Tag Archives: Thought

How to Fire an Employee in 5 Easy Steps.

Firing someone isn’t as easy as some reality shows might depict. Sure, it’s fun to think about being a strong executive able to dismiss someone on a whim.

In reality? Your showing someone the door has real world consequences that those with empathy know all too well. I’m assuming your employee has a problem OTHER than a terminally ill relative, or they were the one with a terminal illness, a serious loss in the family be it a person, pet, or home, or a severe injury meeting all of the above criteria. I would add, as a former military spouse (he retired from the Army Reserves and is great, thanks!) that losing a loved one to deployment could affect your staff member’s work ethic as well.

All of the above may not be legally protected by Labor Laws, and that doesn’t really matter until step four. I’ll assume you don’t want to be a Worst Boss of the Year by firing your employee after their father dies of cancer on the same day as their dog was run over on their way back from saying goodbye to their deploying spouse.

How does someone let a problematic employee leave for “greener pastures?” Here you go.

  1. If empathy and caring about your employees are problems for you, don’t worry. There is a real and legal reason for NOT skipping step one’s empathy and emotional quagmire. Start a paper trail now, because if the person really is a liability to the company, a paper trail will keep you from being sued for unemployment. You’ll want to sit the problem person down and have a talk with them about what’s going right and what’s going wrong. Emphasis on the wrong. Have a checklist, a signable checklist, for how the awry behavior will change in the immediate future. They sign, you give them an atta girl or atta boy, and the behavior is corrected, profits rise, and we’re all happy.
  2. But, if nothing changes? You will yet again sit them down in a private area and ask what was unclear about the first meeting, in a kind and direct way. They explain or excuse, you listen and reintroduce the checklist as a reminder.
  3. And then that didn’t work. Fine. Bring them in again, again ask what was unclear and is it clear now that they’re on a probation of sorts? They’ll probably mumble yes, promise to change, you shake hands and voila! Problem solved.
  4. When nothing has worked so far? You gave the person three chances/warnings and documented what was said and promised. I would say you bring them in and give them two weeks. Except, I was in Information Technology for most of my cube farm life and forewarned gives an angry employee a chance to set up retaliation. Instead, follow your company’s procedures for termination. If you are your own CEO of a large enough company for Human Resources, why are you reading this? You’re too busy, and it’s why you have an HR. If you’re like me, the CEO of a tiny empire, the legality of terminating is a problem. Especially when it comes to being sued. Review the termination for cause for your state because no two states are the same. Set up your legal defense and reasons for showing your employee the door.
  5.  The firing itself. By this time, what kind of person your employee is won’t matter. They’re a detriment to the company and must go. Which is fine. Some people are round pegs trying to fit into a square hole and need to be pushed to find a new place. Others are problem children with no desire to grow as a person. Either way, you’ve tried to warn them in steps one through three, done the legal homework in step four, and now have to meet with them privately. If necessary, have your boss or HR rep sit in. Again, if you’re the head of your company, have a plan for your safety when terminating a hot headed employee.

I’ll admit, I’m a small business owner and firing someone would mean they all but begged to be fired. My empathy is off the charts. For this post, I’ve kept in mind that larger business owners might not know everyone and even if they do, they don’t care what happens when a person is pink slipped. Everyone is different, and that’s fine.

Even if you don’t care about your terminated people, you’ve spent time and money training them. There are anti-discrimination laws. Hiring new replacements hits you again in the time and money department. No one wants to waste their resources or be sued. Follow the first three steps, set up by following the fourth, and help your company’s growth and profits by following through on the fifth step.

I took an Ancestry DNA test and the results changed my point of view. #Mondayblogs

Family legend has it that a great grandmother, Nancy, was Choctaw. I grew up knowing that for sure. I have strong cheekbones and a square face. A dentist said these small indentions in my teeth indicate a Native American Ancestry. So, for the past 52 years, I assumed I had at least 10% Native American, mostly Choctaw or Blackfoot. I reveled and claimed this part of my heritage with great pride. I admire the First Nations of America.

But nope.

I don’t even have a fraction of a percent. My sisters might. DNA from parent to child is odd that way. People get half of their DNA from a parent, and that half may not be what their siblings receive. Since I’m dark haired and eyed, olive complected, and rather short, I figure my tall, blonde, and fair complected sister is more Scandinavian than my own 20%.

And that was surprise number one. I’m Scandinavian AND 20%? Really? I honestly look the exact opposite of whatever you think of as a person in that group. So to be as much as that is a huge wow. Almost as much as the 0% Native American.

