Paul Falcone’s Blog

Paul Falcone writes about critical HR topics, and his bestselling books and scores of articles have been profiled recently in Forbes, Inc. Magazine, CBS Money Watch, the New York Post, and HR Magazine. Visit Paul’s author page on AMA Playbook for blog articles on stimulating creative teams and increasing innovation, career change strategies, sample scripts for performance reviews and tough conversations, and more! His blog here covers such areas as Effective Interviewing and Hiring, Performance Management, Leadership Development, HR Essentials, and Career Management.

Interviewing the Boss: 12 Intelligent Questions to Ask to Politely Assess Your Next Manager

August 4, 2018
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When it comes to hiring new department heads and team supervisors, companies typically opt for one of two approaches: Senior leadership either hires an external candidate without team feedback or invites staff members to meet with finalists and share input. Lower-level staff aren’t typically asked whether the candidate should be hired, since that authority rests […]

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Interviewing Remote Employees: How to Measure and Manage the Unseen

August 4, 2018

With better and faster technology, remote employment is on the rise, bringing with it greater flexibility in corporate hiring practices and workers’ career management goals. It also requires a different set of interviewing skills to find the candidates most likely to succeed in the role. Like its counterpart article that focuses on hiring freelancers and […]

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Interviewing and Evaluating Freelancers: The New Frontier of Hiring Just-in-Time and Virtual Talent

August 4, 2018

The so-called “gig economy” is changing the corporate landscape. Individuals are performing just-in-time professional services for companies on an as-needed basis, freeing up to portfolio workers and giving employers flexibility. The trend in hiring freelancers and remote workers is growing significantly, and we hope the questions suggested here will help you make stronger selection decisions when […]

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Why Senior Managers Should Hold Skip-Level Meetings

June 9, 2018
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Most companies have at least one problem department that wrestles with chronic performance and stability challenges. Yet few senior executives take the time to conduct “skip-level” meetings, where they have an opportunity to bypass their midlevel managers and speak directly with members of their extended (nonmanagerial) teams. Staff members may feel a bit uncomfortable sharing […]

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Effective Onboarding Should Last for Months

May 27, 2018
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While some organizations have very robust onboarding practices, including site visits to other corporate locations, rotations to different divisions, and meetings with senior executives, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. The easiest way to engage new hires and ensure they stay on track is to implement specific conversations at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals […]

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Viewpoint: How to Redesign Your Performance Appraisal Template

May 27, 2018
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Traditionally, annual reviews focus on reaching minimal job performance thresholds and then grading upwards if someone has gone beyond the norm. “That paradigm should shift to describe outstanding performance and then grade downward if employees aren’t reaching their full potential,” said Larry Comp, principal of LTC Performance Strategies in Valencia, Calif. “Set the bar on […]

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What a Successful HR-Client Partnership Looks Like

April 14, 2017
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“One of the biggest mistakes that HR leaders make early on is failing to get the buy-in from front-line operational leaders,” said Don Phin, attorney, executive coach and chairman at executive coaching firm Vistage Worldwide Inc. in San Diego. “HR tends to gain approval from the immediate boss—for example, the CEO, CFO or head of […]

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Viewpoint: There Are New Limits on Disciplining Employees

April 14, 2017
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Employers historically have had a huge amount of discretion when it comes to dealing with employee misconduct. Times are changing, though. “In truth, the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] has taken an exceptionally aggressive stance in terms of limiting employers’ rights to discipline workers for certain infractions,” said Rich Falcone, a shareholder at law firm […]

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Interview Ice Breakers: 7 Questions to Segue into Meaningful Candidate Conversations

April 13, 2017
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“The relationship [between interviewer and candidate] isn’t ready to dig into details right off the bat,” said Gabrielle Bowden, HR director and assistant controller at The Bridges Club at Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Taking the time to build rapport, establish some common ground and make the individual feel welcome are critical to the relationship-building process […]

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What All Senior HR Executives Wish Their Front-Line Managers Knew About Effective Leadership

March 7, 2017
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As a leader, you can give your company no greater gift than a motivated, energized and engaged workforce. Spikes in turnover may happen from time to time, but what’s critical is your response, the counsel you seek and your willingness to reinvent yourself so that everyone benefits from the crisis. Follow proven offensive and defensive […]

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5 Simple Grammar Tips for Better Business Writing

March 5, 2017
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I’m an HR practitioner with a penchant for writing.  With a master’s degree in literature and nine published books behind me, I can’t quite close a blind eye to some very common errors that are pervasive at all levels of management.  And I think it’s fair to say that I’m not alone in noticing these […]

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The Leader-As-Coach: 10 Questions You Need to Ask to Develop Employees

March 1, 2017
Leader as Coach

Too many companies spend time and energy tending to the lowest 10 percent of performers via progressive discipline and the like. But don’t neglect your top performers only to find yourself struggling through a counteroffer once someone has given notice. Instead, consider conducting stay interviews where you focus on your top performers’ needs and then […]

