Poor performer has complained? Read this before firing! Wednesday, Feb 29 2012 

by  on FEBRUARY 22, 2012 12:00PM
in FIRING,HUMAN RESOURCES,LEADERS & MANAGERS,PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

Employers usually don’t have a problem terminating an em­­ployee for poor performanceif the employee has never raised any kind of discrimination claim. But somehow, as soon as an employee goes to the EEOC (or even just HR) with a complaint, the same employer doesn’t know what to do.

Should you terminate the em­­ployee and face a potential retaliation suit? Or do you keep the employee, hoping that will keep her from suing?

Because of the specter of a retaliation claim, employers often feel ham­­strung and seldom take the action necessary to rid themselves of a problem employee.

Are you being set up?

Consider the possibility that the em­­ployee’s complaint is a setup.

Indeed, when problem em­ployees see the writing on the wall, they often will complain about bogus in­­ci­­dents of alleged discrimination in an attempt to bulletproof themselves from an adverse action like demotion or termination. Employees believe that the mere threat of retaliation liability will protect their jobs.

It’s understandable that the threat of litigation sometimes paralyzes em­­ployers—no matter how baseless the retaliation threat might be. Don’t let that happen to your organization.

The following case sends the right message to employees: that a meritless complaint will not protect a poor performer.

And it’s welcome relief from fear of a retaliation lawsuit.

7-year run of poor reviews

Daniel Galeski was an acoustics engineer at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, Mich. During his seven-year tenure at the theater, Galeski compiled a history of well-documented performance problems.

Two months before the date when he would finally be fired, Galeski complained that his male supervisor had been sexually harassing him. After complaining, Galeski’s performance problems continued, for which he received reprimands and written warnings.

After he failed to improve—and despite his harassment complaint—the city terminated him.

The court agreed with the city that Galeski’s long history of performance problems, many of which predated his harassment complaints, were fatal to his retaliation claim:

“Galeski has a history of violating the City’s policies and being insubordinate…. [I]t appears that the issues that led to Galeski’s termination were inevitable once a more strict super­visor arrived at the Theater…. [H]is job was in danger regardless of his sexual harassment complaints. In light of his repeated issues with failing to wear his uniform and his reaction to his employer revoking his privilege to use the gym, there is no indication in the record that the city of Dearborn’s legiti­mate reasons for discharging Galeski were pretextual or other­wise invalid.” (Galeski v. City of Dearborn, No. 10-1256, 6th Cir., 2011)

Lessons for employers

The case provides several important lessons for employers that may have hesitated before disciplining an employee who has made an internal or other complaint. These include:

• Don’t wait to terminate. Galeski did not become an insubordinate em­­ployee overnight. His per­­form­­ance issues predated his termi­­na­­tion by seven years. Yet, a long line of weak and nonconfrontational supervisors refused to do anything about it.

I’m not saying you should fire an employee at the first sign of trouble, but there is a broad line between fair warning and years of capitulation. The former will put you in good stead defending a lawsuit. The latter could result in a judge or a jury asking why you waited so long—and then looked for an illegitimate reason for the late-in-the-game termination. Just because this scenario worked out for the city of Dearborn does not mean that it will work out well for every employer in every case.

• Document, document, document. Few terminations can survive scrutiny without proper documentation. Your odds as an employer go down exponentially if you pair a lack of documentation with a termination on the heels of protected activity.

As the Galeski case illustrates, a poor performer is a poor performer, regardless of complaints about har­­assment or other protected conduct. Without a legitimate paper trail, how­­­ever, you will find yourself without the ammunition to do anything about it.

• Do investigate the employee’s complaint. While you don’t have to withhold discipline just because the employee complained about alleged discrimination, neither should you ignore the complaint. It is, after all, possible that someone is experiencing sexual harassment and is a poor performer. Regardless, you don’t want to give a judge or jury a chance to decide that you allowed sexual harassment or discrimination to exist. Remember, the employee can win a hostile environment case if he really was harassed, even if he loses a retaliation claim.

