Tag Archives: Services

  • 0

Top US manufacturing cities in surprising locales but still vulnerable

Tags : 


When we think about the quality of life in U.S. cities, we think about affordable housing, good schools and hospitals, strong public services, excellent parks, bike paths, and cultural resources.

And of course, there’s the employment factor. Usually, larger cities offer more employment stability because there are simply more jobs. But this is changing now that manufacturing jobs are more readily available in cities with populations under 700,000.

On that note, what do Wichita, Kansas; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Battle Creek, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; and even Portland, Oregon, all have in common? A new report on U.S. manufacturing jobs by Chicago’s Digital Third Coast can answer that. They are all part of a manufacturing shift towards smaller U.S. cities.

The report, culled from Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, analyzes 236 cities in four general categories: total manufacturing jobs per 100,000 people; year-over-year growth; median income for manufacturing industry; and median housing cost.

Wichita, Kansas, tops this list. This Midwestern city with a population under 400,000 doesn’t garner much attention unless you follow aircraft manufacturing.

In fact, Wichita happens to be known as the “Air Capital of the World.”

Wichita is also connected to the troubling news of last week’s devastating Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash in Ethiopia. Boeing was a stronghold for 85 years in the Wichita aircraft manufacturing sector until the company largely departed six years ago.

People were shocked by Boeing’s 2012 announcement that it would be leaving Kansas and taking over 2,000 jobs with it. Its position in the Wichita community was reinforced by a cozy relationship with the U.S. military dating back to World War II, when it built “trainers and the B-29 Superfortress.”

One year prior to this announcement, the company was celebrating a huge Air Force contract to be an aerial tanker finishing center.

Now, flash forward a few years later and Wichita becomes the top-rated smaller U.S. city for manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, recent news suggests Boeing has not survived its Wichita departure as well. The company faces an unusual criminal probe linking the recent crash to possible manufacturing defects improperly reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Boeing’s major manufacturing hub is in Renton, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Seattle ranks 18th in the best manufacturing cities list, while Washington also has other ranked cities, including Tacoma (30), Bellingham (26), and Mount Vernon (21).

Less renowned than Seattle is Fort Wayne, Indiana, which ranks second on the list. The city hosts General Motors (GM), one of the top employers in the city, with 3,000 employees at a 2.5 million-square-foot plant.

Fort Wayne comes in right behind Wichita in the ranking.

Speaking of GM, the company ended production at its Toledo, Ohio, plant in early March. Toledo ranks fourth on the list. Several years ago, the company employed over 4,000 people there.

Finally, we consider that there are very few East Coast cities listed here. Most are in the West, South or Midwest. One eastern city, Reading, Pennsylvania, did make the list with East Penn manufacturing supplying jobs at the “largest single site lead battery manufacturing facility in the world.”

When considering this updated list of manufacturing cities, we see that while smaller cities offer a strong manufacturing sector alternative to sprawling metro centers, they are still vulnerable to surprise market changes brought on by unexpected events like plane crashes and plant closures. It is also interesting to consider how many of these cities listed are involved in new technology, like additive manufacturing, and green initiatives.

Share This:

  • 0

4 inexpensive ways to motivate your team through a long project

Tags : 


When you’re on a long project, it’s easy to get lost in the drudgery of a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Celebrating the completion of the project might be a year away. If you’re not diligent to avoid it, your team may soon become weary of the project.

This impacts team morale and can derail productivity. One way to keep the team motivated is to celebrate milestones completed along the way. Whether it’s finishing a tough Agile sprint or writing the last of the test scripts, a little celebration is in order.

Here are several ways to celebrate as a team without busting the project budget:

No. 1: Bring on the food

Bring coffee, donuts, bagels, and fruit into the office for a team meeting one morning. Mention that the team has wrapped up a key milestone and that we’re taking a few minutes out of our usual team meeting to savor the moment.

No. 2: Recognize contributions

Do you have one or two team members whose efforts made reaching this milestone possible? Did someone figure out how to overcome an issue or a significant challenge?

Take time to recognize those accomplishments. Give those individuals a nice coffee mug or another useful item, thank them in front of the team, and make sure you get word back to their managers as well.

No. 3: Change the scenery

Depending on how your project is set up, you might have a central team room where some team members work each day or in which you have all team meetings. Once you’ve hit a key milestone, clean up whiteboards and file paperwork related to that milestone. Freshen up the room a bit and consider changing something about the setup.

It’s a small gesture, but a simple scenery change can help set the tone that we’re in a new phase of the project.

No. 4: Invite the project sponsor to stop by

You probably have the most interaction with the project sponsor of anyone on the team. If the team highly respects the sponsor, consider asking him/her to stop by to encourage and thank them for their work.

Ask the sponsor to remind the team of why this project is essential to the organization and what its completion will help the company accomplish. Hearing the project vision and receiving recognition from an admired leader can boost everyone’s mood and renew their motivation for the project.

In leading projects that lasted a year or more, I felt the strain of dealing with project issues, changing team members, and wondering if we’d ever cross the finish line. Taking a few moments to reflect on and celebrate team accomplishments can help alleviate some of that monotony.

Share This:

  • 0

Saying no when you think you should say yes

Tags : 


I was on vacation last week and reluctantly dragged myself through a museum because others told me that this was something I couldn’t miss. If you’ve ever attended an event because you were told you must go to or ate at a particular restaurant because everyone else was going, then you know exactly how it feels to do something out of obligation.

