The Future Work Place

The Future Work Place

The Future Work Place – What Will it Look Like?

The Pandemic has had a devastating impact on life around the world. Many of us have lost close friends, co-workers, associates and family members. It has been very personal. On top of that many of us have had either short term or long-term changes in our jobs as well as in the nature of our work. And interestingly some of us have reevaluated our lives and how we live them. It has been a very dramatic change in almost all of what we got used to prior to the Pandemic.

Now I have questions. What will be the future of our work? Will we work from home or in the office, or some hybrid? Obviously, technology will play a much larger role in our work and home lives. We can already see rather stark statistics. Ed Gordon has been publishing and providing us with blogs called Job Shock. He is pointing to the difficulties that the education work is having providing work ready people to the work place. Education has changed and is undergoing serious challenges where standardized testing is going away and not being used by universities for admission purposes in many cases. The value provided by the ACT and SAT tests and even Briggs-Myers are being challenged. Diversity issues have become much more important in the work place. Demographics are working against us as baby boomers are leaving the work force. Then we see an amazing fact: currently there are ten million job openings in the US, which is more than the total number of unemployed people looking for work. So yes, I do have questions.

Even before the pandemic things were changing but it was slow, as in most changes. Four-day work weeks were becoming more common. Second and even Third shifts were becoming more common in distribution and other Industries that had not seen much in the way of the shift world. The generational stress between the baby boomers who expected people working in the office was pitted against the Millennials and GenX who wanted the opportunity to work remotely.

A recent Gallup survey found that 40% of the US workforce was actively looking for a change in their jobs. The main reason being that the employees did not feel engaged. Into that mix comes the Society for Human Resource Management. They are suggesting that flexible work arrangement can provide several advantages.

  • Improved Employee Retention
  • More Success in Recruiting
  • Reduced Hiring and Training Expenses
  • Improved Employee Productivity
  • More Diversity in the Workforce
  • Increased Employee Engagement

Harvard Business School, in recent research, found that 81% of employees either didn’t want to go back to the office or would prefer a hybrid schedule going forward. So, we are going through another change where business will have to support employees who can and want to work at home.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s when the rate of change was slower employers were able to find the required skills outside the company and hire the skills required. That is no longer the case. Yet many companies are still in denial and refuse to spend money training their current employees.

Then the recent McKinsey Global Survey states that 69% of the reported respondents reported an increase in skill building. This pandemic has disrupted the skills foundation dramatically and companies are starting to acknowledge that they need to build new skills internally. Skills are lacking in empathy and leadership, adaptability and communications and problem solving. Critical thinking skills are seriously missing. According to Deloitte it can cost six times more to hire externally than to develop skills by training internally.

All of this is pointing to a serious challenge to our leaders. One that they have not had to face and deal with in their careers. The most important asset in any business is their employees. Yet this is the one asset that leadership has completely disregarded. They hire people and then leave them alone. If the skills required are no longer available, they get rid of the current worker and hire new people. It has been true and, in their minds, working for over three decades. This is no longer working. It should never have been the strategy. People are the most important asset in any way you look at it. And please don’t forget that this need for employee development is at every level in a business, from the owner to the least important job function.

I have advocated for years that we have skill sets tied to job functions. We put our assessment programs in place specifically to address this issue. We also wanted depth charts like in sports. Who is in line to follow the current leadership? We wanted succession planning. We also wanted annual performance reviews. These reviews allow positive discussions with each employee to determine the needs and wants of each employee. They provide an audience for discussions on continuous improvement. We have a lot of talent in our employees. Everyone of them. You all know I am interested in helping people identify their potential and then help everyone achieve that potential.

We must get going. Time is passing. And time is an element we don’t get back.

The Future Workplace will embrace new thinking. It will experiment more. We will try things. We have to make more progress in improving everything we do for our employees and our customers and our suppliers. We have to provide an environment where everyone wants to learn. We have to stop reacting and start innovating. We need to be able to adapt more readily. Some people call it agility. I call it basic common sense.

As a teacher I have always said common sense isn’t particularly common. Today we have a huge opportunity to turn the negativity since March 2020 into a positive response. Making the future of our desires and abilities. Are you ready?

The Time is Now.

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How Do You Build Trust with Your Employees?

How do you build trust with your employees?

This week, guest writer Sonya Law walks us through the critical importance of the employee performance review in part two of her series. In “How do you build trust with your employees,” Sonya shares the methods of trust building we can all use in our businesses.

The irregularity of the sometimes twice a year Performance Review at mid-year and End of Year (EOY) does not lend itself to building trusted relationships.

What is going to build trust is:

  • Approachability – for some this is an open-door policy that physical signal that they are open for business. Others they like to walk the floor and talk with people and be seen.  Either way both methods work and encourage people, employees to come and talk with you.
  • Congruency – for some managers they may have an open-door policy and walk the floor but may give off a signal that they are not approachable. This is where emotional intelligence is important in leaders to have a self-awareness of their body language and tone when talking with employees to ensure that they are also presenting themselves as open and approachable.
  • Regularity – the consistency and regularity of these exchanges with employees encourages people to open up and builds trust.

