Perceived barriers to employment for older displaced workers

Here is a link to an article I just had published in the Online Journal for Workforce Education and Development.

Perceived barriers to employment for older displaced workers

 

Book Review: Relaunch

It has been some time since I have read a book that I enjoyed as much as Relaunch, by Dr. Mark Rutland. This book’s subtitle “How to stage an organizational comeback” is an accurate, but dry depiction of what you can expect to find in this book. It is much more than that. Rather than being filled with mundane, step by step instructions you can use to relaunch an organization, this book contains humor, anecdotes, and stories of Rutland’s own experiences in staging organizational comebacks.
Rutland sets the stage with the sage advice of his mother. Rutland and his family moved many times when he was young. With each move, his mother quickly began the task of improving the appearance of each new home by planting flowers. It was her goal to leave each home in better shape than when she arrived. This desire becomes the basis of Rutland’s organizational relaunch strategy.
Leadership is about developing a vision and getting those around you to buy into that vision. Rutland stresses the importance of this by saying, “Leadership, and particularly turnaround leadership is about defining a dream and tethering all aspects of the organization to it” (p. 23). Staging an organizational comeback will require buy-in from existing employees. The leader can improve buy-in by clearly articulating his vision for the new, improved, relaunched organization.
In addition to clearly communicating the vision of the revitalized organization, the leader must also inspire confidence. This includes professionalism and dress. Rutland recounts the first time he appeared on stage in a new position with the pastor who became an important mentor. Rutland’s old shoes and suit did not inspire confidence at this large, wealthy church. His mentor informed him that the next time he sat on stage beside him Rutland would be in a new suit with new shoes. There are many aspects to professionalism.
Unlike many leadership authors, Rutland has lived what he writes in this book. His first assignment, after leaving his mentor, was to pastor a deeply troubled church. Membership had dwindled from 9,000 to only 1,200, but their debt load had not decreased. The debt was so significant that before he could be officially hired, he had to get the approval of the bank that held the mortgage. Rutland’s turnaround efforts were successful and membership had tripled in three years.
According to Rutland, turnaround leaders much hold their positions loosely. Of course, there is the possibility of failure, but even after success, the turnaround leader must know when it is time to go. Rutland left this church after five years. He had accomplished his task and left it growing and financially stable.
Soon after leaving that church, Rutland took on the assignment of rebuilding a small college that was faced with dwindling enrollments and deteriorating buildings. While leading this college to a great turnaround, he learned that followers are more likely to buy-in to a larger vision when they can see even small progress toward the overall goal. After ten years at the helm, Rutland headed up building projects of over sixty million dollars and saw student enrollments more than triple.
During Rutland’s ten years at this college he had a staff turnover of 85%. This was not a bad thing. As he raised the standards, many existing employees were not comfortable and left on their own. Jim Collins stresses in “Good to Great” the importance of getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. Rutland practiced this well.
After leaving the small college, Rutland was then recruited to assist turning around Oral Roberts University. As of writing this book, he is still in that position and has already made great strides turning around this very large organization.
Rutland practices what he preaches. He writes from experience and after detailing this experience, he gives some practical steps that can be applied to other organizations in need of a relaunch. But, you will have to read the book for those. This is the first of the many books Rutland has authored that I have read. I do not think it will be my last.

Luther M. Maddy III, Ph.D.
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Down But Not Out: Hope and Help for the Unemployed

Unemployment can be devastating, emotionally and financially. To help you through this traumatic life event the author shares encouragement and practical advice. He also encourages his readers by sharing his own story of temporary failure, career change, and reemployment. Among the topics included are:
Improving your self-image during unemployment
* Maintaining a positive attitude
* Résumé tips
* Handling rejection
* Making your best interview impression
* Career change and retraining options
* When you can’t pay the bills

Business Ethics 101

Taking a break from preparing for class today, I picked up my old copy of “Safe Business Practices” published in 1904.  It’s been some time since I glanced through this text, but today, somewhat bored with reading statistics and operations management texts I thought it would provide a welcome diversion.

Starting at the beginning once again, I did not get too far before I found a list of the author’s nineteen “Safe Principles And Rules”.  Here are the first ten in that list:

 

  1. Remember that time is gold.
  2. True intelligence is always modest.
  3. Never covet what is not your own.
  4. Don’t cultivate a sense of over-smartness
  5. A man of honor respects his word as he does his note.
  6. Shun lawsuits and never take money risks that you can avoid.
  7. Endeavor to be perfect in the calling in which you are engaged.
  8. Keep your eyes on small expenses.  Small leaks sink a great ship.
  9. Keep your health good by adopting regular and steady habits.
  10. Never forget a favor, for ingratitude is the bases trait of a man’s character.

