Archive for October, 2010

How HR Can Help New Internally Promoted Managers Succeed

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Supervisors and managers who are promoted from within an organization face unique challenges to their success in their new role and in their relationships with peers, supervisors and subordinates.

Here are six tips for how HR can contribute to the success of an internal employee who is transitioning into a new supervisory or management role:

  1. Role Clarity: Employees promoted from within the organization need to understand their new role and be ready to now manage personnel who were once their peers.  HR professionals should ensure that the responsibilities of the position are laid out clearly and that the employee understands them.  It may be important to point out the differences in their new and former roles.
  2. Building Relationships: Encourage the employee to seek out their newly created peers, supervisors and subordinates to have open conversations with them regarding how their relationship has been redefined, and set clear expectations.
  3. New Subculture: Within an organization there are different departments, each with their own political system and subsystems.  Newly introduced managers in these groups must adapt and adjust to how these systems function, and learn to work within the subculture.  That process will be expedited if HR guides them through it.
  4. Early Successes: HR can help solidify a newly promoted manager’s position by identifying short-term projects with high probabilities of success that will build the new manager’s credibility within the organization.
  5. Provide Learning: Do not assume these internal candidates are immediately ready to transition into a supervisory role.  They may have demonstrated potential, but would benefit and be more successful with training in how to properly manage people.
  6. Ongoing Development: Gaps in development should always be identified and addressed.  Newly transitioned managers may have excellent time management skills, but may need additional training in delegation or strategic thinking.  Training is a journey, not a destination.

For HR, investing the time up front to ensure a newly promoted supervisor or manager is equipped to succeed will save you more time in the long run because you won’t have to deal with as many employee issues.

If you have supervisors and managers who you want to be sure are properly trained to succeed, CAI can help with our management development certification programs. For additional information please go to or contact us at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: orvalrochefort

Preview of CAI’s 2010 Triad Employment Law Update in Greensboro Nov. 3

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Executives, corporate counsel, HR professionals, managers, supervisors and anyone else responsible for keeping up with the latest developments in state and federal employment law will want to attend CAI’s 2010 Triad Employment Law Update.  This year’s daylong conference will be held Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the Koury Center/Sheraton Greensboro at 3121 High Point Road near I-40.

Experienced and knowledgeable attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP will provide you with updates on state and federal employment laws and issues, in both general sessions and concurrent breakout sessions. Topics to be discussed include:

  • HOT OFF THE PRESSES: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN EMPLOYMENT AND LABOR LAW (9 a.m. to 10 a.m. general session) – This will include issues involving Title VII and other employment discrimination laws, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), OSHA, and government challenges to independent contractor classification.
  • A NEW DEFINITION OF FAMILY: EXPANDING THE FMLA (10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. concurrent breakout session)
  • LABOR UNIONS TURN TO TECHNOLOGY (10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. concurrent breakout session) – Labor unions are using more aggressive and modern organizing tactics, such as online social networking and text messaging, with more efficiency than ever before. And the law is about to change. Join us for this informative session to learn how to position your company to come out on top.
  • CLARITY OR CLOUDINESS? UNDERSTANDING IMMIGRATION LAW CHANGES (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. concurrent breakout session) – This will focus on new regulations and issues with E-Verify, Social Security No-Match letters, ICE investigations, options for work visas and I-9 Compliance.
  • HOW TO RESPOND TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. concurrent breakout session) – This session will guide you through what to expect when government agencies come calling (EEOC, Wage and Hour, OSHA, etc.), and winning strategies to use in responding to government agencies and investigations.
  • ASK AN ATTORNEY: YOUR QUESTIONS ON EMPLOYMENT AND LABOR LAW (1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. general session)
  • SOCIAL MEDIA: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (2 p.m. to 3 p.m. concurrent breakout session) – We will offer guidance on using social networks to your advantage while minimizing liability, and provide tips on how to implement social networking policies for your workplace.
  • AVOIDING THE COMMON PITFALLS OF WAGE AND HOUR LAW (2 p.m. to 3 p.m. concurrent breakout session)
  • HEALTHCARE REFORM: WHERE ARE WE AND WHERE ARE WE GOING? (3:15 p.m. to 4 p.m. general session)

Registration and breakfast runs from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., followed by welcome and introductions until the first general session. Lunch will run from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. There will be closing remarks before the update ends at 4:30 p.m.

