Category Archives: Employee Relations

Part 2: Are you a Manager (and you just hired someone), read this!

In part 1 of hiring someone, I focused on the employee experience, which is very important. However, this blog is dedicated to the business side of the onboarding experience.

So many times managers forget the journey it took to hire an employee, from last year’s budgeting, the job descriptions, interviewing and making a final decision. Many things can change over the course of time, so its important to realign your new hires purpose, expectations, measures of success and what the first 90 days should look like (or whatever number of days). Here are some things to consider and get you started.

1. Look at the job description with new eyes (yes you are familiar with it, likely you wrote it or some of it)

  • See if your new hire really fits the bill, usually not! So think about what they will succeed right away and where you need to provide them safe learning opportunities to work on their shortcomings.

2. Was there something about this candidate that made you change course a little? (That’s okay by the way)

  • If you ended up picking up a high potential that was some level off your original plan, you may really need to start from the job description point above and figure out a plan of action (ie. Update the job or start from scratch).
  • From experience, I recommend putting a high level list of things you need and then getting into the details after that.

3. Plan their first week and expected outcomes.

  • This is more than ‘making relationships’ because trust me, no one likes feeling useless – even in the first week. Make a schedule or make meetings with this person’s future VIP’s (not yours) and do a soft intro and some expectation setting with both parties.
    • WHY? You would be surprised how many times people have fabricated this new employees job, so consider this a level setting exercise.

4. Provide the new hire a list of specific and achievable (but still challenging) outcomes you would like to see with some dates

  • I personally like the 30/60/90 day framework and I do casual check-ins and see how things are progressing. I would note here, its important to also be flexible, some things will come easier than others, but know to look for appropriate or inappropriate behaviors and address those quickly.

Good luck on onboarding your new hire, you got this!

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The HR diet: “best practice”

If I were to think of one phrase that makes me roll my eyes, cringe, or even laugh, it would be ‘best practice’. It’s such an HR cliché, and something that people just throw into a conversation or direction to give it some more umph. At the end of the day there are some flaws with ‘best practices.’ First, they are usually specific to an industry (and rarely disclosed). Secondly, it is usually unknown who has deemed it a ‘best practice.’ Was it a dinosaur who has liked something a certain way for a long time, and solved the issues of the 1980’s? I’m just saying. Next, ‘best’ is not equal to ‘always’ which is a common mistake of practitioners. If you think about it, how many times there is a unique situation and people (maybe even yourself) have tried to cram in a situation to fit a ‘best practice,’ and was it really the best? Lastly, ‘best’ also insinuates never needing revision, innovation, or challenge, which makes is mediocre.

Don’t get me wrong, I use the term ‘best practice’ but specific to an outcome. For example, when a manager sent out an amazing PowerPoint slide deck announcing someone moving overseas for an internal job. But I said the same thing when another manager created a tumbler countdown for theirs! It wasn’t the tool, but the outcome or intention. In HR so few times do we ask why something is a ‘best practice’ or what obstacle it solves. Usually it seems obvious, but than that’s not a ‘best practice’ its just common sense.

I challenge us, HR professionals, to undertake what it means for something to be a ‘best practice’ and sometimes its just a really good solution at your company for your culture and lastly your outcome.



Becton, Bret J., and Mike Schraeder. 2009. “Strategic Human Resources Management.” Journal For Quality & Participation31, no. 4: 11-18. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed February 10, 2014).

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Part 1: Are you a Manager (and you just hired someone), read this!

Being a manager (in both role and skill) is important; this is the first installment to supporting you develop a great onboarding experience for your new employee, regardless of how much or little your company does today. This part is about the human side of onboarding, and the second one as a follow up with be about the business side.

The most common mistake I hear managers make is that they either 1) coddle a new employee for way too long or 2) drop them in the middle of the ocean to swim. Neither are good for them or the business. Here are some ideas to help a newbie feel welcome while getting their contribution right away.

