Sklover & Company, LLC
Serving Executives, Professionals and Senior Managers
2. Managing Employment Risks
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
– Louisa May Alcott
Through education, hard work and perseverance, we build a career. Our careers are not only our means to earn a living, but our careers are also central to our personal self-definition and pursuit of meaning. Most of us seek greater and greater rewards from our work; few of us naturally focus on the risks at work. Generally speaking, risk is what our attorneys handle. The important question is this: “Before or after the damage arises?”
What are the “risks” at work? We define “risk” at work simply as “loss of a workplace reward.” And by “reward” we mean each thing we get from our work, including title, salary, authority, bonus, benefits, perq’s and equity . . . even the job, itself, and the relations it enhances, and reputation it advances. Loss of any of these can be damaging and painful, indeed, even fatal to a career, even through no fault of one’s own.
Where are the “risks” at work? They exist in every employment transition you make – during recruitment, hiring, promotion, transfer, resignation, termination or otherwise. And, too, in every document you sign – offer letter, employment agreement, long term incentive compensation agreement, severance agreement or otherwise. A single word, an errant comma, and even the omission of a phrase or provision, can make a world of difference in any career transition or workplace document.
Only an experienced eye and mind can spot them, and correct them, in your best interests. It is the employment attorney’s primary job to (a) identify, (b) assess and (c) reduce risks as they arise. Even better, the highest calling of an employment attorney is to “look down the road,” and do whatever can be done to actually prevent risk from arising. That’s not an easy thing to do. But it is unquestionably the best thing to do.
Many offer letters and employment agreements provide “Your annual salary will be $XX dollars, or such other sum as the Compensation Committee shall in its discretion determine.” Sounds okay, but it would be far less risky if it said “You annual salary will be $XX per year, or such GREATER sum as the Compensation Committee shall in its discretion determine.” See the reduction of risk by insertion of the word “GREATER?”
We suggest to each of our clients that they share with us, as soon as possible, in any employment transition, and with each employment document they are asked to sign, what their goals and expectations are, so we can then (a) identify, (b) assess, and (c) reduce, if possible, the attendant risks.
It is never too early to manage your employment and career risks. But it can be too late. We are available to assist.
Risks, once understood, are “one half resolved.” Risks arise in all we do, every day. We are never able to remove them all. But just being aware of what risks there are is important, so we can navigate around them in later days. “Just because waters are calm, that does not mean there are no alligators.” Nigerian Proverb.
We offer confidential telephone consultations as a first, preliminary step in providing counsel to those with workplace or career problems or opportunities. They are available days, evenings and weekends, depending upon urgency. For those with questions related to matters on which we were retained and worked with them during the preceding 12 months, brief discussions, without review of new documents, are provided without charge. For others, our Schedule of Consultation Fees can be found on our About page. Consultation arrangements can be made with Ms. Vanessa Mustapha or Ms. Phyllis Granger at 212.757.5000, or by email to Vanessa@ExecutiveLaw.com or Phyllis@ExecutiveLaw.com.
(If you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions about these Insights, please consider sharing them with us, by forwarding them to us at Vanessa@ExecutiveLaw.com. Thank you, in advance.)
© Copyright 2019 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved and Strictly Enforced.
1. Your Unique Career Brand
“Either you are distinct, or you will become extinct.”
– Tom Peters
We are enthusiasts when it comes to the practice and pursuit of branding and, of course, when it comes to employment, the notion of “career branding.”
Each of us has a unique personal brand, namely what others think of when they think of us. It is their sum total view of what we offer the world, our value to others, and to our clients, customers, employers and colleagues. Your brand precedes you, empowers you, and follows you, wherever you go.
Your “career brand” is what your present employer and all potential employers think of your potential value to them, and thus what they need to offer you in return for your working for them. Your knowledge, skills, relations and reputation have taken a great deal of time and effort to learn, acquire, and develop, and is a reflection of your personality, character and the standards you have set for yourself.
You create your brand each and every day, whether you know it or not. If you don’t proactively create and enhance your career brand, you leave that critical task to luck and chance, or worse, permit others to define it for you.
The employment marketplace is an increasingly competitive place. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has written “Good enough is no longer good enough.” We could not agree more. If you don’t have a distinctive, attractive, outstanding career brand, in the employment marketplace you are likely perceived as little more than an easily replaceable commodity.
Most of our clients have devoted and continue to devote significant effort and imagination to creation and enhancement of their own, distinctive career brand, and enjoy the multiple and varied “fruits” of their efforts. Their experiences are as inspiring to us as they are rewarding for them, in the broadest sense and spirit of those two words.
- Your Unique Career Brand
- Managing Employment Risks
- The Recruitment Phase
- The Negotiation Phase
- Equity “Trap Doors”
- Climbing the Ladder
- If Difficulties, Disputes or Allegations Arise
- Navigating Employment Departures
- Continuing Restrictions
- Extending Career Longevity