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READER QUESTION

How can I rein in a runaway staff?

Question: The previous manager let staff get away with everything. I’m the new manager. How do I change the staff behavior?
Answer: Take the bull by the horns. Hold a staff meeting and spell out the new expectations. Call them rules or call them pet peeves, but make it clear that everybody is expected to follow them.
Cover all the items the previous manager let slide so staff know that what was tolerated before will be tolerated no more.
All that says there’s a new captain who is going to run a tighter ship. It also shows…

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WORKING WITH LAWYERS

Take these 4 steps to make sure you hire the right temporary attorney

In an uncertain economy, temporary attorneys are a good business option. They give the firm an additional attorney without having to worry if there will be enough business to support that person in the future. They come in with the experience necessary for the job. If they don’t perform up to par, the agency will replace them. And if they do perform well, the firm ends up with vetted job candidates. But though the arrangement is temporary, the selection process has to be made as carefully as if it were for a permanent hire. And the agency needs to be evaluated right along with the candidate.
How extensive is the experience
Don’t rely on the agency to do all the interviewing. The best way to ensure a good relationship is to participate in the selection and evaluate the…

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MANAGING THE STAFF

The dangers of the disengaged staffer

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
Are some of your employees actually working against you?
When it comes to the bigger picture of your job, your office or your business, the important question is simple: are you engaged? Is your staff engaged? Whether you are an owner, manager or beginning worker, the answers matters.
A national management firm, the Gallagher Organization, has published some startling statistics: In the typical work group, approximately 25 percent of the staff is engaged, 15 percent are disengaged and 60 percent are neither engaged nor…

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COMPLIANCE

How to protect your practice against costly FLSA and EEOC claims

Do an HR audit at the start of each year
Today’s protection against tomorrow’s employment law claims is a human resources audit.
An audit is essential to keep the firm’s employment processes accurate and current – and also followed, says Joseph Godwin, human resources consultant for F&H Solutions Group in Ashville, NC.
The audit needs to be done every year, because with time, things get overlooked. Or bad habits crop up and people take easier routes such as signing off on incomplete I-9 Forms. Or new managers come in with their own HR methods and…

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ELECTRONIC WORKPLACE

HR law and employee social networking

Can you discipline employees for social networking offenses?
Answer: It depends.
Explanation: Frittering away time, disclosing patient records, bad mouthing the practice and other offenses are grounds for discipline when they occur “off line.” So why should it make a difference if employees do these things online while social networking?
In theory, it shouldn’t.
The problem, of course, is that the HR laws were forged in a different era and haven’t yet caught up with the realities of social networking.
Eventually they will. But until then, you face the challenge of applying 20th…

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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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ELECTRONIC WORKPLACE

Employees fired for social networking offenses

Here are a few examples of cases in which a court or arbitrator upheld the decision to fire an employee for social network abuses. Note that the existence of a clearly written, specific social networking policy was a factor in each of these cases:…




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COMPLIANCE

Two ADA surprises: odd disabilities and legal fees that can hit the sky

First, what the firm may not think is a disability could well be one.
Second, the ADA applies to access to public places such as stores and restaurants – and law offices. And while it “has a noble purpose,” along the way “it’s been hijacked by a subset of plaintiffs who have made it their life’s work to target as many public accommodations as possible for monetary gain,” says James S. O’brien, Jr., a partner with Pryor Cashman in New York.
Watch out.
You mean that’s a disability?
The ADA can get confusing for employers, because there’s no bright line on what constitutes a disability, O’Brien…

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MANAGING STAFF

To understand employees, understand their generations

To a great extent, managing staff (and also understanding the partners) depends on recognizing where each person stands in the generational scale.
Here’s how the generations from the beginning of the 20th century differ as employees.

• The Lost Generation (born 1883-1900). These are the people who fought in World War I.

• The Greatest Generation (born 1901-1924). This is the G.I. Generation, or the World War II veterans.

• The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945). These are the children of the Lost Generation. They grew up in the Depression. They respect authority, they conform, and they are…
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COMPLIANCE

Beware Lilly Ledbetter; it extends the time limit for unfair pay claims

A relatively new law that all but eliminates the statute of limitations on equal pay lawsuits for women brings yet more employment law concerns administrators need to be aware of.
It’s the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Employers can expect an upswing in claims that their female employees are underpaid, says Denise Murphy, an employment law attorney with Rubin and Rudman in Boston.
And not always without good reason, she notes. Recent statistics show that women make from 73 cents to 77 cents on the dollar compared to what men make, even when they have the same…
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