1. Send a welcome email at one week prior to their start date (or at the latest the day before they start) to express you excitement, tips and tricks, and a general feel of the first day will go.

  • Why: Imagine you are traveling to a new country – what do you do? You look online for transportation options, customs, and weather. The same is true for a newbie. They want to know if they should drive or bus (and is there parking), what to wear & bring (ie. Lunch) and who they will be meeting with. Setting them up on expectations and letting them know things will be alright will remove the internal anxiety they may have.

2. Day one is important for both you and the employee, and making sure you are available and visible is important. Its okay to still have meetings, but find ways to check in, invite them, and spend time going through a plan.

  • Why: The employee is on ultra alert and going through the internal dialogue of “did I make the right choice, do I fit, am I going to succeed” etc. So being there for them will make them feel less isolated and feel like they already fit the flow of the environment.

3. Week one check in.. A good practice is to spend a casual one-hour at the end of the week and let them do a AMA (as me anything) session.

  • Why: Many times the week flies by for most of us, but the first week for a new person is full of emotion, stress, and just feeling overwhelmed with information and experiences. This allows them to go into the weekend comfortable with that first week journey, have you in their corner, and having something to celebrate. It’s also great for bonding!

Remember, everyone has a human side.

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How to resign (with class)

Oh what! You got a new job! Wicked!

But before you leave your current employer to the place where you want to be, there are some ‘best practices’ you should take to leave on a good note. Here are some practices I have seen play out well in a variety of environments:Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 6.32.09 AM

  1. Give ample notice. If your role is specialized, manager level, or unique, give more notice to help with the transition – you will need to gauge your relationship with your manager & past performance.
  2. Own the transition documentation and training and provide feedback and progress reports to your manager.
  3. Offer being available and check in for the first week (honoring your word and living by them).
  4. Be responsible for messaging and communicating. Offer to own the communication and follow up. Remember: every company is different, so this might not work everywhere.
  5. Get your hands dirty, when your last days are empty, get in and file documents that you know are sitting around or do some admin (like correcting naming conventions).
  6. Clean up your desk. Simple, right? Nope – time and time again the artifacts of previous employees sit around and just collect dust. If you think something should be in the garbage, do it. #recyclefirstplease
  7. Send personalized thank you notes to people who made a difference and respond to each congrats email you get. #gratitude

Not all these will apply, but remember that your last few weeks are equally as important as your last couple months, years or decades. Lastly, best of luck on your new adventure!

For those who use apps for everything, this is an interesting spin on quitting a job. Although I have yet to hear of someone using it for real!

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Interviewing, 2 tips for success!

Firstly, congrats! You’re interviewing! Now there are two pieces of information I think candidates miss time and time again when interviewing. The first is setting up the recruiter and hiring manager up with expectations. Let them know if you are; employed and confidentially seeking new opportunities, recently moved into the city, about to take a long vacation, and how you like to be contacted. It’s important that the interviewee feels comfortable to take some ownership in the process.

Secondly, managers and recruiters open up the last part of the interview for the interviewee to ask questions. Yet so few actually ask questions or share information that they believe is relevant. By far my favorite interview was when someone told me “what you didn’t ask me and I want you to know is….” #joblanded!

Great questions to help you make an informed decision maker as well showcase that you are strategic and make logical decisions. Some good question include:

  • Company
    • What is the vision of the company?
    • What are the strategic objectives for the next year?
    • How does this role support these objectives?
  • Manager
    • What is your leadership style?
    • How do you like to be communicated to?
    • What’s the most important skill to have for the role I’m going for?
  • Job
    • What do you think it’s the largest obstacle or challenge in this role?
    • How do you measure success?
    • If I were the successful candidate, what’s the first thing I would do?

Happy job hunting! For another good article, check out this one.