As human beings we are wired to detect if people or situations are threatening and are constantly picking up on cues in our environment and behaviors of others.  To assess whether a person or situation is psychologically safe, the workplace is no different.  When we build an organisation that is built on trust and it’s not just a token value but a lived experience, we experience greater levels of:

  • Innovation – feeling safe to share ideas without them getting shut down without a fear of making mistakes, which enables learning.
  • Collaboration – when ideas flow freely amongst the team, in a collegiate way this balance of power ensures that everyone is heard and the focus is on a better solution.
  • Problem Solving – this collegiate environment encourages the team to solve problems together rather than a focus on individuals.

Some organisations value technical skills the hard skills; over leaders who are more approachable and collaborative as these are seen as soft skills.

48% of employees in workforce in USA are looking to change jobs, for more flexibility, to align with cultures and leaders who display these soft skills and clarity of purpose.  Cultures who truly engage with their people in an authentic way. Leaders who are self-aware, open, transparent in their communication and vulnerable, win the hearts and minds of employees and extract the discretionary effort that hits the bottom-line time and time again.

Most organisations know what they do, how they do it but not why, these workplaces are stuck in fire fighter mode, directionless and leaking talent, innovation and in most cases money.

So where do we go from here?

Make feedback and performance reviews a habit, stack it with best practice:

  1. People being aligned with the STRATEGY
  2. Remind employees of your WHY
  3. Connect people with your PURPOSE

The business landscape is rapidly changing and the nature of work and skills required are different.

Businesses need to reflect back to inform their strategy of what is needed to achieve business growth in the following areas:

  1. Continuous improvement
  2. Remove road blocks
  3. Market intelligence – competitor activity
  4. Customer intelligence – customer buying behavior
  5. Pandemic fatigue – shift towards holistic view of employee wellbeing
  6. AGILE – how can we become more agile
  7. Scalable Technology – how are we using technology to solve societies problem of social connectedness and remote work.

In effect how are we building a culture of feedback, performance and innovation, that is engaged and with a common purpose and a spirit of connection, belonging and community.

Humans are the greatest adapters:

In an article titled, Humans May Be the Most Adaptive Species, Scientific American:

“Constant climate change may have given Homo sapiens their flexibility.  Man had two key advantages: our brains and our capacity for culture.  Our brains are essentially social brains. We share information, we create and pass on knowledge. That’s the means by which humans are able to adjust to new situations, and it’s what differentiates humans from our earlier ancestors, and our earlier ancestors from primates”.

If we take care of the people we work with they will share knowledge, pass down knowledge and innovate and be agile, our role as leaders is to provide an environment that fosters trust for them to thrive.

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Have You Noticed What Is Happening?

Have you Noticed What is Happening?

For the last several months I haver been receiving phone calls and emails asking me how dealers should be navigating this current workforce problem. Have you noticed? Let me give you some facts to consider. As of this writing there were 10,934,000 job openings in the USA. That is the highest number ever. Unemployment stands at 5.2%. The long term unemployed (more than 26 weeks) stands at 3,200,000. Surveys tell us that 5,700,000 people who are unemployed want a job. The average work week stands at 34.7 hours and the private non-farm average hourly pay is at $30.72.

Those are the facts. Are you looking for an individual to fill an opening you have in your business? Well perhaps this might give you pause. Gallup research from earlier this year, 2021, found that 48% of the American Workforce was actively looking to change jobs. What do you think is motivating people to want to change jobs? That same survey found that the real problem is employee disengagement. Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job” called it Irrelevance. The employees don’t feel that they are relevant to their employer.

Some of you will use this as ammunition to get everyone back to work in the office. That working from home caused this problem. Don’t come to that conclusion too quickly. It is not correct. Some jobs are more effectively done away from the traditional workplace. Yes, it will take some time to work this out. But make no mistake it is happening now.

Let’s return to Gallup for the reasons for this feeling of “disengagement.” The three most common reasons were:

  • Not seeing opportunities for development
  • Not feeling connected to the company’s purpose
  • Not having strong relationships at work

This is causing a major change in the role of management. Jon Clifton, Global Managing Partner at Gallup notes that even though 64% of the survey respondents didn’t feel engaged at work, that the proportion of engaged workers is growing over time. “One reason is that management strategies are changing. Companies are no longer promoting people to management roles because they are good at their job. Rather, they’re looking at management as a skill in and of itself, and making sure people are good at managing others before giving them more direct reports. Good managers mean more engaged employees and less turnover.” And to me here is the kicker. Employees that are engaged at work are far less likely to leave. Gallup found they’d need to be offered a 20% pay increase to even consider leaving.

I hope you, like I, consider this to be rather sobering news. This news should also force you to do some serious thinking about how you operate. How you engage your employees. Of course, this is nothing new, is it? You should always have been engaging your employees in the business. Who doesn’t know that? But please think about it. How do you engage your employees in your business?

