Handling Employee Contentious behavior?

What is behind it and should you dig deeper?

Tom was a contentious employee. He talked too much and got into arguments with fellow employees more than the norm. He even got into a fight once with another employee who had a short fuse. This resulted in a suspension of both employees until they could come back and verbalize what happened and how they could make changes.

When an employee has issues outside of work and it begins to flow into work, how do you handle it?

That was not the end of it. Upon his return, Tom explained to me in confidence that his wife was an alcoholic and had fallen off the wagon again. She was in her 40’s, he in his 50’s. They had a 9 year old daughter who when Tom worked was under the care of her mother. I listened intently to Tom’s stories and showed empathy for his situation. I tried to emphasize the care of his daughter as being of utmost importance. She had been left alone on occasion while mom sought solace in a drink. But I tried to not get too involved for fear of his becoming too dependent on me. He needed Al-Anon counseling or another counselor. I recognized the burden he was shouldering and asked him to determine if he needed to take time off, having already used his personal time off. He said he couldn’t afford it.

In the meantime, Tom’s work in complimentary sales with other sales people was suffering. At a sales meeting, he blew up at others who recognized he wasn’t getting the job done. I asked him to leave the room and go cool off and meet me in my office after the meeting. I listened to the others for 5 minutes and said let’s move on with our business at hand. I didn’t want to listen to endless criticism of him knowing the issues he was dealing with but acknowledged that their dissatisfaction was recognized and would be shared with him.

So now, the issue had spilled over with the rest of the team. It would be a short time before it reached the rest of the company, even though I had asked for restraint in the matter.

After the meeting, I sat with Tom and asked him if he thought his personal life was intersecting with his work life. After a long pause, he said it was. We had had numerous short conversations as I checked in with him periodically on how things were going. The answers were always short as he acknowledged he was taking care of it. He was protecting his paycheck. But this day, I needed and got a straight answer. His performance had been subpar and I could no longer justify his performance.

This was most difficult because I knew he was very capable and he had proven himself in the past, but he needed to deal with his personal issues. I decided to suspend him indefinitely to give him time to take care of his situation. If I fired him, I would add to his misery, this way he knew he had a job if and when he returned. His response was another outburst and he stomped off.

Tom came back 2 months later to let me know he would not be returning. He had checked his wife in to rehab and had been a stay at home dad for his daughter. He had filed for divorce with primary custody of his daughter. He was receiving help from family members and had taken another job.

The surprise ending for me on this was his thanking me for forcing him to deal with the situation and for listening to him when he was trying to cope. He had listened to his daughter to realize that she had missed out on her young life as she struggled with understanding her mother’s disease.

The hard part of leadership in letting people go is you never know what the end result will be. But, companies are in business to produce, serve and profit. The balance, which is everything, is found in how you treat people.

For more information and a free personal consultation, call (207) 577-1948. We deliver success for your business.

There’s No Such Thing as Multitasking!

So why is it so frequently used in résumés?

You get a resume and the applicant states she is a champion multitasker. She can do the job of two people. Great candidate, right? WRONG!

Many people include in their resumes that they can multitask but in reality, it never happens. Our brains can move from one task to another, but never are two tasks being done simultaneously. A cashier may be able to swipe bar codes thoughtlessly while carrying on a conversation with the customer but that is not multitasking. If the item required a manual entry, the conversation would pause or the cashier would not hear what the customer is saying. That would be serial tasking.

When multitasking is believed to be happening, the tasks become ineffective and inefficient thereby actually going slower than if they were done separately. If the employee focuses on one thing, the results are better and more accurate.

While people can listen to music while working, if you ask them what the past song title was and they can’t answer, then they are paying attention to their tasks. If they can answer, check their production rate. Our brains are not wired for multi-tasking. According to The Myth of Multitasking, Dr. Nancy Napier in Psychology Today states, “Multitasking is switchtasking and it takes time.” Switching from one task to another loses time, not gains time. The brain must adjust to a different thought process and that takes away from the efficiencies.

This does not mean to suggest creating recurring processes that create boredom in assemblies. Rather think about the most efficient way to use repetitive processes to benefit the employees as well. Time the events to allow for different tasks at measured intervals.

No matter what the business is, there are ways to accommodate tasks using defined roles that allow the performance of multiple duties without the use of multitasking, but rather creating intervals of tasks to allow switching with minimal to no loss of productivity. Mapping and using a timeline helps create these intervals and improves efficiency, therefore bottom line.

Are you a multitasker? Let us know how you do it in the comments below.

Leadership from Gratitude

Not Management by Ego

by Paul Beaudette

The presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, have all demonstrated one thing in common. An oversized ego is prevalent when you run for president.

After all, what are you selling? YOU! You are selling yourself to the people of the United States. How you go about it determines how much of a narcissist you are. We have seen extreme levels of narcissism, ego-centricity, pomposity and vanity, and these came from one candidate.

In business, managers, leaders and office holders often have the ego-driven need to attain such a position and then bask in the glory of “I’m in charge”. To a new manager, what may have formerly been co-workers, are now employees and the responsibility of this new manager. The transition has to be handled carefully and responsibly to maintain a working relationship, yet achieve the level of respect and allegiance that the manager seeks from the employee and vice versa.


Strong manager egos often displace the actual message being transmitted. Your title isn’t your role, your role is your title.

If the manager’s ego takes over, the relationship becomes one of title, not role. Too often, you’ll see people promoted to positions that they are not trained for because they are family, or a friend of the big boss and feel they are ‘owed’ that position. The damage potential that this has to the workers will begin to trickle down to customers and diminish customer loyalty. Employees begin feeling used, threatened and hurt. Turnover increases and the constant flow of new people begins to affect the bottom line. Morale is destroyed and theft and misuse of company property appears. Customers vanish.

How do you keep this from happening? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Hire right. Don’t take your hiring process for granted. It’s not filling in vacant positions with bodies. Look at it from a standpoint of the customer. The customer wants a friendly personality, someone who can answer product/service/process questions and someone who can be expedient and accurate.
    1. When there is no direct contact with the customer, use the same scenario as in #1, but change the customer to a co-worker, team leader or anyone else within the company.
    2. Depending on the position being filled, you may choose to have a personality survey performed. These give you the traits of the applicant against the traits you are looking for. They provide a good indicator if a match is possible. They are also useful after hire to coach the employee to success.
  2. For Pete’s sake, don’t promote people just because they are related or a friend. Promote them because they are leaders or have the potential to become leaders. Whenever you want to fill a leadership position, interview the candidates (including internal candidates) and ask them the tough questions. Find out how they have handled stress in the past, what examples they have of conflict they have encountered in the past and what they did about it. Those experiential answers will go a long way in your decision.
  3. When the candidate’s questions revolve only around pay, company car, benefits and such; question whether they are only looking at status versus the interests of your business. Ask why the position is important to them. Question how they would change an unproductive behavior in an employee. How would they handle an irate customer with a legitimate complaint?
  4. Get a fellow team member to interview the candidate. They know what it takes to do the job and can ask pertinent questions.
  5. The ideal candidate will be someone who will do the job because he/she wants to be a part of a better business. This person will want the customers to better themselves through the interaction with your company. They will be happier, feel good and be personally productive within their own business. The manager (leader) you are looking for is someone who is personally grateful for having improved the lives of employees or customers. Their primary goal is not make themselves look better and boost their ego. It is to serve others.

The fifth concept is not common in business. In fact, it’s rare. But the end product is a person who is rewarded for having created an outstanding team of employees and extremely satisfied customers. Steven Covey would always say, “Start with then end in mind”. Well, here it is. The customer is the end and if you work your way backwards from there, you’ll find that this personality type creates the environment and attitude you need to succeed.

Paul Beaudette is a business coach and consultant. With over 30 years of ‘boots on the ground’ experience, he has made businesses successful through his leadership, controlled management style and financial acumen. “Don’t just survive, Thrive”

Leading Edge Business Strategies

5 Strategies for a Stronger Future Workforce

Ask any growing business today what their biggest challenge is and most will tell you, “Hiring”.

Finding people with a combination of the right skills, the ideal personality/attitude and ambition is difficult. The unemployment rate hovers at 5% nationally and 4% locally which means fewer people are available for work. According to the Center for Workforce Research and Information, that means that in Maine, of the 675,000 people in the workforce, only 27,000 are available. That should be enough to fill the positions open; but think about the skills necessary for the jobs. Are these people qualified? Chances are since they are the last few unemployed, they lack skills.Worker & boss

Nationally and globally, the situation is very similar. The boomers are retiring, the millennial population cannot fill the need and those in between are working. Maine has not been the place for younger people to settle in. We are in an employee market. They have the upper hand of where they work, how much they make, how many hours they work and/or how long they will be with you.

Many ideas have been bantered about of how to fix this labor deficit. How do we attract young people to stay, return or move to Maine? Or is the other question, “how do we hire refugees, train them and make them productive members of our communities?”  We have spent many years discussing how to retain young people for our future workforce. Once they experience life elsewhere, especially in larger cities, they tend to find things about life there that is missing here. Maine has never had a large city. When we boast about our largest cities, we are still talking about cities that are under 100,000 people. Cities with populations over a million do have more to offer in terms of entertainment, social life and business/work opportunities.

Then we resort to our natural beauty of mountains, forests, ocean and seasons. These make us a nice place to visit. Ironically, we have refugees moving here that believe here is the best place to live in the world. They settle in, begin their own businesses, become a part of the communities they live in and afford us the opportunity to hire them. There are language and culture barriers that need to work themselves out, but any community willing to invest the time (yes, it does run into years) will soon have an added diversity and industrious employees.

Globally, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been addressing this workforce dilemma. The challenge they have identified (which we are all familiar with) is a skills lag. The skills needed today in the modern workforce will not be the skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce. Not unlike Moore’s Law of integrated circuits doubling in capacity each year, the skills needed for 2020 will be different from those needed today (see chart).

How do we ready a workforce for skills that are dependent on future technological developments?

Top 20 Skills Chart

Here are five strategies you can start implementing today for the future:

1.      Small Businesses must emphasize employee development as a priority strategy. Employees that will be needed in the next 5 to 10 years must be planned for and pursued.  It is no longer a matter of placing ads, posting job openings or reliance on recruitment of competitor resources. Train, provide HR support and begin looking ahead.

2.      Small business manufacturers must cozy up to their equipment suppliers, learn what they see for future technological and mechanical requirements and work with them to develop their employee skills. Service businesses must do the same and keep their staffs educated on current and future software. Partnerships will form between businesses and their suppliers to educate workforces through training and maintenance.

3.      Retail businesses must adapt to transaction technology as soon as possible and work with financial institutions to assist in employee training. As Paypal advertised during the Super Bowl, the new money is paperless transactions with multiple media to accomplish it. It is a means of supplying payment equipment with appropriate guidance by vendors for retail clerks to perform safe and secure transactions that protect the end users.

4.      Educational institutions are not exempt here. From elementary to high schools, any school district that has not updated their curriculum annually is supplying unprepared graduates to the workforce. Students are far more digital than their teachers. That needs to turn around. Curricula must reflect a balance of traditional education with digital competence accelerated.

5.      Governments, both local and state must support educational changes that are coming. They can no longer react to technological changes that are archaic by the time the students graduate. Grades 1 to 12 are twelve fast years that have the potential to require a change in educational methods 4 to 5 times. Keeping up is mandatory for communities to stay afloat in the global marketplace. At all times including those of economic uncertainty and budget cuts, emphasis must be placed on education above all other needs to cultivate a community’s future prosperity.

If you are in education, you know what STEM is. While years ago, the future was in just going to college, today’s future is in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics regardless of how you get there. Schools must change to adapt to the digitally enhanced way of learning. Brick and mortar institutions must adapt.

Businesses must urge their local education boards to design curricula appropriate for workforce development pertinent to their community and place education at the top of the priority list for their towns and cities.

Companies will learn that they need to become talent destinations. That will only happen when the shift to talent development becomes part of the company culture. Investments in employee development, ongoing training and broader and more creative benefits will retain the best and the brightest.  Profitability and success will depend on it.

Looks ARE Deceiving

Emails are too!


You know those emails you get that look like they are from Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, but aren’t. They’ll always ask you to click on a link to answer a question or verify your information. What you end up with is malware that can do a number of things to your computer or tablet.

Here is a very simple, non-technological way to see if that is a legitimate email. If the actual email address doesn’t show next to the From name Move your cursor over the From: name like Fedex or Twitter, etc. The actual email address will pop up. If the email address doesn’t have the sender’s domain name in it, delete the email. Sometimes the sender’s name will appear in the address, but look carefully. The rest of the address may be suspicious.

In the case on the right, this email was rampant at Christmas time when people might actually be expecting a package from Fedex. But, if it doesn’t look official, destroy it. Malware will affect your computer and your private information in a way that can cost you big bucks.

Here is a sample of an email from Fedex with what appears to be an official email. But one look at the actual email address next to the word Fedex tells you it's not from them at all. The computer anti-virus noticed it as spam in this case.

Here is a sample of an email from Fedex with what appears to be an official email. But one look at the actual email address next to the word Fedex tells you it’s not from them at all. The computer anti-virus noticed it as spam in this case.

Fedex has listed this on their website:

Fraudulent Email Alert

We have received reports of fraudulent emails with the subject lines “Shipping Conformation,” “Verify Info,” “Some important information is missing” and “Please fulfill the documents attached to verify your identity.” The fraudulent email may have an attached file that may contain a virus or other malware.


If you receive a message matching this description below, do not open the email or click on the attachment.Delete the email immediately or forward it to

FedEx does not send unsolicited emails to customers requesting information regarding packages, invoices, account numbers, passwords or personal information.

It’s a good idea to Google the message heading and go directly to the company that they intend for you to believe they are. Many provide alerts as Fedex has done.

Finally, keep your anti-virus software updated and never click on email links that you do not know where they came from. Keep your employees informed. PROTECT YOUR COMPANY!