Corrections or additions?
These articles by Bart Jackson and Kathleen McGinn Spring were
prepared for the May 21, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
HR Professionals Can’t Be Too Careful
Hallmark of our new millennium: we are more touchy and
less feely — and we have the laws to back it up. After the job
interview is over and the human resource interviewer walks the
to the door, she casually asks what the candidate is doing for the
Easter holiday. Whoops! "Lawsuit, lawsuit," screeches the
equal-employment-alert siren. This human resource professional could
be accused of furtively trying to ferret out religious information
about a prospective employee. In theory, the candidate could file
a discrimination suit against both the interviewer and her company.
Such are the rules of the human resource game. And whether you judge
them as appropriate or overboard, all employers must be aware of them.
A road map for navigating without mishap is presented at a day-long
seminar, "How to Avoid Costly Legal Problems for Human Resource
Professionals," on Thursday, May 22, at 9 a.m. at the Mercer
Center Cost: $119. Call 609-586-9446. The event features Frank
Crivelli, partner in Hamilton -based law firm Kalavruzos, Mumola,
Hartman & Crivelli. From pre-hiring strategies, right through
policies, Crivelli addresses the full scope of employee issues.
"I always say a human resource program is akin to a car: every
once in a while you’ve got to change the oil and overhaul the system
to make it efficient," says Crivelli. For the past decade, he
has performed such overhauls in some of the nation’s toughest arenas.
As captain and a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, he helped
shape the Navy and Department of Defense’s sexual harassment policies.
As a major in the Marine reserve he is still called upon to
serious harassment cases. Crivelli also serves as mock trial coach
for the West Windsor-Plainsboro high schools.
Policy and paper are the employer’s best sword and shield against
personnel problems, according to Crivelli. Workplace laws are
Therefore, policies and recording methods in dealing with them must
be equally thorough. Grievances will happen, but with a little
they need not lead to the legal tar pits.
to hiring as strictly geographical. But a national search will not
necessarily free you from discrimination claims; nor will placing
ads in all appropriate professional journals. "Wide range
notes Crivelli, "must reach across ethnic, gender, and age
as well." If, for example, over 90 percent of the readership of
a particular electronic engineering journal are white males,
an engineer’s position solely in this journal could be construed as
narrowing hiring efforts to exclude women and minorities. The goal
of current law is to force a little outreach on the part of employers.
Sometimes it is not possible to hire a qualified woman or member of
a minority group for a particular job title, but an employer who can
show that he has sent recruiters to predominantly female or minority
colleges and has placed ads in Spanish-language newspapers, has gone
a long way toward demonstrating a good faith effort.
checking the resume," says Crivelli. At some point, nearly every
employee will have a grievance, be up for promotion, or face possible
termination. If the employee has been notified three times in his
periodic work review or in separate citings of some particular job
failing, it makes the employer’s actions appear more legitimate —
not only in the law’s eyes, but in the view of other employees as
well. Swearing that you have verbally cited this employee "time
and again" is not enough. Record each reprimand.
Likewise, make sure to document praise. Promoting a worker whose file
is stuffed with written commendations provides some protection against
claims that equally qualified candidates were passed over, perhaps
because of age, gender, or ethnicity.
disabled candidate’s limitations before crossing over the line from
justified job fitness inquiry into discrimination? The law is very
specific, but do your interviewers know it, and more importantly,
do they apply it? An annual legal audit of all human resource
is one of the best tools for keeping companies out of the courtroom.
does not halt at the threshold of your office. Clients and vendors
come under a less stringent, but enforceable, set of guidelines.
the law assumes that a client has the option either to endure
behavior or simply to shop elsewhere. Thus harassing and offensive
language seldom becomes a legal issue. However, a firm’s entire
of awarding business and rejecting bids must be as clearly
as its hiring practices. Here again, a little ostensible outreach
is called for.
in breadth, if not depth," claims Jarjour. Companies make sure
to purchase basic fire, theft, loss, property, and general liability
insurance. But they forget to cover blunders. Jarjour says every firm
should hold a substantial Errors and Omissions policy as a sort of
corporate malpractice insurance. Well designed, such policies can
cover negligent hiring practices, employment contract disputes, and
even certain aspects of harassment.
