Archives for career

The Power of Optimism

optimism-1 Optimistic people fare better in interviews all other things being equal. That is the simple truth. Most people like people who have optimism, so long as it isn’t exaggerated and overblown simply for effect.

Optimism and smiles tend to go together. (See our recent entry http://wfastaffing.com/smile/ ) So there is a double-whammy in the package of a person interviewing for a position who is both optimistic and who has a ready smile; those people usually will have a better experience sometimes because they expected to have a better experience.If we are self-confidant without being overbearing, and we couple that with optimism and a sense of humor, the odds are in our favor if we have the work-related qualification the employer seeks.  This might seem too simple to really have an impact, but it does have an impact.  This combination is sort of the ‘holy grail’ for prospective employers, or the trifecta that simply doesn’t present itself too often.

If you are one of these people, you have probably been quite successful and you might not even understand why, or you may never have given it a thought because life has always been good.

So, what about the person who hasn’t experienced this before?  Is all lost for that person?  Certainly not, but you have to become aware of those things that can help you with optimism in the interview.

You need to have self-confidence; that is hard to fake.

You have very solid attributes. You need to take inventory of those and be sure you make use of them.  A ready smile is valuable.  A good self-image is important.  If you need to buy a new outfit for the interview, maybe that is a good investment if it helps you feel better about yourself.

You need to have a download-3positive view of yourself, without being egotistical, and about the world around you, and recognize and convey that you are a good person, and would be a valuable employee, if this proves to be the right setting.  You need to have your ‘elevator speech’ prepared.  What in the world is an elevator speech?  It is that 45 to 60 second talk that tells who you are and why you think you can be a value to this employer.  You may review your education and experience in short, succinct bites. And don’t forget about your personality and values.  It needs to feel natural and to be ready to be provided every time you encounter a new person or new situation. Maybe it is better thought of as the response to the interviewer’s request:  “tell me a little about yourself”.

Self-confidence and optioptimism-is-the-faith-that-leads-to-achievementmism about who you are will go a long way toward a favorable interview experience and for your future.

Al Campbell, Account Executive

 

 

“Procrastination is the Thief of Time…”

This blog is about procrastination (I’d have done it earlier but something else came up).  Maybe a poor attempt at humor, but there is a factual basis for the statement. How many times can you think of when you had an unpleasant or difficult task to perform, and you found ‘reasons’ to put off that task?

procrastination-1Charles Dickens is quoted as having said:  “Procrastination is the thief of time”.

This is similar to holding a mirror in front of our face hoping to see someone else’s reflection.  We are all, at one time or another, more or less often, guilty of procrastinating.  Maybe one of your associates walks past your office and stops to talk about something.  Perhaps you see an interesting thing on the Internet and take the time then and there to review it.  You may even shuffle that vexing matter to the bottom of the ‘stack of things’ to do; maybe you have even shuffled it to the bottom before.  Maybe the chit chat at the coffee pot was particularly engaging this morning.

A blog on leaderchat.org laid out the steps one can take to overcome the issue of procrastination:

  1. Establish your objective.
  2. Define what you want to achieve in the order of importance of each task.
  3. Gather whatever information you will require in order to make a decision.
  4. Consider all the sensible options and then select the best of these.
  5. Finally, take action.

Getting payroll ready is a tapaper-office-procrastinationsk that has a defined end date.  There are steps that have to be taken sequentially in order to make that happen.  You need specific information to complete the task.  There are usually no options since there is one system to use, one date by which it needs to be done, and the usual elements of information such as hours worked, people placed, client positions filled, etc.

While this is a reasonably well-defined task, these same steps can be used in more free-form situations which might lack the definition of doing the payroll.

The more complicated the task, the more time it is likely to require.  That might well suggest that this task be placed at the top of your ‘to do’ list since it will take more time to complete and you’ll likely need to be ‘fresher’ to get it done.  You might also find that holding off on tasks you enjoy in order to complete the tasks that are more a burden works since you’re rewarding yourself for a job well done by having cleared a less desirable task from your list, and giving yourself the chance to go after a more enjoyable task.  It may also stand to reason that the less enjoyable task could well be the more important task.

