I love this time of year. As soon as Halloween is over, I almost immediately become reflective and grateful and hopeful about the year gone by and the year to come.
I’ve said it over and over how much my life has changed since the summer of 2012. New job. New relationship. New car. New home. New schools, activities and routines with the kids. New priorities. New goals. New focus. New attitude … No new friends, though. Read why.
As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I am beyond grateful for all these things and the people who encourage and support me. I’m humbled by what faith and hard work can do — and a little bit anxious about what the future holds.
I’ll be working through the Thanksgiving holiday this year. I’m fortunate that I can login from home to do the things I need to do — but I’m not taking any real time off. And when I’m not doing work for work, I’ll be studying for my SPHR exam coming up in January … I’m not complaining, just sharing. I feel blessed in the busy-ness of my life. I’ve finally accepted and committed to thriving in this new pace. I’m thankful for that too.
Remember there are people out there who don’t get a break or work from home. Please be kind to them.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Whatever your plans, be safe and enjoy yourself.
I once worked with a guy who marked every e-mail that he sent as urgent.
Every. Single. Email. Every day.
In his defense, he didn’t send very many e-mails. Maybe 1 or 2 each day … He said that was the reason he marked them as urgent — he didn’t want his few e-mails to get lost among all the other e-mails being sent and received each day.
Problem was, because he was marking everything as urgent, people stopped taking his e-mails seriously and responded with ZERO sense of urgency. People were annoyed at him for marking things urgent that clearly were not.
He was the Boy who cried e-Wolf.
Most of us are inundated with e-mails every day. We can’t go more than a few hours without checking our messages before our inboxes become full to bulging with requests that need our response.
Organizing and prioritizing all those messages isn’t easy. When people mark things as urgent when they know they are not, it only adds to the frustration and confusion of it all.
So when should you mark something as urgent?
- It is due in 72 hours or less. If the deadline for the issue is within 3 days, mark it as urgent — and follow up with a phone call or text message letting the person know the e-mail is there.
- It will immediately change the receiver’s actions. If the information in the e-mail is designed to make the person reading it conduct themselves and their business differently, mark it as urgent. For example, a change to a procedure or a time change for a upcoming or important meeting.
Other that that, the e-mail can probably be sent with normal or low urgency and followed up on accordingly.
What are some other e-mail etiquette faux pas’ and fails? How can we do better in managing e-mail communication?
Recently, I was chatting with one of my HR friends about an issue she was having. She manages a small HR department of 4, including herself. Because the team is small, everyone on the team has to be a generalist of sorts. As the leader, she is often pulled into strategy meetings plus she does a lot of training and presenting as well. 2 of the team are fairly new HR practitioners and she often vents to me about feeling guilty that she isn’t able to spend more time with them, working on their learning and development.
We hadn’t talked about it in awhile. She’d stopped mentioning it so I thought the team had turned the corner. I was wrong! Things were worse than ever for her, as one of her team was not making the development strides expected or necessary …
She won’t do anything I suggest to help her development. She keeps saying how busy she is with her everyday duties. She says she doesn’t have time to do the extra things I’m suggesting. I don’t know what to do about it! Her work is fine; she’s not missing deadlines or anything. But I can’t rely on her to take on more; eventually, that’s going to limit her advancement and her earnings. She’s falling behind the rest of the group — and everyone can see it. It’s embarrassing to me. I don’t know what to do.
My advice? Let her fail.
I believe in the importance of development. Once a person is trained and operating optimally in the essential duties of their job, a good manager should be looking for ways to further develop that individual. The ability to cultivate the potential of others is what separates good managers from great ones. Development is what keeps people engaged and enthusiastic about the work and the organization. It is the win-win of the employer-employee relationship.
Yet, while I believe in creating enrichment opportunities, I believe just as firmly that management is not solely responsible for development. The initiative and ambition required for development are not something management can teach. Those are things the individual has to bring with them … Unfortunately, not everyone has those skills or desires. Some people just want to come to work, complete the tasks they’ve been trained for and go home. No more, no less. Some people simply cannot be developed because they are unwilling.
As managers, we have to accept that and adjust accordingly. Not everyone on our teams will want the sage wisdom we have to offer. Not everyone will take our advice on how to improve. Their development is not your problem. Let it go — and invest your time into the people and projects where your insight is welcomed.
This isn’t the same as an employee who isn’t following directives or who isn’t completing their work. Those kinds of issues should not be ignored. They must be addressed through the normal course of coaching and, if necessary, progressive discipline.
But if the person doesn’t want to learn more than the aspects of their current role, don’t push. If the needs of the role grows and changes but the person cannot change with it, eventually he/she will kick in and catch up — or they will have to move on, by their own choice or by yours.
Set the expectation and create the opportunities — but don’t take on the burden of someone else’s development. It’s not your problem.
I’ve spent much of the last year working to improve my organization’s recruiting and hiring processes. One of the main goals was moving our application process completely online. Being a small staff, we have to make optimal use of technology to track the success of our hiring. Like all organizations, we need to maintain a steady flow of appropriate applicants to staff our business. And we need to be able to report and track those metrics.
Finding a reputable, affordable vendor to partner with was both too easy and too hard. Because there are dozens and scores out there! And they all proclaim to be the best at what they do … Fortunately, I have a professional network full of really smart and savvy HR geniuses to help navigate the selection minefield. Their recommendations have been invaluable. Who you know continues to matter almost as much as what you know.
In making a selection, one thing that was really important was the system’s ability to send notifications to the candidates about their status throughout the process. We get hundred of applications each month. Communicating with each applicant is important to us — especially because so many of them are or become customers. How we treat them during the hiring process has larger impact that we have to always keep in mind … More than just the standard ”we received your application and will contact you if interested,” we hoped for something that would communicate automatically if the applicant didn’t meet current needs, didn’t score in the benchmarked range for assessments or just wasn’t a fit without making them so upset that they would never want to visit our locations or purchase our products again … It didn’t seem like a lot to ask.
But it turned out that it was. Repeatedly, I heard that the notices desired were not either not available or not recommended because there was too much risk involved in rejecting or upsetting the potential candidate.
Huh? So letting someone who has applied to work for you think you either never looked at their application and/or looked at it didn’t think enough of the person to respond at all is the better option??
Applicants are screaming for feedback about their status. They want to know if they are in or out. They want to know if they are in the running or should move onto other opportunities. We should give it to them. There has to be a way to do that and still be lawful, appropriate and respectful.
If there isn’t, there should be. So I’ll keep looking and working until I find it or create it. The quest for the perfect applicant tracking system is far from over …