The 4 Most Common New Manager Mistakes

Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share this Page

new manager mistakes new managers mistakes

While the transition to a management position is exciting, it also isn't easy. Whether it is you or a colleague that is taking on this new opportunity, a leadership role puts one in charge of organizational aspects that present new challenges. Avoiding these 4 common new manager mistakes will help new managers successfully transition their relationships, skillset, and role within an organization.
Read this article...

9 Common (and Avoidable) FMLA Mistakes

Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share this Page

There is probably no law that gives HR more headaches than the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Even the most adept and experienced HR professionals make errors when administering FMLA. It’s hard not to make mistakes, given the emergence of new case law as well as state and federal regulations that are constantly expanding the scope of employee leave and employer’s obligations in administering that leave.

One small mistake with FMLA, however, can cause big consequences for your organization. Here are 9 of the most common (and avoidable) FMLA mistakes.

  1. Not counting leave as FMLA. If your organization does not run FMLA concurrently with other paid time off, sick leave, disability, or worker’s compensation, it may incur lost work time which can lead to significant costs. Also, some employers may not track time that should be qualified as FMLA leave, especially when reasons for employees’ leave or time off are not known by HR.
  2. Disciplining employees for FMLA-protected absences. It’s not uncommon for employers to penalize employees for absences, but when FMLA factors into the absence, tread carefully. If employees are eligible for FMLA and are qualified to take leave, they are protected, even though your attendance policy may be very specific. Disciplining or terminating an employee for taking leave may not be an appropriate or legal measure to take.
  3. Taking adverse action after denying leave. Denying an employee’s request for FMLA and then taking a series of adverse actions following that request can be a fatal mistake. While these actions may be warranted, employers need to watch their timing. If you deny an employee’s request for FMLA, then immediately follow-up with a termination, it could suggest that the employee’s FMLA request was linked to the termination. Plus, the courts have been especially mindful of retaliation charges lately.
  4. Failing to communicate your FMLA policy and procedure. As an employer, you must let employees know about their rights under FMLA. A 2012 ruling suggests that you must also communicate the procedure by which leave needs to be taken and how you are tracking employees’ time (i.e. rolling calendar year measured forward/measured backward etc.). Even misinforming employees of the time in which they are eligible for FMLA can be a liability.
  5. Allowing your supervisors to manage FMLA. Supervisors are usually the first people employees turn to when they need to take leave. Sometimes, however, supervisors don’t realize that they must direct the employee to HR and not handle FMLA cases on their own. Be sure that your supervisors know how to respond when employees ask for leave. Otherwise they could face personal liability for FMLA violations.
  6. Making assumptions about an employee’s health condition. Making judgments about whether employees have a serious health condition or not without the necessary information can be disadvantageous. Employees may present clear signs of a serious health problem or the condition may be less visible. Take each employee’s request for FMLA seriously and ask for appropriate documentation if you question its validity.
  7. Not verifying or clarifying FMLA documentation with health care providers. Employers may clarify any documentation they receive from health care providers, ask for second and third opinions, and make sure that the employee who is requesting leave does in fact have a serious health condition. Also, know that requiring too much or too little medical documentation could result in liability. Don’t ask for too much, but don’t accept too little.
  8. Removing an employee from their prior job. An employee goes out on leave, perhaps you find that another employee can perform the person’s job better, and then you consider terminating the returning employee or moving them into a lower position. Be aware that unless you have adequate performance documentation to demote or terminate the individual, FMLA regulations say that the returning employee is entitled to their same job or one of equal pay, responsibility, and benefits.
  9. Not providing a reasonable accommodation. Although FMLA only allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, your organization may need to explore other reasonable accommodations following FMLA leave if employees have a disability or medical condition that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under ADA, an extension of unpaid leave could be a reasonable accommodation in some circumstances. Oftentimes, both FMLA and ADA apply, especially when serious health conditions are present.

Employers unfortunately can pay a steep price for their mistakes in administering FMLA—whether they are honest or intentional. Our best advice for avoiding FMLA mistakes is to maintain open lines of communication with employees and managers, stay up to date on FMLA case law, don’t make assumptions, keep excellent documentation, and be conscious of the timing of your decisions.

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application. 

10 Common Hiring Mistakes

Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share this Page

Hiring mistakes can drain your organization's resources, lead to poor hiring decisions, and distract managers from running business operations. Here are 10 mistakes your organization should be sure not to make so that it hires well. 

1. Not understanding the talent you need.

Knowing the skills, knowledge, abilities, and typical background of talent you are looking for helps you define the job and assess candidates according to the right criteria. It's also important to understand the innate traits and personalities associated with a good fit for a particular role. Spend time with your hiring managers and employees to understand the dynamics of the role and type of talent best suited to perform the job.

2. Insufficiently assessing all job functions.

Oftentimes a candidate is very strong on one key job function and this overshadows their weaknesses in others. If multiple job functions are critical, be sure that you are evaluating them comprehensively and not letting an overwhelming strength in one area lead to an inaccurate perception of the candidate's true breadth of capabilities.

