Expert Advice

By Hannah Wallace April 30, 2004

Q. How do I know I've hired the right person for the right job?

Katherine Ridenour, president, Executive Resources, answers: Great managers make interviewing the No. 1 priority on their To Do list and have spent countless hours learning how to interview. They understand the top three or four personality characteristics that will make someone successful in the job and recognize what interview questions are needed to uncover these traits. They hire for natural talents and train for additional skills. Great managers refuse to allow the chaos of a temporary vacancy push them into hiring any warm body that walks through the door. They truly care about their employees and recognize the quality of their staff is a reflection of their own management ability.

So what's their secret weapon? Two heads are better than one. They use a step-by-step interview process that asks for feedback from co-workers who will interact with the new employee on a regular basis. They allow the candidate to do 80 percent of the talking.

The successful interview flows from the top down: department manager, immediate supervisor, team members and ends with job shadowing for the candidate. The job must be just as good for the candidate as it is for the company. Katherine Ridenour can be reached at (941) 929-7374 and [email protected]

Q. Are real estate, old computers and other supplies a smart way for businesses to donate to charities?

Michael R. Pender Jr., CPA, a partner at Cavanaugh & Company, has a long history of supporting the region's nonprofit community. He answers: The support of charitable organizations by businesses has significant impact on the community's quality of life. The value goes far beyond the tax deduction one might receive. Gifts of real estate, computers and supplies to qualified charities can be of great benefit to businesses. How much depends on the type of entity the business is operating as. Corporations, other than S Corporations, have special rules related to contributions of different types of assets. Section 170(e)(3)A of the Internal Revenue Code discusses gifts of inventory that can be used by the donee solely for the care of the ill, the needy or infants. Section 170(e)(4) discusses gifts of scientific property used for research. Section 170(e)(5) discusses rules for stock for which market quotations are readily available, and Section 170(e)(6) discusses contributions of computer technology and equipment for educational purposes. However, the last section (170(e)(6) terminated at December 31, 2003. Donations from individuals (sole proprietors, S Corporation shareholders, or partners) have their own rules. For example, in the hands of individuals, appreciated real property can be given at fair market value subject to 30 percent of adjusted gross income limitation. The cost basis of gifts of tangible personal property used in a trade or business must be reduced by depreciation taken. Gifts of computer equipment must be new to the donor and be given not later than three years from the date of purchase. Each type of property must be evaluated as to the specific rules. Mike Pender can be reached at (941) 366-2983 or [email protected]

Q: In this super-heated election season, how careful do I need to be in keeping politics out of my workplace?

Bradenton labor law attorney Kendra D. Presswood, of the Law Office of Kendra D. Presswood, P.A., answers: In my opinion, it is best to stay away from discussions about politics in the workplace. However, the reality is that most of us develop friendships with people at work since, unfortunately, we tend to spend more time with co-workers than we are able to spend with our families.

So, the practical advice is to use your judgment concerning whether to discuss such matters with co-workers and, if you choose to, don't do it on working time. You may have a First Amendment right to discuss what you want to, but your employer has the right to fire you for it, too. (There are very narrow exceptions but they apply only in public employment.)

Don't think of Florida as a "right to work" state. It is a "right to be fired" state. You can be fired for a bad reason, for a wrong reason or for no reason at all. Only where there is a specific statutory provision do you have any protection at all, and those are few and far between. The bottom line is: If your boss doesn't like your views, he or she can fire you and you will not have any recourse against your employer. Kendra Presswood can be reached at (941) 749-6433 and [email protected].

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