Connect with us

Ask PETS+

Three of Your Top Hiring Questions Answered

mm

Published

on

 

Several years back, we hired a young woman who mentioned during the interview that she had a “genetic heart condition.” She was affable and seemed competent so we took her on as a sales associate. In turn, she took to falling sick about every three weeks, citing her heart condition and telling us each time, “I told you about it during the interview.” How can I avoid this happening again without falling foul of the ADA?

Such stories are disheartening, not just because of the stress and disruption this person caused you but because there are so many people with genuine disabilities who are desperate to work but can’t get a job because of scared business owners. In this case, because the applicant told you about her disability, you could have asked about what accommodations she expected or what special help she would need to do the job (and if she’d said a day off every third week, you could have made a legally sound decision not to hire her). The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t make it easy for you to avoid such a situation next time either because you are not allowed to ask whether an applicant has any disabilities or health-related conditions that will prevent him or her from performing the job. (So don’t ask whether they have ever been treated by a medical or mental health professional, ever had a certain disease or illness, or are taking any prescription drugs.) You also can’t ask how many days the person was absent from work because of illness, say, in the last year. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces the ADA, you may, however, tell the applicant what your attendance requirements are and then ask whether he or she will be able to meet them. And this should actually be your guide to dealing with the ADA: Ask people what they can do (their abilities), not what they can’t (their disabilities). It’s thus a good idea to attach a detailed job description to the application or describe the job duties to the applicant during the interview. Then ask how they plan to perform the job. “This approach gives applicants an opportunity to talk about their qualifications and strengths. It also allows them to let you know whether they might need reasonable accommodations to do the job,” says employment lawyer Amy Delpo, author with Lisa Guerin of The Manager’s Legal Handbook.

What’s the best way to find new employees?

Have you studied your best customers? Toni Shelaske of Healthy Pet Products in Pittsburgh, PA, says that 95 percent of her staffers were customers of the store at one time. “So they either had dogs or cats with issues, or at least had the vision to seek out better foods, just to have a healthier pet,” Shelaske says.

Is it true that as a business owner, I can’t ask a job applicant whether they have used illegal drugs in the past?

It’s true. Drug addictions and alcoholism are basically considered illnesses under the Americans With Disabilities Act. You can, however, ask, “Do you currently use illegal drugs?” or “What illegal drugs have you used in the last six months?” (Note the emphasis on “illegal,” you can’t ask people what prescription drugs they may be taking.) Depending on your state, you can ask candidates to submit to a drug test, but sometimes it is on the proviso that if they pass, you must offer them the position. Here is a list of drug testing rules for job applicants and employees by state: ppmag.us/9187


This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of PETS+.   

Advertisement

Advertisement

FEATURED VIDEO

Pet Sustainability Coalition

Pet Sustainability Coalition Presents: Critical Sustainability Strategies for Retailers

This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

Promoted Headlines

Ask PETS+

How to Lay Off Someone and How to Nab a Shoplifter: Your Questions Answered

You would not want to be winging shoplifting.

mm

Published

on

Tell me, how do I lift my store out of the rut of mediocrity?

Joseph Grenny, a social scientist and author of Crucial Accountability, gives four leadership practices that can help:

  1. Show the consequences of mediocrity, to connect people with the impact of bad performance. Keep the issue alive by telling stories that illustrate work well done and the real human — or animal — cost of shoddy work.
  2. Set clear goals and explain why they are important.
  3. Establish peer accountability so that people feel comfortable challenging one another when they see mediocrity. It’s key that your store becomes an environment where everyone feels entitled to challenge anyone if it is in the best interest of the business.
  4. Be quick to defend the high standards. A chronic poor performer is a clear impediment to the goals you’ve set. How you handle this situation will let your team know whether your highest value is keeping the peace or pursuing performance.
I’d like to hire a staff trainer, but I’m worried about the return on investment. How can I be sure it will be worth it?

Our reason for existing at PETS+ is to make pet pros better pet pros, and we believe trainers can help you enormously. To really get your money’s worth you need to focus on two things:

  1. Hard skills — Overinvest in training that helps to increase ability versus motivation. Yes, it’s nice to have your staff leave a training session all fired up, but for lasting results that will give you that return on your investment, focus on small but vital aspects of your staff’s sales skills — it could be when to pause in a presentation, how many features of a product to stress, phone manner tips. Break tasks into discrete actions, practice within a low-risk environment and build in recovery strategies.
  2. Follow-up — Bring in a trainer, but only if you yourself are willing to buy into his lessons and do ongoing training and reviews.
We want to lay off a salesperson, but we’ve never done it before. If we are to give them a month’s pay, does that mean their base pay, or do we factor in their average commission earnings as well?”

