Author Archives: Rick Dacri

About Rick Dacri

Rick Dacri is one of those rare individuals who can take difficult employee issues, sort through their complexities, and find solutions for employers that make sense. Dacri brings more than 25 years of experience in senior management, organizational development, and human resources, all in one package. He has consulted to a wide variety of industries, large and small, always brings to the table a practical approach, sound advice, and a sense of humor. Dacri is the president and founder of Dacri & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in helping business owners and managers improve the performance and productivity of their organization and workforce. Much of Rick’s success can be attributed to his ability to work with managers to get to the heart of their problems and provide them practical solutions with simple, straightforward steps for implementation. Rick is a recognized national speaker, speaking at conferences on leadership, organizational change and human resources. He is a prolific writer, authoring the book Uncomplicating Management and over 100 articles for a number of business publications. He is also a regular contributor to several industry associations’ journals and newsletters. He has been an adjunct professor at Clark University, Assumption College and Fitchburg State College, where he has taught courses in management, organizational behavior, and human resource management. Rick serves on a number of boards and has served as President of the Human Resource Association of Southern Maine, as the Massachusetts State Director for the Society for Human Resource Management as well as the President of the Human Resource Association of Central Massachusetts. Rick holds a MBA from Clark University and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Assumption College. He lives on the coast of Maine where the sites, sounds and smells of the ocean give him inspiration and strength.

New Pregnancy Rules Require Accommodations

(This post was written by Allen Smith for SHRM. It has been edited for ease of understanding).

In its first major update of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on pregnancy discrimination since 1983, the agency on July 14, 2014, added provisions explaining when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) might require reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related disabilities or work restrictions.

Under the current guidance, Scott Fanning, an attorney with Fisher & Phillips in Chicago, said employers should be “cautious with pregnant employees. Treat them as you would anyone else.” He noted that under the guidance in terms of accommodations, pregnant employees with disabilities (which arguably might even include morning sickness or high blood pressure) have the same accommodation rights that any other individuals with disabilities would have.

Reasonable Accommodations

The guidance listed reasonable accommodations a pregnant worker with disabilities might need, such as: Continue reading

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How Unhealthy Cultures Stymie Progress

(This article, written by Rick Dacri, was originally published in the Maine Town, City & County Management Association July 2014 Newsletter)

If you want to understand what truly makes your organization tick, focus on your culture. Former IBM CEO Louis Gestner, Jr. remarked, “culture is everything.” It is the driving force in managing your city or town.

Watch the ways your employees greet one another, address residents, and even dress. Observe their work habits, how they perform their jobs, and their willingness to do more. Understand your unwritten rules, beliefs, expectations and values. All of these will provide you a snapshot of your organization’s personality and culture.

I was asked by a new Town Manager to evaluate two finalists for a community relation’s position. One was an external candidate with years of relevant experience and a positive personality; the other, a long service internal candidate with no applicable proficiency. I asked the internal why she wanted the job, a position very different from her accounting role. She indicated that for the last 10 years she had watched the incumbent do the job and thought she’s like to do the same one day. When the incumbent retired, she assumed that with her seniority, she would be entitled to the job. When I inquired about what she had done over the years to prepare herself for the job—training, courses taken, anything—she looked at me incredulously. She had done nothing, beyond putting in her time. She didn’t get the job.

In this town, an “entitlement mentality” based on seniority was ingrained into the culture. The new manager and his Board wanted and needed a workforce that was engaged, energized, resident-focused and skilled. To get there, the manager needed to move to a performance based culture, built upon education, training and above all excellence. Merit always trumps longevity. Hiring the external candidate was the first step in the process and it sent a loud message to all.

Cultural change is never easy and it is often painful. It takes hard work, time and focus. The new manager was a take-charge leader who was committed to setting a new tone and direction. With an uncompromising approach and support from his board, he knew he had to be an exemplar–modeling and promoting the “new way.”

Creating a culture focused on performance required a powerful tool to both support this initiative and to measure employee progress. We developed a performance management system trumpeting employee recognition, rewarding excellent performance, and fostering employee development. An appraisal system that deemphasized a “report card” approach, while promoting career development, would get employees’ attention and support, begin to unthaw frozen beliefs, and was likely to generate support, acceptance and new attitudes. After all, you cannot raise the level of performance in an organization that floats on a culture emphasizing entitlement over achievement.

While it may be difficult to change behaviors and attitudes once they become the norm, strong leadership can make it happen. The effectiveness of town government, in an era of high resident expectations on bare bones budgets, rests on the shoulders of its leadership and workforce. Understanding your culture is critical. Changing it, if it not consistent with your strategic direction, is paramount.

