Volume 3, No. 1


February, 2005 - First Quarter

 

Workplace Safety: Recognizing & Eliminating Hazards  ...Safety.com

Managing to Win.  Build Your Own Championship Team  ...Joe John Duran CFA

Surviving the Micromanager ...Harry E. Chambers

Money Sense – Add Life to Your Estate Plan ...Nikos Kardassis

Conflict Management: The Key to High Performance ...Howard M. Guttman

Limiting Legal Exposure For Workplace Harassment ...Patricia S. Eyres

Taking It Off ...Sherry Maysonave

 


Workplace Safety:  Recognizing & Eliminating Hazards
from safety.com

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Hazards can be found everywhere in the workplace. Some are quite apparent. Others are so small or seemingly ordinary that they're easily overlooked, and every worker is placed at risk in some way.

A workplace hazard denotes any kind of object or situation that could result in injury, disease or death. Some indicators are things we wouldn't immediately consider -- age, for instance. Young workers new on the job (age 15-24) have more of a chance of getting hurt than older, experienced workers. Another invisible hazard would involve experienced workers who use that same tool all day, every day. They're susceptible to repetitive strain injury.

So employers and floor supervisors need to develop the proper mindset to recognize hazards.

The Major Hazards
Many facilities have workplace health and safety issues that are specific to their own industry. But some issues are common to almost every business. Workplace safety starts with knowing the major hazards. These include:

Watch your Step
The single biggest cause of injuries at any workplace is conditions that lead to slips, trips, and falls. These are the most frequent causes of non-fatal major injuries in both manufacturing and service industries. They comprise more than half of all reported injuries. Employers can help to reduce slip and trip hazards looking around the workplace to spot uneven floors, electrical cables, and areas where spillages may occur.

Ways to reduce such risks include:

Other specific workplace hazards include:

Raise the Safety Bar High
Every employer has an ethical and legal duty to set a high standard of workplace safety. As part of this, they should look around the work place and ask themselves questions about the environment. Who comes into the workplace and how would they be at risk?
Are the precautions already in place?

An effective safety program involves:

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Managing to Win.  Build Your Own Championship Team

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It’s the last game of the championship series. You have assembled what you believe is a fantastic team, but up until now your opponent has risen to your every challenge. On paper, they are your equals, but in reality, you know better. That is because your players, while all unique and exceptionally talented, live and breathe as one cohesive unit. When one falters, another steps up. No player is above making a sacrifice. There is no showboating and, on the sidelines, the feeling is optimistic and electrifying. Game over. Your team wins the title.

Often in business, as in the world of sports, the intangibles are what separate the winners from the losers. One of these is the ability of a business owner to assemble a winning team. As all business owners know, implementing a winning managerial strategy is much harder than it seems. Here is a simple fact to keep in mind as you develop your team and grow your business: superior companies are always built upon the foundation of great people. Nowhere is this more evident than in the entrepreneurial world, where every individual’s contribution can make or break the business. What do you need to know to build a winning team? Here are three vital secrets we picked up while conducting dozens of in-depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs for Start it, Sell it & Make a Mint (John Wiley & Sons):

1. Skills can be learned, attitudes cannot.

Never assume that a stellar resume equals a fantastic employee. Just as any athlete can look like an MVP on paper and then have a horrible season, any employee can appear to be an All-Star and then bring the company down. When choosing amongst a selection of potential new employees, you’ll often be tempted to hire the person with the best looking resume, but that’s not always the smart choice. People are usually hired for their skills, but they are always fired for their attitudes. Look at the candidate’s attitude and ability to fit in with your other employees – this doesn’t mean they should have identical personalities but rather common values.

Jerry, who runs an independent trust company, always has potential new hires meet with fellow co-workers before he hires them. He then has a feedback session. Existing team members will often provide different perspectives. They care less about skills and care more about attitudes, and they appreciate being part of the selection process.

2. New players need to learn their roles.

On a sports team, new players need to make a contribution as soon as possible. The sooner they know what their role is on the team, the sooner they can help. The same is true for a business. A key to making new employees productive quickly is to take time to assimilate them into the firm. Like a coach of a winning team, someone needs to give new team members guidance during the first few months of work.

