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October 2019 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • Announcing Our Book Launch!
  • Chapter 1: HR best practice? We don't have one
  • Chapter 2: Because I'm the boss
  • Chapter 3: Look up - that's where it all begins
  • Chapter 4: Be slow to hire and quick to fire
  • Chapter 5: Your mother was right - first impressions are important!
  • Chapter 6: I can't feel my toes
  • Chapter 7: Are you listening?
  • Chapter 8: Awkward conversations everyone avoids
  • Chapter 9: I'm good with how things are
  • Chapter 10: What goes around comes around
  • Chapter 11: Just common sense (our only HR Best Practice)
October 2019
Volume 6, Number 10

Thanks for Joining Us!
It's October - and the time for all Canadians to celebrate Thanksgiving for all we have in this great country of ours. Here at Wendy Ellen Inc. we are thrilled and thankful for the launch of our first book. The Only HR Best Practice You'll Ever Need - Leaders often miss the obvious in people management was truly a labour of love. Thank you to all involved, especially our editor and PM, Denise Summers of Amphora Communications, our designer Laura Ballerini of BluBrown Communications, our printer Len Knight of Emerson Clarke Printing and all the great clients we have worked with over the years!

In this edition, we are offering tidbits from each of the themes explored in the book

Keep reading for more learning!

Chapter 1: HR Best Practice? We don't have one.
Other than being compliant with legislation, we don’t consistently
follow any ‘rules’ or ‘best practices’. We threw out the rule book a long time ago. Why? Because after many attempts to generalize an HR ‘best practice’, we realized there was no one-size-fits-all solution for every business or organization or for the people who work there.

We decided we wanted to work with our clients to create environments where leaders and business owners didn’t struggle as much to deal with employee relations issues — where they were able to provide the kind of leadership and a workplace where people loved to come to work every day, where everyone could shine and where they could achieve their own goals within the small to medium-sized business world. 
Chapter 2: Because I'm the boss
We all get frustrated. Whether you’re a leader or on the frontline, our philosophy is that everyone, regardless of job title, needs to be treated as a ‘human being’. Whether that person ranks below you in the ‘company hierarchy’ or is someone you report to, treat them with respect, courtesy and understanding.

People are people. They are going to make mistakes. Instead of looking at them as easily replaced roles or just as an employee, work with them in the way they would like to be treated. Get to know your people and understand where they are coming from. Figure out what their skills are and how you can best develop them. How you handle issues or respond to problems is likely not how they would react in the same situation. Understand that and work with them at their level, not yours.
Chapter 3: Look up  that's where it all begins
It takes work to be an incredible leader; to consistently walk,
talk and behave with leadership qualities. Leadership is something you have to practice — being faced with challenging situations and resolving them with empathy, logic and tact, while keeping the business in mind, is a skill you will need to continue to hone throughout your career. 

A truly great leader will dig deep to understand who they are leading
and look at them with a view to seeing more than just their roles or
responsibilities. This type of leader will consider who they are as the whole person. They will understand their people's strengths and weaknesses; what makes them tick and what creates enjoyment and success for them. 

An exceptional leader understands it’s about the people. At a deeper level, they believe it’s the connection with their people,and helping them to achieve success first, that ultimately leads to an
exceptional organization.
Chapter 6: I can't feel my toes
-Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
One of the most critical, but often overlooked, ways you can create engagement and retention is to provide pleasant and comfortable surroundings for people to work in. If your people are not physically comfortable where they spend 40 hours a week or more, it will be hard for them to enjoy their work.

The best and most successful companies have engaged, productive and loyal people, most of whom are not there only for the money. Creating and designing a workplace they want to come to every day, a space where they feel ‘at home’, physically comfortable, valued and appreciated, is one of the best ways to build an engaged workforce who will stick with you, through both the good times and the bad.
Chapter 7: Are you listening?
“A unique relationship develops among team members who enter into dialogue regularly. They develop a deep trust that cannot help but carry over to discussions. They develop a richer understanding of the uniqueness of each person’s point of view.”
- Peter Senge
With every organization, there are opportunities to learn and to grow as a leader or manager, through critical conversations held during different touch-points with your people. One of the most important discussions you can have and learn from is an exit interview, when a person is leaving your company.

But, why wait until people are leaving the organization? What if instead, you captured this information while they are still there, hopefully preventing them from leaving at all? We suggest a process we call ‘stay interviews’. This is comparable to an exit interview but captures similar information from your people while they are still employed by your organization. Another term for this is a cultural assessment. It’s ideal to undertake these interviews on a regular basis (annually, if possible). This way you can see how you have improved year-over-year with the issues that are discovered from this process. If for some reason your results aren’t as favourable one year, look into the reasons and come up with a strategy for improvement. Many of the same types of questions will be used as in an exit interview.
Chapter 9: I'm good with how things are
For organizations undergoing change, transparent, effective and frequent communication is critical to helping your people understand and process the news. Not everyone in your company will hear and accept the information in the same way. If the change is a significant one — the sale of the company, new leadership, a reorganization or a merger — create opportunities for them to reach out to ask questions. For some, even an office move is anxiety-provoking. It can be as simple as setting up a special email address for them to send questions, or for others, the ability to have a one-on-one conversation to have their questions answered.

