Hold on there. Can you fire someone because you don’t like their attitude?
Of course, if you ask your employment lawyer, you won’t get a “yes” or “no” answer. You might get “yes you can, but…” or “no you can’t, unless…”. Using full sentences might be “yes you can but prepare to be sued” or “no you can’t unless you can prove that the employee’s attitude made it such that they did not perform their duties and responsibilities at an acceptable level”.
Even then the reason for employment termination would be the non-performance, not the attitude.
But wait a minute, many man managers complain about employee attitude because they observe behavior that is easily described as bad attitude (demeanor, posture, mindset, mentality, mood, tone, etc.).
At Perfecting Employee Performance (PEP) hrpep.com, we use attitude as one of our performance metrics. As with all performance metrics and competencies, we have defined what we mean with the following.
Demonstrates positivity by affirming those aspects of the work to be done that are beneficial to the Company, its employees, and its customers. Helps others demonstrate positivity. Is cooperative with all levels of employees. Demonstrates and tolerates nothing less than complete integrity and forthrightness. Stimulates teamwork in others.
This definition puts “attitude” into a context that can be communicated by a manager to an employee so that the employee knows clearly what how they are expected to perform their work. The manager uses this to coach employees who do not demonstrate the stated behaviors.
When a manager labels an employee has having a bad attitude, the manager is abdicating responsibility for coaching that employee. not capable articulating what is really meant.
Establishes meaningful and achievable goals for employees so that they know what is expected of them. Communicates and reinforces behavior competencies so that employees know how they are to perform their jobs. Motivates employees to meet or exceed performance measures. Finds creative and innovative ways to sustain performance. Develops employee capabilities and provides opportunities for employees to grow in their capacities. Coaches employees by providing frequent instructive feedback and listening to input from employees.
Has the term “living wage” come up when discussing employee wages within your organization? What exactly is a living wage, and how can it affect your business?
What is a Living Wage?
A “living wage” is the wage an individual must earn to afford an adequate standard of living, based on the individual’s location, household size, and number of working adults. Those earning a living wage should be able to afford sufficient food, shelter, and other essential needs for their families.
The living wage varies by state, city, and county and is based on the Living Wage Calculator, developed in 2004 by Amy Glasmeier, a professor of economic geography and regional planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Living Wage vs. Minimum Wage
People often confuse living wage with minimum wage, but they are not the same.
Congress created the federal minimum wage to prevent American workers from falling into poverty. The minimum wage is roughly based on poverty guidelines, but unfortunately, it has not kept up with rising living costs and is often well below local living wages. The current federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage is legally mandated and must take into account business needs and overall economic impact.
(This does not apply to self-employed individuals, who can actually work for as low as $1.00 per hour.)
The living wage, by contrast, is generally notlegally mandated and focuses on average living costs for individuals and families.
(If your organization works under municipal contracts, receives public economic development funds, or is located in areas that have benefited significantly from public investment, you may be legally mandated to pay a living wage. Learn more here.)
How is the Living Wage Calculated?
As mentioned earlier, the living wage is based on MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, which factors in the following local costs: food, childcare, health insurance, healthcare, housing, and transportation. This calculation is based on what a single individual must earn, and it assumes that person is working full-time.
The calculator shows the living wage for counties in all 50 states. MIT updates the calculator during the first quarter each year.
Why Does Living Wage Matter?
There are many reasons why a business would want to be aware of the living wage in the location where it employs people.
According to a study by The Peterson Institute for International Economics, paying employees a living wage or higher generally:
- Increases employee productivity
- Attracts more qualified hires
- Reduces need to micromanage employees
- Reduces employee turnover
- Improves employee health
In their article “Why ‘Good Jobs’ Are Good for Retailers,” the Harvard Business Review contrasts “vicious” and “virtuous” labor cycles.
Businesses that follow the virtuous cycle pay employees higher wages and experience lower turnover, fewer mistakes or accidents, and attract more productive workers.
Businesses that fall into the vicious cycle pay low wages and experience high turnover, frequent mistakes and accidents, and disengaged, unproductive workers.
Supporters of paying a living wage claim it grows the economy by enabling workers to buy more goods and services.
However, adjusting your organization’s wages to more closely match the living wage has potential drawbacks. Some opponents of the concept of a living wage argue that the calculator cannot effectively account for the many choices each family makes, such as gardening or family childcare.
Other opponents point out that the greatest burden of paying a living wage falls on small businesses and individual employers, who have fewer options to offset increased expenses.
An important note: The wage for jobs requiring specified skills, education, and qualifications should be based on the cost of labor instead of the cost of living. A Compensation Analyst or Compensation Consultant can analyze what employers are currently paying and determine the prevailing wage or the market rate.
Living Wages in Idaho
How does Idaho rank in terms of living wages?
A search of the Living Wage Calculator shows that the living wage for a single adult with no children is $14.12 per hour, or a full-time salary of $29,370. A family of four in Boise, Idaho with a single income must earn $31.86 per hour, or a full-time salary of $66,269.
By comparison, Idaho’s minimum wage as of 2021 matches the federal rate of only $7.25 per hour, which is barely more than half the living wage for a single worker.
There are substantial differences from state to state and from city to city. The chart below shows the living wage for a single adult with no children for various locations.
Your business should be aware of the living wage for your area. It is a tangible data point in determining what a company should pay employees. Just as companies cannot be expected to sell products for an amount less than it costs them to produce the product, companies cannot expect employees to devote their full working time for less than it costs them to pay their living expenses.
