Test Your Employment – Negotiating IQ Archives

Test Your Employment-Negotiating IQ

Published on October 4th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Have you been reading our blog posts? Have you been watching our YouTube videos? Think you’ve made progress in becoming your own best negotiator? Let’s see:

Question 1:

You’ve broken one arm and several ribs in a nasty ice-skating fall. The healing is not going well. Your doctor recommends bed rest for at least three weeks. You should consider:

a. If your allotment of “sick days” are exhausted, asking to use your accrued vacation time. 

b. Consider taking an unpaid leave of absence using the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) law.

c. Filling out the forms for short-term disability.

d. Asking to work from home at a reduced workload. 

e. All of the above.

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Best Answer: Each of the measures A through D should be considered when you must be away from work for an extended period of time due to an illness or injury. This is an instance in which you may need to confer with your boss, your HR representative, your doctor, and even your attorney to figure out what step, or combination of steps, would be right for you. 

So, the Correct Answer to Question 1 is “E,” “All of the above.”

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider reviewing our Newsletter entitled “A Special Issue: The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) – The 50 Things You May Need to Know.” Simply, [click here].

If you are considering a leave of absence for health related concerns, we offer a Model Memo to help you request the FMLA forms necessary to do so. To obtain a copy, simply [click here].

Question 2:

On Friday, at 4:00 pm, you’re asked to meet your boss in a conference room, and she’s sitting there with your HR representative. In just a few short sentences, you learn you are being “downsized.” What should you do?

a. Share your feelings.

b. Demand to know who authorized your termination.

c. Ask to call your lawyer.

d. Listen carefully, accept any papers you are given, and ask any questions you may have.

e. Sign whatever documents you are asked to sign.

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Best Answer: At time of termination, it makes sense only to listen and ask questions. Never, ever sign any documents without your lawyer first reviewing it, although you have no right to have a lawyer present at such a meeting. Additionally, it can only harm you to either show emotions or share feelings, or demand to know anything. Asking questions about any related subjects is appropriate and can only be helpful.  

So, the Correct Answer to Question 2 is “D.”      

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “Just been Pink-slipped? The Three Things to Do.” Simply [click here].

Question 3:

You’ve been told that you can’t receive any of your bonus unless you sign a “non-compete” agreement that seems to say that, if you ever leave for any reason, you can’t work for a “competitor” for two years. You should:

a. Sign it, because courts never enforce these any more.

b. Simply refuse to sign it. 

c. Ask your HR representative to limit it to a few months, or perhaps to two or three certain “competitors,” or maybe agree to pay you if you’re out of work as a result.

d. Ask if you can have a lawyer look at it before you sign it.

e. Sign it, but write “Under Protest” next to your signature.

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Best Answer: A “non-compete” agreement is a device that restricts you from working for a competitor for a period of time after you leave your employer. These agreements are becoming more and more common, and pose a risk to your employability and, for that reason, your career. Usually they are distributed by HR with a memo that says, in effect, “You must sign and return this in order to remain employed” (or receive your bonus, or stock options, etc.) 

Courts in almost all states will enforce these agreements. Worse, they don’t need to be enforced in court in order to be effective. Future employers will likely ask you if you’ve signed one; if you have, they likely won’t hire you until your “non-compete” period has expired. 

It’s always important to have an attorney review what you have been asked to sign, and to try to limit the time, the geography, the competitors and the conditions in which “non-compete’s” may apply. Some people may have enough negotiating leverage to simply refuse to sign one, but that is not all that common. 

So, the Correct Answers to Question 3 are both “C” and “D.” 

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider reviewing our many Newsletters and Questions and Answers on Non-Competes in our Resource Center. You can do so by simply [click here].

Faced with a Non-Compete? You may want to consider obtaining our “Ultimate Non-Compete Package”, including our 185-Point Master Guide and Checklist to Non-Compete’s and Model Letter to assist you in Responding to a Request to Sign a Non-Compete. To obtain a copy [click here]. 

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And Some Additional Workplace Insight:

A recent report suggests that the publishers of Webster’s Dictionary were considering adding these three new workplace words to their lexicon of the English language: 

“Ohnosecond” – That measure of time during which you realize you just emailed to the entire company your intimate “Thank You” note to last night’s hot date. 

“Blamestorming” – The treatment afforded those who forgot to attend the meeting called to discuss a recently failed project. 

“Assmosis” – The process of advancing one’s career by continually smiling in extremely close proximity to the boss. 

We hope you passed our Employment Negotiating IQ Test!

New “self-tests” will be forthcoming each month!

P.S.: Don’t know what to say, or how to say it? To help you we offer Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Form Agreements for almost every workplace issue, concern and problem that requires your smart navigating and negotiating. Just [click here].

