Friday, September 27, 2002

In the Who's Minding Your Payroll Department...

Did you catch this one?

"A US public school teacher's pay was enough to make Bill Gates or Donald Trump envious. Thanks to a computer glitch, the Detroit teacher was paid $7.9 million before taxes for 18 minutes of work.The teacher, who wasn't identified, received $4,015,624.80 after taxes.

Someone alerted the school district earlier this month, and the money was returned after six days, chief financial officer Ken Forrest said in yesterday's Detroit News.The error occurred when a clerk entered an employee number in the hourly wage field for the teacher's wage adjustment check. The district's payroll software didn't catch the mistake. The district has since installed a program to flag any pay cheque exceeding $10,000, he said. "

Hmm...The money was returned after 6 days. I wonder the interest on $4 million dollars is--even if only for a week.

If you see any other HR-related quirkies, email me at

Beth C.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Follow Up on the Business Integrity Question

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I was going to email the author of the Harvard Business Review article about Managerial Integrity and its effects on employee morale and business performance. (See the post from Sept. 24.)

One of the questions that I asked Dr. Simons was

"...In conducting the survey for Manager Integrity, were you able to control for other Managerial mishaps? In other words, could it be possible that the Managers who didn't walk the talk--ALSO didn't perform up to par in other managerial functions such as providing appropriate levels of praise and/or helping to make their employees feel valued/appreciated? Often a poor manager is a poor manager in more than one area. Was there a way to account for that in your study?..."

Dr. Simons responded promptly,

Tony Simons said:
>>The numbers used in the reported study averaged employee perceptions through the whole hotel -- so, it was employee perceptions of multiple managers. that makes sense because managers at a given workplace tend to develop certain norms. are managers of low BI (business integrity) likely to slip up in other areas as well? probably. In fact, when i asked employees about BI, they would often respond with tales of delayed performance reviews, poor employees who were not appropriately dealt with, and so on. since most managers "preach" meritocracy, deviations from that would likely show up as BI problems. I see BI as the hub of many potential managerial deficiencies. That is why the link was so strong.<<>>...another interesting issue. i tend to believe, though i have not yet demonstrated it, that people who over-promise end up worse off than those who never promise at all. i think that over-promising is epidemic in the current business environment as managers strive to appear sophisticated. as for your friend -- she was successful.... but wouldn't she have been more successful, at least in maintaining supportive long-term working relationships, if she had not generated a string of disappointed employees? <<>What do you think?

Email me at

Beth C.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I'm sick and tired of HR getting F#%ked

That's right. A certain website that goes by that illustrious name has been feeding off of stolen HR memos, documents and emails. The stolen information is always company confidential and includes detailed information on HR issues such as upcoming RIFs, new Diversity initiatives,employee benefits information and salary freezes. Each of these HR documents are published, held up for ridicule by a group of low lifes and then viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

Enough is enough. The website was an interesting novelty during the beginning of the dotcom crash but now it has gotten completely out of control. Stolen documents are not anything to laugh about. When are we as HR professionals going to do something to stop this? This is clearly something that HR needs to address because it's the Human Resource Department memos that tend to be the target of this abuse.

The latest fiasco involves the salary list of 450 employees from Terra/Lycos. To read about it CLICK HERE. The list is reported to provide full names in alphabetical order plus the current salary information for each employee. Can you imagine the damage this could inflict on your organization if all of the salary information was suddenly made available to each and every one of your employees?

I hate to even write about this for fear of giving this creep any more publicity but it's time to get this stopped once and for all. Surely there must be some legal case that could be made against the owner of this website. He is, after all, posting company confidential information. If there are any lawyers out there that have some ideas, send me an email at

My own ideas are as follows:

What can be done?
1) If you are the target, get your legal counsel involved and go after him for more than just removing the offending documents. The damage is done after the first few days of publication. Removing the information will not repair the damage that has been done to your company reputation and the dampened morale of your employees. Perhaps being court ordered to pay $1.5 million might make this self-proclaimed "Pud" think twice about his business model.

2) Let all of your employees know that all memos, emails and documents are company confidential and should not be shared outside of the company. Set a 0 tolerance policy and make it clear that offenders will be disciplined up to and including termination. Remind employees that even after they leave the company they are obligated not to disclose confidential information. Let them know the severe ramifications of their actions.

3) Copyright every one of your internal documents by placing the copyright C symbol and the date with the words: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Note that I am not an attorney and this is not meant to be taken as legal advice. I might be completely off on my advice but HR folks have to do something to better protect themselves and their companies.

Beth C.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The Negative Effects of Losing Employees' Trust

Interesting little piece in the Harvard Business Review (Sept 2002) titled The High Cost of Lost Trust. The author and his colleague set out to discover what affects might occur when employees believe there is a disconnect between what their Managers say and what their Managers do. In other words, if the Managers don't "Walk the Talk" does the effect on employees negatively impact business.

The study was conducted by surveying 6500 employees in 76 different hotels (all Holiday Inns) in US and Canada.

As one might expect, the authors found that those Hotels where Employees felt their Managers walked the talk significantly outperformed the hotels where employees felt their managers said one thing and did another.

I don't know the details on the study but I wonder if the authors controlled for other negative factors. I would guess that if a Manager is being perceived as lacking in integrity, he or she might also be lacking in other important managerial traits. Could it be that Managers who don't walk the talk ALSO don't offer the appropriate level of praise and rewards or make employees feel appreciated/valued? Those are both two of the areas that generally receive the lowest satisfaction ratings by employees on exit interviews.

It certainly is an interesting study that deserves some attention from the HR community-particularly because the hotels' profitability increased dramatically with even just a small increase in the the "walk-the-talk" factor. A .125 improvement in this trust factor equated to an increase in the hotel's profitability by 2.5% of revenues. With financial improvements like that, this is definitely something worth exploring further. Those of you who use Nobscot's WebExit or other Exit Interview systems might consider adding a question or two to test the waters in this area.

Reprints of this article are available at the Harvard Business Review website Click Here to Order. Unfortunately, HBR doesn't offer the material for free. There is a $6.00 charge. Note that the article is only two pages long so not sure if it makes sense to purchase it or not.

A better bet might be to go to the author's website where there is even more detailed information on this study. Click Here for the author's PDF Executive Summary and Here for the author's website.

PS. I emailed the author with my questions about controlling for other managerial weakness. I'll let you know how he responds and how that was handled.

Beth C.