Managing Your Career: 9 Musts For Continuous Success

MTCMAThis article, written by Rick Dacri was originally published in the Maine Town City and County Management Association March newsletter 

Manage your career. That’s the advice I received long ago and the advice I give to anyone who will listen. Manage your career or someone will manage it for you and you probably won’t like his or her plan.

Jake wowed me. As an executive recruiter with years of experience, I’m not easily impressed. But everything pointed to him as the one. He did everything right to get himself hired.

I was engaged to recruit a new Town Manager. When I search for executive level individuals, my success in finding candidates comes from networking. And that’s how I found Jake. Yes, I placed ads, but individuals looking for a job never see them and passive candidates are often the best.

So let me tell you about Jake, how he positioned himself as the perfect candidate, and what you can learn about managing your career from him.

To begin, Jake never applied for the job. He didn’t know the position was open and frankly, I didn’t even know Jake existed. But others did. As I networked, individual after individual recommended I contact him. He was considered a rising star among town managers. I knew I had to meet him. And, when I finally found him, I had to convince him to apply and sell him on the job.

It gets better and from the perspective of the recruiter who only wants to present solid candidates to the client, Jake continued to do everything right. When I Googled his name, there were countless articles about him and the work he had done. He had his degree and had done more. He continued his education, was involved in the community, and actively participated in MMA and ICMA, which included leadership roles. But most importantly, he was a high performer everywhere he served.

So what can you learn from Jake that you can apply to your career? Here are 9 musts to ensure a successful career:

  1. Develop credentials: Embrace continuous education. Speak before professional groups. Take positions, write op-eds, and never simply regurgitate the same old stuff and espouse the latest fads. Be an object of interest and command a presence.
  2. Produce results: Have a long track record of results. Have a history of providing value to your communities and have a strong reputation within the industry. Your reputation must be sterling.
  3. Sets the standard: Don’t just fix things. Help your city or town move forward. Provide different perspectives and innovative thinking. Always be formulating new ideas and concepts. Set new standards. Help to grow your community, not just by doing the things you are doing better, but by providing a broader perspective.
  4. Command attention: Dress, speak and present yourself well. Command attention, exuding well-earned confidence. And it goes beyond personal appearance. Be impactful.
  5. Be responsive: Show up early and leave late. Return phone calls and emails within hours, not days. Deliver what you promise.
  6. Be passionate: Believe in what you do and most importantly get excited about helping your community.
  7. Formulate strong relations: Work with your councils, staff, business leaders and residents. Be approachable, listen and respectful. Value differences of opinions, and having a sense of humor is a good thing.
  8. Develop stature and firepower: Become an expert. Do your homework. Invest in yourself. Fine-tune your skills. Get a professional coach to guide you.
  9. Mentor others: Enhance your career by growing your staff. Develop bench strength. Create a culture of learning.

Effectively managing your career means continuous success for you, your staff and your community. Manage your career.

Rick Dacri is a workforce expert, management consultant, and author of the book “Uncomplicating Management: Focus On Your Stars & Your Company Will Soar.” Since 1995 his firm, Dacri & Associates has helped municipalities achieve dramatic improvements in individual and organizational performance. He can be reached at and

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Customer Service: Ignoring Me Will Cost You

(Post by Rick Dacri, February 16, 2015)customer service

What is it about people not acknowledging you, attempting to engage or even smiling when you walk into their organization? What does it take to be even a little bit friendly? Can’t they even pick their heads up from whatever they’re doing so I know they’re alive? I can tell you that it is a costly mistake to ignore me.

A disengaged workforce costs employers a bundle.

I am often asked how to motivate their workforce? Well, here are 10 no cost things every manager can do right now to engage their employees and experience immediate improvements in performance, productivity and profits:

  1. Mirror the right behaviors: Set an example. Employees watch how you behave; how you speak to customers; how you dress; and the hours you keep. Be engaging, friendly and professional and they will too.
  2. Talk to them. Listen to them: Have a meaningful conversation with your employees and not just a “hi, how ya doin’?” as you rush by them. Get to know them. Show that you care. Be clear about what you expect of them and understand what they need from you. Value their opinions. Care and they will care.
  3. Provide your employees what they need to do their jobs: This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is not. Quick story: I consulted to a nursing home where nurses would hide latex gloves above the ceiling panels because the administrator, in a cost saving move, rationed gloves. Talk about germ control. If you want to build a house, you need to have a hammer and nails. Incidentally, we stopped the ‘hide the glove game’ fast!
  4. Let employees do their job: Train them; be clear about your expectations; and then send them to do their jobs. Stop micromanaging. Provide them autonomy and let them succeed and yes, make mistakes. Employees want to do their jobs. They can’t hit home runs of you don’t let them bat.
  5. Acknowledge your employees: When they do good work, recognize them. Give them specific praise; be genuine; and not a hollow “nice job.” Employees famously state they know when they’re not performing but rarely hear anything when they are. Change this paradigm.
  6. Grow your employees: Your success as an organization is predicated on having employees with strong skill sets. Continuous development must be ingrained into the fiber of all organizations. If it isn’t, your company will stagnate and fail. You’ve got to water and fertilize your garden.
  7. Talk about the big picture: Imagine having employees who go to work each day, have no idea why they are doing what they do, not know where the organization is headed, what’s important and what’s not, or what’s of value. And then you wonder why your employees are not engaged. Employees need to know the company’s mission, must embrace its values, and understand where they fit in. Take the blinders off your employees.
  8. Focus on quality and customer service: Never compromise or shortcut here. A few bad customer experiences and your reputation is ruined. Customers will flee and your good employees won’t be far behind.
  9. Take care of your employees: Have fun and never tolerate disrespectful behavior. Bullies, harassers and discriminators must go. Fast. You’ll never find happy customers where there are unhappy employees.
  10. Demand excellence: Insist that your employees perform. Continuously raise the bar. Never compromise. Give your employees the tools and knowledge to do their jobs and require they do it. You get what you expect.

