Goodbye 2016 – And Thank You

Tuesday December 20th, 2016 at 1:29pm
Written by Casey White - Director of Marketing

Another year has come and gone. As I say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017, I know I have so much to be grateful for. 

In fact, this past Thanksgiving offered a unique opportunity to reflect. Unfortunately, the athletic activities of my past caught up with my body – and it was finally time to dive in for surgery on my ailing ankle. The two weeks following surgery were admittedly challenging. I strive to live an active lifestyle, and I’m not very good at asking for help; not a great combination for someone laid up for two weeks!  

The experience did have a silver lining though … it provided a lot of great thinking time. Of course, I thought about how fortunate I was to have great friends and family in my life. I thought about the wonderful trips my family experienced in South America and Europe this year. I also thought about my career and how grateful I feel to work at EDSI, a company who cares about me as a person and really does put people before profits.

 

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How to Grow Your Own Talent - ASE Talent Symposium Recording

Wednesday December 14th, 2016 at 8:30am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

Jim Bitterle, Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, presented at ASE’s 2016 Talent Symposium on the topic of growing your own talent.  Check out the video recording if you were not able to join live!

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The Beauty of Hiring People with Disabilities

Wednesday December 7th, 2016 at 9:15am
Written by Annie Kollar - Business Services Representative

Diversify your workforce by hiring people with disabilities and you will not be disappointed. This is, bar none, my experience over the last five years. Before coming to EDSI, I had the opportunity to work on a team of which over 90 percent of the members were people with disabilities. Not only did I learn about business and the beauty of diversity, but I also learned about myself.

According to the United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities 16 years and older was 11.1 percent in July 2016 (https://www.dol.gov/odep/). This is over double the unemployment rate for people without disabilities, and many of people with disabilities have very marketable skills and qualifications.

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Developing Workforce Development Strategies

Friday December 2nd, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Ed Quintavalle - Senior Consultant

A man is in a hot air balloon that is slowly losing altitude. He ends up hovering over the side of the road in the desert. Another man happens by. The man in the balloon calls down to him, "Sir, could you tell me where I am?" The man looks up, assesses the situation, and responds: "Yes, you are about 30 feet in the air on the side of the road in the desert." The man in the balloon, unamused at the response, calls down, "Thanks Einstein ... you must be a workforce development consultant." "What do you mean?" responds the other man. "You just told me everything that I already knew and were no help whatsoever." The fella looks up at the man in the balloon and says, "I would guess that you work for a company that’s in serious trouble." "Why do you say that?" responds the man in the balloon. "Because you have no idea where you are, no idea where you are going, and no idea how to get there from here."

This is a somewhat humorous anecdote for the application of Workforce Development (WD) strategies. I wouldn’t say that WD consultants only reveal everything that employers already know; nor are employers always totally in the dark about their plight. However, when information is qualified through a data-driven analysis, it usually comes as no big surprise for employers where their weakest workforce links are located. Lack of training (critical skills and basic skills) often haunt a company until data is presented that validates what many already suspected.

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Road Trips, Talent and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Wednesday November 30th, 2016 at 8:45am
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

One of my goals is to make it to all 50 states by the age of 40, and all 7 continents by the age of 60. In order to achieve the domestic portion of this goal, about once a year I embark on an overly ambitious road trip. The goal is to cram as much as I can into a 4 or 5 day journey and see as much of this beautiful country as possible. To give you an idea, the last trip started in Boise, Idaho, and ended in Portland, Oregon, and included 5 states, 4 state capitals, 3 national parks, 2 flights, and 1 rental car. It also included a LOT of caffeine and very little sleep.

While a trip like this doesn’t allow me to fully experience any of these destinations the way I would like to, it does help me to understand which of these places I would like to revisit in the future … and how much time I would truly want to spend there.

During another recent trip, I visited Badlands National Park, Custer National Park, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse Monument. Fair, or unfair, there is some mental benchmarking that goes into deciding how much time I spend at each location, and whether or not I plan on revisiting that place. While both trips were great in their own right, I found myself comparing and contrasting the two. If I am being honest, I would much rather go back to Yellowstone than Mount Rushmore. If I were to make one of those drives again, I personally enjoyed driving through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon more than I enjoyed driving through Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.

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How to Think “Strategically” about Workforce Planning

Friday November 18th, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant

Have you heard the phrase workforce planning? What about strategic workforce planning? This catchphrase is changing the HR game and offering a glimmer of hope in the war for top talent. It’s also creating some important and interesting dialogue within the C-Suite.

How is this possible, you ask? Strategic workforce planning (SWP) helps connect a company’s core business goals with its most important asset: people!

In its most basic form, workforce planning determines what an organization needs in terms of the size, type, experience, quality, skills and knowledge of its workforce in order to achieve primary business goals. The term strategic further defines the timeframe of the planning activities. Think system-wide organization and strategy vs. work-unit issues at a supervisor level.

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5 Tips for Keeping a Job

Tuesday November 1st, 2016 at 7:09am
Written by Ed Quintavalle - Senior Consultant

Finding a job doesn’t always come easy, especially in today’s competitive job market. It can also be difficult to decide on a career. In fact, most of us never stop asking ourselves that age-old question: “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

With so many resources available, job searches aren’t just about the classifieds anymore. Jobseekers must use every resource possible to widen their job search: networking, social media, recruiters, job listings and employer contacts from workforce agencies.

State and local workforce agencies offer full-service, one-stop assistance with skill assessments, training, job counseling and job placement. Many non-profits also provide services. These organizations often offer assistance for those who need to overcome specific barriers to employment. Ultimately, what kind of job you decide is best for you depends a lot on who you are, and your satisfaction on the job. It pays to map out career goals and aspirations, and figure out exactly what steps are needed to get the job you want, because you really can make it happen!

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How to Grow Your Own Talent

Monday October 17th, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

Jim Bitterle, Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, was invited by Tom Borg Consulting to talk talent! Tune in to this podcast recording to learn more about EDSI and how to develop talent in your organization.

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Education and Workforce Development Partnerships

Monday October 3rd, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Ed Quintavalle - Senior Consultant

There’s been a national call-to-action for two-year community colleges and career and technical high schools. Ultimately, educators are responsible for meeting the demand for skills in the global economy.

  1. There is consensus that the foundational academic knowledge needed for postsecondary education and for careers is virtually the same, with growing recognition that academic skills, employability and technical knowledge and skills are essential as well.
  2. We’re seeing widespread agreement that lifelong learning and ‘learning how to learn’ are key drivers of success in college, careers and civic life.
  3. Research shows collaborative efforts in states, districts and communities to strengthen their collective capacity to deliver results that matter.

The plan is for greater student success. It needs to be bolder and broader – “cradle-to-career” strategies – comprehensive, data-driven plans that begin early on and focus on improving measurable progress to career readiness. This new formula shows the most promise for success. Follow-up on the student’s outcome is also important to obtain the metrics to grow this philosophy.

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Eight Things You Must Do When Creating a Turnaround Plan

Friday September 9th, 2016 at 10:00am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

Is your company struggling financially?

If so, it may be time to create a turnaround plan. Turnaround plans assist companies in identifying the cause of underperformance; reverse it and return to profitability. There are a few essential elements to any financial turnaround business plan. Following are some basic actions and best practices to consider.

  1. Don’t waste time. If the company is performing poorly, don’t procrastinate. I’ve seen far too many financial disasters occur simply because managers and advisors are passive. If things are degrading, act now. Time can be your friend, or it can be your enemy. For turnarounds, unfortunately, it is too often the latter.

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3 Takeaways from Managing Thought by Mary Lore

Wednesday September 7th, 2016 at 2:33pm
Written by Sarah Strawcutter - Customer Service Representative

Let’s be honest, work, no matter what industry, can be stressful. A question I ask on daily a daily basis is, how do we cope with the stress in a healthy way? Managing Thought by Mary Lore has an interesting perspective on how to manage yourself. Think of it this way, you need to learn how to manage yourself before you can learn to manage others. Sound familiar? It should because at EDSI, we have our daily ways: Show up, Smile, and Support. A part of Smile is “I am self-aware” which means that you know your strengths and weaknesses and you can recognize them in others. If you can understand how your body deals with stress, you are in a sense self-aware.

Here are the top 3 things I took away from Managing Thought:

1. To manage your thoughts, you must live in the moment and focus

It’s so easy to focus on the future. “I have to have these files done by Friday.” “Thursday is a workshop I want to attend but I have to do an application.” When you find yourself thinking about the future or even the past, pause, take some deep breaths, and think “what can I do right now?” When doing this, you open up your mind and release any extra stress that may be manifesting. It allows you to be inspired and as a result inspire those you serve.

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3 Leadership Lessons from Shackleton to Avoid Mutiny

Wednesday August 31st, 2016 at 8:15am
Written by Trevor Stout - Business Services Representative

The story of Earnest Shackleton is one of the most heroic leadership stories in history. Shackleton led an expedition to the South Pole during the early 1900s. Shackleton and his men ran into more trouble than just about any other expedition of the time. However, what makes this story heroic is not the obstacles they faced, but how Shackleton’s leadership helped them overcome these obstacles. During their voyage the crew of the Endurance became locked in a flow of ice and was drifting in the arctic sea for months. Finally, Shackleton decided that the only way they would survive would be to find help themselves. He and a few of his men fashioned a life raft, left a large portion of his crew on the ice and sailed for a nearby Island. Before he left Shackleton promised his men that he would return for them. It took him over a year but he made good on his promise and came back to his crew and took them home. There are many great leadership lessons that can be learned from Shackleton, but I want to focus on the most poignant.

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Construction Training and Internship Program for Detroit Students

Wednesday August 24th, 2016 at 7:12am
Written by Michelle Knierim - Associate Consultant

Over the past 3 years, The Construction Association of Michigan (CAM) has been approached by several of its member companies about the lack of young people entering the construction industry. During a series of roundtable discussions, workforce development continued to be a trending topic. To address this growing concern, CAM joined forces with EDSI to develop a pilot program called “3D.” 3D stands for develop, design and deliver.

EDSI just completed the first 3D boot camp training at the UAW Ford building in Detroit, Michigan. The training was a 5 day training that taught juniors in high school more about the construction industry. They learned about careers in the industry, workplace readiness skills, communication, construction terminology and overview, the construction process (development, design, bidding, pre-construction, close out), money management and basic finance, technology in the construction industry and safety requirements. We partnered with 6 different schools throughout the city of Detroit to include both charter and public schools.

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Finding the Right Talent Doesn't Have to Feel Like Hunting for Unicorns

Wednesday August 3rd, 2016 at 12:00pm
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

Has your organization ever gone “Unicorn Hunting?” If so, it probably played out like this:

  • Somebody within the organization decides that you need to go find a mythical and elusive unicorn
  • You post ads trying to get a unicorn to wander in off the street and when no unicorns appear, you send people out to try to hunt for one
  • After a lengthy and futile search you get frustrated because you don’t find any unicorns
  • The moment you decided to give up on the hunt, you finally find a unicorn
  • Five different people want to weigh in on whether this is the best unicorn you are going to find and the best way to capture the unicorn
  • By the time everyone agrees that this is in fact the best unicorn, and agrees on the best way to capture the unicorn, the unicorn has wandered off
  • After several months of searching for another unicorn, you decide to go find a horse instead (which is WAY easier)
  • Once you find a horse you like, you realize that the horse can do just about everything you needed the unicorn to do, and that you never really needed a unicorn in the first place

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Workplace Safety: 5 Critical Things to Know Before Addressing Lockout Tagout

Wednesday July 27th, 2016 at 10:30am
Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant

Have you been put in charge of developing a program to address lockout tagout (LOTO) safety concerns?

The process can seem overwhelming and difficult to manage, yet lockout tagout programs are a basic safety requirement for most manufacturing plants. If successfully implemented, such programs can help prevent workplace accidents, promote a safe working environment, standardize safe working procedures and reduce company liability.

There are many components to a comprehensive LOTO program including standardized procedures, training and inspection. Below are 5 important things to consider before developing, updating or seeking assistance in the development of a lockout tagout safety program.

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Customer Relationship Management Is Not Just Software

Wednesday July 6th, 2016 at 7:15am
Written by Ray Eibel - Director of New Business Development

Recently, I was researching different Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software systems. At one point, while making the comparisons, I just shook my head thinking customer relationship management is not software, it is a philosophy. Sure, CRM software can be a good tool, but that is all it is, a tool.

I think the key word in this philosophy is “relationship” and I can promise you, no software system out there develops relationships; people develop relationships. Developing business relationships is not much different than developing personal relationships. It takes time, trust and respect to build any kind of relationship. Once you have this mindset, I think the rest comes easy.

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Addressing the Skill Shortage

Thursday June 16th, 2016 at 8:30am
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

My wife and I are currently in full-on nesting mode as we prepare for the arrival of our second child. Throughout this nesting process, I have had the chance to reflect on the twenty months that have passed since our first son, Alexander, was born.

If I am being honest with myself, I was terribly inefficient at so many things during those first few months after our son was born. Everything from changing a diaper, to installing a car seat, to setting up and breaking down a pack-and-play took WAY longer than it does today. So what changed? Practice, practice, practice.

Luckily for me (and probably 95% of new parents), you don’t have to pass an interview or a test to get the job.

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4 Reasons Most College Students Won’t Earn a Degree

Thursday June 9th, 2016 at 11:38am
Written by Jim Bitterle - Consulting Managing Partner

As parents, most of us expect our children to go to High School, get good grades, go directly to college and earn their degree in 4-5 years. Although this thinking is logical, it often leads young adults down the wrong path. Did you know, only 34% of High School graduates actually earn a bachelor’s degree? More concerning is this fact; 51% of all young adults who attend college NEVER earn a degree!

Reasons why 51% never earn a degree include:

1) The cost of higher education is extremely high. 

The total cost of getting a degree in 2010 was 4.5 times higher than the total educational cost in 1985. This is based upon inflation adjusted dollars. The financial burden on parents and students has more than quadrupled!

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5 Tips for Keeping Your Top Talent

Wednesday June 1st, 2016 at 1:30pm
Written by Karin Knutson

Jack Welch has a great quote, “The team with the best players wins.” For some, he could be referring to baseball or football, but in business we know the most important team is within the walls of your workplace. Your company likely spends lots of time and money finding people with the skill sets that most closely match your company culture, the challenge is keeping them.

What is the best approach keeping your best talent and avoiding having them swooped up by your competitors? What makes employees want to stay? Here are a few things to consider:

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Five Resources for Resume Success

Thursday May 5th, 2016 at 9:25am
Written by Carlo Gonzalez - Lead Facilitator

Sometimes, when I’ve tried 10 times to re-word a sentence in a resume, or I sit down with a customer who has a less-than-ideal work history, the opening lines from the famous Beatles’ song come to mind:

“Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone
Help

In the course of writing a resume or speaking with customers, we might encounter any number of problems that can cause great difficulty. In order to provide the best and most effective resume advice to customers, as well as produce great results, we should seek help from all available resources. These can come in the form of people, books, websites…anything that gives us advice and helps us to break the resume stalemate.

I store my resources in my “tool box,” and I can fix most resume problems by reaching in and pulling out something I can use.

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Tips for Building Solid Relationships, from the Wand of the Fairy Job Mother

Wednesday April 27th, 2016 at 8:01am
Written by Kathleen Niedermayer - Job Developer

“Rapport is the ability to enter someone else’s world, to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common bond.” - Tony Robbins, Author and Motivational Speaker

Building relationships with another person is all about connecting with him or her and creating a sense of trust and understanding. According to some research, we have only 7 seconds to make a good first impression! It is absolutely essential for us to build solid connections with our clients, and this relationship building starts the first time we meet.

When I began my career as a Job Developer with EDSI, I would conduct an initial interview with clients. I would ask questions about clients’ living situation, their children and partners, the kinds of jobs they had in the past and what they wanted to accomplish. The interview gave me some important facts, but I realized something was missing. I wanted to go a bit deeper, I needed to better understand their passions, hopes and dreams when it came to finding, obtaining and keeping a job.

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Are We in a Recession?