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Foods That Fight Memory Loss Tuesday, Feb 28 2012 

By Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

There’s a new way to potentially prevent Alzheimer’s—a disease that we know frustratingly little about—and it’s not some exotic, expensive or potentially dangerous drug. It’s actually an affordable, natural component that’s found in everyday foods. For the first time, there’s a human study that confirms an association between dietary choline, an amino acid found in eggs and some other foods, and better cognitive performance. The study, from Boston University School of Medicine, appeared in the November 2011 issue of theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

BRAIN BOOSTER

Researchers investigated the dietary habits of 744 women and 647 men ranging from 36 to 83 years of age. None had dementia when the study started. In the early 1990s and then again between 1998 and 2001, participants filled out a questionnaire about their diets—they were asked how often they had eaten particular foods in the past year. After the second questionnaire was given, the researchers performed neuropsychological tests to evaluate the participants’ cognitive skills, including verbal memory (remembering a story) and visual memory (remembering images). They also did MRI brain scans to see if there were any tell-tale lesions in the white matter areas called white-matter hyperintensities (WMH). WMH in the brain is considered a marker of vascular disease and is strongly associated with cognitive impairments that precede Alzheimer’s disease.

The results: First, this study demonstrated that people who were currently eating the most choline performed better on tests of verbal and visual memory, compared with those who currently had the lowest choline intake. Researchers also found that those who had eaten the highest amounts of choline years earlier (as demonstrated by the first questionnaire) were more likely to have little or no WMH. In other words, eating lots of choline may make your memory sharper, and it also may reduce the risk for damage to the brain and even Alzheimer’s disease.

HOW THE NUTRIENT PROTECTS YOUR NOGGIN

To learn more, I called study coauthor Rhoda Au, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Boston University. Dr. Au emphasized that this is an observational study, so it doesn’t prove cause and effect, but it does show a link between choline and memory. Why? Choline’s crucial contribution to cognition, said Dr. Au, may be as a building block for a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is known to help transmit information between neurons faster.

DIET “DOs”

How much choline do you need each day? The recommendation from the Institute of Medicine for men is a daily intake of 550 mg and for women, 425 mg. The richest food sources are…

  • 3.5 ounces of beef liver—430 mg
  • One large egg—126 mg
  • 3.5 ounces of salmon—91 mg
  • 3.5 ounces (just under one-half cup) of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or navy beans—approximately 40 mg.

Other sources of choline include cod, almonds, tofu, milk and peanut butter.

Supplements of choline are available, but high doses (more than 3,500 mg per day for adults over age 18, according to Institute of Medicine) can cause symptoms like vomiting and excessive sweating. So if you want to take a supplement, talk to your doctor first—discuss how much you eat in your diet already so you can figure out whether (and what amount of) a supplement is necessary.

What’s so exciting about this research, in my view, is that while most studies concerning dementia are performed with people who already show signs of it, this study set out to investigate what people can do that might prevent dementia—and the choline connection seems promising. It’s so easy to get more choline in our diets—it’s in our refrigerators right now!

Source: Rhoda Au, PhD, associate professor of neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, and director of neuropsychology, Framingham Heart Study.

Thank Goodness for Argumentative Teens Monday, Feb 27 2012 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

When my friend recently told his teen daughter that he would not allow her to stay out past her curfew to attend a party, she did not reply with “Thanks for nothing!” or “You have to!” or even “I hate you!” as many teens might have. Instead, she said assertively, “But I did all of my homework and chores, and you said that I could do something fun if I met my goals for the week.” Talk about a comeback! This girl often will fire back retorts like this that are feisty but actually quite reasonable—and hard to argue with.

