Erica Loren: The holidays and the end of a year are often a time of great stress, but also of great reflection. Erin, what kinds of issues do your individual clients come to you with around this time of year?
Erin Lloyd: Many of our individual clients are taking personal stock of how well the year treated them as it comes to a close. Often our clients have been considering making a professional move, and as the year ends perhaps they did not get the bonus they expected or they realize the toll a stressful, hostile or unhappy work environment has taken over the preceding year.
Erica: How do you help clients like that turn their disappointment into action?
Erin: Of course, it depends on each client’s individual circumstances, as you know. But by the time these clients come to us, they are usually ready to make a change and want to make sure that the steps they take are effective in creating leverage for a severance package or other benefits as they transition out of their former employment. Occasionally, these employees have already left their job and believe they were treated unfairly in violation of the law. For those clients it’s important to help them understand their options and also plan for the future. You encounter many of these types of clients yourself; what are some of the common issues your clients deal with around this time of the year?
Erica: Most clients seek coaching to start off the new year right either in a new position lateral or vertical in nature, a new job, or even a new industry. Many clients do have a desire to finish the year strong to be set up in a greater way in the new year. Some clients seeking a new industry or leadership position will work on strengthening these areas and exploring appropriate resources to support their new vision for going forward. Many don’t want to repeat the mistakes or experiences of the year, so we will work on what has worked, what hasn’t and what they would envision being different and ideal going forward.
So very similar in context to what you refer to, Erin and Yogi. Though not a check list, we perform an individualized assessment to demonstrate strengths, gaps, and combine that with a clear vision for the coming year.
Yogi, you serve as general counsel to many small and medium-sized businesses. They probably have unique considerations at the end of one year and the beginning of others. Do you have a sort of “check list” for businesses to consider at the end of every year.
Yogi Patel: I recommend that all my business clients take stock of their personnel and human resources materials at the end of every year. Businesses should be considering whether there have been any legal or regulatory changes over the year, if new training material is necessary for employees, or if there are any new government filings they need to complete.
In addition, every business should review their employment manual each year. And specifically, if there is a mechanism for conducting annual reviews in the employer’s manual, then I discuss with my clients whether that has happened and how it has been documented. What is important to remember is that if an employer does not follow his or her own policies, then having an employment manual is meaningless, and in fact, perhaps even a liability. This is also a good time to look ahead and see what changes the employer anticipates for the coming year and to consider if the appropriate legal framework to support those changes is in place.
Erica: A lot of small business owners are probably reading that and wondering why, after investing in an employment manual in the first place, they have to redo it every year! Why should they do this every year.
Yogi: The idea certainly is not to rewrite the company’s policies and procedures each year. But small businesses, especially, experience a lot of change each year. Job descriptions could change, new employees could have been added or entire departments could be restructured. Employment manuals are the guidelines that employees have to live by so if they are outdated and there’s an employment-related issue that is not covered in that document, an employer could find themselves with their hands tied. For example, if a business owner began 2014 with 2 employees, a detailed Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) structure probably was not necessary. But if that same employer promoted one of those employees to middle management and added 5 more employees during the year, it would be essential for all employees to know how to make complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment and how the company would handle those complaints. Or, in another industry, perhaps there are dangerous and highly regulated chemicals used on the premises. If the employment manual does not discuss the company’s policies with regard to who has access to them, what training is required prior to using them, and how to deal with accidents and spills, the company could really be opening itself up to serious liability in the case of an accidental exposure.
Erin: Erica, I’m curious about your corporate clients. I know that some of our corporate clients do “house cleaning” at the end of a year, evaluating which employees have been the greatest assets and which might be seen as a drain on the company. Do your corporate clients reach out to you for similar reasons at the end of a year?
Erica: Yes they do and if they are wise they will reach out in early fall to really be best prepared for new year. Most times corporate/small business clients reach out to decide what the new year will look like and how to cultivate the vision. Though typically we are discussing this around September so we can properly evaluate the current situation, thus plan, and then prepare for launching new year vision. Whether it’s hiring ,evaluating policy and procedures, or employee appreciation programs, this must begin early to be prepared and have others on board before they take action. Private clients on the other hand are usually driven in and around their performance review. Sometimes they are also driven by salary, benefits, burnout and/or relocation. And in all these cases it is usually urgency that is driving the motivation and they are eager to begin coaching.
