Category: Strategy


2014 Recruiting and Workforce Trends

December 31st, 2013

As a workforce and work place expert, we’d like to share our view of the 2014 workforce. After reviewing the numbers and statistics from 2013, here are 14 staffing trends to look out for in 2014.

  1. In November of 2013 the economy had more temporary jobs than any month but April of 2000. The number of temporaries as a percentage of the total workforce (called the penetration rate rose above Octobers’ number from 2.03 from 2.02 percent of the total workforce. This represents 2,775,900 workers in the temporary field. These numbers reflect the commitment of business to find ways to keep their workforce more flexible and adaptable to economic fluctuations and marketplace changes. You can expect this trend to continue and for 2014 to be the year that more temporaries than ever before are in the workforce.
  2. 2014 will continue to show improvements for college grads. Unemployment rates for college level unemployment fell .4% points to 3.4 from 3.8%.
  3. Unemployment rates will continue to decline. Currently at 7.0% down from 7.6% in May of this year. 2014 will bring the end to the 7’s as we slowly, gradually, almost painfully lower the rate!
  4. Monthly job creation numbers will continue to be above 200k jobs next year. The US created more then 200k jobs just a handful of times in 2013. This will become the norm rather than the highlight reel moment!
  5. You can expect 200,000 to retire per month. The statistics suggest that 10,000 a day/ 300,000 a month is plausible. Even with an improved stock market and stabilizing housing prices, the number is probably adjusting down a little.
  6. The new workers entering workforce have been thought to be balancing or replenishing retired workers. Expect the numbers of retirees to increase and the numbers of workers to be relatively flat. This could further lower unemployment in 2014.
  7. Technical fields will continue to show strong demand. These are good times to be in accounting, finance, IT, engineering or “ist” fields in the sciences (i.e. chemist or biologist).
  8. Organizations will continue to shift their business strategies, thus impacting their people. Look for more firms to focus on meeting the needs of workers that go through a reduction in force (RIF). Studies show that the focus is on getting people jobs first and doing what is right for the firm second. More and more outplacement will be done through virtual/technology driven models that lower costs of services but meet the changing needs of the worker! Office space is no longer important… and updated, contemporary coaching content will never go out of fashion!
  9. Never before in the history of the modern workforce will it be more evident that employees are fully responsible for their own careers as workforce trends confirm the end of the “parental role” big companes used to play.
  10. The Rise of the Coach. Today’s employee uses a coach to lose weight, achieve personal goals, to learn new skills in business as a high performer, and to manage their career. Look for the HR field’s (more likely and entrepreneur!) response to the needs of the workforce and to become their agent in 2014!
  11. Temporary staffing utilization is up over 8% this year. Expect that number to be exceeded in 2014 as more small and mid-market companies get comfortable utilizing a contract workforce!
  12. This is the year the underemployed make a change. The number of people that are chronically underemployed in lesser jobs or in jobs that provide less hours of work then desired see modest improvement. With unemployment being as low as April of 2008, this worker pool will be next in line!
  13. Jobs growth and creation will continue to be frustrating. Some markets and cities will see strong job creation, while others will continue to lose job sectors and industries at an alarming rate. Job growth will not be everywhere, instead you’ll see it in pockets!
  14. Overall, you can expect businesses to modestly increase hiring plans in 2014. But the use of temporaries will continue to rise as the business strategy behind using a contingent workforce continues to have a higher adoption rate.

Here’s to a great year for the workforce!

CBI Group Unveils 2013 Company Theme

January 15th, 2013

outsideinlogo1If you’ve ever read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, the best-selling business practices book by Verne Harnish, then you’re familiar with the concept of establishing a theme to motivate your company to accomplish its quarterly and yearly goals. CBI Group is a proud observer of these habits and consciously works to frame our daily business practices after them.

Last Friday, team members gathered together for our quarterly celebration, the Quarter Kickoff, to announce the company’s 2013 theme as well as our goals for Q1! This year’s theme is The Outside-In® Happiness Project, and was inspired by the best-selling book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. A popular self-help book, The Happiness Project chronicles Rubin’s personal journey to finding her own happiness and fulfillment in life.

To bring the theme to life, team members transformed our Grand Teton conference room into a relaxing oasis where attendees could unwind and be – what else? – happy! Daddy O’s catered the event and provided a refreshing menu of healthy, “good mood foods” which included seared polenta with roasted vegetable terrine and charred cherry tomato, coconut chicken with dark chocolate mole, grilled asparagus, and roasted mussels in a white wine sauce. These foods were selected based on their mood-lifting abilities – yes, you will actually feel happier after eating them!

