” Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)

¤ “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the courage to surpass others at whatever cost, but the courage to serve others at whatever the cost.”  Arthur Ashe (1943-1993)

¤ “Getting what you want is not nearly as important as giving what you have.” Tom Krause (born 1957)

True leaders sacrifice because they care about the success of those they lead.

What sacrifices have you, or other leaders made?