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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Time Is a Problem

Time Is a Problem

 

Are We Simply Solving Problems All Day?

Over a year ago I wrote in a blog that Time Was Your Enemy. The other day Mets Kramer and I were recording a Podcast on the Digital Dealership and we spoke about two companies who we think do a good job at a lot of things; Amazon and Google.

Amazon has data. Lots and lots of data. They have made data analytics into an art form. They know what every customer looked at and what they did with it. They know every vendor and how they perform. They are constantly “tweaking” things to provide a better customer experience. They are constantly working on their business.

Google gets revenue from their customer search information. What were you looking at and where were you? And they are constantly improving their systems and process. It is reported that they spend 70% of their investments on their current operations. Making sure it runs in the best way possible across all platforms. They spend 20% of their investments on continuous improvements projects identified by their employees. The final 10% of their investment goes to what they call “Moonshots.” Ideas from their employees that might or might not be successful. They are constantly working on their business.

As we continued talking about them, we shifted to what we do in our businesses. We called it as we saw it. We are problem solvers. We put out fires. That led us to reviewing the firefighters and how they do their job. Statistically it is said that 5% of the firefighters’ time is spent fighting fires. The other 95% is doing things aimed at preventing fires. They are constantly working on their business.

Shifting back to our Industry we concluded that we were spending 95% of our time fighting fires and very little time on trying to eliminate problems. We are working “IN” the business not “ON” the business.

The other blog from me recently is about the workforce and what is happening in that aspect of our businesses. We have rarely any succession plan. We rarely do annual performance reviews. We rarely if ever do exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving and what ideas and thoughts, they have to make the job they are leaving better. We just continue what we have always done. Solve problems. In fact, Mets suggested that we self-correct as an Industry. There is a lot of pressure in problem solving all day long. We separate from people who cannot work under that kind of constant pressure. We also employ people who are used to repetitive work. Process orders, give quotations and availability checks. Give status reports on work in process. But who is there out there who is employed to identify continuous improvement ideas?

When Six Sigma was implemented, many dealerships created job functions outside of the normal day to day problem solving work to have their lives be dependent on finding ways to make things better. Who do you have doing that work today? What changes are you making to your processes and procedures and your methods? Who is analyzing your data to identify customer activity? Who is researching the changing buying habits of your customers?

That led me to this blog. I think we have a lot of work to do. Don’t get me wrong many of you have done a wonderful job in customer service. You make a fair amount of pretax income. You support your employees and they in turn support your customers and vendors. On the surface things look OK. But like a duck swimming in the river. It looks calm on top of the water but that duck is working hard at paddling away underwater.

Becoming a Digital Dealer is of critical importance if we want to stay abreast of the market and the trends in customer purchasing. It is said that 73% of the people charged with the responsibility of purchasing things in business today is done by millennials. Further 50% of the millennials do their purchasing online. How does that fit into your business model? Are your employee’s serving customers as they have always done? What percentage of your parts business is coming to you via the internet? What percentage of your customers have millennials doing their purchasing? Do you see the dilemma that I see?

Over the last fifty years from work that I have done over that period of time I have watched market share for parts drop by 50%, market share for labor drops of 30%. Have you noticed that yourself? Do you know your parts or labor market share? From my work in the industry there are very few, less than 10% of the dealers, that I have worked with, that know their market share. To make matters worse they don’t have current and accurate machine population lists by customer either. That is the most basic piece of data that we have in our industry and it is clearly the most important.

I will close with the truth that keeps me going. Everyone wants to do a good job. I believe that to my core. BUT. Everyone has to know what doing a good job looks like. Amazon and Google have shown us the way. Our job is constantly changing as is our market. Are our dealerships constantly changing, constantly improving the processes and systems for their customers? Sadly, I don’t think we are. Now is clearly the time to have the discipline and the personal character to work on the business not simply in the business. Now is the time to eliminate problems not simply solve them. It is clearly up to you.

The Time is Now.

