Jobless rate falls
Stocks jumped on this news as the report was expected to be bad. Again, the Labor Deportment made significant upward revisions to reports from previous months.
Overall the unemployment rate is at a 4-year low of 7.5%. Of course there’s a long way to go but at least we’re making some steady progress.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Career, Your Team, Your Workplace
Tags: jobless claims, jobless rate, monthly jobs report, unemployment, unemployment numbers, unemployment rate, US unemployment, weekly jobless claims
Are you an ideal employee?
It’s a fair question, whether you’re looking for a job or you’re settled in with a job.
This articles describes 15 traits of the ideal employee. It’s a great list for prospective employers as they evaluate job candidates, but it’s also a great checklist for those of us looking for a job. What can we do to add more value to our company? Here are the first two items on the list:
1. Action-oriented – Hire employees who take action and take chances. While chances may lead to failure, they will more often lead to success and mold confidence while generating new ideas. Stagnant employees won’t make your company money; action-oriented employees will.
2. Intelligent – Intelligence is not the only thing, but it’s a strong foundation for success. While there are many variables you can be flexible on when hiring, intelligence is a must or you’re going to be spending an abundance of time proofing work, micromanaging and dealing with heightened stress levels.
The term “problem solver” isn’t on this list, though many of the attributes point to this quality. It’s important to be able to identify problems, but the best employees will help you solve them and also take the initiative where appropriate.
As you look for a new job and prepare for interviews, keep this list in mind.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Career, Your Workplace
Tags: action-oriented employees, best employee characteristics, best employee traits, career advice, career information, career opportunities, career tips, careers, employees, help your career, ideal employee, intelligent employees, job interview, problem solvers
Telecommuting issues emerge at Yahoo!
There are may significant advantages for a company letting workers telecommute and work remotely. Productivity often increases as this flexibility makes workers happier. In today’s world, it’s important for a company to offer this option for some jobs.
Yet there are disadvantages when you don’t have workers together on a consistent basis. It’s impossible to replicate the casual environment of workers being together at lunch and around the office. Much gets done when people are together.
Every company needs to strike the right balance, and that’s what Marissa Mayer is trying to do at Yahoo!, but her recent announcement has sparked a backlash.
Here’s a clip:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
Just reading this, it seems like this could have been handled better by bring up the issue and looking at specific jobs. As stated above, balance is best.
But I suspect the problem may have gotten out of control at Yahoo! and that has prompted Mayer to take a hard line. Workers can be very productive at home in terms of how much they work, but it’s harder to keep workers focused on what’s best for the company if they are always at home.
It will be fascinating to see how this story develops.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Career, Your Network, Your Team, Your Workplace
Tags: cafeteria discussions at work, company productivity, corporate productivity, hallway discussions at work, happier workers, I want to work remotely, impromptu team meetings, improving work performance, Marissa Mayer, Marissa Mayer controversy, Marissa Mayer telecommuting, productivity, remote worker revolution, remote workers, rise of remote workers, team collaboration, telecommuting, telecommuting advantages, telecommuting from home, telecommuting issues, work from home, worker productivity, working from home, working remotely, working side-by-side, workplace, workplace collaboration, workplace productivity, Yahoo!, Yahoo! telecommuting, Yahoo! workplace
The emergence of social entrepreneurship
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
With the rise of social media and the emergence of tech entrepreneurs giving money to charity, many of the lines between non-profits and regular businesses are starting to be blurred. Here’s a summary of the issue.
Whether there is a profit motive or not, the notion that business has a role to play in addressing societal issues is at the heart of today’s discourse on social entrepreneurship. Defining what social entrepreneurship is as well as the difference between it and traditional non-profit management as well as philanthropy is a flourishing discourse. Coined by Bill Drayton of Ashoka in the early 1980’s, the term social entrepreneurship has become somewhat of a catch-all phrase. Originally it referred to someone with the passion of an entrepreneur tackling a social challenge. Now, it has evolved to a number of meanings including but not limited to social interventions with distinctly business characteristics as well as businesses themselves.
