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Fresh Start for a New Year

A new year has begun, 2017 at that, and we are already hurry-scurrying through the first weeks.

For some, this is a time of reflection on the year just past and on the things we’d have done differently had we the opportunity for a ‘do-over’.  For others the new year is simply that time when we shift into overdrive to gain a step or two on our competition, business competition or personal competition.

A bit of each of those approaches is often ‘just what the doctor ordered’.  We certainly can be helped by a bit of retrospection, not to dwell on the past, but to gain from those experiences.  We ought to take the time to gain from all our experiences, from those that made us feel great and from those that had the reverse effect.  Both are important parts of who we are.

This is a great time in which to look around at the new world of 2017.

If we’ve had a plan for our careers, where are we in that process?  Are we where we wanted to be or have we surpassed our goals?  What is it that we want to be able to say we accomplished come this time next new year?

If we have had no plan for our careers, might it be time to create such a plan?  We are not technically in the personal consulting business, but we do a lot of that as we work to help people understand what we see as their strong suits and where and how they might make themselves more attractive to a new employer.  We have a very good feel for the marketplace and that may be something we can help you bring to your personal conversation.

If we reflect on the past year, as most of us do in one way or another, we probably find that we had anticipated some of what happened but were blindsided by other aspects.  That reflection might include personal situations, workplace situations, whether or not to add more education credentials, and where the future seems to be pointing for those  with our present skill sets.

Once we’ve had that personal ‘sit down’ with self, there is that whole thing of just what we decide we’re going to do to improve or change the situation.

If we are in an industry that is being chipped away at by new technology, we may be at the turning point personally.  If we have just accomplished adding another notch to the experience we have, this may be the year that we try out the new credentials.

Maybe we’ve had a life-changing experience.  If that is true for you, this might be a good time to re-think where you are and where you are going in the new year if you stay on the current pathway.  Part of the job we try to do is to help our candidates be as honest with self as is possible.  That is sometimes a bit awkward, but it is sometimes the wake-up call that is necessary to get a person back on the track best-suited to their experience and current situation.

Feel free to give us a call or stop to see us if you’re in the area.  We benefit by being of assistance to you and unless we get together, we’re both going to miss that opportunity.  Best wishes for a personal best in 2017!

Fred D'Amato

 

Fred D’Amato, President

“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

Trust Your Team

trust“A team is not a group of people who work together.  A team is a group of people who trust each other.”      Emmanuel Giavarini, Managerial Comm. Mgr. for a French Transportation System 

This quote attributed to the person identified above was found on her Facebook page and immediately made an impression on me.  I suspect it may have that same effect on other readers.

We, in business, work diligently to craft teams that perform at acceptable levels.  This is true almost without exception across all kinds of business organizations if the organization has more than one employee.  We tend to think about this in terms of the word ‘teamwork’; we are taught this from the time we can remember throughout our education.

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork!

How often, if at all, do we translate teamwork into trust in each other?  When that is stated, it makes sense without much thought being given to it.  If we watch our favorite football team, we see that teamwork is obvious in the level of trust amongst the players.  There is a chemistry that is immediately recognizable.  The quarterback calls a play and everyone immediately knows what each of the other teammates will be doing during the coming action.  Each player trusts that each of the other members of the team will be doing exactly what is expected, where it is expected and when it is expected.  This is especially true in practice when there may not be an opposing team involved in trying to thwart the play.

trust-me

Do you trust each of your team members to be where they’re supposed to be. Are they doing what they’re supposed to be doing when they’re supposed to be doing it?

Of course you do since that is what it takes to produce consistent results.  This might be more easily observed in a manufacturing environment but it is equally as important in an office.

How often thotrust-e1400663980941ugh do we actually think of a team as being based on all the members knowing they can trust their other team mates?  If one member of the team doesn’t have implicit trust in each other member of that team, the team won’t function as well as it should. .  This is fairly easy to picture in a physical activity since there are physical actions that intertwine with the physical actions of the other team members.  Think of firefighters who instinctively know what every other person is going to be doing.

When we transfer this team trust concept to the office, it is potentially more difficult to picture. Thoughts are impossible to see.  Teammates know that there are things that need to happen but we are not necessarily able to see them happening.  We take it on faith that each step will occur as it needs to occur.

We trust each other; therefore we function as a team.  If that trust isn’t there, we do not function as well, if at all.  As the quote said,

A team is a group of people who trust each other.

021_phixr     Alan Campbell, Account Executive

 

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

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

 

The Early Bird Gets the Talent…

your hired'

Hire early for best results.  This seems a recurring theme for a WFA Staffing Blog, but that is the case for a reason:  there is a shortage of qualified people seeking positions as has been the case off and on for the past year.  We find candidates who have interviewed and made favorable impressions not being available any longer after a wait of only a week to ten days.  This seems more and more to be the ‘new normal’.  Frankly, we had expected this to be a passing phenomenon since we have seen that pattern before, but this seems to be more widespread and of longer duration than we’ve experienced in a long time.So consider a new hiring strategy…

If there is one message that seems to be apparent, it is this:  when you find a qualified person who seems to be a great fit for your organization, you may want to consider expediting your normal hiring timeline.  The chances are increasing that this person may no longer be available when you decide to pull the trigger.  That has happened to us several times very recently.

As we stated at the beginning of this blog, what has been the case in select categories now appears to be the case almost across the board.  Obviously, those positions with stiffer qualification and experience requirements might remain open for a bit longer, but the qualified candidates for those higher level positions seem to also have more choices.

The early bird indeed is coming away with the deal.