  • Do you have perfunctory state of the company meetings once a quarter where the “Management” tours the stores and shares results with everybody? How is that going for you? Perhaps the Pandemic stopped that mode of communications. No, that is not engagement. That is public relations. What about the day- to-day interaction between the employee and their team leader, their direct supervisor? What do they talk about? What is your employee turnover rate? What do the employees who are leaving, tell you in exit interviews? Do you even do exit interviews? If you don’t do exit interviews you should ask yourself why you don’t.
  • Do you have annual performance reviews with each employee at least once a year? Sonya Law, one of our talented bloggers, has been writing about this for some time. We did Part #1 of a Podcast a couple of weeks ago and Part #2 will be coming shortly. Not very many businesses provide these performance reviews. They are missing a huge opportunity. Continuous improvement opportunities. Don’t forget that the person doing the job knows more about that job than anyone else. They can tell you ways that things can be made better. For them and for the company. This also give the supervisor the opportunity to explore what it is that the employee would like to do next, what they would like to learn. This is another way that employee engagement can be improved.
  • Do you offer, and pay for, any learning that the employee does? Amazon just announced that they will pay for all University education for their employees. Do you do that? Do you offer training programs for all employees? What we at Learning Without Scars advocate, and strongly so, is that each employee should take a Job Function Skills Assessment each year. This should be one of the foundation blocks for the annual review. This is also the gateway to discussions on classes and learning that the employee wants or needs.

Those are three simple questions that need to be answered if you are seriously wanting to protect your business by having your employees truly feel and believe that they are engaged. The choice is yours. This time, however, the consequence for no action is serious.

The time is now.

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It’s Lonely, and I’m My Worst Enemy!

It’s Lonely, and I’m My Worst Enemy!

In tonight’s blog, guest writer Bruce Baker shares with us about the destructive mindsets that can lead many small businesses to fail. We hope you find a valuable resource in “It’s Lonely, and I’m My Worst Enemy.”

We only start living when we stop defending ourselves.

There is never a day I don’t hear someone expressing the dire consequences they face if or when they fail.  In a previous article, I explored the unhealthy mode many of us business owners and leaders are in – the mode that almost anything these days is a catastrophe if it is not solved within a few minutes or, G-d forbid by the end of the day!

This destructive mindset is why most small businesses fail, not because of the lack of tools and resources but due to being trapped by their self-destructive thoughts. Never has there been a time I have either helped a business owner scale up, start up or fix up their business because of the tools and solutions I worked with them on. It was first because of a reshaping of their mindset that brought them sustainable success.

Although the above is just one of many destructive behaviours, what amplifies them is attempting to resolve their challenges in isolation. If an individual has a challenge to solve, the intellectual part of the solution is simple for the most part. Still, the emotional component is where complexity rears its ugly head.  We all can identify where we were trying to solve a problem, only to be paralyzed by decision fatigue or simply indecision. Some of the regular comments I hear from business owners are:

  • I know what needs to be done but have to think about it a bit more.
  • I know it’s the right thing to do, but I am worried about….
  • I need to look at a few more options before I make my decision.
  • Oh well, another day, just a different pile….

The last statement is of particular importance because this is the one, I hear when business owners have finally shut themselves down to those around them.  The challenges are not isolated to business concerns but a mix of business and personal/family-related issues. We are taught not to mix business with personal life or to ensure a “work-life balance.” Let’s not fool ourselves. As business owners, these two entities, for many if not most, are interlinked and to try and fully separate these two emotionally is almost impossible. The consequences are catastrophic, not only in terms of business failure but losing what is most dear to us personally. The challenge now becomes insurmountable, and everything seems to be crumbling around us until we change one thing.

Being open to identifying and engaging with a like-minded individual or group to rely upon is by far one of the most powerful solutions any business owner has in their arsenal. The need to be in control is a critical foundation of our success and to be in control means we need to be connected and being connected makes us comfortable. Being comfortable allows us to share the strong emotions and stories we must tell. The power is not just in what we tell but the realization that we are not alone and many if not all have experienced the same emotions and the challenges they bring to their businesses.  The big difference is that many have resolved these challenges and have become successful in all spectrums of their lives, including building outstanding companies!

Most challenged business owner I engage with initially resists this notion when I first suggest it. Some say it sounds like a therapy session, others say it sounds like they are attending an “Alcohol Anonymous’ group session.  “How on earth are you going to help me grow my business by fixing my emotions?” said one business owner to me.   His reaction was simply self-preservation, the need for self-reliance and ensuring others to know “we have it under control”. Plainly put, the resistance for many comes from the downright feeling of embarrassment. The embarrassment comes from thinking others may consider you incapable or questioning your ability to build and run a business or telling others that you are not someone to do business with.

All this false talk prevents us from taking advantage of this powerful opportunity that we all have available to us! The more we remain in this state the more we isolate and rely on the “emotional mess” that’s we’ve created for ourselves.

I have and continue to have the privilege of working with business owners individually and in groups where we work through their challenges, both professionally and personally.  This hybrid solution consistently creates business success because challenges are solved and built upon successfully, not just because of introducing new systems and solutions in their businesses but also overall life solutions that are the primary driver of success in building a business.

Consider how much hardship you cause yourself and the great need you may have in defending your actions and decisions. The amount of unnecessary energy you spend is exhausting, and you deserve better!

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How Critical is it to Review Employee Performance? Part One

How critical is it to review employee performance? Part One

This week, guest writer Sonya Law walks us through the critical importance of the employee performance review in part one of a series.

It is very critical: you need alignment between the people and the work that needs to be done to achieve the strategy.  Your people are your number one strategic competitive advantage. When businesses can unlock potential of all people it has a multiplier affect to the bottom line.

Its very important to have a business whose people are performing and heading in the same direction.  It’s an obvious thing you can’t get anything done without the engagement of your people.

