Archive for February, 2014

March 2014 Calendar 1March 4 – March 23

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Rodeo has been a tradition in Houston since 1932, and the three-week extravaganza at Reliant Park continues to consume the city every spring.

March 7 – March 9

Azalea Trail

One of the surest signs of spring in Houston is the annual Azalea Trail. Houstonians and visitors view the spectacular gardens at Bayou Bend and Rienzi and visit River Oaks’ exquisite private homes.

March 8 – March 9

2014 Blacktop Battle

If you’re looking to hoop it up while in Houston, the 10th annual Blacktop Battle, presented by ZTE, is going down on March 8th and 9th. Register for the largest 3-on-3 street ball tourney in HoustonMarch 2014 Calendar 2

March 9

2013-2014 ROCO Chamber Series: Postcards from Paris and New Orleans

Join us for Postcards from Paris and New Orleans featuring an oboe, clarinet, violin and viola quintet performance with music by Sergei Prokofiev and Dave Anderson, who was inspired by Prokofiev

March 15 – March 23

Architects of Air

Back by popular demand, Britain’s Architects of Air returns to Discovery Green with Miracoco, a one-of-a-kind stunning new luminarium! Inspired by the Lotus Temple in India,

March 16

2nd Buffalo Bayou Regatta

Houstonians of all ages are encouraged to participate in the 15-mile USCA-sanctioned race along the scenic Buffalo Bayou, whether you are entering competitively, or paddling for pleasure.March 2014 Calendar 3

March 21 – March 23

4th Annual Kemah Crawfish Festival

Under the Kemah Bridge! Friday 5pm – 11pm, Saturday 12pm – 11pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm The freshest and best tasting Crawfish in the world for only $3.50 per pound!

March 22 – March 23

Haute Wheels Houston Food Truck Festival

Over 34 of the most skilled chefs in Houston will be rolling on to the Houston Community College Southwest Campus on March 22-23, 2014 for “Haute Wheels Houston – THE Food Truck Festival

March 29 – March 30

Houston Children’s Festival

The Houston Children’s Festival was recently selected as “one of the world’s 300 unmissable events” by Frommer’s Travel Guides.

March 28 – March 30

German Heritage Festival

Beginning with one Oompah band on a flat-bed trailer twelve years ago this festival has become an annual tradition in Tomball and one of the best music/street festivals in TexasMarch 2014 Calendar 4

March 31 – April 6

2014 Shell Houston Open

This PGA TOUR event–the 10th oldest tour event–is Houston’s largest and most prestigious golf event hosting 144 of the world’s best golfers competing for $6Mm in prize money. 

 

Hey college students! As much as those passing grades are important … it’s not the be all to end all for it all. While you’re hitting the books and burning that midnight oil after the parties, you need to pursue work that is relevant to your major too. Experts are telling us that to have work experience relevant to your major is going to be pivotal in your landing a job after college.022414 college and working 1

Whoa! What Did We Just Say?

Over 2,100 CFOs were surveyed from more than 20 of metro cities in the U.S. were asked how if it were important for those going into entry-level accounting and finance to have work experience while attending college. Of those surveyed, 40% said it was very important, 43% said it was somewhat important and only 4% said it was not important at all.

The demand today for those that bring some experience with their college diploma is very strong. Where good grades mattered at one time, actual work experienced has became just as critical, even for entry-level positions. The hiring environment is very competitive today and while in college, students need to get as well positioned as possible and make the most of the opportunities presented to you.

 

Six Tips To Get That Industry Experience

 

020914 do something 1Internships: There has been some issues recently with unpaid internships, in the way of companies have a tendency to abuse the set-up for free labor. However, this is one of the best ways to get that hands-on experience that employers are wanting. Start by connecting with your school’s career center then do a research employers in that field and reach out to them by email with your CV or give them a call once you have narrowed down the decision maker. Ask your professors for internship leads and recommendations. Surf the job board both big name and niche oriented.

 

Money: No doubt about it, the paid internships are the best, however, money shouldn’t be the primary drive here. The goal it to find opportunities that provide you the most exposure in your chosen field. If it is an unpaid internship, make the most it and remember, it could be the job that’s waiting for you after graduation.

