ETL H.R. and Team members

Oct 23, 2022
I came into a store that had a lot of culture issues and the previous ETL H.R. gave them team the wrong messages and wasn’t on best practices. Like letting team members submit paid time off late that created off cycle payments, deleted meal compliance after team members hit their 5th, did the workday training for the team, if someone wanted the day off he would just deleted them from the schedule instead of partnering with their leader to find coverage, he held no one accountable for attendance, did not level up his HR expert, hired team members without the proper I9s, didn’t keep track of covid cases and allowed 5 team members from the work centers go on vacation at the same time. The team loved him tho because he allowed thier bad behavior.

That previous ETL HR moved to a different ETL position in the same store. Right away, I noticed my work center was red but he was a peer. Right away the team compared me to the previous HR. The team member handbook came out and I was able to explain that’s why things are changing, so I started to level set with the team.

The previous HR then started to throw me under the bus with other team members, saying I was the one wrong when I was trying to be on beat practices. That ETL is no longer with the company but continues to shop and hand out the hotline number to team members.

I guess my questions are, how do I get the buy-in? Reintroduce myself? The expectations are that, all ETLS run the store meaning give feedback to team members. How do I be an HR and a leader holding team members accountable? I’m just trying to get the store on best practice. No matter how much recognitions and fun I do for the team, they still don’t like me.
Some of the things you mentioned, I9s for example, aren't just company policy they are federal law.
Sometimes you are going to have to be the asshole.
You can tell them why but it doesn't matter if they like it, that is what's going to happen.
As to the less important things, pick your battles.
Instead of trying to change everything at once, look at what causes actual problems and move on those with the help of the people who are affected by the problem.
If it's too late and you've already unilaterally changed everything at once, dig in this is going to be a long winter.
Take heart knowing that Spot probably knew it was happening and that is why they put you there.
So at least you should have support from top even if the rest of the store hates you.
Also, with the way turnover is you should be able to have enough people on your side in a couple of years.
I agree. Sometimes, as the boss, you're going to have to be "that guy," but it's also your job to do just that. A few things I think that you can do to make things a little easier though:

1/ Build trust. To do this, be reliable (when TMs ask you for things like resources, time off, etc) be sure to follow up every single time, and promptly. Work next to folks, so they see you're not just some villain sitting in an office barking out orders and laying down mandates. Explain the "why" behind certain things (if we give everyone time off at the same time, this workcenter will be screwed!, we need I-9s or we'll get in hot water with the feds, etc). As the person above said, it's a process, but it needs to be done. As ETL, particularly ETL-HR, you have the hard job of defining the culture of the workplace.

2/ Main thing - you need to reset expectations. Yes it will be hard, but you HAVE to communicate that there are going to have to be changes, but again, explain why they are happening. Not because you hate the TMs, but because your store will face serious problems like potential closure, fewer hours, etc if things don't turn around. Take things one step at a time. Maybe you don't crack down on phones use at first, but focus on the mission critical stuff.

3/ Honestly, you've landed in a tricky spot. Maybe have a meeting/huddle with everyone so they know the new expectations (and again, of course, reiterate the reasons behind them). Consider setting a timeline? For example, first 30 days you're there, you're only observing. People generally dislike when someone moves in then starts laying down mandates like they own the place. Take some time first to build trust, and maybe a reintroduction isn't a bad idea (I don't know though)

4/ As ETl-HR, bribe reward good behavior and generally be a chill person. I know you've already done this, but not just get Chipotle for folks as a reward. Work with people (ie who genuinely need time off, help accommodate their requests, listen to and follow up on their concerns and feedback, etc.) and genuinely be someone people want to be around. People need to know you're on their team.

5/ If you've already messed all this up beyond repair, it's gonna be rough, but know that in a few months, due to attrition, much of the staff will have moved on, or they'll have adapted to the new paradigm. But yeah, your SD and higher up already know that this is a problem, hence why you were brought on. Maybe lean on them as a resource, if that's applicable to you.

Honestly, I feel like HR is a pretty hard job. You have to be the bad guy sometimes, and say no. Truthfully, your situation is the exact situation I'm afraid of going into an ETL role.
I feel for ya, but if your store is like mine then "Best Practice" is the nastiest dirty word you can say.... and Spot doesn't care
I would start with the ETL team. Much of what you are talking about is their responsibility. For instance, vacation requests are not approved by HR. Attendance accountability is up to TL/ETL of each area.

Clearly the guy was all kinds of wrong. Meal compliance (depending on state) is a biggie, and obviously I-9 compliance too. He kept cooking the books in his new role, and was asked to leave. The fact that he is still trying to stir up trouble says a lot. You have to be the bigger person here and ignore his antics. Maybe read up on the hotline and start talking about it at huddles. Take away a little of his fire.

So, read up on role clarity. Your role is less about holding the team accountable, and more about facilitating their leaders holding their teams accountable. If a team member comes to you about time off, your response should always be to ask their leader. You and your expert can certainly help by making some calls if asked, but it is not your job to take care of that. You aren't the bad guy nor the good guy here. Weekly attendance email are something else you (or your expert) can start doing. Send out to TLs who needs conversations, then check to see that the convos are in Workday the following week. If not, follow up with the ETLs.

In the end, pizza isn't going to do it. Be fair and consistent. Stay in your lane. Start to connect on an individual basis with TMs and TLs.

Where has your SD been in all of this? Yikes.