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Monthly Archives

February 2017

Four tips for responding to a hostile email

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

In preparing for my upcoming webinar on workplace violence, I’ve been thinking about how hostile emails fit into the conversation.

We’ve all received a hostile email at least once in our lives. Perhaps it was from an angry customer, a bullying co-worker, or a boss who thought reaming you would improve your performance. Or maybe you’ve even received several hostile emails over time from the same person…

To find out the best way to deal with hostile emails, I asked my friend and colleague, Bill Eddy, founder of the High Conflict Institute, for guidance. Bill is an attorney, mediator and therapist, and the author of several books, including, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns, among several others.

According to Bill, the first step in responding to hostile emails is to ask yourself if they truly need an answer; not all emails need a response. If your co-worker or boss is just on a rant with nothing important to say then don’t respond, as tempting as it may be to fire back.

A hostile email may deserve a response, however, if it was cc’ed to others or has a lot of untrue information. For example, if the email claims you failed at your portion of the team’s project, and the email is cc’ed to the boss, then you may want to respond – but only to the inaccurate statements. Avoid getting sucked in with your own emotions.

When responding, Bill suggests using his BIFF response:

  • Brief: A brief response reduces the chances of an angry back and forth. Brief signals you don’t take the other person’s statements seriously and keeps you out of sending anything resembling a personal attack. Focus only on the facts and make no comments about character or personality.
  • Informative: Remember the point of your response is to correct inaccurate statements. Focus on the accurate statements you want to make and offer facts only.
  • Friendly: A hostile response will elicit a hostile response back. A friendly response is focused on de-escalation, and other email recipients will notice that your response is clearly very different than the other person’s hostile email. Try as hard as you can to sound as relaxed and empathetic as possible.
  • Firm: Avoid comments that invite more discussion. You might even try, “This is all I will say on this issue,” or, “This conversation is over.”

If you do get another hostile email in response to your BIFF, don’t respond. You have stated the facts and attempted to end the conflict so your part is done. Do not engage.

Bill says that if you absolutely do have to respond, try copying and pasting parts or all of your former email to show that you aren’t spending time on the conflict and have moved on.

When do hostile emails count as workplace violence?

You might think hostile emails must include something like a threat of violence or racial slur to be considered workplace violence or discrimination. Certainly, they don’t need either of these to be workplace bullying… but what about violence? Does a hostile email that says you are an idiot, written in all caps and in 18 point-font, count as workplace violence?

Honestly, I am not 100% sure of the answer and I figured you might not be either. To get answers, join me and another colleague, workplace violence expert Sue Hoffman, from Workplace Guardians, on March 3.

We are doing a free webinar at 10 am Pacific Time. Click here to get your spot.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Catherine

PS: The webinar will also delve into different types of violence and steps to keeping your organization safe. I don’t think you’ll want to miss it! Claim your seat.

Look Into a 9x Best Place to Work Award Winner

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

How did a San Diego company, who offers an Employer of Record payrolling service, win the San Diego Business Journal’s Best Places to Work Award 9 times in a row?

I wanted to know more, so I spoke to Sean Ring to get some answers. He is the Business Development Manager for Innovative Employee Solutions and was recognized as a top millennial in the staffing industry by Staffing Industry Review Magazine in 2016.  He says, quite simply, the answer is empowered employees, trust, and transparency.

For Sean, culture is everything, and he got his VP of HR, Tania Fiero, to help me (and you) understand what an award-winning culture looks like. She was kind enough to reveal some of the IES magic.

Read the full article here on my blog.

How did you create such an amazing culture in a niche business that hardly anyone knows exists?
“The IES culture is not created by HR, but rather it grew organically from our employees who feel empowered to add to the culture in any way that they like. HR’s role is to protect the culture, not create it. Our leadership team has a huge role in helping the employees feel empowered to create a culture that they truly love, not one that was designed for them.”

What are some of the key drivers or things that you do to ensure that employees feel this way?
“We have an unprecedented amount of trust. People are generally accepting of one another as human beings and we are 100% transparent with our employees about all aspects of the business. We actively share and talk about our financial standing (good or bad) and forward-looking strategies, and offer our employees direct access to the leadership team. Once trust has been established, empowerment follows and our employees take a lot of pride in the ownership and values of what we have all built together.”

What are some of the unique or progressive things that IES is doing from a culture standpoint?
“We completely redesigned our performance management system. All employees have monthly 1 to 1 conversations with their managers and once per year build and Individual Development Plan. This way there are no surprises about goals, objectives, where they stand and where they are headed. We truly want to design a career in partnership with our employees, that asks them where they want to grow, and then we act upon our duty to make the right investments in them to help to get them there.

