Tag archive for "economy"

by Bill, Think About It...

Even in a Bad Job Market, Don't Fudge That Resume!

No Comments 04 March 2009

Even in good times, when competition for jobs is at a normal level, approximately 60% of all resumes contain factual inaccuracies of one sort or another. Roughly half of that total can be considered material misrepresentation, involving things such as credentials claimed, dates of employment, job title/responsibility, and income.

As the economy worsens and competition heats up for each available position, the temptation to “airbrush” ones cv increases. That is especially the case as job candidates are encouraged to customize their resume for each position sought. While it is perfectly permissible to emphasize different aspects of one’s talents and work history when applying for different positions, it is not okay to take liberties with the facts.

In the “old-school” analog world, much of this creative expression went undetected. If you were fortunate enough to get by the initial screening and reference checking, any misstatements on your resume usually remained buried in a filing cabinet somewhere in the bowels of HR. That is no longer the case in a digital world where employment records are readily available, and simply Googling someone or visiting their Facebook page can turn up all sorts of juicy stuff. Moreover, services provided by PeopleCheck and ADP Screening Services make it considerably easier for employers to verify the authenticity of a candidate’s claims.

It’s not just easier to check people out, employers have also adopted a “take no prisoners” approach to dealing with resume fraud. Just this afternoon, CNN did a piece on a Citibank employee who was “deselected” and relieved of her substantial signing bonus as a result of misstating her education credentials. It is generally not the kind of thing that one can easily redeem themselves from. Don’t go there.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

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by Bill, Leadership

Service and the Sour Economy

No Comments 30 January 2009

I don’t get it. We’re in the midst of a pretty sucky economy, jobs are flying out the window (>100,000 layoffs announced this week), and yet some of the folks whose jobs (never mind today’s income) depend solely on customer satisfaction are setting new lows for customer service. I’m speaking of the restaurant industry.

In the past two months I’ve been on the road nearly non-stop, and in that time have experienced (and witnessed) more than the usual amount of shoddy restaurant service – a lot more. Upon reflection, in each case, the poor service was caused not by a lack of staff, but rather, an indifferent staff, aided and abetted by an inattentive management.

After visiting my dad in a West Virginia hospital, I stopped recently at a nearby casual themed corporate restaurant for a late breakfast. On the way to the table, my server pointed out a mess (spilled milk and dirty dishes) on a nearby collection of five 4-tops and volunteered that she had no intention of cleaning up somebody else’s mess. As if the server’s attitude wasn’t enough, the dirty tables were completely ignored by a floor supervisor who twice walked by them.

As I waited for my meal, a church group appeared and filled up three adjacent 4-tops also in my server’s section. When three more people appeared and wanted to join the group, they asked if they could move to the larger, albeit dirty table collection. Miss Manners, who now stood to collect at least a nominally larger tip vetoed the idea, forcing the group to round up and physically relocate another table in order to join their friends. Yikes!

Nearly every issue of Nation’s Restaurant News spells out in vivid detail the impact of a frozen economy on the industry. And yet, some managements seem hell-bent to watch the wheels come off due to totally preventable causes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as big a fan of the industry as there is, and perhaps for that reason it makes me crazy when otherwise smart people do dumb things.

Folks, please – whether you work in the hospitality business or not, this is the absolute wrong time to be lowering our standards. The consumer confidence that is so vital to our economic recovery is an absolute byproduct of gracious service that causes people to believe that they’ve gotten good value, and invites them to return.

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by Bill, Think About It...

Let's Do More Than Say Thanks

No Comments 27 November 2008

USO soldiersLet’s keep it short, sweet, and simple today. Amidst all the hoopla about our limping economy, new (?) tide of politicians, and terrorist attacks in India, let’s get beyond ourselves and say a special thank you to the brave men and women of the U.S. military who have forgone stock options, comfort, time with loved ones, and personal safety to put themselves in harm’s way for us.

We’ve never asked readers of this column or our free monthly leadership e-zine, Fresh Milk for a dime, and don’t plan to start now, but I am asking that, before launching into holiday madness mode, you go to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or the USO , crack open your wallet, and show some support for the folks who are looking out for us. One of my favorite ways is to buy a bunch of the 550 minute Global Phone Cards and, in my travels, simply hand them to DCU clad troops in the airport, together with a simple Thank You. Do it… today. They’ll feel better, and so will you.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

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by Bill, Leadership, Management

Think Sustainable Employment Practices, Too

No Comments 23 November 2008

HandshakeMuch is being written and said these days about sustainability as it pertains to environmental, economic, and social activities. Because of an increasingly global arena, and factors such as overpopulation, the need to maintain commerce at a high level, lack of education and the like, achieving sustainability in any meaningful way is a real struggle. Nowhere is the issue of sustainability more important (and difficult) than in the workplace.