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

Test Your Employment-Negotiating IQ

Published on August 29th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Have you been reading our blog posts? Have you been watching our YouTube videos? Think you’ve made progress in becoming your own best negotiator? Let’s see:

Question 1:

Your HR representative can best serve your interests as your: 

a. Advocate and source of encouragement

b. Confidante and friend

c. Source of information about benefits, policies and plans

d. Frequent lunch companion

e. Way to tell your boss of your feelings

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Best Answer: If there’s any first lesson to learn about dealing effectively with HR, it’s that your HR representative is not your friend, and shouldn’t be expected to be on your side in any matter whatsoever. It is the job of your HR representative to “manage” you effectively, that is, though it sounds starkly cold, to “acquire, maintain and dispose” of you as efficiently as possible. 

You should view your HR representative as nothing more than your source of information about benefits, policies and plans. 

You should not view your HR representative as an advocate, a confidante, a companion or a conduit for information to your boss. 

You should keep a “professional distance” from Human Resources, as they are, by job description, not on your “side” in any matter, manner or issue. 

So, the Correct Answer to Question 1 is “C.”

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “Seven Timeless Truths about Human Resources.” Simply [click here].

Question 2:

Your employer’s Employee Handbook says that your employment relation is “at will.” This means that:

a. Your employer can fire you for any reason whatsoever

b. Your employer can fire you and not pay you anymore 

c. Your employer can fire you whenever he or she wants, without limits

d. All of the above

e. None of the above

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Best Answer: None of the three statements about “at will” employment are true. The phrase “at will employment” means that the employment relation can be ended by either the employer or the employee at any time, but there are some limits even on that.   

Some people think “at will” employment means an employer can fire an employee for any reason whatsoever; that’s not true. There are hundreds of reasons for which an employer can’t fire an employee, including (a) because of the employee’s race, age, gender, nationality or pregnancy; (b) because the employee spoke out about company wrongdoing; and (c) because the employee is about to vest in a pension or retirement plan.    

Some people think “at will” employment means an employer can fire an employee and not pay you anymore. That’s false, too, because whether or not an employee continues to work for his or her employer, the employee must be paid all commissions earned, and bonuses promised, and any severance due, and in some cases others monies, too. 

Some people think “at will” employment means an employer can fire an employee at any time the employer wishes; that’s false, too, because there are many possible limits on timing of termination, including those in any employment agreements, or in any employer “progressive discipline” plans, and those imposed by certain federal laws (including the “W.A.R.N. Act”), and any agreements.

Unfortunately, many employers want you to believe that “at will” means “no rights.” That is 100% not true.

Accordingly, the Correct Answer to Question 2 is “E,” “None of the above.” “At will” employment has hundreds, if not thousands, of exceptions, limitations and qualifiers.                 

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider reading our Newsletter entitled “At-Will Employment” – What Exactly Does That Mean?  Simply [click here].

Question 3:

You discovered that your boss is collecting company reimbursement for expenses that she incurred on purely personal matters. What should you do?

a. Report the abuse to your boss’s boss by email

b. Ignore the abuse because it isn’t your problem

c. Ask to speak with your HR representative about the abuse 

d. Review the company website to see if you can report the abuse confidentially

e. Privately tell your boss of your concerns for her if she continues doing it

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Best Answer: There is none. This is really a “trick” question, because there simply is no one right answer. 

Any time you become aware that someone in your company or organization is engaging in impropriety, you’re faced with a dilemma: ignore or act. You have to understand that there is risk in reporting the impropriety, and there is also risk in not reporting it. So what do you do? Consider consulting an experienced employment attorney, and consider the following ten factors carefully: 

  1. How “material” is the impropriety? A few dollars or millions?
  2. Is the impropriety a violation of company policy, a violation of government regulations, or might it even be criminal?
  3. Does your company have a required mechanism for reporting such things?
  4. If the company has a required reporting mechanism, does it permit confidential reporting? 
  5. Does your company have specific policies that are intended to shield you from later retaliation?
  6. Might the impropriety, if discovered, be blamed on you?
  7. How many people seem to be involved in the impropriety?
  8. Is the impropriety capable of being “undone,” for example, the money returned.
  9. Does your company consider you culpable if you are aware of such wrongdoing, and failed to report it?
  10. Does anyone know that you are aware of the wrongdoing?

Regardless of how you decide to move forward, you’re WorkingWise to use email to make a permanent and clear record of what you reported, to whom, and when. These situations, increasingly common, need to be treated with the utmost care and concern.             

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So, how did you do? Better than this employee, we hope:

A youthful Investment Banker had just started her own firm. She’d rented a beautiful office, and had it furnished with antiques. Sitting at her desk, she saw a man come into the outer office. Wishing to appear involved in a major deal, the investment banker picked up the phone, and started to pretend she was negotiating a major merger-and-acquisition deal. She spoke of billions of dollars, and meetings between warring Boards of Directors. Finally, she hung up, and asked the visitor, “Can I help you.” The visitor said, “Why, yes, I’ve come to install the telephone service.”

We hope you passed your first Employment Negotiating IQ Test!

New “self-tests” will be forthcoming each month!

P.S.: Don’t know what to say, or how to say it? To help you we offer Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Form Agreements for almost every workplace issue, concern and problem that requires your smart navigating and negotiating. Just [click here].

