We have all encountered toxic people in our life – we may even live with one.Toxic people are everywhere – at work, at the grocery store, driving the car in the next lane, at a restaurant.
When we encounter these individuals out in public – we have the option to walk away and leave.However, when that toxic person works in the next cube or desk or is a member of a project team you collaborate with – the story changes.As an owner of a business or a manager/leader of employees it is your obligation to rid the work environment of toxicity.Easier said than done.The most important thing that you can do is acknowledge the behaviour and act.Toxic behaviour will breed and grow very quickly.
Firstly lets examine what constitutes toxic behaviour.Please note that conflict is not necessarily toxic – conflict in work groups if handled correctly can actually inspire great ideas.The most productive and idea driven teams have conflict – it’s how they deal with the conflict that counts.
Here are some behaviours that Toxic people exhibit –
* Negative or Bad attitude
* Drama and Gossip initiator
* Bullying or harassing behaviours towards co-workers
*Unprofessional/Inappropriate comments that make others uncomfortable
*Blame others when things go wrong – never accept any responsibility
If you have an employee who displays some or all of the above behaviours and other employees don’t want to work with them – you have a problem.Ignoring these behaviours will generate a toxic environment over time and you will end up losing good employees and possibly clients to your business.
Remember that there is a difference between a “difficult” employee and a “toxic” employee.Toxic employees tend to spread the behaviour to others – this is what makes them extra dangerous to your workplace and culture – they can suck the energy and enthusiasm out of an entire team.If left uncontrolled you could find the behaviour of others in the group mimicking the undesirable traits, people who were once polite and engaging will soon become negative and possibly toxic towards others.This is one behaviour in the workplace that you don’t want to ignore.
How can you deal with this behaviour?It starts with “due diligence” in the hiring process – try and identify if this behaviour exists at the interview stage.No matter how much experience someone has – if you identify behaviours during a job interview that don’t fit with your team and your company culture – DON’T HIRE THEM!It can be extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive (both $ cost and cost to the engagement of your team) to get rid of them later. By bringing on someone who is toxic and is not a good fit for your team – you risk losing some of your very valuable employees who will leave this type of work environment.
Once you become aware of the behaviour, as a leader, it is your responsibility to manage it.Identify the behaviour and look deeper – is there a reason for this person to be acting in this manner?Without asking personal questions – can you ascertain if there is a situation in their personal life?Divorce?Sick family member?Once you have had a conversation with them and nothing medical or family wise has been identified – it is time to start managing this situation.You will need to provide them “direct feedback”.Identify the behaviours that you are witnessing and how it is affecting the team.Very often these individuals are oblivious to their behaviour and how it affects others.Make them understand that you are concerned and are giving them an opportunity to change.Give them very specific goals that you expect them to meet and the consequences of not meeting the goals/timelines.This now becomes a Progressive Discipline situation and you need to ensure that you are documenting everything.If the situation doesn’t improve, you will be moving to termination and the documentation will be critical to that step.
If you have a toxic employee in your team and you need some assistance in dealing with the situation, please give us a call at 204-451-0111.We can provide you with the guidance that you require to deal with the individual.
We are half way through 2019 – have you sat down with your employees for a “mid year” discussion about their performance and their goals?Did you set goals with your employees at the beginning of the year?Do you have time set out for regular discussions about Performance and Goals with your team?Performance Management involves several steps not just a once a year meeting.
Remember Performance Reviews aren’t “one and done”!Although you may have a formal discussion once or twice a year – you should be having “informal” conversations regularly. Delivering effective Performance Reviews doesn’t come naturally to most leaders.As a matter of fact, most managers/leaders find it difficult to have this one on one meeting with their team members – it can feel like you are sitting “in judgement” of your employees.If you are stepping into a review feeling negative – take a step back and re-evaluate why you feel that way.Performance Reviews are a good time for you to connect with each of your team members and celebrate the successes and talk about how you could have handled the “misses” a little differently and set some goals to move forward.Keep in mind this meeting is NOT about you.This meeting is about your employee and setting goals for the next year that will set you both up for success.
