The Plight of the Employer

“Finding qualified people is nearly impossible!” A friend of mine, a business owner stated very emphatically. He was very frustrated that his latest hire was not the promising employee he had hoped for.

For the last few months, I have focused my writing on the entry-level employee. My efforts have been aimed at helping young people understand what they are missing and what they will need to compete in the American job market. This month I decided to change things up and direct my attention to the employers. I turned to  H. Roy Austin, author, CPA, business coach, MBA, etc., etc. He is a very accomplished professional, whom I had the privilege of meeting at a BNI© meeting. This is an organization that many businesses should belong to and is a topic for a different day.

During my initial contact with Coach, I asked him what the top three errors business owners make with respect to their employees. He answered the following: 1) No defining the foundation of the company.  Who you are, what you believe in, how you operate. 2) Hiring based only on education and/or experience. 3) Not being transparent.  People need to know what the score is in the game.

During our video conference interview Coach Roy unpacked these thoughts. In a nutshell, Coach has found that too many businesses fail to define their culture to new prospects. They fail to explain the foundation, the fundamental purpose of their business. In his words, “Are they excited about your vision, do they believe in your purpose, do they share your values and are they comfortable with your operating procedures?” Those who are in sync: both employer and employee will most likely fit. Employees who are in sync with your vision, purpose, values and operating procedures are more likely to stay.

Another important point that Coach Roy made was this, “Star employees can always find another job; however the mediocre and poor employees can’t so they will stay.” This being the case the question now becomes where does an employer begin to make a transition to change the culture of his or her enterprise. Coach Roy gave me a very simple answer. Begin with a self-assessment. Begin with looking in the mirror and ask yourself am I the sort of person I would work for? This is a difficult assignment. One which most people will not do. All too often we become creatures of habit. We continue to do things the same old way because this is what we are comfortable with.

At the end of the day, we must accept responsibility for our professionalism or lack thereof. We are what we have developed ourselves to be. Coach shared a quote with me that I believe is worth repeating:

“We’ve each been given a bag of tools, a formless rock, and a book of rules;

And each must make ere life is flown, a stumbling block or a stepping stone.”

Walt Whitman

Owning a business is a difficult task. It is not for the faint of heart. Today’s employment market complicates matters even more. However, there is a solid way to staff and run a successful business. Do that self-assessment today and start working on the culture you wish to have at your business.

 

To reach Coach H. Roy Austin visit his website at https://www.rockwellbusinesssolutions.com

Or his new website http://alligatorbusinesssolution.com

Or email him at rockwell@hargray.com

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Employee Void

“Too many of the young adults who seek employment with me want to show up, go through the motions and get paid,” an experienced business owner shared with me. He was very frustrated that although he had work available the majority of his prospective applicants had no intention of actually doing any work. He had run into this time and time again.

That conversation led to this article. For the past month or so I have polling business owners, supervisors and former business owners asking for their comments to one simple question, “What skill do you find most lacking in the potential employees you meet?” I had nearly 100 responses from a variety of sources. The results are very troubling.

The top issues noted are lack of critical thinking skills, lack knowledge of the trade, lack of passion for their trade and lack of work ethic. Out of these four only one is technical knowledge; the rest are soft skills that are transferable to any other job and high useful in their day to day life. The rest of the list encompassed thirteen other undesirable qualities and all of them are soft skills.

Critical thinking skills are those qualities that tell you to hand a knife cautiously, or tell you not to grind stone near the clients car, or how about the kid who didn’t know the difference between wetting the floor and actually mopping it. Unfortunately too many workers especially those with substandard education do not engage their work. They merely complete tasks without thinking of the end goal.

Knowledge in the trade means just that. If you say you are cook you should know about cooking. The same goes for any other trade. One supervisor shared this with me, “candidates aren’t willing to put in the time to learn their trade, but they demand the high pay.”

Those who listed a lack of passion for their trade explained that too many people are looking for a job without really knowing what they are looking for or why. Too many aren’t willing to learn their trade because their heart isn’t in it. Imagine if your doctor had this attitude. Work conversations should be more about work related matters and not gossip.

The biggest flaw, by far, is lack of work ethic. Unfortunately I have witnessed this all to often, not just in the workplace. Many of the young people I have mentored have failed to work hard in school, on an athletic team and once they hit the workforce the problem continues. Except that now they have entered the adult world and second chances are few.

Many of the young people I have mentored have had all the answers for their behavior. The most frequent excuse is “they ain’t paying me enough.” I have taken my time to patiently explain that in the world of grown ups we have to earn our keep by producing enough revenue to merit a raise. No one gives a raise simply because you need it. However, most of my explanations have fallen on deaf ears or another excuse has surfaced.

