Keep Your Critical Players…3

People-development converts payroll costs to asset-investment


Post 3: “I’m very grateful for the refresher; I feel ready to make some plans for my team.” Joel thanked Samuel as he left the classroom at the conclusion of the leader training session.

The previous day Finance had reviewed with Joel the December 1 changes to his team in regard to the Department of Labor’s adjustments to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In preparation for this, Joel was evaluating the impact to each member of his team.  Over coffee with a colleague, he summarized the landscape he faced:

“I have two very structured positions in our group that have always been hourly, and those two tenured employees rarely need overtime.

“The other six positions are exempt – mostly because of the judgement and complexity of decision-making required by their work.  Their analysis and research does not lend itself easily to a finite time-frame, so most of them have average work-weeks between 45-55 hours.

“Two of these six are unique roles and will remain salaried: one was already over the new minimum exempt range, and the other will be adjusted up to that with a planned performance increase.

“My main focus in planning will be on my four employees whose compensation is too far from the new minimum to afford to adjust up.”

The next morning Joel started bulleting considerations to make a personalized strategy for each of his four employees who would be required to change their status from exempt personnel to hourly compensation plans and the restrictions of a 40-hour work-week.

Under each employee he listed notes about…

  1. their performance
  2. their motivations
  3. his concerns about their response to the compensation change and 40-hour limitation
  4. ideas on helping the employee to remain successful through the compensation change they must make


  1. He aggressively participates in team initiatives; shares good ideas; is willing to help others.
  2. He’s serious about setting and accomplishing his career goals.
  3. He may seek another job if he sees this move to hourly as a demotion or weakening of his team influence; and I know a few leaders who would love to have him.
  4. I will solicit Hilary’s ideas individually and then publicly ask him to share specific ones in our team meetings; I will also look for opportunities for him to partner with other members so he is regularly reminded of his value and continued career opportunities.


  1. She is just beginning to share with the team the product expertise she brought from her last role.
  2. She seems energized by the gratitude the others share as she answers questions and offers explanations about the product.
  3. She may shut down since her last role was hourly and, when she took this position, she had voiced excitement at the flexibility of being exempt from overtime.
  4. I’ll ensure Charlotte understands the value of her product input, strengthen engagement by giving her structured times to share with the team so she feels prepared, and work to build her confidence by soliciting comments from the team on the value and application of her tips.


  1. He is a consistent performer, but rarely exceeds expectations.
  2. He is grateful for this job because of his family responsibilities, including a challenged child, and is especially protective of his benefits.
  3. If others poison his perception of this change and influence him to feel boxed into this job, he may become disengaged and fall below expected results.
  4. I plan to frame this change as an opportunity for Tommy to take advantage of new efficiency practices we will be creating and to benefit from his new work-life balance possibilities of more consistent 40-hour work-weeks.


  1. She is relatively new and accepted this position as a lateral move, hoping it would be seen as a forward step in her career.
  2. She has been self-motivated to aggressively equip herself to be effective by staying after 5pm to learn and to bring herself to the minimum productivity level quickly.
  3. Discouragement about her decision to join our team without knowing about this compensation change could definitely impact her enthusiasm and forward progress.
  4. I will ensure Kelly has access to effective learning resources and consciously give positive feedback to encourage her confidence and progress; it may also save her research time if I partner her with Hilary as a resource to answer questions. [A second advantage to that partnership is that Hilary may see the value I place on his team impact.]

Joel reviewed his notes and scheduled a short meeting with his manager to get her ideas on his perspectives and plans.

Reality: All managers fight for time to customize the needs of individual employees.  It is always worth the effort of planning, observing behaviors and performance, documenting and following through with effective conversation.  Failure to prioritize these usually results in failure to see productive results.

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