There are a number of factors for that too, which exist in today’s organisations:

  1. No clear direction: Often what happens is there is not clear direction from leaders.
  2. Feedback loop: There’s not always a feedback loop between the manager and employee on a regular and consistent basis.
  3. Celebrate achievements: Also, one of the things organisations don’t do very well is celebrate their achievements.
  4. Value your people: And the valuable work that employees do over the last 6 to 12 months is not recognised and highlighted in their mid-year or end of year review (EOY) or at all.
  5. Re-engage: Recommitting your people to the purpose and the strategy and their role in it is not something that is commonly practiced and should be.

As leaders, we get caught up in operations, in our own role, blinkers on, it’s very easy to fall into that trap especially during the pandemic, where for a lot of leaders it’s about keeping your head above water.  It is the role of management to let people know what their contribution is and what their value is to the team and the organisation.  Most people join organisations because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

So, it’s a really good opportunity to acknowledge those things as well as ASK your employees at the End Of Year (EOY) review:

  1. What are the roadblocks you are experiencing in your job?
  2. What are their ideas in terms of efficiencies and continuous improvement?
  3. Ideas on how they could do their job better? Innovation?
  4. Ask them if they would like to do more training, learn something new, that is going to help them to do a better job?
  5. Open up a feedback loop: Say to the person how can I as a manager, help you to perform in your job?
  6. Ask them are they open to opportunities for challenge and stretch goals?

It’s good to, in that conversation talk about challenges and stretch goals.  What I am hearing from a lot of people lately that they are in a job, where they are somewhat happy, well paid, and it’s kind of easy and they are not really being challenged or stretched.  So, they actually want to leave their organisation for an organisation that challenges and stretches them.

This is the responsibility of the manager to unleash that unrealized potential or capacity within the organisation and when we don’t capture potential it really hits the bottom line.  In terms of productivity and efficiency, and revenue per headcount, so it is the role of the manager to always be thinking about how can I unlock the potential of my people. It starts and ends with potential.

Bias is a block to unleashing the Potential of employees?

As leaders, we experience bias in our decision making all the time, we put people in boxes because it enables us to make sense of the world and provides certainty something that still plagues us during the pandemic.  Or we are too lazy to think about what that person’s potential is within the organisation.  Managers who are disengaged have a detrimental impact on the overall performance and wellbeing of their team and organisation.

What can we do as leaders to overcome this bias?

To be aware of how limiting it is when we put people in a box, when we sit down at EOY review we need to appreciate that they are not the same person as they were when they started in the role and with the company.

Important preparation tips for Managers:

  1. Awareness of our own biases
  2. Look at your employees with fresh eyes
  3. Go in with the mindset like you are interviewing them for the first time
  4. Don’t assume, that their past performance is a reliable indicator of future performance.

We need to go into the EOY discussion with the employee as if we don’t know them because, our biases, and our assumptions, and experiences overpower where that person is.

This practice will ensure a successful EOY review on both sides.  With the knowledge that people grow and change as people within an organisation.  Consciously or not, we are putting people into boxes that underutilizes our Human Resources.  By holding a space for employees, it enables you to assess their performance.

Exert from a Candid Conversation with Ron Slee:

(www.learningwithoutscars.com Podcast button)

Ron: The EOY and mid-year review is all about the employee, its not about the manager, and many times, most times, I don’t believe the manager knows how to do it?

Sonya: This is true.  Some managers don’t want to do it, they find it intimidating.

Ron: Have you seen that?

Sonya: Yes, they just want it over and done with and tick the box, and send to HR. Often it comes back with limited feedback or comments. Yes, they talk with the employee and tick it off and go back to their job.  They are often uncomfortable with having conversations about barriers they might be experiencing, professional and personal development questions, conflict in workplace and delivering feedback.  Those skills are important but a lot of managers don’t like to do it, or want to do it.

Ron: Why?

Sonya: It opens them up, they won’t always have the answers.

Ron: We have to be vulnerable to each other.  If I asked what I could do to improve my relationship with you as a worker of mine, that employee has to trust me explicitly, implicitly if they are going to tell me the truth.  I don’t know that, that kind of trust exists? I get a paycheck, I don’t want to do anything that is going to jeopardize that paycheck, I need the paycheck.  The employee is coming to the discussion nervously and anxiously, and the boss thinking what a pain in the neck.  I am busy don’t they know that. We’re on the wrong foot from the start?

Sonya: True, there is also a power disparity which makes it difficult, in the workplace, often if face to face in the bosses’ office, manager title on the door, its intimidating.  The employee just wants to get home, take a paycheck and goes into survival mode, which is quite common.   Fear kicks in and fight or flight depending on the degree of trust.

In my next article we will explore this more on how to have a successful End Of Year (EOY) review in

Part Two: How to build trust and get the most out of the End Of Year (EOY) review. 

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Why do I do what I do?

Why do I do what I do?

In tonight’s blog, guest writer Ryszard Chciuk asks a question I think we have all wondered at one time or another: Why do I do what I do? 

Contributing to someone’s improvement and understanding is the reason I do what I do.

Who said that? If you don’t know yet, please keep on reading.

This article is about the meaning of one’s live.

Jim Collins said in Good to Great: … it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.

Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning (over 12 million copies sold) says: … striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. Victor Frankl also claims that Man … is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values! He also said: There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life. It has been said by a man who survived three years in four German concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

In that book Victor Frankl reminded results of several public opinion polls:  The results showed that 89 percent of the people polled admit that man needs something for the sake of which to live, around 60 percent of the people polled conceded that there was something, or someone, in their own lives for whose sake they were even ready to die. In the statistical survey of 8 thousand students of 48 colleges, conducted by social scientists from Johns Hopkins University, students were asked what they considered “very-important” to them now. 16 percent of the students checked “making a lot of money”; 78 percent said their first goal was “finding a purpose and meaning to my life.”

The polls were made some time ago, but my experience tells me the latest results would be much worse. I mean there are much more students and adults interested in earning more money and fewer people searching for the meaning of their lives. Using Frankl’s words: they are caught in that situation which I have called the “existential vacuum”. For such a man No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism).

To complete this long introduction, I will remind only one sentence from Friedrich Nietzsche: He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.

A company does not have its brain (at least at the beginning of the 21st century), so it can not suffer from the existential vacuum. The feeling of meaninglessness is not painful for a company. But no organization exists without the brains of its employees and managers. If you, as their leader, are aware that a significant part of your staff is searching for the meaning of their lives or suffering from the existential vacuum, you should help them. I do not expect you will create an internal department of logotherapy. Nevertheless, why you could not extend the medical healthcare package and allow some of your people to visit a logotherapist?

Anyway, I believe the person searching for the meaning of his life will be inspired by the mission of the team he is a part of, and adopt it as a kind of response to his problem. And those who already have a sense of meaning will find that working for you helps them to fulfill their life mission.

My life mission is to leave the world when it is a little bit better than it was before I arrived here. Does it sound general, audacious, pompous? Not for me, but as a manager, I made my mission’s definition more specific. I utilized over twenty years of experience collected during my service for the construction company. In that time, as a machine user and an internal service provider I believed I had learned the basic expectations of all machines’ users:

  • The machine is ready to work always when it is needed
  • The cost of operation is the lowest possible

When I got a chance to attend the creation of a new dealership for Volvo CE, I expressed my new after-sales department mission as follows:

  • We provide machine users with the highest machine availability at the lowest cost of operation,
  • by delivering service works exceeding customers’ expectations,
  • and keeping profitability on the level assuring steady development of the service department and securing financial liquidity of our dealership in a downturn in the economy.

That mission statement became a basic foundation for defining our department’s vision and the main principles (values).

The life mission has to be adapted to the changing conditions, so since I got retired, I feel personally obliged not to spoil our planet to a higher degree than the average homo sapiens does. It comprises also sharing my experience in the construction industry with my successors. I would like them to avoid my mistakes. This is the reason to write posts for the Learning Without Scars blog and to publish articles on my blog dedicated to construction machine users and their closest collaborators – after-sales departments personnel (only in Polish – note: and they are all excellent).

I owe you a response to the question I started my blog post with. This is Ron Slee answer to the most important question a human being has to ask himself: why do I do what I do? Helping students of The Learning Without Scars to succeed is his, and his company mission, his WHY.

Dear reader, what is your mission, what is your WHY, have you already found the meaning for your life?

As Ron says, the time for your answer is now.

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A Watchkeeper or a Beekeeper?

A Watchkeeper or a Beekeeper?

In “A Watchmaker or a Beekeeper,” guest blogger Bruce Baker walks you through the main personality types in leadership roles, and how they can impact your business.

Low morale, low profits, lack of employee engagement, high turnover and rampant gossip can be attributed to a company being led by either a Watchmaker or a Beekeeper – care to guess which one is the culprit?

If you guessed Watchmaker, you’re right!

In James Fischer’s book, Navigating the Growth Curve, a Watchkeeper is a person who needs most business components to be predictable – something they can control at all times. They believe that to be effective, the “business machine” must be controlled by its operators. This is their overarching purpose of management – to control the business. They further believe that the machine exists for its builders’ primary purpose: to generate as much money as possible for its owners/stakeholders.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making as much money as possible. Still, it is essential that building an intentional business must be done sustainably over the long term. This includes not profiting at the expense of the company’s employees and stakeholders. The better approach is as you might have guessed by this stage, is being a Beekeeper.

Beekeepers are always mindful and have hindsight and foresight when managing and growing their business. Instead of rejecting or resisting the complexity and chaos that certainty comes with business growth, Beekeepers embrace complexity and, at times, chaos by allowing their teams’ or hive’s intelligence to be the operator instead of themselves exclusively. They appreciate and understand that their business is a living and intelligent organism, and if allowed, will generate far more innovative ideas and sustainable solutions. As a result, the Beekeeper’s business will continually self-organize around its problems and challenges.

When reading the fable in Navigating the Growth Curve, Horace’s recommendation is for Peter to become more like a Beekeeper to capitalize upon his team’s collective intelligence. Peter initially tried very much to control every aspect of his team, causing anger, hostility, and disengagement, leading to a downward spiral that could have been prevented by merely asking for their input.

This is a hard lesson that business owners/leaders can’t seem to learn often enough. Unfortunately, we regularly find far more Watchmakers than Beekeepers primarily due to individuals insisting that they should have all the answers and asking for their employees’ input may put them in a negative light. This is far from the truth! The opposite is true.

There is a Beekeeper in all of us. Still, during our day-to-day challenges as business leaders intending to do the right thing, our Watchmaker tendencies take over more than often without us even realizing it.