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

Test Your Employment-Negotiating IQ

Published on July 10th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Have you been reading our blog posts? Have you been watching our YouTube videos? Think you’ve made progress in becoming your own best negotiator? Let’s see:

Question 1:

You arrive at the office one morning, and are called into a conference room. You’re accused of being “hostile” to your assistant yesterday, after he took two hours for lunch. What should you do?

a. Simply refuse to discuss the matter, as it is just silly.

b. Ask to have your personal attorney present with you in the meeting.

c. Ask what the company policy is on “hostility,” and what the specific allegations are.

d. Take the position that whatever you said, he surely deserved it.

e. Remind your HR representative that “Everyone talks that way.”

Your Answer (choose one – no peaking!!): a b c d e

The Best Answer: More than anything else, you need to find out what’s going on: the facts of the allegations, and the specifics of company policy about “hostility.” Your most important task is to ask about how the “investigation” is going to be handled. Approach the problem from a calm, deliberate, objective basis. That’s your best way to handle any allegation made against you.

Initially, you should just absorb information, to use later to your benefit. Listen, ask questions, and listen some more. Perhaps take notes. Try not to make any statements until you’ve been given the answers to your questions. Emphasize that you may need some time to think about things before speaking.

However, don’t fight the process. Refusing to participate in an internal investigation could be considered insubordination, and thus grounds for firing. Don’t be dismissive of the concerns. Don’t be defensive. And don’t try to justify anything. Act professionally, and objectively. Remember, too, that you don’t have any “right to legal counsel” in an employer’s internal investigation.

Incidentally, “everyone does it” is simply not a defense to any allegation.

So, the Correct Answer to Question 1 is “C.”

[By the way, if you chose “D,” that “whatever he said, he surely deserved
it,” you need some real coaching. You lose one vacation day. Ouch! That’s not a positive for anyone’s Employment Values.]

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “Responding to Allegations at Work.” Simply [click here].

Question 2:

You plan to resign from your job tomorrow. Which things can you take home with you today?

a. List of Clients’ names

b. List of Competitors’ websites

c. List of Co-workers home addresses

d. List of Suppliers’ telephone numbers

e. List of Board Members’ email addresses

Your Answer (choose one of the following): a b c d e f

The Best Answer: Taking confidential information with you when you leave employment is like taking a computer with you – it’s a kind of theft, plain and simple.

Names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of clients, co-workers, Board Members and suppliers are considered “confidential” because they are not publicly known or available, and have been put together by your employer over time, through effort and expense, and are valuable. For example, your employer’s competitors would love to get their hands on the names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of clients, co-workers, Board members, and suppliers, so they could put them to their business advantage.

However, information is not confidential if it is publicly available, and websites on the internet are “publicly available” by their very nature. They would also probably be of little special value to your employer.

So, the Correct Answer to Question 2 is “B.”

[Note: If you picked “f,” you need a quick cup of coffee: there
is no answer “f.” Did we catch you napping?]

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “When Leaving – How to Take Colleagues with You.” Simply [click here].

Question 3:

You’ve been accused of poor performance, and placed on a “performance improvement plan,” or “P.I.P.” What’s your first step?

a. Contest the facts of your performance, and the reasons for the “P.I.P.”

b. Look for a new job outside the company

c. Ask for a severance package

d. Ask to be assigned to a different boss

e. Work your hardest to satisfy the P.I.P.’s requirements

Your Answer (choose one): a b c d e

The Answer: Each of the five suggested answers to this question are good things to do, but only one answer is the “best” answer, because the question is what step should you take “first.”

The Best Answer: When confronted by an allegation that your performance is not “up to snuff,” you should first ask for an opportunity to give your side about your performance, and raise any reasons why better performance was made impossible by circumstances or people you don’t control. Raise, too, the reasons why you believe you have been unfairly singled out on the issue.

After arranging for an opportunity to refute your performance appraisal, then you should start taking each of the other four steps: look for a new job outside the company, because these circumstances rarely end with your staying in your employer’s employ; ask for a severance package, in case you don’t find a job in time; ask to be assigned to a different boss, to avoid unpleasantries and to give you a chance elsewhere, no matter how slim a chance; and work your hardest to satisfy the P.I.P.’s requirements.

Few people meet a P.I.P.’s requirements. Very few.

So, the “best” answer to Question 3 is “A.”

It never hurts to be prepared: Consider watching our 10-minute video on YouTube entitled “Performance Improvement Plans – How to Respond.” Simply [click here].

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So, how did you do? Better than this fellow:

A young executive is leaving the office late one night when he finds the CEO standing over the shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. “This is a very sensitive official document,” says the CEO. “My secretary’s gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”

“Sure,” says the junior exec, excited that the company CEO would let him in on something like this. He turns on the shredder and hits the start button.

“Great,” says the CEO. “I just need one copy.”

We hope you passed your first Employment Negotiating IQ Test!

New “self-tests” will be forthcoming!

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved


Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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