The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Duly Elected and Qualified

Being a corporate transactional paralegal put me into the interesting responsibility of creating businesses for my clients and installing directors and officers to run them. In fact, among my responsibilities were creating the formation and governing documents for the entities.

No matter whether it was a director of the corporation or an officer, no matter whether it was a for profit or a not for profit entity, installation of the ones who had the power of governance over it were the same. They needed to be duly elected in addition to being found qualified to serve.

There comes a time when a corporate officer, or even a corporate director, does things that reflect so poorly on the organization that they need to be asked to step down. It's good to have the right protocols in place to start the conversations about leaving voluntarily or face removal.

Michael Peregrine considered such an instance when he wrote about removal of an 'unfit' officer in 2012.

Removal isn't always an easy task. Some of the directors may go into their roles with open minds and self sufficiency. But there are times when many who serve on the Board are of the same ilk as the one who needs to be removed or are receiving favors from that "governor" that tend to cloud their judgment and motivation to act in the best interests of the corporation. The requirements for making the move - the red flag situations - get clouded by these background "noises." They should not. Action needs to be taken. If it needs to be done on a one-by-one basis (as far as more than one of the officials of the entity), so be it.

How is removal of an officer or director done? Well, the first place to look is sometimes the most obvious. Check the bylaws. As with creating the formation documents, corporate rules are pretty universal. The rules governing removal are also essentially universal.

What constitutes incapacity or being unfit to serve becomes one of the compelling issues when making the determination to remove a person from office. Sometimes it's a simple matter of their violating the rules of the organization. Sometimes we can exercise some leniency and allow them to retain their position after there's been some counseling and a warning. But if the behavior continues, there aren't too many options left except removal.

Presidential Qualification

During the last ten years, the matter of being qualified to run for (and hold) office was raised a number of times. Details of what it takes to have the qualification to run for and hold the office of President can be found in the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1. It says,
Qualifications for the Office of President

Age and Citizenship requirements - US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
After FDR ran for a third term, the Constitution was amended to put in place term limits under the 22d Amendment.
Term limit amendment - US Constitution, Amendment XXII, Section 1 - ratified February 27, 1951

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.
One writer explains the concept of being eligible to run for the office of President in layman's terms.

So we have two rules with regard to being qualified to hold office. But that still brings us back to the question of whether or not a President can, like a corporate officer, be removed and what constitutes grounds for removal. The answer, just as with the corporate bylaws, is contained in the Constitution.

Just as a court of law does not decide whether an official of a corporation is qualified for office, so it is with a President. It is not a legal question for the office of President; it does not go to the Judicial branch for adjudication. The checks and balances provide for the Electoral College with is part of the Legislative branch. It is Congress that determines eligibility for office. It is Congress that determines if the President is unfit to serve.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected. ARTICLE 2, SECTION 1, CLAUSE 6
This election season has been very vicious. It's difficult at this writing to find U.S. authority or enlightenment on what constitutes "unfit to hold office" or what would be considered misconduct while in public office. However, just as with corporate law, it appears the issue of fitness for office is also close to being universal. And because we derive much of our law based on British jurisprudence, perhaps for this writing we should look to Crown Prosecution Service for their interpretation of misconduct in public office.

We can simplify this analysis. If the person violates the rules of the Constitution, the law of the land, there is misconduct. Creating situations that tip the scales of Justice toward finding conflicts of interest (causing undue debt for the citizens while the one or the one and their close allies benefit from being exempt from the burdens is one example). Failure to pay debts, or to pay them in a timely fashion. Exhibiting consistent behavior that signifies lack of discretion and reasonableness; in need of rational response to situations would also call into question whether a high office holder is fit to continue in office.

Some argue that President Wilson should have been removed from office because of his stroke. His wife protected him from removal. However, a compelling health issue would also be grounds for having the Vice President step into the shoes of President, or whoever the Congress determines should hold the office instead of the sitting President.

There are several books that cover this country's history with Presidents being impeached as well as actions for their removal. To name a few, consider: The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens or The History, Law, and Politics of Federal Impeachment, Second Edition.

For now, know who the people are who you propose to run your business. If they show they aren't the right fit or are veering toward taking the ship in the wrong direction, step in to take corrective actions early on, before there's drastic damage that could sink the ship.