Suzie, who ran her own software company, shared her insights. “You know, at first, I used to assume that once I hired the right person, my job was done, but frankly, the first three months really set the tone for how quickly that person could contribute. New employees had no idea about anything in my firm, from where to get a cup of coffee to more complicated issues like how decisions get made.” Suzie, like several other successful managers, solved the problem by assigning an in-office “buddy” to show new employees how things got done in her company.

3. Put your players first, and make them feel special.


People go the extra mile for their team if they feel they can really make a difference, and that they are recognized for what they contribute to the team. Make sure that those folks who contribute to the success of the business are recognized early and often. Small acts of caring can have a huge impact. Whether it’s celebrating a person’s pregnancy with a pizza party, or recognizing an employee’s exceptional efforts with an open thank-you note, taking time to notice is a key to building great morale.

Ron, who runs a large legal practice, implemented this secret by creating a “booster club.” He had a group of employees decide every month on fun ways to spend $200 recognizing a fellow employee or lifting morale. Ron shared, “People really enjoy giving recognition to others, and it’s amazing what that one simple step did to unify our team and create great feel good moments every month. From pumpkin-carving contests to baby showers, they always made people feel like they were part of a company that cared.” If people enjoy being a part of your team, that will be reflected in their work. And it will also make your recruiting process a lot easier if your employees are your cheerleaders, too.

Great teams are assembled carefully, and nurtured and guided to reach their highest potential. Apply these tips to your business and you, too, can have a winning team.

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Joe John Duran, CFA, is a successful entrepreneur, and the author of Start it, Sell it & Make a Mint (John Wiley & Sons) which provides twenty wealth-creating secrets for business owners. For more free business help visit www.startitsellit.com.

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Surviving the Micromanager

Harry E. Chambers
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How to succeed with a “my way” boss
Is a micromanager the boss of you?

Join the crowd.

A recent workplace survey revealed that four out of five people—managers and workers alike—know firsthand the woes of being micromanaged.  Micromanagers hurt productivity and morale—and often drive others away.  In fact, one out of three people has changed jobs because of a micromanager.

The good news?

You’re neither hopeless nor helpless.

There’s a lot you can do to survive and succeed with a “my way” boss.  But, first, you’ve got to understand his behavior—and exactly how he manages to disrupt people and performance.

Defining the behaviors
Micromanagers get a bad wrap—most often as “control freaks.”  Yet, to really understand and deal with a “micro” boss, it’s important to know the five specific behaviors that define micromanagers.

           They exercise raw power.
Micromanagers love to flex their muscles—asserting their power and authority just because they can.  While unable to subordinate themselves, they control others with an uncompromising sense of entitlement and self-interest.

           They dictate time.
Micromanagers like to control and manipulate others’ time.  They don’t trust people to assess their own workload, so they routinely dictate priorities and distort deadlines.  And while they guard their own time with an iron fist, they’re notorious for interrupting others, misusing and mismanaging meetings, and perpetuating crises.

            They control how work gets done.
Micromanagers want everything to be done their way.  After all, the boss knows best—or so they think.  They dismiss others’ knowledge, experience, and ideas—no matter how good—then hover over them to make sure they’re doing things “right.”

            They require undue approvals.
Micromanagers share responsibility, but not authority.  As the bottlenecks of the workplace, they allow no one to move forward without their approval—even on routine or time-sensitive matters.

            They demand frequent and unnecessary reports.
Micromanagers are driven to know what’s going on.  They monitor others to death—requiring a stream of needless reports that focus on activity over outcomes.

Getting real
Taking personal responsibility is where the rubber hits the road.  If you’re really serious about succeeding with a micromanager, it’s essential to understand the realities.

            You are not a victim. 
Victims have no options.  You’ve got plenty of them.  While the most extreme option is to quit, why not try to improve the situation before you pack up and go? Besides, micromanagers are everywhere!

            It’s not about fixing him.
You can’t “fix” a micromanager or force him to change on his own.  You can, however, find your own influence to defuse his disruptive behaviors.

            Your situation is what it is.
Focusing on what your situation “should” be saps energy and creativity.  Instead, deal in the real world by looking at your situation for what it really is.

            You can’t change everything.
Some factors are well beyond your control, so get over them and focus your energy and influence where it will really pay off.