If you have a teen son or daughter like this—one who isn’t shy about arguing with you and has the gift of gab—there’s a silver lining, according to a University of Virginia study published in the December 22, 2011 issue of Child Development. To learn more about the findings, I called Joseph P. Allen, PhD, a professor of psychology at the university and the lead author of the study.

SPEAKING YOUR MIND HAS ITS BENEFITS

Dr. Allen told me that researchers followed about 150 male and female teens over approximately three years. The researchers watched them interact with their parents over an issue that they disagreed about (such as money, grades or household rules). They also gave the teens—and the teens’ best friends—questionnaires on alcohol and drug use.

The results: Researchers found that, in general, the teen tended to become more like his/her best friend over time—for better or for worse. If a teen had a friend who used lessdrugs and alcohol than the teen did at age 15, then the teen was less likely to use these substances at age 16 than at age 15…and conversely, if a teen had a friend who usedmore drugs and alcohol than the teen did at age 15, the teen was more likely to use these substances at age 16 than at age 15.

But, interestingly, kids who had been observed as being assertive during the discussion with their parents (those who did not back down and argued reasonably, but not aggressively) were less likely to follow in the footsteps of a friend who used more drugs or alcohol than they did. In other words, said Dr. Allen, the kids who were more likely to stand up to their parents were also more likely to stand up to their peers. Of course this isn’t a foolproof recipe for teens resisting peer pressure, but it’s certainly an intriguing correlation.

So having a teen who likes to talk back a little may not be such a bad thing after all. Now, that’s not to say that all arguing is good or that kids should be allowed or encouraged to have tantrums. The key word is assertive, not aggressiveHere are some examples of what the assertive teens did well…

  • Tried to persuade their parents instead of threatening them or trying to wear them down.
  • Stayed calm and did not raise their voices.
  • Did not insinuate that their parents didn’t understand or were stupid.
  • Expressed facts or well-thought-out opinions, not just emotions.
  • Listened to what parents had to say rather than just tuning them out.

TAKE YOUR TEEN SERIOUSLY

I asked Dr. Allen why he thought this might have made kids less susceptible to peer pressure. “What these kids learned in handling disagreements at home is likely what they took into their peer world. If the teens thought that there was no point in arguing with their parents, then they probably tended to do the same with their peers and just went with the flow,” said Dr. Allen. “If you take your teens’ concerns, reasons and viewpoints seriously, then you teach them to expect others to take them seriously.”

The takeaway? When you find yourself arguing with an “in-house” lawyer, let the conversation run, as long as it’s civil. These arguments may be annoying, but they are actually a training ground for teens on how to stand up for themselves—both inside and outside of the home.

Source: Joseph P. Allen, PhD, Hugh P. Kelly Professor of Psychology, director, Virginia Adolescent Research Group, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

The Five Best Supplements You Don’t Know About Thursday, Feb 23 2012 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

Everyone knows about calcium and fish oil, but there are a whole lot more healthful supplements out there—ones that you may never have heard of but that might do your body some good. To uncover some of these lesser-known supplements, I called five health-care providers who are experts in natural and complementary health—and each one told me about one of his/her favorites. Before you take any of these supplements, always talk to your doctor, because some might negatively interact with drugs or other supplements that you’re taking or cause unwelcome side effects. And first check your multivitamin to see if you’re already getting at least some of these nutrients.

SELENIUM TO BOOST OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Andrew Rubman, ND, founder and medical director of Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines in Southbury, Connecticut, said that consuming more of the mineral seleniumis a must for many people. It boosts immunity, but we often don’t get enough in our diets—sometimes because common stomach problems interfere with the digestion of the mineral. Selenium is found naturally in soil, so it’s in foods like grains and vegetables (and in some meats, since animals feed on those foods), but unless you eat a lot of those foods and have robust digestion, you’re likely deficient. Plus, due to regional variations in selenium concentrations in soil, even some foods that contain the mineral may not have much. For his patients, Dr. Rubman may prescribe four drops daily of Aqua Sel, a selenium supplement—this provides 380 mcg of selenium. Dr. Rubman prefers this brand because it’s inexpensive and well-absorbed and has a clean taste.

