Being a new manager often comes with a steep learning curve, especially when you’ve transitioned from peer to boss. No one can become an expert in all areas of employment law overnight, but being aware of key management best practices is important for managers—new and seasoned.
Join Monica Weimer, Director, Advisory Services at our HR partner, Mineral, for a crash course on how to avoid common pitfalls and build productive teams. Monica will also focus on the legal requirements for employers, including wage and hour, leave, and harassment laws.
This session was recorded on September 16, 2021.
Monica Weimer (00:00:04):
Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m really excited to welcome you to our training, New Manager Survival Guide & HR Essentials. Before we begin, I do want to introduce myself. My name is Monica Weimer, and I’ve held roles as an HR generalist and a payroll and benefits manager at a large ski resort where I provided HR guidance to more than 500 employees annually or 500 employees per season, and I also have HR experience in the healthcare field and the nonprofit world. Prior to my move over to work as an HR advisor.
Monica Weimer (00:00:37):
All right, so I do want to cover a couple of quick housekeeping items before we jump in. So we will email you the recording of this presentation and the PDF of the slides that I’m going through. You can expect those within about 24 hours. I will hold a couple of polls throughout, I’ve got two polls kind of scattered throughout, and I do hope that you’ll participate in those, so stay tuned. I’ll pull those up when the time is right. And finally least do use the Q&A box, if you’ve got any questions to chat in. I’ll see how many I can get to at the conclusion of our session. And just a little note, I often do, I get excited about these topics, I do run a minute or two over the presentation time, and if you’re tight on timeline, just be aware that if you miss that Q&A, that will be included in the recording that we send out to you.
Monica Weimer (00:01:30):
Okay, so I want to talk about what we’re going to cover today. And as you may be well aware of being a new manager, it isn’t easy. And the transition from peer to boss can be an especially challenging one. It’s a bit of a juggling act that can involve effective team check-ins, navigating clashing personalities, identifying and evaluating employee strengths, rewarding achievements, all of these sorts of things. So needless to say, there’s a lot to learn. So today I want to provide best practices to help new managers settle into their roles, and I want to offer tips on how to build a healthy, productive team. And I want to note here that if you are in the HR role at your company, perhaps HR manager or some other function, this presentation is really going to give you some great tips for coaching new managers at your company.
Monica Weimer (00:02:21):
All right, and then for the second part of our session today, we’re going to focus on HR essentials that you need to know in order to be a strong and compliant manager. There are a lot of state and federal laws that can catch an unknowing manager off guard and get them into a bit of trouble with an employee or with the law, so I want to cover a few of those laws to be sure that you’re aware of them ahead of time. So in that section, we’re going to talk about wage and hour leaves, disability and harassment laws. And I also want to are some best practices for corrective action and termination.
Monica Weimer (00:02:55):
All right, so let’s jump into part one. So let’s set the scene here, I’m assuming that you’ve joined the management team or you’re coaching a manager at your company. And this is from either an internal position, if you’ve joined the management team from you’ve been promoted internally or been hired externally. So first I just want to pause and say congratulations to you on this role. You are now a manager, and that means you’re tasked with supervising others in addition to accomplishing all of your own work. And that means that your success is defined by how your team performs and their output, and not just by your own individual performance. And your ability to succeed in this role will have a lot to do with the initial phases of your position, how you gain acceptance from others, as well as how you handle the bumps, the inevitable bumps along the way. And in my opinion, your approach here is key. So let’s jump in and I want to review several important steps and things to keep in mind as you strive for success as a manager.
Monica Weimer (00:03:56):
Now, in my opinion, your approach to managing is likely to begin with how you became a manager, so how you obtained the role that you are in now. So that learning curve for managing is steep for some, and depending on the existing team, turnover on that team and the expectations for you and your position, this can look different. So I’ve provided some questions that I like that you may ask to better acquaint yourself with your role on the slide here.
Monica Weimer (00:04:28):
So during this time I find it especially helpful to focus and to remind yourself that you were hired for this position, you were chosen, perhaps out of a pool of applicants, or maybe you were handpicked for the role, so keep this in mind and focus on your strengths. Far too often what I see is that managers think that they have to be an expert in every single task or function that each position that they’re responsible for overseeing handles. And honestly, this sort of approach being an expert in every function, that doesn’t define a good manager, but often that does define a good micromanager. So again, I encourage you to focus on your strengths as a manager and as part of the team.
Monica Weimer (00:05:12):
So as we move through the next couple of slides on the traits of a successful manager I want to encourage you to think of your role this way, an orchestra conductor is responsible for guiding a team of experts, of highly trained musicians. They’ve got to guide this team through the complexities of the orchestral composition, they must know when to ask for more from the woodwinds and less from the percussion section and oftentimes they need to do both of those things in the same moment, the end goal is a seamless performance of challenging compositions that produce a unified and harmonious source of sound.
Monica Weimer (00:05:51):
All right, now do you think that the conductor is an expert on each instrument in the orchestra? It’s likely that the answer is no. Are they aware of each instrument and its range and responsibility and role on the team? Of course they are. So you are a conductor, and like a conductor managers must bring together varying personalities and roles to make the entire team successful, and that when this works well, it’s a beautiful thing. Much like a great conductor, great managers make the delicate balance of overseeing a team of individuals look really easy, but I can assure you that it isn’t. It takes a very special person to manage others, and you were selected for this role.
Monica Weimer (00:06:36):
All right, now as I mentioned, depending on how you into this role, your strengths, as well as your areas for focus are likely to be different. So for example, if you were hired from within the company, on the left hand side of our screen, you are already part of the company’s team, maybe even the exact team that you’re now leading. So as you consider your strengths for the position as someone hired internally, remember that it’s likely that, at least in part, that you were hired because you have knowledge of the company, the departments, the product, the service, what have you. These are your strengths, you are already an expert when it comes to these key elements. However, you may have less management experience, so there’s your focus area. You’ll want to develop your leadership skills so define yourself as a conductor, not as an expert on each instrument.
Monica Weimer (00:07:29):
So as you step up to the podium, or to your new corner office, or what have you, you’ll need to start focusing on big picture goals. What are the strengths and weaknesses on the team? What’s the team’s trajectory? Your past efforts were likely focused much more on your specific role and responsibilities, sure you were part of the team and you were driven towards the team’s success, but now you’re the one leading the team. And so with this shift your workload has gone from tasked-focus to big picture, and it’s really important that you maintain this focus moving forward.