CAI has secured a block of sleeping rooms at the Sheraton Greensboro for the night before the conference. The room rate is $125 plus tax per night. The rate is also available three days prior and three days after the event, subject to availability. To make a hotel reservation, call 1-800-242-6556. To receive the special rate, you must mention that you are attending the 2010 Triad Employment Law Conference.

This event qualifies for 5 General HRCI Credits.

Registration is $247 for CAI members and $279 for non-members. To register, call Registration at 336-668-7746 or 919-878-9222 or e-mail Dawn Mooney at

Emergency Action Plans: Three Reasons Why Your Company Should Have One

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

An Emergency Action Plan, or EAP, is required by OSHA standards to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. According to OSHA guidelines, an EAP should include at minimum the following:

  • Procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency;
  • Procedures for emergency evacuation, including type of evacuation and exit route assignments;
  • Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate;
  • Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation;
  • Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties; and
  • The name or job title of every employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan.

Companies with 10 or fewer employees do not have to write their plan out. However, in all situations, it is recommended that drills occur so that employees know where to go and what to do during a calamity.

There are three key reasons your company needs to set up an EAP beside the OSHA requirements:

1)     It enhances your company’s ability to recover from financial losses, damages to equipment or products or business interruption. For example, if all of your employees know how to operate a fire extinguisher properly, they can stop a flame from becoming an inferno that can burn up part or all of your building.

2)     It bonds management and employees by having them share responsibilities in the plan. Assigning duties such as who will be in charge of leading the safe evacuation empowers employees, and meeting to discuss modifications in the EAP as needed makes them stakeholders in the company’s activities.

3)     It establishes favorable relationships with law enforcement leaders and firefighters who know you have an EAP and have communicated well the details of it with your employees. Think of the number of times you have seen a disaster happen at a business and news coverage has included a sound bite of an official saying it was obvious the company was not prepared for what occurred. That scenario can be prevented with you being proactive in setting up your EAP.

For additional information on emergency action plans and how they can benefit you and your company, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Chris Violet

Top 5 HR Books of 2010

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

As 2010 is heading toward a close, now is a good time to review the year’s top books addressing human resources management and related concerns. According to Amazon, the following are the most popular ones to come out this year:

1)     The Truth About Managing Effectively, by Stephen P. Robbins, Cathy Fyock, and Martha I. Finney

This came out in 2007, but as it is now available free for a limited time via Kindle (956 KB), it has topped the Amazon list and is worth your consideration in case you have not read it previously. It offers more than 150 tips on how to hire great people (and how to avoid those that are not), get the best from them as employees, and lead them to success. A Kirkus Reports review says it offers “Sharp, necessary words for both employers and prospective employees.”

2)     Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity, by David Sibett

Tools such as graphic recording and visual planning are in place in Silicon Valley to engage and energize participants in group meetings. These creative resources can facilitate excellence both face-to-face and in virtual group work among all employees when properly used.

3)     The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, by Robert I. Sutton

Do not let the off-color title dissuade you from this still-popular 2007 book, based on a much-discussed Harvard Business Review article that assessed the impact of jerks and bullies in the workplace. “This meticulously researched book” (in the words of Publishers Weekly) includes advice on how to cope with these people and ways an organization can measure the actual cost to their bottom lines of individuals with consistently poor conduct, which could generate into benefits for everyone in response.

4)     Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, by Tom Rath and James K. Harter, Ph.D.

The wellbeing elements divide into career, social, financial, physical and community. The authors argue that focusing on any of these elements in isolation may drive us to frustration and even a sense of failure. Seeing them from a holistic view, the authors believe it can improve not only the reader’s wellbeing, but that of work colleagues as well.

