Dealing with Angry Employees: 4 Tips for Managers

LearnHowtoSupervisePeopleandDealwithCommonEmployeeComplaintsWe’ve never heard a manager grouse about a shortage of employee complaints. We’ve heard a few moan about how to handle those complaints, however.  

Whether it’s concerns over schedules, disputes over job assignments or just disputes with co-workers, these conversations can get heated from time to time.

What should managers do when a normal interaction gets hot and turns into an argument?

They can try these four steps to keep a discussion cool:

1. Let the person vent

AngryEmployee_350Managers should show empathy by saying something like, “I’d be upset too if I was dealing with this” or “I get why you’re frustrated about the situation.”

Important: Don’t take the anger personally. They’re just venting about a problem.

It’s also best to try not to interrupt while they’re venting. Listen to the key points while they’re getting it off their chest.

2. Repeat after me

Once he or she is done speaking, the manager should paraphrase and repeat back what they think they heard.

Example: “If I heard you correctly, the problem is X and you need Y done about it.”

This prevents any further miscommunication and lets the employee know the manager’s really listening.

3. Be real

There may not be an easy solution that managers can come up with right away.

So the supervisor should ask them what kind of resolution the employee’d like in the meantime.problemsolving-300x225

It may be an easy fix that satisfies them for the time being, such as getting another department “off their backs” on a group project.

If managers can’t facilitate the request, the boss should explain why.

4. If necessary, end it

With the vast majority of the human population, these steps will defuse the situation.

But there are always a few folks who won’t calm down and act rationally.

The manager can respond with something like this: “I can’t continue talking if you won’t calm down. Maybe we can discuss this later.”

If that doesn’t do the trick, the supervisor needs to end it then and there – a good tactic is to stand up, which normally indicates a conversation is ending. If that doesn’t work, sometimes the manager simply needs to leave the room.


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Resolving Conflict Situations

If you waitTo manage conflict effectively you must be a skilled communicator. That includes creating an open communication environment in your unit by encouraging employees to talk about work issues. Listening to employee concerns will foster an open environment. Make sure you really understand what employees are saying by asking questions and focusing on their perception of the problem.

Whether you have two employees who are fighting for the desk next to the window or one employee who wants the air-conditioning on and another who doesn’t, your immediate response to conflict situations is essential. Here are some tips you can use when faced with employees who can’t resolve their own conflicts.

  • Acknowledge that a difficult situation exists. Honesty and clear communication play an important role in the resolution process. Acquaint yourself with what’s happening and be open about the problem.Keep your head down
  • Let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged.
  • Define the problem. What is the stated problem? What is the negative impact on the work or relationships? Are differing personality styles part of the problem? Meet with employees separately at first and question them about the situation.
  • Determine underlying need. The goal of conflict resolution is not to decide which person is right or wrong; the goal is to reach a solution that everyone can live with. Looking first for needs, rather than solutions, is a powerful tool for generating win/win options. To discover needs, you must try to find out why people want the solutions they initially proposed. Once you understand the advantages their solutions have for them, you have discovered their needs.
  • Find common areas of agreement, no matter how small:
    • Agree on the problem
    • Agree on the procedure to follow
    • Agree on worst fears
    • Agree on some small change to give an experience of success
  • Find solutions to satisfy needs:
    • Problem-solve by generating multiple alternatives
    • Determine which actions will be taken
    • Make sure involved parties buy into actions. (Total silence may be a sign of passive resistance.) Be sure you get real agreement from everyone.
  • Determine follow-up you will take to monitor actions. You may want to schedule a follow-up meeting in about two weeks to determine how the parties are doing.
  • Conflict resolution (2)Determine what you’ll do if the conflict goes unresolved. If the conflict is causing a disruption in the department and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. A senior member of staff may be able to offer other insights on solving the problem. In some cases the conflict becomes a performance issue, and may become a topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.