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Viewpoint: Caught in the Middle…What to do when two subordinates keep dragging you into their problems with one another

February 21, 2017
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Sharon is an HR generalist for a 100-employee public relations firm, and she reports to Laura, a CEO who prides herself on her leadership, communication and team building abilities. However, there is a nagging problem that consumes too much of Laura’s time in the C-suite and that leaves staff members feeling awkward and like they’re […]

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Naming Names: When to Identify Co-Workers in Corrective Action Documentation

December 15, 2016
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Nina is an employee relations manager in a hospital, and she’s faced with a dilemma: A group of employees from one department has come forward to file a complaint against their director for being rude, crass and confrontational. Nina is aware of this director’s problematic reputation, as are other members of the hospital’s leadership team, […]

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Generic or Specific Termination Letters: What’s in Your Company’s Best Interest?

December 8, 2016
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Like so much else in human resources, it depends: Providing accurate and specific termination letters may be in the company’s best interests because details of the situation serve to demonstrate that the termination was legitimate, consistent and based on sound business reasons. This link will take you to the web site of SHRM…

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The Written Warning: What If An Employee Won’t Sign It?

December 6, 2016
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Issuing corrective action is always a manager’s least favorite thing to do. After all, no one wants to sit down with a team member and issue a formal written warning outlining the employee’s substandard job performance or inappropriate workplace conduct. But what if an employee refuses to sign a written warning or a final written […]

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Employment-at-Will vs. the Discharge-for-Just-Cause-Only Standard: A Critical Employment Law Distinction

October 8, 2016
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Janet is an HR manager who was recently challenged by a department manager, who demanded that an employee be fired on the spot. The reason? The individual’s performance had been an ongoing challenge for the past year, and it had become too much of a burden on the entire department to compensate for his shortcomings. […]

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Viewpoint: Firing for Cause Beats Position Eliminations Every Time

October 8, 2016
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Managers who want to avoid the confrontation associated with progressive discipline and terminations often look to the path of least resistance—a no-fault layoff—because it appears to provide a quicker solution to ending employment. With a layoff, however, there are certain guidelines that you will need to follow to defend that decision. Specifically, you’ll need to […]

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When Documenting, Beware: Missteps Can Sink Your Ship in Court

October 8, 2016
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Sally, an operations director, is frustrated with John, an employee on her team who uses foul language, publicly berates subordinates and demonstrates intimidating behavior toward co-workers. She prepares a final written warning for inappropriate workplace conduct, and because she wants the employee to understand how serious the situation is, she notes that John intentionally harasses […]

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7 Creative Interview Questions to Ask Millennials

July 23, 2016
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There are 90 million Millennials that were born roughly between the years of 1980 and 2000, and this massive demographic bubble is even larger than the Baby Boomer generation that preceded it (roughly 77 million strong). More significantly, Millennials will make up more than half of the U.S. workforce. So the 35-and-under crowd is certainly […]

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Viewpoint: 3 Caveats for Paying Employees to ‘Go Away’

July 17, 2016
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Separation packages can be effective—but be careful—they have several hidden risks. The solution is to take a deliberate course utilizing  corrective action documentation. That restructures the context so the employee sees the situation as accepting a separation package as an alternative to potentially being terminated for cause. This in turn gives the HR Department and […]

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Do’s and Don’t’s of Behavior-Based Interview Questions

June 7, 2016
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MANY companies have taken to relying on behavioral interview questions as their primary method of candidate evaluation. Their goal is to get away from the flat question-and-answer format that plagues interviewers who aren’t sure how to delve more deeply into candidates’ responses. The purpose of the behavior-based question is to talk more freely, hear customized, […]

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Mix It Up: The Benefits Of Talent Rotation For Leadership Development

April 6, 2016
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Talent rotations can go a long way in improving team performance and communication with internal boundary partners. Rotations are also an excellent form of leadership development because they raise awareness and help emerging leaders gain a stronger grasp of operational flow. And while there is an “opportunity cost” to talent rotations, the hard costs to the organization may be minimal, […]

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Communicating Bad News for the First Time During the Annual Performance Review

December 23, 2015
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Are you having trouble delivering bad news during your employee’s performance review? In this article Paul Falcone shares his thoughts and recommendations as outlined in his  book, coauthored with Winston Tan, The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit: Redesigning Your Performance Review Template to Drive Individual and Organizational Change (AMACOM 2013). One of the toughest leadership tasks […]

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How to Legally Justify Employee Termination

December 23, 2015
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In the world of wrongful termination litigation, there’s a tremendous distinction between an individual’s performance review and any progressive disciplinary or corrective action documents that the worker may have received. Picture this presentation of evidence as if you were a jury member: Table A contains the ex-employee’s past four performance reviews, and Table B contains the […]

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How Often Should You Give Performance Feedback?

