To be the best, we need to hire the best

I greatly enjoyed my recent opportunity to go on the air with FOX 2 Detroit and talk a little bit about our recent growth here at Powerlink. During the interview I shared some of the thinking that goes into our hiring practices and that got me thinking a little bit more about how critically important that process is not only to Powerlink’s efforts, but to any company’s success. This might sound negative, but at its core, our hiring process is actually one of exclusion—our goal is to eliminate those individuals who simply won’t be a good fit for the speed at which we function and the high level of service we pride ourselves on. Here are some of the attributes that matter most to us here at Powerlink as we meet with candidates and look to hire talented and motivated personnel:

Passion: For many of our positions, we can train a new hire with the specific skills that they need to do the work—but we can’t teach or train them to have passion for what they do every day. We need people who truly care about our clients, and who are willing to go above and beyond to serve them.

Presentation: Part of taking pride in yourself and your work is taking pride in the way you look.

Flexibility: Powerlink needs team members who are willing to adapt to our culture and expectations.

Willingness to follow direction: One of the easiest ways to remove yourself from contention is to not follow basic instructions. We usually begin the interview process by asking candidates to come (alone) to our office at a specific time, to be appropriately dressed, and to bring a copy of their resume with them. Candidates who cannot follow those fairly basic instructions are essentially disqualifying themselves before the formal interview even begins.

Diversity matters: We will always hire the best person for a job, but, with clients in a variety of industries and communities, we need to reflect that diversity in our team members.

Categories: Business Success, The Industry

Moving forward by giving back

The holidays are a time when we celebrate family, friends and community. For me personally, one of the most important ways of strengthening the community is to always look at giving something back. That’s a perspective that I have tried to bring to my professional endeavors, as well, and we have made charitable giving a big part of what we do here at Powerlink. We see supporting the community—and youth in particular—as an essential part of our professional responsibilities. I think that when an individual or an organization has success that they have a responsibility to do something for the community they serve. For me in particular, as someone who grew up in Detroit and feels such a strong connection to and love for the city, that motivation is particularly strong. And because Powerlink is a Detroit-based company, we think it’s critical to give back to the community in a way that helps youth gain the same opportunities that gave people like me the opportunity to succeed.

At Powerlink we see the value in engaged community commitment year-round. That’s why we work with fantastic local organizations such as Winning Futures and Greg Kelser’s Shoot for Your Goals basketball camp for kids. Winning Futures is a great non-profit that offers mentoring programs and workshops for middle school and high school students in Southeast Michigan. The Shoot for the Goals camp is from June 18th to June 22nd, and not only teaches kids basketball skills, but also a lot about goal setting and preparing them for the challenges that will face them as they learn and grow as high school students. I can tell you that myself and a number of members of our organization volunteer for these workshops and events, and there’s no greater reward than getting an opportunity to serve as a role model, mentor, and positive example for these kids.

Visit the Winning Futures website at www.winningfutures.org to register 8th and 9th graders, or to sign up to volunteer as a mentor for the program.

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility

Too much data

It’s an accepted fact in a number of industries that more information is always better. Many companies have taken data gathering to extraordinary levels, going to great lengths to document and catalogue vast amounts of painstakingly gathered and categorized pieces of information. Other companies use commonly available numbers with regularity to make important strategic choices about personnel, spending, and other business decisions. One of the things that we have learned in years of digging deep to identify new efficiencies (and deliver more value for lower costs) is that oftentimes opportunities to learn and grow from information are missed. And, even worse, businesses—even some successful companies with well-respected leaders—rely on the wrong data all too often.

I think decision-makers everywhere need to make it a point to ask themselves if they are keeping data, statistics and key performance indicators for a specific strategic purpose, or just for the sake of it. Are they actually willing to make substantive changes based on that information? They also need to determine if they are gathering the right information, and drawing the right conclusions from that information. Because, ultimately, if you do not utilize information correctly, it has no value—gathering data without change occurring is a waste of resources.