NAC TO DETOX THE LIVER AND LUNGS

Richard Firshein, DO, director of the Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City, prescribes N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for people with certain health problems (mentioned below). NAC is a building block of the antioxidant glutathione that helps detoxify foreign substances in our liver and lungs and also fights damaging free radicals. In his practice, Dr. Firshein prescribes a daily dose of 500 mg to 1,000 mg of NAC for patients with chronic asthma or certain liver problems (usually due to excessive alcohol consumption or elevated liver enzymes), and it shows promise as a supportive treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you meet any of these criteria, ask your doctor if NAC can help. NAC is found in small amounts in a variety of protein-rich foods (such as meat, poultry, seafood and others), but Dr. Firshein says that to achieve “therapeutic levels,” it’s best to consume it in supplement form.

CoQ10 FOR EXTRA ENERGY

I spoke with Thomas Kruzel, ND, of the Rockwood Natural Medicine Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, about coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Dr. Kruzel said that it may be wise to start taking it as you get older if you find that it boosts your energy (some people don’t feel a difference, he said). CoQ10, found naturally in foods such as meat and fish, helps cells produce energy, and as we age, our bodies’ ability to manufacture CoQ10 decreases—unfortunately just as our bodies require more of it to function properly. On top of that, Dr. Kruzel said, commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs deplete natural stores of CoQ10. So he prescribes it for patients on statins, those who suffer from fatigue and anyone who requires an extra boost (such as athletes in training). Long-term use is not necessary, he said, except for those on statins, because once you start taking CoQ10 for a little while, the body eventually replenishes its supply. For those of his patients in need, he typically prescribes between 100 mg and 200 mg per day in capsule or gel-cap form.

IODINE TO GET RID OF ACHES AND PAINS

Jamison Starbuck, ND, in family practice in Missoula, Montana, told me why she often prescribes supplemental iodine. Iodine is a mineral found mostly in seafood that helps the body synthesize hormones, including thyroid hormone. But many of us aren’t getting enough, she said, because iodine has been slowly but steadily leaving our food stream. The chemicals in fertilizers used in modern farming and chlorine added to water bind to iodine and prevent it from being utilized by our bodies. And many people avoid foods with ordinary table salt due to cardiac risk factors, so they don’t get the healthful iodine that has been added to it. Not having enough iodine can lead to symptoms of an underactive thyroid, such as sluggishness, dry hair, a goiter (a swelling in the thyroid gland) and fibromyalgia (aches and pains all over the body). So Dr. Starbuck prescribes up to 50 mg a day in liquid form for people whom she has diagnosed by a urine test as significantly iodine deficient. Caution: Too much iodine can be harmful, So Dr. Starbuck watches her patients for adverse reactions such as headache, rash and racing heartbeat.

ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID FOR DIABETICS

Richard Horowitz, MD, of the Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center in Hyde Park, New York, said that alpha-lipoic acid, which is found in foods such as red meat and liver, works as an antioxidant, so it fights disease all over the body. It also regenerates other antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E, and improves insulin sensitivity, so it reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and it may help reduce blood sugar levels. Dr. Horowitz typically prescribes 300 mg to 600 mg per day in pill form…while those patients with diabetes and/or cardiovascular risk factors will often be prescribed up to 1200 mg per day.

Sources: Richard Firshein, DO, founder and director, Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine, New York. www.firsheincenter.com twitter: @DrFirshein

Richard Horowitz, MD, Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center, Hyde Park, New York.

Thomas Kruzel, ND, Rockwood Natural Medicine Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Andrew Rubman, ND, founder and medical director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut. www.SouthburyClinic.com

Jamison Starbuck, ND, naturopathic physician in family practice, Missoula, Montana.