“Too many young people are not future focused. They do not understand that the pace of change will never be slower than it was today.” A business owner shared this statement with me. He is correct. There are too many young adults who do not understand how life works. So who is to blame? Is it the parenting they received or the lack of parenting? The biggest influence in the life of all human beings is their parents. Let’s start there. Many of the young men I have mentored do not have the understanding of the world, ways of the world and what is required to live their dreams. They merely exist. They enter the workforce with little understanding of what it is to build a career and plan for the future. They are like pinballs in the workforce. It is easy o say that they need to get a clue, but it is difficult to change the culture they were raised with and morph it into something they don’t understand and therefore doubt. The answers lie in one-on-one guidance of a trusted friend.

Time Management and Mismanagement

“He has no plan.” “He’s all talk and no action.” “He struggles to get anything done.” Do these comments sound familiar?

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine, who is a sous chef, he was complaining about one of his employees. So I became curious and began asking questions. This is what I was told; his employee is a young man who dropped-out high school, who was raised in a dysfunctional home and who is now trying to make his way in the adult working world with no skills or social graces. He works at a snail’s pace and has an excuse for everything. He behaves as if every day is his first day at work. He doesn’t seem to have any routine and struggles to get going. My friend feels frustrated and out of patience with this young man.

Obviously this young man is struggling with more than one set back. He probably has several habits or traits which are hindering his professional development. For the sake of space I will only address one issue: time management. Experience has taught me that most of the people who do well in the work force have excellent time management skills. The king and foundation of time management is “routine”. In saying that they do well I mean they are above average employees, who earn above average wages and are building a career at an above average pace.  Whether they realize it or not, they go through a mental and physical routine in their work place and therefore they get their work done in an orderly fashion with dispatch.  Establishing a routine is the essential in order to have time management skills. Without a “routine” developing time management skills will be very difficult.

We learn routines or at least we should learn them in the home. Our parents are the primary teachers of this skill. As a small child one should have been put on a regular routine with respect to bed time, waking up time, meal times, homework, etc. A child who goes to bed when he wishes does not have a routine.

Time management also involves recognizing priorities, understanding the goal of the work environment, respecting authority and adhering to rules. When a child is raised in an environment that lacks structure the road to developing time management skills becomes difficult. Our work force is highly competitive and with the weak economy, that we are presently experiencing, the competition for most jobs is very high. A person can’t just be good at their job, they must also be productive. If we do not learn these things in the home than our only hope is that we figure it out. Yes it is possible that perhaps some good soul will take time and teach us, but the truth is, our parents have the greatest influence in our lives be it good or bad.

This young man’s training days will expire soon. If he doesn’t grasp the purpose of his job and become more productive his tenure at his present job will end. My friend will hire someone else and start over.

Gotta Have Skills

“You gotta have skills.” I said to one of my early twenties mentees. The look on his face was a cross between disbelief and dismay. The conversation was already in progress when I walked up and joined them. They were two young men working at a local grocery store. I knew both of them well. One was lamenting the fact of how low his wages the other was trying to give him advice. They both looked at me and asked my thoughts. The problem though, is that the acquisition of skills requires effort, work ethic, maybe even education. The typical young man that I have met and mentored from the poverty community does not value such traits.

An employer pays his employees based on a simple formula, the production of said employee determines how much that employee will make. Production means revenue. Revenue means potential profit. At the end of the day no one, including the employee, works to lose money. Once while working at a restaurant, a young man asked me why so many people were coming into the restaurant. He wanted the kitchen to be slow so he could go home. This was my answer, “So you can pay your bills.” He never responded. Work is a simple relationship; employees produce revenue, revenue keeps the doors open. Lack of revenue and the doors close. Simple.

The more complex, hard to find the skills the higher the wages. A simple rule of thumb to keep in mind is this, the easier it is to do a task, the lower the wage. Don’t be fooled into thinking you deserve a lot of money just because you think your skill is complex; it’s what your boss thinks that will matter. Once a young man was telling me what a good painter he was based on his ability to tape up protection. Being good at taping is good, but there is so much more to painting. Taping up the protection is the basics.

Knowledge is rarely acquired by osmosis. It requires effort. Many of my young mentees have struggled because they are not used to putting forth an effort to learn. Getting by in high school with minimal effort was their mantra. In the work force a minimal effort means minimum wage or unemployment. To earn a good salary or hourly wage the individual must possess or develop a desire to learn. This is something that quickly stands out no matter how much talking the worker does about his skills. This desire will translate into growing skills.

To acquire knowledge an individual must know how he or she learns best and apply themselves. If you are waiting to be taught everything on the job, if you are unwilling to put in some of your own time to learn then you will be quickly passed up by many others, especially former military personnel and college graduates.