Volunteer: There isn’t one nonprofit group or organizations that can’t use a helping hand. Reach out to area community programs and offer your services in whatever your chosen field is. This gets you the opportunity to build skills, gain experience and exposure. That exposure could lead you to a job connection after you graduate.

 

022414 college and working 3Explore and Expand: Sign up with a temp staffing agency. You may get several assignments and each one is an opportunity (there’s that word again) to gain real-world work experience. It also gets your foot in the door and the opportunity (again!) to demonstrate your potential, leaving the door open for you after graduation.

Be Serious: Never refer to yourself as “just an intern” “just a volunteer” or “only a temp”. Each opportunity you are presented, you should go after them as if they were full-time employment. This is a good time to observe how people work in the field you have chosen, allowing you to adapt the appropriate behavior and work style.

Stay Connected: When your internship, temp assignment or volunteer work is completed, send thank you notes to those who brought you the opportunity and then be sure to stay in touch while you finish school and after graduation. Even if they don’t have anything immediately for you, stay in touch.022414 college and working 2

 

So go ahead and enjoy these years in college, you’ll never get them back. On the other hand though, make the most of it while you can so that you’re ready to hit the road when you get that diploma!

In the workplace today, our employees are demanding transparency and trust. They want to know the what is going on, what is real, what is true. Is it really that hard for us to do as leaders? Seems simple enough, but unfortunately, transparency is still lacking among today’s leaders, which has the potential to keep our staff’s level of performance minimized.110913_learn_to_fire 1

The pool of employees are tired of be surprised these days. They want their work environment to be one of clarity and open-minded. They want what use to be unknown to be known now. We not only want job security that offers us career advancement, we want the culture of our workplace to be truthful.

What exactly are they wanting you to be truthful about? Your employees want you to be proactive and share what’s going on in the company where the company is heading into the future. With your transparency in this manner, your employees can plan for their future and protect themselves.

The days of letting your employees live in the a world of utopia are gone. The employees of today are in Number One mode now and that Number One is them and their family. So when an employer isn’t forthright and transparent with their employees, they often lose their top-talent and the price they pay can be costly when you factor in having to recruit to replace them then rebuild the momentum. 

022414 transparent 1Transparency is power but many employers believe that being transparent weakens their authority and power. They believe that they will have no leverage if they are honest and upfront with their employees. These are the leaders that haven’t realized the value in relating to their employees and that is what employees want today. They want to be able to relate to those who are leading the team. They want to know that you have gone through some of the same experiences they have and overcame the some of the same personal hardships.

With the internet today, employees can find out more about their employers and the leaders within the company than ever before. With social media, everyone can enter everyone’s personal space, including their employers. So with the transparency that social media gives everyone, everyone expects us to be transparent ourselves. Employees today want their leaders to be human today.

Not convinced yet that being transparent is a necessity for the workplace? Let us look at 5 things that could happen with a transparent leadership and then you can decide if those are 5 things you would like to see in your workplace:

1.Problems Get Solved Quicker

When the leader is transparent, ie, honest and open and the employees know more about each other, they are better able to come together and solve any problems that come about quicker.

For example, when your department presents next years budget to you and it isn’t where you need it to be, tell them where you need the numbers and why. When you team knows that jobs could be cut if the department can’t get the numbers down to a certain point, they’ll work harder together to get those numbers.0222414 transparent leader 2

2.Easier Team Building

Transparency will unify a group so that they will not only work together, but they will work smarter too. To get to a team built, as a leader you must be transparent with your team and talk to them openly about the department’s strengths and weaknesses and how that fits the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Why? It gives everyone permission to share their opinions and perspectives openly which will help you match your people strategically on specific assignments. You can use this openness to study your team’s profile and their individual concerns as well as a collective team and cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit among everyone.

3. Authentic Relationships Grow

Transparency will allow your staff to discover teammates they didn’t know they had. When you pull a person from each department and put them on a team together, they may will learn each other on a more personal level. While they may know each others duties and title, transparency allows them to get to know each other as a person and the character they each have. Thus, they can each take on the task that best suits them and pull together as a team from relationships they have built.

4. Trust In Leadership Is Promoted

When you are transparent as a leader, your employees will be more objective in the pros and cons about you. Your transparency during the bad times will actually strengthen your role as leader with your employees because they will feel they can trust you more and encourage others to trust you as well.