Wednesday April 13th, 2016 at 8:16am
Written by Chuck Mouranie - Partner and Managing Director

I find the talking heads from Fox Business and Bloomberg to be quite entertaining. They appear to have vast business and economic backgrounds, yet can’t agree on whether we have entered into recession or are on a path of expanding growth. They both could be right.

Traditionally, a recession is deemed to have occurred if the gross domestic product (GDP) shrinks for three consecutive quarters. This theory may no longer apply to a world economy. China’s GDP has declined to approximately 6.5% growth from double-digit territory. This is suspect as the Chinese Government restricts data defining the economy. In addition, Japan, Russia and the European Union economies have been in the tank for years. These reductions impact the US, and commodity prices (raw metals, oil, consumer goods, etc.) fall as these major world producers demand for these goods drop.

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How to Develop a High-Impact Succession Plan

Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 at 9:01am
Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant

In its basic form, succession planning is a way to identify and develop professionals entering a leadership position. Transition is undoubtedly something every organization experiences - the ebb and flow of people entering and exiting various roles. Some organizations have mastered a process of continuous succession planning. Yet, many small and medium size businesses remain unprepared for sudden or imminent changes that require immediate action.

EDSI has identified a succession planning process to successfully address changes like retirement and loss of key people. The process focuses on the collection and analysis of specific data, allowing for highly customized solutions. One major focus of this process is certainly communication. Communication builds trust and subsequently reinforces a message to employees that their skills and experience are valued.

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Reflections on Dan and Chip Heath's Concept of Bright Spots

Wednesday March 16th, 2016 at 7:45am
Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development

I was recently introduced to Dan & Chip Heath’s concept of “bright spots,” and I wanted to take a moment for reflection.

To watch Dan’s four minute video and read the article about this topic on Fast Company, please click on the following link:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1634997/dan-heath-how-find-bright-spots.


Here’s a small excerpt to illustrate the concept introduced in their book, Switch:

Let’s say your kid comes home one day and shows you this report card.









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Kevin Schnieders Speaks on Leadership Development at International Society for Performance Improvement Event

Thursday February 11th, 2016 at 9:00am
Written by EDSI

EDSI CEO, Kevin Schnieders, spoke on the topic of leadership development at the 2015 Signature Event of the Michigan Chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement.  Please watch the video below! 

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Five Concerns of the 50+ Client

Wednesday January 13th, 2016 at 7:30am
Written by Kathleen Niedermayer - Job Developer

In my short tenure with EDSI as an EARN Job Developer, I have had the privilege of observing and teaching Job Club. Most of the clients who participate are 50 years old+, have been employed steadily in a company or industry for a long time, and generally have no clue about the requirements of a job search in this century.

Five common concerns usually come to light during our weeks together in Job Club. The exciting news for us is that with empathy, active listening and open sharing, most of these concerns can be identified and relieved before “graduation” day. You can be the change agent that turns their fear, frustration and negative attitude into one of hope for a brighter and better new day.

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Message from Michigan: Bet on Talent

Tuesday December 22nd, 2015 at 9:00am
Written by Will Owen - Regional Director of Operations

The casino floor at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort offers many gaming options for its loyal patrons; its variety presents the opportunity for customers to choose the way they may “hit it big.” At the Michigan Works annual conference, there was only one option that participants were able to bet on – PEOPLE. The clear message from Michigan Works was that employers and agencies must focus their efforts on developing, utilizing and retaining top talent to ensure future success.

Conference speakers provided constant reminders that employees and jobseekers need to be looked at individually to determine what strengths they bring to the organization. Jim Abbot told the crowd that talent can come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s the responsibility of the employer to utilize the unique talent properly. This thinking reminded workforce development professionals in attendance to see through the eyes of the jobseeker and to search for the true needs of the employers they assist.

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Designing Career Pathways within WIOA Guidelines

Tuesday December 15th, 2015 at 9:45am
Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist

WIOA requires states and local Workforce Development Boards to work with adult education, post-secondary education and other community-based organizations to develop career pathways that will make it easier for all Americans to attain the skills and credentials needed for jobs.

What are career pathways? The US Department of Labor defines career pathways as a new way of doing business which operates at both a systems and an individual level. At the systems level, a career pathway is a broad approach for serving populations that may experience significant barriers to employment. The career pathway can substantively alter the way the workforce system delivers its services and the system’s relationship with partner organizations and stakeholders to better prepare the worker.

Career pathway programs should offer a sequence of education courses and training credentials which are aligned with work-ready standards and competencies which are validated by employers. Career pathways can also provide greater customer service at all levels by engaging employers, adult basic education, training providers, community organizations and service providers to design services that meet the needs of employers and job seekers.

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Career Sculpting

Wednesday November 18th, 2015 at 1:36pm
Written by Beth Seraydarian - Talent Development Specialist

Have you ever left a conversation with someone and thought, “she doesn’t get me?” Or, perhaps you have a customer you’ve tried to identify with in order to have more productive conversations. This was the situation Adria Strausbaugh found herself in when she was initially referred to Career Sculpting. Adria was, and still is today, a manager who we are interested in developing and retaining. Before we read more about Adria’s story, let’s take a closer look at Career Sculpting, one of EDSI’s talent development programs. 

Career Sculpting helps EDSI develop the capabilities of current and future leaders. Two of the intended results of the program are increased engagement and retention of our team members.  

Career Sculpting provides team members with an opportunity to:

  • Connect with what drives and motivates them 
  • Change their perspectives through individual attention and learning
  • Focus on the future 
 

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Three Principles for Developing Talent

Wednesday November 4th, 2015 at 7:15am
Written by Beth Seraydarian - Talent Development Specialist

Kevin Schnieders, CEO of EDSI, likes to say that EDSI puts people before profits. At other organizations, this saying may be a platitude. At EDSI, it is a fact. The Talent Team, comprised of HR, learning and development, and training, encourages EDSI representatives to connect their passions with their work. We have formal programs to connect individuals with learning and development opportunities, as well as a mission statement and values that keep us on track.

How do we show our commitment to EDSI representatives? 

Hire People Who are Motivated by Your Mission 

EDSI’s three-step interview process includes a culture fit interview. Regardless of position, it is important to us that our new hires understand and are motivated by EDSI’s mission: to create enthusiasm in our clients, see through their eyes, understand their needs and deliver more than they expect. New hires must exhibit EDSI’s daily ways and values of “show up, smile, and support.” Being passionate about helping others is also a must. By hiring people who seek to join a mission-driven organization, we are selecting representatives who we think will work hard to support their coworkers and encourage learning.

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WIOA - Eligible Training Provider List Requirements

Thursday October 22nd, 2015 at 8:01am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

 

WIOA provides Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) the opportunity to expand training and educational opportunities.  The goal is to help low income individuals, dislocated workers, individuals with limited skills and barriers to employment, and youth earn industry-recognized credentials and advance in the workplace.

LWDBs now can offer more training specifically targeted for high-demand occupations or industry sectors in addition to Individual Training Accounts (ITAs).  Local WDBs can now use WIOA funds to provide new training models that will lead to: 

  • industry-recognized credentials 
  • apprenticeships
  • integrated educational/training approaches 
  • career pathways 
  • industry partnerships
  • cohort-based training

LWDBs can now use a portion of their local Title I funds for pay-for-performance contracts for specific targeted populations.  They will be required to evaluate how each targeted population was selected, along with outcomes of training.

 

Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) Requirements

WIOA has established an Eligible Training Provider process that will help support and ensure customer choice, performance accountability and continuous improvement.  States and LWDBs will identify Eligible Training Providers qualified to receive WIOA funds to train adult/dislocated workers and youth. 

 

An Eligible Training Provider is one who has met the eligibility requirements to receive WIOA Title Adult and Dislocated Worker funds to provide training services to eligible individuals.  In order to receive WIOA funds, the training provider must meet numerous ETPL numerous requirements and must be:

  1. Institutions of higher education that provide training that leads to post-secondary credentials
  2. Apprenticeship programs registered by the USDOL Office of Registered Apprenticeship
  3. Public or private training providers, including joint labor-management organizations, pre-apprenticeship programs and occupational/technical training providers
  4. Providers of adult education and literacy activities 

All training providers will be required to meet performance outcomes and ensure accountability, quality, and labor market-relevant programs and offerings. 

 

Training providers (both existing and new) will be required to submit an online application that includes all the documentation required by the states and LWDBs such as:

  • Information supporting a claim that an applicable training program leads to a post-secondary or industry-recognized credential, and a detailed description of the credential
  • Evidence of ability to provide services to incumbent workers and individuals with barriers to employment
  • Evidence of state licensure requirements and licensing status 
  • Program completion rate for all individuals participating in applicable programs
  • Employment and earning outcomes 
  • Cost of training (including supplies, books, fees)
  • Post-secondary credentials offered
  • Program costs per student by type of training 
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Program offerings

 

Training providers on the ETPL will also be required to report performance outcomes.  Each year they will be required to submit, at a minimum, the following:

  • Total number of participants enrolled in the program
  • Total number of participants completing the program
  • Entry into unsubsidized employment at second quarter after exit
  • Entry into unsubsidized employment at fourth quarter after exit
  • Median earnings
  • Attainment of post-secondary credentials
  • Measurable skills gains
  • Effectiveness in serving employers

All LWDBs are required to have training providers on the approved ETPL that are offering training programs aligned with their state and region in-demand occupations and sectors. They will be required to ensure training providers make all the above information available to their One-Stop Centers so eligible clients can make informed decisions on training offerings. They will be required to report performance and outcomes on training offerings, while ensuring individuals with barriers to employment are served.


Is your LWDB ready to review and advance training provider course offerings?  How are you going to determine if training is meeting the needs of in-demand occupations and sectors?  What steps are you taking to ensure that training services are meeting the requirements of WIOA?  We are here to help you.

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA implementation, please contact me at tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

 

Why Your Business Cannot Survive without a Good Cash Forecast

Wednesday October 14th, 2015 at 8:00am

Written by Nehal Desai - Associate Consultant with EDSI

ndesai@edsisolutions.com

 

Cash availability is critical for any business. Whether to pay vendors, creditors, or staff, having cash on hand is essential. Why then, is a good cash forecast so often overlooked and underutilized?  Does your business maintain an accurate cash forecast? Are you using your forecast correctly to make the most effective and profitable business decisions? Having an accurate cash forecast can help identify potential future shortcomings and allow a business to take corrective actions to ensure their operations run smoothly! Read on to understand the basics of a cash forecast and how it can aid your decision-making process in times of low or high growth.

We often see businesses show increased sales and positive profits, yet, they still run out of cash. Simply stated, cash flow is the lifeblood of a business.

A cash forecast can accurately express a firm’s cash position in future periods. Commonly, a 13-Week Cash Forecast and an Annual Operating Plan (AOP) are preferred forecasting methods. The 13-Week Cash Forecast outlines the cash position for the upcoming 13 weeks, while the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) shows the monthly cash needs and surpluses for each month in a fiscal year. Most firms create an AOP at the start of the year and update on a regular basis. The 13-Week Cash Forecast is often used when cash is becoming (or has already become) a concern. It is a great way to manage cash in the short-term and make strategic changes to manage the cash position.

So how can cash forecasts be utilized in business decisions?  Cash forecasts help companies manage their growth, working capital and lines of credit with lenders. 

Imagine business is booming. Customer orders are rolling in faster than you can handle. You are ecstatic as profits are going through the roof. Soon, you realize that although profits are soaring, more cash is leaving your bank account than coming in. Now cash is not available to pay key vendors, and orders need to be put on hold. Sadly, despite the increased sales orders, the company is stuck without inventory and unable to fulfill demand. A 13-Week Cash Forecast, coupled with the right strategies, could have prevented this.  Cash needs would have been estimated and preventive measures to avoid cash shortages executed.  

Now imagine an opposite scenario. The sales forecast is down. There is hope on the horizon, but you are unsure of what your cash needs are for the next month. The cash forecast can help determine when collections and payments occur using the predictive nature of both sides of the transactions. Utilizing the forecast, firms can be aggressive in their collections when they foresee an upcoming cash shortage, or use the forecast to negotiate an increased line of credit with creditors. A cash forecast helps your company get ahead of the situation and take appropriate action to lessen or eliminate negative impacts associated with cash constraints. 

A lack of positive cash flow and insufficient credit to finance the business is a common issue for underperforming businesses. A well-formulated cash forecast is the perfect solution to help manage a company’s cash and credit, and equip it with the right tools for long-term success


What steps are you taking to ensure that your company has the necessary cash available to ensure success? Please let us know how we can assist you in your efforts.

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding our financial consulting services, please contact me at ndesai@edsisolutions.com

Click here for more info about our consulting solutions on our website. 

 

Making a Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative America

Friday October 2nd, 2015 at 8:15am

Written by Roe Falcone – Regional Director of Operations with EDSI

rfalcone@edsisolutions.com

In June, I had the opportunity to represent EDSI at the 5th annual Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Denver, Colorado. This year’s meeting convened nearly 1,000 leaders from business, foundations, Non-Governmental Organizations and government sectors to advance solutions that encourage economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. I was thrilled to represent EDSI and be a part of this energizing and solution-driven initiative. 

EDSI is excited to launch a new Commitment to Action, Virtual Career Sculpting. EDSI proposes to pair 50 of our clients across all populations with 25 employers - one employer per two clients is the intended ratio. The employers will meet with the clients once a week for the first month to facilitate a positive and sustainable rapport. Monthly meetings will be scheduled for the balance of year. EDSI will provide the tools and guidelines for conducting successful meetings, and video teleconferencing will be leveraged when possible. EDSI will also provide a virtual platform to use for blogging client experiences. Additional tools will be deployed, such as EDSI’s proprietary software Skilldex to understand unique skills, and AcuMax Index to best understand how clients are hardwired.



It was an honor and privilege to meet President Clinton at the CGI meeting. I had the opportunity to thank him for all of his work and told him that because of his push for welfare reform in the late 90’s, I found a profession and company that changed my life! 

We look forward to participating in the Clinton Global Initiative for years to come!


WIOA - The Role of Local WIBs in Career Pathways Development

Tuesday September 29th, 2015 at 7:40am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

 

WIOA requires Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to work with representatives from secondary and postsecondary education providers to develop and implement Career Pathways. This occurs by aligning employment, training, education and supportive services to meet the needs of adults and youth, focusing on those with barriers to employment.

What is a Career Pathway?

The National Career Pathways Network has defined a Career Pathway as a coherent, articulated sequence of rigorous academic and career/technical courses, commencing in ninth grade and leading to an Associate’s degree, Baccalaureate degree and beyond, an industry-recognized certificate and/or licensure. The Career Pathway is developed, implemented, and maintained in partnership with secondary and postsecondary education providers and employers.

Why Career Pathways?

Career Pathways can help Local WIBs, educators, jobseekers, youth and employers identify career options and the knowledge and skill requirements that individuals need for their careers. Career Pathways also help in identifying skill sets and job functions/roles needed across job families.  

Local WIBs need to be committed to working with educators, industries and economic development partners to develop a shared vision and strategy to support sector-based Career Pathways for youth and adults.

Career Pathways Strategies

There are many strategies that Local WIBS can use to support the development of Career Pathways:

  • Working with employers to determine their hiring needs
  • Working with educators to design training programs that meet the hiring needs of employers
  • Utilizing labor market data (local, state and national)
  • Measuring the success of existing training programs and outcomes
  • Measuring employer and earnings outcomes
  • Promoting seamless progress from one education step to another
  • Eliminating barriers to accessing training
  • Providing guidance through career coaching
  • Creating and supporting partnerships between workforce development, education, labor and non-profit organizations 
  • Supporting industry partnerships

What steps are you taking to ensure that your education and training providers, operators and partners are supporting Career Pathway services as required in WIOA? Do you need help getting started or help in completing the processes? Please let us know how we can assist you in your efforts.

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA implementation, please contact me at tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 


4 Basics When Assessing the Level of Stress in a Company

Wednesday September 23rd, 2015 at 10:09am

Written by Chuck Mouranie - Partner and Managing Director with EDSI 

cmouranie@edsisolutions.com

 

What stresses a company? When a company is stressed, several variables, both external and internal, may be at play. Examples of external forces include governmental regulations, legal issues or market changes. These external issues are mostly beyond the control of the company’s leadership. However, our experience suggests the vast majority of reasons companies become distressed are self-induced.  Quality, delivery, workforce issues, process control (or lack thereof), cash management and ill-timed expansion are just a few examples of these pain producers.