With his remark, Dr. Yunus hit upon one of the main themes of the book: the blurring line between profit and non-profit, business and charity when providing a social good. The term non-profit organization has been used to describe what an organization is not rather than what it is. The equalization of social service work with non-profit balance sheets became sacrosanct. In order to do good, common practice and wisdom told us, we could not also do well. Now, that notion is being turned on its head. Not only do social investors believe that it is possible to do good and do well, other aspects of the old mindset are falling away. Many non-profit organizations are developing profitable income streams to both help their constituencies as well as the sustainability of their organizations by ensuring a stable bottom line. Throughout this book, stories of individuals and organizations are blurring the distinction between profit and non-profit are presented.
Read the entire article. It might spark some great ideas!
Considering job swaps
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There are all sorts of new management ideas and trends these days, but the idea of the job swap is very interesting, and possibly very useful.
One morning in May Nadim Hossain drove to work, sat in a weekly sales forecast meeting, met with the marketing team, and gave feedback on ad messaging. Only it wasn’t his office, his job, or even his company.
À la the TV show Wife Swap, Hossain, then vice president of marketing at San Francisco-based PowerReviews, was in the midst of an executive job swap. He traded roles for the day with Jon Miller, VP of marketing and co-founder of San Mateo, Calif., software firm Marketo, hoping to gain some insight into his own role by experiencing someone else’s.
It worked. Since PowerReviews — now owned by Bazaarvoice — is a Marketo customer, Miller came away better understanding the issues facing chief marketing officers. Hossain, for his part, returned to PowerReviews with pages of notes on ways to motivate his sales team, woo big brands, and identify leads. “A fresh environment is always a good way to generate new ideas,” Hossain says.
Check it out and then consider this for members of your team.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Team, Your Workplace
Tags: business management, business management ideas, considering job swaps, culture of innovation, empowering employees, Empowerment, encouraging innovation, fostering innovation, generate new business ideas, innovation, innovation challenge, job swaps, management, management techniques, management trends, managing people
Fracking heats up the job market
Fracking, also know as hydraulic fracturing, is pretty controversial among environmentalists. The process threatens groundwater, but then natural gas burns much cleaner than coal.
Another issue affecting the fracking debate involves jobs. With the natural gas boom fueled by fracking, we’re now seeing a ton of drilling for gas, and also oil, and that’s creating many jobs.
On the East Coast, abundant natural gas flowing from the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, is enriching farmers who lease their lands to production companies and is estimated to have created 60,000 jobs in the region, with another 200,000 possible by 2015.
Cheap domestic energy is also good news for the manufacturing sector. “The discovery and development of North America’s shale resources has the potential to be the most remarkable source of economic growth and prosperity that any of us are likely to encounter in our lifetimes,” U.S. Steel CEO John Surma told the Congressional Steel Caucus in a late March hearing. It’s a virtuous cycle: More drilling requires more steel, and lower energy costs give U.S. steel producers a cost edge. This at a time when the Department of Energy reports that the energy intensity of U.S. steel companies is now among the lowest in the world.
In St. James Parish near Baton Rouge, ground was broken last year for a $3.4 billion steel plant being built by Nucor Steel (NUE), the first major facility built in the U.S. in decades. U.S. Steel is investing in a new facility in Lorain, Ohio, and V&M Star Steel (the North American subsidiary of the French pipemaker Vallourec) plans to spend $650 million on a small-diameter rolling mill in Youngstown, Ohio.
It’s not just Big Steel that will benefit. Feedstock made from cheap natural gas is a boon for the petrochemical industry. Citing “the improved outlook for U.S. natural-gas supply from shale,” Dow Chemical (DOW) says it will build an ethylene plant for startup in 2017. (Ethylene is used to make things like plastic bottles and toys.) Dow will also restart its ethylene plant near Hahnville, La. Shell, which is building a new petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania, is also considering a $10 billion Louisiana plant to convert natural gas to diesel. “Low-cost natural gas is the elixir, the sweetness, the juice, the Viagra,” says Don Logan, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “What it’s doing is changing the U.S. back into the industrial power of the day.”