Happy Bingo after lunch kept spirits light as team members competed to fill their squares, and along the way, learned what made their team mates happy as the bingo charts were full of the team’s submissions of their personal happiness. Some of the entries? Hiking, shopping, going to the beach, and working at CBI Group!

When the time came to announce the company’s goals, the leaders were excited to share that the rocks were mapped to reflect the 5 Happy Habits – five simple tips to maintain daily well-being – researched and defined by the London-based think-tank, the New Economics Foundation. So, what are these five simple tips for daily happiness?  They are:

  • Connect With People Around You
  • Be Active
  • Take Notice
  • Keep Learning
  • Give

We are very excited to embark on our own journey this year towards being more Outside-In® and finding our own personal happiness. Our president, Chris Burkhard believes that if our team is inspired to pursue our own passions and find happiness, then we will be more Outside-In®, bringing our customers greater peace of mind.

Honest, Direct, Humble, Open, and Authentic

January 2nd, 2013

Happy New Year to you!

This time of year we often think about what actions we are going take to fulfill personal goals or a new years resolution we’ve set. “I’m going to lose weight.” or “I’m going to travel more.” or “I’m going to spend more time with my family.” Whatever the resolution is, it usually involves an action, right? What about how you’re going to be this year? Don’t get me wrong,  I believe setting goals are crucial to making progress and I live by setting goals. But, we are all given the same choice with how we carry ourselves each day, and that choice impacts our achievements, too. So, let me ask you this:

How will you start the new year?

From the heart.  This is how I will start the new year.  We are all given the same choice. I am going to be honest, direct, humble, open, and authentic in all I do as a leader, husband, father, soccer coach, community volunteer, son, brother, and all the many roles I play. But I am only human, and choosing to be these things in the large scope of life gives me so much to strive for!  And that is what is so wonderful about my resolution.

I encourage my organization to present itself this way as well. Honest, direct, humble, open, authentic. It is a great way to be a leader.  It’s an awesome way to be in business development. No matter what the role is – it’s all the same to me. It’s like our 20 Outside-In® values that we live and breathe each day. For my team, I hope that in addition to our 20 values, we carry out our Outside-In® culture in an honest, direct, humble, open, and authentic way.

Being at CBI Group and in a values-based group of companies has given me the unique chance to think about how our purpose in business  can do more than help our customers. For years (10 plus now and counting), our purpose has been to give our customers a competitive advantage through our services. We still feel this is really important.  However, this is the year we will add to our purpose, where we begin to explore how our values can help us outside of our defined work role. And that is a purpose worth attaining.

Honest, direct, humble, open, and authentic.

Five simple words. To me they bring on a whole new meaning to my work.  What’s more, they present areas of potential mastery for myself and for the CBI Group team.

How will you start the new year? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts!

Be Careful Politicking for the Job You Already Have

September 26th, 2012

“Be careful politicking for the job you already have.” -Alan Burkhard

This is a favorite phrase of Burkhard leaders. Politicking for the job you already have is like getting a penalty in football for excess celebration in the end zone.  We all know that players should look like they have been there before – that they have experienced the thrill of making a touchdown; however, if his teammates can see it from the bench than the celebration is just too much. The player’s job is to score the touchdown, not spike the football, jump into the crowd, or do a back flip. At the same time, this type of showmanship is what makes a game exciting – not to mention improve ratings and boost ticket sales. I get it. It comes with the territory.

In our culture, acting like you “have been there before” is expected. We know what to recognize and how to celebrate it.  However, I can assure you it will not be for doing what is expected.  This might seem harsh, and perhaps it is.  However, what all of us really want is to thrive in an accountable environment.  In the event that a weak employee is shown the door, some may applaud and ask the leader, “What took you so long?”.  Some may snicker when a co-worker takes too much (or misplaced) credit for doing what is expected.

The aforementioned scenarios are not uncommon in the workplace, and I am sure as a leader you have experienced variations of these situations within your team. For employees within a team, remember: practice caution when seeking approval or acknowledgment from your leader. Stay cognizant of the big picture – as the old saying goes, “There’s no I in team”. For leaders, the same is applicable when seeking approval from your peers. George Van Valkenburg once said, “Leadership is doing what is right when no one’s watching.”

