Thursday, December 1, 2016
“There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack”
Developing and practicing good leadership is a skill many people seek, and this book by a materials management and manufacturing professional provides a colorful and fascinating collection of anecdotal accounts of situations involving leadership by the author as well as his employees. Each clearly explained situation is followed by the pertinent facts that affect any decision or solution as well as what lessons can be derived from the occasion. The value of story-telling as a means to educate people is extolled.
The author poses a set of seminal rules that can help readers in any situations they encounter. The responsibilities of management and the mentoring process are key areas delineated.
The first person writing is to the point, candid and credible. Subheads break up the text and highlight critical areas. Maps, photos and a cartoon illustration provide a graphic dimension. Quotes from various luminaries lead off chapters.
The appendix area includes an interesting rundown of military classes of supply, military time telling, and definitions of key managerial positions.
“Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.”
Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Competition
Friday, September 23, 2016
I’ve had a busy few weeks and have not been active here in a while. I’m sorry!
During this period I have been busy reading and conducting Q&A sessions at two Literary Salons mostly here in my local area.
The first one was on Old Mueller (the old airport) at the Wildfire Terrace Apartments in their Terrace Room. We gathered around 6:30 PM and socialized for a while and started the Reading about 7PM and afterwards shared refreshments and more social time.
I read from the chapter “Let me tell ya ‘bout Cold” and then conducted a Q&A session afterwards.
Cold is a relevant term and I hope I achieved my goal describing the different levels of cold that one might experience over a lifetime? I’m positive that there are very few, if any that can match my experiences in this area. I would welcome to hear about yours if you think you can match or exceed mine.
This was great fun and the questions from those in attendance were fantastic. I had a fantastic time and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
I even had three cousins in attendance: one first—another Howard, one second—another Howard but using his first name Les and one third—Les’s daughter Caroline with her boyfriend Eric. Howard and Les had driven all the way from Cypress, TX and Caroline lives here locally. What a surprise to see them standing outside the building waiting on me to show so they could get inside. Catching time here and there, while trying not to ignore everybody else, we conducted a mini family reunion. Great fun!
The book sales went fairly well also.
This past Wednesday, we conducted a very intimate session at The Trails at Carmel Creek retirement facility in Hutto, TX.
I had several friends and associates join me there and we had a good representation from the facility with us also. The session followed the same structure as above, but since it was somewhat smaller, we conducted the entire session sitting in the lounge area instead of the grand room.
I chose to read and discuss the chapter Kick it to the Can - Coaching the Cosmos. This selection is very different from the others in the book as it tells of my first opportunity coaching a youth team in an organized soccer league.
The take-a-ways from a situation involving youth can be exactly the same but more specific than one including adults. I believe I learned just as much from this short duration soccer season as I ever learned from any session with adults in similar situations.
While the session was more intimate, I did get to spend more time with each attendee than I did in the previous session.
I thoroughly enjoyed each opportunity and welcome more of them in the future.
See you out there at a future event!
Friday, August 12, 2016
Baby Boomers exit the workforce
I don’t know if most of you realize it, but the Baby Boomers are getting out of the workforce at record rates. Just who will take these guys’ places?
Are there members within your personnel with the ability to step directly into those shoes? Are they qualified to undertake this transition? Are you? Or is your management team going to have to go look for your next group of leaders? So many questions!
I read an article running in the Boston Globe over the weekend about this problem; specifically in New Hampshire, but it pretty much applies nation-wide. (https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/07/31/aging-workforce-skills-gap-strain-manufacturing/I3qo1XR5Kk3ILJtQaccewI/story.html)
There’s an open window here and so many things to consider. As the economy continues to grow, this is a question that must be addressed—the sooner the better. Has your organization thought about a succession plan?
Level of Organization
The problem that most organizations are facing is that the trouble will be at multiple levels of the organization—from top and middle management, continuing through skilled workers and all the way down to near the bottom of the staff. The coming purge will effect professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers. The Baby Boomers are at every level of companies out there.
Adding to this trouble is the level of unemployment existing in most of the country. As low as it is, it’s very likely that a great deal of those on the unemployed list are the un-employable. One also hears of the great number of those who have just stopped looking for work. This may be true but a great deal of those people are of the Baby Boomer age who lost their employment during the recession and now have qualified for retirement and are no longer looking for work.
I had this same experience several years ago here in my area. I had been used to gathering some 300+ resumes after advertising a position. All of a sudden, the unemployment level had dropped to around 2% and I was getting less than 10 resumes; sometimes as few as two. And, worst of all, none of the candidates were qualified. We may be approaching that low watermark once again; especially with talent level and skills. Incidentally, the article revealed a New Hampshire unemployment rate of 2.8%. Additionally, the state projects a need to fill 80% of the production jobs available over the next decade.
Katrina Evans, from the New Hampshire “Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau” stated “We’re having to rebuild the entire pipeline of workers. It’s not even so much a skills mismatch as it is a body mismatch.”
Here are some of the other concerns expressed by CEOs and economists:
“78% said it would affect their ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity”
“the shortage of skilled labor is so severe that it’s actually affecting the ability of companies to grow”
What’s the Answer?
Yes, just what is the answer? The Governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, is on the right path. She’s created a Manufacturing Sector Partnership. The initiative connects educators with the organizations that need help. Other companies have gone out on their own and sought out their needs, even offering incentives to bring on board the skills they seek.
What these guys are doing are good answers, but what about your own back yard?
I would propose that when you are looking for candidates to step into supervisory roles that you first look internally. Your organization just might have the resources to fill leadership roles walking around your own facility and not even know it. Often the case is that skills have been acquired over years and years of observing those leading them without the learning individual even knowing they possess the desired knowledge.
Of course, an internal fill does not necessarily solve the overall problem. Worst of all, you set off a cascade of fills and back-fills that seems to be never ending until such time as you hire from the outside the guy//gal that stops the upward or lateral movement of personnel.
Let’s Talk Leadership
How do you identify candidates for leadership positions from within? That’s often easier than one might think. It’s nothing more than simply discussing the situations that take place on a daily basis. Routine staff meetings are a real good place to start. Reviewing production, practices, procedures and goals is a good way to learn what’s known throughout the organization. Members of the management team should be noting these skills and ideas of those reporting to them as a routine practice (warehousing the data)—how else could they be collecting information for annual reviews and like requirements.
Discussions held during meetings should involve as many team members as possible and solicit ideas for all. Sometimes it’s that quiet guy over in the corner that has a good idea, but isn’t ready yet to share it. Draw it out of them; and in the meantime you just might be building a bit of confidence that will pay off later—like in the situation we are discussing today.
What can I add?
When I first started writing my book “There’s a Moose in the Guard Shack”, I had two specific goals in mind.
My first intention was to document stories that my family had never heard that concerned some of the situations that had taken place to and around me during my days specifically in the military and subsequently in my manufacturing assignments.
My secondary intention was to document situations and solutions that I could pass on to others to assist them in becoming better leaders and managers without having to experience the frustrations I had experienced in trying to better myself as a leader. I knew the Baby Boomer exodus was just around the corner.
In this light, my book, even through all the changes it underwent over the several years I worked on it, these two basic goals remained intact. The stories are there for the family, especially the generations that have followed me. And, the lessons I learned are there in somewhat of a logical text form. Also included is an appendix (D – Review of Lessons Learned) which provides a detailed breakout of the lessons I took away from my experiences in a handy format that works well as a lesson plan for the conduct of training on those take-aways.
I hope you give it a look.