Are You Managing Performance Effectively?

Many businesses have performance management programs but is yours successful or is it falling short?  To get the most out of your performance management program there are three major questions you should ask.

1) Why do you want a performance management program?

2) Which type of program will work best for you?

3) How you should you set up your program to get the most value?

The first question to address is why.  The most common reasons for creating a performance management program are evaluating past work and looking forward to determine any compensation, promotions or discipline for employees.

Screen shot 2013-08-06 at 8.33.44 PMFor your program to be a success it is important to define your objectives and communicate them to employees early on.  If employees feel that a manager’s performance judgements are unfair, inaccurate, or too hastily made it can cause conflict within the company.  The most common errors here are an inconsistent message and an overconfidence in the program’s ability to accurately judge employee performance.  These errors can cause your program to fail in its overall goals such as building good leaders within the company.


There are three main types of programs to choose from one designing a performance management program for your company, each of which focuses on a different aspect to be improved.

1) Transformer

This program focuses on the team as a whole.  The main goals of a company that should choose a transformer performance management company is to make the team work perform efficiently as a group.  Companies with transformer programs should be looking to make broad changes within the company itself.

2) Driver

The driver program shifts focus to improving the performance of the individual within the company.  Companies with driver programs focus on building an employee’s skill set and improving their overall performance.

3) Rater

A rater program focuses on developing a scale on which to measure employee performance and using it effectively to rate employee performance.

Look at your current employee performance program if you have one.  What behaviors is the program encouraging and discouraging?  Are the employee evaluations it produces accurate?

Make sure the program you choose fits with the company goals to create an overall consistent message.  Once you figure out which type of performance management program fits best with your company’s goals you have to design the program in a way that ensures its effectiveness.  Look at what the company is currently doing to determine if any changes need to be made to make the program more cohesive.

Remember you want your staff yo be motivated so choosing a program that encourages a high level of employee performance is an important part of performance management for your company.


Safety Training on a Budget

With the recession workplace budgets are getting tighter but the need to maintain a safe workplace will always remain.  Safety training is a worthwhile investment for any business and it can do a lot to help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while at work.  Trying to fit safety training into your tight budget may seem daunting at first but there are plenty of ways to train employees without breaking the bank.

images-3Training programs may be expensive but that doesn’t mean your employees can’t learn about workplace safety.  If you send only one employee to formal training sessions you can cut costs and that employee can help to train the others when they return.  Make sure the person you choose to send will pay close attention to training so they can adequately help others understand how to be safe at work.

Use employees who already have experience to your advantage. It helps if the person you send to training has some degree of familiarity with workplace safety.  Employees who have already received training can work as a team with HR to create a custom training program for other employees.

Take advantage of community resources.  Local government and nonprofit organizations may have less expensive training options and certification programs in areas such as first aid, CPR, etc.  This a great way to fit some basic safety training into your budget.

Look at web-based safety training options.  Online tutorials can cost a lot less money and may cover general and compliance issues.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has a website with some free materials and grants to help companies on a budget get safety training for employees.

Contact your workers’ compensation carrier.  Private and state-run carriers may have in-house experts available to help with safety training and may charge less than other training options.

Companies should also consider creating a lessons learned or best practices program in addition to any other safety training.  This will help employees learn from any past occurrences while keeping them safer in the future.

By looking into some or all these options your company can ensure that employees get the safety training they need while still staying within your budget.


Issues to Consider When Growing in Staff Size

MeetingIncreasing staff size can be a major transition for a small business.  Roles within the company itself and how staff members interact with each other can be affected as a result of this change.  These changes can cause a number of challenges to the company’s strategic focus, internal structure and processes but effective management can help to ease the transition for everyone involved.


Now that your company is growing in size will you have the same values?  Will your company’s goals remain or will you try to expand on what the company can accomplish? The company’s original values may be hard to maintain with an increased staff size.  It’s important to determine if the values need to change as the company grows.  Establish these values early and make sure employees are aware of any changes.


Organized, consistent, and regular communication with employees is important to keep employees on track with goals.  Disorganized communication can result in duplication or certain issues falling through the cracks and can negatively impact the company.  Regular team meetings can help to ensure that all staff members know what needs to be accomplished.