There are really four basic ways to assess a company’s level of stress.  If a company performs well in three of the four, they have time and resources to improve the lone issue. Should the company perform poorly in two of the four areas, they need to put comprehensive plans in place to quickly fix the underperforming areas. Should the company only perform well in one of the four areas, they are teetering on collapse and need immediate action to save the very foundation of their organization. Finally, if a company is performing poorly in all four areas, they are a restructuring candidate and will most likely end up with a poor conclusion. 

When assessing a company, grade each of the four items. If you can’t count at least two areas that are “good,” then you need help - quickly.

 

  1. Relationship with Lender: Does the bank want the company out; is the bank concerned for the company’s financial health? Is the firm starved for working capital?
  2. On Time Delivery: Does the company have difficulty consistently delivering products or services to either internal or external customers? Does this issue drive up operational cost?
  3. Deficient Quality of Service and/or Product: Does the company have inferior quality of product or service, either reported internally or by external customers?
  4. Employee Turnover or Demand: Does the company have a difficult time recruiting or retaining employees?

 

If you are interested in learning more about our restructuring services, please contact me at cmouranie@edsisolutions.com or visit our website at www.edsisolutions.com/restructuring


Using the Theory of Constraints as a Key Element in Your Growth Strategy

Wednesday August 26th, 2015 at 8:30am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI 

jbitterle@edsisolutions.com

 

As we work with clients to develop Growth and Diversification Plans (Strategic Plans), we consistently find constraints that limit a company’s ability to grow. Given this, it’s imperative that the Theory of Constraints (TOC) is integrated with your company’s strategy.

If you don’t know what TOC is, here it is in a nutshell. It’s a five-step process to identify and eliminate bottlenecks while achieving corporate goals. Here are the five steps:

  1. Identify the constraint (the process that limits the company’s throughput)
  2. Exploit the constraint
  3. Subordinate everything to the system’s constraint
  4. Elevate the system’s constraint
  5. Identify the next constraint
 

When applying TOC, we often find internal constraints such as equipment, working capital, skilled labor, etc. limit throughput. However, once these constraints are broken, the “market” becomes the next constraint. What does that mean? It means the company needs more sales.  

When sales become the constraint, it is important that the organization becomes entirely sales-oriented. Functions and processes that require modification often include:

  • Pricing
  • Quoting
  • The mix between new business development and account management activities
  • Promotions
  • Go-to-market strategies

If sales are your constraint, remember to apply TOC methodologies to keep everyone focused on elevating the business’s constraint. And if you’re creating a Growth and Diversification Plan, be sure to include TOC into your plan.

Click here for more information about Operational Improvement on our website. 


Demystifying Talent Development and Employee Retention

Wednesday August 19th, 2015 at 7:32pm

Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

jgiannosa@edsisolutions.com 

 

What do top HR execs, consultants and specialists say are the biggest challenges in retaining and motivating their talent heading into 2015? 

“Keeping critical employees engaged and challenged while competing with progressive employers and dealing with steadily shrinking HR budgets.”
Sound familiar?
 
These HR issues represented some of the toughest challenges facing HR professionals at the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) roundtable discussion in downtown Chicago in early 2015. If your organization has yet to experience the effects of these emerging HR challenges, be aware that they may be on the horizon.  Fortunately, the roundtable discussion provided many creative and progressive solutions to overcome such challenges.  
 
Industry-leading employers understand that motivating and retaining employees involves flexibility in work/life balance and many offer top-of-the-line programs and work perks. However, for small businesses or HR departments with shrinking budgets, inventing creative solutions with similar results presents a unique challenge.  
 
Closing out the roundtable, attendees discussed concise and creative ideas for motivating and retaining their top employees.  Although simple in concept, the most well-received ideas involved engaging the C-Suite. 
 
Coaching the C-Suite

As an HR professional, embrace the challenge to keep the C-Suite informed on current and future HR issues. Ultimately, this allows you the opportunity to gain the necessary support to act as true problem solvers.  What is the most effective way to grasp the attention of the C-Suite? Use DATA to bring validation to your challenges!  C-suites often value communication that is validated by solid data.  Use information to frame your issues and help your superiors understand the challenges and solutions your department requires.

 

C-Suite Lunch Outings

Organize a relationship-building opportunity with C-Suite execs and groups of employees (once per week in small groups).  It’s a win-win situation which brings the two groups together to keep employees motivated and challenged and give C-Suites an opportunity to build relationships and understand front-line challenges.  Most importantly, both parties will begin to build a relationship founded on trust. 

 

Mentoring Programs > Open Door Policies


Open door policies have good intentions, but can be generic, vague and ultimately ineffective at maintaining a positive, supportive and collaborative office environment. They can feel passive and require employees to engage managers, which may never happen due to fear of rejection or retribution.  To take open door policies to the next level, try a mentoring program.  Mentoring programs are active and require participation from managers and leaders.   They represent a great learning opportunity for both managers and subordinates regarding communicating effectively and building relationships founded on trust.  Leaders should focus on understanding how employees like to be recognized and how to tell if they are stressed or engaged. 

 

Guided Stretch Goals


Stretch goals are ambitious goals that help push people to new heights and inspire them to do amazing things!  Before setting up a meeting with employees to develop stretch goals, ensure you are prepared. Make it a conversation as you guide your employee through the discussion on setting the specifics of the goals. Follow-up is key; show you are prepared by consistently holding your employees accountable for each goal, every time. Unfortunately, sometimes it only takes one slip-up for an employee to lose motivation and trust in the abilities of his/her leader.

 


Utilizing these solutions will help establish your organization as a progressive employer of engaged and tenured employees.  Each involves careful thought and planning.  Choose solutions you think will work best for your organization and those you have the support and resources to see through.  Remember, sustainability is key! For more information on any of these creative solutions, please contact me at jgiannosa@edsisolutions.com.

 

Reflections from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Bus and Paratransit Conference

Wednesday August 12th, 2015 at 9:00am

Written by Brian Lester – Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

blester@edsisolutions.com

The Public Transit industry has been a major focus of EDSI’s Workforce Development consulting efforts for nearly 15 years. Throughout this time, our participation as a business member in the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) conferences has been a consistently enriching experience. It is amazing to think how we have grown from a single engagement at SEPTA for a skill gap analysis of mechanics in 2001, to work across the country with dozens of agencies, state associations and governments, labor unions and partnerships in a huge variety of Workforce Development efforts. 

At the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Bus and Paratransit Conference in Fort Worth, TX last month, I was privileged to help facilitate a table top discussion of maintenance training and development practices and to present as part of two panels on Maintenance Management and Workforce Development initiatives.

The table top discussion was a part of Maintenance Monday, a “conference within the conference” that gathered over 100 maintenance managers, trainers and fleet planners to share best practices through a variety of facilitated discussions. Topics ranged from alternative fuel infrastructure to bus procurement specifications, and everything in between. The critical conclusion at our table was that new technology on vehicles, combined with significant generational turnover, presents a huge resource challenge to train incumbent and future bus technicians. Whereas there are many avenues to become an automotive or diesel truck technician, there is always going to be a steep post-hire learning curve for bus technicians that requires internal capacity and innovative on-the-job training initiatives. You can’t just hire a bus technician, you must commit to supporting him/her in developing a career.

At the Maintenance Management panel, EDSI presented on our Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) sponsored research efforts on Bus to Technician staffing ratios, and previewed the detailed calculator and guidebook for staffing that will soon be available to the industry.  Other presenters spoke on the use of Standard Operating Procedures in training, attracting and retaining women technicians, and the development and tracking of key performance indicators through maintenance and IT collaborations. For the Workforce Development panel, we shared case studies from our recent work in Knowledge Management for the utility industry, which is especially relevant as public transit has a similarly aging workforce and experiences the pitfalls of “knowledge silos” we’ve encountered with our utility customers. Other presentations included change management, public-private cooperation initiatives and future workforce planning. The enthusiasm from panels and audiences, both in and between conference sessions, was infectious.

After hearing from such a wide variety of people passionate about their efforts to improve their organizations and communities through reliable public transit maintenance and operations, I began to think on the flight home about how the common thread of all these efforts is seeking continuous improvement in the 3P’s of People, Process and Perspective that make up the EDSI Impact:

People

Public Transit is a place of great opportunity. It provides family-sustaining wages for people without college degrees, and there are innumerable stories of senior leaders in organizations who started as drivers, cleaners or mechanic helpers. This doesn’t just happen, it is the result of a lot of planning, effort and commitment on the part of agencies and labor unions.

Process

More and more we are hearing about agencies harnessing data and engaging teams in moving the lead indicators that drive critical performance measures. There is a commitment at all levels to delivering quality service in an efficient manner. 

Perspective

I can’t think of any other industry where people are more willing to give of their time to help colleagues at other organizations across the country. APTA sponsors a peer review process where agencies can get valuable external perspective on their operations, and the conferences always facilitate new ideas and collaborations within and across organizations. 

These are very exciting times for EDSI and the Public Transit industry. I’m very excited to see where we can go together over the next 15 years.


6 Lessons Your Mother Taught You and How They Apply to Business

Tuesday August 4th, 2015 at 9:02am

Written by Ray Eibel - Director of New Business Development with EDSI 

reibel@edsisolutions.com

 

Recently, I read a sales article written by Dan Waldschmidt that really hit home.  In the article, Waldschmidt discussed the importance of focus, discipline and, most importantly, core values to guide you. We often get off course by the “latest and greatest” new strategies for business, hoping that one of these tactics will work.  When the “latest and greatest” fails us, we simply move on to the next strategy. The more you go down this road, success becomes less clear. Instead of bouncing from one strategy to the next, maybe we just need to go back to “core” business strategies based on the lessons your mother taught you many years ago.

 

1) What Goes Around Comes Around


What we do every day has consequences, sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are bad. Remember, actions cause results. You always get the results deserved by the activity you engage in. If we agree that what we do will bring about a result, it is then logical to assume if we do the right thing, we can make a positive difference. Things that can matter most are offering a kind word and being honest and fair in your business dealings. The culture you create will ultimately determine your success. So if you want to have good things, make sure you are doing the right things.

 

2) No One Likes a "Know it All"

Many of us have a habit of cutting people off at mid-sentence or interrupting our co-workers and customers.  Even our eyes can send negative signals waiting for our conversation partner to stop talking. I know a lot of things you hear seem unimportant, things you may already know, but if you take the time to actually listen long and hard enough, you just may hear something that will help you become more successful. Listen for those moments.

 

3) Stop Being a Whiner


Pretty simple concept here, STOP COMPLAINING. Stop being the person that keeps others from moving forward. No one likes a whiner, and that is a simple truth. What we sometimes forget is a whiner can negatively impact your business and influence the people around him/her. The last thing you need is a company or a department full of whiners and wimps – don’t be that person!

 

4) Life Isn't Fair


Someone once told me “fair” is a place you go to eat cotton candy, ride on the Ferris wheel and look at the cows. We all need to stop thinking we are the only ones who ever had a bad thing happen to us. Many things we consider “unfair” are really life’s gambles that didn’t pay off. Sometimes we make risky decisions, and when they don’t turn out well, we cry, “unfair.”  Other times, we may end up with the short end of the straw.  Enough is enough; let’s move past it.

 

5) Just Because Everyone Else is Doing it, Doesn't Mean You Should Too


Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in “best practices.” There are certainly numerous opportunities to look for best practices as we listen intently to webinars and attend workshops and conferences. I am not here to tell you that other organizations don’t have good ideas, but don’t blindly assume what works for another company will work in your organization. Oftentimes, I have done workshop presentations on a successful program we are running, but when asked specific questions on how another organization can implement the same program, I realize it may be very difficult because of the way their firm is organized or their core values.

 

6) Grow Up


I am sure we have all heard that you need to be tough if you want to win in business. This means you have to deal with being knocked down when you least expect it, and you need to rebound quickly and get back on your feet. Instead of getting offended, insulted or, worse yet, feeling sorry for yourself, focus on the real issues. Complaining and whining isn’t what grown-ups do.  Also, part of growing up is learning from our mistakes and getting better at making decisions.

 


The basic life lessons we learn from our moms growing up are the same good lessons we need to apply right now if we want to be better at doing our jobs. Being successful isn’t always about your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis or your “go to” plan.  Most often, it’s about the core values you let guide your day-to-day decisions.

 

WIOA Requirements and Career Services

Wednesday July 15th, 2015 at 1:00pm

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires four Core Program Partners to provide expanded services at One-Stop Centers. These four Core Program Partners include:

  • WIOA Title I. B: Adult, Dislocated Workers and Youth
  • WIOA Title II: Adult Education and Literacy
  • WIOA Title III: Wagner-Peyser
  • WIOA Title IV: Vocational Rehabilitation

Other required One-Stop partners who must participate in the operation of the One-Stop system include:

  • Career & Technical Education
  • Title V Older Americans Act
  • Job Corps
  • Native American Programs
  • Migrant Seasonal Farmworkers
  • Veterans
  • Youth Build
  • Trade Act 
  • Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Unemployment Compensation 
  • Second Chance Programs

Additionally, Governors can elect to include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) as a Core Program Partner.


All partners must also be identified within in a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU). Information regarding the financial support partners will provide to the One-Stop, as well as the services they will provide, is required. Partners must identify:

  • How services will be coordinated and delivered in the Center (integration of services) 
  • How service costs and operating costs of the Center will be funded
  • How individuals will be referred between the One-Stop operator and partners for appropriate services and activities
  • How they will ensure that workers, youth and individuals with barriers to employment will be adequately served
  • How individuals will be provided immediate access to training (no sequence of services)
  • How technology and materials will be made available across the Center

Required WIOA Career Services

New to WIOA, One-Stop Center services must now include career services. No longer are there separate core and intensive services. Additionally, Centers must expand their labor exchange services to meet in-demand industry sectors and occupations and include information on non-traditional employment. Centers must identify other business services available for employers (including small businesses). 

Labor exchange services must also provide labor market information to the individuals seeking services. The information must be accurate and include information on local, regional and national labor market areas such as:

  • Job vacancies in labor market areas
  • Information on job skills necessary to obtain the jobs
  • Local, in-demand occupations and related earning potential
  • Opportunities for advancement in those occupations

All One-Stops must provide the following career services:

  • Outreach, intake and orientation
  • Initial assessment
  • Labor exchange services
  • Eligibility for services
  • Referrals to programs
  • Performance and cost information
  • Information on unemployment insurance
  • Financial aid information
  • Follow-up services

Additionally, One-Stops and partners must provide appropriate services for individuals to obtain or retain employment. These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Individual Employment Plan (IEP)
  • Career planning and counseling (no longer called case management)
  • Comprehensive assessment
  • Short-term prevocational services
  • Internship and work experience including transitional jobs and industry partnerships
  • Workforce preparation 
  • Out-of-area job search
  • English language acquisition
  • Financial literacy

What steps have you already taken to ensure your One-Stop Centers, operators and partners are ready to deliver required WIOA career services? Do you need help getting started or completing the processes? 

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA implementation, please contact me at tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

 

The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act – Filling the Talent Pipeline

Wednesday July 8th, 2015 at 9:30am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI 

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

 

 

Congress and the President recognized the challenges and risks that employers face without a sufficient pipeline of workers to meet current and future needs. It is estimated that by 2022, the United States will be facing a shortfall of 11 million workers with postsecondary education. 

Working together, Congress and the President introduced bipartisan legislation that will improve the nation’s workforce development system and educational services. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law last July.  WIOA aligns federally-funded services to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and helps match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.  


  • Did you know WIOA requires Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) to design and deliver services that are based on business and industry needs?  

  • Did you know employer engagement is one of the key metrics that LWIBs will be evaluated against? 

The challenge: how do LWIBs and employers work effectively with one another?  

A solution is Industry Partnerships!  


The WIOA legislation references Industry Partnerships over 74 times as a means to engage employers to identify and address their current and future needs by working with LWIBs.

