It is mandatory to implement provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a defining law of labor relations. Being the operative law on labor standards; it sets out minimum wage and working hours for employees in any sector.

It has rules on recordkeeping, overtime pay and child labor. Promulgated first in 1938; the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has been amended many times over the years, accommodating changes that have taken place over time.

The types businesses covered

These businesses are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act:

  • Enterprises with employees who carry out business within or outside their respective states
  • Firms doing business of no less than $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business applies

Those to whom the Fair Labor Standards Act applies irrespective of business volume

The Fair Labor Standards Act has exceptions for some kinds of organizations, no matter what their business size:

  • hospitals
  • institutions that take care of the sick, aged, mentally ill, or disabled that reside on the premises
  • schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled or gifted
  • preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; and federal, state, and local government agencies.

Other workers covered

Other workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act include domestic service workers – such as –cooks, chauffeurs, day workers, housekeepers, or full‑time babysitters, so long as they receive at least $1,700 in 2009 in cash wages from one employer in a calendar year, or if they work a total of more than eight hours a week for one or more employers.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers of covered employees a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour, with effect from July 24, 2009. For those aged below 20 years, the minimum wage paid should be at least $4.25 an hour during the first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer.

The Act also clearly states that an employer need not remove any worker from work if the need for hiring someone at the minimum wage or age arises.

References:

http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/minwage.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Labor_Standards_Act

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The exit interview is sometimes as important as the entry interview

We all tend to think that the only interview that really matters is the job interview. It is, for sure. There is also another kind of interview that should be counted as nearly as important as this –the exit interview. We all know that the exit interview is the one done to the employee who has left the organization. Just like how a job interview, or the entry interview has a set of questions that candidates are usually asked; many in HR prepare a standard set of questions to even the employee who is on the way out.

Not universal

First of all, many organizations do not consider it necessary to conduct the exit interview. This could be because of many factors. One, their HR could have convinced them that it is a waste of time interacting with someone who has already left. Second, it may have convinced itself that there is no better employer than itself and that the employee who left the organization has lost the opportunity of a lifetime. Worse still, a few employer develop a kind of vengeful attitude toward the leaving employee, being even intimidating it its approach to the departing employee. This could be especially the case in smaller companies when the leaving employee has plans of starting on his own and becoming a likely competitor. No matter how cheap and dirty this approach is; it is a reality in many places.

No place for complacency

All of these approaches are plain wrong. Of these, let us see where HR could be faltering in terms of the exit interview and what it could do to correct itself.  If the HR believes that there is no need to conduct an exit interview; it is skewed in its thinking about the perception the organization carries in the minds of employees who worked with them till recently. If an employee is leaving, he must have done so for a number of reasons. If the resignation is because of personal reasons like higher education or to change the profession into doing something more satisfying; that is fine and understandable. But if the resignation is due to lack of job satisfaction; then HR has lost an invaluable opportunity to see things in the right perspective by being smug in its attitude.

HR’s role and assessment are all-important

If an employee is leaving disgruntled and disappointed; that is where HR has to really act. This is because at the time of the entry interview, there is hope that the candidate could be a long-term prospect who could deliver for the company in the years ahead; whereas when an employee has actually quit, it could mean that there is something brewing within the organization that needs remedying.

The exit interview is the best means to understanding what the resignation means to the organization. By being gently prodding; HR can elicit information about what behavior or actions on the part of the organization made him take this step. It should then analyze in a very objective manner if the problem is rooted in the organization. If it is; it is squarely on HR’s shoulders to take action on this. This is a great way to understanding how to take the organization forward vis-à-vis its most important resource –the people.

Understand the reasons

A good employee’s resignation due to dissatisfaction should sound the alarm bell. The organization has to introspect on what could be the likely future situation. Is this a case of isolated disenchantment? Or is it the first of what could be a trend in the near future? If it is the second of these; it could bode terrible things for the organization. This is when HR has to take the top management into consultation and press the emergency button.