Asking employees for feedback becomes even more important when staff sizes increase.  An open door policy may not be enough to encourage employee feedback.  Managers should conduct walk throughs to talk to employees and form cross-departmental task teams so employees can collaborate in groups to work towards company goals.


Don’t micromanage.  This will draw attention away from company goals.


Employees that have been with the company for years will need to transfer some of their responsibilities to new employees.  Management can make this easier by by recognizing an employee’s past accomplishments and direct their energy to new tasks.


Know if there are knowledge gaps and be sure to close them as soon as possible.  Hire external experts to aid in the transition if necessary, create a training budget and encourage external seminars for new employees, encourage additional education so employees can gain more knowledge about the field, and allow employees time to research.

Should I Use Craigslist to Hire ?

frustratedI often receive calls asking me, “can help the employer to hire a quality person?”  Before I say yes, I typically ask a few questions”

  1.  What sources have you already tried?
  2. What type of position are you trying to fill?
  3. Do you have a budget to do this?

Inevitabley I hear – Well I posted the job on C-R-A-I-G-S-L-I-S-T!!!!   I did did not get a quality response!

I am looking for a part-time administrative assistant, but the quality of resumes I have received  is poor.  The candidates can’t put a resume together properly.  They can’t spell or compose a cover letter.  I need someone who can use MS Office proficiently and at least be be able to compose a letter acurately.  Hmm…

OK – So you get what you pay for.  C-R-A-I-G-S-L-I-S-T is FREE or CHEAP.  What do you expect?  If you are buying or selling an item, I would recommend C-R-A-I-G-S-L-I-S-T.  When seeking a quality candidate the would not be my choice.  As an expereinced HR professional, I know the value of finding the right fit.  I then ask:

  1. How long can you afford to be without someone in that role?
  2. What is it costing you in terms of lost busineess?
  3.  How many hours do you really need?
  4. Do you have a written job description?
  5. Are you sure you need someone on your payroll?
  6. Is this a solo employee or someone who has to fit the team?

Gee – I never considered those factors. You have given me something to think about.  What do you recommend?  How much will it cost me?

If you are facing this dilemna, I suggest you first consider my questions above.  When you know the answers, it will help you to find the right employee.  Every situation is different.  The process is not complicated, but you need the EXPERIENCE to follow a process and efficiently use your time.

Would you make more money doing what you do best?  Running your business.

Tell me what steps you take to hire a new employee?  What resources do you use?  How successful are you with the process?  Do you need help?

CWE: HR Considerations for Entrepreneurs

pam stevens_BB_7792STARTING A BUSINESS IS NO SMALL TASK, and with so many logistics to manage, it is essential to remember the importance of Human Resources. Attend this workshop to learn the basic HR considerations that every entrepreneur should know. This workshop will cover how to:

Comply with hiring laws

  • Handle employee discipline

  • Prevent harassment

  • Provide time off and leaves of absence

  • Comply with the MA Wage Act and the FLSA

  • Conduct lawful terminations

Join Pam Stevens, Esq. from Seder and Chandler and Nancy Dube, Principal of Dube Consulting for an informative and interactive workshop.


Place: Center for Women and Enterprise, 50 Elm St. 2nd Floor, Worcester, MA

Date: April 9, 2013

Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

This event is open to men and women!

Please pre-register as seating is limited.

Do You Know the Family & Medical Leave Act has been Revised?

fmlaThe Family and Medical Leave Act notice has been revised to reflect the changes caused by the recently approved rule. The definition of “Veteran” has been revised to include both those who serve and those discharged in the past 5 years (previously it was only those who served). The explicit definition of “Serious Injury or Illness” was removed as well, replaced by a notice that there are differences between the definition of “Serious Injury or Illness” for a service member or veteran, and “Serious Health Condition” under the FMLA. Effective Date: March 8, 2013.

The ongoing saga of delays and extensions of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) notice posting rule continues, this time with an injunction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted a request to halt the implementation of a rule that would require all employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to post notices informing employees of their rights under the NLRA. A new deadline has not been released as of yet.

Protect your business with the state and federal posters. Federal posters include the NLRB notice and the six other mandatory postings: EEOC, FMLA, Federal Minimum Wage, OSHA, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, and USERRA.