Drawing the wrong conclusions from the wrong data is not just a waste, it can be actively counterproductive. I recently read an insightful and thought-provoking article by Michael Mauboussin in the Harvard Business Review (http://hbr.org/2012/10/the-true-measures-of-success/ar/1) that explores some of the common mistakes that many businesses make with regard to gathering and acting on data. As Mr. Mauboussin puts it: “The metrics companies use most often to measure, manage and communicate results—often called key performance indicators… have only a loose connection to the objective of creating value.” He goes on to point out that “We tend to overestimate the importance of information that we’ve encountered recently, that is frequently repeated, or that is top of mind for other reasons.”

Even worse, we have a tendency to try and make the data fit our preconceived assumptions, using information selectively to support our decisions. To me, the bottom line is this: we have access to vast amounts of data, but in many ways that actually makes things harder for businesses. If we don’t use it, understand it or act on it correctly, we should probably not spend the time to track it!

Categories: Business Success

Form vs. Function

I read recently that BMW is building a new facility where the space is designed from the standpoint of promoting facility maintenance best practices. Instead of worrying about aesthetics to the exclusion of everything else, the architects and designers will actually be taking into account how easy the facility will be to clean and maintain.

Strategies like the one BMW is employing just might be the best way to answer what I think is a critical question: What happens when you build a plant with facilities management in mind? Think about it: companies spend tens of millions—even hundreds of millions—of dollars designing and building top-of-the-line facilities. What good does that do if they discover years down the road that their investment is excessively (perhaps even prohibitively) expensive to maintain. I think there is enormous value in investing time and energy up-front in designing spaces and places that are not only attractive, but also durable, accessible, functional and easy (not to mention cost-effective) to maintain.

The first step is to make sure that your architects aren’t designing in a vacuum – solicit feedback and input from facilities management and maintenance experts. Make sure that you design with performance in mind; prioritizing the needs of the people who will be using and maintaining the facility every day. In particular, healthcare organizations would likely benefit from asking themselves tough questions about the degree to which their facilities can meet the rigorous demands of a busy healthcare environment; not just today, but for decades to come.

Organizations should have a design standards manual with contributions by the end user, and architects and building managers both need a say in the design process. Whether it’s small details like full-door hinges or sturdier cabinets to withstand a hospital’s wear and tear, or big-picture stuff like the logistics and dimensions of entryways and pedestrian corridors, a practical facilities-management approach to design can help to keep building working and costs down. And, at a time when shrinking Maintenance, Repair and Operations budgets are the rule, rather than the exception, that priority is more important than ever.

Categories: Business Success

Customer service spotlight: Karen Taylor

Here at Powerlink we focus a great deal on the importance of service—the value of going the extra mile for our clients. With that in mind, I think it’s incredibly important to recognize those employees who consistently embody that professional philosophy. And there is no one who does that as consistently or as impressively as Karen Taylor. Karen recently received the Starfish customer service award for her work at the Karmanos infusion clinic.

That alone is a recognition worth celebrating. But here’s whats really remarkable: this makes the fourth year in a row that Karen has received that honor. She is not only the first non-Karmanos employee to receive the award, she has made it clear with her performance over the years that it was no fluke. Patients, hospital employees, medical professionals and Powerlink managers have all praised her caring and consideration—as well as her professionalism and her demonstrated willingness to go the extra mile. Karen embodies the professional ideal that Powerlink works so hard to maintain, and she is truly worthy of the award based on the old parable of the boy and the starfish:

A man is walking along a beach littered with thousands of dying starfish and sees a boy throwing them one at a time back in to the water. “Why do you bother?” he asked. “You’re not saving enough to make a difference.” The boy picked up another and threw it in. “It made a difference to that one,” he said.

Karen’s hard work on behalf of every individual patient she comes in contact with is the personification of the notion that everyone matters. A long list of patient testimonials shows just how much of an impact she has had at Karmanos. From simple gestures like getting patients a cup of coffee, to a friendly smile or word of encouragement while she works hard to keep their rooms clean and their spirits up, Karen makes a difference every single day.

Categories: Business Success