Industry Partnerships bring together multiple employers from the same industry sectors to identify and address both current and future workforce needs. These partnerships can strengthen participating companies by identifying the specific needs of their current and future workforces, identifying and analyzing the gaps between the skills needed to perform jobs and the skills of incumbent workers or job seekers, and then matching skills needed to training providers.

Industry Partnerships provide a targeted approach to education and training that is data-driven, needs-based and employer-focused. Partnerships are designed not only to identify local human resource needs and skill gaps, but also to address regional skill needs. By implementing regional strategies, LWIBs can improve the skills of incumbent workers, job seekers and youth.


Industry Partnerships can help LWIBs, employers and workers to:

  • Identify skill needs
  • Align educational curriculum to meet industry needs
  • Develop cost-effective training solutions for companies
  • Increase productivity 
  • Develop new career pathways
  • Help companies identify and address organizational and human resource challenges
  • Identify barriers to “entry level employment” and develop strategies to remove those barriers
  • Collaborate with youth initiatives to connect with careers in demand
  • Promote communication networks between companies, between managers and workers, and between companies and their communities and educational institutions

Your success is critical to the success of your LWIB! If you haven’t already, reach out to your LWIB and start the conversation about building your industry partnership!

If you are interested in learning more about WIOA, Employer Engagement, Industry Partnerships or working with your Local Workforce Investment Board, please contact me at tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

Also, please visit our website at edsisolutions.com/wioa to learn more!


Creating a Local Plan - #WIOA

Wednesday June 17th, 2015 at 8:00am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

July 1, 2015 is less than 30 days away!  Are you ready for WIOA implementation?

Many local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) will need to restructure their board membership to meet the provisions identified in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This restructuring may require changes in legal documents and downsizing of boards. Local areas have until July 1, 2016 to complete this restructuring. 

WIOA requires that local WIBs set priorities for, and oversee, the workforce development system in their region.  Further, local WIBs must have a local plan approved by July 2016. This means that WIBs have 1 year to develop a plan that promotes communication, coordination and collaboration among employers, economic development, community-based partners and other service providers who will help support the economic growth of the region, while meeting the needs of employers and jobseekers. 

Historically, WIA workforce development services focused on finding jobs for individuals struggling to find employment - the jobseekers.  WIOA, on the other hand, focuses on aligning workforce development and economic development services to meet the needs of employers - key customers.  

Businesses create jobs, and we must be responsive to their needs. Local WIBs must now develop strategies and put plans in place to meet the needs of local employers.

Specifically, local plans must identify and describe how the local area will:

  • Engage employers of all sizes
  • Design a system that meets the needs of local employers (both large and small)
  • Design a system that provides opportunities for people with barriers
  • Better coordinate workforce development programs and economic development efforts
  • Develop and implement activities such as incumbent worker training programs, industry partnerships, on-the-job training programs and career pathway programs
  • Partner with business intermediaries and design other business services to meet the needs of employers
  • Ensure the support of quality jobs
  • Create entrepreneurial opportunities for new business growth
  • Prepare youth for both current and future jobs

Local WIBs need to start the planning process now for the design of their local plans.  If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA, or if you would like help in thinking though your local plan, please contact me at tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

 

National Association of Workforce Boards Annual Conference – Washington DC: Advancing Workforce Innovation

Wednesday June 10th, 2015 at 8:00am

Written by Ray Eibel - Director of New Business Development with EDSI 

reibel@edsisolutions.com

For the past twelve years I have had the pleasure of representing EDSI at the annual National Association of Workforce Boards Conference in Washington, D.C. This year, Terri Kaufman, Ken Mall and I had the opportunity to attend this premier event where workforce development professionals and leaders in business, government, labor and education gather to discuss the current state of our nation's workforce system and consider the goals and policy framework affecting the future of human capital development. Although the final numbers are not in, over 1,200 people registered for the conference which far exceeds last year’s attendance. 

 



Why do we exhibit at events like this? For one reason, it is a learning opportunity for us, especially with the implementation of WIOA right around the corner. Another reason to attend is the opportunity to talk with many of our current customers over the three-day period. Of course, we also appreciate the opportunity to talk with Workforce Board Executive Directors and board members in areas where we currently do not have contracts to learn and discuss best practices.

This year’s opening speaker was none other than Tom Perez, Secretary of the US Department of Labor. I was very glad to hear that Secretary Perez focused on the need for employer-focused training to assist in closing the skill gap. He spoke in detail about training being the number one concern for almost all employers and put an intense emphasis on developing an increased understanding of data-driven regional approaches to create sector strategies and coordinated partnerships. Consistent with the Secretary’s message, our own Ken Mall was part of a panel discussion about the skilled worker shortages plaguing the transportation industry.

Based on the people we talked with, the workforce board attendees came away from the conference looking for ways to incorporate industry partnerships, incumbent worker training, on the job training programs and youth programs that lead to steady employment. The good news is that EDSI has numerous programs to meet this demand. 

This conference generated a very positive energy; something I hadn’t felt in recent years when unemployment was high and clear direction seemed to be lacking. Perhaps it has something to do with WIOA.


Goal Setting - Setting Attainable "Bullseye" Goals

Wednesday June 3rd, 2015 at 9:00am

Written by Karin Knutson - Director of Sales with EDSI Consulting

kknutson@edsisolutions.com

 

**Original Article Written in December, 2014

Here it comes! The New Year, 2015! And with the New Year, comes the new you. It is a time to start fresh and make something happen. What do you want to “make happen” this year? How do you want to get ahead in your personal life and/or professional career? Let’s begin 2015 with a bang and get “fired up” to take care of business!

Ok, so how do you reach your goals and better yourself, personally and professionally? And how do you get excited and motivated to carry your goals through to the finish line? I don’t know about you, but New Year’s resolutions never quite work for me. Setting simple resolutions (lose weight, start eating healthy, get that promotion at work) can feel too large and too general, and these feelings make me unlikely to achieve them. And, inevitably, “resolutions” are often broken by the end of January, if they survive that long. These broad, broken promises to yourself can make you feel like a failure before the year even gets started! I prefer to start the year off on a more positive note, feeling motivated to take on the New Year with great energy.

Start this New Year with a different approach. Goal Setting! Big or small. Tough or simple. Goals, by definition, are “the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” Sounds pretty targeted to me. Putting a big red bullseye on what you want to accomplish, by nature, makes you more focused and motivated to plan your course of action. I’m feeling motivated just writing about it!

To get started choosing and defining your goals, you will need to create a road map, a plan that will clearly lead you to the finish line! These next steps will help you create your own roadmap to success.

1) Determine what you would like to accomplish


Really think about your goals and what you want to achieve throughout the year. These can be both personal and professional. This process is a bit of a “brain dump” – consider all of the things you have been thinking about getting done and have yet to get started. Write every single one of them down, even if they aren’t concrete or task-oriented. We will fine tune them in the next step.  

 
2) List your three top priority goals

Look at your list and pick the top three goals that are the most important and you are most excited about. These are your bullseye goals! “Bullseye-ing” your top three instead of five or more will make it easier to put maximum attention on the right path. Print them out and post them in your bedroom, bathroom, office - anywhere you need a little reminder. Post them where you can see them every day. Visualizing your goals on paper, on your smart phone or on a white board, brings them to life. 

3) Lay down a strategic plan


For each bullseye goal, write down how you are going to accomplish it with sub-goals, usually set in increments of time or task. Write these sub-goals into a bullseye goal plan, and, most importantly, check them off as you go.   

Here is an example of one of my goals: Save $5,000 for home improvements by October. My plan is to put away $500 per month, or $250 per paycheck, then have a checklist for each time I put the money away. Another example: Start a new HR project : 1. List who you want on your project team 2. Set meeting date 3. Determine project deliverables. 4. Complete project plan by (set date) 5. Complete project by (set date)

Get in as much depth as you need to establish proper milestones along the way. When you have your plan in front of you, cross off or check off each task when it is complete. Nothing is a better motivator than being able to see your progress/accomplishments checked off and how close you are to the finish line! Get a big red marker and go for it! 

4) Reward yourself


This is the best part.  Make sure you pat yourself on the back for every task and milestone you complete.  It is essential to give yourself some kudos to help you stay motivated and focused on the end result.  No matter how small the task you have completed, you have moved closer to your goal.  Once you have traveled through your roadmap to your bullseye goal, CELEBRATE!!! 


2015 will be here before you know it!  I would love to hear about your bullseye goals  and the progress you area making throughout the year.


One-Stop Center Operations - Partners and Memorandums of Understanding (MOU)

Monday May 18th, 2015 at 9:03am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

WIOA will not provide direct funding support of the operations of One-Stop centers. However, WIOA does require the mandated partners to collaborate in the cost of operations and services at the One-Stop centers.

Who are the mandated partners?  

  • TANF
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
  • Wagner-Peyser
  • Older Americans Act Programs
  • Veterans Employment and Training
  • Housing and Urban Development Employment & Training
  • Second Chance Act Programs
  • Perkins Postsecondary Vocational Education Activities

All the mandated partners must provide the core services directly related to their programs and must use a portion of the funds available to support the infrastructure costs of the One-Stops. They are required to enter into a MOU with the local Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and participate in the daily operations of the One-Stops.

Why does WIOA require these partners to collaborate in the One-Stop operations? This approach provides greater coordination of services and leveraging of federal dollars for direct training costs.

Local areas may also consider partnering with any of the numerous organizations in the following categories: 

  • Community-Based Organizations
  • Community Colleges
  • Faith-Based Organizations
  • Private Sector
  • Non-Profits

WIOA requires that local areas enter into voluntary MOUs to fund the infrastructure costs. Local areas must have their MOUs in place by July 1, 2016. If local areas are unable to reach agreement, then state-mandated funding levels will be imposed on local areas.   

Local WIBs should be actively looking for other partners that could enhance services and leverage funds to better serve job seekers and employers.


Inspiration from Heather Abbott

Friday May 15th, 2015 at 10:15am

Written by Casey White - Director of Marketing with EDSI

cwhite@edsisolutions.com

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Ballard Benefit Works, Inc. 7th annual conference. With a stated purpose to “inspire, inform and provoke,” Ballard lined up three exceptional speakers.

Mary Bauman, attorney and partner at Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, MI, gave an “informational” update on ACA compliance.

Tom Emerick, founder of Emerick Consulting and Former Executive VP of Global Benefits at Wal-Mart and British Petroleum (BP), “provoked” the audience with a continued conversation about what is working and/or not working in health care and what companies can do about it.

Both Mary and Tom delivered exceptional messages, but it was the “inspirational” speaker, Heather Abbott, who moved me most at the conference.

 

Heather’s Story (taken from https://heatherabbottfoundation.org/)

On April 15, 2013, what is referred to as Marathon Monday in Boston, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI set out on an annual tradition with six friends. They would attend the Red Sox game, followed by a walk over to the finish line to watch the runners.

Heather would never have dreamed this day would change her life forever.

Heather was struck by shrapnel from the second of the two bombs, severely injuring her left foot. Strangers Matt Chatham, former New England Patriots lineman, and his wife, Erin, carried Abbott to safety.

After 3 surgeries in 4 days, Abbott was faced with an agonizing decision – should she try and save her left foot, or amputate her leg below the knee. With the help of other amputees, and the support from thousands around the country, Abbott made the difficult decision, at the age of 38, to live her remaining years as an amputee.

 

Keys to Heather’s Recovery

Heather is an incredible person, and she shared her hope that from this tragic event, she can find ways to positively impact the lives of others. I know that I felt deeply moved by her story, and I’d be lying if I said that the room was filled with dry eyes throughout her presentation. Specifically, Heather highlighted four keys to her recovery:

  1. Make your mess your message
  2. Accept your current situation so you can move forward
  3. Rely on others for support
  4. “Pay it forward” when you have the opportunity

 

Heather’s Story Continued (taken from https://heatherabbottfoundation.org/)

Her recovery, as it is for many, was a journey through pain, anger, optimism, challenge, and resilience. A significant part of her recovery was her support network – the friends, family, and strangers who sent her well-wishes, the fellow amputees who helped her transition, and the custom prostheses that allowed her to live her life as before.

Through donations, Heather was given four different prosthetic legs and just months after the bombing, she was living independently and resuming the activities she loves, including paddle boarding, running and wearing high heels.

Heather has remained a model of strength and resilience, and is determined to help other victims of limb loss. She is certified Peer Counselor for the National Amputee Coalition, and is helping other amputees adjust to their “new normal,” as others helped her.

And by starting the Heather Abbott Foundation, she has another chance to continue to pay it forward for all amputees who deserve a chance to live their life.

 

Supporting Heather

Helping people is the common thread of all that we do at EDSI. Perhaps this is why I was so moved by Heather’s efforts to help others in need. I’d like to thank Ballard Benefit Works for inviting our organization to the conference and for providing the opportunity to hear about Heather’s great work. If you would like to support Heather’s efforts or learn more, here are a few links to get you started. 

https://heatherabbottfoundation.org/

https://www.facebook.com/HeatherAbbottFoundation

https://twitter.com/Heather_Abbott1 

 

Reflections from the HCI 2015 Annual Summit

Tuesday May 5th, 2015 at 9:10am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI 

jbitterle@edsisolutions.com

Once again, EDSI sponsored and participated in the Human Capital Institute’s 2015 Annual Summit. This year’s HCI event was an excellent opportunity to listen to a variety of professionals discuss the broad spectrum of talent issues that are facing our country. Attendees and speakers discussed a variety of best practices to manage the various issues.

 

Although there were many excellent speakers, one speaker was most memorable to me. Her name was Sheryl Connelly. She is the Chief Futurist for Ford Motor Company. At one point in her presentation, she said “ask yourself, what are the big, long lasting, slow moving trends? These are the things you can do something about.” 

 

She then went on to list ten trends that we can do something about. Here is the list:

  1. World population is growing, and it will continue to grow.
  2. Birth rates are declining on a per woman basis.
  3. The population is aging.
  4. The number of retired persons per working person is increasing.
  5. The greatest growth opportunities will continue to be in both China and India.
  6. People will continue to migrate towards cities (“Urbanization”).
  7. The global talent shortage will get worse.
  8. Women will have increasing influence in corporations well into the future (“Girl Power”).
  9. Connectivity will continue to increase.
  10. Multi-tasking will increase. (However, it has been proven that people have lower applied IQs when multitasking).

 

I thought about it relative to our company, EDSI. It strikes me that the big, long-lasting, slow moving trends are:

  1. Skill gaps for our clients will continue to grow.
  2. Online education/training will continue to grow.
  3. Out of necessity, the number of companies that grow their own talent will increase.
  4. The workforce will continue to age.
  5. Millennials, as a percentage of the workforce, will continue to grow.

 

I also thought about our work with Kraft (Mondelez). We helped Kraft (Mondelez) build their own apprenticeship program. Although it didn’t seem like it at the time, Kraft (Mondelez) was significantly ahead of their time. They’re obviously smart enough to recognize the investment in their people was well worth the cost. Instead of waiting for the growing skills gap, combined with an aging population, to create significant talent issues in their organization, they decided to proactively do something about it.

Sadly, for every proactive company such as Kraft (Mondelez), I can think of hundreds of organizations that are doing nothing. In the end, these companies are going to struggle with skill gap and aging workforce issues. These issues will cost them dearly in terms of high costs, excessive overtime, poor service consistency and inferior product quality. Let’s hope Mrs. Connelly’s message gets to all corporate leaders. It’s time to start looking at these trends, then acting. To start, building your own talent pipeline is going to be a critical capability of American companies. I believe the companies that do this effectively will have a significant competitive advantage!

Remember, organizations with the best teams will win! It’s time to start growing your own talent.

 

WIOA - Youth Program Transition

Tuesday April 21st, 2015 at 10:39am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

**Summary of TEGL WIOA NO. 23-14**

It is estimated that over six million 16-24 years olds are currently not employed or not in school. 75% of WIOA youth program funds now focus now on out-of-school youth (OSY) and 25% on in-school youth (ISY). The Employment and Training Administration is aware of the challenges that states and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) will encounter transitioning to the 75% spending requirement for OSY activities. 