Here are a few things to keep in mind during the meetings:
Aim for meetings in which the employee talks approximately 1/2 of the time.You can encourage this by asking questions; how do you feel things are going, what do you feel will be most challenging about the coming year, how do you define success/achievement in your current position, how can I be a better manager for you, do you feel that you receive enough feedback from me on a regular basis?
Be “present”!Avoid distractions.Schedule time in advance with your employee for the Performance Review.Give them time to prepare for the meeting.Find a quiet, private area to meet in.
The spirit in which you approach this conversation will make the difference in whether it is effective.This is a positive time for you to connect with your team!Start the meeting positive and always end on a positive note with a goal for the future.Don’t be afraid or uneasy about discussing “opportunities” with the employee.Part of getting better is recognizing missed opportunities, errors and ideas that went wrong.It’s good to talk about them, analyze what could have been done differently and make a plan for not repeating them.Remember – this isn’t a Discipline Meeting.This is not a time to bring up “bad” behaviours that need correcting.For example if the employee has bad attendance, but you have never spoken to them about it before – the Performance Review meeting is not the time to tell them they have 22 absences.You shouldn’t be telling them anything that they haven’t heard before.
If you have an underperforming employee – speak directly to the concerns and don’t mince words or they may not understand what you are telling them.Use examples and ask them if they see how they could have done things differently.Ensure that they understand what you are saying to them – if body language is showing they may not be understanding – ask them to repeat it back to you.
Be a great coach!Fight your urge to tell employees what or how to do something.Find a way to bring out their ideas for success.
Remember this is a conversation – not a speech from you.Invite dialogue from your employee.Conversation is the keyword when you define a performance review meeting. If you are doing all of the talking – the meeting becomes a lecture!
The Performance Management process for your company should not be something that you “google” and copy off the internet.It should be a practice that fits the culture of your company, the spirit of your employees and one that is easy and comfortable for both management and employees.If you are looking for a Performance Management process that “fits”your company and culture – let Romas HR Consulting help you define and build the process that works for your team.
I hope everyone reading this has checked out my previous Blog – Time Management – Log it and Analyze it.You truly cannot implement any real change without knowing and acknowledging the behaviours that require some change.Remember Time Management isn’t about trying to squeeze as many tasks as you can into a day – it’s about being thoughtful and organized and simplifying the way you work.
Who here is a multi-tasker and believes that they accomplish more in a day because of it?Although multi-tasking was a trend for a few years it is now believed to not be an efficient use of time.Psychology Today states:“Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.
For all the multi-taskers out there – try doing one task at a time.Give yourself a time limit and focus on only one task.If you generally tackle your emails while you are talking on the phone – stop doing it for a week.Carve out a piece of time – let your calls go to voice mail, shut your office door (if you work in an office) and just concentrate on emails.You will be amazed at how much you will accomplish in 10-15 minutes (with less errors). Since we are talking about emails –how have you organized your email?Do you fully utilize all of the features/tools?Consider setting up your email so that you have a few folders set up to transfer your emails into.Try not to touch an email more than once if you don’t have to – that rule goes for any correspondence.If you look at it and it can be completed in 3 or 4 minutes – do it.How many of you are guilty of reading emails as they come in and then leaving them in your inbox because you will deal with them later.All of a sudden you have 400 emails in your inbox all of which you have taken the time to read before – but now you have to read them again to act on them.Read an email – act.If what is being asked will require more time than you have set aside – file it in a follow up folder and add it on your to-do list.Get it out of your inbox.Your inbox should only contain emails that you have not yet read.Consider setting up your computer so that you don’t receive notifications of emails coming in.It is distracting and human nature makes us curious and we will be drawn to reading the emails as they come in – this is a time suck and removes your concentration from the task that you were working on. Set up certain times during the day that you read and respond to your emails – say first thing in the morning, before/or after your lunch, and the last hour before you leave for the day.
Let’s not complicate this; the idea here is easy:Organize/Simplify/Focus!