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7 Elements of a Strong Work Ethic

Have you ever tried to do business with someone who didn’t seem to take pleasure in the job, or care? Perhaps you didn’t go back to this person because you didn’t like the way you were treated, or lacked confidence in that business as a whole.First_Impressions

Did you then spread the word to others about your bad experience?

When you own your own business, “bad press” like this can affect your bottom line and your reputation. The solution is to foster and maintain a strong work ethic. A strong work ethic energizes you and your employees to face your challenges head-on, be your best and keep you at the top of your game.

Here are the seven key components of a rock-solid work ethic.

1. Professionalism

SleepingBeing professional involves everything from how you dress and present yourself in the business world to the way you treat others. Professionalism is such a broad category, in fact, that it basically encompasses all the other elements of a strong work ethic.

2. Respectfulness

You display grace under pressure: No matter how tight the deadline or heated the tempers, you always remain poised and diplomatic. Whether you’re serving a customer, meeting with a client or collaborating with colleagues, you do your best to respect everyone’s opinions, especially under trying circumstances. This shows you value people’s individual worth as well as their professional contributions.

3. Dependability

You can be relied on to keep your promises. You are always on time and prepared for meetings, and deliver your work on schedule and on budget. Your reputation for reliability precedes you because you’ve proven over time that customers, clients and colleagues can trust you to do everything you say you will. In an uncertain world, your customers, colleagues and clients will appreciate the stability you embody.

4. Dedication

You don’t stop until the job is done, and done right. “Good enough” is not good enough for you and your team. You aim for “outstanding” in everything you do. You put in the extra hours to get things right, giving attention to detail and devotion to excellence. Your passion shows in how hard you work and the results you achieve.

5. Determination

You don’t let obstacles stop you, and enthusiastically embrace challenges like a mountain climber who ascends higher and higher until the summit is reached. You know that your job as an entrepreneur is to solve your clients’ problems, and you resolve to continually seek better and more innovative answers. With purpose and resilience, you push ahead, no matter how far you have to go.

6. Accountability

You take personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes in every situation, and avoid making excuses when things don’t go as planned. You admit your mistakes and use them as learning experiences so you won’t make the same ones again. You also expect your employees to meet the same high standards, and support those who accept responsibility instead of blaming others.

7. Humility

Ethics 1 (2)You acknowledge everyone’s contributions, and freely share credit for accomplishments. You show gratitude to colleagues who work hard, and appreciation to your loyal clients. You have integrity in spades, and are open to learning from others, even as you teach people through your words, actions and example. And, while you always take your work seriously, you strive always to maintain a sense of humor about yourself.


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14 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Your Job

habitsWe all have bad habits. Perhaps you procrastinate, gossip, or lack punctuality.  These negative behaviors don’t necessarily make you a terrible person – but as an employee they can reflect poorly upon you, and even cost you your job.

photo_1378001325911-14-HD“A single bad habit is not likely to get you fired immediately, but the cumulative effect of the bad habit over time can,” says Dr. Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin and author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. “People might notice one bad habit, and it preps them to notice other faults or problems.” Also, she adds, a bad habit can lead to isolation or shunning in the office, which can affect everything from your performance evaluation to your ability to do your job.

Rick Myers, the founder and chief executive of Talent Zoo, a site for marketing, advertising, and digital professionals, agrees that bad habits can destroy one’s career – but he says the “most unfortunate part is that people rarely realize they have these habits.”

“One of the best pieces of advice to give to someone who wants to advance in their company is to become more self-aware and be sure they are practicing habits that will be of value to the company,” he says.

Here are 14 bad habits that can cost you your job:

Internet-Procrastination-Intro1Procrastination.  “This habit can seriously hurt you in a work setting,” Brooks says.  “If you’re one of those folks who believes that you do your best work at the last-minute and put off projects or assignments until the day (or hour) before they’re due, you may not be aware of the impact your habit is having on your co-workers.”  If your last-minute rush requires others to work quickly, you will likely anger them, and you’ll be the first one blamed when a project fails or isn’t completed on time.

