Great article that points out
Great article that points out
An article entitled "Why Americans Won't Do Dirty Jobs" recently appeared in BusinessWeek that caught my eye.
Alabama enacted an immigration law in September that requires police to question people they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally and punish businesses that hire them. The law, known as HB56, is intended to scare off undocumented workers, and in that regard it’s been a success. It’s also driven away legal immigrants who feared being harassed.
Rhodes arrived at work on Sept. 29, the day the law went into effect, to discover many of his employees missing. Panicked, he drove an hour and a half north to Tuscaloosa, where many of the immigrants who worked for him lived. Rhodes, who doesn’t speak Spanish, struggled to get across how much he needed them. He urged his workers to come back. Only a handful did. “We couldn’t explain to them that some of the things they were scared of weren’t going to happen,” Rhodes says. “I wanted them to see that I was their friend, and that we were trying to do the right thing.”
His ex-employees joined an exodus of thousands of immigrant field hands, hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, chicken plant employees, and construction workers who have fled Alabama for other states. Like Rhodes, many employers who lost workers followed federal requirements—some even used the E-Verify system—and only found out their workers were illegal when they disappeared.
In their wake are thousands of vacant positions and hundreds of angry business owners staring at unpicked tomatoes, uncleaned fish, and unmade beds. “Somebody has to figure this out. The immigrants aren’t coming back to Alabama—they’re gone,” Rhodes says. “I have 158 jobs, and I need to give them to somebody.”
Even if picking tomatoes, cleaning fish, and making beds isn't your thing, there are untold thousands of "dirty jobs" that are going unfilled, for a variety of reasons, not just illegals.
Beyond being the mud-streaked face of Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe is also an unofficial spokesperson for skilled labor. He has a very popular website www.mikeroweWORKS.com to get Americans back into skilled labor or trade occupations. It not only a killer way-cool website, but it's packed with stuff to help you rethink your attitude about what you COULD do.
Sadly, I see people every week who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, and have yet to recraft their talents skills and abilities to take the many "dirty jobs" that exist today. But you have to look in different places to find them!
In an economy where increasingly, one sees signs like this, one might ask, what good was my education. In some cases American males face structural unemployment, and the reality of unplanned career change. Sadly, it appears that many have forgotten how to study, and are intimidated by the prospect of having to go back to school.
American men have, unfortunately, let their schooling slide. Those aged between 25 and 34 are less likely to have a degree than 45- to 54-year-olds. As David Autor of MIT points out, US males are also less likely to have completed college than their contemporaries in Britain, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain.
In recent years America’s university graduation rates have slipped from near the top of the world league to the middle. Men are also, according to Autor, far likelier than women to drop out before completing their schooling.
To: All Staff
From: North Pole Enterprises, Ltd., (NPE)
Date: December 21
Subject: New "Twelve Days of Christmas" Policy
The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.
Streamlining is due to the North Pole's loss of dominance in the season's gift distribution business. Home Shopping TV channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share. He and the Board could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.
The reindeer downsizing was made possible through purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the CEO's annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who summered at the Harvard Business School, is anticipated. Reduction in the reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press (gas and solid waste).
We're pleased to inform you that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole!
Management denies, in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose get red, not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of the year when they are known to be under 'executive stress'.
As for further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" music subsidiary:
Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney's association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing"), a decision is pending.
Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive. Should that happen, the NPE Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all!!
I was reading a recent article in USAToday, entitled " " and it got me thinking about how newer forms of "real-time" communication overtaking traditional approaches.
As this interesting article points out, younger users view email systems as burdensome and slow compared to social messaging tools that provide "instant gratification".
What are the big differences between the two?
Nielsen Online released an authoritative look at the state of affairs of digital communication in a number of important countries worldwide.
The report’s findings include:
Social networking grew twice as fast as email.Social networking has greater reach than email.Total time spent on Facebook grew by 566% over the previous year versus only 18% for “all internet” and 63% for member communities.Social media’s highest growth came from the over 35 years old demographics.
Differences Between Email And Social Networks
The report clearly shows that the tools that are available to us for communication are constantly changing. The crux of the argument over which is better is that when used correctly, emails offer confidentiality, familiarity and a sense of importance to the reader in relation to other forms of digital communication. Social networks are more public and therefore more impersonal. Emails messages have to meet the needs of both the sender and the recipient; otherwise if it is useless to the reader it falls under the category of “spam”. In social networks, the writer’s needs are met all the time, with some readers needs being met while other reader’s information needs are not.
That said, it behooves organizations, seeking to have a broad yet coherent communications strategy understand that it's not either/or, but both/and. Members of organizations of any size must better understand how to exploit the best of both styles of communications.
For many years I have watched the growing trend of employees using corporate time for personal uses (email, social medias).
Allowing employees to use corporate network resources for personal use has been an evolving freedom. Not too many years ago, most companies were sternly against employees jumping on the Internet or sending personal emails on corporate networks. The adage was, “When you’re at work, you’re at work.”
But the last few years have seen a blurring of personal and professional lives due to everything from the rise of Blackberries to the number of multinationals that work around the clock. The company has intruded on personal time, and more workers now expect the company to give a little, too.
So this is the “new normal” in the business workplace. OK readers, if this is the case, what are your thoughts?
Pensions were an idea from a different era. That era had a young workforce, a smaller workforce, and the idea was appealing in an era where the one could expect to retire with the same company – and the company was counting on it! The result? Detroit’s Big 3 have 4 times as many retirees as active hourly workers.
