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When workers commit violations in the absence of company policy

We started a new company with 15 workers close to two years ago. Due to our primary focus on selling products, we failed to come out with a formal Code of Conduct to discipline workers. We now have Now, we 23 workers and are dealing with two employees that have incurred excessive absences, tardiness, and also committed theft, with alcoholism emerging as a problem. What would be a good reference policy so we can use legal means to discipline them? -- Not Helpless.

Seven worker-friendly alternatives to retrenchment

Our company is losing money due to poor market conditions. We’re thinking of implementing a compulsory redundancy program to cut our manpower costs. Before we finalize everything, please give me your thoughts on other options that we could take before we implement such plan of cutting our manpower size. We’d like to find out if we missed on other worker-friendly alternatives. -- First Samurai.

When HR becomes the workers’ enemy

We’d like to know your opinion about the style of our human resource department in dealing with workers. It is excessively pro-management does not sufficiently look after the interests of workers. As an example, new employees are required to spend a total of nine months before they assume regular employment status. The first three months are spent for supposed training, in addition to six months of probationary employment. Rather than attend formal classroom training, the employees are required to study on their own, pass a written examination and submit a progress report to HR. How do we manage this kind of work environment that appears to be against the workers’ interests? -- White Lily.

Ten signs workers distrust their managers

We know there’s a problem somewhere if the workers are not happy and motivated to do their jobs. The trouble is that most Filipinos are shy, if not introverted about expressing their feelings. It has become difficult for many managers to discover the real problem. Is this an issue of trust? -- Ms. Vietnam Rose.

How to give task ownership to employees

You have been a long-time advocate of employee empowerment and engagement. The trouble with such an approach is that management and their workers are often sidetracked by their basic priorities. This prevents people from working on special projects that they can do from planning to actual achievement of tangible results, with almost zero intervention from management. Please give me your advice. -- Matt Yellow Submarine.

Managers can’t ignore workers’ personal problems

It’s easy to say for some people managers that employees must not bring their personal difficulties inside the office. However, we can’t avoid the fact that whatever happens, no matter how strong our policy against bringing up those issues with their family, their medical condition, money matters, among others, somehow it could adversely affect the quality and productivity of their work. So, how do you manage this common workplace issue? -- White Flower.

When is the best time to leave a toxic boss?

I’ve been a manager for a major company for five years. I’m happy with my pay and perks package and the working environment until a recent reorganization resulting in the promotion of a colleague as our boss and department vice-president. On his fifth month on the job, he showed an unusual management style that many of his direct reports abhor. For one, he takes credit for our exceptional work and does not bother to commend people who contributed a lot to make it happen. Is this the right time now to leave this company? -- Just Asking

What’s the best employee feedback mechanism?

We work for a medium-sized corporation. You have said that exit interviews are futile and reactive. If that’s the case, then what would you recommend us given the fact that there are so many communication programs that could give the best employee feedback? -- White Rose.

Which is better — Team or individual performance evaluation?

We are in a bind in introducing a new performance appraisal system for our employees. Some managers think it’s best to focus on team performance, while others believe we should prioritize measuring individual accomplishments. In your opinion, what should be the best approach and priority in assessing performance – team or individual? – Serviam.

How to manage an unusually talkative CEO

We work for a small enterprise owned by a family corporation. Our concern is the constant babble of our CEO on his many ideas, sometimes giving us incoherent thoughts in our daily meetings. Many of his ideas are off-topic, if not bordering on braggadocio and showmanship. It’s always a waste of time listening to him. Whenever some of my colleagues tried to bring back the discussion to a higher level, our boss automatically regresses to his old, unproductive ways. Is there a cure for us? – Plastered.

Job interviews should also focus on retention

Soon after we selected some new employees put them through orientation, we unexpectedly received their resignations, while some of them were no-shows on the second day. It’s very disappointing to realize that the time, money and effort that we put into the recruitment process went to waste. What’s wrong with our hiring procedure? -- Without a Clue.

Managing an excessive, toxic workload

We don’t have a strict management policy against absenteeism and tardiness. We use the biometric timekeeping device for security reasons and not for attendance record-keeping. We were told by management that we are responsible adult human beings and therefore should be treated as such. In fact, our work schedule incorporates flextime where everyone must be physically present during the core period from nine in the morning up to four in the afternoon and log in eight hours of work every day Monday to Friday. Despite this ideal set-up, many employees are stressed out due to heavy workloads and stiff deadlines that lead us, many times during the week, to bring our laptops home in order to work overtime. Is there a cure for us? -- Bewildered.

