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Finding and Fueling Great Talent

Talent is the single biggest overriding factor when it comes to professional success: you can have great processes but if you don’t have the talent on board it won’t matter. For businesses looking to achieve a high level of consistent success the reality is that when you see talent you have to aggressively go after it. It is a mistake to think that you can’t get better, and any business owner or entrepreneur who thinks that they alone have the answer for everything is destined for a hard fall—it’s about building a great team and giving them the tools, support and, most importantly, the opportunity to succeed.

The first thing to remember is to let your talent shine: when you get your horses, let them run. Don’t try and turn a thoroughbred into a plow horse; you have to let people be who they are. That doesn’t mean standing idly by and crossing your fingers. Allowing talented employees to be themselves and play to their strengths is anything but a passive exercise. Business owners and decision-makers need to ensure that their organizations are ready for change.

First, by putting the right kind of organizational infrastructure in place: the people, processes and policies that allow talented new hires to come in and do big things. And second, by simply being willing to change when circumstances demand it. In any business environment, you have to be flexible, and the degree of that flexibility is largely dictated by the dynamics of your existing team. The reality is that some people can adjust and others can’t. Understand that if you bring in Type A personalities who are talented and motivated it’s going to be tough for your organization to be successful with B and C talent around them.

How will your people respond to being pushed by new talent? In sports, the speed required to operate at the “next level” often comes as a shock to the athletes—the jump from high school to college and from college to the pros are huge. It is the same thing in business: the game gets faster at every level. But just as professional athletes are defined by how they engage in professional environments, the highest performers must step up in the most successful and competitive business environments. If their managers and coaches create a favorable environment for them, those who can step up and perform at a higher level will do so, and their teams and companies will become stronger and more competitive as a result.

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Categories: Business Success
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Something in the Air

For business owners and entrepreneurs in the Motor City, it’s unmistakable: there is a definite buzz of excitement around hiring in Detroit right now. Business is picking up, and hiring activity is beginning to follow. There is a sense, at least anecdotally, that the slow-but-steady rebound from the recession has gained enough traction that the job market has reached a kind of tipping point. We are seeing hiring pick up in a number of different places, not just in growth industries like health care (which were fairly resilient even in the depths of the recession), but in sectors that have yet to really rebound and have been mostly treading water from a hiring standpoint.

What is especially interesting to me is what this hiring looks like. Much of the hiring buzz is being driven by businesses looking to improve the scale and scope of their services in an increasingly competitive marketplace. As organizations look to give and receive better service, they are demanding more from their vendors and professional partners, and prioritizing quality to a degree that hasn’t been seen in years. “Good” is no longer good enough, and “great” is the baseline expectation. In an economy that is just now beginning to get out from under the long shadow of a significant economic slowdown, standing out becomes all the more important; you have to up your game if you want to be a star player. Powerlink clients are coming to us and are asking us to do more for them, and that is a pattern we are seeing across the city and around Southeast Michigan. To respond to that increased demand, of course, businesses are hiring. If you’re building a segment of your business, you need talent: having the professional and personnel infrastructure in place to support that growth and service the customer is essential. In other words: if you want to go higher, you’ve got to go hire.

Categories: Business Success
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Veteran Value (part 2)

Here at Powerlink we focus a great deal on the importance of service—the value of going the extra mile for our clients. But I believe in the importance of another kind of service as well: military service. At a time when veteran unemployment rates are dramatically above the national average, and when companies everywhere are looking harder and harder for skilled, high-character and high-value employees, I can’t help feeling a little frustrated that more companies don’t appreciate what an incredible asset veterans can be.

Employers certainly need to do a better job of recognizing the value that veterans can bring to the workplace. But veterans also need to help themselves and be their own advocates. They need to understand how to present themselves and their skill set in a way that helps employers recognize their value. In other words: veterans need to be able to connect the dots for a potential employer, and to explain how their knowledge and experience would translate into civilian success. They need to demonstrate that they know the value of teamwork and to be able to explain how you’d fit in to their team.

Here are a few tips—from one veteran to another—on how veterans can best communicate these skills to potential employers:

Talk the talk
Don’t use military acronyms and jargon. Speak the language of business, and let your employer see that you are familiar with the industry, the company, and the services or products it provides.

Get your papers in order
Don’t forget to include relevant details that can help you stand out. Ensure that any transferable certificates and licenses you have earned in the military are front and center.

Avoid the stereotype
Instead of pointing out that you know how to follow orders, emphasize your commitment and your can-do attitude and talk about creative ways that you have gotten the job done.

Gather intelligence
Never go into an interview without first acquiring a thorough understanding of the employer. Make it a point to create your own “intelligence briefing” before the interview. Demonstrating that you have done your homework can be a big plus for employers looking for candidates that stand out.

Take pride in your service
Don’t underestimate the value of your military training. Make sure you provide a prospective employer with concrete examples of situations where you stayed calm under pressure or were able to absorb constructive criticism and translate that into improvement.

Categories: The Industry
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Veteran Value (part 1)

As a veteran myself, I recognize the enduring value of the responsibilities that were instilled in me and the experiences I had while serving. Like so many Americans, my time in uniform has helped to mold me, building character and highlighting the importance of discipline, dedication and service. I believe in the value of veterans, and I have seen firsthand what an extraordinary asset they can be, and how important they can be to a company. Here at Powerlink, we firmly believe that the human element is responsible for our continued success. Identifying, training and retaining exceptional people is at the heart of what we do. I believe it’s at the heart of every successful company.

So if I could pass along one piece of personnel advice to CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners in Greater Detroit, it is this: don’t underestimate the value of working with veterans. Character and discipline are only part of the professional equation: veterans have acquired a wealth of skills and attributes prized by companies across metro Detroit.

Think about some of the logical synergies: procurement officers who understand logistics, company commanders who can step right into a leadership position such as an operations manager, medics who are a natural fit to serve as EMTs and other medical professionals, enlisted recruiters are experts in sales, and a classified material systems custodian has extensive experience in handling and managing sensitive information.

Veterans know (and live) the phrase “improvise, adapt and overcome”. For potential employers, this means that military experience isn’t just about taking orders, but working with a solutions-oriented approach. It is a commitment to excellence—about doing things the right way: the first time and every time. Military veterans know the value of teamwork, and the importance of supporting your fellow team members. In a combat unit, you are taught to always learn the job of the person above and below you, since you never know what may occur. In a professional business environment, that kind of flexibility can be a difference-maker. Finally, consider this: at a time when many young people today are accused of being soft—vets aren’t. In fact, they are anything but soft. Few training programs better cultivate the hard work, can-do attitude and ironclad discipline needed to succeed in business than the military.

Categories: Business Success
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Spring Cleaning Doesn’t Exist

While the rest of the world is thinking about Spring Cleaning, maintenance for a well-managed facility is planned year-round. The best way to maximize efficiency and improve the building environment is through a proactive, planned approach.

In commercial facilities, we don’t have the luxury of picking a specific weekend to clean out our closets—this work is ongoing and constant. A facilities management plan that is well-orchestrated spreads the work over the entire year, keeping team members’ workloads more stable—and with more variety—ensuring that every task is part of the plan and has a reasonable amount of time to be completed.

This approach means that, as facilities managers, we’re not chasing every problem, but working to fix them before they happen. We all do more efficient and effective work when we’re not running from crisis to crisis.

If you feel as if your facility is suffering in the doldrums of winter, it may be time to review your annual plan and see where improvements and efficiencies can be achieved. The best facilities are driven by these plans and procedures to create positive environments for team members and, most importantly, the workers, students and patients who get to enjoy a well-managed space.

Categories: Business Success, The Industry