Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr. tackles your human resources questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society and author of “Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.”
The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.
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Question: The program that I work on in my organization is slated to shut down by the end of the year. Our workload in the meantime has been drastically reduced. I received a verbal offer from an internal group, but it will take some time for them to put a formal offer together. In the meantime, I have been asked by an adjacent department to transfer into their group. How should I approach turning down the offer without divulging the other group’s offer? – Millie
Answer: The obvious approach would be to simply decline the offer with no explanation. Of course, you’ll want to maintain a good working relationship, so thank the group politely and professionally for a generous and thoughtful opportunity to work with their team. Let the group know it was a difficult decision, but after you thoroughly reviewed the offer, you have decided to decline.
Since both offers are from internal groups, it is quite possible that both groups already know about each other’s offers. There is no harm in divulging that you have received another internal offer and explaining why you feel the other group’s offer provides the best opportunity for you. Communicating your current reduction in workload and the time it will take to receive a formal offer are valid reasons to respectfully decline the other group’s offer in exchange for a quick transition into a new role with another group.
In your career, you never know which encounters will come back to bite you or bless you. Being candid and forthright in all your interactions leaves a positive impression capable of transcending even the most difficult circumstances. Treat every moment like an investment in tomorrow. Declining an offer is never easy but being honest and transparent provides a relational approach that can benefit you in the long run. It will help to keep doors open in the future should you decide to work for this group at a later point in time.
No matter which method you decide upon, share your gratitude and appreciation. This will demonstrate how seriously you considered the offer and will keep those relationships intact. I wish you the best in your new opportunity!
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Our staff meetings have tended to stray away from our planned agenda to the point we get very little accomplished. Much of our time is spent on back-and-forth complaints about the other groups. We don’t have many opportunities to get together and plan our work, so our meeting time is precious. What can we do to have a more focused and productive meeting?– Amir
At their best, meetings can be collaborative and productive sessions where we provide project updates, solve problems, and grow together as a team. And at their worst…we leave stressed because we’ve wasted precious time, muttering to ourselves that “this could have been an email.” So, like you asked, how do we make meetings better?
You mentioned that you have an agenda. That’s a great starting point! Set an agenda (with a goal for the meeting) a couple of days ahead of time and share it with the team for their input and review.
Next, determine who will lead the meeting. It will likely be the person who asked for it; or if it’s a standing meeting, then you can rotate leaders. In any case, the leader should feel comfortable and empowered to control the discussion. For instance, the meeting leader may need to politely interrupt participants who tend to dominate the conversation or draw out those who are more reluctant to contribute.
Set ground rules for the meeting and hold each other accountable for those rules. You said much of the time is eaten up by complaining about other groups in the organization. Some of the rules could be “assume positive intent” or “stick to the agenda.” Ask, “Are we solving a problem or lamenting?” If there is a legitimate complaint to be addressed, acknowledge it, write it down, and set aside time on another day to discuss it.
Start on time and end on time. To help ease participants into the meeting, it may be helpful to set aside a couple of minutes at the beginning of each meeting for participants to chat and catch up with one another.
Lastly, assign a note taker and have them send a summary shortly after the meeting has concluded. The notes should include action steps as determined by the group, who is responsible for what and the deadlines the team agreed to.
Ultimately, you should build pathways for addressing items either during or after the meeting. Involve all the participants in the process. The more invested people are in the meeting, the more focused they will be and the more productive the meeting will be.