Amazon Drones: Savvy or Just Creepy?

The Lone Drone

Perhaps a little bit of both.  If you have not heard the update, Amazon has publicized their future intentions of using drones to deliver purchases within 30 minutes to specified destinations.

To the left, is a photo of a “lone drone” eerily flying in the air in route to a delivery destination.  Aside from the question of necessity, the greater issue may come from a safety standpoint.  Developers are concerned about potential malfunctions in the sensors, which could result in an Amazon drone abruptly landing on somebody’s head!

What are your thoughts on this new idea?  Is it likely to go through, or do you think there will be too many problems to iron out?  As always, please remember to encourage excellence in your everyday endeavors!!

Click below for direct access to the article on forbes.com:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nishacharya/2013/12/05/how-amazons-drone-will-transform-government/

The 2 Things that GE Looks for in Key Employees

Kennesaw, GA – GE (www.ge.com) was a great Fortune 500 company long before Jack Welch took over as CEO in 1981.  The GE brand has continued to flourish because people are seen as its most valuable asset. Why do other companies routinely select GE senior managers to come run their organizations?  Because at its core, GE leverages these two talents of key employees: critical thinking and effective communication.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/features/corporate-dossier/susan-peters-on-how-ge-churns-out-world-class-business-leaders/articleshow/25770610.cms

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Encourage excellence today and help others with improving their critical thinking and effective communication.

The Newest Element to Spelling Bees in America

By: Suzanne Ostrander

spelling beeAccording to a recent publication from Time magazine, Spelling Bees across America are now requiring the contestants to not only spell the word, but to also provide a correct definition.  Interestingly, America is the only country that follows the Spelling Bee tradition, most likely due to the level of difficulty that relates to the English language.

We are often enthralled by the adorable, yet perspicacious youngsters who participate in these competitions.  I often wonder why we limit the competition to children though.  For starters, many of their words would stump me!

How can we make spelling and grammar more of a priority in the workplace?  The key is to raise awareness in your working environment.  Offer annual refresher courses, and require all employees to participate.  Most importantly though, don’t be pretentious.  You may be more educated, wittier, or competent than another person, but knowledge is wasted if it is not used with humility.

In short, don’t “brag” about your superior intelligence.  Chances are, you fall within the category of being human and eventually, your gloating will come back to bite you in the rear!

As always, I encourage each and every one of you to encourage excellence in all that you do.

For direct access to the Times.com article, click the link below:

http://ideas.time.com/2013/04/16/why-americans-need-spelling-bees-and-vocabulary-tests/

Ethical Interviewing: From the Other Side of the Table

By: Suzanne Ostrander

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In corporate America, it seems like we are constantly hearing about how to ace an interview, from tips on what to wear to final resume edits.  We are taught the proper questions to ask, and the customary behaviors for following up.

What about the other side of the equation, though?  It’s not unreasonable to assume that many employees outside of the HR department will be involved in the interviewing process. Members of a job applicant’s potential department need to meet and have the opportunity to interact with a candidate, in order to make a well informed decision from the company’s standpoint.

So, where do we draw the line when it comes to how much we allow non-HR employees to get involved in the interviewing process?

It’s wise to remember that HR personnel have been trained on the ethics of holding interviews.  Not only is it immoral to make “false promises” to a job candidate, but it is extremely unprofessional. Unfortunately though, interviewers are giving exactly this type of false hope to applicants all of the time.  Perhaps it starts out innocently.  The interviewer may be completely convinced that a candidate has a position “in the bag” so he gives a verbal promise to the hopeful candidate.

What happens next?  Oops, the interviewer that made these promises didn’t realize that there was a new mandatory test or additional qualification that must be met. Suddenly, the same candidate does not appear to shine as brightly.  Or, it could be that the very last candidate blew everybody away in the interview and he gets the job instead.

If a non-HR employee becomes involved in the interviewing process, it is imperative for he or she to refrain from making a “job promise”.  It’s one thing to have a good feeling about a potential fit, but it should be left at that.

Another possible solution would be for companies to hold periodic recruitment training for all HR and non-HR employees involved in interviews.  It can take years to build a good company reputation, but just moments to destroy it.  If we aren’t careful, we could be sending the wrong message to the people who walk into our doors.