Organize your day with a “To Do” list, an app for tracking tasks or whatever works for you personally.How do you currently manage your days?Do you utilize any task apps or are you an old-fashion pen to paper “To Do” list type of person?There are “non-negotiable meetings that must be attended and there is work travel which eats up a lot of your time – but is there a way that you can manage those as well?If you company uses calendars to set up meetings and send out invites – ensure that your calendar is set up for your success.Block time in your calendar to complete admin/email/project tasks that are required – blocking these time slots avoids others booking meetings in your calendar.
Simplify – schedule “like” tasks together.If you are working on admin type stuff – schedule all your admin stuff together.If you have a group of meetings with your clients/staff/potential clients – block off time in your calendar and schedule within that time block.Doing “like” tasks together keeps your mind focused and you are able to accomplish more.Ifyou go from meeting to updating an excel spreadsheet to looking at the new product launch – your mind takes time to refocus and you will actually have more down time from switching tasks.
Focus – no multitasking.Focus on one item at a time and complete it.Set a timer if that helps you remain focused.Schedule your most important or “brain draining” tasks for first thing in the morning.That works well for 2 reasons; #1 generally we have more energy and operate at our peak first thing in the morning and #2 you will get the task completed and you will feel successful for having it done and that “good feeling” will create a positive vibe for the rest of the day.
Don’t forget before you go home at the end of the day – set up tomorrow’s list so you walk into work feeling organized and ready to conquer the day.Remember “google” can be your friend!If you don’t think you are utilizing the tools of your email program efficiently – google it and learn some tricks to help you with that.There is lots of information on the internet – use it.Watch a quick utube video on email efficiencies – you may learn a lot.
Don’t forget to take breaks!!!!!If you have just worked on a project for 2 hours and now are moving on to emails – get up and go for a quick walk, grab a coffee, shut your eyes and meditate for a few minutes, grab a healthy snack and then move on to your next task.Your mind and body need that break.
The key to Time Management is figuring out what works for you!Learn some tips and tricks from friends, coworkers or ask your friend “Siri” to help you out.You will be amazed what a difference incorporating a couple of Time Management tricks into your day can make.
What does Time Management mean to you? Do you even think in those terms when you plan your day? Do you even plan your day or do you let your day run you?
Time Management is defined as the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively.So … is that you!!!!Do you go home every day feeling accomplished and a To-Do List that has all the boxes checked off?Yes – I do, I do – said no one ever!!!!!!! There always seems to be more to do than time to do it.Time management affects everyone, not just managers/leaders or business owners.
The trick to time management really is just that “managing your time”.There are no shortage of experts or books on this subject.I am certainly no expert – but I can honestly say that I work at this.I am continually in search of better, more efficient ways to get my work completed.There is no right or wrong way – it’s what works for you and that is going to take trial and error.But you have to try.
The first thing that everyone should do is to figure out what they currently spend their time on.I think you will be totally amazed at whereyour “time sucks” are.Try an experiment for a week.Diligently log all of your activities for a week.Be honest – if you walk into your office in the morning and Brigit sits down and spends 1/2 hr telling you about her weekend – log it.Your the only one who is going to be looking a it.If you stay 3 hours overtime – log it.If you work through your lunch – log it.If you answer emails at night from home for an hour – log it.After one week – analyze it.
Do you notice any of the following:
– Do you jump from task to task?
– Is your day planned or do you put out fires most of the day?
– Do you spend time doing tasks that are not completed properly by others?
– How much of your time in your calendar is not controlled by you and is unavoidable – meetings/travelling
– Are you a multi-tasker?
– Do you have “notifications” turn on for your emails?
– Do you read emails immediately as they come in?
– Do you work through the day without taking time for breaks or lunch?
– Do you spend time looking for documents or notes because your desk is messy or you are disorganized in your filing?
– Did you notice that there is a time of the day when you are more productive?
This experiment is not meant to make you feel guilty for not being very productive or for having bad habits.It is simply giving you the power of information.Once you have this information it is up to you what you want to do with it.You can look at it and say “I’m doing the best I can and there is nothing that I am willing to change” or you might want to change everything. Now I personally don’t suggest that you do either of those.You should always look for ways to improve and even if you pick one item to do differently that’s a good start.I also don’t suggest that you change everything.Baby steps – look at changing 2 or 3 items first.Once your comfy with those changes – move on and make more.