Getting the best out of your people, nurturing their growth, in an environment based on performance, can be transformative. Promoting this can-do attitude, encouraging an acceptance of change, instills strong peer pressure for the new norms while enlisting the employees’ enthusiasm and dedicated efforts to achieving the town’s objectives.

Step back and critically look at your city or town. If you’re happy with what you see, build on it. If you find yourself falling short of your expectations, do what it takes to change. Your residents, board and yes, your employees will thank you.

If you would like to learn more about transforming your organization’s culture, contact Rick Dacri.


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Filed under Leadership

Paying CEOs Like Rock Stars

(This article was written by Rick Dacri and was originally published in the York County Coast Star on June 26, 2014)

payCEO pay is out of control…isn’t it? The Wall Street Journal published their 2013 Annual CEO Compensation Survey of the 300 largest U.S. publically traded companies and found that CEO pay rose “moderately.” That sounds good. CEO pay increased by only 5.5%, while ordinary employees’ pay rose 1.3%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Regular folks pay was less than “moderate,” I guess.

So how much do CEO’s make? The big money maker was Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison who earned $76.9 million, followed by Leslie Moonves of CBS at $65.4 million. The Journal noted that several CEOs, whose companies were not listed because they were not big enough to make the list, earned much more. Cheniere Energy CEO Charif Souki was paid $141.6 million on sales of $267 million. In other words, he was paid more than half of what the company brought in. That doesn’t seem fair.

What about here in Maine? As you might expect, CEO pay lags behind the rest of the nation. But please, don’t feel bad. The top pay went to WEX CEO who earned a little over $4.7 million followed by Idexx Lab’s CEO at nearly $4 million.

When you figure that the median pay for a full-time worker earned in the first quarter of 2014 was $796 a week or $41,392, you can understand why some might find these CEO’s salaries a tad high. The Journal noted that the pay of these executives didn’t necessarily correlate to the results of their company. In other words, performance wasn’t a factor in their pay. As one anonymous online commentator noted, “It is impossible in this current economic climate to achieve results that could remotely justify these salaries.”

So what’s reasonable? Continue reading

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Minimum Wage: Massachusetts Ups Rate

Post by Rick Dacri, June 28, 2014

Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed legislation increasing the states minimum wage.  The state’s minimum wage is currently at $8.00 per hour and will increase to $9.00 per hour as of January 1, 2015; $10.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2016; and $11.00 per hour as of January 1, 2017.  Wages for tipped employees will also be phased in over time, increasing from $2.63 per hour currently to $3.00 per hour on January 1, 2015; $3.35 per hour on January 1, 2016; and $3.75 per hour on January 1, 2017.

You should begin the process of reviewing your wage structure in order assess any potential impact on your organization.

If you need assistance, give me a call.

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Filed under Compensation, Compliance, Uncategorized

Maine Mandates Sexual Harassment Training

hammer1(Post by Rick Dacri, June 16, 2014)

Maine is one of three states nationally that mandates sexual harassment training for all their employees (California and Connecticut are the other two). Many other states, like Massachusetts, strongly encourage it.

Under Maine law, employers with at least 15 employees must conduct training for all its new employees within one year of their start date. Additional training for supervisors and managers is required within one year of becoming a supervisor or manager.

Training for all employees must include:

  1. notice that sexual harassment is illegal
  2. a definition of sexual harassment
  3. a description of sexual harassment utilizing examples
  4. a description of any internal compliant process available
  5. a description of the Maine Human Rights Commission complaint process
  6. a statement that any complainant will be protected against retaliation

Supervisory training must include everything that is included in the employee training plus clarification of the supervisor’s responsibilities and methods for prevention and correcting sexual harassment.

While Maine only requires that initial training, I have found that those organizations that regularly (usually annually) train and educate their managers and employees rarely have harassment claims and enjoy a respectful and productive workforce.

Call me if you would like to learn more about training and your responsibilities under the law and if you would like to schedule training for your company. For a description of my online supervisory training program, click Training.

Incidentally, the Maine Human Rights Commission has included Rick Dacri on their “Sexual Harassment Trainers Referral List.”

Other posts you may want to read:

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Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar

workplaceharassment-225Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar

For Managers and Supervisors

July 9 at 9AM


Claims of sexual harassment continue to be in the news on nearly a daily basis. A sexual harassment problem can disrupt your organization, scar lives, ruin reputations, and send employee morale plummeting and lawyer fees soaring.