Still not sure what I mean by politicking for the job you already have? Leaders, think about it like this:

  • Be careful about seeking credit for projects completed and deals won. When a goal is achieved, make sure to give the credit to the team or to others.  Leaders can’t do anything without the belief and efforts of their team.
  • Be cautioned about summarizing what you have done. Seems so innocent right?  Well no, the organization knows what you have achieved.  There is no reason to brag or pitch the results.
  • Focus on thanking those that achieved the results through your people. Focus on where you’re headed and what needs to be done to achieve it.

Promotions, raises, and bonuses don’t come when we do our jobs or meet expectations. They don’t happen when we draw attention to ourselves.  And I can’t throw a yellow flag for too much bragging.  What I can do is point you in the right direction.

Being proud of what you have achieved is more than okay as a leader. However, the focus of your communication needs to be on something completely different.  Act like you have been there before.  Recognize those involved. “Be lavish with the approbation.” is what Dale Carnegie would say.  More importantly, show us what you are going to do, how you are going to get there, and how I can help you achieve something wonderful, or better yet – something completely unexpected!

Using Complexity Skills to Your Advantage

August 8th, 2012

Why do we buy new software and equipment for our business? We do so because we are looking for an advantage in business. We are looking to do things better, faster, or cheaper.  Every now and then, a business makes physical investments to improve themselves, but they don’t seem to get a full return for what they bought.  Yet, leaders are oftentimes heard espousing things like, “Our company is all about our employees!” or “We get our advantage from the uniqueness of our talent and our culture!”.  These attitudes are not wrong, but imagine if the leaders gave their employees another way to equip themselves?

I think it is due to a phenomenon I call Complexity Skills. To define complexity skills we must first understand that work is done differently today than it was in the past.  The workplace has been forever altered by so many forces.  Today, technology and globalization, government compliance, shifts in social norms, generational influences, acceptance of varying business models, and leadership styles have left so many employees (and frankly leaders of companies) confused on what to label the whole change. I call it Complexity Skills: The ability of an individual or entire company culture to deal with swift and constant change in the business world around them.  If you are in leadership, you understand how envious your peers would be if you could say that your company and employees were the best at re-tooling and changing direction through Complexity Skills.

Ultimately, this is about change; however, Complexity Skills are so much more. Imagine your workforce is equipped to not just serve customers and interact with them, but is also capable of gathering incredible insights into customer wants and needs.  Hints at future products or new features.  Or better yet, the emergence of an entirely new business line.

This is about more than change, but Complexity Skills require the mastery of it.  If you are an employee or a leader today, the best thing we can do is understand and master the art of change.  We have a choice: make it unique and your own or be run over by it.  So much inefficiency and personal angst is spent dealing with, “This is not how we used to do it” or, “This is not how I was told my job would be”.

The concept of Complexity Skills is about intention. Those that get it know that they must focus on being knowledge workers. It is so much more than a popular catchphrase.  Those that stop learning stop growing and start to think they know it all.  Know-it-all’s stop competing.  To be a knowledge worker is to know that knowledge should be equal to productivity.  The more knowledge you have the more confidence and self-esteem the worker or total workforce will have to do interact with customers.

Do you have a high quotient of Complexity Skills?  Does your team?  How about your company?  The only way to get it is to lead the way and work at it.  Know that to have it is an incredible advantage that will be really hard for others to define.  Those that you are competing with for jobs.  Those organizations that are in your “space”.

I have seen teams that have it.  There is trust.  There is understanding.  Complexity Skills go beyond the classroom.  The company has a mindset.  And that mindset defines its culture. A culture with strong Complexity Skills has a defining marketplace advantage.  Yes, it can be all about your employees.  Just give them a different mindset…

What does Marshalls have to do with Leadership?

June 20th, 2012

In some strange way, I think Marshalls has everything to do with today’s leadership.

I was recently dragged to this discount retailer to look for clothing. After all, why pay full price when you can get the same designer item at Marshalls? As I walked in, I could not help but wonder how different the store looked compared to three years ago! (It may have been the last time I shopped in a non-Apple store, frankly.) I immediately noticed a difference in the store’s inventory – it was really light.  There used to be aisles jammed with clothing, food, kitchen ware, home items…you name it, it was there. Piles of merchandise were often scattered throughout the store, overflowing from its respective shelves. Today? Not so much.