Defusing the disruptive behaviors
There are a variety of strategies for dealing with a micromanager.  Again, none of them are about “fixing” him.  Instead, they’re about working to defuse his disruptive behaviors—starting with some practical, sure-fire tips.

            Find out his agenda.
Everyone has an agenda, especially the micromanager.  Figure out what’s really important to him, then work with him—not against him. 

            Take the information initiative.
The micromanager is driven to know what’s going on.  Don’t wait to be asked for information.  Find out what he needs to feel confident and comfortable, then get it to him—ahead of time.  

Practice the “art” of communication.
No one fears inertia more than the micromanager.  Show that you’re in motion on priority projects by communicating in three specific terms— awareness, reassurance, and timelines.

            Stay clear on expectations.
Confusion runs high with the micromanager—turning expectations into a fast-moving target.  Clarify your conversations and agreements in a trail of memos and e-mails. 

Renegotiate priorities.
The micromanager is notorious for piling it on.  Come up with a simple, straightforward method—such as a numerical or color-coded system— for renegotiating the ever-shifting priorities.

             Be preemptive on deadlines.
The micromanager loves to impose and even distort deadlines.  Be the first to talk—offering a timeline for when you can do a task (not when you can’t). 

             Play by the rules.
The micromanager enjoys catching people in the act.  Avoid being an easy target and play by the rules—particularly on policies regarding time and technology.

             Learn from the “best practices” of others.
The micromanager backs off with some more than others.  Watch them closely to learn the secrets of their success. 

             Pick your battles.
The micromanager will go to war on every issue.  Don’t try to match him.  Instead, pick the battles that are most important to you.

Taking the “I” out of micromanager
And what if you are a micromanager? You can overcome your own “micro” tendencies if you’re willing to confront and change them—before they compromise your career.  Figure out what you’re afraid of.  Seek 360° feedback.  And get a coach to develop some new “replacement” behaviors.

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Harry E. Chambers is a workplace expert specializing in management and career development and the author of My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide (Berrett-Koehler, $16.95).  Contact him at www.harrychambers.com

 ã 2004 Harry E. Chambers.  All rights reserved.

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Money Sense – Add Life to Your Estate Plan

 

Nikos Kardassis
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 “You can’t take it with you,” the saying goes.  Unfortunately, it isn’t easy leaving it behind in accordance with your wishes, either.  Still, there are a number of estate-planning strategies that can help ensure that your wealth passes to your beneficiaries with a minimum of estate taxes.  Some of the most basic, yet overlooked, strategies center on life insurance, which can add an element of safety,1 certainty and peace of mind to your overall financial plan.

There are a variety of innovative life-insurance policies available to help you provide for your loved ones, help cover estate taxes and undertake a program of charitable giving.  The principal forms of life insurance include:

Whole life policy: Provides a fixed death benefit funded with regularly scheduled premium payments and guaranteed cash values. Variable life policy: Offers the potential to accumulate cash value at a greater rate than whole life insurance and can provide a death benefit in excess of the guaranteed minimum, depending on the performance of the investment options you choose.
Universal life policy: Provides a cash value death benefit based on a guaranteed minimum interest rate and flexible premium payments, and it is interest-rate sensitive.
Survivorship policy: Pays out only upon the death of the last of the joint insureds and is often purchased to cover estate taxes.

Protecting Your Heirs
If you have dependents, you may need life insurance to replace lost income in the event of your untimely death.  A financial advisor can work with you to determine an appropriate amount of insurance.  As a rule of thumb, though, you might consider holding 20 times as much insurance as your survivors’ anticipated annual income needs.  For example, if you calculate that your spouse and children would need $100,000 a year to maintain their lifestyle, you would probably need to purchase at least $2 million worth of life insurance (assuming a 5% after-tax return, the policy would provide the needed $100,000 annually).

Protecting Your Estate
Even if you feel that you have ample assets to pass along to heirs upon your death, a lack of liquidity can be a financial drain on your loved ones if they confront estate taxes or other debts.

Consider the hypothetical case of a widow who holds most of her assets in an IRA, real estate and a family business.  Her estate could owe as much as $2 million for various estate taxes and final expenses if she were to die in the near future.  To compound the burden on her heirs, that money would have to be paid within months of her death.  This could force the widow’s loved ones to liquidate her interest in the family business, as well as other assets, at favorable prices to the buyer.