Lying.  Misrepresenting your credentials or intentionally plagiarizing, lying on time sheets or billable hours, misusing expense accounts or abusing company credit cards, stealing the kudos for a co-workers’ accomplishments, or otherwise robbing your employers blind can all cost you your job.

“The surest way for any of us to bring our career to a sudden and miserable end is to have the habit of hedging the truth and lying in ways small and large,” says Ann Kaiser Stearns, Ph.D., psychologist and best-selling author of Living Through Personal Crisis (Idyll Arbor Press, 2010). “Dishonesty is a slippery slope with a devastating crash waiting at the end,” she adds. “Whether we work in business or banking, academia or the army, publishing or philanthropy, housing or health care, the marketplace or the ministry, if we lack integrity and betray our employer, we don’t deserve to keep our jobs.”

Negativity. So many of us habitually gossip, whine or complain. But do any of these too often and your job could be on the line. “These all lead to the same end result: you become a headache for your manager,” says Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo. “Your boss is likely responsible for ensuring her teams are contributing to positive morale and anyone on the team who is counterproductive to that reflects poorly on her,” she adds. “Negative employees are often referred to as ‘cancer’ by upper management for good reason: they will eventually be cut out.” A good approach if you have a complaint is to speak with your manager directly, in private.  Never drum up your co-workers for support first.

If you constantly arrive late to work, or return late from breaks, it displays an attitude of complacency and carelessness, says Roxanne Peplow, business career program instructor and student services advisor at Computer Systems Institute. “So be prompt or even a bit early to show that you are time conscious and that you do care about your job and other people’s time, as well.”

LateHoover agrees. “Whether you intend to or not, arriving late shows disrespect to the social contract of the office place, as well as your co-workers who do make an effort to arrive one time.”

Poor e-mail communication.  This can involve everything from not responding to e-mails to not being aware of how you come across in an e-mail.  “You might be perceived as abrupt or rude, or too long-winded or wordy,” Brooks says. If you have a bad habit of taking too long to check or respond to e-mails, you could miss important meetings or deadlines, cause delays or confusion, or come off as unprofessional.

Signs-of-social-media-addictionSocial media addiction. Another common path to job loss is the habitual obsession that many employees have with social media, Stearns says. “If you said going on Facebook 20 times a day doesn’t interfere with your work, you’d be lying.” Some companies have taken measures to monitor or limit their employees’ social media use, while others have blocked these sites completely. So beware: spending too much time on social media or other websites not related to your work can cost you your job.

Bad body language habits. Do you routinely roll your eyes? Do you have a weak handshake? Do you avoid making eye contact? These could all be career killers. “People must understand that actions speak louder than words,” Peplow says. “And the majority of our communication is done through non-verbal cues.” Co-workers, managers or clients may perceive some of your non-verbal communication habits as rude or unprofessional – and these things could eventually have a significant impact on the advancement of your career.

Inattentiveness.  If you’re always distracted – a bad habit that plenty of employees possess – you might fail to properly assess the culture of the workplace, which can be damaging to your career.  “Each workplace has its own culture and style, whether it’s the official or unofficial dress code, the social atmosphere, or the official and unofficial hierarchy,” Brooks says. “Failure to observe the culture and fit in can create tension or mark you as different, and potentially less desirable.”

You’ll also want to be aware of personal habits that might be offensive or distracting to co-workers. “Working in an office setting demands that you be sensitive to co-workers and not behave in a manner which distracts them from their work or makes their work setting uncomfortable,” she adds. “This can run the range from body odor, bringing strong-smelling food to your cubicle, playing music too loudly, telling inappropriate jokes, or using your speaker-phone to make calls.”

