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Ten Things Never, Ever To Do Unless You’re Getting Paid

Dear Liz,

I read your columns, but I still struggle to take your advice.

I left my job in December because they cut my hours.

My boss’s boss reached out to me in January and asked me if I wanted him to introduce me to a guy he knows who has a company here in town.

I said, sure! I was flattered. I got a call from the guy who owns the company, “Martin,” the next day.

Martin wanted to have coffee and talk about his need for a new project manager in his company.

We had coffee. It was a great meeting. We were at the coffee shop for two hours. When we left the coffee shop, Martin said, “Let’s try to put something together next week.”

I sent Martin a thank-you email message right away. Three days later, I heard from his admin “Becky.” She asked me to come to the office the following day. I did.

That was a three-hour meeting with Martin and two of his Project Managers. It was another great meeting. I asked Martin, “Is this a full-time position, or a contract?” and Martin said they weren’t sure yet.

A week went by. I heard from Becky. They said they wanted me to come in and work for half a day. I wrote back to ask, “How does that work in terms of your payroll?”

Becky said, “I don’t know. Just come in on Friday and we’ll figure it out.”

I did. I worked a half day last Friday. There was a planning meeting and I sat in on that, I asked good questions and everybody seemed to be glad I was there.

Around 10:30 in the morning I asked Becky, “How will I get paid for today’s work?” She said, “Let me find out.” She disappeared. After 45 minutes she came back and said, “We’ll pay you for this half day once you’re on the payroll.”

That was two weeks ago. I haven’t heard a word from the company since then.

I’ve left email and voicemail messages. I just got a voicemail message ten minutes ago from Becky. She said they want me to come back next week and work on a “small project.” When will these people hire me? Or are they just stringing me along? What should I do?

Also, Liz, what steps did I miss? I feel that I should have been more assertive, but how?

Thanks!

Malinda

Dear Malinda,

When Becky said she wasn’t sure how you would get paid for your half day of work on Friday, your next step was to ask her to figure that out and get back to you (in writing).

You can’t agree to take a consulting engagement before you’ve settled on the business terms.

You cannot agree to work for free again and let them pay you “once you’re on the payroll.” What if you never get on the payroll?

Now you have a new opportunity to straighten things out. You can call Martin directly, and tell him that you were happy to jump in two weeks ago and participate in the planning meeting. Tell him that you’re looking forward to firming things up so you can come back again next week.

You cannot go back in there without a job offer or a legal contract. Right now, you are working for free. Don’t dig an even deeper hole for yourself (and lower your perceived value) by working for free again!

Here are 10 things never, ever to do for free:

1. Sit in a staff meeting or show up at work like a person who is employed by the company. If they want you to do that, they can either hire you onto the payroll or hire you as a one-day or half-day consultant at an agreed-upon rate.

2. Create a marketing plan, website copy or any other type of deliverable just because you’re a nice person. I understand that you may have to donate some work time to let them see how smart you are. Limit that donation to one hour of your time. No marketing plan ever took just an hour to write!

3. Interview candidates or sit in on interviews.

4. Visit clients or prospective clients, work the booth at a trade show or participate in a virtual client meeting.

5. Travel on behalf of the company.

6. Develop a training program, Power Point presentation (beyond the one-hour limit) or otherwise teach what you know. They may never hire you or anyone else. They may schedule a whole week of dog-and-pony shows just to get free ideas from job candidates.

7. Interview more than three times.

8. Solve the company’s biggest problem in detail. If they ask you do this, tell them, “I’d love to dive into that project if you’re ready to formalize our relationship with an offer letter or consulting agreement.” Tell them how you would step into the project — not what your conclusions are likely to be.

9. Give up your personal contacts.

10. Take phone calls from your hiring manager or others in the company who simply want to pick your brain. Politely guide them back to the topic at hand, which is the current job opening they are interviewing you for (and the status of your candidacy).

Here’s a script to guide you:

RRRRRRING!

You: Malinda Smith!

Them: Hi, Malinda! This is Greg from Itchy Systems. We met last week. I wanted to talk with you for just a minute about your thoughts on a client issue, if you have a second.

You: Hi, Greg! That sounds great. Listen, where are we in the recruiting pipeline? I’ve lost track. Is there an offer letter on its way to me? I’d love to help you, of course. If we’re coworkers, then we’re in great shape.

Them: I, uh, umm, I don’t know. I think you still have to meet with a few more people here.

