More Proof that Happy Employees Give Their Employers Lots of Reasons to Smile

image_thumbFortune’s Best Companies to Work For list is back. And the results are as fascinating as ever.

Software giant SAS landed top honors this year, jumping into first place from 13th in 2009. Although the top slot may be a new position for SAS, it’s very familiar with the list–it’s been named a “Best Company” for each of the 13 years the honor has been awarded. Continue reading

What Can Employers Learn From Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize?

What Can Employers Learn From Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize?

Last week’s announcement that President Barack Obama would receive the Nobel Peace Prize ignited a firestorm of criticism in this country and across the world. Many felt that Obama had not yet achieved sufficient tangible results to warrant receiving the award. Maybe so. Continue reading

Recognizing the Top Small Workplaces

superhero_cheesyThe WSJ today recognized the Top Small Workplaces in its third annual report featuring the best small employers in the country.  The fifteen winners, which were complied in partnership with Winning Workplaces, were selected based on their continued investment in their employees.  The winners were selected from nearly 630 nominations, pared down to 35 finalists.  Continue reading

Have You Thanked Your Team Members Today?

thank_you_3dI recently read The Carrot Principle, an absolutely fantastic book about motivating employees through reward and recognition. It was such an incredible book that I immediately bought five more copies, which I sent to some of my clients who are particularly in tune with the wonders of an engaged workforce.  The recently published second edition of The Carrot Principle includes a wealth of research that supports what I know to be true:  Happy employees are the key to a successful organization.  And happy employees are those who receive consistent recognition for the work they do. Continue reading

How Employees Can Boost the Bottom Line by Wasting Time*

flying_tiesEver wonder how many brilliant ideas go wasted inside your company?

Maybe you don’t have to.

For years, Google has been providing engineers with “20 percent time,” a policy that grants programmers 20 percent of their time to work on independent projects of their own creation. The policy has generated such successful programs as Google Suggest, Adsense for Content, and Orkut. Perhaps more importantly, it contributes to Google’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest.  Continue reading

Tweet Me! It’s Friday, for cryin’ out loud!

Twitter continues to gain popularity and I’ve jumped on the bandwagon.  Here are my “tweets” from this week, grouped into rough categories by topic.


Social Media

Video HowCreate an Account in LinkedIn (via Professionally Speaking) Now you’ve got no excuse to avoid #social #networking

Using Twitter as a teaching tool (via #elearning future) Twitter_logo.jpeg

RT @mashable High School Admins Coerce Cheerleader for Facebook Password (and then disclose the info on her pers. pg.)

RT @fyiscreening4 Tips On How To Use Social Networks For Employee Screening (from N.Y. Law Journal)

RT @Twitter_Tips Top 10 Rules of Twitter Etiquette: –Share this guide:

RT @LissaLawyer: AmLaw Daily asks whether the Future is “Oh So Social”

RT @HRSocialMedia: White House using LinkedIn to get comments from small business on health care reform

Canada’s #privacy commissioner gives #Facebook a failing grade (RT: @cybercourt)

RT @mashable Top 5 Funniest Fake Facebook Pages Slate’s fake Obama #Facebook page is a riot



FTC has postponed (again) the start of its “Red-Flag Rule” until November due to ?s re: how to comply.

Thanks to @MelanieMcClure for mention of my “anti-harassment policy tip sheet”

RT @Eric_B_Meyer: Philly Inquirer article rips Sen. Specter for wavering on #EFCA.

In Philly, $10m #verdict in police officers’ race-bias suit cut to $30k max per Title VII cap


Presentations and Public Speaking

Delaware gets its own #Ignite night! (via The News Journal) YCST E-law did #Pecha Kucha back in April w/great response.

RT @pptninja: 31 Flavors of PowerPoint – Part I #ppt (Great post re: diff. presentation styles needed diff. settings


Work-Life Balance

WSJ’s The Juggle talks about how we handle pressure differently at home vs. at work. Is there anyone who doesn’t?

RT @DrDavidBallardRT @jessicapeterson Employees financial problems cost employers $4.5 billion annually (BusinessWeek)


The Paperless Office

RT @DisabilityTips 6 Myths of Going “Paperless” | Colorado Social Security Law

Why are fed courts so opposed to #technology in the #courtroom? NY lawyers want the rules changed. Agreed.