States and local WIBs should be receiving notification of the first WIOA allotment for youth programs in April 2015, with operational implementation on July 1, 2015. States and local WIBs are encouraged to use allowable transition funds to begin preparation for WIOA youth programs.

The Employment and Training Administration understands this is a significant shift, and they will provide technical assistance and guidance on recruiting and serving OSY. All states and local WIBs will be required to spend a minimum of 75% of PY 2016 youth funds on OSY.

While final WIOA regulations will not be published until 2016, the Employment and Training Administration has issued TEGL WIOA No. 23-14 to assist local WIBs to prepare for implementing WIOA Youth Programs July 1, 2015.  

WIOA eliminates the requirement for local WIBs to establish a Youth Council. However, local WIBs are encouraged to establish a standing committee to provide planning, operational and other services for both OSY and ISY. WIOA has 14 program elements (which include the consolidation of the 10 original WIA elements). Five of the new elements are: financial literacy education; entrepreneurial skills training; services that provide labor market and employment information about in-demand industry sectors or occupations available in the local areas; activities that help youth prepare for and transition to post-secondary education and training; and education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster. Additional activities may include: paid and unpaid work experience; leadership development; supportive services; and adult mentoring and guidance.

Work experience is a critical component of WIOA. 20% of OSY funds must be used for work experience. It is important to note that program expenditures can include wages as well as staffing costs for the development and management of work experiences.

ISY must be attending school, not younger than 14 or older then 21, low income, and have one or more of a list of barriers:

  • Basic skills deficient
  • An English language learner
  • An offender
  • A homeless youth or runaway, in foster care or has aged out of the foster care system
  • Pregnant or parenting
  • A disability
  • Requires assistance to complete an educational program or to secure or hold employment

Local WIBs are encouraged to work with local schools to coordinate services in areas such as career preparation, career awareness, employer presentations and employer visits.


There's No Training Manual for Being a New Parent...Or a New Employee (usually)

Wednesday April 8th, 2015 at 8:10am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

 

*Original article written in July 2014

My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world 14 days ago, and it has been the most exciting two weeks of our lives.  I would be lying if I told you that it has been entirely stress free though.  Aside from joy and happiness, we have experienced a myriad of emotions (helpless, confused, anxious, frustrated, etc.).  

When friends/family ask how things are going, we generally tell them the same thing, “every day we get a little bit better at this whole parenthood thing.”  Sure we are sleep deprived and running on fumes.  Sure my son has gone to the bathroom on me multiple times, and I have already changed well over 100 diapers.  With each day that passes though, we pick up on more and more of our son’s verbal and non-verbal cues.  We get more efficient at changing diapers, getting his little outfits on, giving sponge baths, at helping him to relax, and  getting him to fall asleep.

Over the years I have heard people say, “Well, there’s no training manual for being a parent,” and it is true.  You get a little bit of on-the-job training by watching the nurses during the two to three days you are in the hospital and by asking them for advice, suggestions, best practices, etc.  Of course there are countless parenting books and online parenting forums, but parenting is really more baptism by fire than anything else. 

It struck me that the same is often true in the business world.  When new hires shows up to work on their first day, they have most likely been through some variation of this process: (1) They have probably responded to a broad brush-stroke job description (that may or may not be up-to-date…and may or may not be an accurate portrayal of what they will be doing once hired), (2) They have probably submitted their resume, or filled out the electronic equivalent of a resume, (3) They have probably been through a phone screen and/or a face-to-face interview (possibly several rounds of interviews), and they may have completed some type of personality profile assessment.   

On day one, they probably spend time getting acclimated, meeting their co-workers and filling out new hire paperwork.  Even if your company has a world-class training program, I’m sure that from time-to-time, some of your new hires will experience the same range of emotions that first-time parents do (helpless, confused, anxious, frustrated, etc.). 

What if there was a way to get closer to the desired state?  Here are a few best practices you can implement to make your onboarding and new hire training process more impactful. 


At a high-level, start by getting applicants and employers to speak the same language.  In addition to using job descriptions, we recommend interviewing subject matter experts (your best employees in that particular role or position), to identify all of the granular responsibilities and tasks associated with performing a specific job. 

Once these interviews are completed, a Job Task Analysis (JTA) profile can be created for each unique position.  The JTA profile essentially lists all of the keywords, responsibilities and tasks associated with performing a specific job.  Once the JTA is completed, Skill Surveys can be created and distributed to potential new hires and/or the incumbent workforce. 

  • 4 – Able to instruct others on this task
  • 3 – Able to perform this task on my own
  • 2 – Able to perform this task with assistance
  • 1 – Aware of, but unable to perform this task
  • 0 – Not aware of this task
  • N/A - Not applicable 

Once the applicants have completed the Skill Surveys, Individual Skill Gap Reports can be created (a red, yellow, green matrix) showing where the skill gaps are the most prevalent.   This report can then be used as a road map to create a customized, structured on-the-job training plan (job shadowing, mentoring, etc.).

Once you know where the skill gaps are the most prevalent, you can expedite the amount of time it takes to get someone ramped up because you are able to be more laser-focused from a training standpoint.   

We have found that this process also helps to set/manage realistic expectations from day one.  If a new employee doesn’t have the requisite skill level to perform a specific task on their first day of work, front-line supervisors can’t get frustrated with them on the 10th day, 10th week, or 10th month if they still can’t perform that task (if they still haven’t been trained how to perform the task).

Oh yeah, and if there is a magical handbook for new parents that I don’t know about…please let me know.  There is always room to get a little bit better at this whole parenting thing!


WIOA - IS YOUR LOCAL AREA READY?

Monday March 16th, 2015 at 8:38am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

WIOA requires that federal agencies, states and local WIBs with employment and training programs develop job-driven training services to ensure that employers and jobseekers know what to expect when they participate in a training program.  The services must include the following: 

ENGAGING EMPLOYERS – Work upfront with employers to determine local hiring needs and design training programs that are responsive to those needs

EARN AND LEARN – Offer work-based learning opportunities with employers – On-the-Job Training, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships – as training paths to employment

SMART CHOICES – Make better use of data to drive accountability, describe what programs are offered and what is taught, and offer user-friendly information for jobseekers to choose programs and pathways that work for them

MEASURING MATTERS – Measure and evaluate employment and earnings outcomes

STEPPING STONES – Promote a seamless progression from one educational stepping stone to another, and across work-based training and education, so all efforts result in progress

OPENING DOORS – Break down barriers to accessing job-driven training and hiring for any American who is willing to work, including access to supportive services and relevant guidance

REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS – Coordinate activities between American Job Centers, local employers, education and training providers, economic development agencies, and other public and private entities, to make the most of limited resources

We can help!

EDSI understands WIOA implementation requirements and the impact they will have on the local WIB operations and service activities. We have been at the forefront of aligning service integration and building partnerships with states, community-based organizations, education, business and economic development organizations, and industry partnerships, which provides a strong foundation for implementation of WIOA. We look forward to sharing our experience and services, and see numerous opportunities to assist you in implementing WIOA. These opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Implementing integrated services at the One-Stop Centers and Access Points
  • Aligning programs and ensuring that customers have access to quality services and can make smarter choices
  • Expanding industry partnerships by working with employers, training providers, community-based organizations and economic development organizations to promote OJTs, incumbent worker training opportunities, internships and apprenticeship opportunities
  • Working with employers to determine their hiring needs by using tools such as Skilldex JTAs, which identify the skill set requirements of the job. Skilldex is EDSI’s task-based software and methodology utilized for job matching and measuring skill acquisition
  • Using Skilldex JTAs to identify and refer jobseekers who meet the skill requirements of the job
  • Promoting work-based learning opportunities with employers. We are experienced in managing and promoting OJTs, internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeship programs in multiple states
  • Reviewing training programs to ensure they are responsive to employer needs 

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

 

WIOA –Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 19-14

Monday March 2nd, 2015 at 9:10am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

On February 19, 2015 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration Advisory System issued an Advisory: Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 19-14 (TEGL), the vision for the workforce system and initial implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014.

TEGL No. 19-14 lays out the vision of how the workforce development system will be transformed as a result of implementation of the WIOA. The notice provides a summary of the vision, goals and objective of the Act. It also provides an overview of the upcoming guidance and technical assistance to be issued in the near future (Spring 2015).  Although guidance, rules and regulations have not yet been released, the key message of this notice is the feds are strongly encouraging states and local workforce investment boards to take action and begin planning and implementing WIOA transition activities now!

TEGL No. 19-14 recommends that local workforce investment boards, leaders and partners begin to start moving forward to full implementation of the law. Local areas are encouraged to assess their own situations and requirements to determine what steps they need to take to support the transition. These can include but are not limited to:

Identify and allocate funding for transition activities 

Per TEGL 12-14, States and Local Workforce Investment Boards may use up to two percent of the WIA’s Fiscal Year 2014 funds for WIOA Transitional Activities.


Build new, and strengthen existing partnerships 

States and local areas should enhance and coordinate partnerships with local entities and supportive service agencies to strengthen service delivery.


Develop transition plan

States and local areas should start developing transition plans and an implementation process which can be used to guide the implementation of WIOA.


Prepare for fiscal and program changes for transition across legislation

TEGL15-14 was issued on December 19, 2014. Management and fiscal staff must become familiar the requirements of this TEGL and its impact on the state system and the transition from WIA to WIOA.


Assess state laws

It is recommended that states review existing legislation and identify areas that are in conflict with WIOA and develop plans to resolve these conflicts.


Review Eligible Training Provider processes

Review Eligible Training Provider Lists processes and assess how they will need to be updated to meet new eligibility criteria.


Ensure new or existing youth service contractors support 75% out-of-school youth and 20% work experience expenditure rate requirements


Reassess One-Stop delivery system

Local areas and WIOA partners should start to reassess the One-Stop delivery system and what is needed to achieve seamless service delivery models that place the “Customer” at the center of program design and delivery.


Develop plans to ensure workforce investment boards become WIOA compliant

Chief elected officers should review the new requirements to reconstitute and certify boards.


Many of the provisions of the law go into effect July1, 2015. However, states and local areas need to start the planning and implementation process now to ensure success.

We know there is certainly a lot to digest with WIOA implementation. If you would like to learn more, or if we can help you in any way, please contact me at tkaufman@edsisoluions.com.

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

 

WIOA - A Few Thoughts on Employer Engagement

Monday February 16th, 2015 at 11:20am

Written by Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist with EDSI

tkaufman@edsisolutions.com

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to design and deliver services based on business and industry needs. Employer engagement is key for local WIBs to meet regional workforce needs and is one of the key metrics that local WIBs will evaluated against.  The challenge - how do local WIBs effectively engage employers?  Did you know that WIOA referenced “Industry Partnerships” 74 times?!

WIOA enables states and local WIBs the opportunity to support Industry Partnerships. These partnerships will strengthen services of the local WIB and companies by identifying the specific needs of their current and future workforces, identifying and analyzing the gaps between the skills needed to perform jobs and the skills of incumbent workers or job seekers, and then matching skills needed to training providers.

 

Industry Partnerships can help local WIBs, businesses and workers to:

  • Identify skill needs
  • Align educational curriculum to meet industry needs
  • Develop cost-effective training solutions for companies
  • Increase productivity 
  • Develop new career pathways
  • Help companies identify and address organizational and human resource challenges
  • Identify barriers to “entry level employment” and develop strategies to remove those barriers
  • Collaborate with youth initiatives to connect with careers in demand
  • Promote communication networks between companies, between managers and workers, and between companies and their communities and educational institutions

If you are interested in gaining more information regarding WIOA employer engagement, please contact me at: tkaufman@edsisolutions.com 

Click here for more info about WIOA on our website. 

 

4 Ways to Increase Project Success with Planning

Thursday February 5th, 2015 at 1:10pm

Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

jgiannosa@edsisolutions.com

 

As a fresh graduate with ample energy and excitement, I was eager and ready to prove myself to the world. After a quick onboarding process, I was assigned to my new company’s Fortune 500 client, responsible for delivering an extensive training program. With both enthusiasm and determination, I set out to deliver the most amazing training program ever!

As time progressed, I became frustrated. Lack of experience presented some challenges and my motivation plummeted. I was struggling to keep my project within budget and on time, and I knew the project needed a “reset.” After revisiting and adjusting the project plan, I got the team back on track, and, in the end, I was proud to deliver a product exceeding the client’s expectations.

Years later, I am able to reflect on the experience as a critical learning opportunity. As a project manager today, I use the lessons I learned through that early experience to deliver quality projects, on time and on budget. Now, I have the opportunity to share my lessons as a way to help you increase your performance and success as a project manager! 

One key lesson I’ve learned over the years as a project manager is the importance of expending enough effort in the initial planning phase of a project. Knowing the end goal is not enough; you must dedicate time and energy to creating a solid plan to reach it. Just like using a compass to find a target, the longer you continue off course, the further away you travel from your goal. Even if the miscalculation is slight, it will prove increasingly catastrophic over time.

On that note, I have outlined four common pitfalls project managers experience during the project planning phase, as well as some easy and effective ways to overcome them. Not only do I have firsthand experience overcoming these potential project threats, they are also highlighted in studies by the Harvard Business Review (HBR)  and Project Management Institute (PMI).

1) Identify Milestones


Naturally, when you are assigned a new project your initial thought is something like, “Oh my, I need help, and I need to make a plan!” Creating a project plan helps you reduce the risk of failing to execute the designated activities within the plan. In fact, the HBR dubs this risk as “execution risk,” and it represents a real problem.

So the question now becomes, how do you design project plans to more effectively reduce execution risk? Identifying project milestones, which can be achieved and celebrated throughout the duration of the project, is one effective way. This is an opportunity for you to take careful consideration of your client’s needs and expectations, as well as the resources available to your team.

Milestones are important events marked on your project timeline which help you keep track of key dates and deadlines. When creating your milestones, you should consider their importance, timing and fallibility. In other words, ensure that your milestones are relevant enough to be marked, timed appropriately to maintain momentum and motivation, and challenging enough to keep the team on track and focused.

 

2) Assign Roles and Tasks

It is common for project managers to use a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), also known as a RACI chart, to plan and manage projects. Projects with a large scope can have highly detailed responsibility charts. Smaller projects may have a simple outline of who is responsible for each task identified in the project plan. Depending on the scope of your project, you may want a highly detailed, or rather simplified responsibility chart.

The key here is that team members are informed of their responsibilities and there is no confusion surrounding assignments and roles. To keep it simple, add an extra column to your project timeline to indicate the assigned team members’ tasks instead of creating a separate document.

For more advanced RACI charts, consider assigning the following project or task roles:

  • Responsible: Person who performs the task
  • Accountable: Person who is accountable and has yes/no/veto authority
  • Consulted: Person who provides feedback and insight on the task
  • Informed: Person who needs to know when the decision or action is completed

 

3) Brainstorm to Avoid Risks


There are three main risks to traditional project planning: “white space risk” (failing to anticipate activities or potential problems), “execution risk” (members fail to carry out activities), and “integration risk” (failure to integrate project pieces together at the end).  

Clearly, it will be easiest to identify the white space risks during the planning phase and before the project gets underway. As a project planner, allow yourself ample time to consider white space risks, and you will feel more prepared. Consider communicating these risks to your team. Opening up the dialogue will help create buy-in, as well as identify potential problems and solutions to these risks. 

Let the creativity flow with an open brainstorming session before you finalize any plans. Some like to call it brain dumping - anything and everything that comes to mind should be communicated. Ensure that the atmosphere is positive and free of judgment. Doing so helps close gaps in the project plan and ultimately increases the success of the project. 

 

4) Increase Communication


Effective communication is a highly critical aspect of project management and planning. In fact, a study by the PMI found that half of all unsuccessful projects failed due to ineffective communication. In my experience, I would agree that taking the time to plan for effective communication can make or break the success of a project.

So plan for effective communication! Doing so will increase your ability to finish projects on time, meet original project goals and stay within budget!

Send out a recurring project review meeting invite to all appropriate stakeholders before the launch meeting. By communicating regularly with clients and stakeholders, you ensure everyone is on the right path. Also, you may uncover new information which may significantly impact the project, and you can provide your client the opportunity to react to this important, new information. Think of it as resetting your compass to ensure your team is heading in the right direction!