On the other hand, if she decides to insure her life for $2 million, the insurance proceeds would provide the needed cash right away, reducing the pressure on her estate to liquidate assets.  There is a catch, however.  If the widow owns this $2 million insurance policy at the time of her death, the proceeds would be included in her taxable estate and her heirs would only see approximately half of the death benefit.

To steer clear of this outcome, the widow can have her son or daughter own the life-insurance policy.2  The IRS has rules governing the determination of policy ownership, and therefore it is important to follow the rules so that the policy proceeds will be kept out of the widow’s estate.3  A better solution may be to create an irrevocable life-insurance trust, where the policy may also be protected from the beneficiary’s creditors and premature spending.  Establishing an irrevocable life-insurance trust requires the advice of your financial advisor and an estate-planning attorney.

Charitable Thoughts
Life insurance can also be a valuable tool for incorporating philanthropy into your estate plan.  For example, you might gift a policy to a charity or name a charity as the beneficiary of your policy.  Either way, your favored cause will receive a substantial amount at your death.  (Giving away a policy generally provides greater tax benefits, but you should check first with a tax professional to verify the tax advantages of your gift.)

A more intricate plan calls for the use of a charitable remainder trust (CRT).  This vehicle is particularly beneficial if you own highly appreciated stock.  You can create a CRT and donate the shares to this trust, which could then sell those shares tax-free at the time of sale.  You could receive a percentage of the trust’s assets each year based upon the design and provisions of the trust.  Upon your death, the assets in the CRT would go to a named charity or charities.

By using life insurance, your philanthropy doesn’t have to come at the expense of your heirs.  The CRT would provide both valuable cash flow and a welcome income-tax deduction for contributing the appreciated stock to the trust.  This cash flow and tax savings can be used to buy a survivorship policy, which may be held in an irrevocable life-insurance trust to avoid estate tax.  The insurance proceeds can provide an inheritance to your loved ones.  Depending on their age and health, the life-insurance policy might ultimately replace most or even all of the wealth that passes to charity.

Neither Merrill Lynch nor its representatives provide legal or tax advice. You should consult with your own legal/tax advisors regarding your particular situation. 


1All guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

2Please note that gifts of life-insurance policies made within three years of death will be subject to federal estate taxes.

3Proceeds of the policy will be included in your taxable estate if, at the time of your death, you have legal right to any of the following: changing or naming policy beneficiaries; borrowing against the policy; pledging cash reserves or cashing it in; surrendering, converting or canceling the policy; or selecting a payment option.

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Nikos Kardassis -  President of Merrill Lynch Insurance Group

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Conflict Management: The Key to High Performance

Howard Guttman
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As organizations have shifted from a hierarchical to a horizontal model, management gurus have rushed to fill the vacuum. Empowerment, reengineering, self-directed teams, knowledge management, the learning organization—these and many other initiatives have been touted as the best way to achieve maximum energy and speed and, therefore, competitive advantage.


But the one competitive advantage that cannot be easily bought, imitated, or made obsolete is superior management of people and processes, including those that deal with conflict management. In our experience, the best way for an organization to achieve lasting competitive advantage is by creating and nurturing high-performance teams.

 

Reaching High Performance: Evolution not Revolution

A high-performance team is brought about not by will, but by hard work. How nice it would be if a group of individuals from different functions could from the very beginning put aside their many differences and work together in complete harmony. Unfortunately, day-one performance miracles don’t happen very often.
 

From the vantage of conflict management, it is typical for a newly formed team, whatever its level and whoever its members, to progress through four different stages in its evolution toward high performance:

 

Stage One: Testing

You know you are in a Stage-One team when you enter the room and feel the tension before a single word is spoken. This is not surprising. In Stage One, many teams are made up of individuals who are working together for the first time. Relative strangers, they come into the game wary and inhibited. They hide behind a faVade, afraid to expose themselves to the judgment of the group.

When a team is made up of individuals who have a track record of dysfunctional interaction, the air in Stage One may be even thicker. Differences of opinion, however well intentioned or calmly expressed, are viewed as a threat or challenge. Holding one’s tongue becomes the preferred meeting behavior and following the leader—or the most senior-level person—becomes the favorite game.

