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Saturday, December 28, 2013

National Championship Prediction 2014:

1972 Auburn (10-1) The Amazins
2014 Auburn (13-1) Get on the Gus Bus

By Tommy Eden

The Tigers wound up No. 5 in the AP, beating four Top 25 teams, including Florida State. The only loss came in Week 5 at LSU 35-7. While the signature win was the "Punt, Bama, Punt" upset that denied unbeaten Alabama a shot at the national title. Sounds familiar? That year we beat Florida State and this is the program we bought. A Phil Neel Classic! That year the Tigers went on to whip Florida State. Sounds familiar too, doesn't it? On that Monday I remember seeing several of the players in my classes with bruises from a brutal game. 1972 and 2014 have both been years filled with wonder and many surprises such as "Prayer in Jordan Hare" and "Kick6" What a season of blessings for all Auburn Fans! War Eagle!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Want to be a Great Boss in 2014?

By Tommy Eden

Make these Top 5 Resolutions for 2014, stick to them, and your employees will  call you a Great Boss by year end:

Double Feedback. Even if you are not good at giving feedback, employees want to hear what you are thinking. The most important feedback you can give is specific and sincere. Learn the magic words to use when giving an employee evaluation;

Lead Strategically. Write down your 2014 mission, goals and  priorities. Confidence, autonomy, purpose and growth are intrinsic employee motivators driving the internal engines of those around you. Setting 2014 goals and priorities, and then getting out of your employees way, will make you a strategic leader and not a micro-manager;

Systems Check. Do a critical examination of all the systems in your organization. Learn how to sniff out employment claims and litigation landmines before they blow your organization apart. Handbook updates, wage and hour audits, dealing with workplace bullies,  and ObamaCare compliance are some of my top 10 system checks for 2014;

Learn Something New. Do not expect your people to keep on learning if you don't show a commitment to learning as well. For instance, when managers apologize they gain respect by holding themselves accountable. Using your influence and knowledge to help others succeed is what great bosses do. Good coaches know how to ask the right questions to help people discover their own path to answers. These might sound like new and scary concepts to some, but that is what great bosses do. They learn and grow.

Improve Emotional Intelligence.  It helps you manage yourself so you can lead others. Are you a micro manager, not strategically minded, procrastinating, unorganized, show disrespect, always reacting and not planning ahead, etc. Improve your weaknesses and listen more in 2014 if you want to be a great boss.

Common Sense Counsel to get there:

First, go public with your resolutions.  Think about the people who care most about your growth and the success of the team, and post for all to see.

Second, ask a few people to help you. This can range from observing you and letting you know what they see to actively coaching you.  Why is that important? There is something called coach’s bias. Once I'm invested in someone's growth, or in the success of an employer organization, I begin seeing things more quickly than others. Feedback is the secret sauce you need as you work on your five resolutions.

Third, put your team through a SWOT review. Schedule a free thinking breakfast time complete with a large post-it chart. SWOT is taught in all MBA programs and is what great organizations regularly perform. Learn your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. You will be amazed what you will have on the wall when the last donut is gone!

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP offices in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog

Friday, December 6, 2013

ACA Small Business Survival Guidance

By Tommy Eden

The Obama administration on Wednesday November 27 delayed online enrollment until November 2014 for small businesses using the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) federal marketplace. HEW officials had already pushed back acceptance of online applications in the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, since the Oct. 1 launch of

With this latest hiccup in the rollout of the ACA the problems for small business in Alabama mount to include:
•    Small Employers (2-50 employees) are squeezed out of traditional group health insurance policies by ACA coverage mandates;
•    Rising small group premium cost and unaffordable employee annual deductions and co-pays;
•    SHOP exchange for small business delayed until November 2014;
•    Public Exchange absolute disaster requiring an applicant to share highly confidential information to be placed into a US Government database;
•    Small employer and individual policies canceled by the thousands nationwide; and
•    Small employers need to offer some type of Insurance Benefit since it has always attracted and kept the best employees.

Common Sense Counsel: So what is a small Alabama employer to do? While the Obama Administration has wrung it hands the Private Insurance Exchanges are up and running. How a  Private Insurance Exchanges works:
•    Traditional health insurers across the nation have entered into State by State Private Exchange agreements with the federal government Department of HHS;
•    Offers ACA compliant insurance policies on a Private Exchange with traditional telephone and insurance agent guidance and private information is not shared with the government;
•    Private Exchanges have their own expanded network of physicians and health providers;
•    Much like traditional group health insurance policies except they are individual and family health insurance policies;
•    Typically purchased through a defined contribution plan established by employer which allows for deductions by employers of major medical insurance reimbursements but for 2014 will be included in the income of employees while other benefits such as supplemental insurance and HSA employer deposits are both deductible by the employer and tax free to the employee;
•    Private Exchange may be endorsed by an employer Association, Chamber or Commerce or other large membership organization which markets the Private Insurance Exchange to its members;
•    Internet portal with telephone support established for endorsing Association where the policy choices are made by employees of the member employer;
•    Typically multiple carriers and also multiple types of policies and options are available;
•    Employee selects options that best fit their life needs such as health insurance, HSA Account, FSA Account, supplemental insurance, etc.

Who you gonna call? If this development interest you it is critical that you contact your employer Association or Chamber of Commerce and ask if they endorse a Private Insurance Exchange option for their members. If the answer is no, ask that they establish one.

For more information see webinar link on my blog.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP offices in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at