The project launch meeting also represents an opportunity to emphasize the importance of team communication throughout the project. Insert a task or goal in project management documents to maintain frequent communication, both internally and externally, with clients.   

 


Fortunately, there is a plethora of information, tools, project management apps, checklists, etc. available online. Now that you are aware of the importance of project planning, I encourage you to explore these tools and resources. Choose simple tools if you are just starting out, or explore more in-depth project management applications for larger scope projects to add more detail. If you remember one thing, it should be the importance and criticality of the project planning phase. Devoting more time and care to your project upfront will undoubtedly increase its probability of success.

 


References:

Matta, Nadim and Ashkenas, Ronald. “Why Good Projects Fail Anyway.”  Harvard Business Review. 2003.

Project Management Institute, Inc. Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications, May 2013. PMI.org/Pulse

 
 

I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday November 19th, 2014 at 8:31am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

*Original article written in August, 2014

I…    I BELIEVE…   I BELIEVE THAT…   I BELIEVE THAT WE…   I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! 

If you have been addicted to the 2014 World Cup (like I have been), then you are probably familiar with the “I BELIEVE” chant that has been sweeping the nation.  If you aren’t familiar, here is a link to the patriotic ESPN commercial:

 


Even though the U.S. Soccer team looked and felt like a team of destiny at times, simply BELIEVING that they were going to win did not prove to be enough for the team to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. 

What in the world does this have to do with the HR profession, or your business?

HR professionals are often asked to BELIEVE in the strategic vision of their senior leadership team, even if they aren’t at the table during their companies’ short-term and long-term strategic planning sessions (hopefully at your company, HR does have a seat at the table).  Unfortunately, there is not always a correlation between BELIEVING in the strategic vision and watching the strategic vision come to fruition.  

Over the past few months, we have talked to countless HR professionals around the country who have told us similar variations of the same story:  “We have some key employees who are getting dangerously close to retirement.  We know it is coming, but we don’t know what to do about it.” “Succession planning has been on our 3-5 year strategic plan for 3-5 years, but we have not done anything about it.”  

Back in the late 1990s, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had more employees in their sixties and seventies than in their twenties, and there was a big bubble moving toward retirement.  To address the issue, the TVA came up with a process to prioritize their Knowledge Transfer strategies. The following is a quick and easy way to jump start your Knowledge Retention/Succession Planning journey.  By using this simple mathematical formula, you can start to prioritize the WHO part of the equation: which individuals are the closest to retirement, and how long will it take to adequately train their successors.  



You can start this process today (all it takes is some rudimentary knowledge about how to set up formulas and how to sort and filter data in Microsoft Excel). Once you have completed this first step in the process, feel free to reach out to me, and I can share additional best practices on how to continue along your Knowledge Retention/Succession Planning journey.


What is Culture?

Thursday October 30th, 2014 at 11:30am

Written by Arlene Jones - Director of Talent Management with EDSI

ajones@edsisolutions.com

Currently, there is a lot of buzz around organizational CULTURE, and rightfully so. If we don’t consider culture as foundational to a successful business, then we’re seriously shortchanging ourselves and our customers. Whether you’re providing a product or a service, it’s the people and culture in your organization that make a profound impact on whether or not customers do business with you.

So what is culture anyway? Simply put, culture is the behavior behind how we do business each day. It guides how we think, behave and make decisions. The CEO is responsible for determining the general direction of the company’s culture, while the employees are responsible to shape and nurture it each and every day. Oftentimes company VALUES will be used to help define the company culture. Values could be a series of words or perhaps a definition. Values must be simple enough for people to remember and recite when asked. Check out this quick video about how we succinctly communicate our values (Show Up, Smile, Support) at EDSI.



In addition, the culture that you desire is more likely to happen if you define BEHAVIORS to support your values. Over the past six months, we’ve focused on further defining the key behaviors which represent our values and have been excited about the impact and conversations this activity has sparked.  We’ve coined these behaviors the “EDSI Daily Ways.”

Culture is certainly not one-size-fits-all. So if you understand culture is important, how do you create a culture that best fits your business? Once you determine the direction, how can you grow it across the organization? Let’s take a detailed look at these and other important questions.


UNDERSTANDING TODAY'S CULTURE

First things first, discovering the current state of your culture is the best place to start. Let’s say you’re listening to a speaker on a topic of interest and your attention wanders. What is it that brings your attention back to the presenter? Is it the fancy PowerPoint presentation with the 7 important bullet points? Or is it a story - a story that gives practical application to the topic? I’ll bet it’s the story. Stories tell us a lot about people and organizations - and they provide great insight into a company’s culture.
 
If you want to understand your culture’s current state, listen to the stories that are being told by your employees and customers. What do hear them saying? Is it  a fun place to work? What type of testimonial is your customer willing to give? What do customers say about the people they interact with in your organization? Listening is a critical first step in understanding your current state. 
 
Next, how do you feel about what people are saying? Are these the types of behaviors and values you want associated with your company? Is this the type of culture you want to emulate? If so, you've got a great starting point. If not, that’s okay - there are always several key people in the company who reflect the desired behaviors and by observing them, you can begin to build a good foundation for the future.

PLAN FOR TOMORROW'S CULTURE 

Now that you understand the current culture, how do you move your organization to a more desirable, productive culture? This phase involves writing down all the themes you’ve observed during the current state analysis. It also depends heavily on  the CEO involving trusted people who can help to shape the culture. If your organization already has desirable values, then you'll want to add behaviors to those values that further define them. This way people understand how to live out the values as part of your culture. If you don’t have values, this is a great opportunity to create them. Remember, you want them to be simple so employees can easily commit them to memory.
 
Once you’ve documented behaviors and themes, it’s best to take those ideas to trusted people within your organization for further review. Ask what these values and behaviors mean to them. Ask which values and behaviors resonate with them from an organizational perspective. Asking the right questions of employees will ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Though the CEO is responsible for setting the tone, it’s always important to include people who are already living out the desired values. This approach creates a broad base of ownership and participation in the new culture. 
 
Culture does not change overnight. In fact, Kevin Schnieders, CEO at EDSI, states that “just when you think that people aren't getting it, you begin to hear the stories and think, okay, they've got it.”

PERPETUATE THE CULTURE CHANGE 

Once the groundwork has been laid for the desired culture, it’s time to begin integrating it into the daily activities and routines of your business. Permeate the organization with the associated expected behaviors and values in order to effect lasting culture change. Below are just a few examples.  

VIDEO MESSAGES – Have the CEO record a short video on company values and behaviors and why they are important to the business.

INTERVIEWS – Ensure the right culture fit is a part of the candidate qualification process. Utilize your values and expected behaviors to help you hire the right candidates. Create questions that get at the behaviors you expect to find in people who fit the culture. 

PERFORMANCE – Once employees understand the expected behaviors, it’s time to incorporate these into your performance reviews. Defined behaviors encourage natural conversation and stories regarding performance, reiterating the importance of the desired culture and supporting values. 

MANAGER REVIEWS – Have employees rate their manager on how well he/she performs in relation to values and expected behaviors. This creates a great opportunity for managers to see what they’re doing well and identifies potential areas for improvement. This could also provide an opportunity for clarification in the case of confusion regarding behaviors, values or culture. 

RECOGNITION - Take time to send regular communications, create recognition programs, and positively identify expected behaviors when demonstrated by employees. Let people know that you notice. Retell the stories that exemplify the company culture. One of our defined behaviors to support our values is, “my word is my bond.” I've heard stories about people sharing, "I apologize that my word wasn't my bond today, I didn't get that deliverable to you in time."  

Most importantly, have fun creating the right culture for your organization! Enjoy sharing the many stories and benefits of a company culture that is right for you and your customers.

OWN IT - IT’S YOUR CULTURE!


I'll take "TWO NUMBERS THAT SHOULD SCARE HR PROFESSIONALS" for $2,000

Monday September 29th, 2014 at 9:35am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

"What are 94.5 and 101.49?"

That’s right, after the 3.1 inches of snow that fell in Mid-April at Detroit Metro Airport, the 2013-2014 winter has officially been crowned champ!  The 94.8 inches of snow that have fallen this season in Metro Detroit make it the snowiest winter on record, eclipsing the previous record of 93.6 inches that stood for over 130 years.  Oh yeah, did I mention the Dow Jones is up 101.49% over the past 5 years?

These two numbers on an island might be enough to cause some Baby Boomers to ponder retirement.  Couple them together, and don’t be surprised if HR Managers start to see more and more “surprise” retirements.

As we travel around the country, we see more and more HR Managers caught off guard as some of their most tenured employees announce retirements.  There are a myriad of reasons why employees decide to retire.  Some walk away due to health-related concerns (themselves, spouses, parents, etc.).  Others can finally sell their houses at a profit and move to a warmer weather climate (where they don’t have to worry about shoveling close to 8 feet of snow over the course of 5 months). Others still have just watched their youngest child walk across the stage at college graduation, and finally feel they can afford to retire.

As the stock market, the housing market and the economy tanked during the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009, most companies were given a reprieve.  During the “lost decade” more and more Baby Boomers chose (or were forced by circumstances) to work a few more years until their nest eggs were a little more secure.
 
You may remember the ING “What’s Your Number?” commercials where people walk around carrying big orange numbers that represent the amount of money they need to save to retire comfortably.  Whether they admit it to their employers or not, most people have a “walk away” number.  The scary part for employers is that as the economy has rebounded over the past 5 years, more and more employees are getting dangerously close to that number.
 
We have seen a handful of scenarios where employees have given several years of advance notice.  We have seen other scenarios where employees show up to work (after shoveling ten inches of snow, and battling a two-hour commute) and decide that today is their last day.  Hopefully you are never unlucky enough to experience the latter, but as the saying goes, “luck favors the prepared.”


As always, know that we are here to help you on your knowledge retention journey!


What Can We Learn About Knowledge Retention from Three Olympic Gold Medalists?

Monday September 15th, 2014 at 10:20am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

The final game of the 1979 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament marked the beginning of the rivalry between future Hall of Famers Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.

Michigan State, led by Johnson, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over a previously undefeated Indiana State team, led by Bird.

Both Johnson and Bird would enter the NBA the following fall, and the rivalry between them and their teams (respectively, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics) would burn strong for over a decade.

Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers were two dynasties that dominated the NBA during the 1980s.  In fact, at least one of these teams made it to the NBA Championship series in every single year between 1980-1989, winning a combined 8 NBA Championships!

In November of 1991, Johnson announced that he had tested positive for HIV and would retire from basketball.  Bird, plagued by back problems, would announce his retirement the following year.

After Johnson and Bird retired, it would take another 9 years before the Lakers or the Celtics contended for another NBA Championship.


In the absence of Johnson and Bird, dominance in the 1990s would belong to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  Michael Jordan and the Bulls would go on to win three consecutive NBA Championships from 1991-1993.

After the 1993 season, Jordan announced his retirement (only to return one year later).  Upon Jordan’s return, the Bulls would go on to win three more consecutive NBA Championships from 1996-1998, capped by yet another Michael Jordan retirement.

It has been 14 years since Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls (for the second time), and they have yet to play in another NBA Championship series. 


In 1992, Johnson, Bird and Jordan joined forces to play on the United States men's Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the "Dream Team." This was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players, and has been described by some as the greatest sports team ever assembled.  The team defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points en route to the gold medal.  In addition to winning the gold medal, these three “Dream Team” members were so dominant that over an 18-year stretch, Johnson, Bird and Jordan won a combined total of 14 NBA titles, 11 Regular Season MVP awards and 11 NBA Finals MVP awards.

What is the moral of the story?


Don’t become the post-Johnson Lakers or the post-Bird Celtics of the 1990s, or the post-Jordan Bulls of the 2000s (zero combined NBA Championships)!

The thought of replacing the most talented people within an organization often causes paralysis to set in. As a result, most companies wait until the members of their “Dream Team” announce they are leaving before they start to think about the rebuilding process.  Don’t fall into the same trap.  The rebuilding process is considerably easier if time is on your side!

So how do you get started?


I would encourage you to spend 5 minutes to write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. Who are the members of your “Dream Team?” 
  2. Who are the key stakeholders that need to be involved in the development of your internal Knowledge Management Process?
  3. What steps need to take place in order to schedule a meeting with these key stakeholders?
  4. By what date are you going to implement your first Knowledge Retention “pilot project?”

Ok, be honest…did you physically write down the answers to these four questions?  If you did, congratulations!  You have successfully started your Knowledge Retention journey - and getting started is the hardest part.


Revenue Stream Diversification: It's Critical for Your Company and Your Workforce!

Monday July 21st, 2014 at 8:13am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI Consulting

JBitterle@edsisolutions.com

Last week my wife and I met with our financial advisor. We go through this exercise annually, and as always, we discussed our long-term objectives, tolerance for risk, diversification strategies and action steps. It seems that the discussion revolving around diversification is the shortest and easiest part of the conversation. In fact, it’s a given that any good portfolio is well diversified. This concept seems to be universally understood, promoted and supported by years of data. At the same time, the concept is generally understood and followed by the vast majority of investors.

On the corporate front, however, the concept of diversification seems to get muddled. In fact, I’m regularly astounded at the lack of diversification in organizations of all sizes. It seems the old adage of “sticking to your knitting” is entirely misinterpreted by many business owners and executives. Many believe this means limited products, markets and geographies. The intended message behind this adage is to do what you are good at. In most cases, doing what you are good at means more than simply selling a single product category to a single industry. The adage was intended to make people and companies focus on core strengths, then leverage them for success, not stagnation. 

Look at General Electric as an example; GE has played on its strengths to grow and diversify for many years. Today, GE has a broad variety of business lines, sells into dozens of industries, operates and sells in virtually all global geographies, has thousands of customers and makes a very healthy profit every year. During the “great recession,” GE was highly profitable! How many non-diversified companies can you think of that were highly profitable in 2009 or 2010? When I think of large, non-diversified companies, I can’t think of one that was highly profitable, or even marginally profitable, during the recession.

During the last 15 years, I’ve spent over half my time working with financially distressed companies. While doing this turnaround work, I’ve also participated in dozens of Turnaround Management Association (TMA) events. During these events, turnaround professionals such as myself discuss various turnarounds, practices and events. 

It has become clear to me that over 95% of our turnaround clients lack diversification. It seems that, for undiversified companies, it only takes a few events to create a financial crisis. When dealing with turnaround clients, the financial issues are obvious. However, I’ve noticed other, non-financial issues. One of them is workforce continuity, stability and corporate attractiveness. It seems that most distressed companies have basic workforce issues. They struggle to retain and attract top talent and often have high costs associated with talent-related issues.

I attribute these workforce issues (partially) to cyclical sales increases and decreases. These changes create a work environment that is highly unstable and unpredictable. During busy times, employees are expected to work hard and often work significant amounts of overtime. During slow cycles, these same employees have reduced hours and are often laid off. These cycles make it very difficult for employees to plan their daily lives. These same cycles also create anxiety relative to the stability of employees’ personal incomes. In these situations, the good employees seem motivated to look for “better” jobs. 

When companies are not diversified, their revenue streams can be whipsawed up and down. When revenues rise sharply, the companies’ overtime costs can become excessive. At the same time, recruiting, on-boarding and training costs become excessive. During these periods, we also see quality and service levels suffer, creating a cycle that is hard to break. And when the next down cycle occurs, the company becomes distressed, and the employees become nervous. 

These same non-diversified companies appear to have an extremely difficult time recruiting quality talent. Employee friends and family referrals almost never happen, and when they do, it’s often for individuals that aren’t high quality talent. Given the difficulty many companies have finding high quality talent, being a non-diversified company only makes this situation worse.

When a company isn’t appropriately diversified, it is not a matter of IF they will experience a difficult business situation; it is a matter of WHEN! At the same time, this lack of diversification will have a significant, yet not obvious impact on the company’s ability to attract and retain high caliber employees. Start thinking about and planning for the future, and remember that diversification is an important part of any successful business strategy. And, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact us to help you build your own Growth & Diversification Plan.