 

Stage Two: Infighting

Stage-One teams most resemble married couples who give one another “the silent treatment” for days after an argument. Stage-Two teams are more akin to the Hatfields and McCoys. 
 

Stage Two often begins after teams have been working together for a while and have fallen into a set behavioral routine. In the Stage-Two team, viewpoints are aggressively advanced. The tension clouds that typically hang over Stage-One teams have given way to thunder, lightning, and a flood of accusations. There is lots of finger pointing and backbiting. Executives here feel vulnerable and on the line.
 

But Stage Two isn’t always all bad. In fact, it is here that many breakthroughs in conflict resolution take place. The fact that issues that were once swept under the rug are now being put on the table indicates that positive movement has occurred.     

 

Stage Three: Getting Organized

Stage-Three teams have realized that in order to become high performers, they cannot continue to either bury conflict or allow it to run rampant. They must transform it into dynamic energy that produces results.


To do so, they need to forge strategic and key operational goals; clarify individual roles and accountability; agree upon protocols, or rules of engagement, by which individuals and the team as a whole will conduct themselves; and reach an understanding regarding the communication styles to be used among and between members.


In addition, each member needs to develop key skill sets: the ability to influence others, the ability to listen, the ability to give feedback, and the ability to depersonalize.


Stage-Three teams are in a learning mode; in Stage Four they begin to put to work the lessons they have learned.

 

Stage Four: The High-Performance Team

While high-performance teams come in many shapes and sizes, they have in common eight attributes:

 

1.   The mission, goals, and business priorities of the team are clear to all team members.

2.   The team is comprised of the “right” players.

3.   The roles and responsibilities of  each player are clear to that person and to all team members.

4.   Team members are committed to the team “winning”—achieving business goals—over their own parochial/ functional self-interest.

5..  The decision-making/leadership mechanism that the team employs is understood and accepted by all team members.

6.   Every team member feels a sense of ownership/ accountability for the business results that the team is charged with achieving.

7.   All team members are comfortable dealing with team conflict.  

8.   The team periodically self-assesses its progress as a group, focusing on how it functions as a cohesive entity.

 

High Performance Brings Results

In Stage Four, the team translates into action the lessons it has learned during its evolution through the previous stages. It moves closer to successful conflict management and, thus, to becoming a quick-acting, results-oriented force that is uniquely powered for success in today’s global, horizontal organization.

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Howard M. Guttman is author of When Goliaths Clash: Managing Executive Conflict to Build a More Dynamic Organization. He is the principal of Guttman Development Strategies, Inc., a Ledgewood, NJ-based management consulting firm specializing in building high-performance teams, executive coaching, and strategic and operational alignment. He can be reached by e-mail to hmguttman@guttmandev.com.


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Limiting Legal Exposure For Workplace Harassment ...Patricia S. Eyres

Patricia S. Eyres
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Despite increased attention on harassment prevention in the business world, claims of workplace harassment have remained relatively steady and jury awards have been quite high. It is critical that management knows the ins and outs of proper harassment training.

Your employer's commitment to harassment prevention training is as critical to your legal protection as a written policy prohibiting harassment. The reason is simple: the conduct involved occurs in the day-to-day interaction of employees. To effectively and legally handle issues of harassment, a manager, supervisor or HR professional must know what harassment is, why it's illegal, what to do about it and what the consequences of failure to properly handle these issues can be.

Harassment can be based on sex, race, religion, age and even disability. It isn't so much the original behavior that creates the potential for massive liabilities. Many of these behaviors occur in workplaces every day. Rather, it is the way management handles the issue, or fails to deal with a complaint, that subjects the employer to significant legal exposure. The underlying conduct merely triggers the complaint. The employer's legal responsibility to conduct an immediate investigation and then to take immediate and appropriate corrective action is the focus of many cases today. Accordingly, you may be called upon to design management training that successfully avoids or minimizes these real legal risks.

In one recent case, a trial judge found an employer automatically liable for a supervisor's sexual harassment. A significant consequence of this decision is that although you may distribute written anti-harassment policies, your employer can be held liable for harassment for a supervisory employee. For this reason, it is especially important to conduct effective harassment prevention training for managers and supervisors, with the objective being to have a positive effect on their behavior.