Monica Weimer (00:08:03):
All right, and then on the right hand side of the screen, for those of you that were hired in the position externally, you may have come into the role with previous management experience, that may be the very reason that you were hired. So your focus areas are learning about the company, the product, or the service and the individual team members. So you’re going to want to focus your time on learning from your team and allow yourself to be reverse mentored so that you gain insight and awareness into how things currently operate and then where you want them to head. So during this time utilize your team’s knowledge before you swoop in and make any big changes, what have they tried before? How did it work? Why are they using the current process? I can almost guarantee that there are reasons that they’re doing things the way that they’re doing them, whether those reasons are right or wrong or good or bad, and honestly swooping in and making a knee jerk change without taking a temperature check is likely to do more harm, likely to upset the team more than it is to do good.
Monica Weimer (00:09:08):
And my last point on this, you really need your team onboard in order to make any big changes, so buy-in ahead of large changes is especially important and I recommend team meetings to discuss the topic up for change and to gain team members insight. Because remember, right now they are the experts at what they’re doing. So as a best practice I recommend whenever it’s possible and reasonable, propose several variations of the change to the team and allow them to select the best path forward from your defined proposals, and this will help garner respect and ensure engagement in those changes to come.
Monica Weimer (00:09:49):
All right, now one of the most crucial components of making the move to management is the transition from peer to leader, so I do want to spend a couple of moments on this. This transition is vital to the success of your team, but I’ll be honest, this can be a bit of a sticking point for some, especially for those that move up internally, as you likely had close relationships with employees that you’re now tasked with managing. So here are some great tips for a smooth transition, and I want to elaborate on a couple of them. You’ll want to evaluate personal relationships, realize that your previous personal relationships with coworkers will need to be moved to a different space, so to speak, because you’re no longer a peer. You are now the person who assigns work, analyzes productivity and provides performance appraisals.
Monica Weimer (00:10:36):
And truth be told, what I’ve seen in my experience is that many new managers kind of shift their management style in their first like 18 months or so of managing. Many new managers begin their management style as part of the team, or they try to maintain their friendships with the team members. Now, I want to be clear here, I’m not suggesting that a manager shouldn’t be friendly with team members, but in my opinion there is a difference between being friends and being friendly. So ending a friendship may sound a bit abrupt, but honestly, engaging in a social relationship and managing really don’t work that well together. The social relationship actually compromises your ability to be the very best manager that you can be.
Monica Weimer (00:11:20):
So think of it this way, once you’re entwined in a social relationship, how are you going to feel during the next difficult conversation with an employee who’s also a close friend of yours? An already difficult conversation is made even more challenging with a close friend in part because of the fear of losing that social tie or upsetting that social tie. Additionally, you lose objectivity within a social relationship, so just take fair warning and set your boundaries ahead of time as a new manager.
Monica Weimer (00:11:50):
Another tip, always maintain professionalism and respect for others at all times. So this is even in a crisis, okay, we need to maintain professionalism and we need to remember that your employees are following your lead. To that end I’d also strongly encourage that you eliminate any kind of water cooler or break room gossip or venting session, whatever that looks like for you, with your employees. It’s really quite unprofessional, and honestly if an employee hears you talking about another employee, whether that’s someone on your team or not, it’s likely that they’re going to believe or they’re going to extrapolate, and assume that you’re doing the same about them when they aren’t within earshot.
Monica Weimer (00:12:30):
And then lastly, just be sure that you’re fair, honest, and consistent. Keep your feelings and decisions neutral and objective, and don’t allow your previous work or friendships with your former peers to influence your new managerial responsibilities.
Monica Weimer (00:12:51):
All right, we’ve touched on building a relationship a bit, but I want to discuss some additional tips for this. So in this next section we’re going to focus on three for building a successful manager/employee relationship, trust, communication, and nurturing relationships. All right, so let’s pause, and I want to switch things up. Before we jump in here, I do want to launch a poll. So before we launch the poll though, I’d like for you to do this for me, I’d like for you to take just a moment and I want you to think back to a great manager that you’ve had in the past. Now, maybe you’re picturing your current manager, maybe you’re picturing a manager from long ago. Did you trust that person? My hunch is that the answer is yes, and I’d be willing to bet that even when you were perhaps tentative about a decision that they made or something that they asked you to do, you trusted them, right? But why did you trust that person and why is trust so important?
Monica Weimer (00:13:51):
Now, there are so many ways to answer this question, and there are so many important ways that managers build trust with their teams, and the poll that I’m going to launch right now contains just a couple that I feel are critical for you as an individual. So what I’m looking for here is, which factor is the most critical to building trust between you and your manager? So I’ve included here transparency, coaching, fairness, and communication, so I’m going to give this a minute to run.
Monica Weimer (00:14:26):
I’m seeing some really good responses also chatted in. We’ve got open communication, which is one of our options here. Another one about not micromanaging, building trust. Yes, indeed. I completely agree there. All right, let me give this another couple of seconds. Having my best interest at heart was just chatted in, love that. All right, how about five more seconds here? All right, I’m going to go ahead and end the poll, and we’ve got communication as a winner, and let me share these results out with you so that you can see. I think that I’m a big fan of crowdsourcing. So with a response like this, I think it’s important that you see how your peers as part of this webinar are responding, so that if you answered communication, but then knowing transparency is really important to a big portion of our group today, I think is important because perhaps this can be extrapolated to our own workplaces.
Monica Weimer (00:15:35):
So couple of interesting things here, so thank you for participating in that. Let me go ahead and pull this down, one moment. All right. All right, so what I want to do is I want to talk a little bit more about trust, and I posed some questions before we put up the poll, like, why is this so important? Why did you trust that person? And I want to elaborate a bit on that. So when people distrust one another, what they end up doing is keeping themselves at a distance. So they don’t confide in one another. They assume dishonesty. They don’t believe what they hear. They withhold information, and sometimes that’s crucial information. And team cohesion disintegrates because people aren’t sharing or collaborating.