We usually know when we are procrastinating.1216_procrastinating-stay-on-task_650x455

Procrastination once in a while may not be a bad thing, either.  It is sort of the forbidden fruit thing, so long as it does not become a habit.  Maybe we procrastinate occasionally by taking a walk and re-energizing ourselves.  That can have a great effect on attitude.

And, finally, by thinking about procrastinating, we might also find that we are serving others as their excuse to procrastinate by stopping to chat.  This is a beast that can be difficult to bring under control, but, as usual, simply concluding that you do procrastinate can go a long way toward curing yourself of the problem.

 

021_phixr     Alan Campbell, Account Executive

SMILE!

smileWant to have a better today…SMILE!

 There is evidence that when we smile, even if we aren’t feeling it at that moment, we begin to feel better.

We can actually make ourselves feel better by smiling at others.  Now, wasn’t that easy?  When I receive a smile, I tend to automatically to return it.  If I am not ‘up to sorts’, I try to wear a smile and find that I work my way out of my funk and probably am helping others get out of their funk, too.

We don’t need to be goofy about it all.  A simple grin at another person will help you and the other person.  You might well find that you form a new habit.  You might also find that you develop a new friend or a deeper friendship.

We likemichael-phelps-happymichael-phelps-face-450 being around people who are happy.

We automatically work to stay out of the way of that guy or gal who is not happy almost as though we don’t want to catch whatever it is they’re having a problem getting beyond.

Be brutally honest with yourself and try to recall the last time you were in a funk.  Were people tending to stay away from you?  Did you continue to feed on your funk?  Did you ever get out of that funk all day, or did you take it home with you, too?

If you are seeking a new job, smile when you encounter anyone at the possible new place of employment, and continue to convey this positivity at all you encounter.  No one there wants to hire a sourpuss.  They probably already have their quota of bored, dreary,  or even scowling faces.

You don’t need to be happy-office-workeroverboard.

Just a simple show of your dimples, if you have those, is all it takes.  If you are about to interview with a person who has yet to find his or joy today, don’t go overboard but just smile a sincere smile as you introduce yourself.  You will almost be able to feel the atmosphere in the room changing for the better.

Another thing is very interesting, too.  When you are talking with a smile on your face that comes through even if you’re not in the same room with the person to whom you’re talking.  Your voice can convey the happiness on your face, just as it can convey the frown if that is pasted there.

If you are already a smiler, keep it up.

I have literally had people comment on my smile or lack of smile. If you smile once in a while, try to increase the frequency.   At the least, keep a happy thought in mind and that will begin to help you smile more often and you may find the people around are in a better mood too!

Tom Krist

 

 

Tom Krist, CEO

I lost one of my best friends this past year, who I truly miss.  He was a dear friend and a great mentor to me.  He helped me to get started in this business.  One of the things I remember most about my friend Jim is his wonderful, infectious, and memorable smile.  He could light up a room with that smile and he had the ability to smile in both good times and bad. This posting is in honor of Jim’s legacy.

Constructive Criticism

Contructive CriticismCriticism is something each of us has or will receive.  It is up to each of us as to just how we’ll respond to criticism, and it is up to each of us as to what we will take away from the experience.  There may be a way to avoid criticism, but that would probably entail each of us working for ourselves with no other employees, and then ignoring all the things we’d really know deep down that we should’ve done differently.  Our business probably would never really get off the ground if that were our approach.  We would probably become our own worst critic!

There are people who are able to criticize without that criticism feeling as though someone had stomped on your foot…or worse.  There are other people who seem to be able to criticize only if the message is hurtful, and we never quite know if the message was intended to be hurtful or if that person simply didn’t know how to make criticism feel better, or didn’t care one way or the other.

The people in our lives who know how to criticize without hurting us are showing us they really like our work and want us to do better for them and for ourselves.  That is a most valuable gift.  If you know someone who has that gift, try to determine how you might be able to copy their approach so your conversations with subordinates, even if somewhat critical of their work product, would seem to be meant to help them become better at what they do for the company.