Aside from the ethical issue, I tend to cling to the “golden rule” when it comes to interviewing: Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been on the other side of the table before.  At one point, even the biggest business executive, manager, or CEO was just a young intern or new college graduate applying for an entry level position.  It’s not just the young ones we should be kind to.  What about those looking for a career shift or the people between jobs doing everything they can to find a position to pay the bills?

Regardless of the reason for their job search, no candidate wants to be promised a job one day and then login to Linkedin the next day to read about the person who received the job.  Sure, you could probably get away with doing it, but just remember- at one time, that person was you.

Let’s try and remember to treat others as kindly and professionally as possible when it comes to holding interviews, as well as our interactions in everyday life.  If we are ever tempted to act otherwise, or if we forget, remember Galatians 6 verse 7: “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. We reap what we sow”.

In other words, God sees everything, and he knows our hearts.  Even though good deeds come back to us, those who truly love the Lord treat others with kindness because it’s in their nature. Our love for God should be our motivation, not the reward.  What’s even better is that when we put God first and focus less on ourselves, God’s blessings seem to be even more abundant.

I hope you are blessed by this message and, as always, I urge you to encourage excellence in your everyday lives!

To read more about the ethics of interviewing, click the link below:

http://mediacareers.about.com/od/gettingthejob/a/Ethics.htm

Three Essential Rules to Communicating with Recruiters

ImageBy: Suzanne Ostrander

The below article on Forbes.com is an excellent guide that gives us all guidelines on the proper etiquette when it comes to communicating with corporate recruiters.  If you have any other useful tips for working with headhunters, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for reading and remember to encourage excellence!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/08/28/3-rules-for-following-up-with-a-recruiter/

Stranger Danger: How to Keep a New Hire from Becoming an Unfamiliar Face

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By: Suzanne Ostrander

-Kennesaw, GA You feel like you’ve missed the memo, but unfortunately there was no memo to begin with. In fact, that’s kind of the problem.

It all started two weeks ago on a Monday morning.  You thought the unfamiliar face who showed up at your meeting might have been an auditor. You give a friendly smile to the same gentleman as you pass him by in the break room the next morning, because hey- you always want your visitors to feel welcome!  When returning from lunch on Wednesday afternoon, you are somewhat surprised to still see him roaming the halls carrying what seems to be an important stack of papers and an even greater sense of urgency. Once again, smiles are exchanged by both parties, as you secretly think to yourself “this guy must be a big deal”!  Thursday rolls by uneventfully and the next thing you know it’s quitting time on Friday and you’re the last one to leave the office.

Or so you thought….

Like an eerie movie, you notice an unfamiliar, dark sedan next to yours in the parking lot. Who else is here? Curiously, you begin walking up and down the halls.  Nothing seems out of place, until you get to the last cubicle on the left.  That’s when you see it.  Apparently, the friendly yet relatively ambiguous man who you took to be an auditor, is now sipping on the company coffee in his own office.

He is neither an auditor, nor is he here to clean the toilets.  Congratulations, he is your new colleague.

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Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation in your own office? The above example was written from the perspective of a clueless employee, but I can only imagine what it would be like for the new hire himself.  Starting up a new job can be scary enough.  It’s even worse when you’re “thrown to the wolves” and surrounded  by nothing other than unidentified faces.

A successful company is not just about training employees to execute tasks.  While the notion of productivity is important, we can only go so far in our career endeavors without an underlying network of strong relationships established by kindness and strengthened through trust.

Many of these relationships begin on your first day at the company.  It rests on the shoulders of management to properly introduce any new employee in his group, albeit full-time, part-time, temporary, hourly, or contractor.  Of course, managers might not always be able to identify every vendor, prospective client, or job candidate who walks into the front door.  If they have an email address, however, the “worker bees” need to know who they are.

Announcing a new hire can be easily achieved via a company memo (you know…the ones you always miss?) or a casual, yet informative quick announcement in an office-wide meeting.

Timing is essential, though. Experts say that this should probably be done on the first day. Therefore, if a manager does not get an opportunity to gather everybody for an announcement on a new hire’s first day, he should take five minutes to send out an email to introduce the newest member of the group and make him or her feel welcome.

Earlier, I mentioned the aspect of trust to be the single, most unifying force in all relationships.  How can this failure to welcome a new employee damage both the new hire’s sense of trust for the company, as well as the rest of the employees’ trust for the company?