Other reasons for leaving

There are occasions when an employee leaves not for any disrespect or problem with the organization per se, but because of a general disagreement with his immediate manager. This too, can be sorted out, if HR and top management could sit with the two parties together and listen to both of them patiently and fairly.

There is also a scenario when it is for insufficient pay that the employee is leaving; it is an easy problem to fix. HR should have a talk about what the employee’s expectation is. It should then see if it is realistic and in tune with market conditions. If the employee is being unreasonable in his expectation; then HR can talk it out with him and make him understand that this is not realistic.

The exit interview is where all these are discovered

If HR has to zero in on the reasons for which an employee has left; the quality of the exit interview has to be very high. It has to be structured to not just understand inane aspects like working hours and facilities or the dress code, but should lead to the heart of the matter in a rather unobtrusive and nonintrusive manner.

It is certainly a challenge to elicit all these from the quitting employee for a number of reasons. First, since he has already made up his mind to leave; the exit interview may not make any great impact on the employee himself. He may answer many questions without any seriousness. Unless answering it is for his own benefit, he is unlikely to be truthful.

HR has to convince the employee into giving the right answers. After all, he is not going to be held into account for giving answers that are not to the management’s liking. If HR could insist on the usefulness of this exercise, it is likely to get the desired answers. This is all the more true of situations where the employee has had a grouse with the management which could be set right with an open and fair discussion. It all eventually boils down to how much that resource is respected and important within the organization. That should be the deciding factor in making exit interviews useful, meaningful and pertinent.

Reference:

http://briancwatkins.com/2012/learning-from-the-exit-interview/

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Teams are the building blocks of organizations

Team building is one of the core skills a good leader brings into organizations. One of the most important parameters by which a leader is rated is in his capacity for team building. This is because the difference a leader makes is in not just how he functions as a leader, but by what he builds and leaves behind.

A good team is indispensable for a number of factors

An effective team building strategy is a must for a good leader because more people can contribute together when functioning as one unit, rather than as individuals. Another important advantage of team building is that while together they can fortify individual strengths; some in the team can compensate for the weakness of one or more members of the team. Team building is critical to leadership succession too, because the team can take over from the leader after his departure from the organization.

What does it take to build a team?

Team building is one of the most vital functions a leader carries out. It is carried out over the long haul, and not something that is done as a matter of daily task routine. The leader has to keep a close eye on some of these points:

What to build the team for

A leader entrusted with the task of team building has to begin by asking oneself this most elementary question: for what purpose in the organization should the team building be done? The leader has to decide on the specifics of the purpose. What is the team going to be for? Is it for the organization’s core function or secondary function? What department or area does the team need to be built for? Is the team to consist of young or old employees? These and related questions form the core of what the teambuilding exercise has to be focused on.

Whom to select

This follows the first point logically. Once the leader has decided with going ahead with team building and the purpose for it; the next matter to consider is which of his employees will be part of the team building exercise. In other words, the leader has to decide which of his team members will go into the core team building activity. For this, the leader needs to be aware of his team’s strengths and weaknesses. He then has to make a selection of his employees for team building.

Roles

The third important component of team building is what role to assign to each of the team members. This too, is largely dependent on the knowledge the leader has of his team members and the expectations he has of each of them. This completes the triad of teambuilding. All these are to done very judiciously, because his decisions at team building are critical for the organization’s future.

Reference:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226063

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Talent management is a talent

It is now clearer than ever before to organizations’ managements that if there is one really important factor that separates an extraordinary organization from an ordinary one; it is in talent management. Employees are an organization’s biggest asset, and the ultimate asset for an organization is the employee with talent.

Talent management –what is it?

All of us have some or another talent at various phases of our lives. When any of us nurtures our talent and grow with it and make it the core of our careers; it means we have a talent at doing things that our careers demand of us. So, talent is the potential or flair for doing things well and consistently excelling at it. This is the most important quality an organization looks for, because people grow to their best and give in their best when they are allowed to use their innate talent in doing this.

