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MANAGING STAFF

5 lessons employers can learn from Elon Musk’s Twitter crises

By Lynne Curry When multi-billionaire and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk acquired Twitter on Oct. 27, he assumed leadership of a company that hadn’t earned a profit in eight of its ten years, By Nov. 4, eight days later, 1.3 million users had fled Twitter. Revenue dropped dramatically as advertisers, Twitter’s main revenue source, pulled out. One could feel sorry for Musk—except Twitter’s crises resulted in part from Musk’s own “I wing it” actions. His mistakes provide valuable lessons for other employers. Don’t alienate those you most need to survive Musk’s own tweets and heavy-handed actions alienated Twitter’s employees and stakeholders. In his first eight days, Musk fired massive numbers of Twitter’s full-time workforce, throwing remaining employees into survival mode. Remaining employees heard about the mass layoffs but didn’t learn… . . . read more.

TERMINATION

7 strategies for firing without backfiring

By Lynne Curry The final revenge of the difficult, fired employee. You’ve hesitated to fire him, you’ve given him chance after chance, but he’s not getting better. In fact, he’s getting worse, and so is the situation. You owe it to your other employees, who consider this employee toxic or carry his shirked workload burden, to bless this employee out the door. Unfortunately, you then make a critical mistake that results in a painful payout to this employee. If you want to fire without backfiring, you need to pay attention to: The doctrine of good faith and fair dealing; The guardrails of just cause, and Ask yourself 22 questions. If you’d like to fire an employee without backfire, you need to consider good faith and just cause, then ask yourself… . . . read more.

TERMINATION

To avoid a messy workplace theft investigation, can we just fire our prime suspect?

By Lynne Curry Question: Several years ago, when one of our employees was stealing from other employees’ purses and lockers, we called the police. The process — calling the police, alerting our insurance carrier and interviewing multiple employees to show fairness so we wouldn’t get sued for wrongful termination when we fired the one employee — tore apart our company. Some of our best employees couldn’t believe we didn’t trust them. We tried to explain we had wanted to be fair, and that if we only singled certain employees, we’d stigmatize them forever, but two of our best, long-term employees were so angry they quit within a few months. Once again, we have a problem. Several employees have reported missing small things from their desks. These items appear to be… . . . read more.

HIRING & FIRING

Employees who ask to be fired: A new trend to obtain a strategic advantage

By Lynne Curry At first, you think you’re imagining things. Your employee, “Kevin,” seems to want you to fire him. It started with Kevin not showing up for two critical team meetings in a row. When you sent him a text asking, “what happened” after the first, he responded, “It wasn’t on my radar.” You sent him an individual meeting request to ask him about this, but he was a “no show.” You planned to ask him to stay after the second team meeting, but he didn’t show up. In the meantime, your hear a complaint from another staffer: “He treats me with total disrespect. Maybe it’s that I’m a woman, or Hispanic, but I don’t plan to take it anymore.” This cascade of problems tells you need to act… . . . read more.

DOCUMENTATION

What you write can come back and bite

By Lynne Curry Your recorded words—they’re direct evidence. Direct evidence is evidence that proves the existence of a fact. Direct evidence includes someone else’s direct observations as in “I saw…,” “I heard….” Here’s a recent case where a staffing firm torpedoed itself and their client. The firm’s recruiter emailed 66,000 recipients. They emailed 66,000 individuals seeking applicants for a desktop support position for a client with a subject line “Desktop Support (Need Young Folks Only).1 Really? That’s direct evidence. And in September of 2021 the EEOC sued the staffing agency. Here’s a landmark case, Stewart v. Wells Fargo Bank, 5:15-cv-00988-MHH, that shows how a manager can undercut a potentially needed termination. Wells Fargo bank hired Deborah Stewart as a treasury management sales consultant. She had experience that qualified her for her… . . . read more.

Risk Management

Don’t write a positive reference for a problem employee; instead…

By Lynne Curry Question: After an investigation, we fired one of our employees for threatening and stalking two co-workers. He now demands a positive letter of reference, which I’m writing. I tried to appease him with an innocuous letter that gave the dates on which he’d worked here along with what his job duties were.  He refused to accept this, and frankly he scares me. Can you give me any pointers for writing a reference letter that sounds positive but not too positive? Answer: Don’t. If you write a falsely positive or even neutral reference, you can be sued for “negligent referral,” defined as “the failure of an employer to disclose complete and factual information about a former or current employee to another employer.” True story When Allstate Insurance Co…. . . . read more.

Firing documentation that makes sense

By Lynne Curry As an expert witness (qualified in court in management best practices, HR, and workplace issues), I’m often handed documentation by attorneys or employers who ask, “What do you think? Will it convince a regulatory agency or jury this employee needed to be fired?” My most frequent answer: “This documentation doesn’t make the case.” Here’s why. It doesn’t convince Many supervisors confuse their opinions with facts. Their documentation consists of statements such as “he didn’t show initiative,” “she demonstrates a poor attitude,” “he doesn’t play well with others.” While those statements provide the supervisor’s view, they fail to convince. Well-written documentation provides the facts that will lead a third-party to reach the conclusion the supervisor holds. For example, “When Tish came to the staff meeting 45 minutes late,… . . . read more.

COVID-19

So, your employee wants to stay on unemployment

By Paul Edwards bio It’s been a few of months of COVID chaos and business owners across America are thinking about what it’s going to take to reopen their businesses—and the economy, in general. Of course, the first piece of that equation involves recalling your employees who have been temporarily furloughed or laid off. And, since one portion of the CARES Act included an additional $600 per week to anyone collecting unemployment benefits, one common question we’re hearing is, “What if my employees refuse to come back to work because they want to keep collecting unemployment?” Usually, this question seems to be based on a misunderstanding of how unemployment benefits work. Generally speaking, if your employees refuse work in favor of collecting unemployment benefits, they will likely not be eligible for… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Supreme Court ruling extends workplace protections to LGBTQ workers

By Mike O’Brien bio SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND TRANSGENDER STATUS NOW ARE PROTECTED CLASSES NATIONALLY: Federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees, the United States Supreme Court announced June 15 in a landmark ruling. The historic decision will extend workplace anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections to about 8 million LGBTQ workers nationwide. The ruling also vindicates a position long taken by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is a defeat, however, for the Trump administration, which opposed the EEOC. President Trump instructed the Department of Justice to argue that the provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation bias. This led to the odd circumstance where two parts of the same government argued for opposite… . . . read more.

MANAGING STAFF

Don’t cast out a truth teller

By Lynne Curry bio “Morgan” was the one person who took issue with the CEO’s presentation of his new initiative. Before she voiced her concerns, the 12 other managers around the conference table had nodded appreciatively when the CEO made each of his points. Several other managers secretly shared Morgan’s doubts, but no one came to her aid when the CEO looked irritated. Six weeks later, it surprised none of the other managers to receive an email notifying them that Morgan had left the company. It did worry these managers when the CEO’s initiative failed. Nevertheless, the remaining managers knew better than to voice their apprehensions when the CEO and his hand-picked CFO put a good face on the situation. In organizations such as the above, the corporate immune system… . . . read more.


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