Consider signing and sharing a petition to evaluate the fitness to serve before confirmation of the President-elect.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

OD Cautionary Lessons

There are times when teachable moments happen in a spontaneous way. You're not looking for them but they sort of leap in front of you as though challenging you to see whether you'll speak up or let them continue to fester. There are many risks when these situations arise.
  • The company brand suffers
  • Customers become annoyed and abandon the store or even the entire company
  • Customers take their business to the competition
  • Lack of training becomes obvious, causing further deterioration in credibility
  • Your business looks ridiculous
In an effort to avert these and other consequences of poor development initiatives and poor hiring strategies, here are a few cautionary lessons.

Cautionary lesson 1: Assign personnel to areas where they are most effective and then train them to learn and take on gradually increasing duties.

Cautionary lesson 2: Make certain a customer is treated with respect at every phase of contact. If they do not receive immediate attention because of high traffic, let them know that they are part of a queue and will be attended within the next [insert reasonable number] minutes.

Cautionary lesson 3: Don't put the customer through a chain of referrals that exceeds 2 unless it is absolutely mandatory. If the referrals are necessary, provide some reasonable explanation.

Cautionary lesson 4: Don't allow the wait time between referrals to amount to more than 2 minutes if at all possible. If the wait is longer, provide a reasonable expectation of when service will be provided.

Cautionary lesson 5: The customer will not be impressed when attending to their needs is put off by allowing the associate tell the customer they cannot be served because the associate is too busy doing something else that's more important. Don't be surprised if the customer responds that they have something else to do as well.

Cautionary lesson 6: When the employee is falling down on customer service, back office reprimands don't help rebuild brand. Asking the employee in the presence of the customer if the employee has knowledge about the service that was supposed to be delivered helps in the understanding on both sides of the equation. Immediately begin serving the customer while the employee watches and learns.

Cautionary lesson 7: Sometimes the customer who's being put on hold and referred around the store to all the personnel until they're back to the original is actually some type of expert who could be a consultant for your office. Refer to Cautionary lesson 2. Consider the image of the company that begins to form in the customer's mind as these types of scenarios evolve.

Chaos is one way to describe it. Is that what was intended?

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Prudent Safety Screening

As screening and background checks are done, there is probably a thought going through the hiring manager's mind about the candidate if they are of color. Some may wonder about elements of responsible hires cf. negligent hires.

Background checks should be conducted but those who could be classified as a threat to the workplace may or may not have a criminal background. Immigration status is one screening concern. We have statutes and agencies that address work eligibility for non-citizens.

Recent events have called into question how one's citizenship status colors classification as a "terrorist suspect" compared with some other designation. Is it proper to decline to hire a person because someone feels they may prove to be a jihad terrorist? What about concern regarding instigation of workplace violence? In fact, how are these terms defined?

PolitiFact addresses some of these issues in an updated article that questions how a person's citizenship status affects classifying them as a "terrorist suspect." In the seven scenarios they examine that are U.S.-based incidents, we discover only three involved individuals who did not enjoy U.S. citizenship in some form. The article then segues into considering the different types of conditions that call attention to the need for care.

Terms that come into scrutiny in the PolitiFact article are:
  • racially motivated violence
  • domestic terrorism
  • naturalized citizen
  • U.S.-born citizen
  • immigrant
  • legal immigrant
  • workplace violence
  • terrorism
Do you need a policy regarding these considerations or should you be making hiring decisions based on the candidates qualifications, skills, and work status (when it comes to immigrants)? Have a conversation with your managers about diversity and inclusion while allowing these buzz words to be addressed as they surface. Another prudent step is to have your in-house or retained employment law lawyer in attendance in order to address the legal ramifications of some moves compared to others while also discussing best practices. During that session, definitions of the terms that people are using can be discussed. An agreement can be reached about how those terms are used in your culture once the definitions are nailed down. Better to have every person talking about the same thing and with knowledge and awareness of what they're talking about.

Be certain these terms are included in a glossary of your work policies or employee handbook (or both). We are now focused on matters related to terrorism and active shooter incidents. Now that the incidents are becoming overwhelmingly frequent, thoughts about preparation are finally percolating into management consciousness. However, there is the more (literally) home grown danger that demands attention and protocols developed for the sake of safety protocols. Domestic violence and workplace abuse are also related to these types of situations. It is highly likely that the disgruntled spouse, the recently terminated employee, the over stressed worker or customer will reach their breaking point in the workplace and resort to violence in order to make their previous demands for respect and requests for cessation of abuse heard.

