When casual Friday gets too close for comfort

One person’s clothing is making everyone uncomfortable

Most employees appreciate the chance to dress down on Fridays. But sometimes people can take that casual Friday freedom just a step too far.

That’s the situation Erin Gallagher found herself in when one employee got a little too casual. [Read more…]

Top performer doesn’t play by the rules – and co-workers are grumbling

The Scenario

“Being a manager would be a lot easier without employees,” sighed supervisor Ford Swick, dropping into that chair across from HR director Stu Capper’s desk.

“True, but the pay probably wouldn’t be as good.” said Stu. “Something you want to talk about?”

“It’s Mike Sands,” said Ford. “My most productive employee – and the guy who doesn’t think the rules apply to him.” [Read more…]

4 Questions You Must Ask Yourself – Before that Next Difficult Conversation

We all do it. Ignore that difficult conversation, hoping the issue will go away.

But we all know how this story ends. Behavior gets worse, the good people get frustrated and they resent us for having to clean up the mess.


When we finally get the stones to have the conversation, we start over-thinking the issue. What if she denies what I am saying? What if he tries to compare himself to other people’s behavior? What if she is silent and doesn’t say anything?

You can’t script these conversations.  No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong and how they will respond is unpredictable.

But there are proven ways to prepare for the difficult conversation and improve the odds of getting what you want. Here are 4 questions to help you prepare: [Read more…]

3 tactful ways to tell someone “You’re Wrong”

No one’s right all the time. When it’s your job to set the record straight, flat-out telling someone he or she is wrong isn’t the best way to get your point across.

Why? It’ll make the person defensive and put the kibosh on effective communication. Instead, say

1) “I see your point, and I think…” Try to stay away from the word “but.” If you say, “but I…” you’re saying you really don’t see the person’s point. Using the word “and” makes the individual feel like he or she has a good point, just not one that can be used now. [Read more…]

Top performer’s body odor out of control: What should you do?

The Scenario

HR Director Stu Capper was cleaning off his desk on a Friday afternoon when manager Leslie Cottle poked her head into his office.

“Stu, I’ve got an…interesting dilemma,” said Leslie warily. “Can I come in?”

“Sure, Leslie, what’s up?” said Stu, putting down a stack of papers and taking a seat.

“It’s about that new employee Gus,” said Leslie.

“What about him?” asked Stu inquisitively. [Read more…]

Employee’s behavior was inappropriate on trip: What now?

The Scenario

“Wait till your hear this one!” supervisor Bob Wallace announced to Stu Capper as he plopped into the chair in front of Stu’s desk. “Well,” said the HR Director, grimacing. “This wouldn’t be a tale from your recent conference, would it?”

“Who’s cuter?”

“Oh yeah,” said Bob. “It happened on our last night in Orlando. Greg Morton, me, Jill Simeon, we’re all in a dinner meeting with a vendor. We’re just sitting at dinner, talking (this is after a few cocktails, of course) and the vendor guy makes a remark about how cute the waitress is.”

“And then Greg asks the guy, ‘You think she’s cuter than Jill? Who’s got bigger boobs, you think? Her or Jill?’ Right out of the blue. With Jill sitting right there!” [Read more…]

You messed up: How to give bad news to the boss

The pain of delivering bad news to a manager can be lessened if you follow some of these suggestions:

  • Come to the point immediately. During the discussion, avoid any long preambles. You’ll cause tension to build between you and the boss. Also, Don’t dig up some good news to try to soften the blow. It’s poor psychology to try to lift people up, and then drop them down with bad news. This just makes the drop seem steeper.
  • Accept responsibility and then move on. Take responsibility for the part of the failure you are responsible for, no more and no less. If a colleague made a mistake, for instance, you could take the blame for not giving clear instructions, if that was the case. Just don’t blame everyone but yourself.
  • Present a plan of action. Taking responsibility is effective, but it isn’t enough. You’ll need to come up with some ideas for a plan to correct the mistakes before going into the meeting. Then seek the boss’ approval for the correction plan.
  • Choose the right time. Don’t give bad news while the boss is busy with something else. Seek a private one-on-one meeting by letting the boss know you have something vital to discuss. Avoid providing details before the meeting unless the manager insists.

Eight feedback foul-ups that good managers make

Guest post by Judith Lindenberger

In his autobiography, former GE CEO, Jack Welch, reports that he spent about half of his time on people: recruiting new talent, picking the right staff for particular positions, grooming young stars, developing managers, dealing with under-performers, and reviewing the entire talent pool. “Having the most talented people in each of our businesses is the most important thing,” Welch says. “If we don’t, we lose.”

In my practice as a human resources consultant, I see a steady parade of bosses who don’t know how to make those investments. They fear performance evaluations, so they avoid giving feedback. They dread the emotional part—the possibility of making their colleagues unhappy or causing outbursts. When they do give feedback, they send the wrong message by emphasizing only poor performance. Or they deliver messages in the wrong settings—in front of coworkers, or through e-mail or notes—putting their employees on the defensive and increasing the odds for misunderstanding. [Read more…]