Manager is not your friend!

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Manager is not your friend!

The meteoric rise of inappropriate workplace behavior in the spotlight has created a watershed moment. That said, I hope workers, especially 20-somethings, don’t mistakenly assume complaining to HR will now always end with positive outcomes. Here’s why:

There are 3 versions of the truth.

I was taught very early in my career as an HR professional that for every employee complaint, there are three sides to the story – the accuser, the accused, and the truth. It’s rarely black and white. That’s because we’re dealing with human resources. Humans are highly subjective in their perception and interpretation of events. What is normal to one person is offensive to another, etc.

Deciding which one has the right view on the situation is the challenge.

This gets further complicated by the fact that HR works for the employer, not the employee. Yes, HR is technically in place to support the needs of employees, but their bigger purpose is to keep employees happy and motivated so they remain good producers and keep strong loyalty to the company. Therefore, when an employee comes to HR with a negative claim or issue, HR’s first thought is, “How do I minimize the impact of this on the entire organization?” This is why HR often fails to respond in the manner or degree to which the employee believes necessary. Especially, for 20-somethings, who were raised by parents that taught them everyone is equal and should feel justified in sharing when they feel they’ve been wronged. For them, the response by HR can often seem highly insensitive and lacking. When in reality, HR is trying to look at it from all sides.

Don’t assume HR is your career coach.

As someone who spent years in corporate HR and recruiting, I can’t tell you how many times I saw an employee mistakenly assume HR was where you went for career coaching. Issues with your boss or coworkers? You might think HR is the place to talk through them. But, you would be wrong. The moment you bring a grievance or concern to HR, it’s documented on your employment record. You’re marked as having an issue. And, that means you’re someone who has the immediate potential to disrupt the workplace harmony HR is trying to keep in check. In short, going to HR should only happen when you are A) prepared to present your case properly, and B) understand and accept the potential ramifications of your actions.

Step 1: Prepare for questioning.

If you feel you’ve been wronged at work, before you march down to HR to file a complaint, or draft a detailed letter documenting the situation, it’s best to talk to someone outside the company who has an extensive background in HR. Why? He or she can ask you all the questions you’ll get asked by your HR department and help you make sure you’re answering them correctly. Think of it like a court case. There’s a reason lawyers “prep” plaintiffs before they take the stand. Saying the wrong thing can discount your credibility and get your claim ignored. Or, even worse, turned around to make it look like you’re the troublemaker.

Step 2: Minimize your fear by preparing for the worst-case scenario.

One of the reasons many people don’t file claims is out of fear. The #MeToo movement has shown us how powerless individuals can feel in situations when their jobs and livelihoods are at stake. A good way to handle this is to put yourself in a position where you aren’t concerned your current job is your only option. Having your references in check, your resume tuned-up, your network mobilized, and a bucket list of other employers you’d like to work for will give you the confidence you need to say, “If they don’t fix things, I’m moving on.” It’s also good in the event they decide the best course of action is to not have you work at the company any more.

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As they say, “you can forgive, but never forget.”

I have to be honest, if you’ve got a grievance that is so bad you feel you must go on the record with HR, then it’s likely you aren’t going to want to work there long-term. It may be better for you personally and professionally to move on and find a new employer where you aren’t constantly reminded of a bad situation. While there are plenty of cases of companies taking swift, appropriate action and employees going on to have successful careers, there are just as many claims that end up with the employee moving on so they can start fresh someplace else.

A final thought.

In situations where things have gotten ugly at work, you need to understand HR’s role in solving the problem. Don’t assume their focus on employee happiness includes having your back in difficult career situations. Instead, seek help from the outside and get proper coaching on how to engage and involve HR effectively. You don’t want to make any communication mistakes that can inadvertently hurt your career.

Manager is not your friend!

Put some respect on my name. Ok maybe not that extreme..but when you are applying for a job whether you send an email or a phone interview make sure to keep it classy and professional.

Why Email Is Not Your Friend (part 2)

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By Christian Bisson, PMP

In my last post, I discussed why you should manage projects via project management tools rather than via email. Let’s imagine you’re making the transition—a wise choice, congratulations! But it may not be smooth sailing as you embed the tool into day-to-day team life.

This post talks about challenges you might encounter a long the way, and how to address them.

1. Cannot use the tool

Not everyone can pick up a tool and learn how to use it on their own. And more often than not, training given to people is not fine-tuned to each individual’s needs.

Some will struggle, meaning they will avoid the use of the tool and revert back to emails or other means to get their work done. In this instance, you might even be asked to stop using the tool yourself because others struggle.

Although abandoning the tool might seem like a quicker way of fixing the issue, it’s actually addressing a symptom, not a cause. Avoiding the use of the tool is not going to be beneficial to anyone long-term.

Instead, take the time to help anyone who struggles, or prepare customized training for your team members. Ask them where they are having trouble, and show them how they can achieve what they need to do.

2. Annoyed by notifications

Oddly, one recurring complaint of using a project management tool instead of emails is receiving too many emails. For instance, when people comment within a task, the tool might email once per comment.

There are two ways you can mitigate the amount of emails:

  • Guide people toward their notification settings so they are configured to meet their needs. Some like to have lots of emails; others prefer to use activity feeds or a notification dashboard within the tool.
  • A project management tool should not replace a conversation. Invite people to discuss issues in person or via a conference call instead of having 10 back-and-forth debates within an item of the tool.

3. Partial access or multiple tools

Many organizations work with more than one tool, which can be very effective in some cases. However, what often happens is that team members are confused because they do not know where to go to see their tasks. In addition, sometimes team members in other locations do not have access to the tool.

All this means the project manager struggles to manage all the work of a project since tasks can’t be assigned to everyone or tasks are split into different locations.

This can be tricky to deal with if the project manager cannot select tools and access. However, the objective is to have everyone on board use one project management tool only. This lets all team members know where to get the information they need and allows the project manager to have a complete view of the project in one place.

4. Email lovers

There are some who feel they cannot live without email. Even when the project management tool has all the information and properly archives it, some team members still want that information emailed to them. Project managers should not resort to sending information within the tool and also sending an email to that person, which is duplicated effort for nothing.

In these cases, it is important to show the person that the same objective can be met with the tool. Show him or her how to access the information easily and how to archive a project workspace if that is a long-term concern when closing a project.

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