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Is your coworker like one of the family or is one of the family?

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
Let me preface this blog on nepotism by stating there is clearly a place for family businesses and organizations where related people work together for the good of the family cause and the good of the organization.
That said, there are also organizations where familial relationships exist that are not always for the good of the cause. Often, these come about through nepotism. In the cases where nepotism does lead to problems, it can cause an organizational breach in ethics.
The pros and cons of nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives without regard to merit of performance. Hiring of employer’s relatives, as well as relatives of…

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MANAGING STAFF

Employee rules change dramatically with 50 and up

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
When it comes to sick leave in your office of 50 or more employees, you have to follow the doctor’s orders regardless of whether or not you think the reason for the leave is justified. Because most office managers are so singularly focused on their firm, they are appalled to learn of all the limitations placed upon them by government rules and regulations, including the requirement to comply even when they disagree.
Your obligations
Say an employee is diagnosed as an alcoholic or drug addict. As long as he or she is under the care of a physician, you are obliged to accommodate the requirements for time off from work, and the employee is protected from…

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MANAGING STAFF

When helping employees is your ministry

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
I believe that everyone should have a ministry, a personal crusade to help someone. I believe we are placed here to do good things for others. Whether a ministry focuses on helping and making life better for others’ children, helping and making life better for the ill and injured, or helping convicted criminals rehabilitate, it’s all beneficial and makes society better.
Ministries at work
However, it’s important to mind the boundaries. I have said that you can’t marry a ministry if you want to have a happy life, and you can’t hire a ministry if you want to have a…

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TRAINING TIPS

50 quick training tips

By Michelle Spencer, Senior Trainer, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP  bio
@txmischief
50 Top Tweets from an IT Trainer
As a trainer for a large international law firm, I’m always looking to the future, and part of that includes staying abreast of what is going on within ILTA (International Legal Technology Association). I’ve been fortunate to attend the annual conference for the past several years as part of ILTA’s volunteer leadership. One of the ways I like to…

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MANAGING STAFF

Critical Mass—Not Just for Physics Anymore

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
While most of us have a limited understanding of physics, we have an idea of what “critical mass” means. But just in case you need a refresher: When you reach a sufficient and/or necessary level of something to effect something else, you have critical mass.
For our purposes, forget the physical aspect and think about your organization. Do you have problems that could be a result of random, uncontrolled “critical mass” situations because of factors such as divisive employee groups or issues kept underground? Or do you have a mishmash of ideas and no clear focus for solutions to known problems or…

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MANAGING STAFF

Predatory behavior: Watch for it in your office

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
I’ve mentioned before that behavior can be grouped into three categories.
1.  Overt behavior is behavior on a plan. A person decides he or she is going to do something and then does it. Setting an alarm and getting to work on time is overt behavior.
2.  Inadvertent behavior could be described as autopilot behavior. It is behavior without thinking like driving a stick shift. There is no “plan” to push down on the clutch when shifting gears; it’s—pardon the pun—automatic.
3.  The third kind of behavior is opportunistic and could even be described as predatory. With this kind of behavior, the individual sees an opportunity to…

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MANAGING STAFF

Due process safety net is complex, but not impossible

For many, summer is baseball season or, increasingly, soccer season. But in your workplace, you will also find team sports that can impact your bottom line or organizational effectiveness.
Rules of the game
If “players” in your organization are not playing ball the way they should, it’s also a three-strike situation (or a red card, if you prefer soccer). What’s important for you to know is that, for your business, the umpire is the Department of Labor, and the law also follows…

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COMPLIANCE

How cultural differences complicate sexual harassment issues

By Steve M. Cohen bio
You are probably tired of hearing about it, but some people never seem to understand that sexual harassment is not ok. “No” really does mean “no,” and the workplace is not a singles’ bar. Sexual harassment can also be a form of bullying or predatory behavior.
In any form, sexual harassment is not acceptable and organizations that fail to deal with it make a mistake in many ways. These mistakes can threaten the life of an organization or…

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HIRING

New hires not working out?

By Steve M. Cohen bio
Here’s how to start them off on the right foot
I’m often amazed at how many organizations start on the wrong foot with new employees. When you consider how much time you’re going to invest in this person over the years, it’s worth ensuring that you set the groundwork for success. And some of the most important steps begin even before the hiring.
Both sides expect professionalism
Even a normally knowledgeable organization like a law office may not always observe the best processes for hiring. Here’s a thought: employers expect employees to be orderly, disciplined and professional. These are also the characteristics an employee is looking for…

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ALA CONFERENCE

7 Quick Tips from the 2014 ALA Conference

By Catherine Jones  bio
More than 1100 law office managers from 14 countries attended the Association of Legal Administrators’ annual conference in Toronto, Ontario this year. The four-day conference spanned two floors of the conference centre, giving everyone plenty of room to comfortably explore. And there was a lot to explore.
The ALA’s “Legal Marketplace” featured 200 exhibitors showcasing everything on an administrator’s wish-list, including an elegant and efficient 5,000 square foot “legal office of the future.”
There were also 90 educational sessions to choose from. Each session was worthy of its own feature article to properly summarize the wealth of…

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