December 23, 2015
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For most companies, the overwhelming answer is annually. But as Paul Falcone pointed out in his book 2600 Phrases for Setting Effective Performance Goals (AMACOM 2012) and Paul and Winston Tan recommended in The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit (AMACOM 2013), reviewing performance and attainment of goals once a year probably isn’t enough for most workers […]

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Attention Graduates: Tips for Avoiding Pitfalls That May Derail Your (Early) Career!

October 25, 2015
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“I wish someone had told me . . .” isn’t the line you want to use to end your first job out of high school or college. However, many unsuspecting and fairly naive recently-minted graduates have a serious misunderstanding about how companies treat certain policy and conduct infractions in the workplace. 

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How to Make the Most of Your Relationship with Your Outplacement Service Provider

July 27, 2015
Evaluation

If your company is experiencing a reduction in force (a.k.a. layoff) and you’re providing employees with outplacement services, then you’ve done so for a number of very healthy and caring reasons. But how do you ensure that you’re getting the most out of your outplacement firm’s offerings? And what should you report back to your […]

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Executive Coaching: How Do You “Coach to Normal”?

March 5, 2015
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How do you stop these roller coaster patterns from recurring in the workplace? How do you raise executives’ attention to the fact that they’ve got a significant perception problem on their hands? And how do you stop these types of toxic behaviors in their tracks so that they go away once and for all and […]

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5 Key Questions to Ask (or Avoid Asking) During a Job Interview

February 7, 2015
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Ever wonder how many questions or what specific questions you should be asking an employer towards the end of your interview?   In this article we look at five smart questions that will not only help you gain important additional information–they’ll help impress the employer as well. Here’s a major hint: Asking no questions typically leaves a […]

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“Stay” Interviews: 6 Practical Questions for Key Employee Retention

February 5, 2015
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The job market is heating up, and many top performers who may feel like they’ve been treading water career-wise since the Great Recession of 2008 began may now sense that the momentum is shifting, and new opportunities are coming back hot and heavy. As such, they may feel naturally curious to see what sorts of […]

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Correcting for Grade Inflation on an Employee’s Annual Performance Review

February 3, 2015
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It’s performance review season and time to kick off the New Year with formal staff feedback and goal setting for the upcoming calendar year. But what if you find out that a manager on your team assigned the wrong overall grade to one of his employees? Grade inflation tends to be one of the greatest […]

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Staff Motivation: Core Truths about Raising Employee Engagement in the Workplace

November 11, 2014

There are many books and articles available on how to motivate staff without money, how to reinvigorate weary teams in light of the ongoing changes and challenges in our competitive workplace, and how to encourage others with awe-inspiring leadership strategies and tactics. And while some of the content contained in these articles may very well […]

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Three Steps to Great Staff Meetings

November 11, 2014
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Published on SHRM Online. A one-hour team check-in could be the most valuable time investment you make. Be sure to make it count. Opening the lines of communication with your staff begins with healthy group dialogue. The best place to start is by setting up a regular forum for people to voice new ideas and […]

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Supervisors: Put HR On Your Side To Protect Yourself From Personal Legal Liability

September 21, 2014
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As line managers in corporate America, it’s important for you to understand a few things about maximizing your relationship with your company’s Human Resources team. After all, when done right, HR can be an incredible resource – both for strategic partnering on business issues as well as for confidential, off-the-record discussions about your own future […]

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Letters of Clarification: Between Verbal Coaching and Formal Written Warnings

August 25, 2014
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Published on AMA Playbook – As a manager in corporate America, you’ve no doubt been frustrated at times by employees whose problematic job performance or behavior falls just below the threshold of violating a specific company policy. The Letter of Clarification is a vital tool for managers to utilize when they wish to move beyond […]

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5 Critical Job Search Strategies for Executives in Career Transition

July 26, 2014
5 Strategies for Executives in Transition

Executives in career transition face many challenges in this daunting job market, but there are a number of options that they can actively pursue thanks to their strong track records, technical skills, and education.  The five search strategies below will be a good place to start.

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5 Simple Tips for Writing Better Resumes

July 12, 2014
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A lot has changed in just the past few years in terms of resume writing and posting expectations. Turn to these five short tips to save time and get answers to some of your hottest questions as you spiff up your resume for prospective employer consideration…

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Decision-Making Leaves: Dramatic Performance Turnarounds without a Lot of Drama

June 9, 2014
Decision-Making Leaves

One of the greatest workplace challenges to supervisors and managers lies in turning around workers when their conduct or behavior consistently disappoints you. A decision-making leave, otherwise known as a “day of contemplation,” could be just what the doctor ordered to snap these people back into reality…

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Researching Publicly Traded, Privately Held, and Non-Profit Companies Prior to Your Interview

May 25, 2014
Company Research

Job search candidates at all levels realize that it’s important to research an organization where they have an upcoming interview, but outside of looking up the company’s website, they’re not quite sure where to look and what to look for. If you’ve got an upcoming interview and want to impress upon an employer that you’ve […]

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