25 Off-Limits Interview Questions Sunday, Feb 19 2012 

by the writers of Business Management Daily

Job interviews present a minefield of legal problems. One wrong question could spark a discrimination lawsuit. That’s why you should never “wing it” during interviews. Instead, create a list of interview questions and make sure every question asks for job-related information that will help in the selection process.

Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of an applicant’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. Some state laws also prohibit discrimination based on factors such as marital status or sexual orientation. If you ask a job applicant a question specifically relating to one of those characteristics, you’re subject to being sued.

Every question you ask should somehow relate to this central theme: “How are you qualified to perform the job you are applying for?” Managers usually land in trouble when they ask for information that’s irrelevant to a candidate’s ability to do the job.

To avoid the appearance of discrimination during interviews, do not ask the following 25 questions:

  1. Are you married? Divorced?
  2. If you’re single, are you living with anyone?
  3. How old are you?
  4. Do you have children? If so, how many and how old are they?
  5. Do you own or rent your home?
  6. What church do you attend?
  7. Do you have any debts?
  8. Do you belong to any social or political groups?
  9. How much and what kinds of insurance do you have?

The following questions could result in an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit:

10. Do you suffer from an illness or disability?

11. Have you ever had or been treated for any of these conditions or diseases? (followed by a checklist)

12. Have you been hospitalized? What for?

13. Have you ever been treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist?

14. Have you had a major illness recently?

15. How many days of work did you miss last year because of illness?

16. Do you have any disabilities or impairments that might affect your performance in this job?

17. Are you taking any prescribed drugs?

18. Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?

19. Do you plan to get married?

20. Do you intend to start a family?

21. What are your day care plans?

22. Are you comfortable supervising men?

23. What would you do if your husband were transferred?

24. Do you think you could perform the job as well as a man?

25. Are you likely to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

Final point: If a job candidate reveals information that you’re not allowed to ask, don’t pursue the topic further. The “she brought it up” excuse won’t fly in court, so change the subject right away.

Source

Source:  Business Management Daily

How to conduct better performance reviews Friday, Feb 17 2012 

Byline

by the writers of Business Management Daily

You should conduct regular appraisals of your employees’ performance for two important reasons.

First, periodic and competent appraisals reduce the opportunity for a discharged employee to claim unfair treatment. The appraisal process alerts an employee to what you expect of her, where she is deficient and how she can improve her performance.

Second, the appraisals constitute documented proof of unsatisfactory performance that will help you justify employment decisions

To make your appraisal system effective, consider adopting the following guidelines:

  • Review your evaluation techniques. Your performance standards should be quantifiable, not subjective. Standards for individuals performing the same job should be applied evenhandedly.
  • Emphasize to supervisors the importance of truthful and accurate performance reviews. Supervisors are often overly lenient when it comes to rating employee performance. But by sparing the worker’s feelings, the supervisor could be inviting trouble for his employer. In a wrongful-dismissal suit, it may be difficult for your company to explain why it discharged an employee for poor performance if he received positive evaluations.

Beware risk of overly complex rating systems

You may also want to dump overly complex evaluation methods. If your rating system is too complicated for even your supervisors to understand, it’s time to simplify it.

Reason: When employees become confused about the evaluation process, they’ll start to believe that you aren’t treating them fairly. That suspicion may prompt a call to an employment lawyer, who’ll want to take a closer look at your system. Then, your organization is at the mercy of clever statisticians who will try to deconstruct your plan to prove discrimination.

In one recent case, two female employees argued that their employer was penalizing them for taking time off to care for their children. The women suspected that the company’s complex evaluation process somehow treated them unfairly, but they weren’t sure how. So they hired attorneys, who couldn’t figure it out either, so they hired experts. Four experts and 16 expensive depositions later, the process was deconstructed and the case settled for $600,000 in lost wages, plus $400,000 in legal and expert fees. It seems the process managed to count protected child-rearing time as a negative factor, proving the women’s suspicions were correct. Vosdingh, et al., v. Quest, No. 03-4284.