Yet in the end, no matter how many layers of prevention you stack
up, legal claims can seep through. Every business needs to have both
an official and an unofficial settlement plan. Many claims, if
turned over to a pre-established employees’ court, can be taken care
of at a fraction of the cost of bringing them before more costly
If, however, the claimant seeks more official redress, you, as
should already have in place a line of mediation, arbitration, and
litigation fallbacks. The choice of venue will depend largely on your
case. Mediators generally aim to strike a compromise and keep the
employer/employee relationship functioning. Arbitration, while
cheaper than a courtroom, is less likely to send the parties away
with a clear cut win/loss decision.
While paper trails along with carefully-drafted policies help to turn
away legal bullets from disgruntled employees, the best bet remains
keeping them happy in the first place. If you hire with the sole goal
of seeking only the optimum workforce and strive to maintain a well
informed, happy staff, it will be recognized. The lone employee
his treatment in such an atmosphere will not find support and is less
likely to pursue or win a legal victory.
— Bart Jackson
Today: More home foreclosures than any time in American
history; the second largest trade deficit; gyrating oil prices; and
high unemployment at home and in Europe and Japan. Globally, business
is a disaster. Ah, but locally, this is spring. Real estate, clothing,
travel, and a host of other markets bloom with promise. The money
is out there, but the spending is very selective. Thus the mantle
of profit or loss, in these odd times more than ever, falls on the
shoulders of the sales force.
Yet, unlike weight lifting, sales power does not improve with daily
repetition alone. Enhancement demands the kind of study delivered
in the seminar "Recharging Your Sales Tactics" taking place
on Tuesday, May 27, at 8 a.m. at Panera at Nassau Park. Cost: $20,
breakfast included. Call 609-989-5232.
Sponsored by the Small Business Development Center of the College
of New Jersey, this workshop features Michael Sleppin, founder
of Cranford-based Paradigm Associates (www.paradigm-assoc.nj.com).
The techniques discussed are designed to benefit not only the
sales professional, but also the occasional program presenter. After
all, all business entails selling.
Stepping back from the podium, Sleppin walks down among his audience
and asks individuals why they are there. What’s more, he listens.
"I’m not here to come from the mountain and deliver the Sleppin
Rules of Selling," he laughs. "I come to each seminar trying
to help the people with their needs." And in so doing, the speaker
provides his prime directive to salespeople.
Sleppin was raised in New York City, graduated from Gettysburg
and went straight into the army. Following his stint in the service,
Sleppin spent three decades in Chicago, on the sales force of two
major high tech firms. Too energetic to retire, Sleppin moved east
and for the past 14 years has run Paradigm Associates where, as he
puts it, he "facilitates deals for the firm’s 60 clients."
The silver-tongued salesperson who can indeed sell the occasional
ice box to the occasional Eskimo does exist, grants Sleppin. But in
the long run, he says, this seller is not going to be your top
Sales are not won by pushing product alone, however cleverly.
whole focus is to re-focus the entire process around the customer
in what he calls "consultive selling."
role as that of a diagnostician. The customer, even the casual
is someone who doesn’t feel well — or at least wants to feel
It is the seller’s job to find out where it hurts and to bring both
the pain and the solution to light. This approach transforms the
from a product pusher to a sympathetic problem solver. On a first
visit, you may end up giving out nothing more than free information.
You might even steer the prospect to a competitor. But you are laying
the cornerstone for a long term customer relationship.
apt to succeed. The first is the salesperson who has just fallen in
love with his product. He is the skier who adores skiing and makes
it obvious that this job is just a way of financing his addiction.
Further, it becomes abundantly clear to every customer within earshot
that he wouldn’t dream of hitting the slopes with any other kind of
ski than the one he is waving before you. You’d have to be crazy to
set foot on snow with anything else. Seen in the glow of his
and expertise, the product gleams seductively.
The second, albeit more subtle, sales champion, is that individual
who just loves selling. He loves listening to you, hearing your needs,
talking about his product. He seems never to have met a person or
a tool he didn’t like. You don’t care that he has never ridden a
You like him. You like the idea he’s planted of getting together with
the kids on the bunny slope. Together, you and he trace your fingers
along the ski’s finely engineered edge. Nothing is so contagious as
Beyond their success, the only trait these two sellers have in common
is their passion. "Every good salesperson must have an enormous
ego drive," says Sleppin.
before he can move a single widget. The customer must be confident
he is dealing with a trustworthy individual. "But trustworthiness
is like being tall or being happy," notes Sleppin. "If you
are, everybody will see it. If you’re not, you can’t convince anybody
that you are."