 

I found it very interesting that only two of these principles concerned themselves directly with money.  The majority of these rules deal with an individual’s character.  And, even the casual student of Bible will quickly find parallels to most of these rules in scripture.

Surprisingly, reading these admonitions brought me back to the textbooks I was taking a break from.  In the Statistics textbook I am using this semester I found, “Ethical behavior is something we should strive for in all we do”.  In the Management Information Systems textbook, every chapter has an “ethics guide” that poses an ethical dilemma to be solved by the students.  I even recalled an entire chapter in the textbook for my Introduction to Business class devoted to ethics.

Why all these reminders to conduct ourselves ethically in all we do?  Because, as scripture confirms, behaving ethically is not our natural inclination.  Instead we are inclined toward pride, selfishness, and greed.  Because all humanity struggles with ethical behavior, the business person who values his or her character above all else and shows it in their behavior will certainly rise above the crowd.  And, a reminder of that now and then certainly cannot hurt.

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E Myth Mastery- Part 1

I just picked up Michael Gerber’s “E Myth Mastery”.  This book has been around awhile since it was published in 2006 but still very relevant.  Gerber has a few books in the E Myth vein but up to this point I was only familiar with his first.

If you are or have ever aspired to become an entrepreneur, this Gerber’s books are for you.  His major emphasis is that to make a company a world class organization, the entrepreneur must focus on working ON the business not IN it.  This is a very important differentiation. 

I started reading this book because it is part of the curriculum for a class in entrepreneurial management I am teaching at a local university.  As I read further, I will report back with some of what I think are his best points.  I am very impressed with what I have read up to this point and would place it in the “must read” category for anyone running a small business.

 Luther Maddy, ChristianManager.com

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Some shameless self-promotion

Instead of keeping up with this blog as much as I should have, I’ve spent the last year writing a book.  Rather than writing a book on being a Christian Manager, like I should have, I wrote a book about the years of 2007 – 2009 of my life, and it’s, at least in my opinion, quite humorous.

            The official description is:

Losing his spouse of nearly twenty-eight years to fast moving cancer the author found himself facing loneliness like never    before.  To combat this powerful malady, he took the most      logical steps he could think of. Within eight months of her passing he had married a woman he barely knew, and decided to live life in the fast lane, on a motorcycle much of the time.

“Two Years on the Run” is the story of the author and his wife, also widowed, attempting to build a history together.  As they travel to Alaska, Florida, and Maui, backpack Zion National Park and take many motorcycle trips in the first two years of their marriage; they face their painful pasts and build memories together.

As you travel with the author and his spouse, you’ll enjoy his self-deprecating humor as he describes his attempts to transition into this new life.  You’ll face the challenges with them as they travel four thousand miles in two weeks on their bikes, overcoming the elements and the author’s mechanical ineptitude. Along the way you’ll laugh with and at the author and learn interesting facts about the places they visit.

It available in both paperback digital on Kindle and nook. 

 Thanks,

Luther Maddy, ChristianManager.com  
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A great read, “Our Iceberg is Melting”

            John Kotter’s “Our Iceberg is Melting” is an easy to read fable about a colony of penguins facing a life or death change.  This colony of penguins must find a new home before their current home breaks apart.  Faced with skepticism and outright opposition, the forward thinking penguins are able to convince the group to move to safety.

            Depsite the title, this book nothing to do with global climate change.  It does have everything to do with illustrating Kotter’s “Eight Step Process of Successful Change” in a very easy to understand manner.  The eight steps in Kotter’s model are:

Setting the stage

Establish urgency

Help others see they need to act quickly.

 Create a guiding coalition

Put together a group with enough power, skill and respect to guide the rest of the organization, or colony in this case, through the change.

Decide what to do

Develop a vision and strategy to achieve that vision

Show how the future will differ from the past.

Make it happen

 Communicate the change vision

Make sure others understand and accept the vision.

 Empower others to act

Remove potential barriers that keep others from acting.

Produce short-term wins

Create small successes as quickly as possible.

Don’t let up

Be relentless making the change a reality.

Make it stick

 Anchor the change in the culture

Ensure the new ways become strong corporate traditions.

            This book is written in a similar manner to Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese”.  In fact, Johnson wrote the forward to “Our Iceberg is Melting”.    If you need to understand Kotter’s change model or want others to understand it better, reading this book should achieve just that.

 Luther Maddy III, ChristianManager.com

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Choose your college carefully

            The advent of online education has created more choices than ever before for continuing or completing your education.  Depending on where you live, you may have the option of completing your entire degree in the classroom, on the web or with a combination of the two.  However, whether you have some college behind your or are starting at the beginning, the college you choose is a decision that will affect you greatly for years to come. 