Manufacturing Can Be Competitive in the United States

Friday July 11th, 2014 at 8:04am

Written by Chuck Mouranie - Partner & Managing Director with EDSI Consulting, CTP, 6σ Black Belt

cmouranie@edsisolutions.com 

Increased foreign competition continues to drive much of the U.S. manufacturing sector overseas to take advantage of cheap labor. However, there are still many ways to improve performance and become more competitive while keeping operations in the United States.

It is no secret that American manufacturers must contend with challenges many of their foreign counterparts don’t, such as higher labor and healthcare costs, pollution abatement fees, and relatively higher business taxes. Add a shrinking skilled labor pool, and one can see why the U.S. manufacturing sector has turned elsewhere - i.e., outsourced labor overseas - to bolster its survival. This has been bad news for the overall well-being of the domestic manufacturing industry, a sector that remains a powerful economic engine and source of employment.

In 2012, U.S. manufacturers generated $2.03 trillion worth of value-added. In the 20 years ending in 2012, manufacturing output increased more than 83 percent. The U.S. manufacturing sector is so huge that if it were its own country, it would rank as the eighth-largest world economy, according to the Manufacturing Institute. 

However, those manufacturers who wish to stay in the U.S. and succeed have the tools to do so. An increasing number of domestic manufacturers are countering the notion that one must turn to cheaper labor to reduce their expenses. Instead, they have turned to lean manufacturing, which has increased their productivity, strengthened customer relationships and most importantly, kept jobs at home. To top it off, they don’t have to worry about paying the skyrocketing transportation costs that come with shipping foreign-made parts back to the United States.


Flexible and Integrated


Lean manufacturing is effective because - when done right - it can make a business flexible and integrate its supply chain, which streamlines production flow and assists just-in-time delivery.

But we should remember that although the continuous improvement philosophy behind lean manufacturing has seemingly limitless potential, it is not an immediate fix-all. Businesses must make holistic and long-term commitments to these principles to stay on a profitable course.

Companies who have truly embraced lean manufacturing have incorporated it into their culture by focusing on improving cash flow, enhancing their organizations through leadership and continuous improvement, driving out operating waste and building a profitable sales pipeline.

For example, a Switzerland-based supplier of measuring instruments with U.S. headquarters in Greenwood, Ind., has exemplified this focus. Ninety percent of its products are manufactured in the United States, and the company is currently expanding its Greenwood facilities. The manufacturer credits much of their success to its commitment to lean principles. The company has dramatically improved productivity since adopting lean strategies, and in 2008, reorganized its inventory and reduced it by 27 percent, making it that much more nimble in responding to customer demands. The manufacturer improved its cash flow by increasing inventory turns and also enhanced its operations by putting an emphasis on continuous improvement. The company made "lean" a mindset adopted at every warehouse within its operations, and continually seeks employee feedback, holds regular staff meetings to stay proactive and always sets higher goals.

A Columbus, NE-based manufacturer has also benefitted significantly from practicing lean strategies specifically by driving out operating waste. This company took part in the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s lean program to streamline its operations in the long-term. According to the Manufacturing Institute’s 2009 Facts About Modern Manufacturing report, this company rewarded employee feedback on how to increase operational efficiencies. With this new insight, the manufacturer was able to take critical action. The company’s lead time dropped from a matter of days to hours, product changeover reduced from nearly 30 minutes to less than a minute, and employees became at least 29 percent more productive.


Onshoring Gaining Strength


Although increased foreign competition continues to drive U.S. manufacturing sector overseas, many are pulling operations back home to save on shipping costs. Known as onshoring, this rapidly-growing trend recently caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal, who reported that manufacturing behemoths such as Caterpillar and General Electric are moving production home to save money.

With the dollar so weak, an increasing number of manufacturers find it is more cost-effective to consolidate manufacturing domestically and pay a higher working wage than to import foreign-made products back into the country.

Shipping cost savings aren’t the only motivation for manufacturers to bring their production back home. The federal government offers incentives to manufacturers who take this course of action. With tools such as lean manufacturing in their arsenals, manufacturers are more able than ever to create competitively-priced, efficiently-made products here in the United States, and it looks like the best and the brightest have already begun.

 

Developing Your Hardworking Workforce

Thursday June 12th, 2014 at 8:30am

Written by Roe Falcone - Regional Director of Operations with EDSI

RFalcone@edsisolutions.com 

Do you have the right people on the bus and are they in the right seats?

In today’s workforce, the answers to these questions can often be the difference between success and failure. Having the right people on the bus, a term coined from Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” is one of the key factors.  It is important that your employees fit your culture and have the necessary skill sets. 

In any employer setting, the culture and values for your organization are paramount. A culture whose foundation is constructed on training and professional development helps to build and sustain a high performing organization. Understanding the skill sets of your employees allows an opportunity for targeted, deliberate recruitment and creates a mechanism for professional growth.



Targeted Recruitment

Having a balanced, diverse workforce is critical; by truly understanding the skills sets of your current employees, your recruitment efforts can be deliberate. Hiring is an expense and by targeting for specific needs, you can reduce that expense. Conducting a Job Task Analysis for the positions to be filled will clearly define and clarify the skills needed to be successful in a job. 

For more information on Job Task Analysis please visit: http://www.edsisolutions.com/skills-analysis

Customized Training

Have you ever spent thousands of dollars on training for your employees only to find out later that half of them already knew the information? Focused training on the specific skills that are critical to a job position will decrease training time and free up your budget. On-the-Job training is a great way to increase the skill level of employees! Identify a subject matter expert for that job and pair him/her with an employee that needs more experience.

Professional Growth and Development

In many of our training projects, the initial need discussion has stemmed from employees asking for more training and development. The majority of employees want to learn more, become an integral part of the company and pursue appropriate career paths.

Company Culture/Fit

While at a conference this past week on Workforce Planning and Analytics, I heard a lot of statistics presented and discussed regarding training, skill gaps and hiring. Out of all of the numbers, percentages and key information, the one critical piece to hiring that many executive level HR professionals agreed upon was “did they fit the company culture?” You can train almost anyone on the skills needed to perform a job well, but once you find that potential hire who fits your company culture and sees your vision and mission statement, hire him/her and invest in the training time.

Do you have the right people on the bus and are they in the right seats?  If not, what are you planning to do about it?


Attracting and Retaining Skilled Talent

Saturday May 10th, 2014 at 10:34am

Written by Karin Knutson - Director of Sales with EDSI Consulting

kknutson@edsisolutions.com

Finding talent is difficult.  Finding specifically skilled talent is even harder.  With fewer young adults pursuing manufacturing careers, this challenge is not going to go away in the near future.  Many factors and misperceptions can shed light on reasons why fewer young adults seem to be pursuing manufacturing jobs as careers: it’s dirty, parents aren’t encouraging it, schools are pushing college degrees, it doesn’t pay well, no flexibility, etc. But many communities and companies are working hard to reverse this thought process. This article provides a few tips on how you can attract and retain the skilled talent you need now.



Attracting Talent

Working Environment/Company Culture – A defined company culture will assist in developing a team atmosphere. This, along with an updated working environment, can add huge benefits to employee morale. Take a picture of your break room. Would you want to have your lunch there?  

Internships – This is a fantastic way for you to “try before you buy” with different candidates and see how they work in your company environment, while allowing them to demonstrate work ethic and potential.

Developing the Local Pipeline – Look to your local community colleges and tech schools and build relationships with the faculty and curriculum staff. They know their students best and can help to identify which ones could be good candidates for your organization. They also should be open to hearing your company’s specific workforce needs and adding any needed essential skills to their curriculum. Also, consider committing to hiring a certain number of their graduates for internships to deepen the relationship.


Retaining Champion Employees

Keeping Your Seasoned Employees on to Train Newer Employees – There is no better way to train new or less seasoned employees than with On-the-Job training with your subject matter experts. As a possible added benefit, your subject matter experts are sometimes open to continued employment on as part-time basis, saving you money.

Career Ladders – This lets your employees know that once they hit a certain level of skill competency, they can move up the company ladder. Knowing there are opportunities to grow with the company can create significant self-motivation. Show your employees the skill attainment they need with a simple check list and have their supervisors confirm when skills and responsibilities have changed.

Up-Skilling and Training Incumbents – Don’t only look externally for candidates when you just might have your own great pipeline in your entry level employees. Assess who has gained the most skill since joining your team and up-skill them to replace any open or needed job position. Invest time and resources into your current employees.


We know that many companies are facing the reality of low or shrinking training budgets. But, think about the cost to your company of losing a long-time client over poor quality or having an injured employee due to inefficient training. (It is guaranteed that good, quality training will cost much less!) Pull the numbers from a manufacturing line being down for a day, or even an hour, without your one “go to” employee there to fix it. Look at the profits from getting that huge order because production is on time and quality is at its benchmark. The majority of these situations are a direct reflection of decisions on hiring and training employees. By hiring the appropriate candidates, properly training your existing team, and providing a quality culture and work environment, your company is making an investment in its future success!


An Expecting Father & Knowledge Retention: What's the Connection?

Monday May 5th, 2014 at 2:56pm

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child and could not be more excited to be a father. If I am being honest, I am also slightly nervous. I am nervous because my father set the bar so high, and I know it will be challenging to follow in his footsteps.

I look up to my father more than any other man on the planet. He has shaped and molded me into the man that I am today, and I would be hard pressed to find a better role model. That said, I feel a great weight of responsibility to carry on his legacy.

I was thinking about it the other day as I was trying to figure out how I am going to distill down everything that I have learned from my father, as well as all of the important life lessons that I have learned over the 34 years that I have been on this planet. More importantly, how am I going to relay this information to my child, or children in a way that is meaningful, and that makes a lasting impression?

Upon reflection it occurred to me that this dilemma is becoming more and more common in the professional world as well. How do you come up with an effective strategy to capture/transfer several decades worth of “institutional knowledge” before your key employees announce their retirement?

According to a recent Gallup Poll, the average age at which U.S. retirees say they actually retired is now at 61, up from 57 in the early 1990s. That means that when your employees start to retire, they may have been with your company 30-40+ years. Let’s face it, these individuals have probably forgotten more than we know!

The Silver Lining: Most people that have been with the same organization for several decades want to feel like it was worth it. They take a great deal of pride in their work and want their legacy to carry on. That said, they will most likely be honored and thrilled if they are asked to become an integral part of your organization’s “Knowledge Retention” process.

Don’t short change the process, though. Remember, it took them half of their lifetime to accumulate this knowledge. We can’t expect to effectively distill that knowledge over the course of a day, a week, or even a month.

Interested in Knowledge Retention at your organization? Click below to learn more. And as always please contact me at kwatson@edsisolutions.com if we can support you in any way.

http://edsisolutions.com/knowledge-retention


6 Steps to a Solid Job Task Analysis

Thursday April 10th, 2014 at 2:59pm

Written by Karin Knutson - Director of Sales with EDSI Consulting

kknutson@edsisolutions.com

You hear it in many work conversations, on webinars, and even on blog posts – “We need to up skill our current employees.  How do I know what to train them on?” Or, “Our new company push is to develop a training program for our skill worked force.  Where do I start?” 

Anyone who is in the process of developing any type of new training plan, identifying skill gaps, or updating old job descriptions knows that a well-defined Job Task Analysis (JTA) is the key piece to a successful project.  Without a thorough JTA, all further projects dependent on this information will be inadequate and ineffective. Imagine building a custom house without an accurate blue print.


So what exactly is a JTA?

A JTA is a data-driven approach that begins with a thorough understanding of the job’s responsibilities and tasks, and the knowledge and skills required to successfully perform the job.  More simply – it involves identifying the particular tasks and responsibilities related to a specific job. 


But where do you start?  What information do you need? Here is the process we developed from years of experience and countless JTAs:

  1. Identify Subject Matter Experts (SME) - This is your “go to” employee, the person who is the most knowledgeable in the role.  There could be more than one!
  2. Interview SMEs - Identify the responsibilities and tasks of the position. 
  3. Develop and Review Job Task Analysis (JTA) - Review the information with supervisors to get their input on the accuracy of the information.
  4. Verify Job Responsibilities and Tasks Performed - Verify all gathered information with SMEs and supervisors.
  5. Determine Skills Needed - What are the skills needed to be successful in the job?
  6. Finalize JTA

Another critical component of this process is review of internal documents, procedures, training plans, and curricula. Though some is this material may be a little outdated, it could contain some vital information. Find that hard copy of an old training plan or any procedure list that was an unfinished project from a few years back. The more you verify the information, the more accurate it will be.

A comprehensive JTA will be your road map to determine training needs, identify skills gaps, develop accurate job descriptions, and even hire appropriate employees, helping both your employees and your organization reach their full potentials.  

All new training projects can seem daunting at the start, but with a proper road map, or JTA, the process is straightforward and yields successful results.


 
 

 

 

5 Reasons Smart Companies Have Succession Plans

Tuesday March 25th, 2014 at 9:55am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI Consulting

jbitterle@edsisolutions.com

I recently received a call from a desperate CEO of a $28 million company.  His company’s Controller unexpectedly resigned three weeks earlier.  Then, two weeks after the Controller resigned, the CFO resigned.  Additionally, his Accounting department, due to a retirement, was already short by one person.  To make matters worse, the company was underperforming and its bank was requiring increased financial reporting and a plan of action.   After a nervous rant, the CEO exclaimed, “We need to provide financials to our bank by the end of the week.  If we don’t, they’re going to freeze our line of credit.  If they do, we won’t be able to make payroll on Friday.  Worse yet, I don’t have anyone in Accounting that knows how to finalize and print the requested reports.”  

It seems like this situation is extreme; however, Murphy’s Law has an amazing track record of ensuring critical departures occur at the worst possible time. Unfortunately, these events can be costly, and even catastrophic for some companies.  For this company, we were able to provide two financial consultants to assess the situation, close their monthly financials, create the necessary reports, then work with the bank.

Unfortunately, our financial consultants cost the company over $12,000.  Additionally, we had to locate an interim CFO to assist during the vacancy.  Her rates were high and the additional fees for her services were in excess of $10,000.  Lastly, the remaining accounting staff was called upon to work significant overtime.  These costs alone were over $5,000.  In total, the measurable cost of this event was over $27,000!  Had the company developed a clear succession plan, along with back-up systems and cross-trained personnel, the cost may have been minimal.

Situations similar to this story happen every day.  In cases where the company has an active succession planning program, the business disruption and associated costs are minimal.  Unfortunately, in most cases, companies don’t have active succession planning programs.   For these companies, the business disruptions can be severe, and the costs can be extremely high.


If your company doesn’t have a formal succession planning program, here are five reasons it should:

  1. Cost Minimization - When companies aren’t prepared for departures, it can cost them a fortune in overtime costs, lost revenues, quality costs, expedited training costs, recruiting costs, and the like.
  2. Risk Reduction - Key personnel losses can put customer relationships, employee morale, quality, customer service levels, profitability and even safety at risk. 
  3. Business Disruption Avoidance - When one or more key individuals leave, other employees scramble to cover the loss.  In some cases, key business activities don’t happen or are completed late or erroneously. 
  4. Morale Maintenance - Significant and/or frequent disruptions due to employee losses have a proven negative impact on employee morale.  Minimizing these disruptions minimizes events that will negatively impact morale.
  5. Improved Strategic Thinking - Succession planning helps executives see the organizational “big picture.”  It also helps identify areas of high risk that require organizational attention and planning.


Sometimes starting a succession plan from scratch seems like a daunting task.  Although it will take effort, it is not overly complex, and the effort will pay significant dividends for years to come.  

Here’s a basic road map to get you started:

  1. Ensure you have a completed, finalized organizational chart.
  2. Document all positions with complete job descriptions.
  3. Identify high risk positions that require immediate attention.  Remember, high risk positions can be found in all levels of the organization.
  4. Conduct knowledge retention interviews with key personnel.  These interviews should cover all aspects of institutional knowledge that will go away when the employee leaves the organization.
  5. Document the knowledge captured during these interviews in a usable format.
  6. Identify successors for high risk positions.
  7. Once identified, create a detailed training plan for the successor.  If these individuals do not exist in your organization, create a time-phased recruiting plan to attract required personnel at the required time.
  8. Create an implementation plan to conduct training and hiring.
  9. Once high risk position succession planning is completed, repeat the processes for all remaining essential positions within the organization.
  10. Maintain and update the succession plan on an ongoing basis.