121313_glamour 35.Higher Performance Levels Emerge

Each of the four things we’ve talked about here are interdependent and build on each other, creating a simple formula: Efficient problem solving + Ability to build teams easier + Development of authentic relationships + Trust = Higher Performance Levels

In Summary

Transparency is a simple thing … 

Man with box and hula hoopFor a company to run smooth, you need to establish an environment in which communication flows free between you, your employees and your management team. One way to establish this is by soliciting feedback from your employees and management team. By doing this, you learn about concerns and issues before they become problems.

With an open communication policy, you will discover some good ideas and suggestions that your employees may have that could improve the efficiency of the workplace. They could eventually increase the company’s bottom line and improve customer service. There are many ways how to establish an open communication policy, but it must be established with ground rules first.

Rules

Design and share the ground rules. The ground rules should include:

** Do not speak every thought that comes to mind

** Professional attitude is a must

** No offensive language

** No incendiary comments

Concept

Explain the key concept to the employees and what you are trying to achieve by setting up an open communication policy. If your industry uses acronyms or jargon specific to the industry that are usually management language, create a list for the ranking employees so they can have the opportunity to understand the subject matter.080413_choosing_training_technique_1

Meetings

Schedule regular meetings with each department and with the whole staff. Weekly is usually most effective and make sure you schedule the meetings at times that are appropriate and follow through with them. Have an agenda prepared and stick to it during the meeting so that all issues are covered. Allow a Q&A period for the employees to ask questions and provide feedback as well.

Updates

Keep your employees updated regularly with important matters that impact their duties and the company as whole if it is information that concerns their position. This keeps your employees in tune with the company direct from you and not through the grapevine or rumor mill. Be honest and open with issues such as budget cuts, personnel cutbacks and other matters that can affect them in the workplace as well as personally.

Open Door

An open door policy must be instituted, actually open. Employees often perceive a closed doors as a barrier and that the owner or management isn’t interested in their employees. And open office door is encouraging and inviting. 

110313_interview_not_enough 1For years, the manufacturing sector has seen a decline in jobs due to a decrease in product. Now, it is starting to turn around on both counts and the manufacturing industry is leading the way for economic recovery in the United States. There has been an increase in orders for manufacturing plants and over 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been added.

While this is good news, it is dampened with the trend of high retirement rate among manufacturing employees and not enough young blood coming in with experience, interest or skills needed in manufacturing. As such, employers are finding themselves with the need to focus on recruitment and retention if they hope to keep growing. So now the question comes is how do they recruit that talent they need?

Identify The Need

First they must identify what the talent they need looks like. In an overall package, a person that is ideal for a manufacturing job is somewhat of a “gearhead” mentally. A person with curious and mechanical person that likes to solve problems and make things work better. With the right training and the right manager that can harness that curiosity for growth and new innovation.

Identify The Desires

So with that description fitting most of today’s teenagers and young adults, why are companies having trouble filling positions? This negative image in most of today’s youths mind is that manufacturing jobs are dead-end, dirty and prone to lay-offs. This negative image along with the decrease of students who excel in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) has shortened the pipeline that the manufacturing industry uses.

Change Ends Of The Pool

What can be done then? Companies need to change ends of the pool. They’ve been looking in the shallow end with undergraduate and vocational students. Now they need to begin attracting and engaging potential job candidates employees in the deep end of the pool. Once they have determined what their ideal employee is like, they need to learn what attracts and interests them.

Move To Different Recruiting Grounds

The movement of career days at colleges and high schools are excellent ideas, but they need to think outside of the box. One strategy would be visiting car shows. This is where you will find true “gearheads”. This is where you find the ones that love the thrill of one the job and off the job mechanics. A car show gives you a casual atmosphere and element of deep water candidate fishing. Just as a career fair or job fair rents out booth space, so do car shows.112713_facebook_beer_party 1

Network and Socialize

Social media recruiting is not just for office professionals. Social sites like LinkedIn is just as effective in connecting with a new and younger generation of skills and talent with mechanical ability. With FaceBook and LinkedIn, you can seek individuals that have interests and skills that are in alignment with your company’s needs and begin a conversation with them. By networking like this, you create a connection that is more on a personal level and create a platform that puts your company’s opportunities out there.