As a reminder, the living wage is calculated for full-time jobs. It is not meant for full-time students, temporary employment, seasonal work, or part-time jobs.
Continue to be mindful of how the living wage affects your organization. The large gap between the minimum wage and the calculated living wage will likely continue to have potential repercussions going forward.
Marcus Buckingham wrote an article published in the February 9, 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review titled "Most HR Data is Bad Data". He asks the question, "If you were my manager and you watched my performance for an entire year, how accurate do you think your ratings of me would be on attributes such as my “promotability” or “potential?”
What Marcus Buckingham is saying is that no one can rate another person and therefore rating systems are of no use. He states that "The research record reveals that neither you nor any of your peers are reliable raters of anyone. And as a result, virtually all of our people data is fatally flawed." He goes on to cite research conducted over the last 15 years and documented in the Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology in which it was found that ratings done were more reflective of the rater than of the person being rated. " Bottom line: when we look at a rating we think it reveals something about the ratee, but it doesn’t, not really. Instead it reveals a lot about the rater."
Marcus Buckingham, like many academicians and theoreticians, over shoots the mark. He is trying, through research and studies to predict future performance in abstract terms. Meaning that he is looking at the more esoteric attributes of employees. Many companies have fallen into this trap thinking they are more advanced or sophisticated and are molding employees in the image of the "founder" or some other fictitious profile.
They think they should be able to foretell if a person will be successful beyond what the person is currently doing. While such endeavor would not only be nice, it would be miraculous. If someone could devise a prognosticating system to do this, that person would become wealthy selling it to companies.
The problem is the focus. The studies Mr. Buckingham cites focus on factors like "promotability", "potential", "competency", "strategic thinking", "adaptability", "assertiveness", "motivation", "creativity", "initiative", etc. These factors are subjective and yes, rating them or teaching someone else to rate them is difficult if not impossible.
Effective performance management systems focus on results using factors that can be measured and rated. For example, "productivity", "accuracy/quality", "job knowledge/skills", "planning", "communication", "problem solving", "teamwork", and "people management" are Performance Metrics that can be observed. For productivity, did the employee get his/her duties/responsibilities completed in the time frame given? Did he/she escalate issues properly and timely? Did the employee seek additional work when done with regular work? Did the employee demonstrate a sense of urgency in accomplishing work? All of the above Performance Metrics can be used to communicate expectations to employees. Employees can be coached to achieve success with these metrics. Managers can be trained to rate employees' results in each of these metrics.
The key is to keep it simple and focus on results and achievements, not abstruse and subjective factors.
The next question should be, "then what does a company use to help determine promotions and rewards?" The best predictor of future performance is past achievement. If an employee has achieved sound results in the past, then provide the opportunity to take on more. This is not fool proof, but it is more sound than using factors with unintelligible definitions, subjective measurement, and unproven value.
There are three primary actions steps in an effective Employee Performance Management System.
· Communicate Expectations - set performance goals (what you want the employee to do) and set performance metrics/competencies (how you want employees to do their jobs)
· Coach for Success - daily observation of results with appropriate feedback and documentation
· Recognize Results - fair, objective, timely evaluation
In three basic steps, employee performance management is made simple. As Leonardo da Vinci said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
There are practitioners of performance management who focus all or almost all on coaching. While coaching is critical, it is not everything that is needed to successfully manage performance. Coach for Success means the frequent interaction between the manager and the employee. This is where the manager observes actions, sees achievements, and sees areas needing improvement. The manager should be continually providing feedback to the employee so that the employee can make changes in order to achieve the desired results. If an employee is "surprised" at year end by his/her performance rating, the manager has failed to properly coach the employee. Year end is too late for the employee to make changes.
A point of irritation or frustration to managers and employees is that at year end, it is difficult to remember everything that occurred during the year. Assessments often are superficial and focused on the last couple or few months. Perfecting Employee Performance has a feature called PEP It is a 24/7/365 continuous coaching tool for managers and employees to be in constant communication about progress toward goal achievement. It is mobile-enabled communication between manager and employee providing an archived coaching/performance record as empirical backup for performance appraisals and which eliminates surprises for both managers and employees. PEPtalk is the reigning tech-based coaching tool on the planet. Recognizing the employee’s results is streamlined using PEP’s automated online self-evaluation and online manager evaluation. With PEP providing a record of coaching communication between employee and manager, completing the evaluation is simple.
Performance measured improves performance. Performance measured and reported, quickens improvement.
Exchange of Vows:
Just what is 360-degree feedback?
What’s GOOD about it?
The 360 strategy can provide insights into an employee’s leadership ability, customer service satisfaction, and readiness for advancement.
What’s BAD about it?
When multi-source feedback is used for appraising—but not developing—employees, they may feel it’s merely an excuse to refuse them incentives or promotions.
What’s truly UGLY about it?
Multi-source reviews don't give a full picture of performance. 360 reviews provide only a snapshot—performance must be examined continuously.
To 360 or not to 360?
360 feedback can enhance the information gathered directly by the supervisor but shouldn’t replace it.
If performance management is the process of ensuring employees perform better, you first must define what you mean by “better.” Front-line managers may define it as staff accomplishing daily tasks. Senior leadership may define it as improving the organization’s overall efficiency. A team member may define it as developing new skills to advance a career. Good performance management tools must link all three definitions.