Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Morning Michigan Marijuana Musings

While I was taking my shower this morning, the news on the radio was that the first medical marijuana clinic opened today in Kalamazoo. For $200, individuals with a debilitating medical condition can register to receive an identification card which allows them to legally possess and use marijuana.

Obviously, this raised a few questions for me. Like: Can employers still drug test these people? If I have a card can I test positive and still keep my job? If I’m qualified to use medical marijuana, does my employer need to accommodate my need to light one up during my lunch break? Can we increase the snack offerings in the cafeteria?

Some companies, particularly office environments, may be able to accommodate a few of these situations, but what about those companies that employ truck drivers and/or manufacturing equipment operators? That’s not nearly so easy.

The excitement started back in November of 2008 when Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). And no, I didn’t misspell “marihuana,” it’s spelled this way so that it matches the way it is spelled in the Michigan Public Health Code (which, based on the spelling, was apparently written back when marijuana use was even more prevalent than it is today…)

To clarify what to do, I called my attorney friend Mary Pate at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn, LLP. She told me there are a lot of questions out there, and that until case law is determined, it’s going to stay that way. The good news from Mary is that we don’t have to allow employees to work under the influence or to smoke at work. I think the big question to come is: “What does it mean to be under the influence?” If I smoke tonight and test positive at work tomorrow, was I under the influence?

I did a little research and found some fun things too, like: employers can allow the use of medical marijuana on the worksite if they choose. So can retirement homes as long as the residents are qualified and registered. Will Woodstock be making a come back?

More information is available on the Michigan Department of Community Health Website at: MDCH - Medical Marihuana Program. With 16,028 applications already received by the state, this is definitely a topic that is going to grow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sailing Along to Better Performance Management

A couple of weeks ago, I led a training session on performance management at one of my client companies. Performance management is one of my favorite topics and the training must have made an impact because my client keeps reminding me of the analogy I used.

Here's how it goes. During the summer I love to sail. I use a small, old, basically indestructible, and incredibly fun sailboat. When I sail, I pick a point on the other shore and then sail towards it. While I'm sailing, lots of things happen. The wind changes, other boats pass me, and I hit some big waves. To reach my "goal" on the other shore requires continuous adjustments.

Now pretend that each of your employees is a sailboat. Do they know where they are supposed to be heading? Do you provide the coaching adjustments that they need to navigate the obstacles that come along or do you wait until the end of the year to point out that they sailed to the wrong shore?

Great leaders inspire their people to stay on track, work their way around the obstacles that come up and to storm the other shore. Timid leaders leave their flotillas adrift at sea. What kind of a captain are you?

Layoffs - American Style

Earlier this morning, I read a Newsweek article written by Jeffrey Pfeffer titled "Lay Off the Layoffs." If you haven't read it, you should. He explains the impact that layoffs have on companies, not only on the employees who are laid off, but on those who stay. He also shows that S&P 500 firms that downsized remained less profitable than those that did not, even after statistically controlling for prior profitablity.

In my first professional HR position, I was at a company that was downsizing. In the 6 years I was there, I laid off approximately 950 people. My experiences in that role line up well with Pfeffer's observations. Our best and brightest were leaving in droves, and those that remained were demoralized. Eventually the company was sold and closed - an inevitable result.

So what's my point? Companies shouldn't fire people? Not exactly. Performance issues need to be addressed and non-performers removed. No question. But think long and hard before you start removing people due to economic layoffs. Can your company absorb the reduction in morale, stock prices, productivity and loss of talent that Pfeffer found? Instead, consider ways to expand your market, branch out into new areas and reduce other costs. Get your employees engaged in finding new opportunities for the whole company, not just for themselves.