Monica Weimer (00:16:22):
So again, there are a number of things that managers can do to build trust, and I’ve got several of them on the side and we just looked at several in the poll. And many of them are self explanatory, but I do want to discuss coaching, which I noticed was really low on the score there, and so I think it is one of those are areas where we all take our own interpretation of this, but I would like to talk a little bit more about a coaching style to management.
Monica Weimer (00:16:45):
So studies have shown that a coaching style of management can create greater employee engagement and commitment, it can improve performance, it can accelerate talent development. When employees are coached, they feel supported and encouraged by their manager, and this is because coaching doesn’t simply teach an employee how to do a task or follow a procedure, but coaching is individual focused. So someone chatted in, when they have my best interests at heart, that’s where coaching would really come into play because it’s individual focused. What are that employee’s best interests?
Monica Weimer (00:17:18):
Coaching is aimed at building up the individual employee, and when employees are coached they do feel more supported and encouraged by their manager. So coaching builds up employees by helping them to overcome their weaknesses and build on their strengths. And so it’s ultimately an investment in the employees present and future success. And most importantly, managers who coach employees show that they trust their employees, which is why I’ve got it on this slide here. And truly there’s no better way to earn someone’s trust than by showing them trust.
Monica Weimer (00:17:52):
All right, so they might be wondering, “Well, these are some compelling reasons to use a coaching style, Monica, about what in the world is it? What does it look like?” Well just like a sports coach would, a manager should provide direction by clearly articulating goals and each employee’s role on the team, they should improve performance by creating a learning environment and providing feedback, and they should open up new possibilities by empowering an employee’s decision making. So a coaching mentality really utilizes the mindset that your employees have the solution, and your role is to facilitate their finding it, and that too shows trust.
Monica Weimer (00:18:30):
With trust comes respect. And as with trust, there isn’t just one thing that we can do as managers to earn respect from our teams, but there’s also no shortcuts here, rather it’s the way that you interact and engage with your team over time that matters most. It’s actually easier to identify how respect is lost than how it’s earned. So it’s easily lost by those who rule by fear, those who micromanage, those who aim to please team members instead of putting the teams and the company’s best interests first. So some ways to earn respect from your employees is to show them that you trust them by helping them improve their knowledge, their skills, their abilities. You can are their decision making by giving them choices where it’s reasonable and possible, and ask for their feedback. People like being heard, that was big on here, right? Communication and transparency, those go both ways. People like being heard and feeling that they have a say in how things are done.
Monica Weimer (00:19:28):
My last point here, the best way to earn from your team in my opinion is to respect others, establish trustworthiness, credibility, and maintain a healthy dose of humility.
Monica Weimer (00:19:44):
All right, so just trying to make sure that I’m looking at the chats along the way. Okay, so a part of healthy workplace communication here is first understanding how you employees give and receive communication so that you can establish a system that works well for all parties involved. So on this slide here, I want to cover a couple of communication missteps that I see managers both new and seasoned inadvertently make. So the first here is assuming that employees know what you want. Employees are going to do what they think is best in order to accomplish their goal. And without your guidance, direction and clarification, they’re just going to go forward on their own. Statistics show that approximately 85% of performance problems exist because the employee doesn’t know that what they’re doing is wrong.
Monica Weimer (00:20:35):
Second here is the not telling employees how they’re doing. No news is not good news, it’s just simply no news. Employees really need to know how they’re doing, and some more than others. So think about yourself for a moment, don’t you like to know how you’re doing? Whether you’re meeting your boss’s expectations? And this applies to both positive and corrective feedback, employees want to know where they stand.
Monica Weimer (00:20:59):
And then the third here is not telling employees anything at all. So to maximize talent and engagement think of employees as partners in communication, share information about the organization, your team goals, objectives, results, challenges, whatever it is, share that both directions, this goes back to that transparency piece. So there are certainly times for confidentiality and discretion, but keeping this sort of organizational and team information to yourself only hampers potential by restricting what is essentially the blood flow to the rest of the organization.
Monica Weimer (00:21:36):
Another key to improving communication is to make sure that your various meetings are effective and that they serve a purpose. So I’ve listed a couple of different meeting types here, just to keep on your radar, these are going to look different for every team and a company. I’ve got individual check-ins here, these are helpful. And the frequency and the nature is going to change based on the employee. Some employees desire something weekly and something formal, while others are fine with a much more casual check-in only when they need it. And honestly, if you’re unaware of what your employees need, just go ask them.
Monica Weimer (00:22:12):
In my experience, team meetings are best at least biweekly, but this is heavily dependent on the nature of your work. Meeting schedules are going to look different again at each organization, and even among teams or departments within a single organization. So this could be a formal team meeting complete with a written agenda, or this could just a quick spot check to see how everyone is doing, what everybody is working on, whether we can support one another. So tailor this to your needs.
Monica Weimer (00:22:40):
I want to share, when I was at the ski resort we had a lodging department so we had a housekeeping team, and they held a 10 minute morning check in every single day. This was a time that they could be certain that the entire team knew the day’s workload, they split into working teams for the day, they covered a brief safety message, all of those sorts of things. So again, tailor this to what your team needs, and it can even be based on the time of the year, right? When you have a spike in volume, you might want to meet a little bit more frequently, but keep those meetings short or what have you.
Monica Weimer (00:23:12):
In my opinion, one last thing on the team meetings, it’s really difficult to over communicate. So when in doubt, set that meeting up, and my guess is that you’re going to be surprised by the conversation that comes from it with your team members. A planning meeting is a bit more formal than a check-in meeting, it’s typically related to a current project, action items, project timeline goals, et cetera.
Monica Weimer (00:23:36):
And then lastly is the meeting to address issues when they arise, and this meeting could be called because of, perhaps a customer complaint or a team inefficiency or any other area of concern really. Alternatively it could result from performance that’s below your expectations in which case a one-on-one meeting is likely warranted. And my best advice to you here is to address your concerns really early, right up front, be clear on your expectations and be transparent.
Monica Weimer (00:24:05):
Last bit about meetings, I’m sure we’ve all read about meeting culture, but no matter the type of the meeting, just be sure that you set clear expectations with your team. You’re going to hold yourself and your team members accountable to these expectations, and that’s what you’ll use to measure the success or failure of your different objectives during the next meeting. So to just be sure that everybody’s clear on why we’re here to meet, what they should be bringing, what kind of commitment you’re asking for and ultimately their roles and responsibilities for the meeting.