For the past 20 years, I have trained hundreds of managers and supervisors in harassment prevention…always at a company setting. While I will continue to do this, many managers would like to like this same program offered online, for all of their managers and supervisors to hear. To meet that need I am introducing:

 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar

For Managers and Supervisors

July 9 at 9AM

This 60-minute webinar-based sexual harassment prevention program is designed to teach managers and supervisors to recognize behaviors and situations that could lead to claims of harassment. They will learn their legal responsibilities, how to respond to workplace situations, and most importantly, how to create an environment where harassment does not exist.

The value of this program to you will be that your managers will know:

  • How to eliminate harassment claims;
  • How to handle to any potential claims;
  • How to prevent claims of retaliation;
  • How to assist any victims of harassment;
  • How to conduct an investigation; and
  • How to implement an effective prevention program.

By training your management and supervisory staff, you will demonstrate your commitment to a harassment free workplace—a critical piece in defending your organization against any potential harassment claim. And many states, like Maine and Connecticut, mandate sexual harassment training while others, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, “strongly encourage it.”

The cost of the program is $200 for an individual and $400 for a company with unlimited participants. To enroll, simply give me a call at 207-967-0837 or send me an email at It’s that simple. Once enrolled, I’ll send you your webinar log-in information.

Added bonus:

I will also provide you a model Sexual Harassment Policy that meets all state and federal requirements and a copy of the training program slides.

I hope you’ll register now. Again, send me an email to or call me direct at 207-967-0837.

 P.S. Still have questions? Just send me an email or give me a call (my direct line: 207-967-0837), and I’ll be happy to address and questions or concerns you may have.

P.P.S Hurry, as this program will fill fast. And, if you prefer to offer our onsite training at your facility, give me a call and we can schedule it.

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Cultural Issues Makes Employee Uncomfortable

imagesThis question came in from one of Dacri’s HR HelpLine clients.

Question: I have a male international worker who has made one of my female non-international worker uncomfortable with some of the comments he has made to her. I am going to address this with him, but I want to make sure I handle this correctly. Some of the comments were how she needs to learn to cook for her husband and the like. She said he also has an attitude that she can’t handle some of the tasks because she is female. I know the Jamaican culture is quite different from here, so I want to let him know that he is making her uncomfortable without discounting what he believes to be true…Any insight you can provide, will be most helpful.

Expert Advice: While it is important to be sensitive to different cultures and an individuals personal beliefs, that does not give anyone license to espouse their beliefs to all. I would pull him aside, let him know that you have something to discuss with him that may make him uncomfortable, but his comments (walk him through them) are making some people uncomfortable. Let him know that this kind of language is unacceptable in the workplace and you expect it to stop immediately. At this point, stop talking and wait for his response. Assuming it goes well (it should), tell him you hope this is the end of it. Then, document your discussion. Let the female employee know you’ve talked to him and let her know if it happens again to let you know immediately. If it does happen again, I recommend a formal written warning, but let’s further discuss at that point.

It is important to be sensitive to cultural issues, but in this case, his comments are making your other employee very uncomfortable. After you address this, follow-up with the female employee in a few days to be sure everything is OK.

If you would like to learn more about Dacri’s HR HelpLine service, where you can get all your workforce questions answered, click HR HelpLine.

Other posts you may want to read:

  1. HR HelpLine: When You Need Expert Advice
  2. Body Odor: It’s a Problem Supervisors Must address
  3. Medical Marijuana: Hospitality Issues

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Filed under Employee Relations, How to, Management

Supervisory Development Program Grads

book_logo100(Posted by Rick Dacri, June 9, 2014)

12 supervisors and managers successfully completed the Dacri Accelerated Online Supervisory Development Program. Designed to provide managers the skills to effectively manage their workforce, these individuals participated in a 5 week, highly interactive program. Click here to see the program outline.

The graduating class:

  1. Mark Bixby, Rowley Municipal Lighting Plant
  2. Eric Grover, Rowley Municipal Lighting Plant
  3. Bill Snow, Marblehead Municipal Light Plant
  4. Mark Dugan, Marblehead Municipal Light Plant
  5. Tirstan Vidmore, Bristol Seafood
  6. John Young, Bristol Seafood
  7. Kevin Snow, Groveland Municipal Electric Department
  8. James Brown, Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department
  9. Reynell Townsend, ABCD Boston
  10. Paul Cote, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District
  11. Keith Archibald,Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District
  12. Greg Pargellis,Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District

Earlier this year, 11 other supervisors successfully completed the initial offering of this program.

Call me if you’d like to learn how your supervisors can enroll.

