During her 20 years of working for Fortune 500 companies, Lanie Morgenstern recognized that employees had nowhere to turn as Human Resources departments became more about mitigating risk and less about building an engaged workforce. Morgenstern, who has worked for companies such as Carnival Cruises and FPL, turned her passion into a new resource for employees called Lion’s Compass (lionscompass.com, because work is a jungle), a website where employees can discuss real work issues, share ideas and give and get advice without the fear of reprisal from their bosses or colleagues.
Morgenstern has five other partners in her South Florida startup: Gail Nicolaus, Tim Hasse, Frank Ruppen, Susan Robison and Peter Gonzales. The team has diverse corporate backgrounds in a wide cross-section of industries. Lion’s Compass launched on April 1.
I asked Morgenstern about some of the most pressing questions employees face in today’s workplaces.
Q. Just recently, your manager seems to be slighting you. You’re not being invited to important meetings or lunches. What do you do?
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A. Address it with that manager. More often than not, managers are consumed with their own work and deadlines (from their managers) and may not be aware of the impact they have on their employees. Make sure you pick a time that your manager isn’t busy (first thing in the morning is typically a good time) and ask him/her if you can “have 5 minutes” to talk. Simply tell them you want to do a “gut check” to make sure everything is OK and let them know you noticed that it’s been super busy, and that you’re there to help. If you’re manager isn’t responsive to that, something’s up...
Q. Your manager is sending you emails late at night. At first, you would respond. Now, you want some balance in your life. Do you ignore the email or address it with your manager?
A. Often managers work all sorts of hours and may be clueless that their employees have a life outside of work. (Think Devil Wears Prada.) However, it might be that the company is going through a rough patch and needs you to put in extra hours. Then you just need to buck up and pitch in. If this is happening on a frequent basis, and not during some sort of “crisis” — it’s OK for you to set boundaries and respond in the morning. If you are an hourly employee and not salaried, you should be paid overtime for hours worked.
Q. You went to HR to complain that your manager is driving you harder than others on your team and seemed to “have it out for you.” Since then, nothing has changed and your manager has become ever more belligerent towards you. What now?
A. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Go back to HR to get it on record! Do NOT document on company servers. The Lion’s Compass “I’m getting screwed tracker” was created specifically for these moments. It is imperative that you keep a log (with times and dates) to have an accurate account of what’s taken place. Since it’s unlikely that your manager will suddenly decide to have a lobotomy...I would also recommend dusting off your résumé, and looking for a transfer to a different department, or think about looking for your next job.
Q. You noticed a coworker spends a lot of work time playing online games and sometimes you get stuck with more work because of it. What’s the best way to address this without sounding petty?
A. It’s not smart to throw your colleague directly under the bus, as it will only make you look bad to your manager and YES… sound petty. Speak with your manager about the “re-allocation of work loads” in your department — they should get the hint.
Q. As the manager, you see that one of your salaried employees is a clock-watcher. At 5 sharp, regardless of how much work is left, he bolts. How should you address this concern?
A. At the next performance review, have a discussion on “expectations and goals.” If they are meeting their goals, set higher ones.
Q. My boss is sleeping with a colleague of mine. I don’t want to go to HR as I feel I might get fired. What should I do?
A. First of all, how does this affect you directly? If it doesn’t, you’re better off minding your own business. If the company doesn’t have a policy on personal relationships at work, you can’t do anything anyway, provided he/she aren’t misusing company resources that violate corporate ethics. If that is the case, you can go to the ethics and compliance team and ask that the information is kept confidential. Often times, ethics is a stand-alone arm of the company.
Q. I’m in a tug-of-war with my direct supervisor and the CEO of the small company I work for. The CEO wants to bring in a “buddy” of his for a position that I have open. My supervisor told me to hire someone else immediately and not this “buddy.” I’m in a no-win situation. What can I do?
A. If you have a positive working relationship with the CEO, I would talk to him to find out, does he just want the person in the applicant pool or does he want you to really hire them? Sometimes the CEO may only want a person to be “considered” for a job... very rarely is it a directive. However, in the event that it is a directive, I would prepare a comparative analysis for the CEO that shows his candidate, along with the top two to three candidates for the position. Share the results with the CEO, and offer him the opportunity to interview all the candidates. THIS WAY, you have documentation that gives the CEO “an out” to hire the best candidate. If the buddy gets hired even though the paper trail shows they weren’t the best fit... you have the paper trail to protect yourself and your team.
Cindy Krischer Goodman writes about work/life balance and work place topics. Connect with her at email@example.com