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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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The Digital Dealership: Change and Remaining the Same

The Digital Dealership – Change and Remaining the Same

In tonight’s blog, guest writer Mets Kramer continues to speak on the digital dealership with a look at change, and remaining the same.

I often hear, and most of us have said, the following word.  “The equipment business is a relationship business”, “Relationships make the difference”.

Nothing could be truer about this industry.   Our products create long term relationships because each of the products have a long-life cycle during which we need to engage with and support our customers.  Relationships make all the difference during many phases of the machine’s life cycle.  I first learned this lesson dealing with 330 Excavator issues.  This work horse machine was relied upon by many customers, just it had lots of issues.  Cylinders, pumps and final drives to name a few.  Having a strong relationship helped us navigate the problems with the customers and come up with workable solutions and agreements.  Through it all, we maintained the relationship and the next generation of the same machine still had lots of buyers.

So, this is often what I hear from dealers when talking about the development of the Digital Dealership. “Digital isn’t important, it’s a relationship business”. As if relationship is all it takes to maintain a customer. If that were true, we would all still have a roll of quarters in the truck and be looking for pay phones to get a hold of the office and the customer, rather than get a cell phone to get better.

The Truth is, while relationships matter, the digital transformation has supported it all the way and needs to continue to do so.  It’s naive or “old fashioned” to get stuck in the glory of the past.   Just like your cell phone caused the demise of the Pay phone because it allowed you to do things better. The rest of the digital world is there to support you. Not replace you.

This past week I sent my 4Runner in for service.  Just for fun I went online, found the nearest dealer, booked an appointment, chose my preferred communication method, got a quote for the service and discussed additional required services at my mileage. Then I got to the Dealership and talked face to face with the person I’d been emailing with. All my car information was entered, and we wasted no time.  I built a relationship with Jallone the Assistant Service Manager.  He looked after my needs and I tried to steal him from automotive to the equipment business, because he did a great job. When the service was done, he followed up with electronic invoices and discussion on open items.

The Digital dealership supports and improves your existing operations, it does not destroy the value of relationships, it only makes them easier to create and maintain.

Take this example I heard from Alex Kraft at Heave.co this past week. A contractor told him he’s been waiting for 3 weeks to get a quote from his sales rep.  All this customer wanted was a piece of paper (or electronic quote) for a machine, but the sales rep is too busy or the process too onerous to get a quote out. How is it helping that dealer and customer not to have the dealership invest more seriously in digital systems to provide quotes faster. In the end this contractor went to a new platform that exposed his needs to dozens of other dealers, who quoted him automatically or saw the Quote request and responded.

Digital supports your business; it doesn’t take away from it; unless you decide to implement it poorly.

How else does Digital augment your relationship?

A core aspect of the Digital dealership is the use of information.  As the equipment expert your customer relies on, you need to be seen as the trusted advisor, not a quote provider or order taker. Find ways to use digital information to be ready to support your customer with all the equipment related information you can. Specs, performance, analysis, operating cost and market pricing data. When you become the Digitally enabled Trusted Advisor, you’re always welcome.

Oh, and don’t forget to have inventory info at your fingertips and be able to price something.

Years ago, I had dinner with a colleague in Chicago during my only 1.5 years not in the construction equipment business.  He told me a story of being a young regional manager, sitting with his customer.  He proudly boasted about the improvement their business had made in delivery.  He told his customer “We can now ship any product we have in stock to you in a week”.  He was so proud of the giant gain in delivery speed.   His customer looked at him and laughed “You’ve got to be F@#%@ kidding me, from stock to out the door in seven days???”    Expectations are the point.  Your customers have a learned experience of what’s possible.  No matter how good you think you are, if someone is doing it better, that’s the new standard.

Creating a strong Digital Dealership, however that applies to your dealership, improves your relationship with your customer.

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Target Marketing

Target Marketing

In his guest post for this week, Ross Atkinson highlights the critical importance of technology when it comes to target marketing.

It is truly amazing how times have changed in the last 20 years! Dealerships have gotten larger through consolidation and spread further apart. The dealer is servicing more customers with less staff. Welcome to the world of running “lean and mean.”