There are many ways, really.  To begin with though, the new employee may begin to question how much faith the company has invested in him or her.  Perhaps it could make the new team member think that, despite being hired, management may not be expecting them to make it very long.

Let’s flip the coin, and view the scenario once again from the perspective of the confused and uninformed employees. At first, many employee’s may simply assume they “missed the boat” (a return to the repeated”missed memo” theme).  Maybe they were on the phone with a client or daydreaming in a staff meeting.  Who knows, maybe they just had to go to the bathroom!!!  Yet, I imagine that once this event continues to occur with new people throughout the office, the other employees will start to notice management’s failure to explain who the man in the suit is sitting next to them.  Other employees may also begin to wonder how much faith management has in the newest addition.  They may even wonder if they were excluded from the announcement, because their position was perceived as irrelevant to the new hire’s. Nevertheless, in all scenarios, management’s failure to introduce their new hire has likely created a stir, not to mention confusion among the rest of the workers.

The solution? Always welcome and properly introduce your new employees! No excuses. We never get a second chance to make a first impression, and new-hires who start out on the right foot are most likely to make long-term commitments to their companies!

As always, remember to encourage excellence with everybody you interact with!  A friendly gesture or simple act of kindness can result in 20-years or more of employee loyalty!! Sounds like a fair exchange to me!

God Bless,

Suzanne

Click below for tips on introducing new-hires to the office culture:

http://www.experience.com/entry-level-jobs/employers/tips-for-introducing-new-employees-to-your-office-culture/

Dave Ramsey on Building a Successful Business

Entrepreneur-pictureMoney Management expert, Dave Ramsey has given valuable advice to entrepreneurs looking to get their feet wet with a new business idea.  According to Ramsey, too many talented individuals fail in this effort because they act too hastily.  To all you big thinkers, Ramsey suggests to start working on it part-time, after coming home from work.  Taking on part-time work in addition to a full-time job can be a challenging and tiring task, but according to Ramsey, it is much easier than losing everything to an idea that didn’t work out.  Eventually, once you begin generating steady income sufficient to cover your bills, then it’s time to begin considering making it a full-time job.  Remember: some of the best multi-million dollar companies started out in someone’s garage!

What has your experience been with acting upon a new business venture? I would love to hear from you.  As always, remember to encourage excellence!

Suzanne

For direct access to Forbes.com’s article on Dave Ramsey’s insight, click below:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2011/09/20/dave-ramsey-on-how-to-build-and-grow-your-business/

The Two Reasons Why People Quit their Jobs

By: Suzanne Ostrander

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Despite America’s less than ideal economic state and an average unemployment rate of 7.8%, the United States department of Labor has reported that each month over 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs.  The U.S. Department of Labor has classified these unemployed individuals as the “Quits”: employed individuals who leave their jobs on their own accord without a fallback plan.  The bureau has furthermore reported that this number continues to grow and will not be declining anytime soon.  

A recent study by Accenture reports that 31% wish to be their own boss, An additional 31% feel a lack of empowerment, 35% leave due to internal politics, and 43% resign due to a perceived lack of recognition.

As I reviewed these stats, many of the percentages seemed to overlap one another.  In the context of a job fair, if we sat the 31% who were affected by a lack of empowerment at the same table as the 43% who resigned due to a lack of recognition, I think these people would have many of the same things to talk about.  In essence, they lacked a healthy sense of identity in their workplace.

Countless numbers of research studies have yielded a variety of factors that may contribute to this debilitating lack independence. My shortlist comes down to two factors: 1) A lack of employee focus and 2) Poorly structured organizations.

I think the first category speaks for itself.  We’ve all heard the phrase “the customer is always right”. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to argue that anyone with experience in the fast food industry has likely formed a deep-seated aversion to the concept, altogether. Unfortunately though, in the context of a company’s relationship with its clients, this is typically a wise ideology to follow.

But what about the larger network between managers, customers, and the hardworking employees who make the magic happen? In the overall scheme of things, “putting the customer first” while overlooking the worker bees can lead to an unfortunate sense of employee neglect.

The solution? Companies who establish a reasonable balance between customers and their employees will foster a more successful and productive business.

