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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Readers of the blog will no doubt know that it’s been far too long since I had Nina Pirrotti on the blog for a conversation about employment law topics.

Excuses abound, but Nina — who mainly represents individuals in employment-related disputes — recently penned a piece for the Connecticut Law Tribune that is too good

Last year I talked about how the new era of sexual harassment claims was coming.  The open question was: Would the number of claims actually increase?

The answer to that is now known: Yes.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its preliminary data regarding workplace harassment today. And it’s findings shouldn’t be a surprise if

As I noted earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court has approved of the use of class action waivers in arbitration agreements with employees.

My colleague, Gabe Jiran, has a recap of Epic Systems v. Lewis on my firm’s blog, Employment Law Letter, that you can access here.

So, it’s a foregone conclusion that employers

Over the last several months, I’ve been asked to do far more sexual harassment prevention trainings than typical and the issue of profanity in the workplace has popped up.

No doubt that much of this is due to the recent spate of cases of very public sexual harassment and assault cases (Thank You Matt

Last night, I had the honor of being elected as Chair of the James W. Cooper Fellows Program of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, after serving for a year as Vice-Chair and Chairperson of the Fellows Education & Program Committee.

The Fellows are comprised of outstanding Connecticut lawyers, judges, and teachers of law; the Fellows put

There’s been a lot in the news of late about “outrageous” provisions found in an separation agreement between an employer and an employee, like confidentiality.  Indeed, some proposed legislation would restrict the use of some provisions.  

So I thought it would be helpful to go over what we typically see in a separation agreement.

First

After a break for the holidays, my long-running discussion with Nina Pirrotti, an employee-side attorney , returns. Nina is a partner at the law firm of Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald and Pirrotti, where she represents employees in all types of matters.  She’s a past-President of the Connecticut Employment Lawyers Association, a current member of the Executive Board of NELA, and a frequent presenter on employment law topics.

In one of our prior discussions last year, we talked about whether we were seeing the beginning of a trend of sexual harassment matters after the Fox News scandals.  Now, after the last few months, we revisit the topic further to see where we are.  Let us know what you think about posts like this in the comments below.    

Nina: A warm hello to my management lawyer friend!  I could not think of a more opportune time to re-kindle our dialogue about sexual harassment.  For me, having Time Magazine name its Person(s) of the Year as the Silence Breakers has been the gratifying culmination to a year of sea change on this vital topic.

I got to tell you Dan (and in so doing will undoubtedly reveal to our readers that I lead an embarrassingly sheltered life), that before Taylor Swift exhibited the courage to subject herself to countersue David Muellerman (the man who sexually assaulted her and brought an unsuccessful lawsuit against her for defamation when she outed him)  I did not even know who she was.   She is my new hero.  She sued him for a symbolic $1 and she did it, she said, because she wanted to empower other women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted to come forward.

Well, I don’t need to tell you that they are coming forward in droves.  It is as if a switch has been flipped.  The paradigm has shifted and women who once felt that they had to suck it up in order to feed their families and save their careers are beginning to have hope that they no longer have to make that Hobson’s choice.  And just as gratifying as this loosening of fear in victims of sexual harassment and assault about coming forward has been the employers’ swift responses in holding the predator (no matter how lofty his perch) accountable.    Hallelujah!

Is this the beginning of the end to sexual harassment as we know it?  I wish.  Did you notice that cropped elbow that is in the photograph of the otherwise well-known faces on the front cover of Time’s Person of the Year issue?  The elbow symbolizes the millions of women who endure sexual harassment and assault and do not come forward for fear that their careers, their reputations, their families, and/or their personal safety are at stake if they do.

While I am gratified by the swift and appropriately severe responses to sexual harassment and assault committed by powerful men in the public eye, most of the sexual harassment and assault victims I represent do not have that leverage that comes with an outed perpetrator who has a public persona.  In such cases, too often, unless the employer fears public exposure, I find it does not have that same sense of urgency to take action.

What about you, Dan?  What does this surge in reporting indicate to you?  Are you finding more clients who are interested in taking preventative measures?  What are their concerns?

Dan: Happy New Year to you Nina! So, it’s been quite an interesting few months.  Everyone seems more busy.  Before I talk about that, it’s worth emphasizing that lost in all this reporting is that the incidents of misconduct that are making headlines are really varied in scope.  You have incidents of outright sexual assault being tossed together with conduct that may (or may not even) be classified as sexual harassment.    

And that is what I’m concerned about now.  A tasteless joke in the workplace is clearly NOT the same as some of the incidents that, say, Harvey Weinstein is accused of. (You can look it up; this is a safe for work blog, after all.)  And so, yes, we’re hearing more incidents reported. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to more credible claims.  I’ve heard from other attorneys representing employees that they’re seeing twice as many cases come in to them but they aren’t taking a lot more cases. 

And as we know, we’re still months away from seeing new lawsuits arising from these claims too.  What happens by then?

It’s too early to predict that the #MeToo movement won’t have the same impact six months from now (I happen to think that it will) but even since the holidays it seems the press is starting to move on a bit (Golden Globes, notwithstanding).  It’s hard to keep up the pressure that the end of 2017 had.

For employers, it’s important to not get caught up in assuming the worst and thinking that everything they’ve been doing has been a failure.  Much HAS changed over the last 20 years.  I do think, though, it’s an opportunity for employers to re-evaluate their training. They can also take a look at their culture: Are there any expense reports revealing something more nefarious (a Gentleman’s Club visit perhaps?)? Is it time to institute a “no-dating” policy for supervisors/subordinates? And where are your weak spots?
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