Life long learning is a necessity,

I have had a number of discussions on performance lately. I was reminded of this post. 

I have done a lot of teaching in my career. I am now in my 18th year of teaching HR certification courses. I also conduct approximately 20 webinars a year on various HR subjects. If you are reading this on Wednesday morning I am teaching an HR certification class at this moment. In every class, there are students who are thirsty for knowledge and I love working with those students.

Management guru Tom Peters tells the story of working with Warren Bennis. Bennis is a life-long learner. According to Wikipedia Bennis  “was an American scholar, organizational consultant, and author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies. Bennis was University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California.

What have you learned?

Peters tells about having Bennis as a mentor. Bennis would begin each meeting with Peters by asking the question “So what have you learned since I last saw you?” That was a daunting question coming from someone with Bennis’ credential. I would quail the same way being asked that question from Tom Peters. But that question made me think “What a great way to start off a performance review meeting.” Quiz your employees not only on what they learned on the job, but also what they have learned in other areas as well. Employees with broad-based knowledge typically are your better employees.

Résumé as review

Peters even suggests that, rather than doing a regular performance review, you have the employee present their résumé, revised to reflect what they have learned and accomplished since last year. His premise is that if it is not different than last year’s then you haven’t been progressing. In my post A quick tip to keep you and your employees on their toes I quote Peters saying “I strongly believe that an explicit focus on ‘lifelong learning’ for everyone on board could well be the most sustainable advantage an organization of any flavor can have.

James Canton, the author of Future Smart, says that we need to reward people for learning. He suggests paying people “to learn new things, to go to trade shows, to learn a new language or to learn a program.

I suggest the following:

  • Hire people who want to be constant learners. What have they read recently? What blogs do they read? Who do they follow?
  • Reward people for being constant learners. People do what they get rewarded for doing. If you want learners, then reward learning.
  • Hold people accountable for being constant learners. Don’t just let people go to conferences without having them come back and teaching others.
  • Ask them what they have learned. ASK THEM ALL THE TIME. And ask yourself the same question.


The federal position on transgender protection has put itself in conflict with itself.

You may have read that the current Department of Justice has reversed the government’s standing on protection against discrimination for transgender employees. Well, they did and they didn’t.  Let’s take a look at what happened.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a memo, on October 4, 2017, to all U.S. Attorneys and the heads of government agencies explaining that he was reversing the position expressed by Eric Holder under the Obama Administration. According to the National Law Review “The Oct. 4 memo rejects the Obama administration’s interpretation that transgender workers, or gender identity, is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The National Law Review says further:

“The Justice Department said in its memo: ‘Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, per se. This is a conclusion of law, not policy.’

It notes that while Title VII does protect against ‘sex’ as a form of discrimination, it does not refer to gender identity and it should be limited to ‘biologically male or female.’ It goes on to say that the government will take this position in pending and future matters.”

Unfortunately, this puts the government in conflict with itself.

The EEOC takes a different point of view

During the Obama administration, the EEOC had taken a more liberal view of the protections under Title VII. They said then that transgender protections were included under “sex discrimination”, although they admitted that the law did not specifically say that. Under the Trump administration, the interpretation is that since the law did not specifically include transgender protections, and Congress has not moved to amend the law, then transgender protections should not be seen as the law. This has put the DOJ in conflict with the EEOC in at least one lawsuit, and possibly others.

This is not open season on transgender employees

Attorney Richard Meneghello of Fisher Phillips says that employers have to beware of seeing this as an opportunity to take action against transgender employees. He reminds us that there are differing opinions in the federal court system, depending on the Circuit in which you are located. Additionally, a number of states and cities have also passed their own laws offering discrimination protection to transgender employees. He says “Employers that rely on the Sessions memorandum and ignore these laws and court decisions could find themselves on the wrong end of a costly employment discrimination judgment.”

In my opinion until the courts and the various departments of government sort this out, employers are better off determining the treatment of employees on the basis of the quality and quantity of their work rather than whether or not they are included in an officially protected category.


Issues around accommodating pregnancy

by Michael Haberman on October 11, 2017 · 0 comments

Employers must be prepared to accommodate pregnant employees under the ADA standards.

A writer and lawyer, whom I respect a great deal, is Robin Shea of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. She is a specialist in ADA issues. In a recent piece called The ADA: Four issues to watch in 2018, she discussed four issues that employers need to pay attention to in the coming year. She said that employers need to be on top of coordinating with the FMLA, medical marijuana, wellness programs, and pregnancy under the ADA. It is this last issue in particular that caught my eye.

Pregnancy accommodation

The Supreme Court heard a case in 2015, the decision on which, required employers to pay attention to their responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions. She said:

Employers with employees who need pregnancy accommodations should use what they’ve learned from making reasonable accommodations under the ADA: specifically, be open to making accommodations, engage in the interactive process with the employee, feel free to choose the least expensive/least disruptive accommodation that is still effective (allows the employee to perform the essential functions of the job), and generally treat the pregnant employee who needs accommodation the same way you would treat an employee with a disability or work-related injury.

This should not be any surprise to HR folks. We have probably all known women or known of women, who have had complications with pregnancies that have prevented them working to their fullest capacity. It is this issue that requires an employer’s attention. As Robin points out, pregnancy is more than just the nine months a woman carries the baby, as far as the courts are concerned. According to Shea pregnancy includes “pre-pregnancy (trying to get pregnant, trying not to get pregnant, contraceptive use, fertility treatments), gestation (including miscarriages and elective abortions), and postpartum and lactation.” It is with these issues that an employer must be sensitive to the need for an accommodation.