The 7-Stages of Growth concepts and programs offered by Workplaces are designed to help leaders predict how complexity will affect them, focus their efforts and resources on the right things at the right time and adapt to their company’s needs as their business grows.

I want to share the first steps in the journey of becoming a Beekeeper referencing the 7 Stages of Growth Model and the Business X-Ray we take our clients through. We emphasize that the only complexity in any business is its people, starting with the business owner during this exercise. The business owner and the leadership team’s ability to embrace this complexity and leverage its power will take the company and team to the next level.

Let me share the initial 4-steps we start within the Business X-ray session that will set you on the course of business growth success.

  1. Recognize the intelligence of the team by asking its opinion.

As scary as this can be, once you have it behind you, you will be amazed at the results and the amount of ‘anxiety’ it can take off your plate. Most leaders we work with hesitate to ask for their team’s input/feedback. Many reasons come to mind, but the following are the regular reasons we come across:

  • How can they possibly know enough about the company to give me advice?
  • They’ll use it as a ‘bitch’ session, and I’ve heard enough of that.
  • I don’t have time to take their suggestions – I have my issues to deal with.
  • If I ask them for their opinion, they’ll expect me to do something with it, and I have enough to do right now.

Leading is all about learning how your company and the team think and feel can only be brought about by asking and engaging.

  1. Filter out the noise

Noise is only too common in the business world today. Too many things are important, leaving nothing that is truly “important.”  There are too many agendas that are not leveraged into concise plans of action, leading to low levels of focus and execution.  Once the team’s power is recognized and leveraged (i.e., all voices and their opinions are encouraged), critical issues are brought to the surface and problems are solved.  During the Business X-Ray session, key initiatives are identified with detailed action plans ensuring results are achieved.

  1. Unify the team around the plan

Once the key initiatives from the X-Ray are identified, the work begins. Communicate this information to the rest of the company either through group and individual meetings or the entire company at one time.  Ensure that each initiative has a ‘champion’ – someone willing to be the ‘team lead’ on getting to the end goal. A lot of work? You bet, but the rewards are well worth it!

  1. Implement organic and self-organizing systems reinforcing change

Organic and self-organizing systems include people engaging and achieving results together. This essentially allows the team to put their handprint on solutions and subsequent systems and processes that produce results. Leaders are working less hard and far smarter with less direct supervision, control, and micro-management.  Allowing this to happen brings about a path of least resistance which anyone in chaotic environments would strive for.

Practice being a Beekeeper and minimize the amount of time you spend as a Watchmaker. The results will be empowering for not just your team but for you as well.

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Making Our Teams and Ourselves More Successful

Making Our Teams and Ourselves More Successful

This week, guest writer Sonya Law walks us through the people skills we need as we work towards making our teams, and ourselves, more successful.

We achieve more as a team when we operate from a place of openness rather than fear – when we chose to thrive not just survive, we achieve more. On the road to getting there you will no doubt come across fear which is the greatest roadblock and inhibitor of growth and missed opportunities.

Recently I was asked to chair the Human Resources Summit for 2021 and immediately I went to FEAR, I said to them I think you have the wrong person.  They said no we don’t you are perfect for this; I remember then asking them what makes you think that?

The number one inhibitor of growth is fear. Rather than see the opportunity we sometimes succumb to FEAR.

WHY is that?

Usually it’s our own self-limiting beliefs, the story we tell ourselves that holds us back, the narrative.  We believe that we can only do something if we have done it before and we look for evidence that proves or disproves our fear.  When we operate in this way it is from what is called a fixed mindset.  Whereas a growth mindset is directed toward, I like to try new things.  The top three thought leaders and books that explore this in more detail are:

  1. Mindset, author Dr. Carol Dweck.
  2. Atomic Habits …author James Clear.
  3. What got you here won’t get you there …author Marshall Goldsmith.

As Albert Einstein said “We can’t use an old map to explore a new world”.

So, what’s holding you back?

It all flows from your mindset, through the lens of The Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton PHD says:

Your beliefs become your thoughts.

Your thoughts become words.

Your words become actions.

Your actions become habits.

Your habits become values.

Your values become your destiny.

To put it in a business context, our mindset, habits and values will guide your decision making, willingness to change and appetite for risk, innovation and growth.

So how do we overcome this?

  1. Self – Awareness, what is our narrative the story we tell ourselves?
  2. Become a lifelong learner, what matters is what we learn today and even more important what we will learn tomorrow.
  3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset, be open to feedback and willingness to

A great book that explores this further is The Journey BEYOND Fear, leverage the three pillars of POSITIVITY to build your success, by John Hagel.

Still the journey beyond fear is still a primal one and still many set themselves up for failure because they are not aware and not invested in changing their mindset or habits to orientate themselves toward success.  People still diet, even though they know they should exercise and eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep, we can be our own worst enemy by not engaging in healthy HABITS.

It’s the same with FEAR, if fear is a false expectation appearing real, why do we feed ourselves negative narratives about what we are capable of, thus limiting our potential?

How do we explore this further and adopt a practice of self-enquiry to gain insight into why we act the way we do?

Three very important questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the story I tell myself?

The Narrative is it consistent with me moving towards achieving my goals.