Monica Weimer (00:24:37):
All right, so this is our final topic related to building a strong manager/employee relationship, and that’s facilitating coworker relationships. So office relationships can take time to grow and develop, and they certainly can’t be forced, but strong working relationships are a key component to a healthy team and healthy workplace. And having a close friend at work is so important, according to Gallup, that they’ve actually included it as one of the 12 most important workplace engagement traits. So as a manager, you can nurture these relationships by holding team meetings, respecting team members, building trust among the team, there’s trust again, and by empowering team involvement.
Monica Weimer (00:25:19):
Now it’s really important to remember that not all employees are going to be best friends at work, and as a manager one of the first steps is being will to recognize when conflict exists, followed closely by a transition into a bit of a mediator role.
Monica Weimer (00:25:35):
All right, now if you just chuckled at me or you rolled your eyes or you sighed at the thought of handling workplace drama, just keep in mind that part of your role as a manager is creating and maintaining that harmonious team. And I could probably spend an entire presentation on conflict management, but that’s not our sole focus today, so if you’re faced with such a situation, meet individually first, support employees to handle the situation on their own initially, and then bring the parties together if it’s necessary for a group meeting. And as always, I like to remind employees on the regular that they’re free to disagree, and again, not all employees are going to be best friends at work that would be unreasonable of us to ask, but the emphasis should be on maintaining respect and professionalism in all of our interactions, and that starts with you.
Monica Weimer (00:26:27):
All right, I want to spend a couple minutes talking about company culture. Now, if this feels at all like a popular buzzword, please know that a company’s culture not only exists, but it is indeed a very important part of a company. So it’s important to maintain a consistent company culture, but before you can do that you’ve got to know what currently exists. So first, what is the company culture? Well, think of it like the personality of your company, the environment in which employees work. It includes a variety of elements, such as, the company policies, internal practices, the work environment, the company mission, values, ethics, expectations, and how employees relate to one another, all of these things. A company culture is ingrained in the company’s DNA. It’s there before you or any other employee arrived, and it’s existed long before any of us. So each employee that’s hired is thought to be a good match for the existing culture and to bring strength to the company’s vision and goals.
Monica Weimer (00:27:33):
So your role as a manager is to maintain or improve this company culture, but in order to do that you’ve got to understand it first. And this involves assessing the current culture, so take a look around, how to interact with one another on the team? How do they interact between company teams? Maybe I should rephrase that, do they interact between company teams? And if yes, how do they interact? Are employees engaged in their jobs? Do they like their jobs? The answers to these questions will help define the company’s culture and will help you to know more about your employees.
Monica Weimer (00:28:09):
Now a well understood and unified company culture will seem more fair to both current and new employees, so again, do your homework here first, read and understand your company handbook and policies. As a manager, your employees are going to expect that you’re an expert… Okay, to be fair, that you’re at least knowledgeable in these company policies. Then I recommend meeting with HR and other department managers to understand how these policies that you have are applied and enforced. So for example, let’s say that the company handbook policy states that the appearance standards are professional, but it doesn’t go any further, it doesn’t define that term. Well, what does professional mean to the company? What does this mean to your department? Now it’s very likely that this is going to look different or be applied differently in a department that’s on the front line with customers versus say a back of house department, and that’s totally fine. But the differences in the way that we apply the policy and the way that you apply it for your team need to be consistent, business related and justifiable.
Monica Weimer (00:29:18):
All right, for our final topic in the first section of our presentation, I want to talk about setting your employees up for success. So first I want to start here with a great leadership quote from John Quincy Adams, our sixth US president, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” So I’ve used the terms manager and leader interchangeably through the presentation, when in reality they’re two very different things, and being a manager does not automatically equal leadership. So as a manager you’re likely responsible for things like planning and budgeting, for organizing the department, for ensuring proper staffing and solving problems when they arise, right? These are all management tasks and they’re just part of your responsibilities, but I believe that the best managers can accomplish these tasks while also being great leaders.
Monica Weimer (00:30:16):
The very best leaders though, they empower others on the team to as well. And let’s be honest, between the managerial tasks, and leadership or coaching role, there’s a lot to do and only so many hours in the day, so you really need to empower other leaders on your team to assist. So as I shift to setting up your employees for success, I want to offer you this definition for your own success as a manager, your most important job is to make sure that your employees are successful and performing well. So what if this is how your performance was reviewed? What if you were reviewed on your annual performance review by who among your team moved up, as an HR professional this is how I prefer to gauge a manager success. I do want to be clear here though, I’m not in the business of ushering employees out the door to bigger and better roles elsewhere, but in most positions and on most teams, there is a lot of room for upward growth.
Monica Weimer (00:31:18):
Now, again, as a manager, you’re tasked with accomplishing goals at both the team and the individual levels, and at the team level it’s important to begin by identifying strengths and weaknesses. So until you have a firm grasp of these, as well as areas for growth, it’s very possible that your team goals are going to be misguided. On the topic of team goals I strongly recommend involving the team in goal setting where you can. Pose it to the team this way, so we need to get from place A, which is where we are today, to place Z, but how we get there is up to us as a team. So as a manager, you’ve defined Z, right? You have the vision for Z and you’re certainly going to oversee the process, but I’d like to let the team be involved and define the steps in between, and I think that this strongly increases engagement in those steps.
Monica Weimer (00:32:08):
On an individual level, there are likely company and job related goals for each employee. So for example, what does that employee have to accomplish to achieve the team goal? What specific tasks is each employee accountable for? You’ll also want to be aware of each individual’s career goals, and remember that these are going to look the same for everyone. Some employees may want to move up, they cannot wait to move up and get that promotion or move up into leadership or whatever it is, while other employees, their goals may relate to their position. And again, part of your role as a manager is to set employees up for success, but you can’t do that, you’re not going to achieve that if you don’t know what their personal goals are.
Monica Weimer (00:32:52):
All right, last slide here, I believe, as a new manager I do recommend that we meet with each employee to set goals within the first 30 to 60 day, and this will help you get to know each employee and be better acquainted with their role on the team and will help you ensure clear communication of your expectations. But I want to be clear, obviously we’re meeting well before this, but this is a little bit about goal setting and moving forward.
