Tag Archives: Education

    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

 

 

 

 

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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 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.

To Read or Not to Read

Reading is perhaps the most vital skill which all youth must possess. And yet the vast majority of the young men I have mentored do not read. Some, very few at that, become avid readers later in life once the school of hard knocks has dealt them some serious lessons. But could this be the great deterrent to those hard knocks?

We will never know. In most cases, they have had no example of the benefits of reading or of books in their lives. Most of the homes I have ventured into are devoid of books. Children that read are usually the offspring of parents who value reading. It will difficult to be a student of life without an interest in reading.

“Smart” versus Work Ethic

When given the choice between hiring someone who is “smart” and someone with good work ethic, the latter wins every time. There is no sin in being smart or trying to be smarter, but the point is that very few people who are “smart” have poor work ethic. Most of the smart people I have met in my life are people who work hard.

Even in the classroom, I have found the same result. The majority of the teens I have known over the years, the ones who are “smart,” work very hard to earn the grades they receive. I have wondered this outloud for years, “funny how the harder a high school student works, the smarter he is.” Yes it is interesting, indeed.

No Such Expert

There is no such thing as an expert on youth. Youth culture is dynamic and therefore shifts continuously. It is always  troubling to meet someone who presents themselves as an expert in youth, or makes a claims to know everything there is to know about youth. I much prefer the person who is asking questions, absorbing feedback, reading and opining.

Youth culture continuously shifts, it changes, it is dynamic. The most popular art form with youth culture continues to be music, however reading has also gained great strength; just ask our friend Harry Potter. Rap music has also produced a new and unique brand of poetry and poems. All of this has happened within youth culture. The best we can hope to accomplish in terms of expertise is to be dedicated students of youth culture.