5)     The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance, by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes, and Catherine McCarthy, Ph.D.

The needs referenced in the title are ones that the authors say are essential in retaining employees and keeping them committed to organizations. Their proposed solutions recommend employers embrace humans’ need for both effort and renewal.

Photo Source: austenevan

Five Things Employers Need to Know about Immigration Law and I-9’s

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Bernhard Mueller, immigration attorney with the Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, presented his “Immigration Law and I-9 Update” to CAI Members at our free, August, members-only Ask the Expert programs.

Here are some of the key points Mueller made during these sessions:

1. Employers who have constructive knowledge that an employee is not authorized to work, but nonetheless continue to allow the employee to work, are subject to fines. Examples of constructive knowledge are:

a. failure to complete an I-9 form for an employee

b. failure of the employer to ensure that Section 1 is properly completed and signed

c. failure of the employer to sign the I-9

d. failure to re-verify employment authorization after it expires

e. inconsistencies, such as an employee who checked the Permanent Resident box in Section 1 but subsequently asks the employer to sponsor him/her

2. Although employers are not required to do I-9’s for contractors, they have a duty to ensure to the best of their ability that contractors are legally authorized to work. The recommended practice is to include the following in the contracting agreement:

a. a statement that your company is committed to compliance with all federal and state employment laws, including hiring only employees authorized to work in the United States, and that you expect the contractor to comply as well

b. that you reserve the right to inspect the I-9’s of contracted workers that are supplied to you at any time

c. an indemnification clause

3. Employers who hire out-of-state employees (sales employees, construction, etc.) where there is no company representative to handle the I-9 process may contract with someone to complete I-9’s on their behalf, such as a notary public. (Note: Texas does not allow notaries to perform this service.) The employer should ensure that the contractor is knowledgeable of the legal requirements and appropriate procedures for I-9 completion since the employer is ultimately responsible.

4. The I-9 form cannot be completed until a job offer is made and accepted. Because the I-9 requires date of birth and identifies whether the person is a U.S. citizen or alien, it could be a source of potential discrimination charges if an applicant were required to complete it pre-offer and then not hired.

5. It is fraud if someone other than the employee fills in Section 1 but does not provide the required information and a signature in the Preparer and/or Translator Certification box, or if HR or a company representative fills in missing information in Section 1 for the employee.

If you have questions about immigration law and I-9s, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: O. Cosma

HR Failures: Top 8 Mistakes to Avoid

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

The HR department of any company plays a vital role in the day-to-day functionality of the organization. To have a company that runs smoothly, demonstrates value to its employees and continuously improves upon its performance, there are critical mistakes you want to avoid.

1. Not having an employee handbook.

Effective employee handbooks are a necessity to operating a successful company by outlining all responsibilities, expectations and company policies in a clearly defined and easily accessed manner.

2. Ineffective documentation practices and procedures.

A well-organized documentation process is the foundation to any HR department. Whether you’re examining vacation records, employee performance levels, or compensation packages, it becomes impossible to measure efficiency without having a tracking system in place.

3. Not keeping up with your competition.

Be conscious of your competitors. What kinds of salaries and benefits are they offering and how do they compare to yours? Yes, the hiring process is more than what you financially offer individuals, but don’t underestimate its importance. Consider potential incentives or perks you can bring to the table to demonstrate the value you place on your employees.

4. Overlooking the individual strengths of your employees.

Recognizing the individual strengths within a company benefits all parties involved. This acknowledgement provides employees with satisfaction, demonstrates their worth and allows companies to build stronger organizations by highlighting their key players.

5. Not addressing employee performance.

You never want to get to the point where mediocre performance is accepted. By having regular evaluations management can effectively monitor employee performance levels and address potential concerns before problems arise.

6. Lack of staff training.

Find opportunities to continuously educate and train your staff. Seeking advice from those outside of your organization provides a new perspective and constantly keeps you ahead of the curve.