Sleppin insists that he should be placed under the wing of the very
top performers. While this may not be exactly an earthshaking
technique, it remains surprisingly rare. Too often, recruits are
by some aging sales veteran who is not too busy to give a little
Unfortunately, the reason he is not too busy to teach the newcomer
the ropes is that he has a small client list. "Always clone your
stars," says Sleppin. "You want to reproduce the best in your
Successful selling — like leadership, or management — is a
process that involves a great deal of chemistry. Some have the gift,
others always struggle. But like every skill, there are techniques
and practiced approaches that may not always make the path smooth,
but will definitely increase the reward along the way.
— Bart Jackson
The New Jersey Society of Public Accountants holds its
annual two-day "Accounting Business and Technology Show" on
Wednesday, May 28, at 8 a.m. at the Meadowlands Exposition Center.
Cost: $50 for both days; $35 for one day; exhibit hall, free. Call
973-226-4494 for more information.
Ahead of the event, the American Institute of Certified Public
polled a number of its members, including 142 CPAs holding the
Certified Information Technology Professional designation, on the
top technologies of the year.
Information security came in first, up two spots from last year. This
category includes the hardware, software, processes, and procedures
in place to protect an organization’s information systems from
and external threats. Protection options include firewalls,
password management, patches, locked facilities, Internet protocol
strategy, and perimeter control.
The CPAs say this year’s list was exceptional because six new items
made their way into the final list. They include:
capturing, indexing, storing, retrieving, searching, and managing
documents electronically, including knowledge and database management.
Business information management makes the promise of a
office a reality.
operating systems, applications, and databases to "talk" to
each other and for information to flow freely regardless of
language, or platform.
technology transfers voice or data from one machine to another via
the airwaves without physical connectivity. Examples include cellular,
satellite, Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G, and two-way paging.
or hardware solutions that list and track successful and unsuccessful
login attempts on a network such as Tripwire. Intrusion detection
capabilities are being built into many of today’s firewall
all customer touch points, including Call Center Technologies,
Data Warehousing, and all other technologies used to facilitate
with customers and prospects.
being collected and converted to digital formats. This information
must be protected from unauthorized use by those with access to the
data. Privacy is a business issue, as well as a technology issue
of state, federal, and international regulations.
to the importance of remote connectivity — technology that allows
a user to connect to a computer from a distant location — and
to disaster recovery planning, which they define as the development,
monitoring, and updating of the process by which organizations plan
for continuity of their business in the event of a loss of business
information resources due to impairments such as theft, virus
weather damage, accidents, or other malacious destruction.
The paperless office may be a mirage, but the bookless
office could upon us. Dictionaries — foreign language, scientific,
and street slang, along with Webster’s — are now a click away.
The same is true of encyclopedias (remember encyclopedias?), almanacs,
books of familiar quotations, guidebooks, medical reference tomes,
and law books. Given websites like refdesk (www.refdesk.com), it is
entirely possible to go from January straight through December without
ever hefting a single office reference book.
But even the most Internet savvy offices still contain dozens —
even tens of thousands — of copies of a single book. But that
ubiquitous business tool almost certainly is facing the same fate
as the folding paper map. This is so because Verizon has just started
circulating its first electronic phone book.
Called Superpages, the wafer-thin CD could replace — with a single
download — a stack of phone books taller than the most imposing
redwood. From the executive penthouse to the mail room, and in each
cubicle in-between, every corporate denizen has long had his own
copy of the weighty yellow tome. But Verizon’s new electronic
product could clear desk space faster than the average intern can
say "speeding locomotive."
The CD is a snap to install. Directions that come with it explain
how to put it onto a LAN server or a web server, so that everyone
in the office has access to its contents. Using single copies is easy
too, as easy as sliding the CD into its drive.
The Superpages’ homepage has a simple index on its upper left-hand
side. The categories are emergency pages (which can also be accessed
via an ambulance icon on the task bar), community magazine, government
blue pages, business white pages, residential white pages, and
The community magazine points to the format’s good points, and bad.
The only way to search the magazine is to choose from one of four
topics. Rather than listing, say, "cultural attractions,"
the CD tells users that its community magazine contains information
on the State House. But click on the State House section, and
on the Grounds for Sculpture, the Princeton University Art Museum,
and even Penn’s Landing comes up. It is a good bet that a number of
users, interested in a range of cultural options, will never click
on this heading. It is the same with the other magazine sections.
Another category is labeled "Princeton University Sports,"
and yet it also contains detailed information on other spectator
including diagrams for a number of stadiums.