3. Not checking references or pre-screening.

References are an ideal source of background information about a candidate, but are often skipped in the hiring process or used simply as employment verifications. Similarly, pre-screening can screen out individuals so that you don't need to invest resources in evaluating too many candidates. References and pre-screening can be helpful "eliminators" to screen out potential candidates and may provide insight into how employees performed in past jobs.

4. Not training your interviewer.

Many individuals with hiring responsibilities - namely hiring managers - have not been properly trained to interview. Not training interviewers can result in asking inappropriate and inconsistent questions or hiring based on subjective biases, first impressions, and a "gut feeling" instead of objective credentials. Creating hiring tools, such as pre-planned interview questions or guides, can also help.

5. Relying on the interview.

A single interview should not be your only assessment of the job candidate. Even the best interviewers are subject to biases and impressions. Having multiple interviews with several other employees and using pre-employment tests, references, and work samples can be helpful in evaluating a candidate for skill and culture fit. While it could be more time-consuming and costly, the more evaluators and types of evaluation you add into the selection decision, the more likely you are to make a better hiring decision which saves time and money in the long run.

6. Focusing too much on experience or education.

Focusing too heavily on experience and/or education can have its drawbacks. Experience and/or advanced degrees doesn't necessarily equate to top performance in a role and also aren't the only factors that can lead an employee to succeed. Frequently, these requirements can lead employers to disregard potential hires who may have less experience or education, but have shown results in their past roles.

7. Ignoring culture fit.

Unlike skills, you can't teach culture fit or change personality. Your organization should give significant consideration to a candidate's attitudes, style, behaviors, work ethic, and belief systems which impact their ability to be successful on the job and within your team. If you think the employee's style won't mesh well with their manager or team, this should be cause for concern.

8. Settling for less than the best.

Hiring too quickly (often from need or even desperation) can be a recipe for a poor hiring decision.  Additionally, if you only have a few candidates to pick from, be sure that you are truly hiring the right person and not just the best candidate from the few in which you had to choose. In both of these situations, you're frequently settling for a less than ideal candidate, which almost always leads to a bad hire.

9. Failing to consider satisfaction.

People typically only excel at tasks which capture their true passions and interests. How does the candidate talk about their past jobs? How do they react to the job duties discussed? What tasks have they not enjoyed in prior jobs? What are their long-term career goals? These are all helpful questions you can ask to gauge whether the candidate will be satisfied in the job.

10. Having unrealistic expectations.

Finally, it's not uncommon these days to see lengthy lists of qualification requirements in job ads. Not only can these requirements be unrealistic, but they also could be screening out potential hires. Be sure that these truly should be requirements for the job, or rather preferred qualifications, because the chances of you finding an employee that meets every one of your many requirements is usually not realistic.

Hiring mistakes will happen, but by making sure that you understand the talent you need, are evaluating candidates comprehensively, take into consideration job and culture fit, and don't inadvertently screen out potential top performers, you can greatly reduce the probability of a bad hire.

Additional Resources

Behavioral Interviewing
Asking the right questions and phrasing them the right way is integral to hiring the right person for the job. This workshop gives participants the skills they need to effectively plan for and conduct an effective behavioral-based interview. It also guides participants through effectively evaluating candidates so they can hire the best candidate.

HR University 

As part of HR University, a comprehensive course for those who are newer to the HR profession, one of the sessions (Staffing & Recruitment Practices) addresses time and money-saving ways of finding qualified candidates, steps to take once you have found a potential new employee, how to get your hiring managers to follow your plan, and how to link your hiring plans with your company's strategic goals.

Selection Assessments

ERC’s assessment services, which use online and credible instruments, help minimize the uncertainty in employee selection by evaluating the skills, abilities, style, and career goals of job candidates in relation to your job requirements. Our services also include professional interpretation and feedback from our Management Psychologist, Don Kitson.

Project Assistance
ERC offers a broad range of HR consulting services and has expertise in developing selection systems, recruiting, and developing job descriptions. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@ercnet.org.

ERC members save money with our Preferred Partner Network Click here for details (link to partner page).

5 Costly HR Mistakes

Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share this Page

These common HR mistakes have very costly consequences for many businesses. Find out the symptoms of these mistakes and their warning signs and how to avoid them.

1. The one-person HR department.

Symptoms: HR functions are managed by individuals with no HR experience such as an Operations Manager, Office Manager, or a Controller. HR responsibilities are delegated to line managers.

Results: When the HR function is managed by individuals with other responsibilities, or those that haven’t been properly trained in HR, important tasks tend to fall through the cracks – like meeting compliance deadlines and keeping up with changing legal requirements and trends. The basics may be accomplished, but more strategic issues are overlooked.