In the early (pre-email) days of FedEx, or Federal Express as it was then known, company founder, Fred Smith used memos printed on bright red paper (red memos) as a way of communicating important thoughts or instructions (okay, orders) to the management team. We probably didn’t get more than one or two such missives a year, and, as memory serves, they frequently pertained to the announcement of a company-wide hiring freeze. Freeze meant just that – freeze. By the time the red memo landed on your desk, the bean counters had already applied a giant tourniquet to the payroll, and, barring special dispensation from Smith himself, no new names would be added, period.

Those of us who were actively involved in recruiting dreaded the arrival of each red memo, as it often meant that a lot of our recent efforts were about to go to waste, as offers could not be extended to candidates in the pipeline. As big a pain in the a** as this was, we silently appreciated what was going on.

You see, Smith was quick to hit the brakes in a slowing economy because one promise he had made to every one of us was that we would never be sent home due to a lack of work, unless the very survival of the enterprise was at stake. It wasn’t a formal policy as much as a personal promise. Still, the net result was that, whenever the economy slowed (and it did), and whenever we found ourselves temporarily overstaffed because a big project (e.g., Zapmail) crashed and burned, we were able to keep both eyes on our work, and worry about customers, rather than whether or not we would have a job.

For the same reason that FedEx stopped just shy of having a no layoff “policy”, wise managements studiously avoid making Big 3 (automaker) type commitments for benefits that employees haven’t earned, and the company simply can’t afford. Doing so is nether smart, nor sustainable, and in the end, it does no one any good.

Much has changed in the intervening years, most particularly the social and economic construct – the ‘deal” if you will, in the workplace. Terms like job security and loyalty have all but vanished from the workday vernacular. One thing that has not changed, however, is the fact that people who are proud of their work, and who feel that they are treated with respect and consideration are a lot more prone to part with copious amounts of their discretionary effort, or what we call, Oomph.  For this reason, organizations desiring to exit the current rough patch with their better players still on the “home” side of the field would do well to think about both the effect AND the sustainability of their employment practices.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

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by Bill, Management, Meeting Goals, Think About It...

Things are Getting Tough for Restaurants, but Wage & Hour Violations Not Worth the Risk

No Comments 08 July 2008

TimeclockWe do a fair amount of work with the hospitality industry, and to be sure, they are feeling the pinch right now. Operating on the leading (bleeding?) edge of the economy, restaurants and other food service operators tend to suffer a lot of the early pain in an economic downturn. Just ask some of the folks at Starbucks.

The current climate is especially pernicious because the very factors that are reducing discretionary spending are also causing food costs (especially dairy products and seafood) to skyrocket. As a result, restaurant operators are scrambling to take costs out of the system, and yet do it in a way that doesn’t totally alienate the guest.

Inevitably some turn to their employees, as they well should, to find ways to do more with less. But, unfortunately, the industry’s “just get it done” culture that operates fairly well most of the time can put the entire enterprise way out on a legal limb when little things like time clocks come into play. In the past month, I’ve overheard food service managers in two different chains tell employees to “get it done” while in the same breath admonishing them that, “there is (wink) no (wink) overtime.” Translation – I expect you to do it off the clock.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the person complies. I say “unfortunately” because in so doing, the fuse on this little liability, which can be a very long fuse indeed has just been lit. In some cases the person, a gung-ho employee goes along with the program, and for so long as they remain gung-ho, nothing comes of it. Many others aren’t as gung-ho or benevolent, however. Some will be receptive to advances by labor unions, employee “advocacy groups” (fronts for unions), or attorneys who prefer to do their ambulance chasing with a fork. Others prefer to impose their own remedies and take advantage of a target-rich environment by beginning to confuse their money with the company’s (or guest’s) money. Either way, the business loses, and the losses are bigger than you might imagine.

Despite having a largely pro-business judiciary for some time, employers are getting whacked with stiff fines and settlements as the result of federal wage and hour law violations. The July 14-21 issue of Business Week (p. 7) reported an adverse ruling against Wal-Mart by a Minnesota judge in a case involving 2 million alleged separate instances of employees being forced to work off the clock or cut short their breaks. According to the article, in addition to the $6.5 million back pay award, the company could potentially be liable for punitive damages up to $2 billion (based on a $1,000 per event maximum penalty).

Similarly, the June 20 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News (p. 6) chronicled an expected $3.9 million settlement of two wage and hour related lawsuits against Fireman Hospitality Group, the New York operator of upscale restaurants such as Redeye Grill, Cafe Fiorello, Brooklyn Diner, and Shelly’s.

Any way you cut it, working people off the clock, or funding operations through some of the nefarious tip sharing arrangements that pop up from time to time is simply not worth the risk. Whether you’re serving tacos or t-bones, it takes a hell of a lot of covers to pay one of these supersized fines.

For the rest of us, who spend our time on the other side of the plate, we would do well to remember that when we do dine out, we’re really not going to balance the household budget by stiffing a deserving server out of a tip. Do the right thing, even though no one is looking.

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