Check out our next Blog …Time Management – Tips and Tricks
The snow is gone and the grass is slowly starting to turn green.Employee thoughts are turning to summer vacation planning.How do you manage vacation time in your business?Do you encourage employees to take their vacation time or is “Vacation Shaming” part of your Workplace culture?
Vacation time should be encouraged, celebrated and looked forward to.Taking time away from work is vital to keeping your team happy, motivated, productive, and ensuring they are physically and emotionally well!As a Business owner or leader ensure that you are leading by example and planning and taking your time away from work.If you have ever taken a vacation in the past and been on a plane (insert laughter here) you have heard the flight attendant tell you in case of an emergency put the oxygen mask on yourself first.Well taking time away from your business for a vacation is the proverbial oxygen mask.
No doubt, if you own a small business vacation coverage can be difficult. Difficult but not impossible. Nobody should have to take their laptop on vacation to check emails or keep project timelines on schedule – seriously people what did we do before smart phones and laptops?No employee should be that indispensable.If you have an employee that is so indispensable that they can’t be away for a week or two – you seriously need to institute some cross training immediately. Yes, you should miss the person and feel their loss from the office but your business must be able to continue in their absence.
Planning is so important to the vacation process. Firstly, ensure that you strategically approve vacation requests so that there is adequate coverage of employees. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a vacation request.Lets face it – the whole office can’t be on vacation at the same time… or can they?If you have a ‘shut down’ in your business-you are allowed to dictate that time to your employees as vacation time.It is important that you manage the expectations of your clients and customers.If you have peak business periods (for example Christmas) don’t be afraid to black out a period of time where vacations will not be approved.
Many employers find the summer months peak time for employees requesting time off.Especially in smaller businesses it can be challenging to manage employee vacation requests while still respecting and honouring commitments to your clients and customers.For the businesses that historically slow down during the summer months the challenge may not be as real as it is for businesses that maintain or increase business during these months.If summer is a busy season and a challenge to have employees on vacation – consider offering an incentive for employees to take vacation during less busy times.If you have a traditional time where business slows considerably – consider offering an incentive to your employees to book their vacation during that time.How about an extra week of vacation if they book it during a specific time?Be creative.
Time off has positive benefits to both employees and the businesses they work in.Taking regular vacation time away from work reduces stress, improves focus, has significant health benefits, improves work/life balance, and employees returning from vacation have improved creativity and productivity.All positive reasons to ensure that your employees are utilizing all of their vacation time!
I have been helping a number of my clients find candidates to fill vacancies lately – so I thought it was timely for this Blog topic.
Let’s face it – every day that passes with an empty desk is another day of lost productivity, customers not receiving your best service and other employees potentially working longer hours to pick up the slack.Not a great situation and one that managers often feel pressure to fix quickly.
Sometimes fixing it quickly can mean convincing the employee to stay and offering them more money to stay, taking a resume from a friend or colleague and hiring that person without proper interviews or reference checks or rushing the process and picking the first person and not necessarily the best person for the job.All of these seem like really good ideas at the time but potentially could have huge costs associated with them down the line.
It has been my experience (in my 20+ years of HR) that convincing an employee to stay after they have handed in their notice is usually not the answer. Unless they reveal a specific reason for their termination and you can rectify that specific situation – then you can have a win.Generally an employee is leaving for more than one reason.By the time an employee has gone through the process of looking for another job, interviewing for that job, accepting that job and handing in their termination to you – they have made up their mind.If you can convince them to stay it will generally be short lived and not a positive experience.
Acting quickly and hastily is generally not a wise course of action.You can all give me 100+ reasons why you need to make the decision fast and they are all valid reasons- but so is having a process and following the process.Consider the ramifications of a poor hire.We have all worked with the under-performer, the negative person that erodes the culture of the team, the person with the incredibly high absence record, the person who creates a safety risk to themselves and others – once they are on your team – they can be difficult to manage and can cause a lot of collateral damage to your team.