Monica Weimer (00:33:16):
Now, when I set goals I like to use SMART goals and SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. And I believe that goals should be written to clearly define what the employee is going to do, and developing sound goals is critical to managing your own and your employee’s performance expectations. Now creating specific tangible action items is an important element of successful goal setting. So now that I’ve got this big goal in place, what am I actually going to do to achieve it? So for example, let’s say that you’ve got an employee who says, “I really want to be better in Microsoft Excel.” Well, an action item might be watching an Excel training video on YouTube each week and testing out their skills, or something of that sort.
Monica Weimer (00:34:02):
And lastly, follow up after the initial goal setting is crucial. And depending on the magnitude of the goal and the timeframe for completion, follow up could take place weekly, monthly or less frequently. And don’t forget here that an important part of follow up is celebrating successes. So take time to celebrate milestones as they’re achieved with events or tokens of appreciation that are appropriate to the scope of the success. And these don’t have to cost a whole lot either, you could do things like a team lunch, morning coffee and donuts, certificates, or even public recognition, that goes a long way.
Monica Weimer (00:34:40):
Oh, I lied, I have one more slide here. See, I told you I get a little bit excited about this. So I shoehorned performance management into a single slide, so admittedly it’s a lot to cover here, but I just want to mention it and give an overview of the primary components of successful performance management. Now, again, I will talk about corrective action, so the more negative side of performance management in the next section. So I’d like to think of performance management on a spectrum of small gestures like employee appreciation, to large gestures or activities like the annual evaluation.
Monica Weimer (00:35:15):
So employee appreciation and feedback are true motivators for many people. And if you listen closely to your employees, you’ll be able to decipher what really motivates them. And employee appreciate can come in many forms, it could be a genuine thank you note, maybe a public thank you, it could be a small gift, maybe a coffee card for your caffeine fiend, just something to show that you’ve been listening. We’ve already discussed a coaching approach to management and how useful it can be to promote employee engagement and improve performance, however, I want to take just a moment here to compare and contrast coaching and discipline. So coaching is a more proactive approach to discipline because it involves active involvement from both parties to address the challenges before the unwanted conduct or policy violations occur.
Monica Weimer (00:36:05):
So unlike discipline, coaching is not a top down approach, but rather a collaborative one between you and the employee. So discipline on the other hand is typically more reactionary in nature, this happened, and now I’m going to discipline you for it. And it’s important to have a good understanding of your company’s disciplinary policies. Does the company use like a firm progressive disciplinary step process, or is discipline left to your discretion as a manager?
Monica Weimer (00:36:32):
And then lastly here is the annual performance evaluation, and I strongly recommend meeting with employees at least annually to discuss their performance and their individual goals. And think of this process as twofold. It’s one part as an evaluation and one part as communication, so done right this is a powerful tool for both you and the employee. And this process does look different at every company, so it’s really important to have a good understanding what your company’s current process is, and then adjust according to yours and your employee’s preferences.
Monica Weimer (00:37:06):
All right, so we’re going to turn now to section two. Now, it would be fair for you to be wondering why I would include a section on HR essentials in a new manager’s survival guide. But in my opinion, it’s very important that all managers have a sense of what I call, HR buzzwords. The more that we’re in front of these, the more likely you are to comply with the regulations and/or to know where to go for help or kind of when to go somewhere for help. So I want to talk through those. And again, if you are already in the HR function at your company, this will give you a nice review and it’ll provide you with a couple of best practices.
Monica Weimer (00:37:45):
All right, so before we jump in here, I want to pause and do our second poll. So let me pop this up on the screen, and the question here is, as someone new to managing, or as a coach for new managers, the HR essentials topic that I feel the least confident in is… And let me get this poll up here, Sarah, can you put this poll on the screen? There we go. All right, so here are your options. The HR essentials topic that I feel the least confident in is? Let’s let this run for a couple moments. Oh, we’ve got a tight race here. All right, I’m going to give this a couple more seconds. I see lots of votes coming in, thank you for your participation. All right, five second warning. Wow, this is really fascinating, I can’t wait to share the poll results with you all.
Monica Weimer (00:39:07):
All right, let me go ahead, I’m going to end the poll. And take a look at this, this is… I’m not sure that we could ask for a whole lot more consistency. So we’ve got leaves, disability and corrective action running hot as again, the least confident area, corrective action leading with 24% of the vote. All right, I like this, and I think one trend that I’m seeing here, aside from leaves, leaves of absence, disability, harassment, corrective action, there’s a lot of gray space in those areas, right? Wage and hour is tricky, but we’ve got a lot of regulations we can lean back on. So, all right, this was fascinating. Thank you for participating. So let’s go ahead and jump in and talk about each of these sections, [inaudible 00:39:54] pull this down.
Monica Weimer (00:39:56):
All right. So I do want to begin with wage and hour, although we’re charting pretty well there as a group, these can be overlooked pretty easily because they’re kind of assumed to be obvious or easy. But honestly, what I find is that sometimes the more simple HR topics trip up the best of managers. So let’s chat through a things here. So under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or the FLSA, there are two pay classifications, exempt and non-exempt.
Monica Weimer (00:40:25):
And every single one of our employees has to be classified as one or the other. A non-exempt employee is typically paid hourly and they are entitled to overtime and minimum wage, which is currently at $7.25 cents under federal law, emphasis on federal law because many, many states and even local municipalities have minimum wages way above this amount. So under federal guidelines, overtime needs to be paid for all hours, worked in excess of 40 in the company’s established seven day work week. Okay again, so that’s the federal law. So what I’m emphasizing here is this is not state specific. So there are some states, California being one of them. That impose additional overtime requirements by way of daily overtime that we want to be aware of.
Monica Weimer (00:41:15):
All right now a postilion may be exempt from these overtime regulations under both federal and state laws, but there are very strict guidelines for this. So in order to be classified as exempt, a position must pass the following three federal tests, and I’ve simplified them here, but they’re more complex than those bullet points look like. So first is that the position has to be paid on a salary basis. This is a predetermined amount that doesn’t fluctuate based on the quantity or quality of hours worked. Second, that pay must meet a minimum salary threshold per week, and that’s set under federal law and effective January 1st of 2020, it increased to $684 per week, okay? But again, it’s really important for me to note that several states have a higher minimum salary threshold. And where state and federal law deviates, we have to comply with the law that’s best for the employee. So for example, California, New York, Maine, Alaska, and a number of others have a salary threshold above that federal minimum.