This past Christmas, my 28 year old son went shopping for a gift for his mother. He decided to buy her clothing and like most single guys, he was clueless about what to get. He told me that he walked into the women’s department and he must have had that look of “I’m lost” on his face. A clerk approached him and he tried to explain what he wanted. Recognizing he needed help, she jumped into action, shopping the store for him, picking out the perfect gift, and even wrapping it for him. My grateful son dropped a few coins in that store. If that clerk had not been attentive to him, he would likely have left. Now he is a loyal customer. That’s customer service. That’s how an engaged worker performs. It didn’t take much. No heavy lifting. Just a well-trained employee who cared about the customer. And that’s what it is all about.

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How To Comply with Massachusetts Minimum Wage Increase

imagesThis is a detailed analysis of the new minimum wage law and how employers must respond. It was developed by the firm Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP.

The minimum wage in Massachusetts increased to $9.00 an hour as of January 1, 2015. The law, amending M.G.L. Ch.151, also includes increases in the minimum service rate payable to tipped employees, and exemptions for seasonal camp counselors and counselor trainees. New regulations implementing the wage increase and other changes took effect on January 16, 2015. After HRW attorneys testified at a public hearing regarding the proposed regulations, several of the firm’s recommendations were included in the final regulations. Significant changes in the amended law and new regulations are discussed below.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Rates

As noted above, the Massachusetts minimum wage for covered employees is now $9.00 an hour. The amended law further increases the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour on January 1, 2016, and $11.00 an hour on January 1, 2017. The minimum wage requirement applies to all employees except those excluded under M.G.L. Ch.151, Sec. 1A, for example, bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees, golf caddies, fishermen, etc. Overtime pay for minimum wage employees is now $13.50 per hour, for hours worked over 40 per week (one and a half times the basic minimum hourly wage).

Tipped Employees

Tipped employees, defined as service workers who regularly receive over $20.00 a month in tips, must now be paid a service rate of $3.00 an hour, effective January 1, 2015. Employers may only pay a tipped employee the service rate, instead of the basic minimum wage, if (1) they inform the tipped employee in writing of the tipping law; (2) the employee actually receive tips in an amount that, added to the service rate, equals or exceeds the basic minimum wage; and (3) the employee keeps all tips received individually or through a tip-pooling arrangement. Tip-pooling arrangements must conform to the state law governing tip pools. If a tipped employee does not receive at least $9.00 an hour including tips, the employer is required to increase the service rate to make up the difference.

The amended law and regulations further increases the service rate for tipped employees to $3.35 an hour in 2016, and $3.75 an hour in 2017.

The Massachusetts overtime provisions do not apply to tipped employees who work in restaurants and other employees exempted under M.G.L. Ch. 151A. Employers must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) requirements for overtime for tipped employees who are subject to the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA.

Summer Camp Employees

In response to testimony from interested parties, the new regulations were drafted to allow a full minimum wage exemption for seasonal camp counselors and trainees. The amended law explicitly exempts seasonal camp counselors and counselor trainees from the minimum wage and overtime provisions.

Hours Worked

The regulations on computing hours worked include the requirement that employees who are scheduled for three hours or more of work, who report for duty at the time scheduled by the employer, shall be paid for at least three hours of work, at no less than the minimum wage, even if the employer does not give the employee the expected hours of work. The regulations also cover payment for on-call time, sleep time and working shifts, and travel time.

Time frame for Producing Payroll Records

At the suggestion of HRW attorneys, the legislature changed the proposed regulation on recordkeeping, giving employers 10 business days to meet an employee’s request for a copy of his or her payroll records, instead of only five.

Sick Time Recordkeeping Not Required

Also in response to testimony from HRW attorneys, the final regulation on recordkeeping does not require employers to keep records of sick time earned or available to employees. The legislature noted that regulations covering the newly passed Massachusetts sick leave law have not yet been issued, so that requiring records of sick time was premature. For more information on this new law, check out our recent alert by clicking here. HRW suggested at the public hearing that employers who offer paid sick time that is more generous than the requirements of the sick leave law should not be required to keep records of sick time.

 If you need assistance, contact Rick Dacri at or 207-229-5954.

