Tuesday, October 30, 2007

November 5, 2007


The following is an excerpt from my new book, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life. The book offers considerable advice regarding how to manage our personal and professional lives. As a part of this, I found it necessary to discuss the legal ramifications of employment.

Over the last few weeks we discussed a variety of things pertaining to the terms of employment. This week I will wrap up this four part series by discussing miscellaneous items you may encounter in the workplace.

Do's and Don'ts in the Workpace (Part IV)

Expense Accounts

An expense account is used to record the expenditures an employee incurred while acting on behalf of the company, such as when conducting a sales call, visiting a customer, attending a training program, etc. How such expenses are to be recorded should be defined by the corporate Policy Manual or some other corporate guideline.

Rule Number 1 - retain all receipts. Companies will typically not compensate employees without a receipt. If a client or prospective customer is involved, be sure to write their names, titles, and the company they represent, on the back of the receipt.

Rule Number 2 - know what you are entitled to record as an expense, and what you are not. For example, some companies may specify a cap for meals and lodging. Anything above the cap will be at the employee's expense. Also, if you are being compensated for automobile mileage, know how much you are entitled. There may be instances where corporate mileage compensation is below what is allowed by the government. In this situation, you may be entitled to use the difference as a deduction on your income taxes. For example, suppose the government allows $.35 per mile, yet your company only pays you $.30 per mile; you are entitled to report the $.05 difference on your income taxes. Consult the latest IRS regulations for clarification.

When entertaining a customer, know who is supposed to pick up the check at the end of the meal. You do not want any embarrassing situations to arise, particularly if it may cost you a sale. Because of this, make sure the other person knows who is paying the tab BEFORE you sit down.

Air Travel

When traveling on business, there are several items to be observed:

  1. Booking the trip - Most large companies handle reservations for air transportation themselves or contract with specific travel agencies to handle it for them. By doing so, they typically secure better rates than the average consumer gets. Or you may be asked to make the reservations yourself. Regardless, record the confirmation number of your tickets in case they are lost.

  2. Companies will have rules on the travel class you are allowed to use (first class, business, tourist). As the young hire, in all likelihood you will be flying tourist. Senior employees and executives typically enjoy First or Business Class.

  3. You may earn Frequent Flyer points for your travel, but if it is on business and at the company's expense, do not be surprised if you must surrender these points to the company as opposed to you keeping them. Consult corporate guidelines.

  4. When traveling out of the country, be sure to take your passport and traveler's checks (if you are so inclined). Make photocopies of all of these items and keep one copy in the lining of your luggage and one copy at home with your family. In the event they are lost or stolen, the photocopies will prove invaluable for replacing them promptly.

    Finally, When arriving at a new country, be sure to check the latest currency exchange rate to make sure you are being fairly charged for something.


There may be instances where it is necessary for you to accept a transfer within your company to another location. As such, you will be asked to move your family and yourself. Before you accept the transfer, make sure it is worth your while to do so. In other words, is there some sort of incentive for you to uproot your life? Financial compensation is nice, but you may be left with no alternative but to accept the job (or face dismissal). If you are being groomed for management, you will most likely have to take one or more transfers to climb the corporate ladder. If you like your current job and continue to spurn transfers to other parts of the company, you may be hurting your chances for advancement. If you say "No" too often, management will stop asking and you might suddenly find your career arrested.

Assuming you want to accept a transfer, find out first what the company policies are regarding moving expenses. Will they offer you suitable moving expenses or next to nothing? Will they allow you time to find suitable accommodations at your new location or must you do this at your own expense? Think twice about accepting a transfer, they may genuinely want you to accept the transfer, or they may be hinting that you should find another job.

Office Romances

This is an incredibly delicate subject as office romances can turn very ugly. Nonetheless, people will continue to be attracted to each other. I would caution you to avoid an office romance for several reasons:

  1. Your intentions may be misinterpreted by the other party and you may suddenly find yourself embroiled in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

  2. Even if you date for a while, but decide to break up later on, this may make for an uncomfortable situation in the workplace from then on.

  3. Openly dating another employee may lead to petty jealousies which can also lead to problems in the workplace.

Knowing of such potential problems, companies may flatly prohibit office romances and deem it grounds for dismissal. Others may allow office romances as long as you notify certain management personnel, such as the Human Resources Department. Be sure to consult the company's Policy Manual for particulars.