GrammerPoor grammar. “When you hear someone using poor grammar, slang, or profanity, it translates into believing that person to be uneducated,” says Peplow. Remind yourself that you are not at home, or speaking with friends at a social gathering.  Be on point by always assuming that your boss is in earshot.

Lone wolf syndrome.  Have a habit of always wanting to do things on your own? That won’t work in the office. “While independence is good in some situations or when concentration is needed to get a project done, generally people who are team players experience more success at work,” Brooks says. “Team-playing involves a lot of positive behaviors including giving credit where it is due (that is, not taking credit for work which a colleague did), helping others when possible, doing tasks that aren’t necessarily in your job description, et cetera.” If you’re not seen as a team player, you won’t have the support of your colleagues when problems arise.

huge.28.143023Temper tantrums. If you lose your temper, it is assumed that you cannot work well under pressure or handle responsibilities well, Peplow says. “Practice stress reduction techniques like mediation or deep breathing exercises, and never bring personal problems to work.”


Inefficiency. Bad habits like disorganization, wasting time, and being too talkative can make you an extremely inefficient worker. “You may not realize it, but many of your co-workers are there to work, not socialize, and they may not want to be rude to you by breaking off from personal conversations,” Hoover says. You don’t want to become the person your colleagues avoid working with–so, keep the water cooler talk to a minimum, keep your desk organized and don’t spend too much time on non-work-related tasks.

Speaking without thinking. If you’ve got ‘foot-in-mouth’ syndrome, you must control it in the workplace. Saying something inappropriate in a meeting or an e-mail can be detrimental to your career.

Lack of manners. “The most important things are what we learned when we were little,” Peplow says. When you ask for something, say ‘please.’  When someone gives you something, say ‘thank you.’ If you don’t know someone, introduce yourself.  If you need to interrupt someone, say ‘excuse me.’  “Manners are important, so don’t be rude.  And above all, if you don’t have something nice to say…don’t say anything at all,” she says.please_thankyou

These are just a few bad habits that can cause you to be fired, turned down for a job offer, or looked over for that promotion, Peplow says. “Take a look at yourself and ask others about your habits.” And if you do receive any feedback, take it seriously, Brooks adds. “Try to listen to the concern, and take some time to own it without defensively dismissing it.”

“Much of this comes down to communication,” Hoover concludes. “We all have little annoying habits, and top-down communication is really key [in making employees aware of their bad habits]. From there, it’s up to the individual to correct them.”


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3 HR Trends That Are Becoming Best Practices

In today’s business world, the only constant is change – especially when it comes to HR. The human resources department of yesterday, largely focused on mitigating compliance and employee-related issues, is long gone.

Where is HR headedJason Averbrook, CEO of the Marcus Buckingham Company, explains here:

“A hundred years later, a lot of organizations are still running HR that same way; focusing on risk, focusing on compliance, focusing on the transactional side of it, but there’s a whole new era, and things like unions and pensions and transparency of the workplace have changed.”

As today’s workplace becomes increasingly transparent, more technologically advanced and less confined to titles and cubicle walls, HR will have to do the same.

Here are some of today’s growing HR norms and how to embrace those norms in order to grow and succeed as a department and as a company:

1. A new business partner

Human resources professionals no longer function behind the scenes. In fact, their in-depth knowledge of the workforce has made them invaluable members of the team, especially when it comes to the decision-making process.


levate HR to the boardroom

A July CareerBuilder survey of 88 leaders at companies with revenue of at least $50 million revealed that a majority of CEOs (65 percent) agree that HR opinions carry greater weight with senior management. What’s more, 73 percent say that their HR leader has provided data that they have incorporated into their business strategy.

What sparked this shift in the CEO-human resources relationship?

Business leaders are beginning to realize the unique insight that comes from HR and the role it plays in strategic business planning. Human resource leaders make ideal business partners because they have insight that no one else in the company has: insight into individual employees and the workforce as a whole.

HR interacts with employees on a daily basis and understands where their strengths and shortcomings lie. This enables them to provide valuable recommendations on things such as skills shortages, succession planning, employee performance and satisfaction – the list goes on.