            When choosing a college, you should first determine your long range educational goals. You should decide the purpose of degree you are thinking about pursuing and whether or not that will be a stepping stone or the end itself.  For instance, perhaps you are in a management position, but moving up within the company will require completing your bachelor’s degree.  Or, perhaps after completing that degree, you want to move into upper management which will require a master’s degree.  Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted to be called doctor, and see the completing your bachelor’s degree program as the first step in the process that will eventually lead to a position within a college or university. Your ultimate educational goal makes all the difference in determining which college to attend.

            When choosing a college, you first want to ensure that college is not simply a diploma mill.  You can do this very easily by checking on the college’s accreditation status.  If the college you are considering is eligible for federal Pell Grants and student loans, it is an accredited school.  The US Department of Education maintains a list of accrediting agencies (http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html) it recognizes and to be authorized for federal tuition assistance, the school must be accredited. Deterring the school is accredited is the easy part.  Whether or not you need to delve any deeper into the topic depends on your future educational goals. 

            To murky the waters a little, there are two types of accreditation: regional and national.  There are several national accreditation agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.  These agencies ensure the schools and colleges they oversee comply with rigid standards and offer quality education.  The tuition costs at nationally accredited schools can vary widely, from very affordable to very expensive. 

            So what’s the difference between national and regional accreditation and why does it matter?  First, national accreditation is administered by an accrediting agency that oversees schools all over the country.  Regional accreditation agencies oversee schools within a specific region. 

            Schools that are nationally accredited are often smaller and have multiple locations.  In the Boise, Idaho area for example, nationally accredited schools include Stevens Henager and Brown Mackie.  These schools have campuses in many cities.  Regionally accredited schools would include Boise State University, the University of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University and the College of Western Idaho. Public colleges and universities are most likely regionally accredited.  Most, but by no means all, “for profit” colleges and universities are nationally accredited.  One exception to this is the University of Phoenix, which is regionally accredited and a for profit school.

            Now for the “why it matters” answer.  If you are completing a degree to get or keep a specific job, then the type of accreditation probably does not matter.  It is unlikely your current or potential employer will care whether your degree came from a nationally or regionally accredited school.  As long as you earned your degree from an accredited college or university, the employer’s requirement should be met.

            However, if you want to pursue additional education and obtain a higher degree that requires attending another college, accreditation becomes a much larger factor.  When it comes to transferring credits, most nationally accredited schools will gladly accept transfer credit from schools that are either nationally or regionally accredited.  It may be a little educational snobbery or something else entirely, but most regionally accredited schools will not accept any credits from nationally accredited schools.

            Here’s a real life example.  Just out of high school, a young lady decides to go to college to become a medical assistant.  She enrolls in and completes an associate’s degree program at a local, nationally accredited, career college.  Although she completed the program, it has helped her see she would rather become a registered nurse or perhaps even a physician’s assistant.  This will require additional education at a new school.

            With the transcript for her associate’s degree in hand this young lady, now two years older and with substantial student loan debt, arrives at the local community college to enroll in the nursing program.  Sadly she discovers the degree she just earned has prepared her to become employed as a medical assistant but not even one of her credits will transfer into the community college.  She is now forced to retake many of the same classes and incur additional student loan debt to take classes she could sleep through and still pass.

So which college should you choose?  If you are sure you will never pursue additional education, then it does not matter at all.  However, if you think further education may be a possibility or that you may change your mind and switch majors midstream, the you should probably choose a college with maximum credit transferability and that means a regionally accredited institution. Email This Post Email This Post

Luther Maddy, ChristianManger.com

Christian Self-Efficacy

            Self-efficacy is defined as a person’s belief in their own competence.  Some might define it as an “I can” or “can do” attitude. People who lack self-efficacy do not set and achieve goals because they do not feel competent in their abilities to achieve those goals, lofty or small.  The result of a lack of self-efficacy is a failure to excel or even attempt to excel.

            At first glance, the concept of self-efficacy may seem incompatible with a Christian worldview, but I do not agree.  Yes, we are discouraged from “thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought” (Rom 12:3).  We are also discouraged Biblically from developing an attitude of pride and self-sufficiency.  But, at the same time, we are implored to perform to our best abilities and work as we are working for the Lord (Col. 3:23). 

            Many research studies, secular and Christian, have shown a direct correlation between a person’s feelings of self-efficacy and their job satisfaction and their ability to find employment if they are currently unemployed.  This includes several studies done with pastors.  Persons with higher self-efficacy feel better about their positions and will likely perform better in that position than those with lower self-efficacy.  Lower self-efficacy is related to the intention to change jobs, even with pastors.

            As long as Christians understand their true place in the world in relation to God, there is no problem with incorporating an “I can” attitude.  Of course, we can do nothing without God willing it.  However, we are to accomplish “something”, both in our professions and in our work for the Lord.  We are not to sit around with feelings of worthlessness and incompetence.  As Christians, we are loved, purchased and adopted into the family of God. 

