Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the
January 2, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Dirty Job, Long Hours, No Pay. Apply Within." With
this enticing sign, the Plainsboro fire department manages to draw
a fresh flock of volunteers every year. Exactly what are they selling
that gets people to race to the firehouse and excitedly polish engines
while their bosses at work cannot even get them to put away their
If you, as an employer, would like to bottle a little of that elixir,
you may want to listen to the words of Don Blohowiak, executive
director of LeadWell, a West Windsor management consulting firm, who
speaks Thursday, January 3, at noon at the Princeton Chamber at the
Doral Forrestal. Cost: $33. Call 609-520-1776.
Blohowiak says managers and supervisors make choices for worker
daily — by action and inaction. A graduate of the University of
Wisconsin (Class of 1985), he founded LeadWell six years ago. His
clients have included Honda auto workers, United States Marines,
Airlines, the state of Delaware, and a host of smaller New Jersey
Productivity, says Blohowiak, is the right person energetically
his all, both brain and back, into the company’s goals. (Notice he
did not say "into the right task.") In corporate reality,
productivity — real productivity — is an elusive quality.
It cannot be measured by the time/motion study boys, nor narrowly
defined by increased widget output.
"Every person truly wants to work hard and to gain satisfaction
from his work," insists Blohowiak. "If a man is `lazy’ it
is because he’s in the wrong place." To implement this very
problem of inspiration, Blohowiak trashes many of the mass-format
methods most businesses use.
position is Blohowiak’s number one goal. "Forget about
about finding a good personnel match," he warns. "Forget about
whether you like the guy personally. And do not make the old
mistake of hiring an employee in your own image."
Instead, look at the qualities this person presents. Look at how this
candidate would be spending his days in the position offered. If you
require a heads-down, nitpicking-style clerk, hire Ebenezer Scrooge,
not Cratchett. He may not be the hit of your office Christmas party,
but he will labor long and hard for you.
As a side note, Blohowiak suggests employers should pre-plan their
interviews. Define a test and set of questions that will determine
the exact qualities you seek. Also, be flexible enough to recreate
a position that will inspire a truly talented individual. It’s foolish
to create frustration and bitterness among workers by insisting on
rigidly boxed categories.
of tasks. Employers who petrify a position as a written checklist
are designing for failure. Invariably, the employee will plunge ahead
into the three most appealing requirements and will assume he is doing
his job. His supervisor, on the other hand, can always unearth that
one neglected item to prick the worker’s enthusiasm. If employees
are saying "`It’s not in my job description,’" your approach
Of course, employers must be exactingly clear about expectations,
methods of suggestion, payroll, and the basics. Lack of precise
de-motivates the most enthusiastic employee. Yet instructions like,
"`What we are all trying to do here is…’ will produce a lot
more labor and innovative thought out of a person than "`Your
job is to stand here and push that…’"
says Blohowiak, "is not the man who has all the answers, but the
person who seeks the right decisions." Ideally, every employee
should be asked and encouraged to add his input. Blohowiak warns
making such collaborative sessions a sham, in place only to give
the illusion of empowerment.
He recalls sitting in on one such meeting where a vice president
for solutions, and no one spoke up. Then, in the hallway, employees
dissected the problem vociferously amongst themselves. Blohowiak
that the previous vice president typically conducted such "input
meetings" only after his decision was already made. The employees
all knew it was a show and reacted accordingly.
news must not merely be accepted. They must be actively solicited.
The needs and opinions of each individual and each group should be
shared, not only up and down the ladder, or within the department,
but throughout the plant.
"By the way," says Blohowiak, "Directing is not
on instilling leadership. Members of the Corps act swiftly and without
reservation at every level. "The Marines build a legitimacy of
command through explanation and understanding," says Blohowiak.
"Any Marine has the right to question any order and receive an
answer. Within this incredibly hierarchical order, men are asked to
obey not based on authority, rank, patriotism, or blind faith, but
on a personal understanding of each goal."
Marines are not pumped up by uniforms and slogans. They are warriors
armed powerfully with reason. Blohowiak reports that most Marine vets
find their workplaces less open to questions than was the Corps.
top salespeople and the annual bonus are too non-directive and too
late. People need to have their contribution recognized immediately,
individually, and specifically. This not only enhances their personal
desire to produce, but keeps them on the right track. A quiet, genuine
recognition of achievement will benefit a manager far more than all
the credit he can steal for himself.
of all individuals within a firm. Creating just the right mix of pride
and incentive is an ongoing quest for most managers. The Hightstown
fire department provides some guidance on getting started. The sign
out front merely states: Heroes Wanted.