Your Federal Workplace Poster features all six mandatory federal posting requirements:

  • NLRB
  • Revised EEOC
  • Minimum Wage/FLSA
  • OSHA
  • FMLA
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act

Do you need help with compliance?  Let me provide the guidance and experience esseential for your business.  Reach out today (508)769-2294.

Writing an Employee Handbook: 5 Things You Need to Know

Hiring employees means creating rules for them to follow. How to write an employee handbook that can help you run a better company — and protect you in court.

When you’re launching a new business, writing an employee handbook probably isn’t the first thing about. But once you start hiring, and have enough employees to round out a company, you’ll start to realize that maybe you should actually put some rules down on paper. And then you remember the employee handbook you were given when you got your first job. You remember how you glanced at it, threw it in a drawer and never looked at it again. Except there’s one difference now — now, you’re the boss.

While an employee handbook is about as fun to write as it is to read, it can be one of your company’s most important documents. Where should you begin and what should you include? Here are five things you need to know.

A handbook can protect you in court

A business can be sued for countless reasons. You fire someone who doesn’t believe they deserve to be fired, and they lawyer up. An uncouth, discourteous employee makes a pass at another employee, who eventually takes you to court. In the United States, most civil rights laws apply to companies with 15 or more employees. Companies need to become aware of local, state and federal laws to ensure they are in compliance.

So a handbook is your chance to get everything in writing, to establish rules on virtually every topic you can come up with. Obviously, having everything in writing isn’t a guarantee you won’t land in court, but it can help demonstrate in court that you weren’t making up everything on the fly. And the justice system notwithstanding, writing up all these rules and thinking about how to handle each situation will probably help you run your business more efficiently. Can’t remember your own sick-day policy? Check the handbook.

Cover the gray areas

Like what, you ask? The Internet is here to stay, and it’s causing all kinds of new litigation. Make sure you develop policies that identity what is and isn’t acceptable. With the onset of social media and the Internet, where does work begin and personal life end? This is a new and growing issue.

Remember to consider the everyday workplace scenarios that still pose challenges, even if they are not legal issues. There is no law on the books that’s going to stop people from falling in love at work. Think about those gray areas that are open for interpretation. When is my vacation earned? Do I have to call in if I’m going to be out sick? What happens if I’m called on jury duty?

It’s only a guide

Some employees — and their bosses — misunderstand the nature of a handbook and treat it as a contract. But unless you want it to be, clarify at the outset that the handbook contains policies, and does not serve as a contract. Your opening pages might include a statement along the lines of this: The contents of this manual should not be considered a contract between the company and its employees. This is a summary of our policies, which are being offered here as a guide.

Why is this important? Well, consider the topic of employment-at-will. If you’re not familiar with the term, employment-at-will means you can fire an employee for basically any reason. There are some obvious exceptions like discrimination, of course. But if somebody is incompetent or the company budget calls for eliminating a position, as an employer, you probably want the freedom to let people go whenever you want. However, if your handbook lists specific reasons for termination, without the proper disclaimer up front, these could be interpreted as the only legal grounds for termination if the handbook is considered to be a contract.

Avoid endless lingo

The tone of the writing should match the company culture, but it should be professional. Even if the company is very lax and informal, it’s fine to have an informal tone, but you still want to make it professional and understandable. If most of your employees are high school graduates, you want to make sure you’re writing to the level that they will understand.  Consult an employment attorney.

In the beginning; if you’re just writing 10 bullet points on a sheet of paper as an early outline, this might not be necessary. But once your handbook is finished, and if it’s pretty comprehensive, it’s worth the money to have an attorney review and approve it. A professional Human Resource Consultant may be able to guide you on the content and the laws as they apply to your state. There are state laws that are often overlooked, and if a company has employees in several states, those states may have different rules you need to abide by.

And once your employee handbook is finished, you should review it at least once a year. The world moves fast. Is your employee handbook up to date? If it’s time for a review or a re-write your employee handbook, contact me


You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know!