Great #acrobat article re: What You Can Accomplish With Adobe Acrobat Forms RT @acroboy: RT @wikiatech.


Management & Leadership

Here’s a real shocker from @nytimes: Corner Office: No Doubts: Women Are Better Managers (via @wbowser)

Great book on management: Not Everyone Gets a Trophy by Bruce Telgan. Supposed to be re: Gen Y but is applicable to all

RT @hrmagazine: PricewaterhouseCoopers offers program to develop 1st-yr college students. Great idea for #GenY!

Fourteen Leadership Traits for Success*

Leadership is an important factor to the success of any organization. Likewise, being a good leader is often an important component to the success of an individual in his or her career. Possessing leadership abilities is not only important when interacting with subordinates, but also when interacting with peers, supervisors, and individuals from other organizations. People are more willing to work for or with a person who has leadership abilities than they are to work for or with a person who does not.  leadership

The United States Marine Corps has identified fourteen traits that good leaders possess: justice, judgment, dependability, integrity, decisiveness, tact, initiative, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and endurance. Marines remember these fourteen leadership traits through the mnemonic device “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE.” Each of these leadership traits will be briefly discussed.

Justice is the quality of being consistent and impartial. A person displays this quality by giving rewards and punishments based on merit, not favoritism.

Judgment is the ability to think about things clearly and calmly, and the ability to weigh facts and possible solutions in forming an opinion or deciding on a course of action.

Dependability is the certainty and confidence others have in one’s ability to properly perform duties. A good leader can be counted on by supervisors, peers, subordinates, and clients alike.

Integrity is the honorableness of character and soundness of morals. A person that has integrity is, among other things, honest and uncorrupt.

Decisiveness is the ability to make decisions timely and to announce them in a clear manner. While it is important to think about issues clearly, there are times when a quick decision may be necessary.

Tact is the ability to interact with others without creating offense. Good leaders know what to say and how to act in situations in order to maintain favorable relationships with others.

Initiative is taking action in the absence of instructions. A good leader does not always wait to be told what to do.

Enthusiasm is the display of sincere interest in the performance of duty. An enthusiastic leader is better able to motivate others in the performance of their duties.

Bearing is the creation of a favorable impression in appearance and personal conduct.

Unselfishness is the absence of providing for one’s personal advancement or comfort at the expense of others or one’s organization.

Courage is the mental quality that recognizes fear, but enables one to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness. Although courage may seem important when leading a military unit into battle, and not so important when supervising an office, courage is an important trait for all leaders. An office manager must have the courage, for example, to deny an employee’s vacation request when necessary or to speak in front of a large audience.

Knowledge is the understanding of a science, art, or technique. A good leader continually seeks to improve his or her understanding of a subject and seeks challenging assignments.

Loyalty is the quality of faithfulness to one’s supervisors, subordinates, peers, and organization. You cannot expect others to be loyal to you or your organization if you are not loyal to them or the organization.

Endurance is the ability to withstand fatigue, stress, pain, and hardship.

Although some of these traits may be more important in some situations than in others, the presence and development of each of these fourteen leadership traits can mean the difference between a smoothly run organization and an organization plagued by strife.

*This post was written by guest blogger, Paul Loughman.  Paul is a 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law.  Paul served as a Marine prior to college and is one of the outstanding summer associates participating in Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor’s Summer Associate Program this year.  Thanks, Paul!

Now’s a Great Time for Workplace-Civility Initiatives

Workplace civility is a value that all organizations should strive to achieve. For those employers who may need a bit more motivation to implement a workplace-civility initiative, now is the time! August is “Win With Civility” month.  Chase’s Calendar of Events includes a list of causes to which August has been dedicated as a “special month.”

Noting that it is a national dedication, I thought the dedication must warrant certain recognitions, so I did a Google search for ways employers celebrate, observe, or at least acknowledge the special dedication. Surprisingly, a Google search uncovered little more than other websites noting the dedications of August and companies selling promotional materials. Although I was disappointed at the search results, I assume the results reflect a lack of interest in the special dedication rather than a lack of interest in “winning with civility” as a general principle. To help readers who want to “win with civility” in August I have included a reminder of what civility means and some suggestions on how a person can behave to “win with civility.” 