  1. Positive: is it enabling?
  2. Negative: is it Disabling?
  1. What am I passionate about?
    1. Positive: Do I focus on what I am passionate about what brings my life meaning, purpose and joy, does it align with my values?
    2. Negative: Or am I easily distracted and reactive?
  2. How am I choosing to respond and show up, what energy do I bring into the space? Do I explore opportunities?
    1. Negative: Do I practice avoidance and blame others.
    2. Positive: Or do I take responsibility and stay curious.

What are the benefits to a Team of operating from a place of openness rather than fear?

  • Openness to explore new ways of solving problems, collaboration,
  • Leads to Innovation,
  • Which facilitates Growth.

A good leader has vision and can frame the opportunity to be explored by the team.  Which allows the team to thrive not just survive, to innovate and grow both professionally and personally with passion.

If you are interested in a presentation on Growth Mindset, please contact Sonya Law from www.slhrconsulting.com.au.

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Your Company Legacy and the Digital Dealership

Your Company Legacy and the Digital Dealership

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with a look at your company legacy and how it fits in with the Digital Dealership.

“In the past, the model for an organized business was a phone and a Rolodex (younger readers can Google what that is). The new digital platforms like your Website, CRM and marketing tools are now the modern Rolodex”

When my team started our marketing efforts, I was stunned to learn there were over 15,000 equipment dealers of all sizes, in North America.  A huge number of these dealers were small organizations, of 1 to 5 team members, who do great business buying, selling, or renting equipment.  In this blog, I want to address the value of Digital Dealerships and brand development for small organizations. This is especially important for those of you who started your dealership and are trying to find ways for your business to support you into your future.

Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to work with many small dealers. I admire their tenacity; it takes a lot for these dealers to take their own fate into their hands. Often these dealers are smart and entrepreneurial; most come from larger dealers.  They saw a gap in the market, a niche, they could exploit and make a good living. Now their future depends on how well they execute.   For most of these dealers, their eventual legacy will be what sustains them into retirement and their future generations.

So how does this relate to the Digital Dealership?

One of the great things about the digital revolution in our industry is the potential to become, with a little investment, more than a person with a Rolodex. The Digital Dealership, or your digital presence, can help you extend your legacy well into the future in several ways.

  • First, your digital presence is like having an extra team member or sales rep. You’re existing and new customers can learn about you, answer questions they have for themselves and initiate communication with you all by going through your digital profile. I have seen lots of small dealers work hard to keep up with quotes, rentals and inventory information in a very laborious way. Each time sending emails with additional information like pricing. A well created digital presence can take some of this burden off you. Now, even if you are a team of one, you are actually a team of two, or even three. Creating and investing in a Digital Dealership establishes an effective sales path that’s open 24 hours per day. Now, you can focus on getting out to see customers instead of being stuck behind the desk.
  • Second, for a small growing dealership with big aspirations, a digital presence and platform helps you standardize. In many cases over the years, I have come across great dealers who are heavily dependent on one or two key salespeople. Usually, these key players are the owners, or a highly effective salesperson. The problem with this situation is repeatability. If one key person exits the business, it’s hard to recover. Creating a digital presence and a standard process, including CRM, makes your business repeatable. It lets you add new team members, set a standard operating practice so you can repeat what’s working, with new people. Your Digital platform can help to transition your customers and maintain the goodwill you’ve built over the years.

By creating a digital presence and developing a consistent brand, you become more than just a one-on-one relationship. Your hard work over the years, and that of your team, creates a legacy which can be easily understood by new people joining the team. This lets your customers feel like they are still dealing with the original creator of the business, who they first trusted to serve them.

More and more, we see new business relationships initiated from digital platforms. Buyers are looking for solid information, in addition to knowledge and great service.  In the past, the model for an organized business was a phone and a Rolodex. The new digital platforms like your Website, CRM and marketing tools are now the modern Rolodex. They help you organize and maximize the efforts you have put into the business for many years. Now you have the tools to have your business support you into the future.

To build is to have something that lasts; to create a legacy.

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Job Shock: Part Six – The First Half

Job Shock: Part Six – The First Half

Job Shock: Part Six – The First Half

Edward E. Gordon, the founder and president of Imperial Consulting Corporation in Chicago, has consulted with leaders in business, education, government, and non-profits for over 50 years. As a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant he has helped shape policy and programs that advance talent development and regional economic growth. This week, he continues his blog series with Job Shock, Part Six – The First Half.

Gordon is the author or co-author of 20 books. His book, Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis, is the culmination of his work as a visionary who applies a multi-disciplinary approach to today’s complex workforce needs and economic development issues. It won a 2015 Independent Publishers Award. An updated paperback edition was published in 2018.

Solving the Pandemic & 2030 Employment Meltdown

RETAIN Case Studies: Partnerships Rebuilding Local Employment Pipelines

The June Gordon Report provided an introduction to the general characteristics of regional public-private partnerships focusing on economic and workforce development or RETAINs. Across the United States RETAINs have many local brand names.  RETAINs bring together enlightened community leaders from many industry sectors. They cooperate in developing initiatives that provide career education and information to students and retrain incumbent workers to meet the skill demands of workplace technology changes. The goals of RETAINs are to strengthen local institutions and competitive companies while providing local residents with better job opportunities.

There are many paths to pursuing these objectives. Here are examples of RETAINs that are continuing to develop programs that address the talent challenges in their communities.