What’s emerging is a different type of reward system, in an society and economy where job-hopping and job changing is more common. It’s one where performance on the job is what matters, not the length of time with an employer. This Results vs. Tenure shift is changing how people look at work, and challenging workers to take on a “Profit based” view of their organizations, looking at ways to maximize the firm’s potential – and expecting to share in those improvements.
Wait until I retire to “cash in”? Not for today’s younger workers who have seen their elders retirement dreams go up in smoke in the past few years. Expect more of “show me da money” in the future.
Looking forward, we workers need to be proactively looking at where else could your next job come from. Here are some ideas:
The key to finding the jobs of the future will be knowing where to look
"The real question is, What's the next big thing, and what's going to be the big moneymaker?" Cloud computing? Nanotechnology? Genomics? The answer will come from the companies that entrepreneurs can create — and destroy — more easily than ever before, because the cost of start-ups is dropping rapidly.
Richard Freeman, director of the labor studies program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, says that "these really sharp, aggressive, Harvard-type students doing entrepreneurship, forming new businesses ... would be the best thing that could happen to this economy."
In Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield" Micawber rightly states "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
In modern terms, if your living expenses are held below your income, you have a good life. People can always spend more than they make and be unhappy.
Western culture however makes it easy to NOT be happy, as our consumer oriented media focus is on what we DO NOT HAVE, and avoiding the opportunity to remind us of what we DO have.
As people chat around the water cooler, listen carefully about what people are discussing. Are they about how thankful they are, or convering about what they have just bought or intend to buy?
One view is that management prefers to see employees leveraged, so as to motivate them. (I owe - I owe, it's off to work II go), Yet is this motivation or fear?
You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:
1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
2. An old friend who once saved your life.
3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.
Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?
Think before you continue reading.
This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application.
You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or, you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.
In the workforce we face similar life-choices on a regular basis, and quite often, we make sub-optimal choices, due to our limited thought process, or bias.
The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered: 'I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.'
Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.
Never before has it been more important for people to 'Think Outside of the Box' yet increasingly, our thinking is constrained by the need to come up with a single 'right' answer (where we assume that there is only one). Also fear of not getting it 'right', often influences our guessing what we perceive to be the safest (i.e. multiple choice selection) option.
Sadly, this phenomenon is rooted deeply in our school systems which increasingly push 'not making mistakes' and 'getting the "right" answers, over "right brain" thinking which includes creativity, imagination and intuitive processing.
Perhaps we need to re-evaluate what kinds of answers we are looking for, and expanding the capability of those from whom we are seeking answers.
You are hard at work as director of a regional desk at a government security agency when your boss calls: "Er, ah, come over to my office right away." You hurry over, already frowning. Did one of your agents screw up? Did war break out along a border you were supposedly monitoring?
When you arrive, you find the associate director there, along with some military brass, your boss, your boss's boss, and three people you've never seen before. Your boss keeps it short and sweet: "We're giving you three new analysts. We want daily reports on their performance--not just the usual, but how they think."
"How they think?" you ask.
The profiles of these new analysts are "unusual":
Sandra is a six-foot-tall woman with perfect musculature and an IQ somewhere in the 400s. Her wealthy, well-connected parents had access to the latest biotechnology. They wanted the best for their daughter--or perhaps they coveted "the best daughter that money can buy"--and had her bioengineered to their exact specifications. She is a genius in math and technical skills and an extreme sports enthusiast. Like a grandmaster in a high-school chess club, Sandra is amused by the intellectual problems that Norms grapple with. She intends to eventually become an influential player in international affairs.
Sandra is a genetically bioengineered daughter, (created to her wealthy parents specifications) - attractive, in perfect fitness, and IQ in the 400s genius in all subjects and well-versed in international affairs.
The other two analysts have different characteristics, but are equally as awesome. Kevin's nanobots monitor his body's vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content, and produce whatever he needs for peak performance. Kevin glows with health and charisma, thanks to the nanocomputers he inhales once a year. The trillions of molecule-sized machines operate as parallel-processing computers that stimulate brain regions and meridian nerves, which operate sluggishly in most humans. This enhancement allows him to read other people's emotional states and even translate their neuronal activity into readable thoughts. He has instant access to countless databases and can process dozens of complex variables almost instantaneously--a task that could keep a team of analysts busy for days.
A concept called "singularity" a radical fusion of the human body with technology to achieve levels of mental acuity and physical ability has the potential to eclipse anything humans have previously known. This would represent a singular event in human history: For the first time, people would be driven by laws other than those governing organic life. A broad front of converging core technologies may make individuals with such abilities commonplace by 2030-if not sooner. Indeed, steps are already being taken to achieve this goal.
Barton Kunstler, has addressed this future in an intriguing piece entitled "The Singularity's impact on Business leaders: a Scenario: how will technologically enhance Individuals collaborate with "normal" employees?" In my opinion, this is a "must read" piece.
Let's admit that not every CEO kicks but for their shareholders and that during these trying times of mass company layoffs, executive pay at all levels ought to be scrutinized and moderated. Especially when layoffs seem to be one of the most popular first strategies being employed.
Those in the non-executive ranks are increasingly testy as they see their workloads increasing, resources being cut, and yet senior executives are getting what seems to be obscene compensaation packages, and golden parachutes when they no longer can get the job done.
The ratio of CEO pay to the average employee salary is still way out in the stratosphere versus historical norms - the added dimension of CEO pay at firms with large layoffs demonstrates just how depraved the system has truly become.
A new study tells us that the CEOs of companies with large layoffs have been anything but moderate. According to the 17th annual Executive Excess report published by the Institute for Policy Studies, the CEOs of the 50 US firms that cut the most jobs between November 2008 and April 2010 took 42 percent more than the average CEO at an S&P 500 firm.