Additionally, collaboration is rampant – We have E.D.I.T. (Employee Driven Innovation Teams) that are made up of cross-functional employees who work on big picture, and sometimes abstract strategies for the company and present their work to the Leadership Team. This promotes interdepartmental connections with our employees and also allows them opportunities for growth and development working in areas that may not relate to their job role.”

What happens when someone engages in behavior that is outside of your culture (e.g., bullying, not being a team player, not producing, etc)?
These cases are extremely rare in my tenure at IES, however, we have always maintained a proactive approach to employee relations. Training and development is something that we take very seriously and continuously seek to level up our managers through a variety of in-house and external trainings each year. All managers are trained to handle a variety of scenarios like bullying, that fall outside the scope of what is acceptable in our culture. We also encourage collaboration when seeking to address and/or handle difficult employee relations scenarios. There truly are no cookie cutter instances when it comes to bullying so we train our team to complete full due diligence and investigations before taking any action.

Read the full article here on my blog.

Off topic, I’ve got a webinar coming up on March 3rd on the topic of workplace violence versus workplace bullying – I think you might find it fascinating. Claim your spot before there aren’t any left!

Sincerely,
Catherine

An Award Winning Culture Explained: A Look into Innovative Employee Solutions

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

Innovative Employee Solutions has an amazing culture! How did a local, San Diego company who offers an Employer of Record payrolling service that most people don’t know exists develop into one of San Diego’s best places to work 9 years running? It’s simple really – Empowered employees, trust and transparency.

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. 3 years ago, I was frustrated and unfulfilled in my current role selling credit card processing services in a B2B outside sales environment. One day after work I had an epiphany – I am great at sales and I love doing it, why don’t I forget all of my previous experience and seek out a sales role at a really great company. Who cares what industry they are in, I just want to work for a company who cares about its people and where employees are happy to come to work. The aforementioned SDBJ Best Places to Work list was the first search result in Google and the next thing I knew I was headed down to IES for interview.

Fast forward and I have had 3 amazing years with many accomplishments and growth both personally and professionally and have been able to demolish sales goals and help contribute to big strategy projects along the way. For me, culture is everything, and a conversation with our VP of HR, Tania Fiero, who played a pivotal role in hiring me pulls back the curtain and reveals some of the magic behind IES’ culture.

How did you create such an amazing culture in a niche business that hardly anyone knows exists?

“The IES culture is not created by HR, but rather it grew organically from our employees who feel empowered to add to the culture in any way that they like. HR’s role is to protect the culture, not create it. Our leadership team has a huge role in helping the employees feel empowered to create a culture that they truly love, not one that was designed for them.”

What are some of the key drivers or things that you do to ensure that employees feel this way?

“We have an unprecedented amount of trust. People are generally accepting of one another as human beings and we are 100% transparent with our employees about all aspects of the business. We actively share and talk about our financial standing (good or bad), forward looking strategies, and offer our employees direct access to the leadership team. All of these facets create and build trust amongst our employees. Once trust has been established, empowerment follows and our employees take a lot of pride in the ownership and values of what we have all built together.

What are some of the unique or progressive things that IES is doing from a culture standpoint?

“We completely redesigned our performance management system. All employees have monthly 1 to 1 conversations with their managers and once per year build and Individual Development Plan. This way there are no surprises about goals, objectives, where they stand and where they are headed. We truly want to design a career in partnership with our employees, that asks them where they want to grow, and then we act upon our duty to make the right investments in them to help to get them there. Additionally, collaboration is rampant – We have E.D.I.T. (Employee Driven Innovation Teams) that are made up of cross functional employees who work on big picture, and sometime abstract strategy for the company and present their work to the Leadership Team. This promotes interdepartmental connections with our employees and also allows them opportunities for growth and development working in areas that may not relate to their job role.”

What happens when someone engages in behavior that is outside of your culture (e.g., bullying, not being a team player, not producing, etc)?

These cases are extremely rare in my tenure at IES, however we have always maintained a proactive approach to employee relations. Training and development is something that we take very seriously and continuously seek to level up our managers through a variety of in house and external trainings each year. All managers are trained to handle a variety of scenarios like bullying, that fall outside the scope of what is acceptable in our culture. We also encourage collaboration when seeking to address and/or handle difficult employee relations scenarios. There truly are no cookie cutter instances when it comes to bullying so we train our team to complete full due diligence and investigations before taking any action.

 

Sean Ring is an avid surfer and world traveler, constantly striving to gain knowledge, perspective, and experience from all corners of the globe and from all walks of life. Sean earned a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in International Business from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005. Sean is currently chair of IES Cares community outreach program and has earned his CCWP (Certified Contingent Workforce Professional) accreditation from Staffing Industry Analysts. Sean was also recognized as a top millennial in the staffing industry by Staffing Industry Review Magazine in 2016. Sean is currently Vice Chair for the ASA (American Staffing Association) Social Responsibility Committee.

