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As career coaches and counselors, we’re committed to helping our clients move forward in their careers. And as our industry moves into the future, we’ll have to change some of what we do,      how we do it, and why we do it because the coaching industry, like every other industry, will change and evolve.

Saturday, April 26, from 9 AM-10:30 AM Tom Morris will explore these and other ideas in his role as a featured futurist presenter at the 2014 Career Thought Leaders Conference, “Framing the Future.” The three-day conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore and offers seven featured programs, each with multiple presentations.

“Each program begins with a futurist presentation. What’s going to happen in 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, and more – information that we must know to prepare ourselves and our clients. Following the future are presentations on what’s happening now – ideas, information, resources, samples, and thought-provoking conversation that we can use today to position ourselves and our clients for tomorrow.” — 2014 Career Thought Leaders Conference Webpage

What will change in the career coaching and lifelong career development industry? What will be new? What might actually stay the same? Join Tom as he explores the answers April 26, in Baltimore.

For more information about the conference, to register and to attend Tom’s futurist presentation, visit http://www.careerthoughtleaders.com/conference-2014/.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

It’s that time of year – and we’ve had more requests than ever before to again revisit Why December May Be the Best Time to Conduct a Job Search.

Perhaps your thinking: Now? No sense looking now; everybody knows that no one hires in December.

Contrary to widespread belief, December can actually be one of the best months to conduct a job search. Here are five reasons why:

1. Less Competition: Since so many people believe December is a bad month to look for a job, they don’t actively search during that month. Hence, there is less competition from other job seekers, and potential employers have more time to consider those who do apply for positions.

2. More Access: “Everybody” does not go away for the December holidays. On the contrary, many managers are both catching up on unfinished business and are getting ready for the new year. Many human resources directors are working on staffing plans for the coming year, and they may be more attentive to recruiting and hiring than they are other times of the year. Thus the last month of the year can be the best month of all to get the attention of key people.

3. The Giving Season: As people get in the spirit of the year-end holidays, they tend to be more disposed toward helping others. There may not be a huge swing in this direction, but even a little increased openness by hiring managers works in favor of applicants.

4. January Hires: January is often one of the biggest months of the year for hiring. However, those hired in January are usually not the people who waited until January to start their job searches. Those hired in January are often people who were actively pursuing leads in December.

5. The January Rush: A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions to change jobs so in January the market becomes more saturated with job seekers. If you put off your search until after the December holidays, you’re likely to have to compete with a bigger (and possibly more determined) crowd in January. You also risk losing psychological job-search momentum around Thanksgiving, and you may not get into high gear until mid-or-late January. That means, obviously, that a job seeker can actually lose two months, not just one, by suspending activity in December.

A final note. While it may not be advisable to completely suspend job search efforts as many people do in December, do make sure you make time to spend with family and friends to enjoy the holidays.

What are successful for-profit and not-for-profit organizations doing to recruit and retain valued talent and knowledge?

At this year’s annual RecruitDC Conference in May, panels of Chief Human Resource executives from successful firms and organizations gave some great ideas on this topic. Here are 10 Recruiting and Retention Tips that I found helpful. Hope they’re helpful for you, too.

1. Empower your workforce to use social media to broadcast what they do/like about their work and their employer.

2. Cultivate your corporate culture to be known as an employer of choice.

3. Use employee referral campaigns to recruit and hire.

4. Do formal exit interviews – use outside source; have source stay in touch with “regrettable talent losses” every few months to see if you might hire them back.

5. Post all jobs including executive jobs so your current employees know and can apply.

6. Keep work employees do challenging; don’t let employees or the work they do get stale.

7. Focus on wellness, engagement and recognition programs for all.

8. Good HR policies/practices should be things that benefit every population.

9. Use strategic methods of recruiting, e.g. Skype for interviews.

10. Watch variable costs, prioritize spending, perhaps use savings for internal morale events during hard times.

A major challenge many organizations face is the loss of knowledge and intellectual capital as older employees leave the workforce. In 2012 SHRM and AARP conducted a survey. The results indicated that 72% of HR professionals reported that their organizations saw the loss of older workers and their knowledge as a potential problem. Yet, only 5% of those companies had implemented policies and strategies to address this anticipated loss of talent and knowledge.

How can companies create a positive work environment and employment policies that attract and retain valued senior talent?