Yogi: I think the beginning of a new year can feel like a bit of a fresh start for many people. Do you find that this perspective can help create momentum for your clients to start something new or make significant changes for the coming year?
Erica: To answer your great question Yogi, providing the vision is powerful enough, that when they feel like giving up they will remain faithful to fulfilling it, then yes, the new year can allow for this momentous action to take place and provide a fun kick off time. However many people waste time throughout the year, procrastinate, hide, delay, and make excuses when life shows up as to why they could not fulfill the resolution, which truly began as a really lofty goal to help them feel better and trick themselves into believing this year will be better just because. New Year’s resolutions can be a bit seductive to some who want to wipe the slate clean and start over, even though they know they are probably going to do an almost identical repeat of last year, unless they get true support and accountability.
Erin: I agree, Erica, that too many people wait until this time then set unrealistic goals without really getting the support they need to accomplish them. I do think employees should do a sort of self-audit, though: ask yourself what changed in your life over the course of the year and whether your current situation is better than it was one year ago. If an individual was unhappy in his or her job this time last year, and nothing has changed—whether because he or she is simply undervalued or because he or she is the victim of unlawful discrimination or because he or she is not being paid according to the law—it’s time to re-evaluate that situation. If an individual set a financial goal this year that was not met at his or her current job, it may be time to explore other options including trying to obtain a severance package and move on to a position that is more in line with their vision. This kind of end-of-the-year review should be done by everyone, in my opinion!
Yogi, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Yogi: I think finding a way to be more efficient with my time is going to be at the top of my list in 2015. What about you? Anything you’ve been putting off in 2014 that you’re committed to for 2015?
Erin: Well I’m making the ultimate commitment in 2015: I’m getting married! But on a professional level, my goal is to continue developing creative solutions for my clients’ legal issues even when traditional legal approaches may not make sense.
Erica, what are your resolutions and goals for 2015?
Erica: Congrats Erin! I am getting married too, in September 2015. Yogi, good luck with the time piece. I actually have changed up the traditional resolution thing ( this is what coaches do people lol) and have a word that ties all my goals together. So I can focus on that word and review if what I am doing is achieving the outcome of what I want to see happen in my business and life. So with that being said, I chose the word IMPACT. You too can try it and see when you put down your goals what is the result you would like to see achieved and voila you will have your word.
Erin: Thank you so much, Erica, for taking the time to talk with us and share your insights with our clients as they consider what kind of year they want 2015 to be. I look forward to sharing wedding stories with you next year! Happy holidays everyone!
Erin Lloyd, Esq. is an employment lawyer and partner at Lloyd Patel LLP, a general practice law firm. She represents individuals who have been subjected to unlawful discrimination, harassment and pay practices and helps them recover the damages they are entitled to. Ms. Lloyd works with clients to develop a personalized strategy based on each client’s needs and concerns. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 729-4266. For more information on Lloyd Patel LLP, visit their website at www.lloydpatel.com.
Yogi Patel, Esq. is a business and commercial lawyer and partner at Lloyd Patel LLP, a general practice law firm. Mr. Patel counsels small and medium sized businesses and other institutions on all aspects of their business, helping business owners navigate regulatory and governmental issues specific to their respective industry, to defend or prosecute commercial and other litigation, to develop personnel and human resources policies and procedures, to protect their unique brands and products, and otherwise guide them through any legal issues that may arise. Mr. Patel can be reached directly at email@example.com or (212) 729-4266. For more information on Lloyd Patel LLP, visit their website at www.lloydpatel.com.
Erica Loren, ACC, CPC CEO of Coaching2Greatness is an ICF Certified Career Coach who partners with professionals seeking happiness and fulfillment in their careers, by honing in on the belief that we all have the potential to discover our personal gifts through professional pursuits. She guides clients down a clear and focused path, toward a powerful vision of what they want to achieve in helping them discover their dream jobs. When Erica is not working with private clients she is out traveling the world as a public motivational speaker and partnering with corporations who want to cultivate a healthier happier work environment.
You can learn more about Erica by visiting: www.coaching2greatness.org; Linkedin, Facebook, or by calling: (732) 757-1880.
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