Test Your Employment-Negotiating IQ

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