Interviewing and choosing the best candidate is a process.Sometimes a long process, but if it is done correctly – generally you will find a better quality of candidate and good fit for your team culture.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to interview candidates:
Keep the interview questions relevant to the job – the purpose of the interview is to determine a candidate’s capability to perform the essential functions that have been defined for the job
Evaluate all candidates for the position equally and by the same set of questions
Remember there are legalities involved here…
Manitoba Human Rights states:
“There are human rights laws in every province and territory across Canada and there is also a federal human rights law. These laws all promote the principle that we are entitled to be treated on the basis of our individual merit and should not be subjected to prejudice or stereotypes. These laws ensure that we have equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination, principles found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They ensure that we are all treated on the basis of our own merit and not subjected to prejudice and stereotypes.
Discrimination is treating a person differently, to their disadvantage where it is not reasonable to do so on the basis of their:
ancestry, including colour and perceived race
nationality or national origin
ethnic background or origin
religion, religious belief, association or activity
sex, including pregnancy
marital or family status
source of income
political belief, association or activity
physical or mental disability
Discrimination demeans a person’s individual worth and dignity and is prohibited in employment.”
Keep an open mind with all of the candidates that you are interviewing.Everyone brings different experiences and knowledge; ask the appropriate questions to ensure that you are bringing out the best in every candidate interviewed and then rate every interview.Don’t make it a race to fill the job – ensuring that you pick the best candidate for the job and the culture of your organization is a “win” for everyone!
HR compliance is a necessity for any business (small, medium or large) in today’s legal environment. As a business owner it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your business is compliant. Ignorance of the law does not release you of your responsibility.
What does HR compliance mean?Very simply it is a way of defining proper workplace behaviours and assuring that policies and laws are understood and followed.This means that you must know the laws and have proper policies in place.To be compliant doesn’t mean just having policies sitting in a dusty binder somewhere in the office.It means that you and your leaders know them, understand them and communicate them to your teams.To have a Harassment Policy means nothing if your employees aren’t aware that it exists or they haven’t been trained to understand it.
HR laws change constantly. When was the last time you updated your Employee Handbook?Has it been updated since the legalization of Marijuana?Have you updated your policies to reflect the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service in Manitoba?
HR Compliance is so much more than policies.The risk to your business is real.There are labour laws, employment standards legislation, health and safety regulations and human rights legislation to name a few.Mitigate your risk and partner with an HR professional.
Many small businesses have HR responsibilities lumped in with the Office Manager or the Accountant.I often joke with perspective clients that you wouldn’t want me doing your books or taxes and you probably shouldn’t have your accountant taking care of your HR.As a business owner you don’t need to have all the answers – but you need to have a place where you can go to get good advice.If you aren’t large enough to have an HR professional on staff – you should definitely have one on contract.Many small businesses believe that HR is not affordable – that is simply not true.
Romas HR Consulting understands the needs of business and we are here to help you mitigate risk in your business, improve employee engagement and provide support to you and your leaders.With Support Packages available for a low monthly fee; we can ensure that your business is compliant, has policies in place to cover employee concerns and we are just a phone call/text/email away for any questions/concern/issues that arise.We won’t take up office space or increase your cost of employee benefits – but we are always available for you.Our package includes unlimited HR support, unlimited access to training video library for your management and staff on important topics such as Harassment in the Workplace, Violence in the Workplace and Impairment in the Workplace.When laws change we will provide you with policy updates and knowledge support documents to help you understand the changes. If you need support with medical accommodations – we are just a phone call away.Have a difficult message to deliver to an employee – we can be on site to help ensure that it goes smoothly and be a witness to the meeting.
Are you having difficulty understanding what compliance means for your business? Give us a call.
Good communication is integral to your business and business success. We live in a world of emails and texts – but there is still a real need for verbal communication.
In the workplace, good communication is an important factor in client relationships, team effectiveness, and employee engagement.
Do you have regular Staff /Team Meetings?How do you communicate with your teams?If you don’t have regular meetings – you are missing a huge opportunity to bond with your team, connect with your team and drive engagement.