This is why talent management is the new age mantra. Organizations have come round to the realization that nothing helps them grow better –not technology, not process or any system –as much as employees’ talents. When employees have the ability to do things differently over time, the business is made.

How does an organization recognize and handle talent management?

One difficulty organizations face with talent management is that talent is often difficult to spot. Generally, it is true that the extrovert gets noticed more easily and is thus easier to identify. But what if the really introverted employee has loads of talent, which the organization’s HR or management will not be able to discover all that easily? This is one of the first challenges of talent management. This is why HR has to be consistently on the lookout for talent. If it fails to recognize talent in the organization; it will have done the organization a big disservice.

Nurturing it

The next big thing for talent management is to grow it and take it to a point where the organization grows, and to retain this talent for a long time, for the organization’s good. There is no use of talent that lies hidden in some corner of the organization and is not even known about. HR has to not only spot talent; it has to collaborate with management to ensure that this is exploited (this word is used in the positive sense here, of course!) for the organization’s good.

The onus of talent management thus lies to a vast extent on HR. The way it spots talent and takes it to its logical outcome is an indicator of its own talent.

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Some common recruiting mistakes to avoid making

It has been said and proven time and again that the most precious resource for an organization is its people. Recruitment is undoubtedly the most important process by which this all-important resource is brought into the organization. Hiring is the means by which the organization gets its people. However; when it comes to carrying out this most critical of all functions, many organizations end up making errors that could turn out to be expensive and hence need to be avoided. A properly planned and executed interview gives the organization the right fit, but getting this process wrong can deny it of the best resources, denting the ROI eventually.

These are some of the more common mistakes many organizations make when they hire people:

  1. 1.       Not being clear about the requirement:

This should be the gravest error any organization can make. If it is not sure that it is looking for, it shows up a very confused thinking process among the management team members. It shows an organization that has no clue to what it is doing and where it is heading.

First, the organization has to be clear about why it wants a resource. Is the person going to be a senior, middle or junior hire? What role is that person going to carry out when recruited? What are the expectations from that person? What is the company going to provide him with to help him carry out his goals? What is the education, skills and experience level that the organization thinks will be required to handle the job with élan? Most important of all; what is the role it sees for him in the organization in the years ahead? These are among the many questions an organization needs to ask of itself when it is about to commence a hire.

At this, the most important aspect should be the candidate’s suitability for the present requirement. The decision makers have to size up the candidate in relation to the requirement by being intuitive. There could be a seemingly well suited candidate who has got good experience and track record, but from a slightly different industry. This could sometimes turn out to be a wrong hire because that industry’s dynamics could be slightly different. It is not likely that the absolutely perfectly suited candidate could come along; what needs to be assessed is the candidate’s potential to deliver in the new job, rather than a perfect track record of the same. If the management merely assumes that one level or kind of experience is good for others too, it could be making the first important mistake.

  1. 2.       Lack of coordination between different decision makers:

Another major error organizations tend to commit at the time of hiring is when there is poor coordination between different departments or individuals that should be involved in the hiring. The department head or manager is ideally the one who knows whom he is looking for and why. The practice is to tell HR about the requirements, so that it can start scouting for the candidates. When this is not properly conveyed; there can be a terrible mess in the process, leading to calling the wrong person for the interview. There has to be complete sync between his level of expectation and what HR understands of it.

  1. 3.       Looking for Mr. Perfect

Many organizations waste considerable time looking out for the one that could completely fulfill each and every of its criteria. An organization needs to assess the capability of the person to deliver at the new job. While it can be a mistake to assume that altogether different roles can be performed based on experience in one field; it needs to understand that the candidate who is most suited in every sense of the term is not likely to come along. Try to understand this from the candidate’s perspective: if he were required to carry out the same tasks in the new organization, why would he like to make the shift? There should be something in him that motivates him to join, learn on the job and go up the ladder.