How to embrace: Allow HR leaders to assist in making internal business decisions by inviting them to offer the “human” perspective – how changes will affect your company’s employees. Including them in these discussions will give leadership the insight they need to make important internal decisions.

2. A new way of looking at things

To provide business leaders with insight they can apply toward overall strategy, HR professionals need to effectively and efficiently assess employees. To do that, they need to embrace the big data trend with open arms.HR trends

An overwhelming 90 percent of CEOs say it’s important that HR leaders be proficient in workforce analytics, with 35 percent saying it’s “absolutely essential,” according to the aforementioned CareerBuilder survey – and that’s saying something.

How to embrace: Use workforce analytic tools like employee engagement and satisfaction surveys, 360-degree review software, and social media to make it easy to track, analyze and share people data that is crucial to the company’s bottom-line.

3. A new helping hand

Human resources software is on the rise. So much so that 53 percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees plan to invest in HR software this year, according to a 2015 study by The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit.

The automation of everyday processes has made headache-inducing tasks much less painful. Where HR is concerned, automation has literally put the human back in human resources by freeing up more time to spend strategizing with the company’s leadership, finding and securing top talent and working with employees.

How to embrace: Identify which processes or tasks take up the most time and would benefit the most from automation – maybe its new hire on boarding or payroll. Whatever it is, choose a system that seamlessly integrates with other HR processes.

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The 5 Most Common Unethical Behaviors in the Workplace

Each day roughly 120 million people walk into a workplace somewhere in the United States. Within the past year, almost half of these workers personally witnessed some form of ethical misconduct, according to a recent survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Ethics Resource Center (ERC).shutterstock_77554009

We are not talking about workers being privy to the CFO committing fraud. More likely, it’s someone who lied to a supervisor or handed in a false expense report. Listed below, according to the ERC study, are the five most frequently observed unethical behaviors in the U.S. workplace.

  1. Misusing company time

4d5801ece16f7e601143c0dbfcb5c6b4a1Whether it is covering for someone who shows up late or altering a time sheet, misusing company time tops the list. This category includes knowing that one of your co-workers is conducting personal business on company time. By “personal business” the survey recognizes the difference between making cold calls to advance your freelance business and calling your spouse to find out how your sick child is doing.

  1. Abusive behavior

Too many workplaces are filled with managers and supervisors who use their position and power to mistreat or disrespect others. Unfortunately, unless the situation you’re in involves race, gender or ethnic origin, there is often no legal protection against abusive behavior in the workplace. To learn more, check out the Workplace Bullying Institute.

  1. Employee theft

The other dayAccording to a recent study by Jack L. Hayes International, one out of every 40 employees in 2012 was caught stealing from their employer. Even more startling is that these employees steal on average 5.5 times more than shoplifters ($715 vs $129). Employee fraud is also on the uptick, whether its check tampering, not recording sales in order to skim, or manipulating expense reimbursements. Ethical alert: The FBI recently reported that employee theft is the fasting growing crime in the U.S. today.

  1. Lying to employees

The fastest way to lose the trust of your employees is to lie to them, yet employers do it all the time. One of out every five employees report that their manager or supervisor has lied to them within the past year.

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Conducting Personal Business on Company Time


There are 24 hours in a day of which a typical employee spends a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of that time at work, at least 4 to 5 hours sleeping and the rest of the hours is spent trying to deal with personal business. This makes it difficult for employees to keep their personal business away from company time. They are tempted to set up doctor’s appointment with the company’s phone lines, use the office internet to catch up on the latest news, shop, book hotel reservations or pay a few bills. Even when they are physically at work, some employees are seen taking longer lunch breaks, chatting with colleagues, using the company’s printer to print out personal documents or leaving early to pick up a child at school.