Innovating Relocations

You know you’re doing something right when the VP of Canada Sales & Relationship Management a relocating company, Prudential,  tells you: “you know that you made us change and look at the way we have been doing things. You are light years ahead of the game.” Darn it, this may have been one of my favorable moments in 2010.

Relocating employees has been around since companies have gone global. Moving people seems pretty simple right? WRONG! I learned from first hand experience that relocating people is time-consuming, complex, and like multiple project plans with different deliverable dates. Partnering with the right company makes a difference. Just like the employees in the organization, the relocating company you choose you need to trust. They need to be part of your team and need to want to be a part of your team.

I have been fortunate to work with Prudential, where they have listened and scratched their head a couple of times on some of my views, but were always listening. I blogged about their forum earlier and how it was fun, but what I realized now is that they are big and still learning. Many larger (or gigantic organizations) that I have seen don’t keep on evolving.  From an outsider view, they got a good group of people in the management level, and that has trickled down.

Now when  I see the rock, I am proud of the people I work with. There is still room for improvement, like any vendor relationship, but we have open and candid conversations that are solution focused.

When is it time to say good-bye?

It’s always interesting to observe the fall out of a bad pairing of a manager & employee. It is a little bit like watching gossip girl and being able to know where the plot will go in the first 3 minutes of the show. What amuses me each time is how few times people can face the music and start making the correct decisions to better themselves & the company. Rather, many people believe that fight actually beats flight.

My view is that sometimes flight is being less of a coward. If you are unhappy in your role, the work you do, and the manager you have, its time to move on. People don’t change, only you can change, and if you are not willing to do so, the inevitable will happen. So when is it time to say good-bye? I assume more people wouldn’t say “at the first sign of trouble” yet, some may. It’s a tricky spot as an employee, since looking for a job is hard work, time consuming, and a humbling experience.

To all the many people I have seen move roles, jobs, and companies and become successful, I urge you to remember that it’s not always you. It’s sometimes a bunch of circumstances that don’t play to your strengths. Just remember to always be yourself. You will land in the right seat on the bus eventually.

I cried at work, and it’s OK

I am very passionate about what I do. Everything in life is either full on or just off. When I make mistakes, I am very accountable to fixing them. When someone gives me feedback I take it as a gift and not a personal attack. I am committed to my work, just like everything else I do in life.

My fear in life isn’t dying, getting ill, never falling in love, growing old alone, not being successful, but disappointing those who I respect (or love). So when I make a mistake at work that disappoints my boss/bosses that I trust and respect I get upset, when I feel upset I cry.

So why does even Martha say “women in business don’t cry” when clearly I did? I read multiple articles after crying at work and there is a lot of tactics and strategies on how to deal with a crier or if you are the crier, but when it boils right down to it, aren’t we all just human? Why can’t we behave at work the way we would outside of work? Why do we need to be robots at work and emotional wrecks at home?

My incident has made me more open, better understood, and more – of what drives my performance, motivates me, and what I am truly passionate about. Today, I am taking a stand for all the criers out there and say its okay to cry (sometimes).

Creating stories, the bad ones

Today I was challenged with a tough conversation, and one I learned a lot about myself and all employees.  Terminations in general are pretty scary and can rock the boat.  But what we don’t usually see is the internal stories people create.  In my particular case, the person who was terminated was open, communicative, and willing to improve their performance.  When they were terminated, another employee who is also open, communicative, and willing (although not needing to) improve their performance felt their job security was in jeopardy.

The backlash was incomprehensible.  I saw tears in a typically strong and fun person.  I felt empathy for someone who usually challenges me.  I heard a word such as “being let go, fired, quitting” from what usually is a committed and loyal employee.

The outcome was good, we squashed the story created, but it took a while to dig to get where the fear was stemming from.  Once we both acknowledged what was the cause, we were able to see how a story can be bad.  Her personal learning was that she needs to continue to be outspoken, open, and willing as these are her strengths and natural, and that her coworkers termination is not the same path that she is on, even if they shared many similar characteristics.