Monica Weimer (00:42:32):
All right, and then the third, and arguably the most complicated test is that the position must meet very specific duties and requirements for a particular exemption. So unfortunately today’s session is not about going into those exemptions, but we are here to help provide guidance on this and we’ve got a lot of resources in the platform if you use our service. So go take a look at that, and just know that there are a lot of considerations here for someone to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime laws.
Monica Weimer (00:43:02):
And lastly, one thing I want to note here, remember I said every position needs to be classified as exempt or non-exempt, and our non-exempt employees are typically paid by the hour. There is no requirement that they be paid by the hour, that’s why I emphasized typically, but I want to know that simply being paid a salary does not mean that the employee is properly classified as exempt and ineligible for overtime. Okay, I get this a lot, “Oh, Monica they’re paid salary, so they don’t get overtime.” Salary is just the method of pay, we have to make sure that properly classified as exempt, and wrongly classifying a position as exempt can result in costly wage and hour claims because there’s likely liability for unpaid overtime and perhaps other wage and hour concerns.
Monica Weimer (00:43:50):
All right, so I want to discuss a couple of other important wage and hour considerations. So first it’s very important that as a manager you’re well aware of what constitutes time worked for those non-exempt employees. So essentially if the company is requiring or benefiting from the time, the time has to be paid. This includes all prep time prior to the office opening, it includes travel time related to work, maybe to run a work errand or to commute to a workday meeting, time when the employee’s required to be at work or at a meeting or a training, and time spent working on behalf of the employer.
Monica Weimer (00:44:27):
Now we get a lot of questions about how to handle a situation when an employee works unauthorized time, maybe you’ve got an employee who’s clocking in early, or they’re working at home or from the cafe, whatever, but remember that all time worked by a non-exempt employee must be paid. This is true regardless of whether we authorized it or not. So if someone’s working unauthorized time, we can totally discipline them, maybe we even escalate it to termination if they refuse to comply with our policies, but we can’t not pay them, okay?
Monica Weimer (00:45:01):
Lastly, while there are no federal regulations that require an employee be provided with rest or meal periods, many states do may mandate this. Okay, so we need to turn to our state law and look and see, does our state require that as an employer we give employees rest or meal periods or both? And depending on the duration of the employee’s shift, that might be required by state law. And then even if a state doesn’t mandate either of these things, the company may certainly elect to provide and schedule them. So meal and rest periods if they’re applicable based on law or they’re preferred just based on company policy, those should be included in the employee handbook, so be sure to go take a look there for that.
Monica Weimer (00:45:49):
Okay, I want to shift gears to protected employee leaves. And again, my purpose here is just that you’re aware of a couple terms in case an employee submits a request to you. So for those of you at organizations with 50 or more employees, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, or the FMLA will apply. Now, I’m not going to provide detailed information for how to designate this leave, but I want to make sure that you’re aware of a couple buzz words. So the FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons.
Monica Weimer (00:46:29):
So as a manager, it’s really important to note that when an employee requests leave, they don’t have to expressly assert FMLA rights, they don’t even have to mention the FMLA. So if an employee asks you for time off for a surgery, or maybe to care for a sick family member, or they mention pregnancy or a new baby, just be aware that you’re likely in FMLA territory, and in that moment it’s important that you go look at your handbook, that you are aware of the employee’s rights and then ultimately that you escalate this to your HR professional for support in replying to the employee’s request.
Monica Weimer (00:47:07):
Now, there are also various state specific leaves to be aware of, and depending on the company’s size and location, this list can be quite robust. So examples of state required leaves include jury service, witness, victims of domestic violence, leave for children’s school needs, emergency responder, voting leave, and the list goes on. Most, but not all of these leaves are unpaid and provide job protected leave to an eligible employee. Now, I want to note here that I don’t think that you’re expected to be a leave expert, that’s not my take for managers, but as the manager working closely with employees you’re likely the one that they’re going to come first when they have questions regarding their rights or when they want to make a scheduling request. So your job is to be aware of what leaves your employees are entitled to so that you know how to respond. And ultimately again, when to turn to HR for additional support.
Monica Weimer (00:48:07):
All right, let’s talk next about the Americans with Disabilities Act, I saw that we charted pretty high on this as an area that we’re lacking confidence, which is totally understandable. I call this the ADA, we receive questions on an employee’s disability or a request for some sort of job modification every single day, so I do want to be certain that you’re familiar with the law and a couple of the buzz words and how to respond if you get a request.
Monica Weimer (00:48:36):
Okay so the ADA, it’s federal law, it became law in 1990, and it’s a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment. So the employment section of the law applies to employers of 15 or more employees, but please be aware that several states have extended similar protections with state laws as well. So if you’re smaller than 15, we need to go see if there’s a state law that kind of mirrors the ADA. So in short, these laws require that employers protect employees from disability and discrimination in the workplace, so that qualified employees with disabilities are afforded the same employment opportunities and rights afforded to employees without disabilities. So the ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to an otherwise qualified applicant or employee, and a reasonable accomodation is a workplace change or modification that accommodates an individual with a disability without causing an undue hardship to the employer.
Monica Weimer (00:49:45):
Now, a reasonable accommodation, it could be so many things, I could never give you an exhaustive list of this. But some of the things that I see the most are, a temporary leave of absence, maybe modifying work schedules, modification or purchase of equipment, like maybe I ask my employer for a standing desk after I’ve suffered a back injury, it could be changing a policy. So for example here, maybe I have diabetes and my workplace policy says you can’t have food at your desk, but I ask for an accommodation, a modification of that policy. So again, this is what I was talking about earlier with the gray areas, the accommodation is going to be unique to the individual, it’s going to come from their healthcare provider in light of the disability that they have and so this is an area where I can’t give you too much prescription here because it’s unique to the individual. Now, I do want to note though that a reasonable accommodation does not include removing essential job functions, creating a new job or providing personal need items like eyeglasses or mobility aids.