I can remember working for a man who seemed to know when I was capable of a better work product and who would gently let me know he saw that in me and wanted to help me become even more important to his company.  I got the message and I wanted to please him with improved performance.

If you have the need to criticize, try to be professional in the manner in which you criticize and avoid any remarks that might be taken personally by the recipient.  If you are the recipient, try to be receptive to the criticism knowing that if the manager didn’t want you on his or her team, you’d have never been given the chance to improve.

By the way, this world of criticism is also at work for sales people who interact with prospects and customers.  Usually the sales person is the recipient, fairly or unfairly, but these are learning opportunities and can be turned into situations that result in a long-term customer with whom you have a good understanding.

 

Tom Krist

 

 

Tom Krist, CEO

Vacation- Casualty or Necessity?

Boss-at-the-beachA recent story by Gail Rosenblum in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis – St. Paul) highlighted an interesting set of statistics from a report originally titled “The State of American Vacation: How Vacation Became a Casualty of our Work Culture”.  That report queried more than 5,600 American workers (including some 1,200 managers) and was conducted by Project: Time Off.  Conclusions:

Fifty-five percent of the American workforce did not take did not use all its vacation time in 2015.

That represented the first time this report has found more than half of workers not using all their vacation time.  658 million vacation days were left unused and only 436 million of those were able to be ‘rolled over’ and used later or paid out.  222 million vacation days simply vanished.

Obviously there were hits to the economy as the result of vacation dollars not being spent but more significantly there were also hits to those not using their vacation time such as simply burning out at the job.  But there are more interesting statistics, too.  Half the group of those using all their vacation days included government employees and non-exempt employees who were paid hourly wages. The least likely to use all their vacation days were professional, white collar exempt employees.  The author wondered if they had the “out of sight, out-of-mind” kinds of thoughts driving their decisions.

Beach vacation

Many laid claim to finding their desks piled high with work left undone upon returning from vacation as the primary reason for not using any or all of their vacation time.  Others said that no one
else could do their job.  Still others expressed feeling guilty for taking vacation when co-workers didn’t take vacation. There is no doubt that we need our vacation time to recharge our batteries.  We need to be able to turn off the workplace and turn on the vacation time effectively rather than to be constantly worrying about what isn’t getting done, or what will be waiting upon our return.

If you have slipped into the mindset of not using all your time off, maybe you need to work to get out of that rut, because it is a rut that can be bad for you as well as being bad for your employer.  Some employers deal with that issue by closing their plant completely if they have that luxury.  Not many can afford to do that, though.

This is a mutual problem; it is a problem of prospective burn-out for the employee and of diminished results for the employer.

Maybe we each need to step back and take a long look at ourselves, and if we are the employer, at our employees and their habits so far as vacation time is concerned.

If you are an employer, have you looked at this kind of statistic?  If you are an employee, have you fallen into the rut of not taking all your time-off in favor of bumping up your income or simply not being ‘out of sight, therefore out of mind’?

 

Fred D'Amato

 

Fred D’Amato, President

Authenticity- Be yourself!

Be-yourself-in-a-worldAuthenticity is important.  Authenticity in interviews is very important.  What is authenticity?   How can we be authentic in interviews?  It is actually quite easy to define.

We define interview authenticity as you being you in the interview.

You are who you are. You have hair of a certain color; you are so many inches tall; you weigh so many pounds, you talk the way you talk, and your attitudes and experience are what they are.  That is the authentic you.  Authenticity is not something you can conjure up for specific occurrences such as an interview.  Too often, we have seen the situation where a person studies all he or she can about the company with which they are about to interview.  Is that a bad thing?  Absolutely not; you ought to learn as much as possible about your prospective employer before you interview.  But you should not try to be someone you are not and never have been.

Being authentic during the interview simply means that you act like yourself.

You don’t create some new version of yourself because you think that might work better for you during the interview.  You might be able to fool the interviewer once in a great while, but even then what have you gained?  The company thinks they have hired a person who doesn’t really exist.  You cannot be someone other than who you really are.  Actors and actresses play roles but that is only for the time they are onstage or in front of the camera.  You cannot play a role as an employee for 40 or more hours a week and for 50 weeks out of the year with two weeks of vacation to be your real self.

