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Managing Managers: Payroll's Secret Weapon


There are many ways to make allies with new managers and eliminate the feeling of pressure between both parties. It is important to schedule time with them right away to discuss expectations, processes, and calendars that will dictate the workflow. The payroll practices at each company may vary greatly, as well as the level of knowledge and experience. You may have a first-time manager or a seasoned professional. By conducting a one-on-one orientation with the Payroll Team member, that employee can be confident in the manager’s payroll responsibilities.


Once these essential conversations are discussed and a plan is put into action, it is important to continue these relationships. Set aside time to schedule trainings or follow-up sessions to ensure time for manager and employee questions to be asked and answered. Another idea is to host a “lunch and learn” session to discuss appropriate timeclock systems. This is a great opportunity for Payroll to educate managers about how to be compliant and handle certain situations. Here are a few examples. If they have employees punching in early or late, they need to get employee authorization before changing or editing anything. If they have employees who are missing punches, they need to work with the employees on how to use the timeclocks as required before they correct the missing date and time.


Human Resources Business Partners typically work together with managers on employee matters. It is crucial to coordinate and cooperate with HR and keep them updated on meetings to create a successful working relationship. When any type of disciplinary consequence is discussed, or a corrective action needs to be implemented, HR input is invaluable. With HR as an ally, Payroll’s best practices can become part of the time and attendance policies. These policies can become common practice which will make the process of time and attendance fraud much more difficult. Managers and team members must be held accountable to the policies and procedures. Timecard and payroll issues must be discussed with the employee(s) as soon as they arise, even if that means every pay cycle. Letting it go, even just one time, will create an expectation of acceptance.


Payroll and Accounting Audits should be handled the same way. Audits must be performed on a regular basis, and any variances must be reported to the appropriate departments immediately. If there is no suspected fraud or the budget variances are not significant enough for comment, audits should not need to be done more than quarterly. However, if there are large variances or unexplained discrepancies on a regular occurrence, the audits should be performed ad hoc to help identify the root cause.


There may be times when conversations and trainings with the manager are not enough. Although it may sound unpleasant, there are certain situations and appropriate times for upper management to get involved. You may also need to implement disciplinary actions, or even place the manager and employee on performance improvement plans (PIP). A “PIP” is a documented list of improvements, achievements, and guidelines the individual must accomplish and adhere to. Failure to successfully complete the plan should result in significant consequences, up to and including termination.


Give the managers a sense of ownership. Show them firsthand what consequences can be. Provide them with ample time to ask any questions they may have and provide adequate, detailed answers that will lead to understanding and confidence. At the end of the day, and through it all, the goal is to make Payroll a pal, not a pill!


Christine Stolpe, CPP is the founder and owner of Wages Creek, a payroll consulting company. Christine has dedicated 25 years to the payroll profession. With her years of experience, Christine strives to deliver knowledge and insight to guide other payroll professionals towards their own successes in the never-ending, always-changing world of payroll.

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