There are many facets to the safety picture, especially for the workplace. Violence and terrorism are merely two aspects of it. Domestic violence is the one that is routinely overlooked or considered not important. Prudent screening and background checks before hiring is important. Putting safety protocols and practices for non-routine situations should be included in them.


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Maslow and Retention Strategies

Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs circa 1940s. The validity of his theory took hold and has grown in the scope of dynamics it covers. The chart can be found in quite a number of places on the Web.

Tim Vandevall's printable version comes in both color and black and white. Some of you may be interested in something that's a little more straightforward in presentation. In that case, consider one of these versions.

The theory is explained in more detail on other sites. However, one thing becomes very apparent as each level is examined: the principles can be applied to essentially any type of organization or social unit.

What characteristics does a person who is self actualized exhibit? You know, the more I read and re-read McLeod's discussion of those 15 traits, the more I realize there are many people who have them. Unfortunately, they tend to be free spirits in relation to where they go and the people with whom they associate and interact. Many are labelled as crazy or odd while others are simply called fun. The label that's applied has many aspects for its interpretation. And many times the insecurity of the one doing the labeling plays into that. If the one doing the labeling carries some amount of authority, others will do little to make their own, independent evaluation and will simply rely on the faulty characterization.

Wikipedia traces even more of the theory, its challenges, and its expansion to seven tiers. In the 1960s and '70s, an eighth tier was added wherein a person who has reached a certain level of their own actualization turns to others in order to help them in their growth and fulfillment. It's a bit like paying it forward by becoming the teacher or mentor.

Still, the level at which we approach self actualization is what workers strive to achieve when they become employed for an organization. They want to be respected; they want to feel as though they are genuinely growing in their knowledge and abilities. They want to feel their talents are growing and they are serving the needs of customers and colleagues. It's like engagement but it's also more than mere engagement. It begins to pay in value because of loyalty - customer and employee - and referrals. It becomes expansive because the reach grows as the organization's reputation does so. It's a healthy place to be.

So I ask you who are managers, governing executives, HR professionals: What are you doing to create an environment that feeds the eight levels of needs? What are you doing to retain your valued workforce? As you map your designs for growth, you want to find yourself providing more than the basics and survival needs. It would be good to supersede the belonging level and start banging your head at versions past esteem. Perhaps qualifying for that growth entails having your people outline not only their plans for self actualization but also how to achieve it economically and so that the costs can be recouped in some way.

And now I turn to those who are employees or job seekers. As you do your research about a company, are you keeping Maslow's hierarchy in mind when it comes to finding an employer who can fulfill at least most of your needs and desires?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ACA Reaches Five Years

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reached its fifth anniversary. Publisher Wolters Kluwer published a strategic perspective for its subscribers last week.

To provide benefit widers to others who use their publications, they have also developed a white paper on the subject. They say:

Committed to ongoing ACA analysis

To mark the anniversary, we sent three Strategic Perspectives to our Health Reform WK-Edge subscribers last week, highlighting the top five ACA impacts on Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, and looking forward to changes in 2015 and beyond.

With regard to the white paper, Wolters Kluwer also says:

To give you insight into the kinds of analysis available on WK-Edge News Service, also available within the Health Reform KnowlEDGE™ Center, we have combined all three Strategic Perspectives into one, “The Affordable Care Act at Age Five: A Look Back and a Look Ahead,” for you to download now.

The download is a three-part strategic analysis "The Affordable Care Act at Age Five: A Look Back and a Look Ahead". Please also note that downloaders will qualify to participate in a free trial of WK-Edge or the Health Reform Knowledge Center! Trial information will be sent in a separate email to the registrant.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Elements of Employee Engagement

A new concept in HR lingo is "employee engagement." At Entrances (360 employment networking group on LinkedIn), we're considering what goes into considering how much and what constitutes being "engaged."

The first thing that comes to mind about this term is what it means. That's an essential first step so that everyone is talking about the same thing and so more meaning can be added to the conversation and the discoveries that arise from it.

No, I don't think the employee is getting married to anyone in the company or even to the company. (Although an argument could be made that once you've applied for the job and started the interview process, you're essentially "engaged to" the company. But I digress.) So back to defining the concept. William Kahn is the one we can blame for this and the date is 1990.

It isn't about making employees happy, according to Kevin Kruse. It's more about the buy-in that employees have to the vision and mission of the company. It's about their investment in making the company a place that provides value and encourages not only return business but also business growth.