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Must You Pay Employees For “On Call” Time?

images(Post by Rick Dacri, February 3, 2015)

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Fact Sheet No. 22, , “An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises is working while “on call”. An employee who is required to remain on call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on call. Additional constraints on the employee’s freedom could require this time to be compensated.”

An on-call employee who is not required to be at the work site, and who is effectively free to use his or her time for his or her own purposes, is not working while on call and need not be paid. Of course, if the employee is paged and must perform work, the employee must be paid for all hours worked.

If you have questions, call me at 207-229-5954 or visit the HR HelpLine.

Other posts you might like:

  1. FLSA: Change in Law Means Employers Pay More
  2. Four Common and Expensive Wage & Hour Violations
  3. Off the Clock: Must I Pay?

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Avoid Litigation: 20 Things to Do Today

lawsuit(Post by Rick Dacri, with considerable input from Adam Taylor, Esq. of Taylor McCormack & Frame; 2/2/15)

No one wants to find themselves on the wrong side of employment litigation. So here are 20 things you should do to minimize your risks:
1. Update your employee handbook
2. Distribute your sexual harassment policy to all employees yearly (it’s the law)
3. Train your new employees and new supervisors on sexual harassment prevention (it’s the law in Maine for employers with 15 or more employees)
4. Make sure your salaried exempt positions are classified properly
5. Make sure any Independent Contractors meet the state and IRS standards
6. Post all your required state and federal posters
7. Make sure you have I-9s for all your employees and they are properly completed
8. Post your OSHA 300 form
9. Update all your job descriptions
10. Make sure your hourly nonexempt workers are taking their breaks, are being paid for all hours worked, and are compensated when expected to work at home, including taking phone calls, responding to emails, or completing work
11. Promptly address and document performance problems
12. Train interviewers to probe applicants
13. Make sure managers understand how to address FMLA requests and workers’ comp injuries
14. Have a social media policy that meets NLRB standards
15. Clarify ambiguous policies such as how vacation is earned and when incentive bonuses are paid
16. Properly evaluate all employees yearly
17. Don’t rely on “at-will” as the basis of a termination
18. Review all your leave policies
19. Payout all accrued and unused vacation pay to employees upon separation
20. Don’t require employees to pay for losses such as broken merchandise, uniforms or tools
Call Rick Dacri at 207-229-5954 or if you have questions, need some help complying or want to train your managers in proper compliance techniques.

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Reminder: February 1 Deadline for Posting of OSHA 300A Form

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 30, 2015)

All employers who are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to maintain records of injuries and illnesses have until February 1, 2015, to get their records in order. Form 300A is a summary log of work related injuries and illnesses from 2014 that must be posted where employees can see it between February 1 and April 30, 2015. The 300A includes summary information from the 300 Logs, including: total numbers of cases of jobrelated injuries and illnesses; total number of days away from work and number of days of job transfer or restriction; and the total numbers of injury and illness types. In addition, it includes the average number of employees and hours worked by all employees for the year. It is important to note that the Form 300A must be posted even if there were no recordable incidents in 2014.

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Massachusetts Leave Laws Expanded

2000px-Flag_of_Massachusetts(This post by Rick Dacri, January 30, 2015)

Massachusetts employers should be preparing for the enactment of two new leave laws: 1) Paid Sick Leave and 2)extension of the Parental Leave Law. Current leave policies should be revised, handbooks updated, supervisors briefed and employees updated.

Here’s a summary of the laws:

Massachusetts Parental Leave Extended

Massachusetts Gov. Patrick signed a bill into law that establishes parental leave in Massachusetts for both female and male employees. Effective April 7, 2015, the new law will replace the current Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MLA), which provides only female employees with eight weeks of job-protected maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Extending parental leave to male employees will require significant policy changes for Massachusetts employers with fewer than 50 employees, as they are not already covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which applies to both male and female employees.

Massachusetts Paid Sick Leave

Massachusetts voters approved a ballot referendum Nov. 4, 2014, that requires businesses to allow their workers to earn sick leave. Having a paid-time-off (PTO) policy in place can help employers comply with the new law, but only if the policy meets the statutory requirements. Under the measure, employers with 11 or more employees must let workers earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year. Those with 10 or fewer employees also must allow workers to earn 40 hours per year but the sick days don’t have to be paid. Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible to earn the sick time, under the measure. 

The ballot measure takes effect July 1, 2015. Employees must be allowed to begin accruing sick time on that date. New employees must be allowed to begin using their sick time 90 days after they are hired.

Sick time may be used if employees are ill or have a medical appointment, or if they must care for an ill family member. They also must be permitted to use sick time to receive assistance related to domestic violence.

Employees may carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the next year, under the measure, but employers aren’t required to permit use of more than 40 hours of sick time in any calendar year.

Employers that already provide their employees paid time off under a PTO, vacation or other paid leave policy are not required to provide any additional paid sick time under the new law, provided they permit employees to use at least 40 hours per calendar year for the purposes covered under the law. Furthermore, this law does not override any employer’s obligations under any collective bargaining agreement, contract or benefit plan with more generous provisions.

Contact Rick Dacri for assistance in complying.

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