It’s exciting when you become a manager. More pay, a bigger office, the feeling of being recognized. But with great power comes great responsibility. And one of those responsibilities is having conversations with your employees that are less than pleasant. Whether it be asking why a project wasn’t completed, putting a long time employee on a PIP, or even firing your staff member, managers need to handle these conversations professionally and with tact.
So what’s a new manager to do? Here are my top 3 tips for having those less than pleasant conversations.
The first time you have to have a hard conversation can be nerve racking. One way to make it easier is to write out talking points ahead of time. You can even discretely have them in the meeting. Note that I said talking points, not a script- that could lead to some awkwardness. Once you have your points, practice what you’re going to say. The first time I fired someone, I rehearsed in the mirror for hours the night before. Make sure you’re clear on what you need to say to help make the conversation easier.
2. Be Direct
There’s nothing worse than having to have the hard conversation again. Many managers water down their message to try and soften the blow. However, this doesn’t serve you well. Employees can’t improve if they don’t clearly understand what the problem is. You could use a compliment sandwich- start with something they’ve been doing well, then clearly state where the improvement is needed. The key here is to be kind, but direct.
3. Remember Their Dignity
Sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the frustration of poor performance and forget that there’s a person behind the actions. While you certainly need to tackle the issue, it’s important to remember to preserve the dignity of the employee while doing so. That might mean having the conversation in private, not venting to other employees about the issues, or even making sure to fire them at a time where they can pack their desk without others around.
As a hiring manager, I’ve seen some pretty interesting resumes. Some have been fantastic- concise, achievement-focused, and well edited. Others have been less successful. From easily discovered false claims to long narratives about personal hobbies, some applicants don’t market themselves in the best light. Here are the top 5 pieces of advice I have as a hiring manager to help avoid these blunders.
1. Keep it Concise
Many jobs have hundreds of applicants. As a hiring manager, I may only glance over your resume for a few seconds before deciding what pile it goes in. Make sure that the document clearly lays out education, employment, and other relevant achievements and does so in bullets, not text blocks. It doesn’t need to list everything- just what makes you most marketable for the job.
2. Skip the Objective
In all the resumes I've reviewed over the years, I've never seen a successful objective that improved an applicant's candidacy. However, I have seen objectives that hurt their chances- many forget to update for each job and I’ll get an objective that says “seeking a nursing position” when I’m hiring for a library job. Most people use the section to state that their objective is to be hired for the job I’m hiring for. However, I already know that, since you applied. Skip this section to keep that resume concise and focus instead on crafting a great cover letter.
3. Proof Read- Then Proof Read Again
While one error or typo isn’t going to take you out of the running for the job, you certainly don’t want to claim you’re detail-oriented, but then have numerous typos and formatting issues. My favorite example is how I once submitted my resume where “ask” was auto corrected to “ass”- I certainly didn’t get that job!
4. Use the Skills Section Mindfully
Most people can safely skip including a skills section. Now, this doesn’t apply to fields like computer science, where you want to list the coding languages you know. However, if your skills section is filled with terms like “detail-oriented” and “proficient in Microsoft office suite,” it’s safe to say you can save the space and cut the section. Instead, focus on communicating these skills through your experience section.
5. Focus on Achievements
Your resume is a marketing document. To show yourself in the best light possible, focus on achievements, not responsibilities. For example, “sold clients spa memberships” sounds far more accomplished if you phrase it as “maintained a 23% membership sales closing and was recognized as the top salesman for 2015.”
As a disclaimer, this advice goes out the window when applying for government or academic jobs. This fields are weird beasts of their own that deserve a book on how to best apply.
If you’ve been watching the news or reading workplace blogs, you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about the new overtime rules. This ruling goes into effect January 1st and raises the minimum salary needed to avoid paying employees overtime.
With the the old rules, employees making under $23,660 annually needed to be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 each week. Under the new rule, this salary is raised to $35,308.
What does this mean for employers? First, any employees classified as exempt but paid under $35,308 need to be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40. This means that if these employees aren’t recording their time, they’ll need to do so starting in the new year.
Alternatively, employers can raise salaries for those under the threshold to keep them classified as exempt and avoid paying overtime or tracking their hours.
So so what’s the best route? It depends on the employer. Some may be willing to pay overtime and have their employees start tracking their hours. After all, who wouldn't want extra money? However, it’s important to realize hat this may have the opposite effect on employee morale. Many employees view exempt status and not having to record hours as an achievement in their career and may resent having their hours monitored. It may be worthwhile to increase their salary rather than reclassify them. Each employer should carefully weight the pros and cons prior to making a decision.
Want to read more? Visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/overtime/2019
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