Using photocopier (2)

At first glance, it is safe to say that employers will view these acts as a breach of work ethics, an abuse of the employer’s trust, an aberration that needs to be eradicated, however, a deeper insight will take anyone on a longer route. This is where the saying ‘everything is not black or white’ applies. There are fifty shades of grey that can be found in this ethical issue. What does a company do when an employee has been called away from work because of a sick child or when an employee needs to print out a copy of his/her international passport to process a visa. One way an employee can toe the ethical line is to check with his/her manager or human resources supervisors to clarify what counts as a violation in the company. Yet, this is simply not possible in every situation.

The truth of the matter is that for an average employee, mixing work and personal time may be the best way to solve the issue of work/life balance. Times are changing and people’s attitude to work is that work is something you do, not a place or a set of hours; something one should enjoy and not a burden. According to Professor Stewart Friedman at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and founding director of the Work/Life Integration Project, allowing employees to openly take breaks during the workday to perform personal tasks can result in higher productivity.

Ethics must

Friedman suggest that giving employees time for taking care of personal business helps employees focus better on their job as thinking about personal tasks while at work interferes with one’s ability to focus on work tasks. He further argued that to create a result-driven work-force, employers should focus more on results rather than the time spent at work, after all, an employee who consistently produces result is far worthier than an employee who fails to produce result but is always at work from 9 to 5.

In addition, it is obvious that we have moved to a technological advanced age as an average employee knows how to operate a system and surf the web. We presently live in an interconnected world whereby checking one’s mail or surfing the net for a few minutes is a part of everyday life and trying to curb it by imposing blockades is mere futility. Instead, Friedman propose that employers consider the job requirement and determine the amount of work-life balance that may be needed. For instance, a retail business might require physically present employees whilst some businesses measure productivity in the output of the mind and not the quantity of work done.

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Yet, the question is: when is it okay to allow employees to perform personal tasks and at what stage does it become highly costly to the organization? What has to be determined is what is reasonable in each circumstances as what is reasonable will vary from job to job, so no one rule can apply across the board.

To arrive at what is reasonable, it is advisable to give employees the flexibility to decide what works for them and what will make them more productive long term. As Friedman says “It’s harder to be psychologically present when you’re distracted by the demands of other parts of your life”. Therefore, employers should discuss the options with their employees, empower them and give them the chance to discuss and agree on what is acceptable and reasonable and the consequences for stepping over that line. This way, employers kill 3 birds with one stone as they get employees’ cooperation, their psychological presence at work and also an agreed disciplinary measure to counter bad habits.

However, once this is done, employers must not sit on their laurels but instead, ensure adequate policing of the system as people tend to waiver in their commitment. Employers must have consistent and regular dialog with employees to ensure that they are self-aware of what they are doing and what the company expects from them. More so, employers should not be scared to hold the line by disciplining errant employees who go against the laid down rules regarding this issue. After all, people are paid to work and not handle their personal business; allowing employees to enjoy a work-life integration therefore is a privilege, not a right to be abused.

Professor Stewart Friedman: Integrating Work and Life: The Wharton Resource Guide, Published in 1998 (ISBN 0-78794-022-4).

Are You Learning Everyday?

© Copyright Marcia Zidle

Jack Nichlaus was asked if there are really talented golfers who never make it. “Oh, hundreds of them”, he replied. “A lot of people out there are more talented than I am and yet, through the years, I’ve passed them by. That’s because I never was satisfied with my game. I was learning new shots every single day.”


It’s up to you to make sure you are continually improving, growing, and learning every day. It’s up to you to make sure you never go out of style! It’s up to you to take charge of your professional development. Here’s how.

1. Have a learning perspective.

Be on the lookout for teachable moments. Approach each learning experience, whether you want to be there or not, with the questions: What can I learn? What one or two things can I take away that I can use immediately? Who else would find value in this learning?