Much of how people will react depends on what’s changing in their worlds. When the company is adopting new technology or acquiring another business, some are full of anticipation and looking forward to it. Those who are glass-half-full types are naturally going to look for the positive in any situation. If they are the glass-half-empty kind of person, they may need more from leadership or management.

When your business or organization is undergoing change, remember the people on the other side upon whom the change is being imposed. For them to deal with it — they first must hear it, then they need to understand it, and then they have to have to process it. For each of them, that’s going to happen in a range of ways.

Chapter 4: Be slow to hire and quick to fire

Our best advice in the hiring process is to be ‘slow to hire and quick to fire’. These are not our words but an old HR adage. You will save yourself and your company a great deal of time, money, wasted effort and be able to maintain the culture you strived so hard to create.

The first step when beginning the interviewing and hiring process is a commitment to the exercise, whether you conduct it with an internal team or hire an HR consultant. The second step is to have a clear understanding of the role for which you are hiring — but we also recommend being flexible . Having all the qualifications also doesn’t necessarily mean the person
is right for the role. Personality can be just as important as technical skills,  especially when a company is in growth mode. Naturally, there are skills you are looking for, but attitude, character and a good fit are equally as important.

Chapter 5: Your mother was right - first impressions are important!

The first two weeks of a new team member’s experience at your company can be a deciding factor in how successful they are in their role. In fact, there are studies that show those first weeks, whether those initial days are a success or a failure, are tied to the longevity of that individual’s time with your company. When it’s a non-existent or unorganized onboarding experience, it’s likely they may not stay for the long-term. First impressions do count. 

It’s pretty simple to give someone an outstanding onboarding experience, but you need to be organized and prepared. Over the long run, it’s going to save you and your company time, effort and cost. You’ve gone to the trouble of hiring this person — make sure the first day and first weeks are everything you would want them to be if you were in their shoes.

Chapter 8: Awkward conversations everyone avoids

"It became apparent to me over time that the best way to manage tough conversations is to be direct, to not sugarcoat the problem. I’ve also learned the discussion becomes less difficult if I start it out by saying “This is going to be an awkward (or a tough, or a challenging) conversation. There’s no easy way to say this.” And then I state the issue in as clear and simple terms as possible. I try to be as matter of fact as I can be. This clearly opens the door for anything needed to be said. And I also try to inject humour into what I say if it’s suitable for the situation. This can be a fine line because you need to ensure the person hearing the message understands the seriousness of the issue, or the point of the conversation is lost."
We believe in being forthright and calling a spade a spade. If you have to have an uncomfortable conversation, dive in; don’t beat around the bush. It can be a cultural difference, or simple ignorance, and they just need to be made aware of it. But remember, especially when it’s cultural differences, to tread carefully as the last thing you want to do is offend or insult anyone. Look at each situation separately; remember the person sitting across from you is another human being and often isn’t aware their behaviour is causing problems.
Chapter 10: What goes around comes around
We live in a litigious society today and there are many times during the HR life cycle where you and your company may be vulnerable. Employers have never had to tread more carefully than they do now and ensure that they are not crossing any protected ground — especially at the beginning and end of the HR cycle, during recruitment and termination. Canadian legislation currently prohibits recruiters and HR departments from discussing, or questioning a candidate about age, religion, race or marital status, gender, sexuality, family structure; whether they have pardoned offences and more.

With employer rating websites and social media, there are many ways people can hurt your reputation as a company and as an employer. Whether a termination was justified or not, if a person leaves disgruntled and feeling like they were treated unfairly or without dignity, all it takes are a few keystrokes and you will have no recourse. Try and do what’s right to avoid this from occurring.
Chapter 11: Just common sense (our only HR Best Practice)
Many HR professionals would argue with us that there is, and needs to be, best practice. When it comes to large organizations, we agree they do need to have their own HR best practices. In the space we work in — small to medium-sized — it’s a given that we need to be legislatively compliant and ethical. Beyond that, our only HR best practice is to remember you are talking to a person, not just an employee.

Consider what it really means to make your people a priority. When you hired that person, you made that decision for a reason. How can you make the experience of every person you work with the best it can be?

To us, this is common sense and that’s why we are very good at what we do. It turns out that it’s not common sense to everyone — and that’s why we wrote this book. As human beings, we often complicate life unnecessarily.
"We prefer to come from a glass-half-full perspective; let’s take the positive approach and give people the benefit of the doubt first.
For most people, that works."

Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for all your HR needs today!
About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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