Subtle campaign against militant workers

Our manufacturing company is in big trouble. We have a high rate of turnover, low quality and decreased labor productivity. And our human resource manager has resigned to join another company. Our operational issues are compounded by some workers who are rumored to be talking to some militant union leaders from elsewhere. What can we do in the future? What are your thoughts? -- Frantic Soul.

The Lean Hiring process unknown to HR

I heard that you are advocating the application of Kaizen and Lean principles in the human resource function. Can you tell me how it works, for example in processing the application of job applicants? How should it benefit company management? -- Yellow Submarine.

How to relay bad news to the workers

Our company will be sold to a competitor. The sale may result in a massive restructuring and job losses. Being head of the human resources department, I was tasked to create a communication plan for the employees who may be demotivated because of the impending sale. How should I proceed? What are the things that I must consider to minimize the adverse effects on employee morale? – Deep Blue Sea.

This new CEO thinks he doesn’t need HR

We have a new company president who was pirated by the owner from a competitor. He is a supply chain expert who doesn’t believe in the importance of human resources (HR) as a support function in the organization. In a recent town hall meeting with managers, he told us that everyone can do the work of HR and it need not become a specialist function. Since I am the HR department head, it has become uncomfortable for me to work with him given his critical position against my job. I’ve been in this company for close to 20 years now. And I don’t have any plans of moving to another organization. Please give me your advice. -- Bumpy Ride.

Convincing a manager who doesn’t believe in workers’ ideas

I’m an ordinary employee at a medium-sized corporation. My concern is about the management style of our department boss who thinks he knows everything about our job. Whenever we give excellent ideas on how to do a certain job, including how to save money, our boss normally rejects them all. Some of the employees think the boss is doing that for fear that he may lose control of the situation and make him look like a weakling before top management. The trouble is that many practical ideas, including those that don’t cost money, have long been relegated to the sidelines. Sometimes, our boss will simply delay judgment by asking the proponent-workers to give their ideas some serious thought before passing it to higher management. What’s the cure for this? -- Lost Dissident.

How to give clear job instructions to workers

I’m a newly-promoted line supervisor at a Japanese factory in Laguna. My problem is the lack of guidance from our human resources department on how I should be giving clear instructions to my workers. I’m at a loss as our department head keeps on telling me that I should go to HR for guidance. I suspect there’s a professional conflict, if not personality issues between the HR head and my boss. What should I do? (Itals end) -- Fork in the Road.

How to criticize workers without creating resentment

Many Filipino workers are overly emotional and unreasonably sensitive. Even with a lot of mistakes, they feel they don’t deserve the criticisms they’re getting from their bosses no matter how hard they try to be objective in the process. Knowing this, what’s the best advice you can tell our people supervisors and managers who are having difficulties in counselling their workers? -- Yellow Submarine.

Five questions to ask in managing work overload

We have a flexitime work schedule allowing our employees to attend to their various personal activities, like bringing kids to school or pursuing graduate studies, and applies even to navigating daily commuting hassles. We receive above-average pay and perks for our industry and this makes the workforce doubly satisfied. Personally, I like this flexible schedule except for the fact that our department boss keeps loading me with many special projects that upset my day-to-day plans. It appears that I am not alone in this. Many of my colleagues are complaining of the same thing. Clearly, flexitime has become a sham to cover for our pressure-cooker work environment. How do we manage our situation? -- Overly Stressed.

Project-based employment for an HR officer

I received a job offer from another company that is pirating me from my current company, where I’m a regular employee. My prospective boss agreed to give me a lucrative pay and perk package for the post of a human resource officer. However, the job on a one-year project employment basis with the possibility of renewal and on to my eventual regular status. What do you think? Please advise before I accept the offer. -- Ludicrous Delight.

What to do with a command-and-control manager

Our department head is an old jerk whose management style is command-and-control. He keeps a close watch on what we’re doing almost every day as if we’re a bunch of elementary kids. We hate our jobs that give us no fulfillment, enjoyment, or the freedom to be creative. Many of us are planning to leave, except that there are not too many opportunities around us. Please write something about command-and-control and I will find a way of putting a hard copy of your column in the suggestion box. -- Being Hopeful.

Four techniques to improve labor productivity

I saw a video you posted in your Facebook page about three Japanese professional footballers playing with 100 school kids in a friendly, entertaining soccer match. The game was won by the professional players. It appears in your post that you’re putting it forward as a good example on how we should focus on improving labor productivity. My question is this -- how can we make it happen in our real work-life? -- Just Asking.