Suzanne Devries of Diamond Staffing Solutions says that legally you’re required to give them only the vacation, sick and personal days they have accrued, although she recommends that you base your decision on how valuable an asset this person has been to your organization, and how long they have been with you. “If it’s a long time and they have been loyal, you should definitely consider a certain amount of days per year. Second, make sure you have documentation that states why you are having layoffs.” She also advises you do an exit interview and have the person sign documentation stating that they understand why “they are part of a force reduction.” An important thing to keep in mind is how other staff will view this. They will want to know that they will be treated fairly even when times are tough.

How do you suggest handling someone who is shoplifting in my store?

This is definitely an area where you do not want to be winging it, says Elie Ribacoff, president of Worldwide Security. Your policy on handling a suspected shoplifter should be part of your store manual and developed in consultation with a qualified attorney, or local police to ensure laws are followed and that prosecution is effective. State laws vary, but as a general rule suspicion is never enough — you need to observe the crime take place. As for confronting the person, there are obvious risks in confronting shoplifters. They may be violent, armed or working as part of a gang. And then there are the legal risks of trying to detain someone. As a general rule, it is nearly always better to be a good witness than to botch an arrest, says Ribacoff. Usually, the best approach is to have someone with a cellphone discreetly follow the shoplifter after he or she exits the store, and lead police to them. If possible, let the police search and make any arrests. This will provide better evidence in court, and it won’t be a matter of “his word versus your word,” he says.

I recently took over as a manager of a struggling store. Morale is bad, and moaning seems to be part of the culture. Any ideas on how to turn it around?

This one starts with you. Lead by example. Bring an upbeat attitude to the store every morning and make it clear you expect the same positivity from your charges. In this new era under new management, it’s expected your employees will take responsibility for their own happiness and effectiveness. Sales may be down, and the retail environment is more challenging, but your staff are either part of the solution … or they are part of the problem. For truly disgruntled staff, there’s not much a manager can do except to make it known they are on the wrong bus. A pet business is no place for people who throw their hands up in the air and declare “This place sucks!” at every setback.

Continue Reading

Ask PETS+

Foster Competition, Give the Right Gifts, Find a Mentor and Other Answers to Burning Questions

Here are the answers to these questions.

mm

Published

on

What is proper etiquette for gift-giving in the workplace?

Your three watchwords should be considerate, fair and inclusive. Aim for gifts that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone, such as food. Keep staff dietary restrictions in mind when choosing the edible gifts. If you do decide to give individual gifts to every staff member, steer clear of knick-knacks. Most people have enough clutter in their lives. Keep it clean. Do not consider gag gifts that rely on sexual innuendo or ethnic stereotypes to be funny. Do not give anything that could remotely be considered intimate. And be generous down the chain. Give the lowest rung on your company ladder as nice a gift as the one you give your manager.

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look
Headlines

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children
Headlines

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage
Headlines

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage

How can I promote competition among staff without it turning my store into the setting for Lord of the Flies?

The key to fostering healthy competition, according to research done by a team at Harvard Business School, lies in how you communicate the competition. When employees feel excited, they’re more likely to come up with creative solutions and new ways to better serve customers. When they feel anxious or worried they might lose their jobs or be publicly humiliated in some way, they’re more likely to cut corners or sabotage one another. Leaders can generate excitement by highlighting the potential positive consequences of competition (such as the recognition and rewards that await outstanding performers), rather than creating anxiety by singling out and highlighting low performers (think of the steak knives scene in Glengarry Glen Ross).

What should you look for in a mentor?

The most important thing is that you and your mentor click on a personal level. Such a relationship should be undertaken with a long-term view, and you need to want to spend time together. As for more specific things to look for, Daniel Coyle’s excellent book The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, suggests the following:

  • Avoid someone who reminds you of a courteous waiter; you want someone who is pushing you to take risks.
  • Seek someone who scares you a little.
  • Seek someone who gives short, clear directions.
  • Seek someone who loves teaching fundamentals.
  • Other things being equal, pick the older person.

And when it comes to asking for help, don’t be reticent. Advice-seeking is a powerful way to make a connection with someone. Most people love to help and to know they’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.

Every time we introduce a new project or way of doing things, or even when we propose a solution to a problem, there are members of staff who will find a reason to reject it. How do I deal with such people?

Amy Gallo, author of the “HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict,” suggests these phrases to help you deal with such situations:

  • “You’ve made a good point, but if we x, then y.”
  • “When you keep pointing out the negative, we lose the enthusiasm we need to be really creative and productive. But you’ve shown me x, and I believe that you can y.”
  • “May I explain why I disagree with you?”
  • “Can you rephrase that in a positive way?”
  • “Perhaps so, but here’s the good/alternative I see.”
  • “You’ve identified a valid problem. Let’s brainstorm on how to fix it.”
  • “I’d appreciate it if you could give me some alternatives.”
  • “Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Now let’s …”
  • “Can we get a second opinion on that from …?”
  •  “What would you do instead?”
  • “What do you need to fix it/move forward?”
  • “I can see why you’d think that/feel that way. What’s your next step?”
  • “You sound upset/pessimistic. Is that what you were trying to convey?”
  • “Can we approach this from a different angle?”