  1. 4.       Assessing too quickly at the interview

Many managers who take the interview come to a very quick conclusion about the candidate, often within the first few minutes of the interview. Why don’t we think of it this way –what if we were judged in the first couple of minutes of our first meeting with our future life partner? How much ease could we possibly be at with a new environment, facing new people and being required to talk to them to please them to the best of our ability, all within a few seconds? Isn’t some level of apprehension natural to all of us? This happens even to senior professionals.

  1. 5.       Judging by emotion rather than by reason

This is another common trait we are all prone to. After all, deep down, we are all emotional beings. If we were to hire a candidate based on a few pleasant interactions; we may have overlooked serious flaws. This would be because of our own clouded reasoning. We have to look at the person very objectively. In case we are unable to do this; there is no harm in referring to another colleague, whose perspective could be different. A conclusion can be arrived at based on his assessment.

  1. 6.       Expecting miracles

Well, now that the ‘Mr. Right’ has come in; why not hop all the way to the bank? Wrong. Even the best suited and best performing resources need time to settle in at their new job to start showing positive results. Nothing happens overnight. A new office is like a new school with a new teacher and new classmates, even for the one with the best available talent and the right experience. Give a period of at least six months –not for the new hire to show concrete results –but for the organization to start getting a solid impression about him. This is the time anyone needs to reasonably settle in into the new job. An organization will be making a big mistake if it looked at the new hire as someone who could be a rock star from day one.

References:

http://www.gautamblogs.com/2006/03/hiring-mistakes.html

http://www.ere.net/2012/10/04/7-ways-to-minimize-perception-driven-hiring-mistakes/

http://www.startupnation.com/business-articles/9550/1/hiring-mistakes-5-common.htm

http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/hatenmistakes2.htm

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Ownership as a means of employee engagement

Employee engagement is a term that has been doing the rounds for a while now. Although christened as such only recently; it must have been around from much earlier. These management concepts took shape only of late, but as a concept, it is likely many businesses must have implemented from many years before this.

Employee engagement can happen in a number of ways. It can be implemented by making the employee more participative in the work. It can be done by taking them into confidence on important matters. Employee engagement can also be done by making them develop their extra interests and talents. Employees are engaged about the growth of the organization when they are made to feel part of the family during outings. And yes, employee engagement can be also when employees are made to participate in corporate social responsibility programs.

Ownership beats all other kinds of employee engagements hands down!

But surely, there has to be one element of employee engagement that far outpaces the rest when it comes to effectiveness. It is ownership. What is ownership? Ownership is when the complete responsibility for carrying out a work is handed over the employee with the feeling that they are the owners of that task.

Ownership is a miracle tool

When the ownership for an important task is given to the employee, the premise on which it is built is the sense of pride and belonging to the work. This can bring out the best in an employee like no other. This is confirmed by many studies. The Industrial Revolution era, when people were not treated any differently from machines, is long behind us. Today, employees are not the people who are in a job merely because they want to earn a livelihood, but because they want to use their talents and make sure that the organization helps them grow to higher levels.

Ownership is all about the feeling of belonging

Yes, monetary reward is an important aspect of work, but more rewarding is the feeling of belonging to an organization. Nothing creates and reinforces this better than a sense of ownership. When people are given ownership, they start treating the work as their own. Its success is theirs, and conversely, its failure is theirs too. When does a person reach this state of mind? It is when what he is doing is his own. It is only when this feeling comes about that ownership can be meaningfully brought about. This is what ownership is all about. Ownership starts with transformation of the individual to the group. When people have a high sense of ownership, they seldom think of “I”. It is always, “We”. This is the driving force behind ownership.

What are the benefits of ownership?

First and foremost, when employees are given ownership of what they are doing; they are made to feel important. It is an idea that works at the root of our existence –recognition. The sense of dignity and respect that they earn when they are consulted and in fact, handed over a piece of work to accomplish with the use of resources at their disposal is something very special. It is something that no other reward or incentive can bring about.