Questions to ask when meeting a new boss

I will be laterally transferred as a manager to a new department reporting to a vice president in compliance with the company’s rightsizing plan. I’m excited about this new assignment and at the same time a bit edgy as I would like to start the work relationship right. My new boss is rumored in the organization as a no-nonsense guy who at times can be difficult to deal with. Could you please give me some ideas on how to handle my new boss? -- Feeling Nervous.

How to manage a credit-grabbing boss

My boss has a bad habit of rejecting my ideas and sprucing them up a bit, then presenting it to top management without mentioning my name. Sometimes, he’s brazen enough to bring up my excellent ideas without any revision and claims credit for them. I’m sick and tired of my work situation. How do I handle his toxic ways? -- Fed Up.

Three common biases of employers against job applicants

I’m a 48-year old balikbayan who lived in the United States for 15 years. Now, that I’m back for good, I’d like to secure a permanent job here. What are my challenges in seeking employment here? -- Lady Dragon.

Hiring and retaining the brightest managers

Hiring people and losing them in a short period of time is always an expensive situation for any organization. In our case, it’s almost 50%-50% for those who resigned voluntarily and involuntarily within their first year of employment. Knowing this, what are the best strategies to reduce the chance of the wrong people being hired? How do we screen and hire the best and the brightest who will stick to our organization? -- Water Lily.

How to reject the boss’s stupid ideas

Everyone commits mistakes. But what’s the best way to disagree with a boss who thinks he has the best ideas around and will not listen to his people? Sometimes, if the mistakes are glaring, he will not even bother to apologize. I’m seeking your advice for two reasons: I don’t want to be blamed later on for being complicit. And two, I’m not sure whether he’s testing my determination and integrity. What’s your take? (itals end) -- Deep Blue Sea.

Job interview questions to weed out bad managers

I’m the recruitment manager of a medium-sized corporation. For the past year, we made a series of wrong hiring decisions that caused resignations and a decline in the morale of newly-hired supervisors and managers. It turned out that there was no good fit for these new hires. Last week, you wrote about how job applicants may handle difficult and stressful job interviews. Can you help us design a list of killer interview questions for management applicants? We plan to share the list to our department heads. Thank you in advance. -- Cheat Sheet.

How to handle difficult job interview questions

I was interviewed for the vacant post of vice president by the CEO of a major company. My experience with him was disappointing after he asked the following questions: “Describe a stressful work condition with your past or current employer. How were you able to handle it? What would you do if you found out that a colleague is stealing millions from the company? Would you play politics with a colleague asking for your favor so that he can use a company vacation house for a week despite a policy against it? Would you agree to be imprisoned for avoiding taxes in favor of the company? Would you be willing to answer my phone calls at two in the morning? How would you feel if top management takes credit for your work?” Imagine answering around 15 of these questions for close to two hours. What’s your take on this? Are these questions relevant to the job? (italz end) -- Stressed Out.

What’s wrong with the perfect attendance award?

We have an absenteeism rate of 21% and a tardiness rate of 7% across all departments covering more than 650 workers. This puts a lot of stress on the workers who must take up the slack and be paid overtime premium. To correct this problem, we’re planning to offer a perfect attendance award that allows qualified workers to join the monthly raffle for home appliances worth about P15,000, which is a small amount compared to what we’re losing due to the poor attendance of our employees. What’s your view on this proposal? -- Vietnam Rose.

Dealing with a skeptical boss and colleagues

I was hired four months ago to handle the human resource department of an upstart restaurant business. During this period, I’ve tackled many challenges...

Background investigations for new workers

Usually, we hire our workers through manpower agencies that give us employees who are supposed to be screened, trained and qualified prior to deployment. However, there have been instances in which were sent people with falsified clearances. We ended up blacklisting some manpower agencies. Do we need to conduct another round of background investigations to ensure that we get the right people? (itals end) -- Vietnam Rose.

Whose responsibility is job description writing?

We are planning to conduct a job evaluation program, but we can’t afford an external consultant to help us. Our CEO suggests that the project be done by our human resource department. The trouble is that we have more than 130 jobs in the organization and revising them all would take up a lot of HR’s time. My question is: Whose job is it to write and revise the job description -- the HR manager or the line managers who are expected to know what’s best for their respective departments? -- Blue Wave.

One-over-one line management approval

We’re thinking of raising the empowerment level of our people managers to decongest and simplify our administrative work processes and improve our labor productivity at the same time. One department manager suggests that we consider the “one-over-one” approval of employee leaves, work schedules, and other related matters. What do you think? What are the things that we should consider to make such change successful? -- Yellow Submarine.

