Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm Perfect. Why Should I Change?

I’m Jewish. Shocking - a lawyer born Katz and married to a Pritikin, who knew? Being, Jewish, I have just come out of High Holiday services where I celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. One of the things we do on the New Year is reflect on the past year to determine what types of conduct or behavior we can improve upon for the next year. This is actually something that I feel is an important corporate lesson to pass on to the many Human Resource professionals who read my blog (thanks to all 7 of you.) It is also a good time of year, in September/October for this type of reflection, as opposed to January 1, the other New Year, because it is this final quarter when many of you are preparing your Proposals for Training to the budget committees or business group for approval. Keeping in mind that my business mission is to proactively prevent lawsuits, it is my opinion that two critical topics have been glossed over or absent from many companies training agendas: 1) Preventing Social Media Abuse and 2) Preventing Retaliation Lawsuits. I have blogged and taught on these topics in the past year a great deal in order to raise awareness to these two areas where I believe companies are increasingly vulnerable to related litigation yet corporations are doing the least to prevent them. Certainly, you may read my rationales for this bold assertion in my previous blogs on Social Media and Preventing Retaliation. In a nutshell, Social Media Abuse is the “smoking gun lawsuit” of the future and Retaliation lawsuits are the #1 claim being made in the nation.

Perhaps preventing lawsuits isn’t a good enough reason for you to change the stellar Training Budget or Proposal that you put together last year that you know will be approved if you only switch out 2011 for 2012. If that is what you have in mind, let me relay a humorous anecdote that the rabbi told during his service yesterday. He said a manager was upset that after 20 years of dedicated service to his company, he was passed over for promotion at his company. The promotion was given to another gentleman who had been with the company for only 5 years. When the 20-year veteran complained that he had more tenure and demanded to know why he was passed over, the HR professional responded that the young man was bringing more experience to the job. The veteran asked, “How can that be so?” The HR professional explained that the other man was bringing 5 years of experience to the role, while the veteran was merely bringing one year of experience that he had performed over and over again for 20 years. The morale of the story that the rabbi conveyed was that people need to continue to grow and learn, whether it be in life or their jobs. We need to continue to push ourselves each year to learn new skills and have new experiences, instead of repeating the status quo each year. I would add, that for HR professionals, the onus is on this department to ensure that all of your employees are given the opportunities for new growth through trainings on topics that are newly relevant and impactful, with follow up to ensure that the trainings are implemented or transferred down the line throughout the year.

In designing training proposals, keep this in mind. Ask, “What topics and skills do my managers want/ need to know about to help them “lead” employees best in next year?” One of the biggest gifts you can give managers is the peace of mind that they know the rules and laws so that they can manage their teams without the worry of being sued for their missteps. The two topics I think that are critical for 2012 are trainings that cover Preventing Retaliation Lawsuits and Social Media Abuse. Happy New Year.

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