— Bart Jackson
Haven’t decided on a good New Year’s resolution yet?
Forget about losing weight or spending more time with your Aunt Sally.
Why not make this year’s resolution something that really changes
your life for the better? Make a career change.
Despite the gloomy prognostications of a weak job market for 2002,
there are still plenty of career opportunities for those wishing to
escape under-employment or job burn-out and land the job of their
dreams. "There are still good career opportunities for job-seekers
with all levels of education," says Jack Guarneri, a career
counselor at Mercer County Community College. The key is to take a
systematic approach. Assess yourself and your prospects. And then
Guarneri and his wife, Susan Guarneri, both licensed career
counselors, host a series of five, free monthly seminars aimed at
boosting the employment prospects of those seeking to improve their
workaday lot. The first, "Best Careers for 2002 Career
takes place on Monday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Church
in Princeton. Call 609-771-1699. Other seminars include E-networking,
roadblocks to career success, and the secrets to answering problem
Guarneri, a Lawrenceville resident, has been a career counselor at
Mercer County Community College for 20 years. He obtained a master’s
degree in counseling and psychology from C.W. Post in the 1970’s.
Of course, merely handing out a list of careers that are hot and those
that are not would be of little use to anybody. "It is important
for those contemplating a career change to try to make sense of the
world of work and where they may fit in," says Guarneri. "A
good way to start is to break down the educational requirements of
the various occupations one is interested in pursuing."
For example, according to a government survey recently published by
the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, the top four career opportunities
that require up to an associate or vocational school degree are
nurse, computer support specialist, licensed practical nurse, and
automotive mechanic. "It’s kind of an interesting mix there,"
says Guarneri. "Health care, computer occupations, and the
industry offer a lot of jobs and many of them pay well."
A good proportion of the top careers for those with bachelor’s degrees
center around educational and helping occupations, and the world of
finance. In the coming decade, there will be significant opportunities
for secondary school teachers, special-ed teachers, pre-school
social workers, residential counselors, financial managers, general
managers and executives, computer systems analysts, computer
and computer programmers. "Careers oriented around computers have
remained consistently good over the last 20 years," says Guarneri.
While many of the jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree pay quite well,
some do not. "Residential counselors and pre-school teachers are
in the lower 50 percent of the pay scale," says Guarneri.
is despite the fact that they require substantial education."
For those with master’s degrees or higher, Guarneri lists college
or university faculty as showing the biggest growth in new jobs.
will be 23 percent more college and university faculty positions by
2008," says Guarneri. "That’s roughly 195,000 new jobs."
Not surprisingly, lawyers and physicians will also enjoy ample career
opportunities in the coming decade.
Of course, changing careers is a big step for anyone, and finding
the best career for any particular person is always a highly
matter. Guarneri offers the following advice:
a career change to first do a thorough self-assessment by analyzing
interests, abilities, skills, personality preferences, and values.
"Ask yourself what you enjoy doing, what you’re able to do well,
where you’ll feel comfortable doing it, and which jobs will give you
what you want out of life," says Guarneri. By being honest with
oneself, it is possible to begin to formulate a plan of action.
simple, the next step is to apply the information learned from the
self-assessment and begin to research areas of employment that match
abilities and needs. By identifying occupational areas that have good
prospects and pay the kind of money that you wish to earn, it is next
possible to begin a job search based on solid knowledge with a real
chance to succeed.
over. With the Internet now the prevalent method of applying for jobs,
it is important to tailor a resume to each specific job application.
"Most of the job recruiters I talk to are looking for quick-match
resumes that are written to target that particular job. Due to sheer
volume, hiring managers all need a quick way to identify job
and by submitting the whole can of worms at them you tend to get
many templates available to help job-seekers create attractive-looking
resumes, Guarneri believes that many people using the Internet to
find that next big job are operating under a false sense of security.
"It’s still the content of your resume that’s going to get you
the interview," he says. "Just making a pretty resume is like
having a nice suit of clothing with nothing of substance inside of
and most people contemplating career changes do so with the hope of
finding a job that is closer to their abilities and interests.
the recent downturn in the economy has certainly made the prospect
of a career change a bit more stressful for most people, there are
still many opportunities out there. By taking a realistic approach
and planning carefully, it is possible to make that hope a reality.
— Jack Florek
When Suzanne Rosenblum reported to Middlesex
Community College to begin teaching a course on taxes for small
she was told she would be considered an employee. Taxes would be
from her check. This was a bit strange because she was teaching
the same course at Mercer County Community College, where she was
classified as an independent contractor.