2. Benchmark your skills periodically.

Do it at least once a year. For those in a fast moving profession or industry every three months may be required. In other words, what’s in your work portfolio? Is it filled with skills or competencies that are up-to-date and sought after? Or, is it filled with skills which are obsolete and not very portable?

3. Create a learning plan.

Pinpoint specific skills and knowledge that you need to acquire or up-grade. Then identify the professional development activities that are available to you. They can include mentor relationships, special assignments at work, in-house and public seminars, professional conferences, on-line courses, university education, books, journals, blogs, etc.

Are you learning every day?

I hope so. If not, you may find yourself a professional dinosaur…out of touch, out of skills and out of work. Just as a company invests in its own research and development, you need to invest in your own career growth and development. Remember, as you never outgrow your need for milk, you never outgrow your need for professional development.

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Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

– Posted by Andreea Hrab on eSkill blog

Harassment and discrimination complaints are among the most sensitive and difficult issues for HR professionals to handle. When a harassment or discrimination complaint is made, the HR department must act quickly and professionally to resolve the matter in a way that’s satisfactory to the employee presenting the complaint and protects the company from possible litigation.

One of the more difficult aspects of these kinds of complaints is confidentiality. Private information communicated by an employee to the HR department must be kept confidential. At the same time, if an employee comes forth with a harassment or discrimination complaint, steps must be taken to investigate the claim. And this may mean having to disclose some of the employee’s confidential information.

What if an employee makes a claim of harassment or discrimination, but asks that no action be taken to investigate it? This presents quite a challenge, since, while you must consider the employee’s request, you also have a responsibility to the company and to all of the employees to fully investigate any and all complaints. And even if it’s requested, HR shouldn’t promise complete confidentiality, since investigating the complaint usually means involving other employees and managers. You should let the employee know that the HR department is responsible for investigating the complaint, not only in order to resolve the issue at hand, but also to help others who may be having similar experiences. However, you can assure the employee that confidential information will only be shared on an absolute need-to-know basis.

One of the most sensitive complaints is that of sexual harassment. The HR department must make sure that employees feel they can come forward if they feel they have been sexually harassed at any point, and to treat these complaints with the utmost sensitivity, confidentiality, and professionalism.

You also need to make sure that no discrimination occurs because an employer wishes to avoid potential sexual harassment complaints. For instance, an employer in a traditionally male-dominated industry such as construction, mining, or drilling, may be wary of hiring female workers for fear of facing sexual harassment complaints that could arise from a woman in an all-male environment. HR must tread carefully here, since not hiring women for this or any reason is considered discrimination and is illegal according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), because it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.*

Discrimination and harassment are harmful to employees and to the company. One of the most important tasks for HR is to work to prevent these types of complaints, and, if and when they occur, to know exactly how to handle them.



To help avoid these kinds of problems, HR departments should consider taking the following preventative actions.

  • Establish a clear harassment policy. Developing and distributing a company policy on discrimination and harassment to all employees, perhaps as part of their on-boarding and in their employee handbooks, will make it clear that the company will not tolerate discrimination or harassment, that every claim will be investigated fully, and that wrongdoers will face severe consequences, including termination.
  • Set up clear procedures. Establish a clear procedure for filing complaints, so that employees know exactly what to do if they are faced with such a situation. Also, it’s important to clearly outline a process for investigating and resolving complaints.
  • Train employees, supervisors, and managers. It’s critical that all of the company’s employees know they have the right to work in an environment that’s free from discrimination and harassment, and that they fully understand the company’s policies on these issues.



If a discrimination or harassment complaint is filed, there are several things that HR departments should do.