Last year, CNN Money ran a good article entitled "Layoffs aren't the answer" that argued that corporate America is trying to downsize itself back to health. And unfortunately, top management who are frequently incented to maximize net income, can find massive opportunity (and personal bonus potential) in cutting the workforce. But mass job cuts, are just going to make the current economic woes worse.
I know this may seem like an outdated idea, but instead of resorting to large job cuts, perhaps companies might be better off trying to maintain the loyalty of existing employees, who know the markets, applications, and customers, and rewarding innovation and creativity. And maybe incenting top management on how well they can inspire their existing workers to come up with ways to get our indistries back to health. When that happens, everybody wins - not just the top brass.
According to Mish Shedlock, an economist for whom I have great respect, we are certainly in a depression. However, 40 million people on food stamps as of August 2010, masks that depression. The cost of the food stamp program is on schedule to exceed $60 billion in fiscal 2010. For comparison purposes, there was just over 11 million on food stamps in 2005.
And it touches every aspect of our society, including the thoughts and feelings of the workforce. Joblessness and underemployment that we see in the workforce impacts all dimensions of the our family and acquaintences.
Even if we are still working, we see our others around us suffering and see the toll it is taking on them - physical, social, psychological and spiritual. It is a "real world" crisis in our community that screams for attention.
Our friends and and neighbors who find themselves unemployed (fully or partially) are at once confronted with issues that they had not expected that often turn good people “inside-out. Our thoughts at work are laced with "what if I am next?"
You wonder how you would survive, or what you would do.
Please note there are 14.6 million unemployed, but of them 4.5 million are receiving regular unemployment benefits and another 4.7 million are receiving extended benefits. Thus 63% of those unemployed are receiving benefits. Being paid while not working also masks the depression.
In addition, there is massive underemployment with 8.5 million working "part time for economic reasons" and another 2.6 million "marginally attached" workers who want a job but are not considered unemployed because they have not looked for 4 weeks. This is "containment" of sorts, as the official numbers mask the depth of the unemployment problem.
Finally, countless millions have not paid their mortgage for months or even a year without being foreclosed on. Free from mortgage expenses but having a place to live certainly makes life a lot easier.
Could it happen to you? Maybe.
Thus, the importance of going beyond just doing the best you can at work - brushing up past relationships, putting your financial house in order, starting to actively network.
Because as the numbers tell us. It could happen.
Top-level executives who lose their jobs usually need to overcome three big hurdles before they can get on with their careers. These obstacles are: inability to understand their real strengths and weaknesses; long service with one company; and trouble accepting that they may not be top-level executives at their next employer, according to a survey by OI Partners, a global talent management firm.
It raises legitimate questions as to whether senior managers and executives are more at risk of being unprepared for unemployment than the rest of us. Additionally how much of an example do these managers set, as relating to personal ongoing professional development.
Or do they simply not care?
The future does not look good for traditional jobs--or "regular activities performed in exchange for payment," as dictionaries and public perception define them. Their days are numbered. But wonderfully new and better kinds of work lie on the near horizon: hyperjobs.
Typical Job of Yesterday
· One job (singular) per worker.
· Employed by a company.
· Rely on specialized skills such as accounting or engineering.
· Compensated by money.
Typical Hyperjob of Tomorrow
· Multiple simultaneous “jobs.”
· Rely on hyper-human skills such as discovery, creativity, and responsibility.
· Compensated by money and also by other forms of social exchange ranging from barter to “time dollars.”
Hyperjobs are a whole new kind of work. They leverage people's unique, noncomputerizable skills and abilities, and power the emerging global society.
Technology is, by its very nature, a job killer. The whole idea of tools, machines, and systems is to do things more easily, faster, or better than barehanded humans can. White-collar workers may currently feel comfortable about their own prospects, but in fact service occupations--including the most technical and intellectually demanding--are the new targets of technological advance.
Every day we see new evidence of service-sector job erosion: grocery checking taken over by self-service checkout stations; telephone directory assistance taken over by speech recognition and response systems; air terminal counter work taken over by ticketing kiosks; and middle-management functions taken over by increasingly sophisticated software applications.
The most intellectual and technical jobs have also made the hit list. Take college teaching and software development, for example. Cash-strapped colleges and universities hold the lid on professors' salaries by hiring less-costly adjunct professors and launching distance-learning programs that extend the productivity of professorial talent. Completely automated learning systems for some subjects are on the horizon.
Knowledge workers such as software developers are also on the automation chopping block. Software development is perhaps the most automatable of all the technical disciplines, and software-development tools are constantly being created to extend the productivity of human developers. Fewer people are needed to produce X amount of code.
Social trends also impact the earning potential of software developers. For example, the increasingly popular "open source" movement is now challenging Microsoft for preeminence in operating systems and business tools such as spreadsheets and word processors. That's great for society, but open-source developers typically make their contributions for free. They can do it because they have "day jobs." The question is, what will their day jobs be if and when paying positions, as at Microsoft, go away as open-source takes over?
No matter what the educational or intellectual level of the jobholder, white-collar jobs as we know them have become an endangered species.
Are you prepared to compete in this strange new world?
The other day I got a message from Laura Johnson, over at Public/Private Ventures in NYC. She was telling me about a new study that had come out entitled "Tuning In to Local Labor Markets: Findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study" available on their website.
I did a quick review of it, and from my point of view and it's an impressive study, loaded with sound thinking, backed up by empirical data, and packaged to answer any question a reader may have. Here's a synopsis from the report.