Monica Weimer (00:50:54):
Okay, I want to pause for a minute. And again, I recognize that this is an area that we’re not that confident, and I completely understand that, but I also want to let you know that if you’re in a position where an employee is asked you for a workplace accommodation or a modification of some sort, now is a great time to contact your HR professionals. So we have a lot of questions or we regularly get questions about the definition of an undue hardship, which again is one of the ways that we could deny someone’s request, if it created an undue hardship to our company, and the EEOC, which is a federal agency, gives us a definition of an undue hardship, but it’s not a bright-line test. And whether something was an undue hardship could certainly be challenged in court. So this is not something that we want an individual manager determining, this is a bigger company decision, and perhaps even a time to get an attorney involved and just make sure that our application of undue hardship is strong should we need to use that?
Monica Weimer (00:51:55):
All right, I do want to mention, though, we kind of skipped past this, you might be wondering, “Well, this is great about the ADA. I’m learning a lot. I’m a little more confident in this area, Monica, but I want to talk about, what in the world is a disability?” And so under the federal ADA guidelines, they define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Okay, it is not mandatory that this disability is related to the job. And the definition of major life activity is very broad, it includes things like eating, breathing, sleeping, walking, talking, and much more. Like I said, it’s a broad definition. So put simply, a disability impedes an individual from performing activities that an average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty.
Monica Weimer (00:52:54):
All right, I’ve included some HR approved language on the slide here, and you’re often going to find this an implement offers or job descriptions to confirm that an individual is able to complete the essential job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation upon accepting your position. So it is not permissive for us to ask disability related questions before we extend an offer of employment, and really employers should refrain from sensitive questions related to an employees physical or mental impairment throughout employment. The other thing I want to note here is that you’re not responsible or expected to be aware, you’re not a mind reader, you’re not expected to be aware of this. The obligation is for the employee to bring forward their request for an accommodation based on a medical condition that may rise to the level of a disability, and then in that moment, we are going to engage with the employee in what’s called the interactive process. Okay, that’s a last bullet there.
Monica Weimer (00:53:50):
And here’s the thing about this, I could lead an entire session on the ADA and we could go deep into the interactive process, but what I would encourage you to do is call in or seek HR guidance in that moment. When you’ve got someone that comes forward and says, “Hey, Monica, based on X medical condition that I have, I need something in the workplace to be adjusted.” We’re going to engage with them, It’s a collaborative process. We’re going to get information from the employee’s healthcare provider, and as the employer, we’re going to make a determination whether we can grant that accommodation or whether to deny it based on that undue hardship that I talked about two slides ago.
Monica Weimer (00:54:32):
All right, I want to spend just a couple minutes, I know I’m running up to the top of the hour, I get so excited about the stuff, I want to talk about harassment, because I do think that this is an important area that managers are aware of and that we are spotting things before they escalate. So in short, harassment is unwelcome physical or verbal behavior that’s based on an employee’s protected class. Protected class, such as race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or is sexual in nature. So this offensive conduct may include, but isn’t limited to, offensive jokes, name calling, intimidating, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, interference with work performance, things like that. Harassment becomes unlawful where enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Monica Weimer (00:55:32):
Now, I want to note here that petty insults an annoyances and isolated incidents, unless they’re extremely serious, are not typically going to rise to the level of unlawful, but are nonetheless likely something that we would want to address under perhaps our anti-bullying policy. So in my opinion, when it comes to harassment prevention is really the best tool to avoid harassment in the workplace. And as a manager, you have a large role in creating a workplace culture that doesn’t allow harassment to occur. And this sort of culture includes an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns, and they’re confident that those concerns will be addressed.
Monica Weimer (00:56:12):
All right, so on the slide here I’ve got some tips for handling a harassment complaint, but above all else, please know that once you receive a complaint or you become aware of conduct that may rise to the level of harassment, your immediate responsibility is to take prompt action. It’s also important that you review your company’s anti harassment policies to ensure that you are following the most appropriate internal steps. In the spirit of time I’m not going to go deeper into this slide, but I do want to note here that one of the things that I see a lot is that a manager will come forward and say, “Here’s what happened, but the employee didn’t call it harassment.” Or, “The employee asked me not to investigate.” Those are not good reasons not to go forward with exactly what you want to be doing, what you need to be doing. So much like I mentioned, with regard to ADA, the employee can bring this forward without using the term harassment. So we’re not waiting for that to be said to continue on into investigate the situation.
Monica Weimer (00:57:17):
All right, we talked a little bit earlier about performance management and one component of that again is corrective action, and this is the process that’s taken to eliminate undesirable actions and performance by your employees if or when that arises. And again, here, I think prevention is fundamental. Prevention is going to save you a lot of headaches. So the earlier that you act when you notice something that’s undesirable or a performance that doesn’t meet your expectations, the better it’s going to be for everybody, I promise.
Monica Weimer (00:57:47):
So here I’ve got progressive discipline, and this looks different at each company. I do not recommend that we have a firm employee-facing step disciplinary policy, okay? So we’re not going to put in a handbook, step one is this, step two is this, step three is this. Because we might use that behind the scenes as kind of our, let’s call it the structure behind our discipline, but I want to allow some discretion based on the situation. And if we put it employee-facing, we just lost the ability to have that flexibility and discretion as a company.
Monica Weimer (00:58:23):
So as you can see on the slide here, progressive discipline may take the form of things like verbal counseling, written warnings, suspension, a PIP, a performance improvement plan, final warnings, termination, or any combination of these actions at the company’s discretion. So again, I like to allow for some discretion for the company in how we handle this, though internally, we’re going to treat someone who’s tardy in one department the same as someone who’s tardy in another department. So we need to be consistent in the underbelly of our application here, but what I don’t want to do is put something employee-facing that then we’re bound to.
Monica Weimer (00:59:07):
All right, so we’ve come to the end of the presentation and to the end of employment. So I want to spend a couple minutes, I know I’m going to run over here and I apologize for that, but there’s a lot to cover. So I want to talk about termination, and ultimately part of creating a great team is having team members that are engaged and performing well and working on the team’s behalf. So after you’ve tried corrective action of various sorts and sizes, there are certainly unfortunate times when involuntary termination or discharge is appropriate. So spend a couple minutes on this together.