You: Oh, OK — thanks for that info! That sounds good. I’ll wait to hear from HR in that case. Maybe you and I can talk once that’s all settled.

Them: I just need a little of your time now —

You: I understand Greg and I’d love to talk, but it’s not appropriate — I don’t work for the company yet. Maybe there are wires crossed somewhere or the process is just winding its way through. If you want to find out and have somebody contact me, I could even call you back once everything is official.

Them: Er — OK.

Nobody ever got a great job by hoping against hope that the company would do the right thing while keeping their mouth shut and tolerating every type of disrespect thrown at them.

The only way you will clarify whether they really need you or whether they’re just taking advantage of you is to call them on it. Set a boundary. You are a professional. It’s time to speak up!

Mother Nature desperately wants you to learn this lesson now. You’re ready for it. Go ahead and take the next step!

Yours,

Liz

Follow me on LinkedIn.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for 10 million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997. Now I write for LinkedIn and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. My book Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve is here: amzn.to/2gK7BR7

Source: Ten Things Never, Ever To Do — Unless You’re Getting Paid

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Want More Productive Employees? Research Reveals that Managers Matter Most

Gallup has released compelling evidence that the most important factor for employee engagement and productivity can be summed up in one simple word: managers.

In fact, writes Sam Walker in The Wall Street Journal, after a decade of data from nearly 2 million employees, Gallup has proven that managers don’t just have a small influence on productivity; “they explained a full 70% of the variance. In other words, if it’s a superior team you’re after, hiring the right manager is nearly three-fourths of the battle.”

Good news, maybe, unless your organization has spent the last decade or so making it more difficult for managers to succeed–eliminating managers’ positions, making managers responsible for producing more work (instead of just leading people), cutting back on learning and/or promoting based on people’s expertise instead of their ability to lead team members.

There is so much you can do to address these issues; for example, read Justin Bariso’s piece on how Google identified core people-leading behaviors and then trained managers on how to develop those behaviors.

But I suggest you start by helping managers develop one core competency: the ability to communicate effectively with team members. In fact, out of the 10 attributes Google targets, seven are based on communication skills: is a good coach, empowers people, creates an inclusive team environment, listens and shares information, supports career development by discussing performance, has a clear/vision strategy for the team and collaborates across the company.

Despite the importance of communication, managers are often poorly prepared for their role as key communicator. They may not have the skills, the knowledge or the confidence to communicate effectively. And many managers think of communication as “something else I have to do” rather than an integral part of their job.

What should companies do to set managers up for success? Take these 5 steps:

1. Make sure you clearly articulate communication roles. Be specific about what and how leaders communicate–and what you expect managers to share. Ask your HR manager to include communication into managers’ job descriptions so the expectation is baked into their role.

Of all the skills managers need, effective communication is perhaps the hardest to improve. This is because communication isn’t a single skill. It’s actually a complex set of skills that build upon one another. Through my firm’s work with managers, we’ve identified these skills–25 in total–and organized them into a hierarchy of skill groups, starting with foundational skills and building to more advanced skills.

2. Hold managers accountable for engaging their team members by providing reinforcement in performance management and pay.  You know the problem: Unless communication is part of the formula to give managers raises or bonuses, it won’t be a priority. So make communicating essential to managers’ success.

3. Invest time in making sure managers understand content. Especially if the topic is complex, a 20-minute presentation is not enough to make managers comfortable. To design sessions that give managers the confidence they need to present, try the following:

  • When planning to brief managers, allocate at least 90 minutes for the meeting.
  • If possible, get everyone together face to face. If your office is too distracting, consider taking managers off site.
  • Of course you’ll present content, but presentations should be the shortest part of the meeting. Allow at least 50 percent of the time for questions and dialogue.

4. Create tools to help managers share information. You might consider:

  • A very short PowerPoint presentation. Managers won’t give a detailed presentation, but they will use a short (5-8 slides) PPT to share highlights at staff meetings and during one-on-one discussions.
  • A one-page guide that makes it easy for managers to have everything they need. This guide that contains all essential information: what is changing, when, why and how.
  • FAQs. Compile Frequently Asked Questions in a document that provides the questions employees are likely to ask, along with the answers managers need. The key is to include the toughest questions so managers are ready any time team members approach them with a question.

5. Develop a microsite or a social network group
It’s the perfect place to house resources and build skills. Make it social by including discussion threads, so colleagues can share challenges and solutions. Provide access to on-demand learning that can be accessed quickly when faced with a challenge.