What to do

If you have a pregnant employee or an employee who is having issues with getting pregnant, wanting to be pregnant, or post pregnancy then you need to pay attention to the need to accommodate that employee in her times of trouble. You need to:

  • Have that discussion
  • Document that you had the discussion
  • Decide on an accommodation
  • Communicate with the employee on the decision
  • And be prepared to continue talking if the decision is disputed.


Breaking down silos is important to the successful operation of most companies.

Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at


Silos and turf wars can cost your organization precious time and money. But the effects can be compounded even more when departments are at odds with one another and lack the proper tools to adapt to a fast-paced, ever-changing workplace. Output then gets delayed because departments refuse to collaborate, and employees feel isolated by a departmental identity that doesn’t fit into the company’s larger mission.

To experience sustained success, companies must adopt a unified mission that permeates throughout the entire organization. Of course, many experts agree breaking down silos starts at the top. But moving past the communication barriers can also be a challenging and time-consuming experience. Here are five proven steps your organization should take to effectively and efficiently unify its entire workforce.

1. Craft a Company Vision

Setting into motion a dynamic company culture is even more important than providing one-off perks, especially if your company employs a large millennial workforce. And, on the contrary, even companies with multiple offices and a large number of remote workers can achieve unity. Experts say the key is casting a vision that all employees can share and contribute to in a meaningful way.

Indeed, having buy-in about shared identity and values can quash past departmental differences by encouraging employees to think of themselves as part of the organization first and their department second. Beyond selling high-quality natural and organic products, Whole Foods lives and breathes its core values every day and is an excellent example of a company whose vision encompasses every employee within every department.

2. Create Better Communication

One of the best ways companies can engage and empower their employees is by decreasing inefficiencies through better, smarter communication strategies. Thus, putting into motion a cloud contact center not only will make your employees’ lives easier but will also better optimize operations by providing a more efficient means for your customers to reach you.

Indeed, these gains in overall efficiency will result in a more positive and streamlined work environment. Call routing, virtual receptionists, voice verification and emergency notifications are just some of the applications that can be useful for a better company-wide communication strategy.

3. Pair Mentors and Mentees

Departments that tend to isolate themselves practice stagnant thinking and have an “us vs them” mentality. But by pairing new employees with a seasoned mentor from another department, your organization can optimize its workforce and strengthen relationships across various departments.

In truth, the mentee will have a broader perspective of the company’s values and an expert (other than a boss or colleague) to go to for questions or advice. In turn, the mentor will gain valuable insight into the younger employee’s needs and motivations. And both mentee and mentor will benefit from the exchange of ideas across departments by developing an understanding of the struggles and priorities inside a department other than their own.

4. Use Collaborative Tools

A siloed workforce doesn’t tend to communicate well and, perhaps most frustratingly, performs repeat work. However, your company can avoid this by streamlining its communication, file management, and storage systems. Not sure where to turn? Experts suggest using cloud-based collaborative solutions like Office 365, Slack, Asana or Google Drive to help departments work together more efficiently in order to solve problems. The best part? These solutions won’t hurt your bottom line.

5. Celebrate Success Together

A common problem in the business world is the number of misguided department leaders who try to make themselves look better to another department’s detriment. To combat this toxic blame game, encourage department heads to share key achievements with the entire organization and publicly thank contributors from other departments — the unsung heroes — that made their project a success.

To achieve these results, your company may want to provide a forum for sharing success stories through a newsletter, email announcement or social media. Or, you could go the extra mile by surprising your employees with a free lunch to celebrate department X’s achievements. Ultimately, however, your goal should be to highlight and celebrate as many departments as possible throughout the year.

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Uber and the issue of on-call time

by Michael Haberman October 9, 2017

Tweet If you have read my blog before you know I have written about the woes of Uber in the past. They are the standard bearer for the “gig” economy. However, a number of people who could not abide by the being independent contractors have sued to be considered “employees” rather than independent contractors.Numerous suits […]

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Future Friday: Are we creating enabling technology or replacement technology?

by Michael Haberman October 6, 2017

Tweet In many of the scenarios about the future, there are many dystopian predictions of robots replacing workers on a whole scale basis. I have even written about some of those predictions. (See here and here.) It is not a sure thing that workers will be totally replaced by machines. Some will, but others may […]

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How to Create “Water Cooler” Moments for Remote Employees

by Michael Haberman October 5, 2017

Tweet Today’s post is written by Jessica Globle, a Media Relations Specialist at Walker Sands Communications. I recently did a webinar for BLR and talked about remote workers. Managers that are not used to working with remote workers would do well do heed Jessica’s tips. The isolation of remote workers is real and managers can head […]

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From the Archive: The DNA of HR Decisions: Why Documentation is Important

by Michael Haberman October 4, 2017

Tweet I presented a webinar yesterday on the importance of documentation. It reminded me of this post. Recently in Georgia, a man was executed. There were many claims that he was innocent, the courts did not agree. My purpose here is not to discuss this, I make this statement as a prelude to my observation […]

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How to Manage Work Relationships Between Millennials and Gen Z: A guest post

by Michael Haberman October 3, 2017

Tweet Today’s post is by Lucy Benton, a young writer, living among the population about which she writes. I think you will find this post interesting. Work is a dynamic place, uniting a lot of people working together as a team. They have different backgrounds, experience, characters. Moreover, they represent different generations and have different […]

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A change of administration has not meant a slow-down at the EEOC

by Michael Haberman October 2, 2017

Tweet I pay attention to the press releases put out by the EEOC, in order to see what they are up to. I often use them as inspiration for blog posts. There seems to have been an uptick in lawsuits they are filing against companies. I am not sure of the reason. Perhaps it is […]

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