Lynne Curry

Q: As the HR manager for my former company, I was responsible for enforcing all policies. Although our CEO and the three other principals signed the policy against making cellphone calls or texting when driving, it was an open secret they did. In fact, both the CEO and a principal spoke at an all-managers’ teleconference while driving to Wasilla. I reminded the principals many times of the no cellphone usage while driving policies, and they all nodded, but broke the policy. Just before I left the company, our sales manager had an accident while on the phone when driving to a customer’s site. Our CEO urged me to testify this manager acted against company policy by talking on the phone when driving, lessening our liability. Even though I’ve resigned, I know I’ll get pulled in to this legal...Lynne Curry
Do you face a street fighter at work? Someone successful, ambitious and challenging who identifies you as a potential threat and acts quickly to take you out? If so, take a lesson from the 2015 political stage. When Donald Trump entered the Republican race, he immediately took on front-runner Jeb Bush. Bush alternately tried to ignore Trump and then obviously let Trump’s jabs get to him. Rand Paul tried another tack when Trump attacked him at the beginning of a debate. Paul fought back, diving into the gutter with Trump, only to fall back as Trump’s verbal body-slams demonstrated the difficulty of out-trumping Trump. Two other candidates employed different tactics. When Carly Fiorina responded, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” her savvy remark...Lynne Curry
Q: Things got out of hand at our Halloween party. Our company decided to host one as we’d been too busy and short-staffed this summer for our annual fishing trip and several managers thought it would give morale a boost. I offered to host it, as I have a large living room. One of the guys dressed up like the Hulk and was hoisting the ladies into the air. It was all in good fun, but one of the women acted outraged, and he handled it waving his arms over her, roaring and then picking her up two more times. Since I was the host and the senior manager at the party, I kept an eye on the situation. Then another woman, not the woman who got picked up twice, apparently called her brother, an attorney. She then told the women that they could file assault charges. That rumor spread and ended the...Lynne Curry
On Oct. 19, the Municipality of Anchorage established a workplace bullying policy that invites city employees who experience or observe workplace bullying to report it, without fear of retaliation. The policy defines a workplace end goal in which all employees are treated with respect and lets those who bully know that they face discipline and potentially termination. What will it take for other employers to follow suit? They need to understand the importance of having a bullying policy in place, what it takes to implement an effective policy, what to expect once they create the policy and how it protects their organization. According to the 2014 Workplace Bullying Survey, three to four out of every 10 employees experience bullying in their workplace. Bullying -- defined as psychological...Lynne Curry
Q: My brother is ill and I’m temporarily overseeing two of his business holdings, one of which is a restaurant with a bar and liquor license. Although I promised him I wouldn’t “gut everything” he’s built up, several things going on worry me. The employees apparently think it’s OK to have a drink now and then when they’re working. Supposedly they pay for what they consume, but since we take in cash as well as credit, I haven’t been able to substantiate whether that’s true. I suspect my brother turns a blind eye to this and considers it a perk that keeps employees there. What are best practices for restaurants and bars concerning employee on-the-job drinking? A: Alaska’s alcohol beverage laws don’t prohibit licensees or their agents and employees from drinking. Like many other smaller...Lynne Curry
Q: Three weeks ago, we fired a hot-tempered employee who left cussing and shouting. Since then, several of our employees have made no secret of the fact that they’re “packing.” This makes many of our employees nervous. Other employees, however, insist that the only way to keep everyone safe is to have guns easily accessible. Unfortunately, some of these employees are also hotheads. Our employee handbook doesn’t address this issue and we think it needs to. Can you help? A: Every employer needs to address violence in the workplace. Employers who ignore this issue potentially place employees at risk. Within the United States in 2014, intentional shootings killed 307 managers and employees in U.S. workplaces. Those surviving these shootings live with loss, grief, and the fear that another...Lynne Curry
Q: I was laid off last week, as were two-thirds of those who worked for my former employer. These layoffs happened without notice. We all received pink slips midday Friday and were told we were paid until the end of the day. Big whoop. I worked for this man for three years. I gave him and his practice 110 percent and he told me he considered me his “right hand.” Despite this, I couldn’t convince him to address things that needed to change. When I told him my concerns, he assured me he wanted to do the “right thing” and would “get around” to making improvements. I believed him but he never did. The problems stacked up and led to the downfall of his business. On the one hand, he got what he deserved. On the other hand, what happened to his business, into which I poured my time and effort,...Lynne Curry
Q: My immediate supervisor works in Anchorage and I work in rural Alaska. Although I’m the lead program coordinator for our work group, I have no real power. Everything has to be signed off on by my supervisor. Although my main job is providing direct care to our clients, because I’ve been here the longest, I’m also the individual charged with ordering supplies, processing travel requests, and placing ads when we need new employees. This leads to confusion. My teammates assume that when they need something, I’m the one they go to and I can make it happen. I can’t; I don’t have that authority. This week, one of the team members needs an OK to travel. I processed the request two months ago. The OK hasn’t come through yet and she’s supposed to fly out on Sunday for a once-a-year conference...Lynne Curry
Q: After I terminated an employee for low performance, he began texting several of my employees and me. His texts say he got a raw deal and that we’d all “better watch out.” He also accuses me of impropriety and threatens that unless I “come clean,” he will go to the authorities and tell them everything. He says he kept records and I’d better “watch my back.” I have no idea what he’s talking about. Should I respond and try to see what he’s upset about and if I can calm him down? A: Print these text messages and contact the police. Although this man appears to primarily target you, his “better watch out” message could mean physical danger for others in your employ. As a manager, your job includes protecting your employees and yourself from harassing conduct, whether it comes from inside or...Lynne Curry
Q: On my first day of work, “Kevin” approached me, dishing the dirt on my new supervisor. I immediately thought, “What a jerk.” Kevin told me he was giving me the “lay of the land” for my own good. After that, he came into my office several times each week, always closing the door behind him so we wouldn’t be overheard and always when our boss was out of the office. I wasn’t sure how to take what Kevin told me, but I listened just in case there were kernels of truth. According to Kevin, our supervisor was an insecure woman who was ruining the morale he and other employees had enjoyed under the previous supervisor. Several weeks later, our boss convened a staff meeting. Kevin sat across from me and winked at me each time our boss announced proposed new regulations for clocking in and out,...Lynne Curry