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READER TIPS

A manual that covers the entire administration

A Washington, D.C. administrator has set up an operations manual that covers every imaginable item of managing the firm.
It holds the basics of everything so that when she is out, the firm “can be on autopilot and keep the trains running on time,” says Jill D. Hirsch, chief operating officer of Slevin & Hart. And, she says, “it’s for me as well as for someone stepping in for me.” No administrator can remember every detail of the office’s operations, so it’s a quick reference whenever a question arises.
The manual covers the daily administrative procedures, the emergency procedures, the accounting controls, the recruiting – everything. There’s also a timeline, so if a partner wants to…
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HIRING AND FIRING

5 proven ways to spot and avoid hiring potentially “toxic employees” … and what to do if you already have them

Got toxins in the office?
Toxins are people who cause dissent. They undermine people. They create an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion. They kill the camaraderie.
They are toxic because they cause enough misery to force worthwhile staffers to leave.
Law firms are notorious for putting up with toxic people at both the attorney and staff levels.
Professional people are not natural managers. Instead of facing conflict, they tend…

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TERMINATIONS

Seven guides for a safe and somewhat pleasant firing

Firing is the most dangerous action a manager ever takes.
“Yet almost everybody does it poorly,” says Joseph Godwin, a management consultant with F&H Solutions Group, a human resources consulting firm in Asheville, NC.
Any fired employee is depressed and fearful of the future—and not averse to calling an attorney. Every manager needs to know how to fire without asking for trouble.
Godwin provides these seven guides…

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INSIGHT

When employees behave stupidly outside of work

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
I often end up addressing some of the sadder aspects of human behavior in and around the workplace.
I have frequently been called by clients to help deal with issues such as sexual harassment and bullying, an employee who uses the n-word at work and someone who gets so drunk after work that they become incredibly obnoxious in public. In all of these situations, and others like them, one of my tasks is showing that person the door to their former place of…

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SOCIAL MEDIA

How your personal posts on social media can hurt your career

A Vermont State Police trooper was recently forced to resign as a result of comments he posted to his personal Facebook page.
Could this happen to you or a member of your staff?
The story in Vermont
An unidentified concerned citizen notified the Vermont State Police about the trooper’s Facebook posts, according to the Rutland Herald, and the agency proceeded to investigate. A State Police statement indicates internal affairs officers found…

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INSIGHT

Explaining due process and the DOL—a three-tiered safety net

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
As a law firm member, you’re no doubt familiar with due process. You should also remember that it is involved deeply with employee relations, including issues up to and including termination.
As in baseball, your office can also involve a three-strike situation. What’s important for you to know is that ultimately the umpire is the Department of Labor, and their regulations follow a three-strike rule.
If an employee is not performing, the DOL expects the employer to advise that employee regarding the…

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INSIGHT

Mental illness in the workplace and protections for employees

By R. Scott Oswald  bio
When we think of “mental health” problems, many of us envision obvious symptoms. But mental health presents challenges precisely because it can be almost impossible to observe. This can become a problem in the workplace when an employee experiences intense anxiety or panic due to the stress of the position, and management simply expects these individuals to “walk it off.” Because observers often cannot see the employee’s turmoil, they may be dismissive, leading to a worsening working environment, poor relationships, and a less productive employee. In this situation, everybody loses.
After a series of judicial decisions taking restrictive views of the conditions…

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MANAGING STAFF

How to get good stuff about the office during an exit interview

An exit interview should bring to light far more than what is good and bad about the office. It should give insight into what’s really going on and produce ideas for making improvements.
There’s an art to exit interviewing. It’s a matter of getting the staffer to talk and asking the questions that will keep them talking.
A smile at the start
Start by setting a positive atmosphere to quell the fear most employees have that any interview will be negative. It’s only in a positive atmosphere that…

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COMPLIANCE

Anybody over age 40?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is waiting and watching for a violation.
Age discrimination can creep in quietly and unexpectedly.
It can come even from some well-intentioned remark such as, “You’re overqualified for this job”—the term “overqualified” being taken as a euphemism for old.
Here Alix Rubin, an employment law attorney in West Caldwell, NJ, outlines the elements of age discrimination administrators need to know about…

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EMPLOYEE RETENTION

Remember what they say about assumptions

By Steve M. Cohen  bio
Both managers and employees should remember the old saying about what happens when you assume. And assuming your employees are happy and your job is safe are good examples.
Here are four common signs that someone is taking their job for granted and what those actions inadvertently say to others:…

 

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