Friday, June 16, 2006

Dear Abby - HR Style

I thought I'd share some HR Q&A today. These are real questions from real HR people.

Question: This is the first time I have worked for a start up company. I have asked for a mission statement (there is none). I have asked for more direction of where the company is going (it is still being talked about). Is this unusual? How can HR align if there is nothing to align to???

Beth C.: They don't have time to fuss with that. They have to create a great product/service and get paying customers. (And fuss around with keeping Venture Capitalists happy if they took their money.)

I suggest that you stop asking for things they already have take some initiative.

Try to pick projects that will help with immediate short term goals. You want to build your own credibility as being someone who adds to the team not someone who is wasting time working on things that don't provide immediate value.

Listen carefully to what the execs are talking about and try to determine how you can help. What do they need NOW that will help them succeed?

If you are used to (and enjoy) working for a large company where there are lots of resources and programs in place, you might find that the start up environment is not for you. You'll have to change your mindset completely. You'll find that there is no such thing as standard operating procedure and you will find that a different level of risk often IS acceptable.

Keep open minded and have fun!

Question: Female EE came to my office crying today when her manager told her she was prohibited from drinking too much water because she takes too many restroom breaks.

A Senior Manager had spied her on a surveillance camera going to and from the the water cooler and restroom.

She said she can't get a doctor's note but has had urinary tract infections in the past from not drinking enough water.

She's one of the best employees in the production area but the manager is worried that other employees are getting angry about her special treatment since they wait until their designated breaks to go to the bathroom.

How would you handle?

Beth C.: I don't think we should ask employees to provide proof of needing to go to the bathroom. This is awfully Dilbertesque and creates a negative, untrusting and personally invasive company culture.

If the concern is not so much this employee but other employees' reactions, how is that really going to change by getting a doctor's note? The manager needs to tell his or her other employees to stop paying so much attention to their coworkers bodily functions and start being more productive on their own jobs.

How much we pee is no ones business but our own.

I have a number of these Q&As that I will share in future posts. Feel free to send in your own questions or add your answers to the comments area.

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