For American workers, having a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED)—which once represented a means of entrance to the middle class—is no longer adequate for finding steady employment. In fact, three quarters of low wage workers have these qualifications but lack the relevant occupational skills and connections to employers needed to launch a career. At the same time, in some regions of the country there are persistent skills gaps clustered in particular industries, such as manufacturing and healthcare.Many of these jobs are expected to grow and require specific technical skills that can be gained only through focused training that is closely linked to the needs of local businesses.
Over the past two decades, an innovative approach to workforce development known as sectoral employment has emerged, resulting in the creation of industry-specific training programs that prepare unemployed and under-skilled workers for skilled positions and connect them with employers seeking to fill such vacancies. Based on earlier outcomes studies pointing to the promise of this strategy, Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) set out to conduct a random assignment evaluation to assess whether sector-focused programs could in fact increase the earnings of low-income, disadvantaged workers and job.
This study focused on three distinct programs across the country:
These programs had strong effects for participants, including higher earnings and better jobs (as measured by hourly wages and access to benefits).
In the conclusion, of the report the authors point out that as we emerge from the Great Recession, which has disproportionately affected disadvantaged workers, these strategies and the organizations that implement them may represent a key element in America’s economic recovery—for its workers and its employers.
In other words, the playing field has changed over the past 3 years, and the understandings and approaches that we as workforce managers need to change as a result.
One of the many information sources I read on creativity has been very busy as of late discussing this topic.
A colleague opined "our education system is geared up to make us take ourselves very seriously, not to mention become little drones who take up loans to go to university, where we are taught how to become the best mercenaries to corporations (not dissimilar to [a person], who fought for whoever could offer him better wages and benefits), become hugely in debt by the time we are 22 - and ruthless employers love employees who are in debt, because they cannot afford to lose their job!"
Are organizations looking for "the coporation man " (as defined in Jonathan Cape's 1972 best seller by the same name)? One would think that we're well beyond that stage (but perhaps not)
Are the way we educate and train people today (in post secondary as well as adult education), biased toward "non creative" areas? If so, what is the consequence of this?
In today's workplace, individuals need to demonstrate competence in several skillset categories, some of which have previously not received anough attention :
That's the idea behind an initiative called "work based learning skills" that intends to prepare students for the new world they are entering. Watch this space, as I plan on having more information on this exciting area soon.
People used to follow the jobs; they moved where the company sent them. But today, people often pick a place to live first and then look for work. Today, it may be where we live, rather than who's employing us at the moment, that attaches us to our work and careers.
So asserts Richard Florida a widely renowned expert in the areas of cultural and technological innovation. He author of the global best-seller The is the author of "Rise of the Creative Class" and "Who's Your City?" (a national and international best seller and amazon.com book of the month). His new book, "The Great Reset" explains how new ways of living and working will drive post-crash prosperity.
I just finished reading an article he wrote entitled "A place not home, not work" that appeared in the New York Times and St. Petersburg Times, that shows how dramatically our workplaces have changed.
It's a powerful and provocative article, and will make you think differently about the nature of the workplace of today.
This article which referenced a piece appreaing on Bnet, entitled “The Five Ways Managers Breed Incompetence” struck a chord with me.
One of my former Booz-Allen & Hamilton colleagues recently queried a group of us asking, "What was the top ethical issue" in the marketplace today?
Pattie hits the nail on the head with her article when she states:
One of the ways cited in the article was “Rewarding Mediocrity.” Hear, hear. An organization I once worked for had this process down pat. As I was leaving a meeting where one of the senior product managers had tap-danced his way through a late schedule, incomplete deliverables and cost over-runs, I cynically thought to myself, “He’s in line for a VP position.” Even though I was half joking (gallows humor, you know) my premonition came true within the week.
So I'd like to thank Pattie for bringing this issue into clearer focus for me.
Perhaps the "top ethical issue" is the damage that "setting the wrong incentives" for poor performers has on the rest of the workforce who are trying to do the right thing, just because it's the right thing, not because there is a "carrot" being help out in front of you.
Thank you Pattie !
It seems that over the past 20 years that the "mainstream media" have evolved from the likes of responsible journalists like Edward R Murrow and Walter Cronkite to the increasingly shallow, biased and inaccurate reporting we see today.
Perhaps it is a function of having dozens to hundreds of 24/7 news channels on modern day media, and that we often seem eager to have delivered to us a sound bite or tweet at a time.
The speed, volume and lack of reference is also a problem because it allows for a blurring of the lines between news and opinion.
In the past, a newspaper may have had an editorial slant – union newspapers vs. business journals – but in general, newspaper articles concentrated on the facts; who, what where and why. Speculation and opinions were largely left to the editorial page. Now, with the advent of blogs and talk radio, the separation has become fuzzier. Much of what passes as network news these days is little more than anecdote, opinion and innuendo.
Sadly, "true news" by the major networks as delivered today (in my humble) can increasingly be found in cyberspace, than by the "professional" news networks. While these new internet-based news sources lack the funding, polish and structure of the major networks, they are often getting the news out more quickly, and sometimes more accurately. Case in point, the death of Michael Jackson.
For those that seek more (and more relevant), at the risk of stating the obvious (at least to me) perhaps we may want to rethink where we choose to get our news and how we access it.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves why can't we take the time to do some basic research and pick the spokesperson(s) in today's connected world that resonate best with how you view the world, then visit their websites, sign up for their newsletters. Becoming more informed, and understanding the essence of the issue, not just the "splash" coverage we often get.
However, please keep in mind that I'm speaking up to this point about the traditional "mainstream" news media, not the valuable industry and topic specific press. I find the "industry news" media still do a very good job delivering "true" value, and are still, more often than not, worth reading.
To the industry and topic specific publishers, keep up the good work !