Once you start providing managers with support, ask for feedback to determine which methods have the greatest impact.

By: Alison Davis

Source: Want More Productive Employees? Research Reveals that Managers Matter Most

11 Websites That Will Make You Smarter About Money

Not everyone has a financial adviser, and not everyone has the time to read a personal finance book. Luckily, there’s the internet. We’ve made learning about money easier for you by compiling a list of some of our go-to websites for money advice……..

Source: 11 Websites That Will Make You Smarter About Money

How to Classify Your Employees Right from the Start – Dottie Chong

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Herd mentality is almost never a good thing. As social creatures, perhaps it’s only human to want to be included and be part of something bigger. When applied to business, the herd mentality often leads to less stellar decisions, against better judgment, because “everyone else is doing it,” so why not? For many startups, the hiring model to follow would appear obvious, with gig economy powerhouses like Uber, Handy and TaskRabbit hiring tens of thousands of independent contractors. Classifying employees as independent contractors delivers a cheaper workforce for employers, while touting freedom and flexibility for workers. But we all know what’s happened to their story since.

If your startup is looking to hire, even if it’s just one new person, then employee classification should be on your radar. It can be a smooth or a bumpy ride, depending on how you proceed.

Read on to find out what one startup did, why it matters, and how your business can stay on the right side of the law.

Freelancers now make up 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. When Dan Teran was starting his business in 2014, the gig economy’s independent contractor model was all the rage. That pitch centered on having a company with no inventory and no employees.

 But Teran had just finished Zeynep Ton’s book, “The Good Jobs Strategy.” A professor at MIT Sloan School and retail industry researcher, Ton wrote about companies like Zappos and Trader Joe’s investing in their workforce, and how this has boosted their bottom line in the long run. This really resonated with Teran, having grown up in middle-class America where benefits were invaluable.

So when Teran launched Managed by Q, a technology platform that connects clients to facilities service providers, he decided to do something most startups would consider unthinkable: he offered health insurance, a 401K program with matching contributions, and paid family leave to full-time employees. These benefits were also applied to employees of Q Services, Q’s profitable, in-house network of cleaners, office managers, and handymen. Two years later, Q announced a stock option for all employees, regardless of their role.

Intent is everything

As an entrepreneur, you know best what your business needs and what you can afford. Scalability is the power to change in size. In a perfect world, businesses want a workforce that is scaled for growth, yet dependent on demand. But we don’t live a perfect world.

According to Maria O. Hart, an attorney specializing in employment law and business litigation, employee misclassification is not a new problem, and savvy business owners have always been aware of its existence. While it’s perfectly reasonable to hire independent contractors because the business is seasonal, it’s illegal to deliberately misclassify employees to free oneself of administrative and financial burdens, while depriving the workers of the legal protections they deserve.

Differentiating an employee and a contractor

According to Hart, the ultimate test in determining whether you have an employee or an independent contractor boils down to one primary factor: control. If the worker is dependent on the employer financially, has no say their schedule, and uses only employer-provided software, tools, or equipment, they are most likely a full-time employee.

An independent contractor is free to come and go once the job is done, can have multiple clients at the same time, can perform the work remotely in some cases, and can hire subcontractors or additional help to complete the task. Independent contractors with access to proprietary information can be required to sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, but not non-compete contracts.

But sometimes, roles change. The independent contractor you hired during the early days of your startup may evolve into something more over time. This is not illegal. What is illegal, however, is a lack of self-auditing processes. The intentional failure to initiate the conversation to convert the contract worker into a full-time employee ultimately denies this employee the benefits and compensation he or she is owed.

$3 billion less to go around

The IRS estimated that about 15 percent of employers misclassified their employees as independent contractors, costing nearly $3 billion each year in income, payroll and federal unemployment taxes, with 10 to 20 percent of employers classifying at least one worker incorrectly.

States are reporting equally staggering figures in lost revenue annually due to misclassified employees. That revenue would otherwise go into education, transportation, or health coverage for low-income families, to build strong communities and contribute to the nation’s economic vitality, of which startups are part of.

Running a business is a balancing act

There’s no denying that business owners are between a rock and hard place. They need to be profitable and competitive and keep employees and investors happy — and these factors aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. However, having to juggle these factors is not an excuse to flout the law.

Classifying your next hire correctly is essential for both the business and the entrepreneur. Building a profitable organization may start with the entrepreneur, but its success is ensured by its employees; so start by taking care of yours.

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