  • Really listen to the employee filing the complaint, without judgment.
  • Don’t dismiss the complaint simply because you don’t think the type of behavior described is possible or could be happening at your company.
  • Recognize that a complaint could involve harassment and/or discrimination based on a number of factors such as gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Take all complaints seriously; even if the employee has made complaints in the past. Each and every complaint should be taken seriously.
  • Never retaliate against the accuser –it is against EEOC law*. Forms of retaliation can include demotion, pay cuts, different treatment, termination, etc.
  • Keep the complaint confidential and only share information when and with whom it is absolutely necessary.
  • Take action quickly, and begin an investigation as soon as the complaint is filed.
  • Conduct a thorough investigation of any complaint, by interviewing the parties involved and any potential witnesses, and gathering and examining evidence.
  • Keep a full record of the investigation, detailing the steps taken, interview results, and the final decisions made and actions taken.
  • Consider hiring an outside party to conduct the investigation, such as a law firm or consulting agency. Their experience can be useful especially when you are dealing with high-profile situations or when there’s a potential for criminal charges.
  • Enforce the appropriate disciplinary action if the investigation proves that the accused employee did in fact engage in discriminating or harassing behavior. This may range from a warning or suspension to termination of employment and/or criminal charges.

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* For relevance in Nigeria, replace with the applicable Nigerian Law (Employment and Labour Relations Act, 2004 Part II Sub Part C)

8 Ways Leaders Can Motivate Employees Beyond Money

– Martin Zwilling, Contributor


Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that their primary motivation is to “change the world” and to build something lasting, not to make a lot of money. But the conventional wisdom is that employees work for money, above all else. Yet my own experience, and a recent McKinsey survey, leads me to believe that non-cash motivators may be more effective in the long term than financial incentives.

I agree with Charles P. Garcia, who ties motivation most strongly to leadership, in his book “Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows,” based on this group of more than 600 prominent leaders from every sector of American society. They assert that employees value having strong leaders, who incent them to do their best, just as much if not more than money.

For action, he provides a list of principles for entrepreneurs and managers alike, derived from his first-hand discussions with some of the nation’s greatest leaders. We all need to learn from these as we rebuild employee morale following tough economic times, with limited budgets:

  1. Energize your team. Instead of being the type of leader who sucks the energy away from others, resolve to be the kind of leader who strives to bring passion and positive energy to the workplace every day. Your employees have just helped you pull your company through one of the nation’s worst economic periods. It’s time they had a source of positive energy.
  2. There’s more to life than work. Great leaders have deep reserves of physical, spiritual, and emotional energy, and that energy is usually fueled by a strong and supportive relationship with the people they love, regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and setting aside time for reflection.
  3. Put your people first. No organization is better than the people who run it. The fact is that you are in the people business—the business of hiring, training, and managing people to deliver the product or service you provide. If the people are the engine of your success, to be a great leader you need to attend to your people with a laser-like focus.
  4. Act with integrity. In a time when news reports are filled with the stories of private and public leaders who’ve acted inappropriately and have gone against the best interests of their employees or constituents, showing your employees that you value integrity can help motivate them and create a sense of pride for your organization.
  5. Be a great communicator. Leadership is influencing others, and this cannot be achieved without effective communication. If you’re struggling with communicating to your employees, first work on your ability to influence individuals by choosing words that are impactful to carry your message. Then you need to figure out how to communicate to a larger audience.
  6. Be a great listener. The most effective leaders are the ones who take the time to listen not just to their team members’ words but to the priceless hidden meaning beneath them. Remember that during good times and bad, sometimes your employees just need someone to talk to. Communicate to them that you are always waiting with open ears.
  7. Be a problem solver. Post a sign above your office door that reads, “Don’t Bring Me Problems. Bring Me Solutions.” Then set about the task of guiding each person on your team toward the goal of becoming a top-notch problem solver during this crucial period.
  8. Lead through experience and competence, not through title or position. Mentor your employees, encourage them, make partners out of them, and your organization is sure to benefit. If you want to survive the tough economy, that’s exactly the kind of leadership motif you need for your organization.

The fundamentals of leadership don’t change between good times and bad. But when money is in short supply, these principles can be the difference between success and failure. Now is the time to start motivating your employees by applying these principles, and your team will lead you through the hard times.

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