Gallo says it’s important to remember that a pessimist usually isn’t out to hurt you on purpose. “They might not even realize how much they come across as a downer,” she says. “Aim to truly listen and empathize rather than passing judgment, and over time, they’ll trust you and learn not to stay in the pits.”

How do I tease out a prospective hire’s innate strengths during the interview process?

Marcus Buckingham, a leader of the strengths-based school of business management, suggests asking this question: What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months? “Find out what the person was doing and why he or she enjoyed it so much,” he says, adding that it’s key to keep in mind that a strength is not merely something someone is good at. “It might be something they aren’t good at yet. It might be just a predilection, something they find so intrinsically satisfying that they look forward to doing it again and again and getting better at it over time.” The theory is that the best businesses are those that fully leverage the strengths (unbridled upside) of their employees as opposed to trying to fix up their weaknesses (never more than incremental gains).

Continue Reading

Ask PETS+

Why You Need a Will, Yes, You Have to Give Minors a Refund and 3 Other Burning Questions Answered

You asked, we answered.

mm

Published

on

I’m planning an end-of-year company party, but one concern is that somebody might get drunk and have a car accident and I might get sued. Got any advice on protecting myself?

These days, the Grinch must be a lawyer. Concerns about liability for alcohol-related incidents, sexual harassment and workers’ compensation claims have led many companies to forgo holiday galas entirely. You don’t have to. But if you’re really afraid, lawyer Anil Khosla, writing in Inc. Magazine, suggests the following steps to reduce your liability: “1. To distance the business from the party, make it an entirely social event, don’t invite clients or vendors, and make sure employees know that attendance is voluntary. 2. Plan accordingly. Hold your gathering off-site if possible. That may shift some of the potential liability to the hotel, restaurant or caterer. If you must have an on-site party, hire an independent caterer. Don’t permit anyone from the company to serve alcohol, and instruct bartenders to stop serving anyone who seems inebriated. Lawyers advise avoiding an open bar— or, at the very least, limiting it to the first hour. Also, close the bar at least one hour before the party ends. 3. Consider providing transportation to and from the event. Make sure that cabs will be available, and appoint someone to suggest cab rides home for people who have had a few too many.”

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look
Headlines

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children
Headlines

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage
Headlines

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage

How do you know when a new employee can’t be saved? How much time should you give someone?

When you have coached someone carefully and repeatedly, invested large amounts of energy, and they show no signs of improvement, that’s a solid signal you probably need to act. The clincher comes when their co-workers start showing their frustration and stop trying to help the person. This is often at about the three- or four-month mark. A lot of bosses will let it drag on past that, but it’s really in everyone’s interest for both parties to pursue new opportunities.

I haven’t gotten around to writing a will yet. What would happen to my business if I died unexpectedly?

When there’s no will, state law (“interstate succession” statutes) usually takes charge of your estate. “Each state has precise laws about who gets what when there is no will, and there are differences among the states,” says Norman M. Boone, a nationally renowned financial adviser. “In California, for example, the spouse inherits all the deceased spouse’s community property, but the separate property is shared with the children. In New Jersey, your spouse gets the first $50,000 of your estate and one-half of the rest; your children get everything else. If the children are minors in either state, then the court appoints someone to manage their property (including your business), and then supervises their activities, which involves more intrusion and more expense. The children receive their inheritance at age 18. For singles, the assets are parceled out to relatives in an order determined by state law. Usually children, parents and then siblings are first in line. Friends, lovers (even domestic partners) or charities are left out.” Without a will, there is always a chance the estate will be fought over by the above claimants, a process that can drag out and potentially ruin a business. Don’t like those prospects? What are you waiting for? Write that will!

I have a no-return stipulation on all my products. But somebody told me that if a minor buys, for example, a hamster wheel from me, they have the right to return it for a full refund and I can’t do anything about it. Is this true?

It is true in most states. And it’s something many merchants are unaware of. Basically, it comes down to what the law regards as “capacity to contract” — something minors are considered to lack but which is an essential element of any valid commercial agreement. In most retail situations, minors thus have a right to disaffirm a contract and demand the return of their money in exchange for the good also being returned in perfect pre-sale condition. The law doesn’t state, however, you must return the money immediately, and if you’re up for it, you can insist Mom or Dad enforce the big-spending youngster’s right to disaffirmance in a court of law. Faced with such a prospect, the child or his parents are likely to come to something approximating a reasonable arrangement.

Continue Reading

Most Popular