One of the major challenges you may face in presenting workplace harassment programs is participant resistance. Many simply don't want to be there. The best way to gain and retain their attention is to explain the concept of personal liability. Begin with your organization's policy, as well as all of the pertinent laws and regulations. A review of the range of personal consequences for employees can include potential disciplinary actions for violations.

Hostile environment harassment, whether based on sex, race, religion or age, is hard to define and even more difficult to explain. You may find some philosophical resistance to government "regulation" of interpersonal behavior. Trainees often have trouble with the legal definition of sex discrimination in the form of "harassment," because much of the behavior may, in some issues, be socially acceptable outside the work setting (such as parties and happy hour).

The notion that discrimination must be motivated by ill-will malice or other intentional conduct is hard to overcome. Employees often feel threatened by the fact that unintentional behavior (e.g., "joking," "compliments") can be unlawful discrimination, based on the perception of the person who claims to be offended (in legal parlance, the "victim" of discrimination). In sexual harassment case in particular, issues of gender identity, sexuality and sexual interaction are uniquely personal and emotional, and the differences in reaction perception are compounded by cultural, spiritual and other life experiences.

Because of the difficulty in defining hostile environment harassment and the fact that a partially subjective standard (perception of the reasonable "victim") applies, many organizations approach the training from an "awareness" perspective. This approach is premised on the belief that if employees and managers are sensitized to the issues involved with harassment, they will make efforts to question their own behavior and that of others if it could possibly be construed as offensive or could be found illegal.

1.    Carefully consider mixing management and staff in the same program.

Cautiously approach the decision to train management and non-management employees together. The advantages to training employees of all levels together is that everyone will be reading the same materials and non-management employees have the benefit of witnessing firsthand that management has knowledge of how to properly handle such matters.

Disadvantages include the risk that managers in the session will not be knowledgeable and will show their ignorance to employees who report to them or even make comments that can exacerbate an environment that is already hostile. Likewise, employees may be intimidated to ask questions, particularly about incidents they feel management may not have handled appropriately.

2.    Obtain support from the highest levels of management.

Top management must support the programs and make attendance mandatory.
Monitoring complete attendance helps make the content available to everyone, and serves the legal purpose of documenting the employer's efforts to prevent harassment in its workplace.

Training alone will be insufficient to shield an employer from liability if it fails to enforce consistent policies, take improper conduct seriously, properly investigate complaints and take appropriate corrective action, where warranted. It does, however, demonstrate a level of commitment to a harassment-free work environment and may mitigate damages in a subsequent lawsuit.

3.    Consider content issues carefully.

The training should reinforce participant awareness and provide practical examples for development. Some specific content that is critical to legal compliance includes:

4.    Use only qualified trainers.

The trainer must be professional at all times and take the issue seriously because he or she is the role model for how sexual harassment is dealt with in the training program. In addition, the presenter should know the audience, i.e., industry jargon, company policy, complaint process and any unique issues that may affect the program's effectiveness.

Select and train trainers carefully. Before implementing training, ensure that the trainers themselves are sensitized to the issues that are likely to be raised in sessions, to the company's strategy, and are well versed in the company's sexual harassment policy and procedures, disciplinary process, and all applicable laws.

The skills, knowledge and ability of individuals selected to conduct training should include, at a minimum, thorough knowledge and understanding of applicable legal and administrative standards, familiarity with the employer's policies, and a perspective of unique company issues (such as prior to existing complaints). This is important to avoid stumbling unintentionally on a fact pattern too close to home. This often causes disruption in the workshop or participant inattention, while they are "speculating" about who is being discussed.

Trainers should also be sensitive to issues of confidentiality (concerning both knowledge of existing complaints and questions raised by participants).

This is critical and often dictates the use of an external consultant or otherwise independent trainer. In addition, trainers should be aware of, and sensitive to, gay, lesbian and bisexual issues. While federal law does not yet provide a separate protection for sexual orientation, hostile environments created by targeted behaviors are actionable. Some states provide separate protection from all forms of discrimination, including harassment.

Finally, presentation of a successful workplace harassment program requires the ability to avoid confrontation and "value judgments" about employees' comments and reactions to the subject area to deal objectively and compassionately with emotionally distressed individuals in the context of the training and to answer questions and refer trainees to alternative resources for obtaining further information.