Yesterday while talking to a prospective client, it became apparent to me that I am a subject matter expert.  I am not bragging or tooting my own horn here but Human Resources is a complex field.  What I took for granted from a business owner is that they knew what they needed.  WRONG ASNWER – Instead, our conversation went from a bandaid approach to a full operation.  It never occured to me one, that a business owner knows only about “their” business.  When starting a business often times “you don’t know, what you don’t know.”  I want to thank this business owner for opening my eyes.

When the Entrepeneur comes alive, a passion grows inside inspiring you to become a Small Business Owner.  We begin by putting together a business plan.  One excellent resource to help is Center for Women and Enterprise.  So the business plan is done, you find a location perhaps with the help of my friend Maureen at Glickman Kovago and Company  Your ideas are fressh and you are excited to open your business.  Now you need insurance so contact PJ Lombardo Insurance Agency and get the agent that you will know, like and trust!  Still getting set up you need a business consultant and tax confidant.  I highly recommend Accountable Business Solutions    I could go on and on with referrals – WHY?  Because my job as a Human Resource Professional is to “Build Human Connections.”  I network and can offer solutions with trusted resources for any small business.  Please reach out to me for more connections – Bankers, Lawyeres, Service Contractors and more…..

So after helping this prospective client with some connections, she stated that she needed to hire employees.  I can help, I said.  I began to discuss the job description, the method of attracting quality candidates, the sourcing and interview process, the actual onboarding and then the framework to support the new business – paying your employees, tax liability,  employee handbooks, legal compliance, performance reviews and went on and on.  What I didn’t know is that she did not know all that was involved.  Who do you know that doesn’t know?  I would love to help!  Contact me .


Should You Allow Employee’s Time Off to Vote?

As Election Day approaches, employers must take note that most states have enacted laws requiring employers to allow employees time off to vote, sometimes with pay, subject to the individual’s hours of work and the times when the polls are open. In some states, employers are required to post notices in advance of an election, advising employees of their rights. Violation of many of these statutes is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

In Massachusetts: Employers are required to grant an employee time off to vote during the first two hours after the polls open, if the employee requests time off during that period. Only those who are employed in a “manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishment” are eligible for time off under this provision. Time off for voting need not be paid.    Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 178.

Do you have a written policy regarding time off?  You should!  I can help.  Reach out to me for a complete Employee Handbook or a single policy.  Have an HR question?  Call me (508)769-2294.  Contact me.


Is Patience Really a Virtue?

The phrase “patience is a virtue” is just a way of expressing the importance of being patient. A virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Patience can make us better people. The definition of the word is to tolerate delay implying self control and forbearance. When we say “patience is a virtue” we are exposing our moral values and expressing the importance of patience as a foundation of principle. So to answer the question patience is not a virtue until it truly becomes a virtue and knowing how diverse the spectrum of individualism is I’m sure patience is a vice(opposite of virtue) to some. Patience is a necessity for a happy existence and that is why the phrase is so often used.

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” Thomas Jefferson

Patients is a virtue because it is developed through difficulties and troubles. When we lack understanding, it is impossible to accept God’s way.   I find myself at home, continuing to recuperate from a very bad fall.  I never thought I was a patient person, but now I know for sure I am not.  I just want to be up and about,  and healthy again!   That is a big wish – clearly not reality!

With so much time on my hands, I began thinking about employees who are out on disability.  As a Human Resource Professional, I am trained to administer these benefits.  That is, if the company actually offers short or long term disabilty.  The employee must report the disability to HR.  In turn, we collect facts – nature of injury or illness, medical provider attending to you, date injury or illness began, expected course of treatment, duration of leave.  We then complete a disability form and submit to our insurance carrier for verification and approval/denial of the disability claim.  In the meantime you must sit and wait and develop patience without income.  As an HR professional, we have done our job.  As an employee waiting is very hard to do!

In my case, I am self employed, so I do not have the disability option.  My patience is short, my injuries many, and I find myself in need of work.  Since I am not out and about generating new business, I must rely on existing clients.  I am only able to work a few hours a day, but I must be able to think clearly, use my knowledge of Human Resources, Resumes and Social Media to serve my clients needs in the most efficient way.

Patience, well it is a virtue!  I must learn to accept and understand what I cannot control.  What would you do?  How do you develop patience?  Please share your tips with me.

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