"It’s confusing," the Lawrenceville CPA says.
whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor can be
difficult, and the consequences for making an incorrect classification
can be costly to a business.
Rosenblum, principal in accounting firm S.P. Rosenblum, speaks on
"Unravel the Mystery: Employee or Independent Contractor"
on Tuesday, January 8, at 6 p.m. at a NAJAWBO seminar/dinner
at the Urban Word Cafe. John Thurman of Princeton law firm
& Thurman also speaks. Cost: $33. Call 609-924-7975.
There is no question in Rosenblum’s mind that Mercer County Community
College was correct in giving her independent contractor status.
had no office space. I had no phone line," she says. "I turned
in attendance sheets at the end of the class."
These are important points. An independent contractor maintains his
own workspace (most of the time), uses his own tools (most of the
time), and works on a project basis (again, most of the time).
says Rosenblum, a vivacious, animated woman, "some companies don’t
have projects." And some jobs require no tools. And sometimes,
work needs to be done on the employer’s premises.
There are official criteria for determining employment classification.
But in a knowledge economy where not everyone drives a panel truck
full of wrenches or paint brushes, there are gray areas.
For Rosenblum, there are two cardinal determinants — risk and
control. An independent contractor is never assured a paycheck. If
his work is sub-par, he may not be paid, or may not be paid in full.
Under the law, an employee must be paid.
An independent contractor controls his work, generally setting his
hours, the days he will work, and the length of time he is available.
An employee is under his boss’s control. He works when and where his
employer tells him to work.
In a murky arena, there are some clear-cut ways to decide who is an
employee. "If you’re sitting in an office answering a phone saying
`Hello, ABC Company,’ you’re an employee," says Rosenblum.
contractors do not answer the phones." And if you are transported
to cleaning jobs by a person who provides mops, detergent, and
polish, you’re an employee.
Likewise, if you arrive at a shop every day at 4 p.m. and sell
for the next six hours, you’re an employee. "I’ve seen people
in retail stores — opening, closing — and they were classified
as independent contractors," says Rosenblum. Clearly, this is
a no no.
More difficult is the case of the corporate trainer. Some companies
maintain in-house training departments, but many others bring in
to teach their workers how to communicate or sell or behave at a
dinner. These trainers are often classified as independent
but is that what they are? Their work generally is done largely on
premises — and often on a time schedule the employers sets up
— and sometimes they bring no tools of any kind.
In a situation like this, the employer might have to prove independent
contractor status for the trainers by showing they advertise for work,
submit invoices on printed letterhead, have other clients, and pay
rent on a commercial facility. This, says Rosenblum is the sort of
thing state auditors look for. In her opinion, the state goes too
far, and is not always grounded in the real world, but nevertheless,
it does have the power to levy hefty fines. "It’s outrageous,"
she says. "In this day and age, so many people have a home office,
and print invoices straight from their computers."
Outrageous it might be, but auditors from New Jersey’s Labor
look for all of this, and more. "The state of New Jersey has
above and beyond the federal government," says Rosenblum.
The state is out to find mis-classified independent contractors, says
Rosenblum, and auditors will keep digging to turn up evidence. If
independent contractors are found to be employees, their employer
will have to pay back taxes plus interest and penalties. The
often are levied "for several years," says Rosenblum. It can
add up to a substantial bill. The wise employer, therefore, will take
the law seriously, and will keep schedules and invoices, and will
even cut his independent contractors’ advertisements out of the paper.
With a specialty in tax preparation for small businesses, many of
them start-ups, Rosenblum has seen any number of companies that did
not take the law seriously.
"People tend to want to take the easiest route," she says.
"It’s easier with independent contractors. You just issue a flat
check. There are no deductions, no payroll taxes." There is no
need to offer benefits, or to match Social Security contributions,
or to contribute to unemployment and temporary disability insurance.
There is less paperwork.
Employers often think independent contractors are less expensive,
too. Rosenblum says that sometimes when she tells clients their
contractors" really are employees, "they just get another
accountant." She points out, however, that having employees is
not all bad, and often is less expensive. "Independent contractors
charge more," she says. They have to cover their taxes and their
While some employers seek to dodge the additional work of taking on
employees, many others are in danger of failing a Labor Department
audit because they sincerely — but wrongly — believe the
who do work for them are independent contractors. Says Rosenblum:
"There’s a lot of confusion out there on who is what."
Corrections or additions?
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