The customers aren’t staying small either as they continue to expand in order to survive in this ultra-competitive world. As customers get larger, the likelihood is that someone other than the owner will be the one picking up or dropping off. The days of the customer grabbing a coffee, sitting down for a personal discussion and allowing you to get to know them better, is a faded memory of the good old days.

Technological advances can also be partly to blame for the lack of face-to-face interactions. It’s commonplace today for many transactions to be done without the need of talking to a salesperson by utilizing internet-based ordering systems. Let’s not forget, even if you do visit a bricks & mortar store, you may still have limited verbal communication with a human being considering the availability of digital lookup and self-checkout kiosks. And if the goods aren’t being delivered to your customer’s home or business, the conversation at pickup is trivial at best.

Even if we did have a need for human interaction, we have the next generation of workers who have grown up in an era of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s bad enough they don’t teach cursive writing or spelling in schools anymore, but with today’s youth spending countless hours in front of screens growing up, they are missing out on the opportunity to learn social skills with other people like their friends.

So as dealerships lose personal contact with their customers, they look to other means of communication and one of the few things available is technology. Using an automated, self-controlled method of recognizing certain conditions, a notification can be sent to the customer electronically or interactively. I call this “Target Marketing”. It is a term I use for targeting a single customer based on triggers or events that happen every day. Call it what you will, these kinds of systems are available today and can reach out to your customer through some form of digital communication like a text or email. It can let them know that their parts order has arrived or notify them when their machine is due for service. No more manually calling, no more busy signals, no more answering machines, and no more forgetting.

There are an endless number of “triggers or alerts” that can facilitate a communication to your customer. Words of warning though, do not go overboard. Ensure that the most important, time sensitive notifications take precedence. The last thing you want to do is alienate your customer by sending them 15 emails or texts a day.

Having this information sent to your customer’s fingertips can be very beneficial. The immediacy of the message sent to their phone or device allows them to take action right away. For the dealership, it eliminates the need for staff to take time away from their busy day to chase down the customer.

At the same time, the trigger and alert concept can also be used within the dealership to benefit the customer. When a work order is opened for a customer’s machine, wouldn’t it be important to know there is an outstanding recall?

Although the interactions between the dealership and the customer isn’t what it used to be, when you do get an opportunity to be face-to-face, take full advantage of the time to know your customer better. Wish them a Happy Birthday or thank them for their purchase. Ask them how they are doing and what’s happening in their business or personal lives. Your customers will appreciate the attention and interaction; you may actually learn something about them that will improve your relationship.

We should also consider what else computer systems can do to better understand and help the customers. With the collection and analysis of customer transactional data, you can get an understanding of specific patterns which may result in some form of target marketing for things such as bulk purchasing.

This same data analysis can also be significant for your dealership. It can help identify patterns such as peak order times so that you can staff accordingly or ensure that you have the appropriate stocking levels. It may even facilitate changes to your day-to-day business processes.

As you know, Ron’s podcast tagline is “The Time Is Now.” Well folks, if you want to keep in touch with your customers today, you better get on the technology bandwagon! The Time 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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Potential Employees

How Do Potential Employees Find Careers in Today’s World?

Through the past month or so Ed Gordon has been exposing his Job Shock series. A very sobering critique of the labor market and the potential employees out there today. Most of the dealers that I talk with these days are extremely concerned with their inability of being able to find and hire qualified people for their job openings. In fact, job openings are growing and the ability to find anyone is getting very difficult.

There are elaborate, and in some cases rather exotic, “packages” being created to induce people to join a dealership. Signing bonuses and retention bonuses have almost become ordinary for technicians anymore. And what about management and succession planning? It appears that the leaders in our Industry between the ages of 55 and 75 have paid more attention to their own compensation packages than to the ability of their companies to smoothly transition to the next generation. There was, generally speaking, no succession in place.

