I saw this sign on the door of my nearby OfficeMax and simply had to take a photo. Wouldn’t it be nice if all jobs were posted so honestly?
NOW HIRING: Hard Worker Who Won’t Complain About Everything He/She Is Asked To Do, Three Weeks After Being Hired.
APPLICATIONS NOW BEING TAKEN: Obsequious, fawning sycophant. Other knowledge and skills only minimally necessary.
JOB OPENING: Need steady employee to take the place of the malingering, excuse-making, habitually late one we’re going to fire as soon as he gets here.
As it turns out–nothing is as ever fun as it seems–this sign was for the position of supervisor in the ImPress section (copies and printing). He or she is supposed to ensure accuracy of orders so I hope he or she corrects the spelling on the next Now Hiring sign, from Impress to ImPress.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the sign and wondered what they would do if someone showed up to say they certainly could impress a supervisor and would like to start immediately.
I once asked my group to help me develop some descriptions for a position into which someone would be transferred. I expected, “must be able to use Word proficiently” or something of that nature. Instead I received lists with descriptions like, “Must be in a good mood upon arrival, not after three cups of coffee.” “Can’t be weird acting.” “Grown up who is not in need of babysitting.” “Approximately well-balanced mentally.” “Can just do the work, please.”
Challenge yourself to think of what others–supervisors, coworkers and clients–would honestly say they want from someone in your job. Their wants may be unrealistic or incorrect for the work, but it can be a good way to consider if you can provide just a bit of it. Think how it would impress them!
There is a difference between a warning and an admonishment–but many supervisors don’t recognize the difference and fail to warn in a way that prevents a problem in the future.
An Admonishment Is Mild But Pointed Advice
An admonishment is a brief word of advice, counsel, maybe mild-mannered reproof. ”Becky, you do a great job when you get here, but you’ve been late three times now. We need you here on time, especially on the days you open up.”
An admonishment can also be delivered using a light tone and even a slightly humorous approach: ”Hey Ken, stop throwing trash in the parking lot, it looks bad enough without your generous contributions.”
For most situations, an admonishment is enough to get good results. I recall the thought in a book for police sergeants: “To a mature employee a suggestion is construed as an order.”
Unfortunately, supervisors and managers often think an admonishment is a sufficient warning and they are frustrated and angry when the employee does the thing again. If they want to make sure the employee doesn’t do it again, they need to warn and give consequences.
A Warning Is A Promise About What Will Happen
A warning can be formal or informal, verbal or written. “Becky, you’re doing a good job otherwise, but you’ve been late three times now. The next time you’re late I’m going to have to put it in your permanent record and give you a formal reprimand. I don’t want to have to do that, so be on time from now on.”
Or, “Ken, after the last incident with you throwing trash in the parking lot after I had asked you not to, I recommended a formal warning and HR approved it. This is your last warning. The next incident will result in loss of a day off.”
Employees Get As Confused as Supervisors
Last week an employee complained to me that she was getting in serious trouble because she continued to do something after she was warned not to. She said she hadn’t been warned, in fact her supervisor was laughing about it when he talked to her so she didn’t take it seriously.
The supervisor’s view was that a reasonable person would know his light-hearted remarks were a warning. I asked him if he had, in the midst of being light-hearted, told the employee what would happen if she did it again. He said no, but surely she realized she would get some sort of sanction.
Was that an effective warning or merely an admonishment? His HR Department and his manager viewed that he had not warned the employee because he hadn’t told her what would happen next. His manager told him that if he had warned her, it would also have reminded him that he had an obligation to follow through, whereas with an admonishment there is no follow-through mentioned.
The bottom line: The reason many employees continue their problematic behavior or performance is because they are admonished, but they are not warned. The reason many supervisors get frustrated with continual problems is that they think they are warning, but without consequences it’s just advice that the employee may not take.
I like the warning on the sign in the photo. I asked a police officer in that town, Griffin, Georgia (my place of birth), if many people hit the bridge. He said it happens now and then, but not nearly as often as it did when the sign just said, “Danger, Low Bridge. No trucks or loads over 16′ high.”
Knowing the consequences and knowing what actions will result in those consequences can make all the difference in what a person does next.