On Thursday, July 11, 2013 from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM, co-facilitators Tom Morris and Dee Cascio will conduct a dynamic, interactive session on The Graying of America II – Talent Acquisition and Retention which will be sponsored by the Dulles SHRM Chapter Discussion Group. This meeting is free for members and interested colleagues. For more information or to register, contact Wistaria Krigger at 703-716-1191, email discussion@dullesshrm.org or visit http://www.dullesshrm.org/discuss.asp. Registration is required no later than 24 hours in advance to ensure sufficient seating for all attendees.

The July 11 discussion will focus on:
• Why older workers are essential in our labor force.
• Ways to better recruit and retain experienced workers.
• Knowledge transfer/succession planning as both a personal (career management) and corporate (talent management) responsibility.

ABOUT THE GRAYING OF AMERICA II – TALENT ACQUISITION AND RETENTION DISCUSSION FACILITATORS:

Thomas W. Morris III, CMF, Founder and President of Morris Associates Inc., has helped thousands of people navigate to new employment faster and more effectively. He is certified internationally as a Career Management Fellow. A published author, Tom is often quoted in local and national publications and has been interviewed on radio and television stations in the United States and Canada. Tom has held leadership positions with numerous professional and volunteer organizations including four years as Co-Chair of Job Connection, a job fair for people with disabilities and five years as Chairman of the Board of The Emeritus Foundation, a non-profit organization that paired retired and semi-retired professional volunteers (lawyers, accountants, social workers, scientists, mathematicians, engineers) with local schools and community organizations. Tom’s keynote presentation, Marketing Yourself After 50: Good News for Gray Hairs has been heard by thousands of employees considering ongoing employment after the legal retirement age.

Dee Cascio, LPC, LMFT, ACC, BCC received her M. S. Degree in Counseling in 1970 from the University of Scranton and entered the field of education as a teacher and then a secondary school counselor. She was licensed in Virginia as a psychotherapist in 1986. She has owned her own business since 1986 and works with individuals, couples, and groups to achieve healthier and more satisfying lives through all stages of life and as they transition to retirement. Dee is a private practice licensed psychotherapist who successfully re-careered to coaching as both a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Retirement and Re-Career Coach. She and her husband enjoy encore careers that give them the freedom to travel. She believes any creative lifestyle is possible if you plan well and are receptive to change and adventure. Dee writes a monthly Retirement Lifestyle Strategies newsletter and is a contributing author to Contagious Optimism (release-June 2013). She is also writing her own book on Retirement Lifestyle Planning. She makes presentations about lifestyle planning to businesses, financial planners, professional groups, church/civic associations. She is also a member of Rotary International and Dulles Chamber of Commerce.

Sequestration’s here, cuts and changes are in the winds of Washington and the surrounding country. Will it cause firms, contractors, organizations, programs and agencies to downsize, reorganize, or eliminate positions? No one knows for sure, but it’s hard to imagine that it won’t be likely for some, especially in the DC area.

Are people, firms and agencies worried? “Every government contractor I speak to is putting a contingency plan together,” says Gary Cluff, founder of Project S.A.V.E., a free networking group for area employment professionals and job seekers.

Downsizings happen all the time. I’ve had a career working with firms and organizations that merged, dissolved, reduced, reorganized or just developed new products or services that needed a different talent mix or skill set than the one they had. I’ve seen it done well, and I’ve seen – and heard about – it being done poorly. Unfortunately, it’s too often done poorly, especially if we look at longer-term effects.

A 2008 article in The Economist that discussed “Idea: Downsizing,” referenced an American Management Association survey of 1000 companies on the effects of downsizing. “Only 48% of those that had cut jobs… said their profits went up afterwards,” the survey reported. The Economist’s “Idea: Downsizing,” article also cited an earlier special report in Business Week on the changing structure of the workplace that warned, “the great risk of downsizing was that it simply resulted in fewer people working harder. It did little to change the way we work….”

But that doesn’t have to be. There are firms, organizations and agencies that reorganize, refocus and recommit through a reduction-in-force to the benefit of its employees and stakeholders. How do they do it?

ASK QUESTIONS

Management guru Peter Drucker has written numerous articles about downsizing and reductions-in-force including a classic titled “Really Reinventing Government” in The Atlantic. “The way to get control of costs,” Drucker stated, “is not to start by reducing expenditures but to identify the activities that are productive, that should be strengthened, promoted and expanded. Firms, agencies and programs would be wise to ask these questions:

1. “What is (our) mission?”
2. “Is it still the right mission?”
3. “Is is it still worth doing?”
4. “If we were not already doing this, would we now go into it?”