You Snagged Them, Now Keep Them Happy

After you have found the employees that are right for manufacturing, you need to keep them engaged and happy. History has shown that people employed in manufacturing are hard workers and loyal. Their mindset of being employed is more traditional and have values that built this country. However, they are also more apt to be dissatisfied with the training that can give them better career opportunities and growth. 

Solution: Create career development programs with in-house training. A program that maps out a clear path for an employee to advance within the company and encourages them to reach their full potential. 

101213 employee conflict 3Today, the manufacturing environment is pressure-filled and production-driven. This can make employees feel beat down, overworked and under appreciated. Employers need to change this negativeness, which will increase retention as well as attract new talent.

Solution: Create and establish an employee recognition program. Set up activities outside of the work place that will become established traditions making your company an unique employer. Elementary schools have found that having a themed school day engages the students. The same can be achieved with a themed workday or quarterly events like a company sponsored family picnic or baseball game. Make the employee break area more relaxing with pleasing interior decoration that include sofas, easy chairs, games and television. Catering food is always a winner for the hard working staff. These small expenses will do a lot in making your staff feel appreciated and as if they are part of the big picture.

The Overall Advise

Get to know your employees as people and not just another number. By knowing an employee’s story, you’ll know what makes them who they are and how they work best. An honest effort for a personal connection will go a long way in recruiting new employees, keeping your employees satisfied and simply just keeping your employees.

teamwork - 1Building a successful workplace team isn’t the hardest thing to do, nor is it the easiest thing either. The first step is to know your employees. You will realize you know your employees when you can say yes to the following: 

** Do you know when to push what buttons of their employees to get the results you need and want?

** Do you know how to energize the talent that is already in place around you?

** Are you able to mach your employees competencies and unique areas of expertise and use that as a tool to solve problems?

By investing the time to learn how your employees think and what motivates them best, then you will be ready to build the puzzle known as your team. Here are six steps that have proven to build successful teams:

Know How You Work

You are the team leader so you need to know your leadership style. Is your style effective and well received by the employees that will be your team? Be self-critical and evaluate yourself. Where can you improve so that it best benefits the team you need to build? Be accountable for your approach and be open to modify it if needed. Be the boss. Be the leader. Be Flexible.

Know Your Team

Take the time to know your team then encourage and promote camaraderie. Learn what defines your teams capabilities and strengths. Learn what assets each team member can bring to the team. Learn what they have left behind and what could be developed.080113_employee_learn_process 2

Define Responsibilities and Roles

When you have accomplished the above step, then you will be able to define each team members responsibilities and their role on the team. This isn’t as easy at sounds. The role a member may be good at isn’t the same as their daily job description and each position on the team must interconnect with each position.

Constant Proactive Feedback

To assure your team stays on track, proactive feedback is a must. It is key for the team to improve daily. Don’t wait till there is a problem before giving your team feedback. Feedback is a great communicator and should come from you naturally. Feedback should be a mixture of formal and informal so that it always seems authentic and makes an impact. Taking the time to let a member know how they are doing and how they can do better. Remember, feedback is a two-way street.

Acknowledge Then Reward

Proactive feedback gives your team members acknowledgment and reward. Recognition for a job well done is always appreciated. Show your team members respect and they will show you respect. Never take for granted that your team member have done their part, always take the time to acknowledge them and their work.

Celebrate Success

Even when the day is full of uncertainty, take time to step back and look at the accomplishments of the day and then celebrate your team’s success. Find what the team learned through the day’s journey and use that for growth and improvement. Regardless of the day’s upheavals, the team crossed the finish line. Celebrate it.

110913_learn_to_fire 1Conclusion

You will only be as successful of a leader as your team is successful. Think of your team as a mosaic. Each piece is different in it’s strength, but put them all together and it becomes strong.

America is a country that wants things built, but we are quickly running out of people that can build things. People with manufacturing skills are quickly declining. Democrats and Republicans haven’t agreed on government spending or health care, they have agreed on one thing – this country’s success is teetering on manufacturing, or the lack of.

021714 american problem 3Americans – We Have A Problem

Over 80 percent of manufacturers can not find skilled workers even though we have probably the highest number of unemployed people in years. The next generation of qualified and skilled manufacturing workers is going to be a struggle they say. The people that are guiding our youth’s career decisions aren’t getting the message that manufacturing offers opportunities and so the youth isn’t getting that message either.

