Avoid These 5 Common Human Resources Mistakes
Thursday, July 12, 2018
By Claudia St. John
Let’s face it: No one loves human resources. Very few people get excited about HR. I have yet to meet someone who went into the events business for the purpose of hiring and managing employees. Tackling thorny people issues is hard and can be frustrating. But the reality is that once you hire employees, you own myriad challenges that, if not handled well, can grow into significant problems.
Fortunately, with some knowledge, planning and management, you can minimize the headaches associated with human resources and enjoy the benefits of having a team of motivated, engaged events professionals. Here are some tips for events business owners and managers to get started:
1. Hire with your head, not your gut.
When hiring, many people rely on their gut or their intuition. I often hear: “I’m a great judge of people.” That may be true, but more likely than not, those who rely on gut instincts often place too much faith on subjective qualities — the firmness of the candidate’s handshake, their alma mater or their love of a particular sports team — all of which have little bearing on whether the candidate is capable of doing the job well.
Instead, we encourage events business managers to first write up a detailed job posting that outlines the skills, abilities and requirements of the position and then, importantly, to stick to it when screening candidates.
We also strongly recommend using a behavioral and/or skills test to determine whether the candidate has the right personality and dependability for the job. The data doesn’t lie, and the more of it you have on the candidate, the better off you will be.
2. Have an employee handbook.
Any events business with at least one employee should have a handbook. The handbook communicates your expectations about how employees should act and what will happen if they don’t meet those expectations. It also helps you firmly establish for the record that your company complies with all federal and state employment laws.
Two words of caution: Don’t download a handbook off of the internet, and don’t borrow one from a friend’s company. Handbooks can quickly become outdated, and online templates are notoriously so. Also, laws apply differently to companies of various sizes. You wouldn’t want to obligate yourself to comply with a complicated and expensive federal law (like the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act) if you don’t have to.
3. Ensure your employees are classified correctly.
Many events business owners do not realize that it isn’t really their choice when it comes to paying someone an hourly rate or on a salaried basis. That decision is guided by federal law. Before you hire an independent contractor or choose to put your photographer on a salary, check out the rules. Getting this right will protect you from that disgruntled ex-employee who may try to sue you for back wages and past-due overtime pay.
4. Give regular, constructive feedback.
If I could point to one common problem in today’s work culture, it would be the failure of our managers to give positive, constructive feedback. Generally, we are good at citing poor behavior, but rarely do we stop and spend the time to observe and comment on positive, correct behavior. Positive feedback is designed to promote and reinforce good behavior. Most parents know this, but we fail to apply it to the workplace.
Specific, measurable and timely feedback is much more powerful than an occasional “good job!” or a formal annual performance review. Make it a practice to give positive feedback each week. You’ll be amazed at the results you get.
5. Document corrective conversations.
Unfortunately, not all of our conversations can be positive. Many of us avoid corrective conversations in an effort to avoid conflict. But if we fail to have and document those conversations, we cannot demonstrate to ourselves, our employees and, if it becomes necessary, to the judge or arbitrator that we made efforts along the way to address and modify the employee’s behavior.
Having and documenting corrective conversations not only ensures that you’ve done all you could do to fix a bad situation, it also helps your events professionals understand where they are in the disciplinary process. This is important because if you ultimately have to terminate an employee, it will be less likely to come as a surprise, and the employee will be far more likely to accept responsibility for their actions. No one likes bad surprises. And the more surprised an employee is about a discipline or a termination, the more likely they will be to take action against you. Eliminating the surprise will also help the employee recover and move on more quickly.
Claudia St. John is president of Affinity HR Group Inc. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations. To learn more, visit www.affinityhrgroup.com.