Friday Faculty Focus: Patti Meglich


December 16th, 2016

Dr. Patti Meglich (Photo courtesy Brandon McDermott)

Dr. Patti Meglich (Photo courtesy Brandon McDermott)

On this week’s episode of Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO’s Brandon McDermott talks to Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Dr. Patti Meglich. Meglich has more than 20 years’ experience in human resources.

Brandon: Dr. Patti Meglich, thanks for joining me.

Dr. Meglich: Great, thanks for having me, Brandon.

Brandon: Talk about the importance of human resources in the workplace.

Dr. Meglich: Wow. Nothing is going to get done in any organization unless you’ve got people on board who are the right people. We always talk about having the right people in the right seats, at the right time and at the right price of course. So, every organization is this living entity that’s made up of all of the people, who are hopefully rowing in the same direction that leadership is taking them and it’s a direction that they want to go.

It should be a situation where the employee gets something out of this relationship, not just the paycheck and the benefits, but actually can get some personal fulfillment if that doesn’t sound too idealistic. And the organization gets something out of the contributions of every one of its employees. So, for an organization and there are obviously nonprofits need people just as much as for profits government entities, they all rely on people bringing their skills and their motivations to further the outcomes and the important objectives of what that organization is all about.

Brandon: When it comes to the bottom line is H.R. there to support workers and watch out for the company and brand and why?

Dr. Meglich: Yes. It’s there for both. The primary focus is the H.R. professionals, the H.R. staff in an organization, they have an allegiance – they’ve sort of have a split allegiance – because they need to be the advocate for the worker. Especially in this day and age when a very small percentage of workers in private work full workplaces are represented by labor unions and so that that really heightens the need for H.R. to be alert to what employees are needing, what employees are saying and wanting out of that work environment and H.R. should be there to protect them and to make sure that they are getting what they need to be successful.

By like token, the H.R. person also needs, they not social workers, they are business people. So, they do need to understand what are the objectives of this organization and how can we establish people practices that will help us to further those objectives of our organization?

Brandon: You teach various age or related classes here you know what are a couple things that you drive home to your students?

Dr. Meglich: To me, the big themes are first of all that we have what we call a shared responsibility which says that H.R. people, HR are professionals, really can’t do anything unless they’re working in tandem with line managers. There has to be accountability both ways. HR is in most organizations a staff supporting function. So, if they if the H.R. folks don’t communicate well with line managers, they’ll be out of sync with what the organization needs. So, there is this responsibility that H.R. folks will establish great practice, but they need line managers to actually implement those practices. The employee sees the line manager a lot more than they see an H.R. person.

We also talk about bottom-line results. It’s really important to say, we call it evidence base management these days, but that we don’t just say, “Wow, employee morale would be better if we had this company picnic,” and that’s great. In the end, that’s really insufficient to say “wow, how did that impact our business?” So, we need to start having this focus on being able to show how hiring good people, providing good training, giving employees adequate and good incentives – and to be well rewarded. How do those things translate to improved customer service, customer loyalty, profits to our organization – if it’s a nonprofit – donations to our organization? Whatever those KPI (keep performance indicators) for our organization are.

Brandon: Kind of turning the corner here a little bit talk about dysfunctional workplace behavior specifically, workplace bullying and abuse of supervision. What can be done to combat that?

Dr. Meglich: Regrettably, there is a lot of dysfunctional workplace behavior. I actually studied that as part of my graduate dissertation and didn’t realize until a few years later, that maybe the subconscious reason I study that was I was working for one of these desk-pounding, abusive, swearing kinds of managers. It must have impacted me more seriously than I knew. So, dysfunctional workplace behavior can take on many, many shapes.

When we talk about abusive supervision and workplace bullying, we’re now talking about some personally focused behaviors. Because the other elements of dysfunctional workplace behavior would be things like theft, things that we do to hurt the organization – but they’re not personal. They are things that we take long breaks and things of this nature, that’s a different sort of counterproductive work behavior. In the bullying and abuse of supervision world, now you’ve got people who kind of clearly identify someone that they’re going to harass and abuse and they do this in a wide range of very creative ways as you can well imagine.

Brandon: Dr. Meglich, thanks again for coming on the show.

Dr. Meglich: Great. Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with you.

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