Proactive companies have rigorous succession planning programs in place.  Once you have yours, you’ll be prepared for whatever organizational departures occur.


What I Learned about Goal Setting from a High School Junior

Monday March 3rd, 2014 at 10:22am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

At 9:04 pm last Wednesday, I received a text message from a high school Junior that inspired, and motivated me unlike any text message I have ever received. Before I get ahead of myself, it might help to give you a little bit of context.  For the past three years, I have served as a mentor/advocate for a student at a local Prep School.   The student that I mentor is attending school as part of a scholarship that is awarded each year to almost two dozen hardworking students from low-income families. The students crave the challenge of a top-notch, college-preparatory education and would not have the opportunity to attend this school without financial assistance.

Each summer, the students go through a formal interview/selection process and must earn the right to have their scholarship renewed.  During the interview panel this past June, I asked my mentee what his academic goals were for 2014.  Even though he is an extremely bright and talented student, I was somewhat surprised when he announced that his goal was to get a 3.8 GPA this year (an ambitious goal, especially in light of the fact that during his freshman and sophomore years his GPA typically fell somewhere in the 3.3 – 3.5 range).

During the interview, we asked him the following questions, and received the following responses:

  • Have you written your goal down? (not yet)
  • Have you shared your goal with anyone? (not yet)
  • What has prevented you from reaching your goal(s) in the past? (did not have a great system for taking notes or studying for tests)
  • Who is the best person you know at taking notes/studying? (a close friend of his)

During the interview, we gave him a mini “homework assignment.” We encouraged him to write down his goal and to share them with his parents, his brother, his friends and each of his teachers.  We asked him to write down his goal on a post-it note and keep it next to his alarm clock so that it was the first thing he sees every morning.  We also asked him to reach out to his friend to find out how he can improve his note taking/studying habits.  Lastly, we asked him when he was going to accomplish all of these things.

So how did things play out?  Listed below is the text message chain from last week.

Mentee: Hey Kevin, Sorry I couldn’t call today.   I was on the road for robotics all the way from 4 today until just now. I currently have all A’s right now, and last semester I achieved my 3.9 GPA goal.

Me: That is AWESOME!! I am extremely proud of you! Make sure to write down your goals for the rest of your year, and share it with your family, friends, teachers, me, etc.

Mentee: It is kind of funny.  When some of my friends ask me why there are a bunch of sticky notes around my room that say 3.8, I just tell them it’s my goal.

Me: That is great that you have your goals written down in visible places.

Mentee:  Yes.  It actually helps remind me.

I am not attributing 100% of his success to the fact that he had written and shared his goals, but it certainly did not hurt!  Research conducted by noted social psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini has concluded that if people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image.

I was personally so inspired that I have written out all of my goals for 2014 and have laminated the list.  I now carry the laminated list with me everywhere I go (along with my driver’s license, credit cards, etc.).

I am encouraging each of you to spend the next 15 minutes on this “homework assignment.”  By completing this, you may just be amazed at what you accomplish before the end of the calendar year:

  • Write down personal and professional goals that you want to accomplish in 2014
  • Write down the names of 5 people that you are going to share your goals with
  • Write down any potential obstacles that are standing in your way
  • Write down the names of people that can help you side step these obstacles
  • Share your goals with these 5 people, and set up checkpoints throughout the year to provide them with status updates

Please share your success stories with me as you achieve your goals!

 


4 Things to Consider with Your Aging Workforce

Monday February 10th, 2014 at 8:22am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

kmall@edsisolutions.com

Do you know what your workforce is going to look like in 5 years?  

During the recession, a large group of retirement-eligible employees put their plans on hold. For an employer, when experienced employees stay to help manage a successful path as they anticipate retirement, it is certainly a benefit. However, impending retirements and the increasing use of technology in the workplace have most organizations wondering what their workforces will look like in the near future. The picture may not be clear, but that doesn’t mean that organizations can’t start planning for the future. 



Here are four things to consider with your aging workforce:

1) Do you know who and how many of your seasoned employees will retire in the next year?  Within three years?  Within five years?

2) Do you have a way to capture the knowledge and experience of your soon-to-retire employees?

3) Do you have a plan to transfer knowledge from retiring workers to current or new workers who will be their successors?

4) Do you have a plan for recruiting new employees to either replace the retiring workers, or backfill positions current employees will vacate as they assume positions of retiring workers?


Most people close to retirement are hesitant to provide an exact retirement date, but a simple calculation based on the person’s age and years of service can give you an idea. More importantly, instead of looking at just one or two employees, look at the whole department or company and load all employee data into a spreadsheet. This will show you who’s near the top of the list for retirement, and more importantly, what his/her role is in the organization. Knowing this information will give you a true roadmap for proper training plans and hiring decisions.

It is important to know when people will be eligible to retire.  Many of these key baby boomer employees are the people who know all of the in’s and out’s of the business; it often takes 2 or 3 new people to do their jobs – they are critical to your company’s success.

So, what if you just found out that one of your key employees, who has been with your company for 30+ years, is retiring?  This person has been with you through all of the company changes, good and bad.  He/she knows exactly what needs to be done in almost every situation.  Implementing a process to gather and catalog this person’s knowledge and experience is vital for a seamless transition to his/her successor, and keeping the business operating as smoothly as possible. 

With high unemployment numbers, many organizations think recruiting new talent is as easy as placing a want ad.  But if your goal is to find someone who fits the job requirements and your company culture, the process will become more complicated and take longer than anticipated. Creating a training plan and using it to evaluate the skills of new hires will help ensure they have the required skills. Cataloging the skills of the internal experts before they retire will give you the key puzzle pieces to develop your training plan.


5 Things to Know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer

Friday January 10th, 2014 at 8:15am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

kmall@edsisolutions.com

Are you prepared to answer the questions, “What are the current skill sets of our employees?”  or “What specific training do our employees need?”



For those companies who are already having these discussions internally, it is an important topic that deserves a lot of attention.  To meet long-term strategic objectives, many companies are concerned about concurrently increasing the skill level of their existing staff, while developing the skills and bench strength for their future needs. 

Sales professionals know that it’s easier to develop a great relationship with a current customer than it is to create a relationship with a new customer. The same is true for organizational talent; it’s easier to develop from within than to reach outside their organization. Today most organizations have to do both; fortunately, the steps to develop current and new workers are the same.  It is important to identify strengths and areas for improvement among your current employees and use that information to develop training for future employees.


Here are the 5 things you should know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer:

1) Identify

Internal subject matter experts are the “go to” people who have been with the company for a long time and have full understanding of a job position. Picking the right subject matter experts is critical; they are your content experts and future mentors. 

2) Analyze

Conducting a job task analysis helps to document the relevant responsibilities and tasks needed to successfully perform a job, and is also used to develop training for new hires, or identify training needs of current workers. The job task analysis becomes the foundation for all skill assessments and training. 

3) Prioritize

Are there key tasks that only a few people in the organization are capable of performing? The job task analysis becomes the “score card” to identify critical tasks and prioritize knowledge transfer needs. Prioritizing the need will keep knowledge transfer initiatives focused.  

4) Implement

What is your organization’s track record for implementing a program and following it through to completion? What has worked for you in the past? What hasn’t worked? Creating a solid implementation plan with clear measurables, and ensuring high level management commitment will help make your program successful. 

5) Follow-up

Were your training priorities achieved? Did you measure results and were your outcomes realized? U.S. firms spent $156 billion on employee learning in 2011, according to the American Society for Training and Development. Research suggests that with little follow-up or meaningful assessments, 90% of new skills are lost within a year. 

A well thought-out and implemented program will result in a culture of learning that will benefit both the employees and the organization.

 

 

4 Critical Steps in Knowledge Retention

Tuesday December 10th, 2013 at 8:23am

Written by Brian Lester - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

blester@edsisolutions.com

As America's population ages, so does its workforce. In fact, in the first decade of the new millennium, the number of workers aged 55 to 64 increased by 52%. Unfortunately, most companies are unprepared to manage the loss of many highly skilled, older workers. The situation is even more serious in organizations with a culture of employee retention, higher than average ages, or that still offer traditional pension plans. 

The challenge is to identify the skills and knowledge of your workforce and put the right plans in place to ensure your organization's future success. Very few companies will take a systematic approach to this problem since the full scope of risk isn’t immediately apparent, but an ad-hoc approach that may have worked in the past is not sustainable as the turnover in critical positions increases with the age of the workforce. Taking the time to carefully assess your knowledge loss risks can be an important competitive advantage.



1) Identify

Identifying and prioritizing the specific knowledge and skills at risk – When you identify the specific knowledge that is about to be lost when highly experienced employees leave for retirement, you are taking the first step in bridging a potential skills gap.  Identifying the deep, tacit knowledge (“Know-why” and “know-how” instead of just “know-what”) is the most critical step. This knowledge is the reason you value the employees’ performance, and is the risk you face with their departure.  This can save production, customers, and quality of service. Do you have a senior manager with a unique approach that needs to be documented? Is a high % of your experienced employees on the cusp of retiring?

2) Capture

Capturing processes, responsibilities, and tasks of subject matter experts – Capturing this information is critical to transferring experience and tribal knowledge that is crucial to the successful of your business.  Documenting the responsibilities and tasks will give you a play book on how to up skill incumbent workers and train new employees. This process may uncover best practices and successes that have yet to be communicated through your organization.

3) Communicate

Analyzing and communicating areas of risk and skill gaps within the organization – Take the information from the above items and develop a way to communicate it throughout your organization.  There are methods of creating a dashboard of critical information on projected retirements and knowledge loss by location and job role. There needs to be a buy-in factor with upper level management through to the jobs that are in jeopardy of being lost.  This creates accountability and responsibility.

4) Connect 

Developing concrete, actionable responses to mitigate knowledge loss and connect people, tools – This will be a road map on how to be successful in your organization.  This might include skill assessments, job analysis, and training plans.  Utilize on-the-job training or your local community college and work together to up skill your present employees and/or hire qualified applicants. Job shadowing, mentoring, and rehire after retirement programs may also be a part of these solutions.


 

Can Your Business Culture Survive Rapid Growth?

Monday December 2nd, 2013 at 11:02am

A recent article written by Kevin Schnieders, CEO of EDSI, for CORP! Magazine

Greg Lederman, author of “Engaged: Outbehave Your Competition to Create Customers for Life,” said in a presentation I attended that as leaders we “need to take the values off the walls and put them in the halls.” I know that all 400 of our representatives could recite our values in any hallway in any office  (Show Up, Smile and Support). More importantly, they know what those words mean to us at EDSI. They know the behaviors that represent each value, and they can tell stories about how they have leveraged those values for our customers’ benefit and the shared success of our teammates. 

It can’t be that simple, right? Quite possibly, I believe. And, if you’re looking for more activities to protect the culture during rapid growth, here are some other intentional actions that we took: 

  • Lead with the values in onboarding. You’re going to be hiring a lot of new people to address the growth. Make sure you start with the values.  I send a card to every new employee’s home, one week before they start. It allows me to introduce the values before his/her first day.  
  • Look in the mirror. Be certain that employees understand that you want everyone to be accountable for the behaviors that support our values. Our leaders practice servant leadership, because “support” is one of our core values. We ask people for frequent feedback about the direction of the company and our collective commitment to the values.  
  • Recognize and reward the behaviors that support the values. When I send out thank you cards to employees, I reference the specific reason for my appreciation and the value that it reflects.  
  • Listen, listen, listen and ask great questions that allow your leaders to listen some more. Develop safe opportunities for representatives to tell you when the organization is not living the values. 
  • Measure your progress. There are great third-party surveys that can measure for high-performance culture. We want to get annual feedback about the consistency of our culture, especially when we are growing. 
  • Ensure your leaders are talking with everyone, not just their direct-reports. Our leaders are trained to ask people for feedback on their performance. They ask, how are we doing as a company? Are we living the values? Is there anything that I could stop doing tomorrow?  

Once we established clear values, and defined the behaviors that support those values, it became a process of constant maintenance. We want to make sure we are generating open lines of communication where our leaders ask great questions and listen for objective feedback, regarding our commitment to the values.

The result of all this effort recently showed up during a month of visits to our customers. All of them told me the same things about our company and our representatives. “You are the most accommodating company we’ve ever worked with,” and “I love working with your people.” “All of your people are so great,” and “I can tell an EDSI person when they walk in the room.” While that is amazing to hear, it also caused me to reflect upon a “how” question. How have we been able to establish and maintain a culture across 37 locations with a geographic spread from Chicago to NYC and down the coast to North Carolina? 

After some reflection time, I know the answer goes back to that simple statement of our core values. At EDSI, we Show Up, Smile and Support.

To read the article on Corp!'s website, click here!


When Work Works

Wednesday November 20th, 2013 at 7:55am

Written by Casey White - Strategic Marketing Coordinator with EDSI

cwhite@edsisolutions.com

Last month, I had the pleasure of representing EDSI at the Michigan Society for Human Resources (MISHRM) State Conference as we received our 4th Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility.  

Reflecting upon the experience, it was an honor to again be recognized for our workplace practices.  By continuing to live our values of “show up, smile and support,” I know EDSI will always continue to be a great place to work.  

So much work and research is being accomplished in the “workflex” arena, and I wanted to share some information put together by the When Work Works Project.  Click on the pictures below for a closer look at the information!



Thanks to the When Work Works project, administered by Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), for recognizing our efforts at EDSI to create a high performing and supportive culture.

Click here to learn more about the Sloan Award.

 

People - Process - Perspective

Wednesday November 6th, 2013 at 9:09am

Written by Kevin Schnieders - CEO of EDSI

kschnieders@edsisolutions.com

People ask me about the keys to EDSI’s growth. I always find myself coming back to the same three elements – PEOPLE, PROCESS AND PERSPECTIVE.  While there are dozens of things that have contributed to our good fortune, it is the unique combination of those elements, that we feel make EDSI special and unique.



1) Our People:  Everyone says it, right?  Everyone says that “their people” are the most important aspect of their business.  It is referenced in countless marketing materials.  I have always believed that you are able to feel the sincerity of those statements when you first walk through the entrance of a company.  If they do put people before profits, it will be expressed in the actions of their representatives.  We are fortunate to work with exceptional people.  We feel that they are the very best, and we do our very best to support them in all that they do.  We also work to ensure that everyone is applying their strengths to what makes them feel most energized 90% of the time.  When we reference energy, we’re really talking about happiness.  We want people to be as happy as they can possibly be in their professional lives. However, a lot of people still look at me like I’m crazy, when I start talking about happiness at work.  Most of them act like I’m going to ask if I can shampoo their carpets in the very next sentence.  So, we’ll continue to talk about energy, and pretend that we are measuring something very “practical,” that returns a “solid bottom line performance.”  I’ll continue to smile, knowing that our people are really, really happy.

2) Process:  We just passed our ISO 9001 audit for the 15th year.  As one of the very first adopters of the system in our company, I can sincerely endorse that ISO’s Level III Procedures/Process Flows have helped us replicate our success across more than 30 locations.  For us, it’s critically important that people understand what is expected of their efforts, and how they can make a positive impact across the organization.

3) Perspective:  It is not unusual for us to call in a handful of people to assist one office or project.  Our experts are EDSI representatives who work outside of that office, on a daily basis.  We operate under the belief that when you live in the fishbowl, you are often too close to the work to see the required solutions.  How many times do we step over shoes in our homes, or miss a dust ball in the corner of a room?  Our improvement teams facilitate conversations that always lead to the most effective improvements.  Finally, our Managers and Administrators work hard to practice Servant Leadership.  The first question out of all of our mouths will be:  “How can I help you?”  That intent, combined with our effort to see through the eyes of others, leads to a cooperative perspective and a positive, sustainable culture.

 

 

Founded in 1979, EDSI is a national leader in workforce development, customized training and consulting.

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At EDSI, their goal when they punch that clock in the morning is to help somebody succeed. William Clairborne - Philadelphia NCP Program Participant

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