The labor market today, as well as the overall economy is vastly different from what we had five years ago. New situations pose new challenges for executives and workforce development specialists. Among the issues being studied are:
These and many other contemporary issues are covered in a recent book, "The Economics of Imperfect Labor Markets", published 2008 by Princeton University Press (authors: Tito Boeri and Jan van Ours)
After General Wellington had defeated Napoleon at
But a short time later, the fog lifted and the remainder of the message came through. It had said: "
The good news raced through the city and country. If lifted the gloomy hearts from sadness to joy.
In other words, the "whole story" wasn't told, and until it came out, painted a very different picture.
Ask yourself, if you feel that you're getting the "whole story" from your colleagues in the place where you work, or simply a collection of "sound bites" (and Tweets) that convey little useful information (and require you to stitch the data fragments together to make sense)
Likewise today, our appetite for information often can cloud our judgement.
One aspect where this is particularly evident is in the aility (or skill) of detmining when there is enough quality data available, or to examine the true "information content" of communications, and determine whenh/how it should best be delivered.
Too frequently do we see incomplete (and sometimes misleading) information being disseminated, resulting in poor subsequent decisions / actions. But there is another aspect of this phenomenon: Any scientist will acknowledge that premature dissemination (or lack of proper "packaging") of data that has not been vetted or put into its proper context undermines the ability to later publish that data.
It seems that in today's workforce, that too often, much data gets disseminated in ways that don't support the organization's mission.
Question to my readers: What are some of the "best practices" you have observed in how organizations convey meaningful information that tell the "whole story" in its proper context?
In the workforce, when you get down to the truth of the matter, we are paid to solve problems.
Here's a simple, straightforward approach that works in most cases...
When you encounter a problem, there are four basic steps involved in getting an answer or solution.
1. Find out what you already know
a. Look at the problem.
b. Have you ever had a similar problem before?
c. If so, how is this problem similar and how is it different?
d. What facts do you have?
e. What do you know that is stated in the problem?
2. Choose a strategy
a. How have you solved a similar problem in the past?
b. What strategies do you know?
c. Try a strategy that seems as if it will work.
d. If it doesn’t work, it may lead you to another that will work.
3. Solve the problem
a. Reread the question.
b. Did you answer the question that was asked?
c. Is your answer reasonable?
d. If it is a math problem, is your answer in the right units?
e. Check your work if possible.
f. Is there another answer that seems more reasonable than the one you got?
g. If so, be sure you can rule out the other answer.
I was recently reading an article entitles "Elderly Workers" in the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety (4th edition), that got me thinking about an issue that I suspect is commonplace.
requirements may be different for older workers.
Since learning is based on previous experience, training may need to be more "practically" based. New skills need to be explained in a way that fits into what they already know. Justification and the logic behind the information -- why you're doing what you're doing -- are more important. Training may take longer than with younger workers. There may also be a need for more assistance or practice. However, several studies show that there may not be a difference in how well someone works once the learning curve has been reached.
at every age, thinks and learns differently.
These cognitive functions
-- how someone learns and thinks -- are very dependent on the
individual, and the experiences they have had during their lifetime.
People who have had a lot of training or education over their lifetime,
or who have had to carry out a variety of tasks, are experienced
learners. They are typically able to learn new skills well and improve
the ones they have with ease. People who may be more resistant to
learning as an older adult include those who have little formal
training or who have carried out relatively simple or repetitive tasks
for many years. They are used to doing the same thing, the same way,
and may find it hard to take in new information or ways of doing
So I ask, how does YOUR personal experience with training older people in the workplace abide with this perspective?
I know plenty of people who pride themselves on putting in 18 or 20-hour days and brag about how they used to pull those "all nighters" back in college. Thinking back, I remember that more often than not, it was because we didn't know there was a smarter way to get things done, and given our youthfulness, we were able to use the "brute force" method and get anything done that we set our minds to.
In retrospect, today I would feel ashamed to admit to anyone that I took 18 or 20 hours to do what I now know is a 2 or 3-hour job with the right knowledge and technology!
One of his senior vice presidents bragged to him one day about the long hours he constantly put in on the job seven days a week, month after month.
Instead of receiving praise from the top executive, this person received a real butt chewing for being so inefficient and disorganized that he couldn't plan out at least two weeks a year for vacation to recharge his batteries and do everyone a favor… including his coworkers, who lived with this taskmaster and his long suffering family.
It isn't about how much you work that counts as much as it is getting the important work done.
Maybe it's time to revisit your time management skills?
This and much more relating to caregiver impacts, was published in the Evercare study entitled "Family Caregivers – What They Spend, What They Sacrifice", a comprehensive study of the personal financial toll of caring for a loved one.
The study points out that when it comes to employment, that 37% of the study respondents reported quitting their jobs or reducing their work hours in order to care for a loved one.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, (FCA) informal caregiver and family caregiver (terms that refer to unpaid individuals such as family members, friends and neighbors who provide care), can be primary or secondary caregivers, full time or part time, and can live with the person being cared for or live separately.
The FCA publishes a Fact Sheet on Selected Long-Term Care Statistics.
From the Fact Sheet are some sobering data:
The numbers are large and increasing, as our population ages, and in light of healthcare and treatment options that were not previously available.
Far too many employers today have underestimated the impact of this growing trend.
The workforce issue occurs on two fronts:
Americans are living longer and having fewer children. At the turn of the century, the life expectancy was 46 years; today it is approximately 76 years. In the 1990s alone, the number of centenarians in the United States nearly doubled (from 37,000 to 70,000). Analysts at the Census Bureau suggest that this per-decade doubling
trend may continue, with the centenarian population possibly reaching 834,000 by the middle of the century.