Successful managers should also keep in mind the importance of staying objective. Let’s face it, we are all human beings and most likely resonate better with some than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean we dislike the others, we just have less in common with them. From a managerial standpoint, however, the fact that you work for the same organization is enough to have in common. For a number of reasons, managers need to act and socialize differently than their subordinates.  Namely, they need to pay close attention to the amount of “down time” they spend in people’s offices- this is important! You are not at a cookout or on the golf course, and your behaviors may need fine-tuning.

As difficult as it may be, a good manager does not “gravitate” to only a certain few offices to chat during down time. Is “small talk” OK at our jobs? Absolutely! In fact, it is encouraged in moderation in order to maintain a healthy working environment. Yet, before you accept that higher-paid managerial position or a promotion to such a level, think about what you should do when you get the urge to socialize during the workday. A reasonable goal may be to walk around to all of your subordinates’ offices once a day in a casual, non-work related manner and spend a minute or two just to see how they are doing. Of course, it may not be possible to achieve this everyday, but bear in mind how much this is done every week and take action to keep this at a healthy balance. Conversation topics may vary, but the time spent in offices should not.  Is this tedious? Yes, it is! However, it comes with the territory when accepting a managerial position!! So, before you accept that higher paying role, think about your social habits from a leadership standpoint.  There’s no shame in staying at the subordinate level if you don’t think you’re up to the task. A worker-bee can hang out with whomever he wants!

The second factor, a poorly structured organization, can do just as much if not more damage to the overall employee persona.  While a company’s inadequate focus on its employees might result from a manager’s need to simply re-prioritize tasks or modify his social work habits, a ineffectively structured organization may derive from your boss’ boss or even higher. When one person is expected to manage 12 – 15 employees on a daily basis, these subordinates are bound to feel overlooked or under-worked.  With only 8 hours in the average workday, a possibly well-intentioned manager has no choice but to follow the priority chain when it comes to delegating work. The result? Under-stimulated employees!

How can this be changed? To begin with, managers need to speak up!! Managers should take time to schedule meetings with their bosses to discuss reassignments. Consider promoting qualified individuals to management to even out the numbers. Formulate a plan and stick to it.

I challenge all of those in management positions to try these techniques.  I believe it will lead to happier employees, a more successful company, and an ultimately reduced turnover rate!

As always, remember to encourage excellence with everyone you meet!

For Forbes.com’s article on reducing company turnover, click here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alanhall/2013/03/11/im-outta-here-why-2-million-americans-quit-every-month-and-5-steps-to-turn-the-epidemic-around/

Click below for a brief video segment on reducing employee turnover by maintaining the quality within an organization:

Christ in the Workplace

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By: Suzanne Ostrander

I have posted various blog entries in the past highlighting the focus of customer service as the pinnacle to marketing success within small and large corporations.  However, I’d like to be bold enough to perceive the issue through a larger, often unspoken lens: Christianity.

The separation of church and state has taken public schools and companies to a place of such neutrality that we have become not only unbiased, but often desensitized to the relevance of Christ in all avenues of our lives, including school, work, and our children’s extra curricular activities.

Most publicly owned companies have slowly morphed into a perspective of viewing Christ as “the elephant in the room”, when even though He is felt in our hearts and daily actions, He is neatly tucked away for fear of offending others.

Let’s take a look at another company who does the opposite. 

Since opening its doors to customers, Chick-fil-A has established its principles on the practice of Christianity. Some marketing professionals might view Chick-fil-A’s decision to close on Sundays as “foolish” by losing a full workdays’ worth of business.

However, compared to the 50% annual turnover rate of the average American corporation, Chick-fil-A maintains an astounding 3% yearly turnover rate.

Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A, has maintained that it was an easy decision to stay closed on Sundays:

“Jesus Christ did not die for a company, He died for individuals, personally.” Thus, by centering its establishment on Biblical principles and acknowledging the Lord in all ways, Chick-fil-A has found success.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33 NI

I believe that Chick-fil-A has it right.  They are doing exactly what we are taught in the book of Matthew.  Seek ye FIRST (not second, third, or somewhere in between 5th and 10th, but First) the Kingdom of God.

What are your thoughts on Christ in the business world, and all other avenues of life? Have you experienced different results when adhering to Matthew 6:33 in your career? I would love to hear from you. God bless!