The best policy is to simply avoid an office romance if at all possible. If not, be incredibly discreet about it and go into it knowing you both run the risk of running into problems later on.


This series of Do's and Don'ts have been aimed at guiding new hires on the right path. Quite often newbies are dropped into a corporate workplace that can be rather confusing and disheartening. If you are not careful, you can be fed to the wolves. The purpose of these tutorials, as extracted from my new book, is simply to set them on the right track. Maybe the best way to think of it is as a road map for traversing the corporate mine fields.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is... "If you say "No" too often, management will stop asking and you might suddenly find your career arrested."


Friends, as mentioned, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book."

The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4

LIKE TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF MY NEW BOOK? Be the first one to e-mail me a message with your name and shipping address. In the SUBJECT or BODY of the e-mail, be sure to write "Morphing Book 110507". E-mail it to me at Only one free book per person. I'll announce the winner on next week's broadcast.

Last week's winner was: Judy Thurman of New Jersey. Congratulations, a copy of the book is already in the mail to you.


Not long ago I was cleaning out my files and shredding bills from years ago. Each year I dutifully box up my bills and income tax statements and store them away in case I ever need to reference them. Periodically I dispose of them after sufficient time has passed and they no longer serve any purpose. On this particular occasion I was examining what I had been paying for over ten years ago.

One of the first things I noticed was the difference in my telephone costs. I used to pay for just a land line at about $50 a month which also accommodated my long distance charges. Today, I average about $170 a month in telephone costs which covers my cable telephone and the cell phones used by my family. And this doesn't include the hardware costs which range from $50 to $400 for the phones themselves.

Does anyone remember when television was free? I do. We didn't have a lot of channels back then and the programming was probably a lot better than it was today as only the cream of the crop made it to the airwaves. Today, my cable bill averages at about $36 a month for the basic package. I know a lot of other people who are paying a heckova lot more for premium channels. This means we have many more channels than in the old days, but I can't say we have better programming as many stations put just about anything on to fill the time. Something else; does anyone remember the original premise of cable? That there would be far fewer commercials, if any? I guess the cable networks missed the memo. Let us hope XM radio, another technology we now pay for, doesn't forget this.

For entertainment, we played cards and board games or just socialized. If we went to the movies, we would go to the local theater and pay a couple of bucks. Today we have cineplexes to watch many different movies, usually computer generated, in Dolby "surround-sound" for about $10 per person. Renting movies isn't too bad as there is some fierce competition out there. I'll be curious to see what impact the downloading of movies will have on the price of a movie.

We also pay a lot for video games. The Xbox and Playstations range in price from $350 to $600 depending on the options you order, and this doesn't include the games themselves which range from $30 to $60 each. For example, the much touted "Halo 3" sells for about $60.

Computer hardware prices have gone down, but interestingly, software has gone up, particularly the price of operating systems (which range from about $100 to $300) and office suites ($120 to $500); then you've got financial packages, graphics packages and anti-virus packages and other utilities, etc. It's not cheap. In total, computer costs have actually gone up, not down.

Household cameras and film processing used to be pretty inexpensive too. Today we have digital cameras and camcorders which range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars. I don't think anyone remembers "Brownie" cameras, "Instamatics," or Polaroids anymore.

One has to ask, as the price of technology goes up, has our quality of life gone up? I guess that's debatable. I know driving has become infuriating as people actively chat on their cell phones as opposed to concentrating on the road. It also seems people like to "tune out" on their iPods or other devices as opposed to socializing. And I question the quality of our programming on television. All I can say is "Thank God for remote controls." I can't image a television set without one anymore.

If you were to add it up, you would probably find that technology has quadrupled the cost of living, and that's probably a conservative estimate. Kind of scary isn't it? Maybe the best thing I should do is simply not open those boxes of bills and just burn them instead.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.


I received a few comments regarding my "Pet Peeve" on "Reinventing the Wheel":

A K.O. in Butte, Montana wrote...

"I agree that we shouldn't throw out 'the baby with the bath water', and things can be repaired with just a little effort. Our current culture doesn't believe the effort should be put forth, and like Ockham's Razor, that 'the simplest answer must always be the best'. Ockham has been disproven over and over again. A good rule of thumb, many people forget how it goes-'the simplest answer "given the available information" must be the best." Thank you very much!"

Thanks for your comments.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2007 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."


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