Studies show that fracking will support millions of jobs. Of course some will argue that green jobs are even better for the economy, and the environment, in today’s economy we can’t be too picky.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Career
Tags: American oil boom, energy jobs, energy jobs boom, fracking, fracking boom, fracking jobs, fracking risks, gas boom, gas industry, gas industry risks, green jobs, hydraulic fracturing, hydraulic fracturing risks, jobs in natural gas drilling, manufacturing jobs, Marcellus Shale formation, natural gas boom, natural gas drilling jobs, oil drilling jobs, petrochemical jobs, producing shale gas, shale gas, shale gas risks, steel jobs
Time to update your management techniques
Management practices are evolving. Check out this provocative article from Inc. and ask yourself if you need to update the way you manage people.
Here’s my list of “old school” practices you ought to chuck, and “new school” practices to champion instead:
1. Out: Micro-management, or the need to control every aspect of your company. In: Empowerment, the ability to give your people some rope–even rope to make mistakes without blame.
2. Out: Management by walking around the office; it is no longer enough to be visible. In: Leadership by watching and listening, engaging in conversation, implementing the ideas presented to you, and distributing the results.
3. Out: Pretending you know everything. You don’t have all the answers, so why try to make people think you do? In: Knowing your leadership team members and trusting them. Choose great people who have the right skills and fit the culture. And get out of the way.
4. Out: No mistakes, or a “no tolerance policy” some still think works. In: Learning from mistakes, or being the first to admit an error.
5. Out: The balance sheet drives the business, and informs all other decisions. In: People drive the business, boosting customer loyalty, and profit.
Check out the rest of the article for the remaining 5 items. I think this is a great list that will make you more effective with your team and also help you relate better to today’s employees.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Team, Your Workplace
Tags: dealing with mistakes in workplace, empower your employees, Empowerment, Learning from mistakes, management, management techniques, managing people, Micro-management, workplace mistakes
Traditional promotion tools still important
This is a great time to be an entrepreneur with all of the incredible tools available through social media and the Internet. Tools like LinkedIn.com provide excellent networking opportunities, while websites, online stores, email lists, job boards and more can help a single entrepreneur handle all sorts of tasks that require much more time and effort in the past, not to mention additional employees.
That said, it’s important to remember that many of the traditional methods of the past still matter today. For example, you can do an incredible amount of networking online through networking sites, email and your social media accounts. You can also find leads and attend virtual conferences. Yet eve with these tools it’s very important to take advantage of opportunities to press the flesh and meet with people in person. Yes, you can be more selective and weed out bad leads with online tools, but personal meetings can cement relationships that can carry a business for years.
Also, regarding promotional tools. a great website and vibrant Facebook page is critical for many businesses, but impressive brochures are still critical in many business segments. Fortunately, you can now shop for printing services online in order to find the best deals. The Internet definitely provides more selection and price comparisons, and you can compare your local printing shop to brochure printing online at UPrinting, but the key is using brochures when appropriate. They are critical if you’re attending trade shows or other events where you meet with customers in person.
So while many businesses can thrive with one person working in their home office, that doesn’t mean that traditional methods are gone for good. As an entrepreneur, you need to find the balance that works best for you.
Open-ended vacation policies
The lines are blurring between work days and off days, along with workplace and home environments, as technology makes us more accessible. One trend emerging has to do with open-ended vacation policies.
Unlimited paid vacation is the new trend, as you encourage workers to be responsible and take the time off they need. This makes workers more productive. The idea is a Results-Only Work Environment. Not many companies are doing it, but it’s becoming popular in the tech field.
Posted in: Your Business, Your Career, Your Team, Your Workplace
Tags: company productivity, corporate productivity, flexible workforce, improving work performance, open-ended vacation policies, open-ended vacations, productivity, Results-Only Work Environment, vacation, vacation and productivity, vacation policies, worker productivity, workplace productivity
The importance of focus for entrepreneurs
Many of us are guilty of this. Instead of focusing on the execution of our most important initiatives, we keep coming up with new ideas. In some ways this is critical in the new economy, where everything moves very quickly. You have to be alert and opportunistic.
That said, there’s a real danger in spreading yourself too thin. You have to learn to focus on what’s important. This article explains the concept in the terms of domain names for Internet entrepreneurs. If you have over 300 domain names, maybe you’re brainstorming too much and not executing enough?