Continuing my never-ending series of short interviews with interesting people related to the employment law space, I recently sat down for breakfast with Eileen Springer, the CEO of Central Park Executive Coaching. After 25+ years in Human Resources, Eileen is now coaching C-suite executives and senior leaders in corporations and services firms, as well as early-in-career associates. Her Coaching assignments include on-boarding coaching, transition coaching, performance coaching and leadership coaching. 

Eileen was most recently the Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Development at Compass Group, NA; the sixth largest employer in the world. And prior to that, she worked for Pitney Bowes and Citibank, where she held a variety of roles as Vice President of Human Resources.  She knows the business-world inside and out and I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed the conversation.  My sincere thanks to Eileen for her time and wisdom.  

1.      So Eileen – what IS Executive Coaching nowadays?

Simply stated, executive coaching is coaching people to arrive at their own solutions so that they are committed to the outcome.  Executive coaches are contracted as needed to facilitate the success of employees who are preparing for their next role, who are part of a high-potential development program, who require performance coaching or need support as part of their on-boarding to a new role.  The needs vary, but it is most commonly an investment reserved for highly valued talent.

In my practice, I am seeing an increase in small to mid-size companies who partner with me to coach their newly promoted managers, who are managing people for the first time.  With the scarcity of talent in the workforce these days, high-growth companies cannot afford to wait to promote the best talent.  They are promoting the best talent to management quickly, and providing the support of a coach to ensure success with their leadership development.

2.      I realize companies may find utility in an executive coach. What about individuals? What are situations when an individual ought to consider one?

Career and executive coaching are becoming much more prevalent as an individual investment.  Professionals are turning to coaching in higher and higher numbers.   Career advancement often requires having a plan, especially at the more senior levels.  Often a professional will face a pivotal moment in their career when they realize that what they did to get to where they are, is not what is required to get to the next level.  It’s at that juncture when I typically receive a call.

Executives are operating in an increasingly complex environment, where they may rely heavily on experts in finance, legal, marketing, technology, etc., and need to balance many priorities in short periods of time.  Managing teams, boards, meeting deadlines and staying competitive can lead to stress and feelings of loss of control.  Pressures of corporate life, regardless of level, can impact people differently.  Some professionals thrive in fast-pace challenging environments, while others find it unsatisfying.  These are examples of when individuals look for executive coaches – they may want to reach important goals and advance, or they may want less stress and better balance.  Whatever the reason, when individuals are motivated to work toward change, they find support and a thought partner with a coach who is focused on their individual agenda.


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A while back, I had a good discussion with a colleague on a topic with no real firm answers.

No, it wasn’t on whether the Yankees are better franchise than the Red Sox.  The answer to that is unequivocally yes.  (Sorry, Sox fans.)

Rather: When is a employee-related issue a legal one? Or alternatively, when

monkeyIn yesterday’s post, I talked about some of the reasons why an employee’s lawsuit against his or her employer was destined for failure.

But employers, I’m afraid you’re not off the hook that easily. This post is for any employer that just got sued or threatened with suit.

Maybe that lawsuit isn’t so frivolous after all.

Wait a second! You said yesterday that ‘Odds are, you probably weren’t discriminated against’!”  

Ah, but isn’t that rub? Odds. Statistics.  Yes, some (many?) lawsuits brought by employees are losing propositions. But some are not.

Here are some things I tell clients or prospective clients when I see a lawsuit filed or threatened as to why they should take the lawsuit seriously.

1. That frivolous lawsuit is still going to cost you thousands (if not tens of thousands) to defend.  But I thought you said this post was about non-frivolous lawsuits?  True. But for my first point, that’s beside the point entirely.  Whether a lawsuit is frivolous or not, the system of justice through our courts and administrative agencies moves slowly and with some cautiousness.  Even the frivolous ones need to be defended.  Court filings need to be, well, filed.  And court conferences need to be attended.  So your first point always is to recognize that all employment law cases have a cost associated with them.

And as such, all cases have what we call a “nuisance” value as well.  That is — you are going to spend X amount of dollars defending the lawsuit.  It may be cheaper to just pay a certain amount to avoid the cost of defense.  Now, there are business reasons why you won’t want to do so in all or even many cases, but the employer who fails to recognize the nuisance value of the case is destined to be disappointed in the long run.

It’s a bit of hyperbole to say that any person can sue anyone at any time for any reason. But not that much.  Lawsuits are a part of doing business.  Frivolous or not, you will still have spend money to defend your decision. Be prepared for this eventuality when making your employment decisions and deciding whether or not to offer severance in exchange for a release.

2. “At Will” Employment Is a Misnomer.   In Connecticut, the default employment relationship between an employer and employee is “at-will”.  As many offer letters suggest, that means either the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all.  And so, I sometimes hear employers exclaiming “Connecticut is at-will! We should be able to just fire them for any reason!  How can they still sue?


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secretsEarlier this month, The New York Times ran another column in its Workalogist series that asked the following question:

Are conversations with a human resources department confidential? I’m contemplating retirement in about three years and would like to gather benefit information from human resources now — but I do not want my supervisor to know.

Six years ago, posts about layoffs were in vogue.  But it’s been a long while since we focused on posts about hiring.

With the economy generally stable (or shall we dare say improving?), it seems appropriate to talk about job interview questions.

There are lots of posts about the “best” job interview questions

Real hackers are more fearsome than this one.

Okay, okay.  I realize the headline is a bit misleading.  But it isn’t every day that you hear about a data breach at Home Depot in which 56 MILLION credit cards may have been hacked. To put that into perspective, that’s 16