Other posts you might like:

  1. Supervisor’s Mistakes Open Company to Lawsuits
  2. Medical Marijuana, Picking Bad Managers & Turnover Signs
  3. Harassment Prevention Training: What Must Be Included

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Filed under careers, Management, training

Culture Trumps Everything

(Posted by Rick Dacri, June 2, 2014)108

Walk into a Whole Foods, order shoes through Zappos, or spend a night at the Ritz and you’ll quickly see the value of a positive workplace culture. Whether its Zappos emphasis on delivering “WOW” through service (ask my wife), or Whole Foods’ friendly, smiling clerks (I love shopping there), and I can’t even describe the joy in staying at the Ritz–the emphasis on taking care of the customer is ingrained into the fabric of each company and embodied in its workforce.

Culture is not a squishy concepts best left to human resources. No, its the essence of a company, its personality. Culture is made up of a company’s core values, beliefs, goals, and traditions. It’s who they are and how leaders form and shape it determines whether the company will flourish or wither on the vine.

L.L. Bean hires employees who are Continue reading

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Filed under Leadership, Management

Evaluating Your General Manager in a Public Utility

(This post was written by Rick Dacri, May 28, 2014)

The General Manager’s performance is critical to the success of any public power entity. The selection, development and retention of the right GM—the individual who can lead the organization toward achieving its strategic goals, becomes the primary responsibility of the Light Board. At the same time, the GM’s ability to work collaboratively with the Board is of paramount importance and will determine the success of the GM, the Board and the organization. It is for these reasons that an open dialogue, honest feedback, clear expectations and defined accountability standards must be in place.

Most GMs and Boards understand the value of performance management. Boards want to provide their GMs candid feedback on their performance, allowing the opportunity to address problem areas. They understand that the review process provides an ideal time to clarify roles, expectations, set goals, open communication and enhance the relationship between the Board and GM. The evaluation process ensures that both Board and the GM are in sync on the direction and goals of their organization.

Many organizations differ in their approach to evaluation. When the evaluation process is formalized, it often includes a GM self-evaluation, Board completion of an evaluation form, a review of goals, and an evaluation interview with the chair. Some organizations include a 360-degree review with input from department heads. Compensation decisions are sometimes part of the process, but are frequently handled separately as part of the GM’s contract.

Regardless of the approach, the review process works best when you have clear, agreed-upon purpose. All reviews should include:

  1. More conversation with less emphasis on the form
  2. Clear understanding of the GM’s role
  3. Well defined expectations and goals

Getting good performance from the GM takes more than the completion of an evaluation form. It requires clear job expectations and accountabilities and ongoing communication. While Boards may sometimes find it uncomfortable to discuss performance issues, it is critical to the process. But as with all open dialogue, it can only work when mutual trust and respect exists. When the relationship is positive, one can more easily work through conflicts, disagreements and challenges. Success begins when the GM establishes positive rapport with the Board. Disagreements and healthy debate will happen and frankly should be encouraged and embraced. The basis of most good ideas comes through these types of exchanges. However, it should never come at the expense of the relationship.

The evaluation form itself can often create stumbling blocks and it should never become focus of the appraisal. Asking Board members to complete a long form may not be a good idea and many members may not do it. A process I recommend is the use of an independent third party to interview each Board member and discuss the GM’s strengths, areas in need of development and goals for the up coming period. Each of the comments then can be summarized in a report and presented to the Board, which can then be incorporated into their evaluation, giving the GM candid, but anonymous feedback on performance.

Today, public power face tremendous challenges and Boards expect their GMs to be adept and savvy enough to meet them. Beyond the expected power and business acumen, GMs must have relational smarts. GMs have a lot of bosses. Like a doctor, GMs must be able to take the pulse of the Board, staff and customers and then prescribe the right course of action.

Successful GMs forge strong relations with their Board members, citizen groups and staff. But most of all, they must be clear about the Board’s expectations and mandates, carry them out, and ensure their success. Everyone must be on the same page with regard to the organization’s mission, vision, values, direction and strategy.

Evaluating the GM is integral to the success of the organization. It will provide the GM the essential knowledge they will need to drive the success of the business.

Like a well-rehearsed orchestra, when each comes together working in harmony, beautiful music emerges. Evaluating your GM is a key instrument in making this happen.

Rick Dacri works closely with Public Utility Boards, Commissioners and Trustees on board relations, governance, strategic planning, succession planning and recruitment and evaluation of their GM.

Other posts you might like to read:

  1. Succession Plan in Municipalities Assure Steady Flow
  2. CEO & Board of Directors: Forging An Effective Relationship
  3. Protection Against Fraud: Advice of Guarding the Public Purse

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