It is important tauthentic-self-picture-quotehat you be your real self during interviews.  That is how you achieve authenticity in the interview.  If the employer isn’t willing to hire the real you, then you are spared having to act the part of someone different for the rest of your career with that employer.  You know that would be impossible, but it is amazing how many times people who are seeking a new position are tempted to do just that.  There can be a lot of pressure to land that new job.  Bills are piling up; your spouse is counting on it; you need that ideal position to feel good about yourself.

But, no matter how rough the situation might be, do not fall into the trap of trying to act like a different person because you think that’ll get the offer to come your way.  It will almost always do just the opposite.  Even if that acting works once in a while, you would be miserable from the first day on.

Be yourself.  Walk the way you walk.  Talk the way you talk.  Tell the truth about your experience and education.  Act the way you’d want to be able to act if you were hired.  Be the real you; that is authenticity in the interview.

Tom Krist

 

 

Tom Krist, CEO

 

Moving Forward Together

1913-Ford-Highland-Park-Plant-engine-installationThis quote from Henry Ford, a visionary and innovator in manufacturing and the automotive industry, caught my eye this morning.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Quotes that say so much in so few words are great.  Think of a marching band and think about the coordination of movement required to make it look so professional.  Think of a football team that can’t move the ball, isn’t it immediately apparent when there is someone not aligned with the rest of the group?

When we transfer that thinking to the production line, or the selling process, or the welding department or the grease and lube facility, we can see the merits of a well-orchestrated human element working in tandem with the equipment that goes along with each job.

Imagine the Project Manager losing focus on the need for all aspects of the project to be moving ahead in lockstep.  That would not yield a project being completed on time and on budget.  And it certainly wouldn’t create a happy customer.

Imagine the assembly line employee who misses a beat thus sending the whole line into shutdown.  That is not conducive to that “well-oiled machine” we all shoot for every time we undertake a job.

This simple concept is the most critical office machineof all the steps in any well-operating company no matter what the product or service of that company may be.  There is sometimes a tendency to focus on the stuff that seems more important when the really important aspects are that we are all on the same page at the same time and moving in the same direction each doing what we are responsible to do.

Another name for this coordination of efforts is teamwork.  We each have to be at the top of our game, with our minds focused on the important issues and we must be putting forth the effort required if we are to be part of the well-oiled machine we spoke of earlier.

 

 

021_phixrAlan Campbell, Account Executive

Your Role on the Team….

team 2“Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.”      

 Scottie Pippen, Basketball player

This quotation really hits home for many of us, and it is important to think about it whether we are reacting to a change made by others or we are the person making the decision to announce a change.  Our role on the team is critical to both the team and the players.  There is usually only one point guard to set up the play on the court at a time and the point guard doesn’t always call the play.  The plays available are usually called by the coach from the bench.  Sometimes the defense requires that a subtle change be made in the play, and the point guard has the responsibility to both decide when and how that happens, and is held responsible for the decision’s timeliness as well as for the outcome.

Similarly, we are part of the team in our workplaces.  We may operate day-to-day quite independently but we are still part of a team, and we are accountable for doing our part in making the team successful.  We may well need to alter our game plan given occurrences in our world, but we do so knowing we are responsible for the outcome.  Unless we are exceptional, we will not always make the right call, or even if we do make the right call, it may not always work out.

It is important that we recognize that we are part of the team, and that the rest of team may be affected by some action we take on the spur of the moment.  We need to be aware of the impact our action will have on the team if it fails, just as we need to be sensitive to the feelings of the others on the team whether it fails or succeeds.

Sales people may not have the authority to alter pricing or promise more rapid delivery without conferring with their manager.  Their manager may not have the sole authority team 4team 3and might need to confer with his or her boss.  Production line workers have little leeway in how they perform their jobs for obvious reasons.