5.    Use effective methodology, designed for maximum understanding and application of skills to enforce legally defensible behaviors throughout the workplace.

Your curriculum design should provide for a variety of learning styles by using lecture, group discussion, small group exercises and case studies.

Role-play is also extremely useful for management training. Highly interactive sessions build upon individual attitudes, behaviors and knowledge. Place emphasis on creating an atmosphere of trust where women and men are encouraged to communicate openly and with mutual respect.

Participants should be encouraged to practice new behaviors.

6. Carefully approach the issue of videotaping sessions.

Since sexual harassment training and refreshers must be provided periodically, and to all new hires within a reasonable period of time, employers may seek to reduce the cost by videotaping sessions for later use.

Carefully consider this decision. While it is cost-effective, there are two problems. First, the camera may cause some employees to withdraw or fail to seek clarification of issues they don't understand. The value of interaction and discussion ?? so important with this topic ?? is thereby diminished.

Secondly, the law in this area changes frequently. Unless you assign someone to continually monitor the content, you may find yourself providing outdated (and inaccurate!) information.

Unique Issues for Legal Compliance Training

Legal compliance training can range from sexual harassment prevention, to EEO compliance and managing marginal performers, including discipline/termination actions. These programs present some special challenges to assure effective learning.

1. Most participants will not want to be there, and may be initially resistant or even hostile. Don't take this personally. It is even helpful to acknowledge that resistance at the beginning and build discussion around it.

2. Case studies can be effective methods for imparting skills, particularly to managers. However, some precautions are necessary:

Take care to be sure that your case study is neither drawn from a real workplace situation or too close in its facts to a genuine situation in their workplace. If you don't, the participants may be distracted wondering who you are talking about.

External trainers should inquire about existing claims and litigation, only to get enough information to stay completely away from similar examples. If not, you may embarrass a participant or cause distraction by trainees wondering who you are talking about.

3. Avoid putting people on the spot in role-plays. These are uncomfortable situations and lead to distraction and further resistance. If you are using role-plays, try to identify willing participants in advance.

4. When using role-plays, take care to avoid apparently stereotypical scenarios, such as a male harasser and a female victim. Try reversing the roles.

5. Use realistic role-plays for managers. Place them in the troublesome situations they often find themselves; say, terminating a disabled employee who can no longer perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. While these are tough and stressful, they are unfortunately all too real. Don't skirt the tough issues, but develop a supportive method to de-brief a stressful exercise.

6. Always leave enough time to thoroughly discuss and de-brief a vignette or exercise. In this area, a little information is a dangerous thing. Context and full discussion are very important. Make sure written materials expand upon the subject matter and provide resources for continuing answers to the difficult questions. Remind participants that Human Resources (and even the legal department) are not the enemy of managers; they are there to help in these difficult situations.

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Patricia S. Eyres is an experienced attorney, with over 18 years defending businesses in the courtroom. She is a full time professional speaker and author. Her most popular presentation is "Leading Within Legal Limits™. She can be reached at www.PreventLitigation.com or at 1-800-LIT-MGMT

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Taking It Off

 

Sherry Maysonave
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Would you like to take off pounds without going on a diet? You can do it without pills or liposuction. Hollywood and fashion photographers use outfits coordinated to specific body types create special effects. So can you. For example, clothing can add or subtract anywhere between five and fifty pounds of visual weight. What are your clothing choices doing to you, adding or subtracting?

Think of clothes as having both spotlight and dimmer-switch capabilities. The trick is to employ the art of illusion and know what features to highlight and where to apply low lights. Dressing slim is not about hiding or covering it all up. It’s counterintuitive, but baggy clothes don’t conceal flaws or extra pounds. On the contrary, they often spotlight them. Surprisingly, structured clothing is what balances problem areas best.

The first step is to get acquainted with your body type. Weigh in with a full-length mirror.  Note your height, and then view your body in segments. Conduct an in-the-flesh evaluation, asking these questions:

Pay particular attention to the sections where you are “shorter” and avoid drawing attention to those regions. For example, women who are short waisted have little space between their bustline and waist. If this is you, avoid wearing wide belts and skirts with pleats or gathers at the waist. The extra fabric and detailing in the waist area will add bulk and width to your stomach and entire lower half.

