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Managing to Stay Out of Court

Managing to Stay Out of Court: How to Avoid the 8 Deadly Sins of Mismanagement

By Jathan Janove
2004, 230 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-57675-318-7
SHRMStore Item #: 61.13501

Buy now at the SHRMStore

Managing to Stay Out of Court
shows how you can simultaneously improve employee relations, provide workplace leadership, and stay out of court. Author Jathan Janove details eight simple management principles-based on eight corresponding sets of workplace "sins" and "virtues."

Based on over 20 years as an employment law attorney, Janove sees one overriding cause behind most employee lawsuits--managers' normal human desire to avoid dealing with difficult situations. Managers hope that things will somehow resolve themselves, or fear they might cause more trouble by intervening in the wrong way. So problems linger or get worse, resentments grow, communication breaks down, and, sometimes, it all ends up in court.

Janove shows you eight common pitfalls that result from this natural wish to avoid problems and eight techniques for addressing each one. Entertaining real-life stories illustrate each Sin and corresponding Virtue, and the book features a number of exercises and tools for increasing awareness of managerial Sins and cultivating managerial Virtues, including the Sin Self-Assessment tool and the Sin-to-Virtue Transfer Plan.

Real-life examples and a complete set of tools and exercises will help you--or your managers--identify your own most prevalent management sins, adjust your management style, cultivate managerial virtues, implement organization-wide changes, and make the all-too-often adversarial manager-employee relationship more fulfilling for both parties.

Tools and exercises include:
* A Sin Self-Assessment that asks managers about specific actions and identifies their most problematic management patterns
* A Sample Sin-to-Virtue Transfer Plan
* A Sample Journal Page
* Sample Written D-I-S (Direct, Immediate, and Specific) memos to employees

An exercise to help managers Define the Big Picture Employers and employees will always have their differences, but Managing to Stay Out of Court shows how good, people-centered management can often resolve, these differences without litigation.

This book is co-published with Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Read an excerpt.

This book is also available as an e-book from many e-book sellers.


Chapter One
* The First Sin: Managing Like a Beginning Skier
* The First Virtue: Weight Forward on Skis
Chapter Two
* The Second Sin: Dissin' Your Employees
* The Second Virtue: D-I-S'ng Your Employees
Chapter Three
* The Third Sin: Rationalizing Away Truth
* The Third Virtue: Making Honesty the Only Policy
Chapter Four
* The Fourth Sin: Misguided Benevolence
* The Fourth Virtue: E-R-A-Expectations, Responsibility, and Accountability
Chapter Five
* The Fifth Sin: Falling into the Inconsistency Trap
* The Fifth Virtue: Ducks in a Row
Chapter Six
* The Sixth Sin: Letting Employees Speculate
* The Sixth Virtue: Open Information Channels
Chapter Seven
* The Seventh Sin: Listening Through Your "I"
* The Seventh Virtue: Listening Through Your Ears
Chapter Eight
* The Eighth Sin: Front-of-the-Nose Perspective
* The Eighth Virtue: The Big Picture
Chapter Nine: Moving from Sin to Virtue
Conclusion: Ski the Run!


After 25 years in the trenches of labor and employment litigation, Jathan Janove couldn't help but notice two things: (1) How surprisingly easy claims can be prevented and (2) How the cost of the claim is only the tip of the iceberg. Each claim usually represents an enormous prior cost in underperformance, misbehavior, and lost opportunity. Through training, coaching, and consulting, Jathan now works with employers to melt that iceberg, replacing "transactional" with "engagement" behavior, creating cultures where every employee comes to work thinking, "what can I do today to add value and make a difference." A shareholder in the Portland, Oregon office of Ogletree Deakins and a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Jathan is a member of the National Speakers Association, the American Society for Training & Development, SHRM's Preferred Speaker List, and a columnist for HR Magazine. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, and SuperLawyers. While in Utah, he received the state bar's 2005 Employment Lawyer of the Year award and the 2006 Citizen Lawyer of the Year by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Salt Lake Chapter. Jathan is also the author of The Star Profile: A Management Tool To Unleash Employee Potential (2008), which won the 2009 IPPY Gold Medal in the Business & Career category at Book Expo America. For more information, go to


 Praise for the Book


"Out of the trenches of employment law comes so much insight and practical wisdom. Every manager and supervisor who studies this will benefit immensely. Marvelous book!"
-- Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"A clear-thinking, results-driven management tool... From its keen insights, solid management tips, and recommendations, to its unique, astute, and entertaining perspectives ... this book is a must-read for today's management teams."
-- Robert M. Lee, Executive Director, The Institute for Applied Management and Law

"Packed with practical information that will help your organization avoid litigation."
-- Jonathan Segal, Wolf, Block, LLP, columnist, HR Magazine "Legal Trends"

"An excellent guide for all levels of management. I highly recommend it to anyone who desires to improve individual and group skills in working with people--and avoid litigation. Janove's insights are sharp and on-target."
-- Jerry L. Garren, Vice President and Plant General Manager, La-Z-Boy, Inc.

"Following the tenets laid out in [this book] will reduce your company's exposure to employment litigation--while improving the productivity of your
-- John Parauda, Managing Counsel, American Express Company

"The best managed companies are the least likely to get sued. Exercising the practical management skills revealed in this gem of a book will help managers be better leaders while helping their companies avoid lawsuits."
 -- Monica Whalen, President & CEO, The Employers Council

"The 8 Deadly Sins is simply fantastic! I apply the book's principles and techniques on a daily basis. They help me improve organizational performance and accountability and grow as a leader. Plus, they keep us out of trouble."
-- Robert Harding, President, Greater Seattle Market, Pacific Continental Bank

"The 8 Deadly Sins of Mismanagement is the most useful management concept I have ever experienced. It will positively and immediately impact the growth of your organization."
-- Ira N. Field, President & CEO, Steel Encounters, Inc.

"This book has changed the way our GMs lead their teams and as a result our culture. We are better at spending our time building our business instead of being mired in employee issues. Any company would benefit from it."
-- Karen McCabe, HR Manager, Crystal Inns

"This book is a great tool in helping leaders understand what happens when you fail to deal with the dark side--accountability, change, and expectation gaps."
-- John H. Nichols, Director, Administrative Services Division, Arizona Department of Transportation