Archive for February, 2010

Tough Talks- Can You Improve Performance and Morale While Confronting Issues?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

If you manage employees at some point you have to have the tough talk.  You know what I am talking about- the talk about poor performance, unacceptable behavior or the most dreaded conversation- hygiene issues. While these conversations are never easy they must be had. You owe it to the employee, you owe it to your employer and you owe it to yourself to step up to the plate and learn how have these conversations. I won’t promise it will ever be easy, after 25 years in the workplace as a manager and as a HR Director I still don’t like  having to have this type of talk with an employee (who does?),  but these tips will  make it easier- and raise the odds the feedback will be accepted and the behavior will change.

Tips for Tough Talks- Address the problem as soon as possible- problems don’t go away, they just get bigger and more difficult to deal with the longer you wait.   Set a specific time and place- but don’t make the employee wait for more than 24 hours after you let them know the tough talk is coming.  Sit, don’t stand- it’s a converstation not an interrogation.   Find a private location- maybe a neutral site like a conference room or another manager’s office.   Focus on the issue, not the person.  Discuss the problem and the impact on the business and avoid “you” statements.  Be specific about the concern- how, what, when should all be part of the discussion.  Be collaborative- problem solve, brainstorm solutions with the employee and the more likely they are to accept feedback.  Accenuate the positive- how will a behavior change positively impact the employee?  Encourage the employee- share with them how changing the behavior will have a positive impact. Document the meeting- for feedback session keep detailed notes, if a more serious violation use a Discipline Action Form.  You must start the “paper trail” and have good documentation in case the final verdict is termination.

A great resource for handling tough talks is Crucial Conversations  by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler and Stephen R. Covey.

Join the conversation- how do you handle tough talks with employees?


Buying spraying equipment? Think respiratory protection

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Ran into a vendor at NADA yesterday that sells Spray-on bed liner systems.  This particular vendor sells complete systems and all necessary Personal Protective Equipment.  This was the first time I have ever seen a vendor sell appropriate supplied air systems as a piece of their package.  In most cases dealerships are left to determine for themselves what protection is needed when they purchase a bed-liner application system.  While most newer spray on bed liners are VOC free they still contain many chemicals that can pose inhalation hazards for employees.  Much like vehicle undercoating, with the right products this is one of those situations where you may be able to get by with a designated area with great ventilation, but the potential hassles just aren’t worth it.  By spending a little extra time to setup a respiratory protection program and protect your employees, the dealer will have the peace of mind that employees are protected, and the dealership is not subject to future complaints, lawsuits or citations.

NADA convention and expo 2010 workshops

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Are you going to NADA this year? Mark these workshops in your calendar:

Location: NADA exhibit hall, room W102A (one level down from the expo floor)

Saturday, February 13th
10:00 – 10:30am OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations by auto dealers
11:00 – 11:30am Search and Social: How Social Media Makes Search Easier
12:00 – 12:30pm The 10 Deadly HR Questions
1:00 – 1:30pm Social Media: Why and How
Sunday, February 14th
10:30 – 11:00am Search Engine Reputation Management: Owning Your Name
11:30 – 12:00pm The 10 Deadly HR Questions
12:30 – 1:00pm Search and Social: How Social Media Makes Search Easier
1:30 – 2:00pm OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations by auto dealers
2:30 – 3:00pm The 10 Deadly HR Questions
3:30 – 5:00pm A Dealership Case Study in Online Marketing Excellence
Monday, February 15th
10:00 – 10:30pm The 10 Deadly HR Questions
11:00 – 11:30am OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations by auto dealers

Top Three Myths about Workplace Injuries

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I just read this great article “Top Three Myths about Workplace Injuries” in EHS Today. A summary of the Myths:

Myth #3 – You cannot create a hazard-free workplace – It requires discipline and diligence to recognize and mitigate every hazard.

Myth #2 – Being safe takes too much time and money – If you feel that being safe takes too much time and money, you have an attitude problem.

Myth #1 – Accidents just happen – Research shows that over 99 percent of all accidents are preventable.

I completely agree that these are major myths. Wayne Curtis wrote an article in our latest newsletter about two shining examples of Group 1 Automotive and Penske Automotive Group how these issues can be managed. Though both groups consist of nearly 100 dealer rooftops, these Groups have effectively managed their compliance scores of environmental and safety issues to an unbelievable 97 – 98% and have held this level of compliance consistently. To put this in perspective, we target approximately 85% to be the average compliance score for a new facility prior to getting started with KPA. Both Group 1 and Penske Automotive Group are not only reaching high level of compliance across one store, they are doing it for all stores, across all States. Essentially, Group 1 and Penske have managed their compliance program to virtually spot free facilities in less than one year. This once more shows that all it requires is discipline and diligence to recognize and mitigate every hazard.

Department of Labor (DOL) investigation and enforcement in 2010

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Investigation and enforcement is the Department of Labor’s focus in 2010. Despite an overall reduction of $300 million in discretionary spending, the Department of Labor will ask Congress for an increase in workplace enforcement funding of $67 million, or 4 percent, according to the budget it released on Monday, February 1.

In an online video statement and Q&A, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis  emphasized department funding for investigation and enforcement along with training programs. The agency request for fiscal year 2011, which begins October 1, 2010, totals $117 billion.   Secretary Solis indicated that the $1.7 billion allocated in the DOL budget for worker protection programs would allow the agency to restore staffing to 2001 levels. Of the 350 employees that the department expects to add over the next fiscal year, 177 are investigators and other enforcement staff.

For instance, the Wage and Hour Division would receive $244 million in funding, a $20 million increase, and hire 90 new investigators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would get $573 million, an increase of about $14 million.  OSHA will add 25 new inspectors in 2011 and reallocate 35 to enforcement from a program that helps businesses comply with safety laws.

“We need to decide whether we will spend our limited resources on supporting those companies who really ‘get it,’ who are doing a great job at protecting their employees,” Solis said. “Or do we spend our scarce resources on companies that disregard workplace safety and allow workers to die in situations that could easily have been prevented?”

The department also indicated that it is going to crack down on employers that define workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Critics say the move allows companies to pay lower wages and benefits. As part of a joint initiative with the Department of Treasury, the DOL budget includes $25 million to target “misclassification” and hire 100 additional enforcement personnel.

Are your HR and OHSA programs in compliance? If not you might want to think about improvements before one of the new investigators comes  knocking at your door.

Join the conversation- do you agree with the emphasis on investigation and enforcement?

Tip of the Month: Simple Four Step Plan to Reduce Employment Litigation Risks

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Compliance-TipEmployment litigation and high dollar settlements are on the rise in dealerships.    With the past 60 days alone a dealerships Colorado paid over$ 1.5M , an Ohio dealership paid  over $80,000 and a dealership in Georgia will pay $140,000 to settle claims of race, age and gender discrimination.  Consider taking these four simple steps to ensure your dealership is not next in line to pay a high cost employment litigation settlement.

1) Understand the law and your responsibilities as an employer. KPA offers free webinars on employment law and best practices presented by leading attorneys and HR professionals .
2) Establish legally appropriate policies and training for all employees. Make sure you keep complete and accurate record.
3) Invest in HR Management software to automate and force compliance in the hiring, employee management and termination process.
4) Purchase EPLI (Employment Practices Litigation Insurance) coverage for your dealership.