Source:  Business Management Daily

A Mind-set That May Fight Cancer Wednesday, Feb 15 2012 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

A friend who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer gave me a book that she had just finished reading. She found it so helpful that she thought I would want to share it with Daily Health News readers. I read it over the weekend, and she’s right — it’s quite a story. It’s filled with unusual ideas that may help patients with all kinds of cancer — not only breast cancer — beat their disease. What gives the story a unique twist is that the author, Kim Allison, MD, is the director of breast pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle… and Dr. Allison had been promoted into this position just a few weeks before learning, at age 33, that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer with an average five-year survival rate of only 40%.

Today, four years later, she is healthy — and the book, Red Sunshine: A Story of Strength and Inspiration from a Doctor Who Survived Stage 3 Breast Cancer, explains how she got that way. I called her to find out more.

Knowing how serious her cancer was, Dr. Allison told me, she chose a “take no prisoners” treatment plan that included chemo, radiation and surgery. She decided to have both breasts removed even though she had cancer on only one side. But those aren’t the parts of her treatment that make her story so unique and valuable… it’s the things that she did in addition to that — which doctors almost never tell their patients to do!

ADDING A SECOND APPROACH

As a specialist, Dr. Allison knew as much as anyone could about how to treat her disease medically, but she decided to also develop her own “alternative” treatment strategy so she could feel that she was marshaling every possible resource that might improve her odds of survival.

Even as a healthy person not facing cancer or any other serious illness, I found her approach inspiring. It’s important to note that Dr. Allison isn’t sure that any of the following actions helped cure her cancer, but she did tell me that they made the journey less onerous. “These strategies changed my perspective and helped me get through each day,” she said. Here are some highlights from the book and our conversation…

THREE BIG IDEAS

I adjusted my attitude. Early on, Dr. Allison decided that she wanted to consider her fight an “opportunity to grow and learn about how tough I can be” rather than just questioning why something so bad had happened to her. She decided that the poison being dripped into her veins — a potent drug called doxorubicin, nicknamed the “Red Devil” because of its deep, red color and horrible side effects — should be considered her ally, so she renamed it “Red Sunshine.” “That was an important mental switch, because it made me want to show up for treatment,” she said.

I recruited several great teams. As a busy working mother — with a four-year-old daughter, an infant son and a husband who had recently opened a restaurant — Dr. Allison needed all the help that she could get with her disease and her life. She was fortunate to have friends and family members who were available and willing to assist her. This isn’t always possible, she said, but it never hurts to ask for help. She appointed these people to be “gurus” of different things. For example, one was in charge of music (downloading tunes onto her iPod for her to listen to during chemo) and another, who still lived near her parents in California, was assigned the task of helping her parents cope from afar.

Dr. Allison’s medical treatment team included a pathologist, an oncologist and two surgeons. But she also worked with a physical therapist, who taught her techniques to avoid complications like lymphedema (swelling in the arms) after surgery… a nutritionist (who helped her eat a well-balanced diet)… a personal trainer (who helped her continue to work out by encouraging her to walk and do strength training and yoga)… a naturopath (who advised her on supplements that might help with treatment side effects)… and an acupuncturist (who helped her keep her stress and pain levels under control). This was an expensive group, no doubt, but Dr. Allison told me that many major cancer centers offer some of this support for free — and you often can get insurance to cover at least part of the cost.

I believed in “magic.” Though her career is all about science, Dr. Allison said that she was willing to believe in magic, too. She visited a shaman — a spiritual adviser — an experience she found enriching in ways that she never expected. And, with the help of her mother (who visited regularly) and a friend, she created a “healing ritual” in her backyard. “We stated out loud in a united way that I was planning to destroy the cancer that had grown inside of me. Then I burned an image of my cancer in a fire,” she said.

