What Duck Dynasty Can Teach You About HR Training

ImageI admit it.  I watch (and love) the television show “Duck Dynasty.”  The show chronicles the Robertson Family of Louisiana and their family business of making and selling duck calls for hunters, among other things.  And, to those who poo-poo reality television, I don’t care if the whole thing is contrived, reduces my IQ, or otherwise are above it – the show is terrific.

But back to my point, a recent episode involved bringing in an HR consultant to conduct training for the “duck call room gang” (two brothers, an uncle, and two ever-tolerant employees) and the CEO (the third brother).  Upon the announcement of HR training on a Saturday, the uncle demands “double pay” and Godfrey (tolerant employee) demands biscuits.  In light of what actually transpired, contrived or not you-reality-TV-haters, it was better than double pay with biscuits.

Anyway, below are just three tips for HR trainers and professionals that immediately came to mind in light of this episode of Duck Dynasty:

  • HR Training on employees’ “off days” is a horrible idea.   If you want a hostile audience and an employer who ends up with increased overtime compensation expenses, hold your HR training on employees’ off-days.  Other unfortunate consequences may also involve the CEO and his uncle ending up handcuffed…together.
  • When the employees volunteer hemorrhoidal conditions and discuss related treatment, it may be a great time to talk about the ADA and FMLA.   The best HR trainers can take the craziest things a crowd offers them and turn it into a teachable moment.  However, I think this particular HR consultant chose wisely not to encourage “The Beards” by doing anything other than trying to get back to the video…
  • Bullying is context-specific; Professionalism is not.   Top notch HR professionals and workplace investigators understand that professionalism is a standard, but that bullying and harassment require a greater assessment of the context to determine whether “unprofessional conduct” also constitutes bullying or harassment.  When the HR consultant tells a brother that he’s bullying his uncle, his face says it all:  “I’m a bully? But, we’ve engaged in decades of this kind of verbal sparring?”  In short, banter vs. bullying is a fine line and calling someone out “in class” could result in the class ending with a flame thrower and a hack-saw.    


Oh, this list is truly just a sip from the uncle’s ever-present tea-cup on tips for HR training.  Please add in your training tips from this Duck Dynasty episode in the comments below, “Jack!”  

Jennifer Keaton, Esq. is a mediator and a workplace investigator with Workplace Investigations Group, a national panel of attorney-investigators.  When she is not watching “Duck Dynasty” or Miss Kay’s cooking videos, she serves as a hearing officer in employee grievance proceedings, offers HR training on various topics including harassment, and conducts third-party investigations of internal complaints of employee misconduct.  Contact Jennifer at jkeaton@onemediation.com.   


New Panelist Barbara Ellenberg joins One Mediation

Barbara EllenbergMs. Ellenberg has practiced law in the State of Georgia since 1989 and also serves as a mediator and arbitrator of disputes. She graduated from Emory University and earned her law degree from Georgia State University. Ms. Ellenberg personal background has served her well in providing legal counsel to
business clients and for mediating business disputes as she, in addition to practicing law, owns a successful wholesale business which was co-owned for a long period with her ex-husband. This experience with a family business resonates in her corporate and domestic/divorce mediations.

In conjunction with Ms. Ellenberg’s corporate law experience, she has a specialization with intellectual property and trademarking issues. Her understanding of this special legal field has served business disputants well in an age where technological advances create new and unique business disputes that are time sensitive and cannot wait for trial. As such, she has been an effective deal-maker in these kinds of business disputes.

Ms. Ellenberg is available to mediate on weekdays and weekends. Click on the Schedule button above to review her availability for mediation services.

New Panelist Teri Fields joins One Mediation

Teri FieldsTeri Fields began practice as a law clerk for the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama. She then went on to practice law in the Creditor’s Rights, Workouts and Insolvency Section at Burr and Forman, LLP in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Fields then moved back to her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia where she began practicing as an Associate in the Construction Law Group of Freeman, Mathis and Gary. From there she moved to the Georgia Department of Law where she served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Real Property, Construction, and Authorities section and conducted litigation as well as served as general counsel for several Georgia Authorities. In June 2009, Ms. Fields opened the Fields Firm which specializes in general civil litigation, estate planning and probate litigation. Ms. Fields joined Townes Davis & Associates in February 2010 where she has added personal injury and premises liability to her practice.

New Panelist Heather Wright joins One Mediation

Heather WrightAttorney, Heather C. Wright is the founder and owner of The Wright Firm, LLC, a general civil law practice located in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 2005, The Wright Firm represents individuals and businesses in personal, corporate, commercial, and civil matters. Heather C. Wright’s current practice includes: corporate representation and consulting, commercial contracts, insurance coverage analysis and disputes, general liability disputes, personal injury, family law, mediation, arbitration, and general civil litigation.

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Heather C. Wright graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.B.A. in Finance in 1996, and received her law degree from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in 1999. Following law school, Ms. Wright was the Staff Attorney to the Honorable Judge James G. Bodiford of the Superior Court of Cobb County, Georgia. After leaving the Court, Ms. Wright practiced with two of Atlanta’s most prestigious litigation law firms before founding The Wright Firm.

In her practice, Ms. Wright represents a variety of individuals and businesses, and in so doing, quickly discovered that most disputes are better resolved through private negotiations between the parties. As such, Ms. Wright typically recommends some form of mediation or arbitration as a method of dispute resolution for her own clients. The Wright Firm currently represents several individuals for claims arising from various practice areas, including claims for anything from personal injury to child support. The Firm also represents several businesses as outside corporate counsel for matters relating to start-ups, commercial litigation, and other matters arising during the entire business life-cycle. In all of these matters, Ms. Wright seeks the best result through zealous advocacy with a mind toward reaching a resolution without unnecessary litigation. Balancing the client’s substantive legal claims and interests with the mundane and costly procedural aspects of the average lawsuit is the most prevalent part of Ms. Wright’s ongoing law practice. As such, she has formed a natural interest in reaching a win-win for the parties to a dispute, even when representing her own clients.

Mediation: Step-By-Step

Step 1: What to Expect
Prior to most mediation sessions, the neutral may hold a telephone conference with each party. This call is an opportunity for the neutral to give the party an overview of the process and to receive a brief summary of the dispute. Dates, times and location of the mediation will be confirmed. It is part of preparation for the session.

Step 2: How to Prepare
Before the session, parties should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. Consideration should be given to providing information unknown to the other side beforehand or at the session if it would impact the other side’s own assessment of the case. Logistically, parties should clear their schedules to minimize distractions to the session.

Step 3: Joint Sessions and Caucuses
Usually the parties begin mediation together in a joint session led by the mediator. After an introduction by the mediator, each party often provides an opening statement about the dispute. Frequently, mediators then will move parties into separate rooms, and the mediator will “caucus” with each party. These caucuses facilitate the flow of information and offers between the parties to facilitate agreement.

Step 4: If Resolution Is Reached
If an agreement is reached, a document will be drafted that captures the facets of it prior to the parties’ departure from the mediation session. When parties have legal counsel, this document may include an agreement for the attorneys to prepare a more formal document that incorporates the mediation document.