7. Failing to uphold company standards.

Whether it’s a relaxed dress code or virtual offices, each company has something that makes them unique, but the company standards are still the core of the organization. You aren’t allowed to slack off because you work virtually, and just because the dress code is relaxed, it doesn’t mean your employees shouldn’t look polished. Employees who do not observe company standards should be reminded to follow them in the future unless they want to face serious consequences.

8. Forgetting to evaluate management performances.

Assessing management performance is an easy way to monitor relationships within the company, evaluate employee satisfaction and make certain all employees’ voices are being heard.

For additional information, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: fireflythegreat

The OFCCP and Affirmative Action: Seven Things Employers Need to Know

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

CAI was pleased to have John Burgin of the Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. law firm provide his expertise and insight on Affirmative Action and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to our members as part of our free, members-only Ask the Expert series.

Here are some of the important points from the presentation:

1. What is the OFCCP? The OFCCP is responsible for ensuring that employers doing business with the federal government comply with the laws and regulations requiring nondiscrimination.

2. New OFCCP resources and priorities. The OFCCP received a 25 percent budget increase for 2010 that includes the hiring of more than 200 new compliance officers.  As a result, it is expected that the number of compliance evaluations will jump from an average of 4,000 to 7,000 per year.

3. Who must have a written affirmative action plan?  If your company has 50 or more employees and a federal government contract or subcontract to provide more than $50,000 a year in goods and services, then you are obligated to prepare annual affirmative action plans and to monitor closely your employment percentages of women and minorities compared to what is available in labor markets in which you operate.

4. Compliance timeline. From the time you accept a government contract, you have 120 days to put your affirmative action programs in place.

5. Hiring and compensation. Given the surge of litigation involving discrepancies in compensation systems, employers are particularly advised to be proactive in assessing their compliance. In addition to scrutiny of compensation by race and gender, there is a focus on low-wage and entry-level jobs.

6. Define your hiring process: Who is an applicant? Unless the application process is entirely a paper process, ensure the applicant data meets the four criteria of OFCCP’s definition of an Internet applicant

7. Know your data. Employers need to know what data they have available and what is being tracked prior to any OFCCP audit. Analyze your data on a regular basis.

If you have questions or would like more information about the OFCCP and affirmative action plans, please call CAI at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

How to Avoid Employee Lawsuits

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

While the 2010 numbers will not be available until early 2011, Jury Verdict Research reported that the median award for all employment-related claims in 2009 ($326,640) was 60 percent more than it was in 2008.

In addition it’s widely expected that the number of employee lawsuits will continue to increase, in part due to the recession.  Another contributor to that increase is the growing presence of attorneys who specialize in filing lawsuits for employees with grievances against employers, and not just claims regarding hiring/firing practices, but also charges of discrimination, defamation and several other issues.

An employee lawsuit can deplete your time and money when those resources should be better spent. It also can result in substantial damages to your business should you lose the suit.

To minimize the likelihood of an employee lawsuit happening in the first place, take the following actions:

1)     Treat all employees with fairness, dignity and respect. Create an atmosphere of positive employee-employer relations.

2)     Have signed documentation from the employee that he or she has read the employee handbook and agrees to follow it. The handbook should include an antidiscrimination and harassment policy as well.

3)     Communicate company policies on a continual basis. Do not just give employees a handbook and never address the policies again.

4)     Put safety standards into place and make sure employees know they exist. The N.C. Department of Labor has a guide explaining how OSHA standards work in the state and what employers can do to comply with them.

5)     Train your managers on workplace laws. Make sure they are aware of the many laws that apply to the workplace and that they follow them stringently.

6)     Consistently enforce company policies. Do not let some employees slide while disciplining others for the same violation.

7)     Document the progressive disciplinary process. Notify the employee in each case about what they did wrong along with filing this information securely.

Even if you follow all seven steps above you may still be sued by an employee.  You may want to check with your insurance carrier to see if they offer employment practice liability insurance. More insurers are offering this benefit. Details on what a plan can cover can be found at the Insurance Information Institute website.

For additional information on how to avoid employee lawsuits, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: U.S. Department of Defense