I’m so glad that Dr. Allison’s cancer is now considered “most likely cured,” since there was no residual cancer after chemotherapy was completed — and she’s feeling great. Only future research can determine whether or not her unusual, two-tiered psychological and medical approach can make a significant difference, in terms of fighting off cancer — but in my opinion, I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

Source(s):

Kim Allison, MD, director of breast pathology, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, and author of Red Sunshine: A Story of Strength and Inspiration from a Doctor Who Survived Stage 3 Breast Cancer (Hatherleigh).

Top 7 reasons why the wrong people get hired Wednesday, Feb 15 2012 

by the writers of Business Management Daily

Nobody ever sets out to make a bad hire. But it happens, even to the best hiring managers.

According to Personnel Decisions International, a Minneapolis-based personnel consulting firm, here are the top reasons that companies make poor hiring decisions:

1. Hiring managers don’t take time to do the job right. Making the extra effort to put together a systematic approach to staffing will prevent hasty decisions and costly bad hires.

2. You don’t know what you’re looking for. Because you don’t know, you probably aren’t going to find it. First, define the duties of the job and the qualifications needed to fill the position.

3. You’re looking for the wrong things. Make sure the characteristics you’re seeking are the ones that make the biggest difference. “Enjoys being with people” is not the same as “provides exceptional customer service.” Make a list of the characteristics you’re looking for in each new hire.

4. The best candidate doesn’t know about the position. By not effectively marketing the job to the right candidates, you’ll find that the competition is acquiring the best people.

5. Hiring decisions are based on “gut feeling.” Handshakes, posture and grooming are important, but not reliable predictors of success. Look for fact-based indicators of an applicant’s past success. Also, hiring managers who are trained in performing job interviews are more likely to choose the best candidates than those who are not.

6. The wrong candidate didn’t get enough information to say “No.” Some candidates are a bad match. Better they should decide they don’t want the job after the first interview than after the second week or month on the job. That’s why it’s important to provide a full view of the company and the position, even the more mundane parts of a job.

7. You mistake credentials for accomplishments. Don’t be dazzled by diplomas, certifications and other credentials. Those are pieces to the puzzle, but you need to discover how the person can perform the job itself. That’s why rigorous evaluation of candidates’ skills and abilities can prevent you from hiring a poor performer.

Pinching Back On Salt Restrictions Tuesday, Feb 14 2012 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

It’s a mantra that we’ve heard for years—cut back on salt! But a new study dashes that advice, demonstrating that it’s not just too much salt that’s bad for our hearts but apparently also too little.

Not all of this surprised me, because many practitioners of natural medicine have long held the view that advice on salt intake should be individualized—and not simply be “less is best” for everyone. So I called the study’s lead author, Martin J. O’Donnell, MB, PhD, an associate clinical professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, to learn more about the research.

SHAKING UP CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

Dr. O’Donnell told me that his study—published in November 2011 in Journal of the American Medical Association—is the first large study to report potential heart health risks for both low and high salt intake in a single study.

Dr. O’Donnell and his colleagues examined data from nearly 29,000 men and women (all age 55 or over) from 40 countries who either had heart disease or were at increased risk for it because of prior history and co-morbidity factors such as diabetes. They looked at how much sodium was excreted in their morning fasting urine (so it wasn’t self-reported salt intake) at the start of the study. The participants were not aware that their salt consumption was being measured, nor were they asked to raise or lower their intake—they just ate the amount that they normally ate.

What the researchers found was that, over four years, those who consumed higher-than-average amounts of salt and those who consumed lower-than-average amounts of salt experienced more heart problems (including deaths) than those with an average intake.

WHAT’S “AVERAGE”?

It’s worth noting that the “average” salt consumption among participants in this study—estimated between 4,000 mg and 6,000 mg per day—is much higher than the recommended upper limits of 1,500 mg per day (the advice of the American Heart Association) or 2,300 mg per day (the recommended dietary guideline from the US Department of Agriculture). And yet in this study it was the people who consumed this much salt who had the least number of heart problems.