Monica Weimer (00:59:43):
So as you prepare for a termination, and I’m assuming here that you’ve already attempted various forms of progressive discipline and you’ve documented all of your actions, we need to be cognizant of discrimination before taking action. So remember employment actions, including termination, they’ve got to be made without regard to an employee’s membership in a protected class. And it’s also imperative to remember that the burden of proof is on you as the employer to document the legitimate job related reasons for termination. So we want to be careful with our internal decision, again, we want to document the objective reasoning, the policy, the policy infraction. We want to make sure that we’ve documented our attempts to speak to this employee and correct the action ahead of time.
Monica Weimer (01:00:34):
It’s important to be aware that many states have final paycheck regulations, including timeframes to issue that final paycheck. Some states even require that we issue the final pay immediately at the time of termination. So termination does take some planning and coordinating with your HR and your payroll office ahead of the decision, and certainly before you meet with the employee. And then lastly, I put termination notices on here. Many states have required notices that we’ve got a handover either at the time or close to the time of termination.
Monica Weimer (01:01:08):
Okay, so I want to spend just a moment on the conversation. So the nice thing about a termination, I know that sounds weird, if there’s anything nice about it, is that if progressive discipline has been properly observed, that final meeting should not be a surprise to the employee. If you’re surprising an employee we probably haven’t done the pre-steps well. So we need to be sensitive to the time of the day and even the day of the week where it’s possible, and remember that the employee’s going to need to return to their workplace and collect their belongings. I recommend that we avoid conducting this termination meeting alone, so instead I would invite HR or perhaps another manager to join you, and that person will just witness and document the conversation.
Monica Weimer (01:01:51):
So during the meeting identify the unacceptable behavior, the policy violation, the under performance, whatever it is, review past warnings that were given and advise the employee that because of the conduct or continued poor performance, the relationship will be severed. So it’s important here that we’re compassionate but not apologetic. So if the employee argues the decision or say they may continue to request for reconsideration, we’re going to compassionately but firmly tell the employee that the decision is final and stick to that message. So by the time we get to this meeting, this decision is not up for debate. Obviously we want to treat people with respect during and after the termination, and honestly, we see most post-employment issues, like a claim of wrongful termination, they’re created because the employee receives unfair treatment. All right, we’re going to let the employee go collect their belongings, we’re going to collect any company property that they’ve got, we’re going to ensure that that final paycheck is delivered in a timely manner, if we didn’t hand it over as part of that termination meeting and then review and finalize your document so that everything is in order.
Monica Weimer (01:02:59):
And then lastly, we’ve got to share this information with the team, we’ve got to let them know that this employee is no longer with us. So I recommend that you’re as transparent as is appropriate, considering the circumstances, but without sharing the terminated employee’s confidential employment details. So we’re going to respect their right to privacy, but we’re also not going to lie to our current employees. So we need to keep in mind here that a lack of information is unsettling and it’s really just likely to upset the workplace, get the rumor mill going, so I recommend that we’re factual, that we communicate quickly, as quickly as possible after the termination and just keep it factual and simple.
Monica Weimer (01:03:38):
All right, last slide on termination, just a quick reminder that all terminations do come with some risk, so I recommend that you try to make the experience and the process as seamless as possible, within reason, I know. It’s always good to remember that the terminated employee will speak to others about your organization, so they’re going to brand your company image out in the community, so doing all that you can to make the last interaction and final impression as positive as possible is really important for your company.
Monica Weimer (01:04:09):
All right, I know I jammed through those last couple slides, so let me take a look at questions. And again, we are recording this and we’ll send this out. So let me pop in here and see if I can get a couple questions answered. I saw a great one come through when I was talking about wage and hour. Let me see here. Okay, so can exempt employees move to hourly if their jobs change? For example, we are a seasonal and our manager’s work for a bit after the season ends, but not doing management duties.
Monica Weimer (01:04:39):
Okay, yes. Yes, that is great, and that is what we need to do. So when going back to wage and hour exempt and non-exempt, the exempt classification is per work week. So you might have a manager that during your season manages people and they manage two or more full-time equivalent employees so they can be exempt, but then maybe they no longer have their employees, they stay after the season to close up shop, you’re exactly right, they’re no longer meeting that exemption. So we have to change them to non-exempt, and then we can pay them any way we want, by the hour, by salary, but at the end of the day they’re non-exempt. So great question, and the answer is yes.
Monica Weimer (01:05:21):
Does FMLA leave apply to companies of a certain size? Yes, it’s 50 or more employees. And when we talk about 50 or more employees, it’s every employee, it doesn’t matter if they work one hour or 50 hours a week, if they are on your payroll roster they count. And I want to be clear here, it’s 50 or more employees for 20 calendar work weeks in either this calendar year or the previous calendar year. So it’s not as easy as saying, “Hey, we passed 50 today, we’re covered by the FMLA.” It’s it’s for 20 work weeks in this or the proceeding calendar year.
Monica Weimer (01:05:58):
All right, let me scroll a little bit. All right, I’ve got a question. Do we have to pay for employee attendance of staff meetings via Teams or Zoom? If so, just for the time that they’re logged in? Yes. That would be a required meeting, they absolutely need to be paid. It doesn’t matter if it’s a remote meeting, or if they’re just calling in, or if they’re sitting in an office somewhere, absolutely they need to be paid for that. And the second part of this, if so, just for the time that they’re logged in, I guess it has to do with what their broader workday is, keeping in mind that they have to be paid for all work performed by your company. So if after that meeting they’re sending a few emails, that would be work time and need to be paid as well.
Monica Weimer (01:06:41):
All right, let me see if I can squeeze in one more before we close up today. Does the employee have to be legally classified as disabled to require the company to make a modification? No, absolutely not. This is a determination made by the employee’s healthcare provider, whether their medical condition rises to the level of a disability as defined by the ADA. And if so, so if the healthcare provider says, “Yes, Monica’s medical condition rises to this level.” The next part of the sentence, I’m obviously simplifying it, would be, “And thereby Monica requests this reasonable accommodation for this duration of time.” So there is no legal classification for this it’s between the employee and their healthcare provider. So, good question. I know that I’ve got a lot of other questions, and I’m sorry, I appreciate your time today and I appreciate you sticking with me while I run quite a bit over, I get excited about these topics. So thank you again for your time. And again, we will email this information out so you should expect that within about 24 hours. So thank you and have a great rest of your day.