            The Apostle Paul accomplished much for the kingdom.  He is an excellent example of Christian self-efficacy.  Paul definitely had a “can do” attitude.  He could not have been the great church planter and leader he was had he not had high levels of self-efficacy.  However, Paul did not boast in his own strength or abilities, he gave credit where it was due.  Nevertheless, he was sure in his abilities and his calling when he said, “I can accomplish all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13).

            If you manage employees and want them to perform better, build up their self-efficacy.  Encourage and praise them for a job well done.  Show them you trust them in your delegation efforts. 

            If you know a Christian struggling with low self-efficacy, remind them of their position in Christ.  Help them recall their past accomplishments and encourage them to keep trying.  If this person is a pastor, let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.  If this person is currently unemployed, add them to your prayer list and encourage them to join a support group that can begin to rebuild the self-efficacy that losing a job can nearly destroy.

 Luther M. Maddy III, ChristianManager.com

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Is the Windows PC dead?

When I’m not at my day job, I teach for two local colleges.  One of the classes I teach is Introduction to Computer Literacy.   In this class I cover terminology and operating systems and then get to the good stuff, using business applications, specifically Microsoft Office.

To keep my students awake during the otherwise dry terminology portion of the class, I cover some computing history.  My favorite part of this session is discussing the plethora of personal computers introduced between 1978 and 1983.  I display photos of the Commodore 64, TI 994a, Timex/Sinclair, Atari 400 and others.  I also show them photos of the Osborne, Kaypro and some other computers that used the CP/M operating system

Most of my students have never heard of any of the computers I display, perhaps because this time period was before many of them were even born.  However, I use these computers to make a point about operating systems and standardization.  I explain that the crowd of computers marketed for home use were not cross company compatible.  The game I purchased for my Commodore 64 would not run on my friend’s Apple because neither had the same operating system. At that time, there was no standard operating system.

To further illustrate the point I discuss video tapes and DVDs.  Most of my students have some familiarity with at least one of these. I then explain that in the early days of video tape players and recorders, consumers had a choice between VHS and Beta.  Because of effective marketing and price points, VHS won the war and became the standard.  Likewise, many of the students recall recent history when they could choose between HD and Blu Ray for high quality DVD playback.

After the students understand the concept of the market choosing a standard, I then explain that there was an existing standard in the business computer world, CP/M.  Next, I tell them the somewhat tragic story of the IBM PC, Gary Kildall and Bill Gates.  Of course the key to Microsoft succeeding as it did was the open architecture of the IBM PC allowing other companies to make computers that worked like it did.  I conclude by informing my students that IBM no longer sells PC’s.  Ultimately, IBM failed to keep any share of the market it created.

Throughout the PC wars, Apple has managed to remain a successful player.  From the introduction of the Mac and then the “I” series of products, Apple has proven its ability to remain cutting edge.  In my intro class I like to remind my students of the very effective “I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” television commercials.

Many business prognosticators have been predicting, or perhaps hoping for, the demise of Microsoft for some time.  Yet, despite aggressive marketing and lawsuits, Windows still holds a significant and steady share of the PC software market.  Apple is making inroads, but has not yet significantly affected the Windows market share.

I conclude the standardization lesson with a slide showing the IBM PC and its Macintosh counterpart, the PC and Mac guy and an I-pad and Windows tablet.  I ask the class who they think will ultimately win this war.

After seeing a show of hands for Apple and then for Microsoft I give them my opinion which is, finally, the subject of this post.  I surprise the entire class by informing them that I believe the winner of the operating system war is not pictured on this slide.  The winner I tell them, in my opinion will be neither Apple nor Microsoft.

Few will deny that the future of computing is mobile.  Smartphones are far more powerful than first and second generation personal computers.  With its significant advertising budget the I-phone and I-pad appear to be taking the world by storm.  However, in reality, another consumer trend has quickly emerged pointing to the adoption of a new standard in mobile operating systems.

Google recently announced that it is activating over 550,000 Android devices every day.  No, that is not a typo.  And, while most of these are smart phones, the number of Android tablets is also growing.  Conversely, PC sales have leveled and have even shown some slight declines in recent years.

So, is the Windows PC dead?  Not yet.  Is the Windows PC dying?  Perhaps.  The Windows PC will likely always have its place in the office as a business tool.  However, for the masses on the go and at home, smartphones and tablets will probably become the computing device of choice.  Google’s Android clearly owns the smartphone operating system market and will likely soon own the tablet market as well.  The combatants in the operating system war that really matters are not Microsoft and Apple, but Google and Apple.  And, if I had to pick the winner, I’d put my money on Google.   Email This Post Email This Post

Luther M. Maddy III,

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