Therefore, that lack of communication has caused two problems:

A gap in skills

A gap in perception

The world of manufacturing today is not the same world of manufacturing back in our grandparent’s day. Its is a modern, technology-driven industry today. Yet, when manufacturing is suggested as a career path, images from the Industrial Revolution come to mind. The manufacturing industry offers many challenging jobs that have salaries in the mid-70s and up. From CNC operators and programmers to electricians, machinists and pipefitters. They are jobs that require know-how, skill and talent.

Four Year Degrees Aren’t The Answer

These are jobs that do not require a four-year degree yest they do require teamwork. For the student that college just isn’t their way, either academically or financially, manufacturing offers them a rewarding career. Perhaps counselors and parents should focus on what knowledge and skills are needed to fulfill the needs of the workforce today, tomorrow and beyond instead of trying to guide every student or young person to obtain that college degree.

With manufacturers like Caterpillar making major investments with new factories in states like Indiana, George and Texas as well as many manufacturers that are foreign-based now building facilities and producing their products here instead of importing them here, the long-term future is looking good for a career in manufacturing. Coupled with the fact that majority of today’s manufacturing employee will be retiring in the next 10 years, the job openings in that sector are going to increase. This is where great opportunities lay for our youth today.

021714 american problem 2Events Are Only One Step

Attention to manufacturing is being created with events like the upcoming second-annual Manufacturing Day. This is where manufacturers around the country are encouraged to open their doors to their community and invite the high school and college students to come take a look at what modern manufacturing is all about. Letting these students experience the dynamics of the high-tech sector that manufacturing is now is one step in the right direction.

The National Association of Manufacturers has made a commitment to grow the manufacturing workforce for tomorrow’s talent and be more competitive in the global economy. Through The Manufacturing Institute, workers are being trained to meet the demands of modern manufacturing today. An initiative collaboration has been created between manufacturers and like business allies to attract our returning veterans into the manufacturing workforce using the skills they have acquired while enlisted in the Armed Forces.

With educational opportunities being offered through community colleges to assist these veteran and the other programs that were mentioned above, the perception of manufacturing is still a problem. With only 3 out of 10 parents giving their children guidance to look at manufacturing as a career, the attitude won’t be changed quickly.

Employers today have an abundance of prospective candidates to choose from. Place an ad on a job board or your website and you’ll have more resumes than you could ever imagine. The problem many employers have is recruiting and retaining quality candidates. You know, those employees that will give 110% every day? So they offer bigger salaries, more vacation days, a company cell phone and a larger expense account.

Yet when they recruit a high quality candidate, they often are gone in 6 to 12 months. Why? With all the things you’re offering these prospective candidates, one of the most important benefit that prospective quality candidates are looking for is a retirement plan. You may think that they can just open a savings account and start saving for their retirement. However, employees like to have that small amount taken out of their check each pay period and put into an account that they can’t access, no easily anyway.

021614 Employee Benefits 1A retirement plan not only will help you recruit high quality candidates to fill those few open positions, but it will keep them there longer too. As far as your current staff, if you have a hard working, talented crew on board already, it won’t hurt to bring a 401k plan to the benefit plan for them either. It also shows your employees that you really care about them as a person, not just an employee.

Studies indicate that 401k plans actually increase a company’s profit significantly too. There are many companies to choose from to help you set up the best 401k plan possible that will fit your company. A 401k program that offers multiple fund families with unlimited access to a certified financial planner can be something that your current staff has been wishing for but never asked.

Today, with so many people in the job market, a 401k that provides age-based asset allocation portfolios and no limit of daily transfers between fund options, you will have a better chance of not only recruiting the best of the best candidates, but you’ll have a better option of keeping them for awhile too.

one_page_two_page_resume 2Unemployment is at the highest it has been in years, meaning there are plenty of people without jobs that are here looking for jobs. Yet, manufacturing companies are grousing that there are not any skilled workers out there and that it is taking forever to fill vacancies.

So they blame the education system and parents for not encouraging the youth to choose a path of manufacturing instead of a four-year degree in college. They blame the government for not allowing more high-skill immigrants in the country. On and on the list goes and yet still too many vacancies. 