The study showed that those with the highest and lowest amounts of sodium excretion had the highest risk. For example, those who consumed more than 8,000 mg daily were at a 50%-to-70% higher risk of suffering a cardiovascular event over the four-year period, compared with the “average” salt group. And, not quite as alarming but still of concern, among those whose daily salt intake was between 2,000 mg and 3,000 mg, the likelihood of dying from a cardiac event related to congestive heart failure rose by 20%, compared with the “average” salt group.

Now, it’s important to note that patients who ate the least amount of salt might have been doing so because they were at very high risk for disease and their doctors had insisted that they cut back severely on salt. In other words, their risk uptick might not be due to their salt intake (or their salt intake alone), but also due to poor health. “We did some analysis to address this issue, but we can’t exclude this possibility—larger clinical trials will be the only way to truly answer this question,” said Dr. O’Donnell.

The mystery is—how could consuming a low amount of salt increase cardiovascular risk? There may be several potential reasons for this, Dr. O’Donnell said, but the most prominent hypothesis is that lower salt intake activates the body’s renin-angiotensin system, which results in narrowed blood vessels, which of course makes it harder for blood to flow to and from the heart.

WHAT’S THE SALT SOLUTION?

This study—and others that have recently shown that similarly negative health effects may be associated with a low-salt diet—caught the attention of the government. Congress has already put on hold its plans to legislate lower sodium levels for school lunches, requesting more information from the US Department of Agriculture before putting it to vote. Dr. O’Donnell said that there is “an urgent need to establish a safe range for sodium intake.”

In terms of how much salt you should eat, talk to your doctor about your particular risk factors—and remember that the jury is still out.

Source: Martin J. O’Donnell, MB, PhD, associate clinical professor of medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

7 bloopers that make a boss cringe Monday, Feb 13 2012 

by the writers of Business Management Daily

These seven phrases won’t get an admin noticed—at least, not in a good way, says Dave Willmer, the executive director of OfficeTeam.

He recently compiled a list (in Computerworld magazine) of the words your manager doesn’t want to hear:

1. “Just a heads-up … I won’t be able to finish the project that’s due tomorrow.” You’re not on track to hit a deadline? Better give your boss a warning long before the situation becomes critical. With enough notice, most savvy managers can work around a schedule snag.

2. “That’s not in my job description.” Whether it’s doing a job typically reserved for a co-worker or cleaning out the refrigerator because it smells rank, a pitch-in-and-help attitude is what managers need during a time of doing more with less.

3. “So that’s what you wanted? Whoops!” It’s better to ask for clarification at the outset, even if you fear looking stupid. What he wants, ultimately, is the task executed as he envisions. Get clear on that vision.

Bonus tip: Show that you’re thinking strategically. Ask a question that clarifies the purpose behind the task, not just the activities themselves.

4. “Dave’s being a jerk. Tell him to stop.” Have you stepped outside your comfort zone to speak directly with your co-worker about the issue? Before you drag your boss into an interpersonal dispute—no matter how annoying—be sure you’ve exhausted all other routes.

5. “I hate to say this, but Tom is the cause of the project’s failure.” Unless your manager asks you about a co-worker’s performance, avoid assigning blame to others. Bottom line: It makes you look difficult to work with.

6. “Will you be my Facebook friend?” You may be on friendly terms with your boss, but it isn’t wise to blur the boundary between your work and personal life. If you want to connect with your boss online, keep the venue professional, such as LinkedIn.

7. “I didn’t think you needed to know.” When in doubt about whether to raise an issue, put yourself in your boss’s shoes: Would you want to know about it? Will raising it help your team meet its objectives? Even telling your boss that a project is running smoothly can be helpful, since it lets him or her know you’ve got everything under control.

 

Source:  Business Management Daily

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