If we have been around for any time at all, we probably can think of situations where someone took the initiative and made a decision impacting the entire organization.  We might have had the experience where that was a bold but successful move.  Or, we might’ve watched as that decision caused significant problems for the team.

If we have any doubt about when and where we have authority to make calls to change the usual approach or pricing or promises made to clients/buyers, we know those decisions require the approval of our manager, who may also need the approval of his or her manager.  If we operate in a more autonomous working world, these kinds of uses of individual authority may well have been part of the initial hiring discussions.  Even then, we need to be sure we have a winning track record when we make such decisions.

Too many bad calls may get us benched or traded.  Team players are a valuable commodity to the company and to their fellow team members.

 

Fred D'Amato

Fred D’Amato, President

 

Silver Tsunami

happy-retirement-150x150We hear about the impact millennials (those typically with birth years from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s) are having and will continue to have on the workforce.  But, there is another phenomenon that has been given the name “silver tsunami”, and that is the growing segment of employees nearing or at retirement age, and concerning just what impact the loss of that experience pool will have going forward.

Employers are faced with ‘silver tsunami’ issues such as who will retire and those who will want to continue working, and what those decisions will do to employee benefit practices for example.  If you haven’t given any thought to this, you might wish to engage your employee benefits broker or consultant to begin the planning for this possibility.

There is another very intriguing aspect to this ‘silver tsunami’ wave, and that centers in our world, the world of employment and recruitment.  ‘Silver tsunami’ workers have significant organizational wisdom that might be lost upon their retirement. Silver tsunami 34 There is also the intriguing potential for employers needing skilled talent no matter the age, to focus some recruiting efforts on the ‘silver tsunami’ group.

There are ‘supply issues’ in the current employee talent pool and you probably know that as well as we do.  There are simply too few qualified people available in certain fields to meet today’s demand.  The ‘silver tsunami’ group might provide part of the solution.  Recruiting in that pool may provide more talent and better availability if the attained age is not a problem for the hiring employer.

We need to review our recruiting practices to assure that we can find those who may have ‘aged out’ in one company while they still want and need to work.  A recent Society for Human Resource Management and Sloan Foundation survey found that 66% of HR professionals said their organizations now employ older workers who have retired from other organizations or careers.  Of those people being hired from that pool, 58% said they went to work after retirement because they enjoyed it and needed to find something to do with all the time they suddenly had available.  Another 45% said their reasons centered on health care benefits.

Obviously, millennials are very important, but we need to be reminded not to lose sight of the value to be found among those in the ‘silver tsunami’.

 

Tom Krist, President

Tom Krist

Interesting Times…

 

imagesThe business of finding talent has gotten considerably more difficult of late, and it does not appear that will resolve anytime soon based upon what we see locally and nationally.

With that reality upon us all, there are things prospective employers need to consider.  In some cases, if the desired talent and experience can be located, more money may solve the dilemma but the “more” may be a significant amount given the demand in certain sectors of employment.  There is a distinct shortage of high level, broadly experienced talent.  This may be a time when some decisions need to be made.

Does my company really require a top level person with tons of experience, or is this the time for my company to think about bringing on board a quality person who might not have quite the level of experience we’d love?  Would operating short-handed be better or worse than waiting for, or paying more for the right person?

There is a cost to be paid for not filling positions just as there is a cost to be paid for providing some OJT, but while providing the OJT your company will be gaining the benefit of that employee’s production or sales.  Will every one of those people who were hired with a bit less experience or a bit less education than desired be long term employees?  Maybe not, but they will have contributed something even while you were deciding if they were ‘keepers’ or not.  You may have to refine the training process or the score-keeping process or both.  And you will need to be willing to pull the trigger on termination decisions if that is required; and, that isn’t always an easy thing to do.

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On the other side of the coin there are also the intangible feelings of loyalty that may be created within the person who was given the opportunity to learn on-the-job that might not otherwise be present.   If you are fully staffed or nearly so, you have the opportunity to work through these tight hiring periods.  If you are short-staffed, you are probably going to suffer on production or sales or both and that can’t be offset.

 

Interesting times indeed.

Alan Campbell, Account Executive

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