Solutions: Training anyone involved in an HR function or responsibility on the basics of HR, outsourcing HR projects (i.e. compensation, benefits analysis, performance management process overhaul, training and development), and using experienced consultants to help with strategic issues are ways to support the one-person HR department.

2. Losing control of hiring and recruiting.

Symptoms: Your organization receives an unmanageable number of resumes, has hiring managers that ask their own interview questions or use biases to make selection decisions, is frequently rushed to hire anyone to fill a position – which oftentimes is not the best hire, or lacks a consistent method of selection (different candidates are evaluated on different criteria). Or, your hiring process may be so lengthy and inefficient and require so many individuals’ involvement, that candidates lose interest and patience.

Results: Your organization experiences new-hire turnover, turned down job offers, vacant positions, lost productivity, and low hiring manager and new-hire satisfaction. You may experience difficulty managing applications and resumes and overlook potential top talent. You put your organization at legal risk because selection is not based on objective and consistent criteria. You rush the process and end up with a poor hire which affects your bottom line and that you inevitably terminate.

Solutions: Investing in an applicant tracking system, training hiring managers in the basics of interviewing and selection, and developing standard hiring policies and processes are all ways to make your hiring process more efficient, consistent, and productive. Also, establish reasonable timelines for the hiring process and only include those that need to be involved. Lastly, make sure that you believe the person you are hiring is the best candidate for the job and will be a top performer. Don’t just hire to fill a spot – it is far more costly in the long run.

3. Not reviewing performance.

Symptoms: In light of not providing pay increases the past few years, your organization may have skipped its annual performance review. Or, your performance review process may be lackadaisical – reviews aren’t completed on time and supervisors don’t take them seriously. Your organization may not even have a formal method of reviewing performance.

Results: In turn, either a portion of your workforce or many of your employees don’t receive feedback about their progress, leading to disengagement and less productivity. Documentation about performance is lacking, so when you need to terminate someone, you’re at a loss. Measurement of performance may be questionable, especially if supervisors don’t take the process seriously, and this could affect other programs like variable pay. Employees are dissatisfied with how their performance is measured and consider the tool invalid.

Solutions: Reviewing performance annually (at a minimum) is important. Develop either a standard review form or goal setting process, and consider employees’ feedback in the development of the system for buy-in. Additionally, train your supervisors in performance management (especially conducting a performance review) and hold them accountable for performance management duties in their own reviews. Make the performance management process mandatory, but not cumbersome (i.e. too many reviews to do at once, too lengthy form, etc.).

4. Failing to know your competitors.

Symptoms: Your organization doesn’t invest any time in learning about or benchmarking other organizations’ pay, benefits, or workplace practices. It doesn’t track HR data or metrics. It doesn’t know who its competitors are in terms of talent.

Results: Job candidates turn down offers or provide direct feedback that pay or benefits are below that of other organizations. Voluntary turnover of employees is prevalent in certain pockets of your workforce or throughout the organization. You receive consistent complaints about pay, benefits, and development opportunities.

Solutions: Identify the organizations in which you compete for similar types of talent and define their industry, size, and location. Select a few sources of data that are most relevant to these organizations. Compare your internal data with the information in these sources. Use the data to make adjustments to your pay, benefits, and workplace practices.

5. Not protecting your business.

Symptoms: Your employee handbook hasn’t been updated in a few years. Compliance changes have been neglected, as have risk management and disaster recovery plans. You haven’t created succession, development, and staffing plans to assure that you have the right talent in place to meet short and long term business objectives. You don’t look at demographic trends that will impact your business – like retirements or family needs.

Results: Your organization finds that it can’t make termination or disciplinary decisions without legal risk because it lacks certain policies. You realize that you don’t have the right skills or competencies to meet your organizational objectives. One of your key leaders leaves and you don’t have anyone prepared to fill the missing role. An employee goes out on FMLA and no one has been cross-trained to fill their shoes.

Solutions: Create succession plans for key roles and create plans (with timelines) to develop individuals in your organization to take on these roles, such as leadership development training or preparation. Conduct an annual “skills inventory” each year of your employees and compare the results to your strategic objectives. Do you have the skills you need? For what skills do you need to develop or hire? Do you have back-ups cross-trained? Coordinate training and staffing plans with this inventory. Finally, update your employee handbook at least annually (and always after a change in employment law) and obtain an outsider’s perspective – such as a consultant or legal counsel. These individuals will be able to notice gaps or deficiencies in your policies and make recommendations to protect your business.

Additional Resources

HR Consulting & Project Support
ERC is a leading provider of quality, affordable HR consulting and project support services in Ohio. Our HR consulting services provide the crucial strategic and technical expertise needed to support your HR goals and workplace initiatives. Contact consulting@yourerc.com for more information.

Compensation & Benefits Surveys
ERC publishes many compensation and benefits surveys to help Northeast Ohio employers benchmark their pay and benefits practices.Our ERC Salary Survey, Wage Survey, and Executive Compensation Survey provide local pay information for over 300 positions.