How to prove that a department is overstaffed

I am the general manager of a manufacturing plant with 300 plus workers. How can you prove to the satisfaction of all concerned that a department, section, or corporate unit is overstaffed, with both regular and “endo” workers? What’s the best way to increase labor productivity so that we can justify the employment of people in an organization? Please advise us. -- Pink Rose

Having an overstaffed work force without knowing it

I’m the owner of a fast-growing restaurant business. We opened our third branch last year and we’re looking forward to having seven branches this year. That’s why we keep on hiring new workers from all sources just to fill the vacancies as demanded by each branch. Now, each branch is averaging more than 30 workers each, including the chefs, cashier, and branch head. And yet, our overhead expenses have also increased due to overtime payments made to people who are forced to work as many as 16 hours a day, which to me is impossible to do. I can’t understand what’s happening; no matter how we increase the number of workers for each branch, we still encounter excessive overtime work and other manpower-related expenses for each branch. Could you please tell us what’s wrong? -- Losing It.

Manager seeks mercy for a dishonest worker

A department manager went directly to our CEO to ask for forgiveness for his worker who was caught in an act of dishonesty, a grave offense. After being given due process, the worker was found to have violated company policy and a penalty of dismissal was handed down by the Human Resources and a Management Committee (Mancom) composed of other department managers. The CEO consulted the HR Head who advised him about the repercussions of a decision favoring the worker whose wife is suffering from cancer. Also, the Mancom was displeased to find that it spent much time deliberating the case only for the decision to be reversed. I am concerned that the incident will set a bad precedent. What can we do about it? -- Danny Dilemma.

When managers are forced to do overtime work

I’m a manager of a small manufacturing plant in Cavite. The managers’ regular work schedule is Monday to Friday. My problem is with our CEO who released a new policy requiring all managers to perform overtime work during Saturdays and holidays. All managers are assigned to work alternatively as factory officer-in-charge to supervise our two shifts -- 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The trouble is that we are not being paid any overtime premium or cash allowance as the CEO insists that our salary covers everything. He says the disturbance is not much as the manager’s schedule is rotated every six weeks. Despite this, many managers feel it’s not right to change the rules in the middle of the game. Could you please comment on this? -- Feeling Trapped.

Why some managers are impotent on money matters

I’m a department manager for a major corporation that has averaged P700 million in net revenue in the past five years. What I cannot understand is that all managers are not allowed to make any independent decisions on disbursements as small as P500 for a single transaction. Our decisions on money matters are treated only as recommendations that need the approval of a high-ranking officer, like our vice president. On the other hand, my wife who works for a small corporation has the final authority to sign for as much as P100,000 provided that such expense is covered by a budget. Can you please enlighten me on this? – Pathetically Sad.

Supervisor refuses to dismiss an erring worker

I’m the human resource manager of a small restaurant business. Our problem is the competence of our supervisors, in particular the case of Supervisor Dave (not his real name) who has a direct report who was found to have committed a serious offense. The same policy requires that the violator be dismissed after due process. However, Dave refuses to initiate disciplinary proceedings. Instead, he claims that the job belongs to the HR department. Of course, having read many of your articles, I know that employee discipline is the job of line supervisors and not HR, a management staff department. How do we coerce Dave and other similarly-situated supervisors to do their job? -- Exasperated.

Writing a new code of conduct from the ground up

We would like to establish an employee disciplinary policy for our new restaurant. We are growing fast with employees being hired left and right. The trouble is that, employee discipline issues have also increased. It ranges from habitual absences and tardiness to estafa and theft. Now, we have learned our lesson for starting out without any employee policy. Anyway, how do we start from scratch? -- Needing Guidance.

How to reject the boss’s crazy ideas

I have a young boss who is the son-in-law of the owner. He was appointed two months ago. During that time, he would flex his muscles by giving instructions that are either vague, illegal, or sometimes downright stupid. I love my company and I don’t have any plans of moving out. Please advise me on what to do. -- Perplexed.

HR must not handle employee discipline

Our Human Resource department is saddled with many employee disciplinary issues that include issuing warning notices to personally handing out dismissal letters. This consumes 70% of HR’s time, leaving it too emotionally stressed out to do other things for more than 1,500 workers. Is it the right approach? Is there a better way? -- Yellow Submarine.

What to do with a worker’s red circle pay

I have two non-management employees who are receiving salaries which are a bit higher than what a junior supervisor gets. This is due to the workers’ length of service and the annual across-the-board pay increases under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The trouble is that our human resource department is dragging its feet on our repeated requests in correcting the injustice. What’s the best solution for this? -- Doing their Job.