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Dear HR Lady

Can I ban my employees from bringing a gun into our workplace?

As of today, under the "Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008", Florida law allows people a right to carry a concealed weapon in a vehicle on company property. This is often referred to as the Parking Lot Law (790.251). People cannot be required to waive his or her right to possess and securely keep firearms and ammunition locked within his or her motor vehicle by virtue of becoming a customer, employee, or invitee of any employer or business establishment within the state, unless specifically required by state or federal law. There are of course many exception to this "Parking Lots Law". For example guns are not allowed on school property or property of any correctional institution, as well as a few other exceptions. For more information, review the Florida Statutes, Chapter 790 "Weapons and Firearms".

However, employees can be banned from carrying a gun into the workplace. This covers employees, independent contractors, volunteers and interns, to name a few. It is advised that you are clear with your weapons and firearms policy, provide specific details in writing and require employees to sign that they acknowledge your policy. Often this policy is included in an employee handbook. This may be a policy you may want to resist and remind people of yearly.

I am having trouble hiring the right person for the job? What am I doing wrong?

Having the right employees in the right roles for the right amount of time simply cannot be downplayed. It does seem like a pretty easy concept, right? Then why do so many companies get it wrong?

During the hiring process, one major reason companies inadvertently hire the wrong people is because it is not clear on what skills or attributes they are looking for. Creating basic job descriptions for every role in the company will save time, money and painful experiences for all involved. Another major reason that companies inadvertently hire the wrong person is that there is a lack the time allocated to management to find and screen appropriately qualified candidates as well as a lack of time to conduct effective interviews. Often the manager tasked with filling the position is stressed, carrying a heavy work load and feels rushed to fill the position with any warm body. Any manager put in this position may hire the person who may just be "good enough" and end up with him/her not being able or willing to meet company expectations. In order to avoid hiring the wrong candidate, time must be allotted to hiring managers so that they can take an appropriate amount of time to find the right types of candidates, ask the right questions, get the right people involved in asking those questions and to finally give realistic job previews to the top candidates. Supply and demand drives the availability of qualified candidates therefore every position will take a different amount of time to properly fill. For some positions, this may take 12 hours over 2 weeks; for other positions this may take 10 hours a week over 2 months.

For more HR advice, enjoy our Whitepaper "5 Ways to Destroy Your Business." It is a tongue in cheek way of pleading with leaders to do the exact opposite in order to create a sustainable, profitable organization. This Whitepaper can be found on the resource page of

I need to motivate my staff. Their engagement level seems to have fallen to the way side along with their productivity level. What advice do you have?

Did you know that companies with engaged staff have higher profit? Unfortunately, approximately 70% of the workforce is actively disengaged. Supervisors have the greatest influence over their employees engagement level. The best way to motivate your staff is to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. Too often, we focus on the negative yet no matter how much you hammer your employees, their weakness will not magically turn into strengths overnight. Training and development may help. Coaching may help. Or perhaps you simply are expecting a magician to appear instead of realizing that the skill you need must be found somewhere else. Work with your employees to determine their strengths and clarify their roles around their strengths. Then empower them to take ownership of their role. Guess what comes with empowerment? Accountability! Accountability is not micro management. It is being clear with expectations and deadlines, setting check in and follow up procedures, offering assistance and being clear with consequences of not meeting deadlines including failing to satisfy the vendor or patient. A lack of patient satisfaction can lead to revenue loss which can lead to job loss. But on the other hand, does meeting deadlines and achieving excellence in customer or patient satisfaction lead to revenue increase for the employee? Find a way to reward them (it is not always money).

The best supervisors know their people well. They know them as human beings who have lives outside of work. They understand their individual needs and traits, personal motivations, career goals and their strengths and weaknesses. Take note that engaging your employees takes time. Listening is important. Asking for their opinions and actually implementing some ideas is vital. An engaged employee needs to feel that their opinion and experience is valued. Continuous feedback is necessary as the once a year performance review is no longer effective and has not been for a while. So take this opportunity to schedule a 30 minute coffee session with each of your employees to really get to know them. Then schedule a follow up meeting to discuss performance: your performance (what can I do better?) and theirs (what are your challenges?). You may be surprised what you will learn. Good luck!

I hear other companies talk about Vison, Mission and Values. Aren't these just motivational posters for a wall?

Unfortunately, this is what they tend to become: dust builders. Ask yourself this question "how can I lead my team to achieve my vision if they do not know what it is?". A true leader has a vision and hires, trains and develops people to fulfill that vision with a deadline in mind. The vision could be as simple as "Making our community the healthiest place to live through empathetic medical care"; or as optimistic as "To become the leading holistic healthcare practice in the USA by 2030".

So what are the difference between Vision and Mission? A vision statement for a company focuses on the potential inherent in the company's future, or what they intend to be. The vision statement is simply a description of the "what," meaning, what the company intends to become. The mission statement is simply a description of the "HOW," meaning, how the company intends to achieve its vision starting now. Values are beliefs; what you stand for; what your company stands for. Values should be used in the hiring process and during performance and behavior conversations. Customers should know your vision, mission and values so they can help support you. Remember that a goal without a plan is just a wish. A goal with plan is a vision! A communicated vision keeps the team on track to achieving it!

Wendy Sellers "The HR Lady" is the COO of BlackRain Partners, a business consulting company.

She has a Master in Health Care Administration, a Master in Human Resources, SHRM-SCP and SPHR certifications and is also a licensed Florida 2-15 life and health agent which she uses solely to advise and educate BlackRain's clients.

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