Talent is in the driver’s seat today and the talent we see does not seem hesitant to make life-altering decisions very quickly when the ‘right person and the right employer’ find each other.  Consider free agency; the top athletes usually receive immediate offers and are not left ‘on the market’ very long.  It is the wise employer who recognizes this market and alters the process accordingly in order to bring the right people on board.

As always, we are here to help and part of that help in today’s market is the advice you have just read.  If we seem to be pushing a bit, please understand that we are trying to help you avoid being disappointed.  Open positions, or under-performing employees, are costly to any business.

Fred D'Amato

Fred D’Amato, President

 

New Year’s Resolution: Daily Planning

The New Year is Happy New Yearat the same time a bit of a mystery and an enticing possibility.  We have completed the old year even if there are a few things still hanging on from that period.  We are gearing up for the exciting next twelve months.  There is an aura of excitement over the unknown.

If you are like most people, you are making, or have made, your high level plans for 2016.  Those plans would be for the big things you see or hope for in your 2016.  Maybe they include the next vacation location or seeing a child off to a particular college.  Maybe you feel you are due for a different/newer vehicle in 2016.  Maybe you are even thinking of searching out a ‘better job’ which might mean simply a different boss, or better pay or even a position in a different city.

It is easier for most of us to make these high level plans than it is to make the detailed plans that week-by-week will get you to the place your high level plan calls for, and you are not alone.   Too often it is easier to dream the big dream than it is to deal with the realities that each day and each week bring with them.

We create problems for ourselves if we only do the big dreaming and never quite get down to the plan for today and tomorrow and next week.  We too often fall victim to the excitement and joy of the big plans instead of dealing with the day-to-day.

It is wonderful to have the big plan…but it is essential to have that daily plan, that plan that gets you from Monday to Friday with the accomplishments of each day upon which to build.   We need both the dream of the future as well as the plan for today and for this week and for this month.  And, we need for those to be properly aligned with one and other.  Today comes before next month.  And next month comes before the vacation you have planned.

Plans are important so long as they are workable.  Planning has to include a decided dose of reality if it is to be a successful plan.  We put twelve months into last year; each of the days came in the order they were shown on the calendar.  In order to be successful for the year, we need to string a lot of successful days together.  That sounds like a tough task but it is much easier since we can deal with today without worrying about next week or next month.

If we have a bad today, we can plan for a better tomorrow.  We have a whole New Year ahead of us, but we are in much better shape if we take that New Year one day at a time and get the most possible from each day.

 

Tom Krist, CEO

Tom Krist

Teamwork

Packers

When we think of teamwork, all manners of examples come to mind.  Recently, we Packers fans might be questioning the ability of a team to go from functioning beautifully to functioning poorly in the span of a couple of weeks.  On a football team we know there can be any number of reasons for such swings in performance from attitudes to injuries to simply having encountered better teams.  Football teams prove and re-prove themselves on a weekly basis.  There is little subtlety involved; the team wins or it loses or it ties.  The outcome is shown by the team’s place in whatever league it plays and by the presence or absence of trophies at the end of the season.

The Business Dictionary describes teamwork like this:  “The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.  Teamwork is often a crucial part of a business, as it is ofte n necessary for colleagues to work well together, trying their best in any circumstance.  Teamwork means that people will try to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict between individuals.”

 

When we accept an assignment to locate the right person for our client, we take that very seriously.  For most of us in management, the need to terminate an employee relationship can be among the toughest decisions we have to face.  It not only affects the person being terminated, but it affects the rest of the team, as well.  Selecting a well-qualified candidate and finding that person who also is a proven team player is critical to us in our searches.  I have believed for a long time that before a person is given the responsibility to hire a team member, he or she should’ve been involved in the termination process up close and personal.

 

That ‘seasoning’team is part of what you hire us for; we know both ends of this equation and we factor all that experience into our recommendations to you.  Qualifications are important, but the ability to be a team player is also critical.  If we find past ‘teamwork’ issues in our vetting of candidates, we will not pursue that candidate on behalf of our client unless the client directs us to do so after we’ve explained the situation and our concerns.team

021_phixr

Alan Campbell, Account Executive

Is it time to shorten your hiring process?

Help wanted Our last WFA Blog dealt with what is being called the ‘Silver Tsunami’ and the impact that is having on employers as retirements take valued skill sets off the market.  The State of Wisconsin has released its latest figures showing a total of more than 94,000 open positions across Wisconsin at this time.  This includes all types of positions.  That is coupled with a relatively low unemployment rate of 4.4% in Wisconsin again across all types of positions.

We have seen a lengthening of the recruiting process in our world, and we have seen a near-critical shortage of available candidates in certain specialized areas of employment.  The indication is that this tight market may continue for some time to come, especially in certain specialized areas of employment.  Given this somewhat unique employment environment, we offer some thoughts about how employers might avoid having open positions for long periods of time:

First, the days of having ample time to think about making an offer seem to be drawing to a close in many sectors.  There are segments of the workforce where offers are now being seen at the time of the initial interview or very soon after that point.  That is occurring in most sectors of employment even including certain of the more highly skilled positions, which is a bit unusual, and seems driven generally by the sparsity of candidates.

If you are able, when you see a good candidate, you may need to make a decision, at least by the following day or two.  If you are able, you may find it beneficial to think of extending an offer to Job offera candidate that has 80-90% of what you seek where you might’ve delayed prior to this time thinking you’d see a better candidate soon.  The decision can be likened to a Hobson’s choice of “taking what is available or nothing at all” as that term is defined.  Neither is particularly good but one is probably better than the other in any given situation.  You are the only one who can make that decision.  We’ll continue to seek the best candidates for each job order.

 

Tom Krist, President

Tom Krist

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