The process of learning, developing skills, and experience will require patience. This is another rare value. It is especially obvious today with the advent of immediate gratification. It is not unusual to see an employee leave because he or she has not been elevated in position after a couple of years of working at a firm. Most of the time this will be classified as “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality. I believe it has more to do with the lack of patience and an understanding of the industry in which you find yourself working in.

Good wages are possible, but remember that the work force is a competitive environment. All of the success stories that I have personally been involved in all began when the desire to educate themselves became a priority. Afterwards the sky was limit. Skills are vital. Go out and start developing them.

The Employee Void

“Too many of the young adults who seek employment with me want to show up, go through the motions and get paid,” an experienced business owner shared with me. He was very frustrated that although he had work available the majority of his prospective applicants had no intention of actually doing any work. He had run into this time and time again.

That conversation led to this article. For the past month or so I have polling business owners, supervisors and former business owners asking for their comments to one simple question, “What skill do you find most lacking in the potential employees you meet?” I had nearly 100 responses from a variety of sources. The results are very troubling.

The top issues noted are lack of critical thinking skills, lack knowledge of the trade, lack of passion for their trade and lack of work ethic. Out of these four only one is technical knowledge; the rest are soft skills that are transferable to any other job and high useful in their day to day life. The rest of the list encompassed thirteen other undesirable qualities and all of them are soft skills.

Critical thinking skills are those qualities that tell you to hand a knife cautiously, or tell you not to grind stone near the clients car, or how about the kid who didn’t know the difference between wetting the floor and actually mopping it. Unfortunately too many workers especially those with substandard education do not engage their work. They merely complete tasks without thinking of the end goal.

Knowledge in the trade means just that. If you say you are cook you should know about cooking. The same goes for any other trade. One supervisor shared this with me, “candidates aren’t willing to put in the time to learn their trade, but they demand the high pay.”

Those who listed a lack of passion for their trade explained that too many people are looking for a job without really knowing what they are looking for or why. Too many aren’t willing to learn their trade because their heart isn’t in it. Imagine if your doctor had this attitude. Work conversations should be more about work related matters and not gossip.

The biggest flaw, by far, is lack of work ethic. Unfortunately I have witnessed this all to often, not just in the work place. Many of the young people I have mentored have failed to work hard in school, on an athletic team and once they hit the work force the problem continues. Except that now they have entered the adult world and second chances are few.

Many of the young people I have mentored have had all the answers for their behavior. The most frequent excuse is “they ain’t paying me enough.” I have taken my time to patiently explain that in the world of grown ups we have to earn our keep by producing enough revenue to merit a raise. No one gives a raise simply because you need it. However, most of my explanations have fallen on deaf ears or another excuse has surfaced.

“Too many young people are not future focused. They do not understand that the pace of change will never be slower then it was today.” A business owner shared this statement with me. He is correct. There are too many young adults who do not understand how life works. So who is to blame? Is it the parenting they received or the lack of parenting? The biggest influence in the life of all human beings is their parents. Let’s start there. Many of the young men I have mentored do not have the understanding of the world, ways of the world and what is required to live their dreams. They merely exist. They enter the workforce with little understanding of what it is to build a career and plan for the future. They are like pinballs in the work force. It is easy o say that they need to get a clue, but it is difficult to change the culture they were raised with and morph it into something they don’t understand and therefore doubt. The answers lie in one-on-one guidance of a trusted friend.

The Anatomy of Structure

Whether a child realizes it or not, a structured home is a true blessing. Those that have it take it for granted and those that lack it usually experience high levels of stress and drama.  The degree of the chaos will be determined by the values and morals that the adults have imparted on their offspring.

To be effective, the structured environment must include boundaries and consequences, words and actions, and, most importantly, both parents must be of one accord. If a boundary is violated there must be a consequence. Words that lack action are merely hollow ideals. And a mom and a dad working as a team are a force of nature.

The Value of Structure

Structure is vital to all children, even during their summer school break. As parents we struggle with the notion of our little darlings having no down time to just be kids. But letting them sleep in until noon just because school is out is not a good plan either. Sure summer time should about fun for everyone, but just like adults need to have a balance so they can work and do other necessary things such as housework, so too a kid needs balance as well.

Athletes, are perhaps, the best example. They are usually have the busiest schedules, even during the summer time, they are usually excellent time managers and they usually make up 90% of the honor role. Do they have time to play? Of course they do. And they usually do it while maintaining balance.

The Role Model

Parents are always role models. You are a generation ahead of your offspring and therefore are always in the next phase of life. However, it is important that you behave your age and fulfill your role properly.

The age of your children is irrelevant. They will always look up to you. You don’t have to know everything about present day technology. It is your wisdom they seek. Whether you are a good or a bad role model is your choice.