Regardless of their height, men and women with shorter legs as compared to their torso have proportion issues, too. This body type should wear streamlined pants, skirts, and shoes that lengthen the legs. This means that cargo pants, cropped pants, low-rise waists, large patterned pants, and round-toe shoes should be purged from their closets. These styles will underscore the shorter legs, making these people look heavier on the bottom and shorter in stature than they really are.

Garfield the cartoon cat once said, “I’m not overweight. I am just under-tall.” Looking taller has a slimming effect upon any body type, even if you’re already tall. Vertical lines create the illusion of length, making anyone appear taller and thinner. Verticals are powerful weight scissors that snip away inches from arms, thighs, stomachs, and rears. Do you know which one outfit has the strongest vertical of all? The suit.

Men’s suits and women’s pantsuits, especially dark ones, are excellent pound busters as they provide unbroken verticals from neck to feet. To maximize a suit’s slenderizing potential, make sure that it fits properly and flatters your body type.

Here’s the skinny:  Downsizing Suit Cuts: Contour your body type accordingly

Large Rear
Do: Non-vented or side-vented jacket styles that come well below the hip line Suit jackets with reinforced shoulders to balance hip line
Don’t: Center-vent jackets — the pleat will kick out when walking Suit jackets with narrow lapels
Tapered leg pants

Full Stomach
Do: One or two-button jackets; they make a deeper V
Low contrast between shirt/blouse and suit pant color
Don’t: Three and four-button and double-breasted styles
Belted jackets
Belts with shiny buckles

Full Chest
Do: Three or more button styles
Don’t: One and two-button and double-breasted styles; jackets will gape open across the chest
Short Stature
Do: Slim cut jackets that just cover hips, not ultra long
Narrow or straight-leg pants
Tapered skirts
Don’t: Four-button styles and all boxy cuts Pant strides that drop far below crotch Wide cuffs and long break on pants
Wide-bottom skirts
Nips and Tucks: Micro-inches make sizeable differences

All body types
Do: Open spaces between your arms and waist are highly slenderizing; create them by tailoring in jackets at the waists and/or taper sleeves from elbows to wrists
Don’t: Wide sleeves and boxy waists create one mass of fabric across the midsection

If you don’t want to wear suits, think monochromatic. Such outfits look classy and they possess enormous slenderizing power. Monochromatic is where all garments and accessories are the same color or shades of the same hue. When wearing tonal variations, be sure to wear the darker shades on your bottom half with the lighter tones nearer your face.

Two-color separates ensembles can also shear away pounds, when at least two garments are in the same color. For the most slimming effect, wear two dark neutral pieces closest to your body, such as black pants worn with a black shirt, turtleneck, or blouse. Top off this ensemble with a bright or contrasting color jacket or sweater. The one line of color as the core will have an overall slimming result.

Keep in mind that horizontal lines add weight and accent roundness. Beware of not-so-obvious horizontals, such as those created by short sleeves, cropped pants, patch pockets, boat necks, and epaulets on shoulders.

Collars and necklines can make subtle differences, accessories too. Make sure they are accentuating length instead of width.

Fabrics matter; they can flaunt or haunt. The weight, texture, and finish of fabrics work together to enlarge or diminish unwanted pounds. The bulkier the fabric, the bigger you will look. And that’s true with textured, shiny, and clingy materials too. They are unmerciful.

Patterns and prints can also work as your ally or your enemy.

Allies:
    • Vertical stripes and herringbones lengthen
    • Small prints can scale down big areas
    • Diagonal and asymmetrical lines slice off pounds, especially from stomachs

Enemies:
    • Horizontal stripes widen and enlarge
    • Plaids and windowpane checks amplify
    • Large prints do not slenderize anyone

You can take off unwanted pounds, merely by putting on the right clothing. Dressing slim has many advantages, one of which is adding weight to your confidence. And that’s what it’s really all about. When you look your best, you project yourself with greater certainty. Enjoy looking and feeling more attractive and with that, magnetize more positive responses, opportunities, and success to you.

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By Sherry Maysonave, author of Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication & Dress Down for Success. For more information on body types and vertical dressing, visit www.casualpower.com.

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Editor:    Douglas Shaw, CM
              doug@nma1.org