Proof of that concept proved to be a very happy surprise was the day I had a conversation with a Starbucks Customer Service representative. The call started because of a small matter - their generic reusable cups and what to do in order to have one recognized as a legitimate purchase, not a previously used cup during the normal stream of commerce and simply found in a trash bin. In addition to becoming incensed when he grasped the breadth of the disservice, he started talking about why it's important to provide the customer with a great Starbucks experience. He went to great lengths to describe why the customer should feel they are welcome to be there and want to return because of the memory of their experiences with the personnel, the store, the quality of the goods.

The Starbucks representative didn't go into discussing the elements of engagement. However it's important to note that this employment dynamic has components that can be measured. It's also important to know which are the more important components so that the correct measurements, benchmarks, can be gained to measure how well the organization is doing.

How far into doing your job does the examination of employee engagement go? For that matter, does the standard of engagement change depending on the type of employee you are? A temporary employee slaves away the entire time they're at the job (except for the 10-minute break and 30-minute lunch period) whereas the regular employee can count "thinking time" as work. Is organizing your desk or work area or making your "to-do" list for the day (or week) considered being engaged? To what extent do those activities make your customer feel they're getting your full attention and the best you have to offer? Perhaps you should question whether even you become engaged?

So that's what we've come up with so far. Why not join us and keep this, and the other conversations, going.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Far We've Come

The calamities of our times and existence. It's good that the old falls away in deference to the new, in order to make space for Progress and state of the art practices. If that were not so, we would be buried in our own innovations, past as well as present in addition to evolving. Let's look at how this progress has impacted the world of work, recruiting, and job search.

How far we've come since the days of registering with a temp agency and waiting by the silent phone for the agency call us with a job we can do. But the phone only rang on sporadic occasions - or after we left the house because we'd grown weary of putting Life on hold while waiting for The Call. Full time, permanent work was the tried and true path with the security of a livable minimum wage, knowing you'd qualified to hold the job you landed, and happy because that also meant you'd gotten your foot in the door. It was possible to rise from the entry-level position by proving yourself worthy with good work and other advancement strategies such as applying for open positions.

After a time, progress gave us a tool to overcome being bound to the house during the business day. We did not have to balance going out on interviews and missing temp agency calls or the call offering The job. The introduction of the answering machine gave us freedom. We could access messages after we got home - after 6 PM!

How far we've come since the days of newspaper classified ads: "Situations for Men" and "Situations for Women." Only men were eligible for the engineering opportunities. There were no typist or secretarial ads in the "Men" section. And since the opportunities were not identical, there was no comparing salaries and speculating about why the wages offered for men doing the work was higher than the wages offered to women doing the same tasks and same positions.

The Oakland Fire brought mobility of phones - by necessity. But the cell phone was a coming thing and with it came tele-everything, chips, semiconductors, trans-sumthinnorothers. We could receive notice of those temp situations as they arose. And then the days of banning devices came but quickly went out the back door.

Just look at what the world of online job boards did to the recruiting industry. It led to the advent of online resumes that were searchable! Now LinkedIn profiles can be converted to .PDF files from templates available on the site. It's finally possible to create a profile that reads in a much more cogent manner. Well, depending on how good you are at creating your own resume or profile and how disciplined you can be in whittling in just the right way to craft a notable document you can create a much more cogent document.

Even before we were mature enough to get past discriminatory screening for whatever opportunity was sought, we entered the brave new world of online and televised (Skype) resumes and interviewing. Even photos attached to applications became acceptable for some situations outside of entertainment.

Moving into the world of LinkedIn and Facebook networking was a slap yourself in the face experience because it was such an obvious progression from listservs. Overcome the limiting boundaries of space by developing business relationships via online conversations and exchanges. We should have seen that coming back in the early days of the Internet.

Webinars are not only marketing and educational enrichment tools. They are opportunities for employers to strut their strong points and gain exposure to the types of people they want to attract. Have employers (or even recruiters) become aware of the recruiting and hiring potential of these instruments in their toolboxes?

So what's the next step in sourcing, recruiting, and job search? Is it about to explode because it can given the liberal avenues now available because of technology? Or will opportunities shrink for minority populations because of the xenophobia associated with the newer influxes of immigrants and the stereotypical myths that still constrain our Black and Brown populations to marginalization, low pay, and criminal records for minor offenses?

How liberal are we willing to become as we press deeper into the 21st Century in order to find the skilled and qualified talent?

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