In one of those odd events made possible only by the Internet, I learned about the Oyu Tolgoi mine. The mining company employee who corresponded with me for a time told me that the Oyu Tolgoi mine will have more of an impact on Mongolia than anything since Genghis Khan in 1206!
Mongolia is the world’s largest land-locked country and is mostly high altitude (about the altitude of Denver), has long, bitter cold winters and is dry in many areas. It has a population of close to three million people (population density of about 3 people per square mile). The people are still mostly nomadic, since they travel with the herds that are the primary sources of their incomes.
My correspondent told me, “My tribe raised reindeer, so tourists always wanted to get photos. To us, reindeer were for milk, meat, hides, antlers, hoofs and teeth, so we couldn’t figure out why tourists wanted photos. Sometimes they would give us more money for one photo than we would make in months of hard work.” (The average Mongolian lives on about $1.25 a day. )
Life for many is very challenging as it has been for thousands of years, but the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine has the potential to bring billions of dollars to the economy over time. My correspondent said, “It has already changed my life and the lives of many others, for the better. We are very grateful for it.”
You can see a five minute video about it on YouTube. Listen to the respect shown by the engineers for the Mongolian miners and employees. There is a poem written to express pride in being chosen by Central Asian Mining Logistics (CAML) to work in the mining industry as miners or in other jobs required to keep the mining operations going. I think the translation probably creates some odd phrases, so I smiled at it. However, I was a bit misty-eyed too because it is genuinely sweet! My correspondent said, “It’s all true!”
Proud Mongols’ dream fulfilled with joy
Youth that’s chosen to be employed
People of CAML at Oyu Tolgoi site
Strong and enthusiastic we show our might.
Before the shift we early morning rise
To hug the greeting golden sunrise
The work exhausts me but I smile
And clocks tick time filled with tasks worthwhile.
Divine, the fortune that gave this chance
To bear my employer’s logo on my chest
Great achievements are waiting to be built
On sunny days there, out in the field
Of beautiful, home-country’s youth I’m proud
The company’s objectives they’ll greatly fulfill
In each corner of the globe to have a branch embraced
I raise this Moon-mother’s milk and praise!*
*©CAML (An impressive Human Resources company.)
1931 Magazine Cover
We tend to treat the beginning of a new year as though on January 1st, something magical happens that allows us a brand new start on life,work, health, finances and relationships. This year I’ve heard a lot of people express thoughts along the line of “Good riddance to 2011!” As though the twelve months of 2011 had it in for them. If years could talk, maybe 2011 would say to us, “Good riddance to you, you whining, ungrateful, weak-willed human, with your helpless, hopeless attitude!”
Sometimes life and circumstances bring stress, anger, disappointment, heartache and grief. As a result, a day, a week, a month or a year will always have unpleasant memories. We don’t have to be such Pollyannas that we look for reasons to be glad for the truly bad and sad things that have happened. We also don’t need to beat ourselves up unmercifully and take the blame for all of it. But, we will feel better and more able to deal with the future if we purposefully look for the aspects of even sad situations that can give us reasons to be happy or at least, less unhappy.
We can also benefit by seeing how some of our own behaviors and responses created the problems, added to the problems or kept us from responding to the problems effectively–and how we can do differently in the future.
One thing is for sure–if you’re going into the new year with the same old you to deal with all of it you probably won’t get a trouble-free year, no matter how much magical thinking you do.
*If you had habits that caused you problems last year and you haven’t replaced them with new ones, it won’t be the fault of 2012 if your life is no different when 2013 starts.
*If you won’t allow yourself to see even small increments of improvement in whatever it is that has bothered you in 2011, you will see the flaws rather than the good things in 2012.
*If you put the blame on someone else for every upset in your life or work in 2011, you probably will still be griping in 2012. The griping part is bad enough, but what’s worse is that most of us gripe instead of doing even little things to make life better for ourselves.
This is the first week of the new year. If it helps you to think of it as a cosmic event that erases the past and gives you a new chance, think that way. However, you will be better off if you don’t put so much pressure on 2012 and put more pressure on yourself to be the catalyst for good things all year long. Happy New You!