Look past the headings, because nearly every attraction in the
magazine contains a link to its web page, a most useful tool. Add
the ability to print out driving directions, diagrams, and ticket
options, and the CD version of the phone book’s community magazine
gains a real edge over its paper cousin.
Some of the same quirks show up in the "coupon" section. Again
the index is the weak link. A first click on the lawyer section seemed
to turn up no coupon offers from attorneys. There was a pest control
company with a big coupon (15 percent off any termite extermination),
an offer from a body shop ($125 off any restoration job coming it
at over $1,500 — unless paid for with a credit card), and a deal
from an auto glass shop ($10 off on any new windshield), but the
didn’t seem to be there. A second try and a more careful read,
found him up at the bottom of the page, offering 20 percent off any
Both the residential and the business white pages are straight
A nice touch is the ability to search by name or by phone number.
Pages can be viewed one at a time, or in the same dual lay-out that
occurs when a phone book is opened onto a desk. A zoom feature is
a help for those who need reading glasses, but are putting off buying
The yellow pages can be searched by business name, heading, keyword,
or phone number. Here, in the meat of the book-replacement CD, there
are a few little problems. A search for "web design" elicited
the quick response that two-word searches are not allowed. Combining
the two words resulted in a "no listings found" response.
Searching on "Internet" turned up several web design firms.
More came up under "graphics."
Here is where an electronic yellow pages might change advertising
practices. After searching on "graphics," a prominent bright
green arrow pointed right toward the firm with "graphics"
in its name. Firms using the singular — say "Graphic Design
Boutique" — did not get the green arrow. And neither did those
who used something, perhaps "Web Creations."
An even stronger case for new advertising strategy, should the yellow
pages CD replace its paper equivalent, is that if one looks for, say,
painters, it would seem that those coming up on the first page would
have a huge advantage. Or perhaps those on the first three pages would
have this advantage. This is so because it takes only a tiny fraction
of a second to flip the pages in a paper book, but it takes up to
15 seconds to "flip" the CD page. That is an eternity in
time. Getting from the fifth to the sixth page of painters took 10
seconds, and getting from the sixth to the seventh took an almost
unbearable 15 seconds.
Being listed first has always been good — as AAAAA Taxi and
company names illustrate — but when and if the CD version of the
yellow pages becomes the dominant format, the ante for appearing at
the head of a list would increase considerably.
Another tiny problem with the Superpages CD yellow pages is, once
again, an index issue. Upon receiving a search request for painters,
the CD offered only two choices, "painters’ equipment and
and "painters — automotive." Choosing the former did
turn up painting contractors, but it is strange that the categories
are not either more broad — simply "painters" — or
more narrow, including more business segments.
These are small quibbles. Overall, the electronic phone book has it
all over quickly dog-eared, sometimes torn-apart paper phone books,
whose typeface appears to be shrinking a little more every year. While
absolutely no use in boosting toddlers up to the dining table, the
CD version is a winner in most other situations.
A $1,000 scholarship has been created and funded by
law firm Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman to recognize
made by a volunteer "buddy" in the Hamilton YMCA Special Kids
Organized Recreation program (SKOR).
The SKOR program, started in 1999, runs basketball, soccer, and summer
camp programs for special needs children in the Hamilton area. More
than 100 special needs children participate in the program. They are
aided by "buddies," who are high school students who volunteer
time to help. As many as 50 buddies are involved in the SKOR program
at any given time.
The scholarship, which will be given to a graduating high school
to help with higher education costs, will be supervised by Tom Smith,
a partner at the law firm and one of the founders of the SKOR program.
For more information call 609-520-0900, ext. 2299.
(Kids Instructed in Tolerance through Education and Support) has
mini-grants to Princeton Outreach Projects, Trenton After School
Samaritan Baptist Church, and Antheil School.
of programs that attempt to promote conflict resolution or reduce
violence in children’s behavior. Eligible programs must include a
component that involves parents. The maximum grant awards are $500.
For more information call 609-637-4908.
With $150,000 in federal funding, The American Red Cross
of Central New Jersey, along with the New Jersey State Police
Affairs Bureau, is training troopers to help rural victims of sudden
cardiac arrest. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Access, is for
the purchase of automated external defibrillators and training in
From three to five units are being distributed in seven counties.
Now that training has been given to 250 troopers, and 20 have been
certified as instructors, the State Police Community Affairs Bureau
is self-sufficient to do its own training.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.