The 29% Irish and 25% English was not surprising. With a maiden name of Kelley and family names of Magee, Baker, Casey, Stewart, Monroe, Simms, to be 54% from the UK was a given. I’ve been to England, and the country does feel like home. Now I seriously want to visit the rest of the UK.

Fractional surprises? There are small fractions of various ethnicities. Genetics supported another family legend of a Jewish man marrying a Gentile and back then, they held a funeral for him because he was dead to the family. Turns out, it’s true. Something else fun and a wow moment is being 5% West Asian. Yep.I had no idea. Maybe the Scandinavian might have been a given when considering the Vikings and a number of red haired people in my family. Seeing that being reported was not too much of a surprise. But West Asian? Now I really MUST know more about that part of my ancestry.

A Facebook friend recommended I run the DNA data through a medical website and doing so was an oh my God! moment. It was there in the report and in my genetics. All the reasons for being told I need to pay attention, need to remember things better, need to stop being so obsessive were hardwired into my DNA. If I’d discovered this in my teens or twenties, I’d have known these were real aspects of me I could modify but were no more shameful than having brown instead of blue eyes. You can dye hair, wear colored contacts, and have cosmetic surgery for your nose. Knowing you have a bit of ADD? There are hints and helps I had to uncover the hard way by trial and error. If I’d had a “You have this, here’s what you do,” report back in my twenties, I think life would have been a lot easier. At least, there would have been a lot less of feeling defective in some way. Like the entire world could focus and I was the only one who couldn’t. Memory, too. Everyone could remember the shopping list, why couldn’t I?

So, my recommendation is for people to get their DNA checked. Not just for the where did I come from, which is cool, but for the medical. It’s scary, especially when you read about having a tendency toward various cancers and heart disease. I knew about those particular health risks for me, but to see them in print was daunting. Prometheus’s test also lists the medicines I’m either great or not so great with. Chemo meds are more effective for me than most, while blood thinners, ibuprofen (I took massive amounts for my migraines in the past! It’s a wonder my intestines are still intact, and I have a liver.), and transplant meds aren’t. Good to know now, right?

Something else that’s fun and I’ve learned the northern Europeans need to expect is the potential for Neanderthal DNA to be mixed in. I had no idea and think having Neanderthals as contributors to my genetics is a riot.

I will say that a lot of the potential medical bad stuff in my genes can be mitigated by lifestyle. Just because I’m able to tolerate cocaine without being addicted doesn’t mean I will ever try the drug just to make sure. I’m also 60% resistant to AIDS, something else I’m not going to test. Forewarned actually is forearmed.

So how about you? Leave a comment on if you had an ancestry test and it went haywire or not. Let us know what happened with you.

PSA-Show, don’t tell! #amwriting

I’ve been reading for review a plethora of indie authors’ works.

Please, please SHOW me the story.  Don’t tell me or I’ll start skipping pages.  I read books to immerse my imagination into a different world, not to be a passive receptacle for your story.

I have three examples and will only name names on the positive one.

First up is a little story, a romance, about two people who’ve found their way back to each other.  We’re told why she’s in the place she is, we’re told why he’s suddenly there.  Tell tell tell, blah blah blah. Don’t care.  The story doesn’t even start until their eyes meet because it’s a romance.  Can’t the author just use the characters’  conversation to tell us the backstory the author just told us?  Can’t we see and feel what it’s like for the couple to link up after a decade or so apart and pining for each other?  Nope!  The author needs to tell us every little thing, which was blah and “Make it stop!!”

The second is a good sized book that I sampled and am not interested in buying.  It’s very erotic so that’s fun, but is way heavy on the tell.  Every little detail of their surroundings, people, everything, is described and most often in passive voice.  The only time this isn’t going on is during the goings on.  Sex is the only show in this tale of tell.  Which could be a great literary device if the author wanted only the sex to be exciting and all that character development stuff to be dull filler as contrast.  I skimmed it because blah blah blah.  I was relieved to reach the end of the sample that it was over at last.

The third? It’s a first person memoir that by all rights should be dull.  Something you read to fall asleep.  I’ve been writing and going to writer events for twenty years and have had many many people tell me “I’m writing my life story because it’s soooo interesting.”  99% of the time, no.  No, it isn’t.  Unless you’re Chuck Yeager, Richard Branson, or a Red Bull addicted spokesperson, don’t.  Just don’t.  Your mother does and even then she’s pretending.