This got me thinking about the world and how it has changed leadership practices for now and perhaps for a good long time. Today’s leader does nothing in excess. Hiring, manufacturing, R&D, innovation, capitol investments….it is all “just-in-time” and/or “just enough”.

The empty shelves now symbolize our new way of leading. I think it is getting harder and harder for discount retailers to find supplier’s excess. Excess is over-production. The excess is the inventory they buy cheap and sell for a little less than cheap.

As I dig deeper into this new world leadership order, I see the same lack of inventory on the shelves as I see in organizations that are building and developing talent. Leaders prefer to lease or rent talent. They prefer another organization to develop it and then poach it. Don’t get me wrong, this is my business. We serve a very necessary strategic purpose. BUT, it is getting more difficult to find leadership talent with “high potential” as it is called.

Our lack of inventory is partially due to the demise of middle management. This has been going on for years. Perhaps the more influential reason is that organizations have not been investing (certainly a gross generalization) as much or as frequently in the proper development of leaders. Who has the time?  Who has the budget? Leaders are now responsible for doing and producing so much and there is very little time to develop “other leadership skills” like strategic planning, budgeting, and forecasting…while doing something other then responding to email.

Typically, I give folks a hard time when they bring me problems without possible solutions.  Today, I am guilty of the same thing. We have a need for leaders to be developed and no one wants to invest in it.  There is a real advantage to those organizations that do decide to replenish the empty shelves… What do you think?

Growing Your Business With Ubiquity

May 30th, 2012

Ubiquity means existing everywhere.

In the 1980s, Microsoft set a lofty goal to get computing power everywhere: clothing, watches, phones, tablets, refrigerators, you name it. Microsoft wanted to be everywhere. In essence, they achieved their goal. Thirty years later, computing technology really is everywhere: GPS navigation systems in cars, computerized registers in stores, and you may even be reading this blog from the Internet… on your cell phone.

As of late, my companies have had a real revelation with the notion of pinpointing when someone makes the decision to do business with us. We do a postmortem on all of the possible reasons they found us, they bought from us, etc. For a company that is Outside-In® and cares deeply about customer experience, this probably does not seem too unique.

However, what we have learned is that we sell and customers buy — when there is a sense of ubiquity about our presence. CBI Group, Placers and Barton Career Advisors are everywhere! Well, not really. But that is what it must seem like.

Marketing and sales are about impressions. Is it the newsletter that got someone’s attention? A new website? An outgoing call from your company? A traditional billboard? Or a chance encounter at a networking or trade show event? Or maybe…just maybe, it is about business ubiquity. You get to know several of your customers involved in the business and in turn, they get to know you.

I no longer question this theory of ubiquity. I know it is true. People do business with whom they like. But in order for people to get to know you and like you, you have to be front and center to capture the mind share of your prospects.

Microsoft’s ubiquity reflects an unprecedented revolution in technology, and many may not be able to match that level of omnipresence; but then again who really knows? Anything is possible. So, ask yourself this question: What can you do to put your company front and center…and keep it there?

The concept of “And” versus “Or”

May 16th, 2012

We have been having a lot of internal discussion and debate around getting “stuff” done and making “things” happen. Stuff and things are everywhere. Hiring employees, training employees, solving problems, finishing projects, having discussions. Stuff and things are all we do. The challenge that I have laid out is that compromise is not an option. As Jim Collins wrote about in his book, Built to Last, perhaps great leaders and great companies find a way to get it all done, they don’t allow “or” to creep into their stuff and things. You should never hear “or” in action. We can do this or do that. Choose or compromise. No, the best leaders and companies find a way to get it all done, meaning stuff and things, versus stuff or things.

So the concept is easy right? Bring me some real life examples to prove your point, you ask? Recently, I was given a gift of a book on leadership and soccer. The book, The Messiah Method, is a compelling read on the success that Messiah College has had as a Division III school in men’s and women’s soccer. And not just a little, they win at a 912 winning percentage! Pretty impressive stuff, the highest winning percentage in collegiate sports of a 10 year history.

Their coaches practice the “And” versus “Or” philosophy. When they recruit, they insist on toughness and skill. Both often don’t come together. They insist on team-oriented kids and the best kids on the field. Not easy to find. And finally, they expect the nicest, most caring people that become competitive and tough as nails when playing.

Work and leadership are hard. I for one have always worked hard to be an “And” leader. Both with planning and by setting the expectation for an “And” mentality. You can and should have it both ways. That is where great leadership and better companies come from.