Innovative Employee Solutions is a San Diego-based B2B service provider of Employer of Record Payrolling services for their clients nationwide and internationally. IES provides an outsourcing solution for their clients’ contingent or project based workers who they have sourced internally. Contingent self-sourcing strategies have saved companies vast sums of money when compared to using traditional staffing firms.

CEO of $1B business says, “No bullies and no b**ches”​

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

Last weekend I attended a conference where Kendra Scott, founder of the jewelry empire Kendra Scott Design, was speaking. Kendra Scott’s company was recently valued at $1 Billion, up from $1.6 Million only six years ago, according to the conference emcee. Obviously, she’s doing something right, so us audience members all listened intently to learn what made Kendra’s business so successful.

Her secret sauce? Core values.

Given that over the last few weeks I’ve sent a few emails about this very topic, I thought I’d share some highlights from Kendra’s speech. (You can read my two emails here and here.)

Kendra said she was bullied in junior high, back when she was “a nerd.” For example, she wanted to run for student council and all of the cool girls, who were also running, told her she couldn’t. They’d tear down her posters and she would come behind and replace them each, always “with a poster more sparkly and glittery than the last.” She discovered through this process that “no” was a motivator for her and inspired her to try harder, because, after all, (golden nugget alert) “NO is ON backwards.”

The hurt of being bullied has resonated with Kendra throughout her life, and in an effort to surround herself with good people, she only hires people who fit her core values: family, fashion, and philanthropy. Kendra says core values are the heart and soul of her success, and, “if you don’t focus on core values you end up hiring b**ches and you can’t take the b**ch out of someone.”

Kendra doesn’t wait for good people to come to her, either. She says right away you can tell if someone shares your values and is a superstar. When she meets those people, whether at the grocery store or a restaurant, she invites them to come and work for her. She can teach them retail, she says, but she can’t teach them to be a superstar or believe in her values – that all has to come naturally.

Kendra also says she’s so successful because her people work hard, and they work hard because they’re appreciated and respected. For example, family is important to her, and so she respects and appreciates everyone else’s family. She blocks time to pick up her kids from school every single day, Mondaythrough Friday, and she gets angry when she hears of others sacrificing their family for work. If your kid is sick, she expects you to stay home and care for him.

She shared that once she was touring her stores, and met a retail clerk who said she was scared to tell her manager she was pregnant. Shocked and hurt, Kendra asked why. The clerk said she was afraid she would lose her job, but when she finally did tell the manager, the manager was super excited and actually threw her a party. All of the clerk’s peers have been extremely supportive of her, and of course the clerk loves working at Kendra Scott. Kendra told her, “Be a good mom, and if you want a career I will help you have that too.” What kind of loyalty do you think that employee has for her employer?

Kendra reiterated several times throughout her speech that you have to hire people who fit your core values in order for your business to flourish. “If you want to be successful,” she said, “no bullies and no b**ches.”

Sincerely,

Catherine

10 Easy Ways to Bring Core Values to Life

By | Civil & Healthy Workplaces | No Comments

Last week I sent an email about how your organization’s vision, mission, and core values can drive employee engagement and performance. I mentioned that one thing organizations with bullying have in common is that they don’t focus on these very important concepts.

I thought I better send out some ideas on how to bring your vision, mission, and core values to life if I was going to tell you that ignoring them can create room for bullying.

Here are 10 (fairly easy) action steps:

  1. Share your vision, mission and core values in your job postings when recruiting new employees.
  2. Include questions about core values in your interviews during hiring.
  3. Include core values on your annual performance evaluation form, so that employees are measured against them.
  4. Create a peer reward system around your values. When someone exemplifies them, they should be acknowledged or even rewarded. (When someone violates them, they should be disciplined, up to and including termination.)
  5. Choose a value each month, and during that month, make that value a part of daily staff meetings, fun activities, and training programs.
  6. At the start of each staff meeting, share a story about a customer you have helped or an incident that occurred that has brought your business one step closer to solving that problem laid out in your vision.
  7. Ask employees to create a 30-second video on their phone about why the vision and mission are important to them, and/or how they live the core values every day. String them together into one video, and hold a viewing party.
  8. Ask each employee (or department as a whole) to review, or self-audit” their own practices, policies and procedures against the vision, mission and values. What changes can they make to realign themselves?
  9. Ask each department to choose a core value and create a 40-minute training around it. Provide a lunch n’ learn program for each department to deliver their training. (This is more about having fun and keeping the values top of mind than it is about really learning.)
  10. Ask employees to brainstorm how they can share the core values with new employees when they’re hired on. What steps will they take personally in order to engrain new hires in the culture?

I’d love to hear other things you are doing in your own organization to bring your vision, mission and core values to life. Shoot me an email and get them all on my blog!