Civility is one of those words that is often tossed around but rarely defined. Everyone knows it means something like “be nice.” This is not out of line with the Free Dictionary Online definition of civility as “polite or courteous behavior” or “the act of showing regard for others.” The general definition provides some guidance for behavior, but other websites have provided more specific ways a person can “show regard for others.” Although the specific suggestions were not necessarily written to provide guidance for workplace behavior, many are particularly appropriate for workplace civility.

One website,Because It Matters, lists 10 Keys to Civility. Although the keys are not specific to the workplace, they provide guiding principles that apply to all circumstances. The 10 keys are:collection of cartoon faces

1. Respect others

2. Think positively

3. Pay attention

4. Make a difference

5. Speak kindly

6. Say thank you

7. Accept others

8. Rediscover silence

9. Listen

10. Keep your cool

Another source of guidance can be found on the National Public Radio (NPR) website. In 2003, NPR reproduced George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility, editing them for readability. Although some of the rules are inapplicable to most modern workplaces, others are perfectly applicable and well worth noting during a special month dedicated to civility. I have included below 10 of the rules that struck me as particularly applicable to all workplaces.

1. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy. (Rule 22)

2. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive. (Rule 35)

3. Strive not with your superior in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty. (Rule 40)

4. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; it savors of arrogancy. (Rule 41)

5. When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him that did it. (Rule 44)

6. Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, and presently or at some other time; in what terms to do it; and in reproving show no signs of cholor but do it with all sweetness and mildness. (Rule 45)

7. Take all admonitions thankfully in what time or place soever given, but afterwards not being culpable take a time and place convenient to let him know it that gave them. (Rule 46)

8. While you are talking, point not with your finger at him of whom you discourse, nor approach too near him to whom you talk, especially to his face. (Rule 76)

9. Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise. (Rule 82)

10. When your superiors talk to anybody hearken not, neither speak nor laugh. (Rule 84)

In the spirit of civility, thank you for taking the time to read this post. Happy “Win with Civility” month!

Related Posts:

Courtesy and Respect Get Tossed to the Side by Political Staffer

Rude Employees Are Bad for Business

Disrespectful Workplace Costs State $314k

15 Things that Jerks at Work Usually Do

Bosses Aren’t the Only Workplace Toxins: What to do with toxic employees?

Jerks-At-Work Expert Confirms Fridge Raiding Is #1 Worst Workplace Incivility

Employee Handbook Policy #502: Respectful Workplace

*This post was written by guest blogger, Elisabeth Bradley, who is wrapping up her second summer as a summer associate at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. Thanks, Elisabeth–great post!!

The Power of an Almost-Apology

President Obama has made an “almost apology” to the police officer he offended with his “acted stupidly” comment.  The President made the comment when discussing the arrest of Black Harvard scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by Cambridge, Mass. police. The police were called to Gates’ home to investigate a possible break-in but ended up arresting Gates for disorderly conduct.  From most accounts, it seemed that both sides probably overreacted. No charges were pressed.  When later asked to comment on the incident, which was perceived as having racial undertones, President Obama said the arrest was a “stupid” thing to do.

Oh my.  Cambridge police, as you may imagine, didn’t appreciate the accusation that they, as a collective whole, tending to act stupidly.  3d businessmen communicating

Responding to the escalating pushback, Obama called Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, to “clear the air.”  At a subsequent press gathering, the President told reporters that he had called both men and invited them for a beer at the White House.  The President did not say whether his calls included an apology, nor did he apologize publicly about his comment.  

Many are now asking whether a true apology is necessary or appropriate, or whether it’s enough to simply “clear the air” and put the whole issue to rest.

My answer to this question is a practical one.  If “clearing the air” without a full-blown apology actually does the trick, then no apology is needed. But, more often than not, if you want to be sure that the matter is resolved, an apology is the way to go.  Remember, you don’t have to apologize for something you didn’t do. So, if your intentions were good but the words came out wrong, then apologize for your word choice. 

Is a public apology needed?  Again, I vote “no.”  If those persons who were offended by the comment, they were offended only on behalf of the individuals involved.  No slight was done to members of the public directly.  So, it makes sense that, if the individuals involved are satisfied with the President’s almost-apology, then the public should be satisfied, as well. 