Workers are in a "pressure cooker" today, and studies conducted by the National Center for State Courts document increases in domestic violence, and family violence affecting older persons increasingly finding their way into the nation’s courts.
Steps need to be taken to increase employer awareness of this matter, going beyond the current FMLA provisions that already exist. Lacking this foresight, expect increased worker frustration when the unexpected happens, and a worker is thrust without warning into the role of caregiver.
And it is strongest in the world's largest population countries. There are opportunities for the young to both make money and make a genuine contribution to the world rather than shuffling paper money around.
The world is changing. Unfortunately, for the growing uneducated underclass in the developed world (including the US) crime and extremist fundamentlism is sadly the logical response.
We must remember that at the same time we see significant unrest, multi-millionaires are being created at an unprecedented rate.
Entrepeneurs look at the world differently, and when they see a hole, view this as an opportunity to fill it with something!
I wonder how much emphasis is being given to looking at "outside the box" career alternatives? (both within enterprises, as well as those preparing to enter (or re-enter) the workplace?
In an earlier column where I reviewed the article "Redefining Engineering for the Year 2020", I discussed the present malaise of the Engineering discipline, but also the resources and initiatives that are already looking at this problem.
I'd like to revisit the approach discussed, a "Renaissance Man" type of engineer.
As we begin the 2nd half of 2010, we might ask ourselves:
Unless something dramatic happens, opportunities are likely to be much more limited for todays youngest generation of workers who are less likely to get on the first rung of the ladder in order to learn their craft.
If todays youngest generation don’t get on the first rung of the workforce ladder, then the opportunity to progress further in their careers will be further limited.
My friends and colleagues have been discussing how sons and daughters graduating from a top universities with good grades this past month, many (over half of their class), have no paying jobs waiting.
It's not just graduates affected. Maureen Conway, deputy director of the Workforce Strategies Initiative at theAspen Institute, writes in the Denver Post that "[a]s the White House and Congress consider a job creation agenda, they should bear in mind the chief lesson of the sector-based approach: The best money is spent training for a job that's waiting to be filled."
What will become of a workforce that is ready to work, but with limited job openings? Education and training, the backbone of a competent, well-equipped workforce, has limited value as we know, given the erosion of knowledge that occurs over time.
Question for today:
How best to maintain the knowledge and skills of those who have invested in their personal development until the market changes occur that will present new opportunities for these individuals to put these capabilities to work?
Since the current recession started in December 2007, the labor force -- people who are either working or seeking work -- has declined by 700,000 workers, even though the working-age population has increased by 3.7 million.
In an article recently published by the Economic Policy Institute, labor force participation rate for workers age 16-24 has decreased from 59.1% to 54.7% in the 25 months since the recession started, representing a loss of 1.3 million young workers, while the labor force participation rate of workers age 55 and older increased from 38.9% to 39.9%, representing an increase of 2.3 million workers. Many older workers are not retiring or are re-entering the labor force because they have suffered a sharp decline in economic security due to the collapse of the housing bubble and the plunge in stock prices. At the same time, workers age 16 to 24 -- who face an unemployment rate of 18.9%, compared to 6.8% for workers age 55 and older -- are having a difficult time securing employment and are leaving the labor force in large numbers.
This situation that is affecting the younger members of today's workforce, needs to be addressed by the business community, but from what I can see at my level, is not, on any significant scale. It's not just about the deferrment of opportunity for younger workers until the old timers leave the picture, but the attitudes that are being formed, out of discouragement with the system.
MY question to you, dear readers, is what examples of this are you seeing in the industry, and perhaps more importantly, what steps do you see being taken in the business marketplace to deal with it?
Sometimes it's hard because you don't want to look weak, incapable, or unable to keep up.
Linda Hardenstine, helps busy people reclaim and re-energize their business and life by conquering overwhelm and getting into greater productivity, profitability and peace of mind.
She recently wrote an article that provides three easy-to-follow tips for asking and getting what you need. Regardless of the business life you lead, this is "must read" stuff.
If you feel stressed at work, join the crowd. Job stress causes absenteeism, lower productivity, weight gains, high legal and insurance costs, accidents and turnover. Stress costs business about $300 billion a year, according to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), www.stress.org .
It’s no surprise that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), www.cdc.gov/niosh , says there are several warning signs of workplace stress: headaches, lack of focus, short fuses, sleep deprivation, ulcers, and workplace injuries. NIOSH says employees are worried about downsizing, increased use of temporary workers, and lack of control over their careers.
So, if any of this sounds familiar to you, there’s nothing like a fresh start to energize a career that's "stuck". A colleageue of mine Terry Corbell, published a 10 step guide entitled "10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career" that may help get you revitalized and back on track.
Economists say the untold story of this recession is how it has devastated people in certain job and income categories, while leaving the affluent mostly alone.
Among the lowest-income — roughly the minimum-wage workers — unemployment nationwide is at true Depression-era levels of 20 to 30 percent, says a report last month by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
However, it's only 3 to 4 percent for those making $100,000 or more.
The report, entitled "Labor Underutilization Problems of U.S. Workers Across Household Income Groups at the End of the Great Recession: A Truly Great Depression Among the Nation’s Low Income Workers Amidst Full Employment Among the Most Affluent" tells us what this recession has wrought — mainly an even greater widening of the gap between rich and poor than we had before — isn't getting more focus from the press and political leaders is a scandal, the Northeastern University economists suggest.
"Who will tell the people?" they write at the end of their paper. "Does anybody care?"