If we go backwards to a period in the twentieth century between 1920 and 1940, we have a serious economic depression which was preceded by the “roaring” economy. From the 1950’s through the 1960’s we had a slow growth and stabilization after the world war. The “greatest generation” was frugal and family oriented. Then the 1960’s and the beginning of “laissez faire” attitudes and the slogan of “if it feels good do it.” Coincidentally, they saw the arrival of a credit card and the decoupling of monetary policy from the gold standard. The rate of change was rather gentle but a foundation was being laid for the coming years.

In those previous generations there were typically five different stages in the career of an employee. It was predictable and iterative.

  • Exploration
  • Establishment
  • Middle Career
  • Late Career

Those terms are all rather self-explanatory and the transitions from one to another were also quite simple to see and obtain. It was a matter of increasing skills and knowledge, through schooling and training and experience. If you get that done then you will have opportunities for progress in your career.

There is another change, or transition going on now. Today more and more businesses think they hire talent and that is all that is required. If there needs change the employee is let go and a new one is hired. There is no need to train their employees or send them off to schools and classes. Similarly, today’s employees think that once they get a job, they are done with the need to continue learning or improving their skills.

Think about both of those positions in the world we live in today. Consider the rate of change, which is on a very steep exponential curve. It is actually amazing to contemplate that people think that they can stay in place with your skills and knowledge and not need to be continuously learning. Similarly, for a business not to be investing in their key contributors is just as amazing. What are they both thinking about?

There is a quotation from Goethe that I appreciate. “Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”

A Skilled Workforce – the thing that matters most. Is being held hostage to Investing in Employee Development – the thing that matters least.

A Skilled Workforce, the employees I call your heroes, is required to serve your customers and satisfy your vendors. Without these heroes the dealership is in jeopardy. We have seen in the last thirty of so years a stunning level of consolidation. In part due to the need for vast amounts of capital to support the businesses. This is due, in large part, to the rapid run up prices for the equipment and products sold. There was also a need to invest in “systems” that were necessary to operate the business properly. Imagine, if you will, managing a parts inventory using a manual card system, the Kardex.

Now we are in our current market. There is a shortage of skilled people required to operate the businesses. The Universities and other education institutions are not delivering job ready skilled people as they once did. Capital Goods Dealerships are required to establish apprentice programs and mentoring or coaching new employees. Employees are having to adapt to the fact that their skills and knowledge will be measured with more precision and regularity. There is no easy path to more money or opportunity anymore. A true meritocracy is in its infancy. But make no mistake it is coming and more quickly than we can imagine today.

Learning Without Scars has responded to these changes and transitions due to the fact that we have listened to our customers. They have told us that they wanted to be able to measure the skills of their employees to determine what training is required to have the employee become more effective in their work. We have created the Job Function Skill Assessments as a result. These objective assessments have a score which determines the functional capabilities of each employee. Objectively. No opinions or favoritism or nepotism. These scores categorize the skills into four different levels; Developing, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. We have processed several thousand of these assessments to date, and have less than 2% of the employees in the Advanced skill level. We have found slightly more than 50% of the employees have a Beginning Skill Level. The employees were able to do the job they were taught to do. Process Orders but they didn’t know how to sell. Employees could do the repairs they were told to do but had few if any Diagnostic Skills. They could place Stock Orders that the system created but they didn’t know how to expedite for shortages, like the supply chain issues we have today. And there are as many more examples as there are tasks to perform. At Learning Without Scars we have also created Subject Specific Classes to allow each employee to overcome the “gaps” in their skills. This is the appropriate tool for skills and knowledge development for the needs of today.

Go to our Podcasts and listen to the audio explanation of the Job Specific Assessments (https://learningwithoutscars.buzzsprout.com/1721145/8055798-job-function-skills-assessments) as well as the Subject Specific Classes  (https://learningwithoutscars.buzzsprout.com/1721145/8139328-subject-specific-classes). That will provide you with all you need to know to be able to take advantage of these “up-to-date” business tools designed to help in the development of your employees skills and knowledge.

It is more than important for your success, that you have a skilled and trained workforce, it is critical. As they say you have to “have the right people on the bus” to get to your destination.

The time is now.

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