In the workplace, conflict arises constantly.  Employees who understand the value of a sincere and immediate apology (or even an almost-apology), will avoid more senseless arguments, hurt feelings, and have less stress overall.  Plus, when you are the one apologizing, you feel as if you’ve conquered a big part of the conflict just by stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for your actions. Then, even if the conflict does not resolve, you can take away the satisfaction of knowing that you tried and then let go of the results over which you have no control.

With that in mind, be extra kind to your co-workers today.  It’s Monday, after all.

Social Intelligence: A Hidden Key to Employment Success*

The crux of employment success is social intelligence. For years, individuals have been judged by various aptitude tests (i.e. I.Q. test, SAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT, GMAT). However, individually, those tests are not the best indicators of who will be successful. Recent studies show that success is largely attributed to social intelligence. Social intelligence is equivalent to interpersonal intelligence and involves perceptiveness, situational savvy, and interactional skill. Social intelligence is understanding and acting in accordance with social situations and environments to obtain cooperation, objectives, and achieve results.

In employment fields like law and business, social intelligence is one of the hidden keys to success. Lawyers, in particular, are constantly engaged in a continuum of social interactions. One minute they are dealing with people within their firm and another minute they are interacting with clients, other firms (lawyers), and/or the judiciary. As a result, a proper understanding and use of social intelligence is fundamental to a lawyer’s success.

In Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success, Karl Albrecht presents a five-part model of social intelligence: (1) Situational Awareness; (2) Presence; (3) Authenticity; (4) Clarity; and (5) Empathy. Albrecht’s break-down and presentation of social intelligence is helpful for those interested in developing or improving their social intelligence. Each of those parts, as presented by Albrecht, will be discussed in turn.

Social Radar”

Situational awareness can be thought of as having a “social radar,” or the ability to read situations and interpret the behaviors of others in terms of possible intentions, emotional states, and reactions. It includes a knowledge of cultural “holograms”-the unspoken background patterns, paradigms, and social rules that govern various social situations and interactions. It also means having an appreciation for the perspective of others, and a practical sense of the way people react to stress, conflict, and uncertainty. Situational awareness requires a respectful interest and understanding of other people. Being self-centered or preoccupied with ones own feelings, needs, and interests and not open to those of others, will hamper situational awareness.

Presence incorporates a range of verbal and nonverbal patterns, such as physical appearance, body language, mood, demeanor, voice quality, and subtle movements. It involves the way those factors/signals affect people’s evaluative impressions or opinions of us. Presence requires that we pay special attention to the manner and way in which we communicate, as it is also the way we convey our sense of self.  3d businessmen communicating

Authenticity, Clarity, Empathy

Authenticity regards the social radars of others, and what signals they identify in judging you as being honest, open, ethical, trustworthy, and well-intentioned. Authenticity is fundamental to developing rapport and people’s perspective of you. It requires that you constantly assess your actions, and whether people will interpret you as being “authentic.”

Clarity is the ability to explain oneself, illuminate ideas, articulate views, proposed courses of action, and pass data clearly and accurately. Clarity is fundamental to effective communication and cooperation. It requires being an active and attentive listener so one can adequately and effectively respond to an individual or group.

Empathy, in the context of social intelligence, goes beyond its plain definition. It entails having the ability to sympathize with another but includes having a shared feeling between two people. It is a state of connectedness with another person, which creates the basis for positive interaction. That interconnectedness inspires people to cooperate. It is a condition of rapport. To achieve empathy with another person means getting that person to have a shared feeling of connectedness with you, which leads them to move with and toward you rather than against you. Accordingly, empathy requires avoiding or abandoning toxic behaviors, and adopting or increasing nourishing behaviors toward other people.

When taken together, understood, and employed, these five-parts of social intelligence can foster effective client counseling and client-attorney interaction in addition to intra and inter-firm (attorney) interactions­-whether or not they are in court, during negotiations, or involve general interactions. Importantly, social intelligence can help maintain and develop working relationships with judicial figures.

*Written by guest blogger, Darius Ravangard.  Darius is a rising 3L and joint-degree student at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing his J.D. and a Masters of International Affairs.  Before law school, Darius played division-one soccer at Binghamton University.  And, this year, Darius has been blazing trails at Young Conway as a summer associate.  Thank you, Darius!