Find yourself saying “We can’t hire for skill and culture fit”? Don’t compromise. Do it right and hire for both. The next class of hires might catapult you and your business to the next level.

Find yourself having to justify making tough choices on important projects or critical customers? Don’t do it. Find a way. Work with others. Make it happen.

“And” is about desire and belief. “And” is about your mindset. Most of us immediately assume we can’t have it both ways and we must choose. We do not demand it of ourselves first. And we do not challenge our teams. Lay it out there. Do not waver. And just maybe, you will be built to last like Messiah.

Play Like Calgary

March 14th, 2012

At 6 years old, my son Josh (now almost 15) was sitting with me watching the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Hockey Finals. The game was Tampa Bay Lightning versus Calgary Flames. Tampa was ahead by one goal. If they held on they would get to hoist the oldest trophy in sports in celebration. But Calgary was flying all over the ice, coming at Tampa in wave after wave of play. Josh kept saying Calgary is trying really hard. They are working so hard. We were both sitting riveted at what we were seeing.

These teams were playing so hard that they had nothing left in the end. As they say, they left it all on the field (or ice in this case). They gave it their all. What other sport is so exhausting that your shift lasts a mere 45 seconds!? It is hard to skate at 20 miles per hour, get hit and keep focus.

But this story is not really a story about hockey. It is a story about how we live our daily lives. So many of us do not know who we really are, what our personal values are, what we are really capable of. Life is so empty of passion. So void of purpose. So numb to all of our surroundings. Some of us simply skate through life on the surface.

For Josh, this game changed his sports life. At six years old he figured out what it meant to put forth the extra effort. As he nears 15, I need only one phrase to motivate him, “Josh, play like Calgary”… “Attack your school work like Calgary would.” Some days we both slip. We’re human. He is a teenager. Enough said.

Some days we don’t live life like the last 10 minutes of a Stanley Cup game. But, every day I get up with the intentions of going for it. If you are wondering, Calgary lost the game. But for Josh and me, Calgary is a one word motivator that makes us both smile, and even makes us well up a little. I have lived a little life at this point, however, I have never, ever seen anyone give so much of themselves with such absolute abandon. SO FEW close the gap between who they are and what they are capable of.

Inspiration comes to people differently. What is your muse? Find what you are passionate about and give it your all. Play like Calgary. Work like Calgary. Live like Calgary.

An Entrepreneur’s Resolution

December 28th, 2011

As we reflect on the year, it seems that many entrepreneurs focus on what we did NOT accomplish. We have visions of perfect days and weeks where we cross everything off the list of to-do’s and it seems that unless we reach perfection, it’s all about what went undone. It isn’t natural for us to stop and celebrate, to recognize our achievement. This is wrong. Without celebration and joy it is so hard to build momentum, to gain confidence in your team. And worse, when a leader does this, you become the “what’s next” boss. I find it harder to produce fun and happiness without celebration. I have heard employees complain about too much celebration, however, they usually have fun anyway. Everyone wants to be a part of something when progress is made and acknowledged.
 
So, for an entrepreneur’s resolution: stop your team and ask them to review their successes (and if you must, their disappointments too) but stop to enjoy the reward of what you did achieve. I promise it makes a difference.
 
You can do this for yourself as well. Every January first, I sneak down to my home office while everyone but the dog sleeps in — and I do a full review of my year. I think in terms of business, family and my many roles as father, husband, brother, sister, etc. I think about my physical pursuits and well being. I dream of hobbies pursued and those I wish to pursue. I think about places I want to go and things I really want to do. I even think about my mental health and spirituality and how I am doing. I think about all of these things from a place of progress to celebrate my wins.
 
This my favorite day of the year and the most luxurious thing I think I can give myself. It’s time to think about me and those that are in my sphere of influence. Great and magical things have come from this. In one year, I lost 40 pounds. Two years ago, I hiked 747 miles and finished a 36 mile competitive hike, finishing 10th. Another year, I spent time with a special loved one that I had lost touch with. I am still impatient. Years of reflection and goal setting haven’t helped that but I have hopes for that goal this year.
 
Not to be too preachy, but there are so many self help gurus and experts in this area. My approach is not new. It is a little bit of Covey, a pinch of the Dream Manager book and the Rockefeller Habits too. And wow, this is my 20th year of doing it? Wondering how I kept track of that? In 1991 I decided that I would start my own business and it took me 10 years to launch CBI Group in 2001!
 
Happy New Year and Happy Thinking!
 

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