“The overall answer (to the last question),” Drucker added, “…is almost never ‘This is fine as it stands; let’s keep on.’ But in some – indeed a good many – areas the answer is, ‘Yes, we would go into it again, but with some changes. We have learned a few things.’”

These thoughts are international, not just about us in America. In a more recent report from the Geneva chapter of the European Baha’I Business Forum (EBBF) titled “What is the ‘Responsible Way’ to Restructure an Organization?” other useful questions for leaders, managers and employees of organizations going through restructuring were suggested including:

5. “What are the most effective and productive things we do now, and how can we enhance and expand those things?”
6. “Does our basic business/mission need to be redefined?”
7. “Can we enhance effectiveness through mergers, joint ventures or alliances?”
8. “Should we divert ourselves completely of certain businesses, programs or activities?”
9. “Is there a need to rebalance the portfolio of our businesses or services?”
10. “Should the organization divest or outsource certain businesses or activities?”
11. “Have we talked to and listened to the employees who do the work, who are in direct contact with the clients/customers we serve?”

A question we at Morris Associates Inc. always ask top executives who are planning to reduce staff is:

12. “What do you want the organization to look like, what do you want it to do and who will you need to do it AFTER notices are given and the cuts have been made?”

A result of this organizational analysis and soul-searching can be a list, says Drucker, “with activities and programs that should be strengthened at the top, ones that should be abolished at the bottom and between them activities that need to be refocused….”

DOs AND DON’Ts FOR DOWNSIZING

A well-managed downsizing/reduction-in-force is planned, prepared, announced, communicated and implemented so needs of all stake holders are met in a way that the organization can move forward quickly and productively as a good place to work that makes its mission a reality.

Do think of a downsizing as a complex project not just a cost reduction.

Do make a complete checklist of actions to be taken.

Do develop a detailed schedule for notification day: who will give notices to whom, where, and what happens then. Also, how, when, and by whom notification will be given to others in and outside the firm or organization who have a need to know.

Do provide notification meeting briefing for managers and supervisors who have to give notices to employees.

Do treat all employees with respect and dignity. Keep in mind departing employees will communicate with others; you don’t want them bad-mouthing the firm or organization.

Do plan what will be said to remaining employees after notices are given. It is important for management to have a plan for moving forward and communicate it quickly to those left who will carry out the plan.

Do encourage remaining employees to stay in touch with co-workers who were let go and be supportive. Many terminated employees have said that losing their jobs did not hurt as much as being ignored by former friends and workers after notices were given.

***

Don’t cut everything equally. One of the biggest errors firms and organizations make when they need to make cuts is to spread them evenly across all functions and departments thus making downsizing something surgeons warn against: amputation before diagnosis.

Don’t automatically equate “positions eliminated” with “employees terminated.” Many organizations that go through RIFs retain needed workers by reassigning them to unfilled and needed positions, then eliminating their old positions. During the 1990s 3M reassigned 3,500 employees to other jobs rather than make those employees redundant. When Ronald Reagan “reorganized” the Federal government several agencies reduced staffing by more than 100 employees each either without terminating anyone, or with only giving actual notices to a small number.

Don’t wait passively to see how sequestration and economy works out. Smart managers are considering options and outlining contingency plans now.

Don’t use a voluntary a separation program open to all as an alternative to a management-planned reduction-in-force. Some senior executives think a voluntary selection-out process is a more humane way to treat people. It may be for those who take it, but it may not be for those left, or for the good of the organization and the clients and customers it serves. Three examples:

  • A Big-3 automaker offered a voluntary separation program expecting 20,000 would take it and hoping 25,000 would. Actual result: 35,000 took the offer.
  • An international telecommunications firm offered voluntary cuts many of their best and most-needed technical workers took the offer. Since many of them and their experience were virtually irreplaceable, the firm had to hire them back – as consultants, and that was after they had to pay them generous severance packages.
  • An international financial organization offered voluntary separation hoping 300 employees would take it; 500 asked for it, the firm extended it to 400 then had to tell the other 100 they could not get it, thus creating a large group of disgruntled employees.

Keep in mind, when a reduction occurs three groups of employees are affected: Those who go, those who stay and those who have to make the RIF decisions and give the notices. Often the last two groups have more problems and stress that those actually let go. Keep the needs of all three in mind, especially the last two groups since they are the ones who will have to carry on the work of the firm or organizations after notices are given.

To read Morris Associates Inc.‘s Guidelines to Managing a Reduction-in-Force click here.