Far from being our economic and employment salvation, left to its own devices the green economy could deliver the same unhealthy mix of hire-and-fire, poison-and-pain jobs that remain a blight on the reputational landscape of the not-so-green economy. This isn’t paranoia. It’s already happening, and it is happening on a grand scale. Luckily, unions and environmental campaigners are on the case, working for good, green jobs.
If you are one of those employed in the rapidly expanding green jobs sector, don’t assume your green employer is any less likely to exploit and endanger you. This is the message from Laurent Vogel, director of the European TUC’s health and safety research arm, HESA.
In an editorial in the latest issue of the organisation’s Just Transition newsletter, he cites the example of Spanish multinational Gamesa, “one of the finest examples of green capitalism, certified, labelled, and making much of its commitments to the environment, its ‘collaborators’ – in other words its staff – and ‘communities’. The company is posting enviable profits. Is it a success story for a win-win-win scenario?”
The answer, it seems, is “no”. According to Vogel: “On wind farms, upkeep and maintenance are outsourced. For example, Gamesa has hired the company Guascor to repair the blades at its wind farms. This involves injecting resin to seal the cracks, filing them down and then repainting them. Women were recruited from rural areas to do what the company described as ‘rapid and well-paid work’.”
The real story was less rosy. “A few months after having started work, several women were showing symptoms of poisoning: irregular periods, nosebleeds, headaches and so on,” writes Vogel. “Tipped off by the trade unions, the factories inspectorate investigated and discovered that these women were handling extremely dangerous substances and no protective measures whatever had been put in place. Seven women were advised by their doctors not to have children over the next two years because of the risk of birth defects!”
Vogel concludes: “Green jobs do not always involve such dramatic conditions, but private management of environmental protection activities does sacrifice working conditions for the sake of competitiveness. Whether it be health and safety or control over their working conditions, workers in green jobs often find themselves in very precarious conditions.
“The case of the Gamesa women illustrates an important aspect of the conflict between capitalism and nature: dangerous and dehumanising working conditions because of the division of labour and its hierarchical organisation.”
Green jobs—good for the environment, good for the economy. But are green jobs good for workers?
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and its partners recently launched the Going Green: Safe and Healthy Jobs initiative to make sure that green jobs are good for workers by integrating worker safety and health into "green jobs" and environmental sustainability.
The OECD routinely compiles lists of the average number of hours worked by the typical worker. Productivity gains through automation and technology, as well as training are factors commonly referred to when looking at why some countries seem to have "more leisure time" than others.
But does the number of hours worked tell a different story?
“Are Europeans lazy or Americans crazy?” This provocative saying was cited by Jørgen Elmeskov, acting head of the OECD Economics Department, at a recent conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.*
At issue was the difference in hours worked between the US and Europe. On one side are the Americans, with their long working hours and short vacations, and a strong attachment to employment. On the other, Europeans, with their shorter hours, longer holidays and more leisurely priorities. What causes the difference, is it a problem for economies and if so, what might be done about it?
Robert Wendover, of the Center for Generational Studies is one of the experts I look to when seeking guidance on multi-generational issues. In his recent newsletter, he posed a question that many older professionals are asking...
"What to do when your boss is younger than you?" It’s a question that is surfacing more and more in conversations among the Boomer generation. As those in Generation X assume increasingly senior responsibilities, those who have spent years in the workforce reporting to someone older are now finding themselves supervised by those their children’s ages. Here are five suggestions for making the relationship a success:
1. Keep this situation in perspective. It can be easy to spiral into frustration or depression about having a younger supervisor. Instead, interpret it as a wake-up call to take stock about how you can better position yourself for the future.
2. Provide support. Just because this person has been put in charge doesn't mean they know what they're doing. Look for opportunities to share operational insights which will smooth this transition. If what you share goes unheeded, it's probably a good idea to back off and learn more about the person's style and how you two might relate.
3. Refrain from offering advice from your life experience unless requested. If this person is insecure about their authority to begin with, your stories might be interpreted as patronizing or perhaps even an attempt to undermine that authority.
4. Stay clear of the undercurrent that may consume the work environment about this person. This is not a time to participate in the gossip or grapevine. The new person will most certainly know that one exists and will be watching for signs of who is fostering these conversations.
5. After the dust has settled, ask this person about how he or she sees you thriving within the organization. Then listen carefully. In spite of his or her age, this individual might have better contacts within the organization. Rather than resenting this, look for ways to capitalize on it.
Remember, if you're in your 50s your life's not over simply because your boss is considerably younger. As most employment relationships continues to evolve from calling to contract, you need to remain vigilant about additional training and opportunities within and without your organization. Going forward, personal versatility is key.
Lifelong learning leads to advancement and goes beyond simply getting promotions and pay raises. Lifelong learners also benefit in additional ways including gaining independence, competency, the ability to reach one’s own potential and to help others reach theirs.
Remember the old story about the visitor to a construction site, asking several bricklayers what they were doing. The first responded, “I’m laying brick.” The second said, “I’m finishing this wall.” While the third stated, “I’m building a cathedral.”
Sometimes we need to step back and look at the “big picture” and see where we fit in the overall scheme of things. And if it’s not where we thought we were, that should be an incentive to make the needed changes in our lives.
You've just been invogorated at t 3 day offsite conference, and are chompinng at the bit to put your new-found knowledge and skills to the test.
Upon return to work, you're immediately smothered by rush jobs, backlogged communications, new deadlines, catching up with what's been going on etc.
Desperately trying to maintain the "buzz" you felt only a few days ago, you make a not to yourself "share conference highlights with boss / colleagues", but every time it pops up as a reminder on your computer/PDA you snooze it for a day/week etc.
Its now several months later, and you stil have yet to capitalize on the session materials. In reality, you would have a hard time even finding the conference materials you brought back with you.