Or so I thought until Thomas Sartain began telling me his story.  He had not only me but everyone at the conference enthralled, making my “Not another life story!!” thought obsolete.  I had the privilege to read his somewhat rough draft and it was amazing even in the rough.  He’s since published Thirty Days and a Wake Up, and it’s a wonderful book.  Told in first person, the story unfold in a shown way.  As the reader, you’re there when Thomas witnesses his first murder, when he leads his first robbery, and when he is first sent to prison. You feel what he feels and see only what he sees, not told about every single thing in his environment.  If you want to read a true, gritty, and gripping story, click the link above and at least read the sample.  It’s really worth the effort.

I could spend the rest of the post explaining exactly how and when to show versus tell.  Plus, there’s times when the story is better with a bit of telling instead of the constant show.  Instead, I’ll link to an article that creative writers really need to improve their work.  If you’re an author who truly wants to be the best you can be, go read the information.  I’ve skimmed through the first half.  When I hit publish on this post, I’m reading all of the article to see if there’s anything more I can learn and I’m pretty sure there is something I’ll need to know.

The Show Versus Tell Debate

Is anything ever fast enough?

My idea for this entry was a wa wa about how long it’s taken me to get The Very Best Man out the door and onto Kindle.

I’ve changed my mind.

Instead, I’m posting some writing rules I tend to follow.  I’ve been writing fiction of some sort for the past 22 years and have picked up a few things.  Of course, I’ve not picked up perfect grammar, but that’s why Microsoft’s Word checks for it, now.

1. Show, don’t tell.  Really.  Because when I read a lot of something told to me in fiction, I think “Bla bla bla, get to the good stuff.”  Should I blame the Age of Instant?  Historically, a lot of writers have done this, telling is what happened/is happening versus letting the story unfold before our eyes.  At any rate, during my editing process, telling always gets cut or rewritten.

2. Linking verbs are icky.  Linking verbs are passive. Or, how about, “Avoid the passive and icky linking verbs.”  In a world of CGI and the effects making writing moot, you’ll need to up the voltage on your verbs.  If you can avoid am, is, are, was, were, had, has, could, would, should, and their various had been, could be, should have’s, then do so.  There’s always an exception, though, and passives can be used in a good way.  If your character is a passive person, letting things happen to them, then putting their entire point of view in a passive form is a subtle way of conveying their state of mind without having to tell the reader.  Score one for showing.

3. Point of view.  This is fun and difficult.  I tend to struggle with this at times, being the omnipotent writer and all.  If I’ve done my work and created 3D characters, it’s not so tough to put myself in their place and think their thoughts.  Which is what POV is.  As a writer, you are not yourself in a story, you’re the character.  Is the character you?  Not unless you’re writing an autobiography.  You’ll want your character to be so real that if they knocked on your door, you’d know them instantly.  The problems in POV come from the writer forgetting a character can’t see the blush on her own face.  Another character in the story can’t know the hero’s thoughts unless she’s saying them, or he knows her facial expressions so well he can guess.  Sometimes, I keep a single POV for the entire chapter, sometimes, I divide up the chapter and give it the he says/she says treatment.  One thing to avoid is switching POV’s in the middle of a paragraph.  He’s thinking about the other person and without a paragraph break to let the reader know it, the other person says something.

George looked at Martha.  Her dress, soiled around the hem, clued him in on her morning gardening activities.   “You’ve been busy already.” He smiled at her.  “I’ve picked plenty of okra for dinner tonight,” she said, holding up a basket of greenery.

It’s crude and off the cuff, but my own example.  While not totally confusing, the lack of a paragraph break kicks the reader out of the story and you don’t want that.  Which leads to…

4. Hooks.  You need them.  Even the best written story in the world isn’t going to work if there’s nothing keeping the pages turning.  We’ve evolved past the Me Generation into the What’s In It For Me? mentality.  You need to have a pay off for the reader.  What does this mean?  The protagonist needs a secret, an ultimate goal, a reason to get from point a to point b.  Thanks to the Age of Instant and What’s In It For Me?, hooking the reader in the first five pages is the writer’s goal.  Show us why the hero is keeping a secret, has a goal bigger than himself, or needs to get from a to b.  After that, throw roadblocks/hurdles for him to overcome until the final “no one can survive/surpass this” hurdle.

5. Sex, Violence, and Drama.  Readers love all three.  Look at the top five of any list, movies in theaters, best sellers, even songs, and you’ll see how true this is.  This final point would actually be a really good discussion point.  As much as I’d like to, I have a tough time inserting gratuitous sex and violence into my work, and the drama is somewhat tough, too.  I’d love to hear from other writers who are struggling to keep OUT the three, and readers’ opinions on how much is too much or not enough.