Now don’t get me wrong, we have all attended meetings that have been a royal waste of time.I’m sure we can all agree that there have been meetings we have walked out of complaining “that was an hour of life we will never get back” – am I right?Meetings need to be planned and provide a value for those attending.
Spend time on the initial planning; ensure consistency, they need to be scheduled, there should always be an agenda and honour your time commitment to your team. Want to make them more engaging?Involve your team members; assign certain topics to employees to speak on. Is there a development opportunity here?
Set a schedule: consistency is key – same day/same time weekly/monthly – don’t move the time around.If an emergency arises – it’s better you cancel and give everyone that time back into their calendars.Be respectful.If you cancel and reschedule meetings on a regular basis you are creating a perception that meeting with them is not important and they will show you that same respect in return and your meetings will not be well attended or productive.
Set a time: whether a 5 minute huddle/15 minute Stand up meeting or a full hour sitting in the conference room – begin and end the meeting on time
Have an agenda: if you have regular meetings it is a good idea to have a standing agenda. Set rules – no cell phones, no answering texts or emails, no side conversations.Give items in your agenda a set time and stick to it – don’t let the conversation go off topic
I can’t stress this enough – respect time – stick to your schedule.If an item is brought up and does’t fit in to the time allotted and is not urgent – “park it” on next agenda or commit to dealing with it in an email. If an item doesn’t bring value to the whole group, take the question/item to a “one on one” conversation after the group meeting is complete.
Meetings don’t need to be time prohibitive – have a 5 minute huddle every day, a 15 minute “stand up” meeting once a week, or whatever would work in your business.
Don’t think meetings are important to your business and your team?Ask yourself why some of the biggest most profitable businesses have huddles everyday (some have more than one a day).Now I’m not saying you have to end with a cheer 😉but seriously these businesses understand that the time invested increases profits and engagement and they dedicate time required for those meetings and so should you.
Plan your meetings – virtually, on a conference call or in person.It’s important to PLAN and COMMIT to having them regularly.
Do you track absenteeism in your organization? Many small businesses don’t even think about absenteeism until it becomes a problem.
What is considered excessive? 1 day a month? 2 days a month? 10 days a year? Not an easy question to answer. Ideally, start by looking at absenteeism across the board for your organization – for everyone. It’s as simple as creating an excel spreadsheet. Come up with a system where you identify vacation time, bereavement, family sick etc – use a code to identify each ( eg. V-vacation). Then look at some stats – 6 months stats/12 month stats. Does anyone stand out as being excessive compared to the rest of the organization?
Once you have the numbers – time to have the conversation. It is really important to sit down and have an honest, non-threatening conversation with the employee. Be transparent, show them the numbers (only discuss their situation; don’t compare to others). It’s really important that you don’t just treat the symptoms, discover the cause. Is there a current medical situation that would suggest a temporary accommodation may be required? (Please ensure that you are not asking for a medical diagnosis or for any information of a private medical nature – you can only ask if there is a medical situation that requires accommodation and questions regarding the accomodation) Is there a family situation that the employee is dealing with? Is there one department or team that has significant absences when compared to other teams? Is there low moral or engagement in their job or on their team? Has this situation started as a result of the new leader that you promoted in that area – you may have a bigger concern than absenteeism.
Having a timely conversation with employees regarding absenteeism is important. My experience has shown me that if you set clear expectations and have a flexible environment – you will have higher employee morale and engagement and are less likely to have absence abuse. Create an environment where employees do not feel their job is threatened if they have a dentist appointment, need to pick up a sick child or elderly parent to care for. Do you allow your employees to work flex hours or work from home? Do you have “Personal Days” that your employees can utilize for family situations or days when they just really need a break from the office?
Keep in mind that Manitoba Employment Standards has “legislated leave” which must be granted to all eligible employees – ensure that you are honouring and tracking those leave situations.
If you have an employee who is abusing your leave policy and has excessive absenteeism – please speak with an HR professional before going down the progressive discipline route to ensure that you have done your Due Diligence as an employer.