You know, deep down, that if you only had the time, you could make some of this new stuff work for you, if you only had the time. But now annual performance reviews are due, so it'll have to wait a few more weeks.
Sound familiar readers?
Too often do we return from training with hopes up and good intentions, but find ourselves challenged to find the time to make our "new future" happen. What to do?
If you're in management, the first step is to recognize this phenomenon and make sure that getting an after conference debrief happens whenever you send people offsite. The next step, an important one, is to help your subordinate create a plan, with specific time set aside, to implement some of the new ideas they came back with.
Lacking this kind of structure, you could be simply letting your investment in training slip away.
What we didn’t understand well then, was that it wasn’t really a very effective form of protection for the threat that we were facing.
Likewise today, I often hear “water cooler” discussion around the topic of the economy.
And yes, there seems to be in general agreement that it sucks, and that there are no agreed upon strategies that will get us better, at least in the near term.
What’s somewhat disturbing though, is the idea commonly discussed among employees, that the safest thing to do is “keep your head down, and stay out of anything controversial”.
That, in my opinion, is not only bad advice, but pure BS.
The key to surviving today’s economic morass, which affects most organizations, and levels of employees, is by making yourself the irreplaceable worker, which involves
Likewise, it is equally necessary to being recognized as a “resilient” worker, by which I suggest you:
There seems to be a great misrepresentation in the unemployment data that is often cited, as I've indicated in this blogs previous posts. The published 10% unemployment rate is the "U-3" number, which counts just current job seekers (i.e. collecting benefits). U-3 Total unemployed persons, is represented as a percent of the civilian labor force (the official unemployment rate)
What it doesn't count are "discouraged" workers, who have given up looking, and the "involuntarily part-time" or underemployed workers, who also can't find full-time work. Those individuals are in the the "U-6" number, a more recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics metric. U-6 represents total unemployed persons, plus all “marginally attached” workers, plus all persons employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all “marginally attached” workers.
Today the U-6 metric is more than 17 percent, which means real unemployment is approaching one in five Americans. And, yes, that's a (post-Depression) record (Unemployment in the United States rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%) cited in the recent work Principles of Economics by Robert Frank and Ben Bernanke
There seems to be growing evidence that something far more fundamental than just another economic cycle may be going on. The modern office/factory-model job as we know it actually could be headed for extinction. Goodbye, permanent employment. Hello, contingent work, contractual employment and "composite" careers. For several years, I've been discussing this phenomenon as I speak to conferences and trade groups around the country)
Many of us know people who hold down several part=time and home-based businesses. You probably know of people yourself who might deliver newspapers, do home remodeling and sellsAMWAY. It's a living -- in fact, many have been doing it for years by choice.
I'm also seeing more and more six-month and one-year contract jobs with employers who don't want to commit to workers beyond that. This may well be the shape of things to come.
William Bridges, the visionary executive development consultant and author who named this phenomenon "dejobbing," foresaw this years ago: "What is disappearing is not just a certain number of jobs -- or jobs in certain industries or jobs in some part of the country or even jobs in America as a whole. What is disappearing is the very thing itself, the job."
Here's a point to ponder...
As organizations employ more "contingent" workers, how do you provide for the skill development that is needed to ensure you have the skill levels and continuity for you to continue to prosper?
And also consider this: Is your organization satisfied with the "union hall" model that puts the onus of skill development and work ethic, back on the contingent provider company? (that is, if they send you a person who isn't up to the job, just send them back and ask for another?)
Compared to the holiday-harried average worker, Santa Claus has it easy.
Jolly ol' St. Nick might have to work round-the-clock to meet those holiday production demands, but at least he has a staff of well-trained professional elves to help him along, not to mention a pretty cushy schedule. Who wouldn't love to work just one day each year?
If only everyone had it so good. Everyone is familiar with the tension that the holidays can cause at home, but the workplace can be similarly frantic and filled with anxiety during the season.
The added pressures of holiday-shortened deadlines, end-of-year business demands, and crazed customers, to name a few, takes a steep toll on already frayed nerves.
I wish you all a spirit-filled and Merry Christmas, and a prayer that your holiday will be filled with peace, love and happiness !
Recent surveys have found that 40 to 60 percent of employees intend to look for new opportunities as soon as the job market improves, possibly next year.
Yes, unemployment rates are still at record highs, and that's part of the problem...
Workers, including some great employees, have been being cut throughout 2009 for budget, not performance, reasons. That left remaining workers holding on for dear life, afraid to make any job search noises lest they be viewed as an attitude problem or disloyal.
But here's the thing... As I've pointed out in previous posts, at the first sign of stability, the employee morale issue will leap to the forefront.
Sadly, many employers, despite years of warnings that "employee engagement" is broken, have done little about it, and instead continue to heap more and more work and responsibility on those that remain.
Workforce Management magazine had a article on entitled "How Do We Retain People Despite Being Unable to Raise Pay?" that pointed out the necessity of employers needing to act now to get workers back on their side, suggesting unfreezing pay freezes and giving raises or bonuses to valued employees.
Increasingly, in the tightening economy, money talks.
But there seems to be widespread confusion about what the characteristics
of a "winning team" are.
So here's a checklist of the eight main factors to look for in high-performing team:
Many claim they saw the handwriting on the wall, but felt powerless to change the outcome. Others say they did not fee they could do anything about the conditions (that ultimately led to them losing their jobs) because of fear.
Among the more commonly observed reasons why people don't step our of the shadows and take bold actions/positions include:
Yet, there has never been a better time for employees to step up and propose new ideas and strategies. Here's what employers need to do: