As a newly promoted manager, there are many new responsibilities to take on. Among those responsibilities is employee management. The transition from co-worker to supervisor or manager can be a difficult one for employees who were once peers or close friends. Nonetheless, it is a change that requires you new managers to draw the thin line between co-worker and subordinate. Employee management is a responsibility for a new manager that is often overlooked, but can throw a wrench in day-to-day operations and can have legal consequences if it is ignored. As a manager, you are now responsible for staffing your department. This means, interviewing, and hiring new employees to fill open positions, making temporary staff changes to make sure you daily operations are not interrupted while an employee is out on a leave of absence, and terminating an employee. This new role also obligates you to communicate and enforce company policy to those who report to you. Most importantly, you are the liaison between your employee and the Human Resources (HR) department. Here are three new hats that every new manager wears and what HR wants you to know about managing your employees.
THE STAFFING HAT
If you have ever wondered what all the fuss was about with applications, and interviews; staffing is now going to be one of your main priorities the employee management process, that is of course, if you want a successful and productive department. There is usually a hiring process; know it and adhere to it. This process should start and end in the HR department including being notified (by you) that a position in your department is or will be vacant. A position usually becomes vacant when an employee separates from the company, either voluntarily – giving a two-week notice…or not – or involuntarily; or better, if an employee is promoted and you need to fill their former position. If your HR department uses position requisitions, all the details of the vacancy will be included in that form. Otherwise, you will need to have a conversation with your HR rep to share key skills, and abilities you would like the candidates to possess that has helped your department flourish in the past.
Once you begin receiving resumes, it is important take action and provide feedback. A lingering position vacancy will cause wear and tear on your current staff (especially in the healthcare field) and could cost more money than it would to fill the position. Get a good pool of candidates and start interviewing. Providing feedback to the HR department keeps them abreast of any issues that may occur when recruiting for your position and allows them to address them early on. Record-keeping of resumes and applications is crucial. If you review resumes of candidates, you do not want to interview, put them aside. After you interview candidates, make notes on a separate sheet of paper and set them aside. All of this will be returned to HR once hiring process is complete. A few important legal issues to consider when interviewing candidates and regarding record-keeping:
1. DO NOT write on the resume or application. While the act itself is not illegal, there could be some implications for discrimination if the candidate is not selected for the position.
2. All applications and resumes should be initially submitted to the HR department. There are documents attached to applications, such as equal employer opportunity data that should only be handled by HR. There are also record retention laws and regulations that accompany the acceptance of a resume or application that each employer must follow.
3. NEVER ask the applicant any question that does not pertain to their work experience, skills or ability to perform the duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Questions about the candidate’s marital or familial status, age, sexual orientation, race, etc. should never come up during the interview. Candidates often offer this information when answering the “tell me a little about you” question, but DO NOT comment on this nor ask the candidate to expound on this information. These questions are illegal and can fling open the door for a discrimination lawsuit if the candidate is not selected for the position.
4. Lastly but certainly not all encompassing, it is never wise to make an offer on the spot. There are legal issues that could arise if you find another candidate that you like and rescind the previous offer. Although the act itself is not illegal in the state of California, this is the good ole “can of worms” that you do not want to open.
THE POLICY ENFORCER
As a new hire – and a responsible adult, all employees are responsible for reading and understanding their employer’s policy and procedures. However, questions will still arise, and because policies may need more clarification, your employee’s will come to you. In an effective new employee orientation (NEO), the most common questions about policies and the most pertinent policies will be discussed. One policy that will affect most managers is that regarding the various leave of absence laws, most of which employers are obligated to provide employees as a federal or state requirement. Some of the basic leave laws are discussed below. Keep in mind that these explanations below DO NOT cover specific details of this law (especially state regulations) and should be discussed with your HR department.
1. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – FMLA is a federal requirement and allows an employee to take up to twelve (12) unpaid weeks of protected leave of absence, meaning the employer must place the employee in their exact position (and pay) when they return from leave. Employers with 50 or more employees are covered under this regulation. Employees who have worked a total of 12 months AND 1,250 hours for an employer are eligible for FMLA to care for a family member (spouse, mother, father, child) or for their own serious illness. FMLA can be used for baby bonding time.
2. California Family Rights Act (CFRA) – This state required benefit carries similar allowances and eligibility requirements as FMLA, EXCEPT that CFRA begins after pregnancy disability leave ends.
3. Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) – This state requirement is for pregnancy only and is available to employees from the first date of hire. One thing to keep in mind is that FMLA and CFRA run concurrently (at the same time) and FMLA and PDL run concurrently, but CFRA and PDL DO NOT run concurrently.
While it is important to know the basic rules about leave laws, a structured human resources department will usually manage all the details of the employee’s leave from the time they are out until they return. As the manager, all you need to know is when the employees’ last day of work is, and how you are going to cover that position while he/she is out. It is good to familiarize yourself with the basic leave laws so you can share this very basic information with your employee. Once the employee is out on leave, all communication should go through the Human Resources department.
THE HR DEPARTMENT LIAISON HAT
As the new manager, you will not only take on staffing issues and policy communications, but you are now the new vehicle of communication between HR and your employees. This means, that you relay policy changes, memos (for those still using them), company events, and any other mass communication coming from the HR department. Employee concerns and questions you are unable to answer are also issues to discuss with your HR department. This liaison hat is usually prominent in traditional company structures, where the chain of command is heavily enforced. In this structure, you are the employee’s first point of contact for any and everything. If and only if, you are unable to resolve their question or issue, you may advise them to move to the next level of authority, which would be your supervisor or direct report, and so on, until the issue is resolved.
Managers take on many new responsibilities, some they were expecting, and some they were not, such as the politics and structure the goes with employee management. Employee Management is often viewed by managers and an unnecessary evil, but it is an important component of managing a department or office and has an effect on the company’s bottom line. Your new job as (employee) manager will be more effective and fulfilling, knowing that you have the support of the Human Resources department and knowing how and when to use it.