Perhaps employers need to take a look in a full length mirror. Instead of looking for candidates that can just walk right in and pick up where the last person left off. Maybe what they should be looking at are the prospective candidates that have train-ability. As they say, you have to crawl before you can walk.

The Catch 22 Hurts Everyone

For employers to keep looking for that already experienced and/or trained candidate, they have put themselves in a Catch-22 situation, it is hurting them and hurting our economy. Companies need to quit playing blame game and take some ownership to the problem. Just maybe you can’t find the perfect candidates that’s all trained and ready to go. Maybe you need to look at those who ‘could do’ the job with some OTJ training, practice and patience.

Since the current way of doing things isn’t getting the employees that companies need, they should start looking at putting new hires on extended probation periods and set up training programs for them with the current employees.

020914 do something 1Fact or Illusion?

More than 50% of employers in the US say they can not fill vacancies because of a shortage in talent. Experts are suggesting that this an illusion and one that the companies can turn around. Perhaps its not that there is a shortage of skilled workers but that employers need to increase the offered wages. The inability to fill vacancies is an affordability problem, not a shortage of potential candidates.

Employers need to be more flexible. There are candidates out there that can be trained to fit the vacancies. Perhaps the square peg won’t fit in the round hole, but you can make the hole bigger and allow the peg to fill the hole. Jobs can be organized so that the pool of candidates with credentials that are different can be successful. Think back to the 1990s and Silicon Valley boomed with IT jobs. Less than 10% of those that worked in Silicon Valley actually had IT experience. They learned as they worked.  

092113_whats_hot_whats_not 1Many HR experts have declared 2014 to be “The Year of the Employee”. What does this mean to employers? Business owners and managers all know that the global economic growth has cause some shift in power when it comes to job searching and staff hiring. Those experts that have declared 2014 to be “The Year of the Employee” are expecting top talent candidates to wield more control.

Some of this is in part to the new healthcare laws and the key skills that those in energy, engineering, math and life science sectors are going to be in short supply. Regardless the reasons determined, it is expected that companies will be competing for candidates that have the desired talent. To win this new competition, employers will need to be strong in the following areas:

Workplace Passion

Employee attraction, engagement and retention. This will be achieved by creating a great management team that makes the workplace, attractive, enjoyable and fun. Business owners and HR managers will need to look at employee experiences and find ways to make the workplace more rewarding. Because of the new healthcare laws, health benefits will no longer be the sure-fire magnet.

Create A Global Employment Brand

The head of HR and the head of marketing will need to become a team. A company’s employment brand is reflected by the your leadership style and the work environment. How these things connect and work together will directly impact the company’s hiring ability.

Leadership Supply Chain

The millennials should be your focus and the need to improve leadership at every level is the top issue. The millennial group that are professionals will be the “sweet spot” for many companies and they are going need, actually demand, the company to provide them experience, feedback and support. This is the group that is the up and coming middle and senior management020914 whats coming 2014

Technology Simplified

Even though the market is flooded with HR technology and tools at reasonable costs, doesn’t mean your employees can deal with it. The employee assessment tools, the big data-based sourcing, measuring engagement in real-time and recognition management along with simulations, video-based learning and employee collaboration is all great technology, but for the employees of 2014, it needs to be simplified and easy to use. Mobile devices are going to dominate and companies will need to have an ap for employee administration and job postings.

A Continuous Learning Culture

Today’s workplace has more gaps in skills than ever before. While we are seeing a shortages of software and mechanical engineers as well as manufacturing, we are also seeing an increase is analysts, geophysicists, mathematicians and seasoned sales professionals. Companies are going to need to create continuous learning solutions that will engage their current staff and attract new professionals. The new thought is if you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing will be astoundingly prominent.

021014 manufacturing career 3Social Tools Are Solutions

Social software tools are going to need to be the standard not the exception in HR departments. Now social systems will need to be able to open employee communications and candidate relationship management. These social systems need to be used to create talent networks and deliver social learning as well.

In summary, your company’s talent management team, performance management team, compensation team and recruiting team need to pull together and become one team that optimizes your business’ outcomes in 2014. An integrated system needs to be configured to create the right experiences for current and prospective employees