Manufacturing Renaissance, Chicago, Illinois
For the past 38 years Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) has been recognized as a leading expert, advocate and practitioner of policies and programs that support the manufacturing sector as a primary strategy for reducing poverty, expanding inclusion, and sustaining middle-class communities. MR has currently developed programs in three areas: Career Pathway Services, Policy and Advocacy, and Economic Development. Here is a snapshot of MR’s Career Pathway Services:

Manufacturing Connect. MC is a program designed to expose, inspire, prepare, and support youth and young adults to pursue career pathways in manufacturing.  MC is a community-based program serving in-school youth, ages 14-18, to provide high quality, career pathway programming including career exposure, technical training and work experiences to help young people start and keep good paying jobs in manufacturing.

Young Manufacturers Association. The YMA serves as both a network and a program for young adults, aged 18-29, who are pursuing careers in manufacturing, in-between jobs, in training or interested in starting a career in manufacturing. Through regular meetings and social events, they support one another as peers through training, transition into permanent employment, professional and life skills development, and balancing personal and work life dynamics. The YMA as a program provides services on an as-needed basis, including career coaching, wrap-around supports, employer liaison to help troubleshoot issues that come up at work, and technical training. Together, the YMA network and program are serving the untapped talent and potential that young adults specifically represent to their communities and their current or future employers.

Instructors Apprenticeship for Advanced Manufacturing. IAAM was developed in partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills to train the next generation of great machining instructors to be technologically, culturally, and pedagogically competent in the machine shop classroom.

Career Pathway Services is not a traditional workforce development program. MR draws heavily from a youth development and social services orientation to engage youth and young adults who typically may not identify or seek out manufacturing as a pathway that can assist them in achieving their life goals. MR introduces young people to the sector, finds a variety of ways for them to relate to peers already in the sector to help illuminate what could be possible for their future. No matter what they ultimately choose, young people benefit from having a network of professional and social support, work experiences, technical and professionalism skills. For those who enroll in our training program and choose to pursue a career-track job in manufacturing we support them as much as possible through training, job placement and beyond to help ensure their success.

MR is expanding its reach in Cook County and showing the way for other RETAINs to begin similar efforts. It illustrates that for a RETAIN to be successful there must be strong cooperation among educational entities, the business community, unions. government agencies, and non-profit partners.

High School Inc., Santa Ana, California

The initial impetus for the creation of the High School Inc. Academies Foundation came from local business leaders in the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce. Starting in 2003, members of the Chamber of Commerce held discussions with school districts officials on how to raise student achievement. The result was a partnership involving the Chamber, the Foundation and the Santa Ana Unified School District. An official “Memorandum of Understanding was signed by all three partners in May of 2006. This agreement outlined the responsibilities of each partner for the development and operation of the High School Inc. program.

The first six High School Inc. Academies began in 2007 on the campus of Santa Ana Valley High School in the Santa Ana Unified School District. The district’s Career Technical Education (CTE) department conducts monthly meetings with High School Inc.’s staff to maintain the continuity and effectiveness of the academies.

At Valley High School the High School Inc. Academies merge both academic and technical skills through Project Based Learning (PBL), competitions, mentorships, and business internships. Because of the success of the High School Inc. academies, there has been considerable growth in the school district’s creation of career pathways in business and industry sectors. These pathways start as early as sixth grade in the school district’s intermediate schools and send students into the waiting High School Inc. Academies.

The number of Valley high school students categorized as “socioeconomically disadvantaged” in 2008 was 80 percent. However, with the help of talented teachers and staff members, and the existence of High School Inc., Valley High School has raised the level of achievement for all Valley high school students.

Mary Tran, Executive Director of High School Inc. reports that the six High School Inc. Academies have grown from an enrollment of 96 students at its start in 2007 to over 1,572 students in 2019. The Academies boast a 98% high school graduation rate. In the past year there have been 160 professional internships for seniors. The number of students receiving “Industry Certifications” after a minimum of two years in the program was 511, with over 319 students participating in business/industry themed competitions. Students in the 2018-2019 received over 950 hours of volunteer time from business and industry representatives. The program has received numerous awards and recognitions including the prestigious “Golden Bell Award” given to High School Inc. in 2014 by the California School Board Association.

Jack E. Oakes, an officer on the Board of Directors for High School Inc., says “High School Inc.’s development has produced the realization that, before students can be College and Career Ready, they must be ‘Achievement Ready.’ Students reach this new level of preparedness by being motivated to strive at or beyond their potential. The High School Inc. model ensures that students are Achievement Ready before they graduate and pursue higher education and careers. The reforms at Valley High School embrace the mission of High School Inc. ‘to empower youth and strengthen communities through education and business partnerships.’”

Summing Up
Each organization profiled here has continued to evolve to meet the challenges posed by technological, economic, and workforce shifts. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted American life at many levels. It opens up new opportunities for many communities to use the RETAIN model as their first step toward a more knowledgeable workforce and the better paying jobs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The last segment of “Job Shock” will focus on why the 2020s will be a crucial decade for building a skilled workforce. As the nation emerges from COVID-19 shutdowns, the disconnect between needed skills and available jobs is gaining increasing attention. The time has arrived for RETAINs to take the lead in rebuilding education-to-employment pipelines in communities across the United States.

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