When employees move away from being considered just employees to major decision makers, the feeling of pride and happiness is complete. This is a great motivation for them to work towards accomplishment of their goal in the organization. The feeling of being a valued and wanted employee is a great reason for employees to push themselves that extra bit to give in his best. Nothing fosters teamwork like ownership.

Factors to consider when handing over ownership

Given the tremendous benefits ownership brings; there are a few factors that organizations have to consider when handing over ownership of a particular work to employees. We have looked at the positive side of ownership, but what will happen to the organization which hands over ownership and makes a mess of it?

Whom to give ownership to

Handing over ownership in itself can never bring about problems to the organization; the problem can arise when the wrong people are chosen for ownership. Any employee, whose commitment levels are never beyond doubt, should never be given ownership. This is the most important aspect to keep in mind when it comes to handing over ownership. It is only when an employee work for the team and lives as part of it that he feels a sense of happiness and pride in taking up ownership. An employee whose loyalty wavers is never a good pick for ownership.

What to give it for?

From this follows the next important aspect: what to give ownership for. It depends on the people chosen, because that is what will decide whether it is for small or big or important or unimportant or critical tasks that ownership is given. Management can always use its discretion and do this in a graded manner. It can start with smaller tasks or projects and based on the results, move on to larger ones. This will also help it determine the capability of the employees in taking up ownership.

Implemented right; ownership is a great tool for bringing out the best in employees. It leads to enhanced relationship between employees and the employers, and leads to a happy workforce –the most important asset for an organization.

References:

http://tribehr.com/blog/task-ownership-boosts-employee-engagement/

http://www.thankgoditsmonday.com/pdf/seven_secrets_to_employee_engagement_1500.pdf

http://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/1711-8790/Employee-ownership-A-panacea-for-employee-engagement.html

http://esoppartners.com/blog/bid/89124/Employee-Engagement-and-Employee-Ownership

 

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Leadership vs. management

The term “leadership management” is a bit of a misnomer and slightly paradoxical, because for quite a few years now; experts have described clear differences between the two. In delineating the two, sufficient reams of paper have been exhausted. Yet; this is a question anyone in the corporate world keeps encountering: if there is a difference between leadership and management; is there such a thing as leadership management?

Sharp differences

First, a brief understanding of the differences between leadership and management is necessary. We could understand the differences in the following:

  • The leader leads, while the manager is led;
  • The leader acts intuitively, while the manager goes by the book;
  • While the leader innovates and thinks of the “Big Picture”; the manager administers set policies and guidelines;
  • The leader works essentially with people, while the manager is concerned with structures and systems. This is considered the most important difference between the leader and the manager.

Yet, although in theory, a leader may seem to tower above the manager both in terms of her qualities and in the discharge of her duties; organizations need a mix of both. This is why leadership management is of primary importance to organizations.

If leadership is considered more important and bigger than management, what should be understood of the term, “leadership management”?

Managing leadership

It would appear that there is something like management of leadership. Although seemingly complicated; it is the ability of the organization to manage the leadership. Leadership, like all other talents, needs to be nurtured and honed properly if it is going to become useful. There are instances of many talented individuals who have had the leadership ability, but due to lack of the right scope for using it, have lost their way. In this sense, we could understand leadership management as something that organizations need to inculcate for getting the best out of its leadership.

References:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130529150715-5799319-the-difference-between-managers-and-leaders

http://www.google.co.in/imgres?imgurl=http://nelsontouchconsulting.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/leadership-versus-management.png&imgrefurl=http://nelsontouchconsulting.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/leadership-vs-management/&h=691&w=1204&sz=37&tbnid=do1BTpH6xj9hBM:&tbnh=69&tbnw=120&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dleadership%2Bmanagement%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=leadership+management&usg=__hOiTnHufyFifhX_9Vh1mdcWOTMg=&docid=kiT9OEg479zJ-M&sa=X&ei=fkPaUfOOKMSHrQee7YDoDQ&sqi=2&ved=0CFwQ9QEwAw&dur=1252

http://www.businessballs.com/leadership-theories.htm#differences-management-leadership

http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership/

 

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