Of course, no one was holding a gun to my head. I could have chosen to spend my time elsewhere. However, the idea that I had already committed myself to do something got in the way of doing what I knew deep in my heart I should have done.

I should have exited the building the moment I realized I had made a mistake.

I see the same type of behavior with clients that I work with. They’ve engaged a coach who isn’t helping them move the needle towards the results they hoped to achieve. However, they stick with this person (and some even renew for the second round of coaching) because they are hopeful things will improve. Yet there is no evidence this will be the case.

Or, they decide to implement a new program, only to discover that the path they’ve chosen is not the right one for their organization. Many will continue down this road because they fear what will happen if they admit they’ve made a mistake.

This decision often comes back to haunt them, as it’s difficult to backtrack when you’ve reached the point of no return.

Sometimes leaders decide to do things internally, out of obligation to their team. They believe working on a particular project will be a growth opportunity for their people. While this sounds good in theory, their staff is already stretched too thinly, as there are a host of other priorities requiring their attention.

A sense of obligation prevents these leaders from bringing in external resources. A growth opportunity quickly turns into the final straw for many. They soon depart for a less stressful work situation.

Living your life out of obligation is no way to live.

The next time you find yourself doing something because you feel obligated, pause. Look at the situation and ask yourself if what you are doing enhances your life and that of the people around you.

If the answer is no, then stop what you’re doing and extricate yourself from your current situation. You’ll be glad you did!

Your assignment: What’s one thing that you’re currently doing out of obligation that’s no longer working for you? How will you change this going forward? You can post this in the comment section, or if you’d like, send this to me at Roberta@matusonconsulting.com, and I’ll provide the first five people who do so with advice on how to best handle this situation.

Share This:

  • 0

Improve your writing: Avoid nominalizations in your proposals

Tags : 


One of the best ways to improve your writing is to use active verbs instead of nominalizations.

What is a nominalization, anyway? A nominalization is a verb converted into a noun. Nominalizations come in two forms:

  • Those that have endings such as -ment, -tion, -sion, -ing, and -ance
  • Those that link with verbs such as achieve, effect, give, have, make, reach, and take.

For example: “The last step is the collection of data for the monthly report,” is longer and less clear than: “The program manager collects data for the monthly report.” Eliminating a nominalization often reveals passive voice and enables you to correct that as well.

There is always a verb hidden inside a nominalization. Consider:

  • Conclusion – conclude
  • Demonstration – demonstrate
  • Analysis – analyze
  • Optimization – optimize
  • Solution – solve
  • Possession – possess
  • Realization – realize
  • Collection – collect

Examples of verb linkage nominalizations and the hidden verb include:

  • Gave a report – reported
  • Made a decision – decided
  • Offered a suggestion – suggested
  • Served as a catalyst – catalyzed
  • Resulted in an increase – increased
  • Issued an announcement – announced
  • Led to the destruction of – destroyed

Nominalizations should be avoided! They impact the readability, clarity, and effectiveness of your proposal. They take the actions away from the actor, and they weaken the impact of your intended message.

  • Nominalizations make writing less effective and use more words than you need. When you reword nominalizations, your sentences usually become more concise.
  • Nominalizations allow you to omit the subject. When you don’t say who is doing the action, your sentences become vague and use a passive voice. Who is doing the action?
  • Nominalizations often result in weak verbs. Turning a verb into a noun causes it to lose power and makes the sentence weak.

You can locate many nominalizations using the find (Control+F) feature in Microsoft Word. Search for “ion,” “ing,” or “ment”. Scroll through these and determine if the word is a nominalization. Identify the related verb and rephrase your sentence.

Denominalizing helps you create sentences that are clear, concise, and unified. When you convert a nominalization to a verb, your readers will thank you!

Share This:

  • 0

March Madness may be good for the workplace

Tags : 


March Madness is a boon for TV and streaming media ratings, and the NCAA earns over $1 billion per year during the tournament between ticket sales and broadcast rights.

There’s one stat that doesn’t increase during this time frame: employee productivity levels. But is this necessarily a problem?

According to some estimates, corporate losses during the yearly NCAA Tournament are close to $4 billion. Companies may be losing the productivity game, but according to two recent studies, they may be winning in another important area.

In the first study, by Robert Half, 72 percent of senior managers said college basketball tournament activities positively impacted staff morale. Also, 52 percent of the managers said they actually see productivity benefits as a result of March Madness. If that sounds like madness, it’s worth exploring the relationship between morale and productivity.

“For employees, rallying behind a sports team or engaging in a friendly sports-related competition with colleagues can foster camaraderie and boost energy levels and morale,” according to Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director at OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half.

“Employers must realize that getting the best people on board, and keeping them happy and engaged, requires cultivating a desirable workplace culture.” Naznitsky says companies should encourage workers to have fun and interact in a casual setting during business hours, and organizing sports-related celebrations is one option.

Of course, some managers may embrace March Madness because they’re also fans and they can’t wait to fill out their own brackets and cheer for their favorite teams. “But even if they don’t follow sports, managers should see the value in encouraging employees to enjoy non-work-related activities on the job from time to time,” Naznitsky explains.

Another study, by researchers at the University of Northern Colorado and Kansas University, found that employees who work in the athletic department at a university also stop work to watch the games. The results, which were published in the Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, are probably not surprising.

However, one of the study’s authors, Brent D. Oja, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Northern Colorado, agrees that this practice can improve workplace morale. “Humans are not machines, and allowing employees to enjoy March Madness can bring a reprieve from workplace stress,” he says.

“Certainly, March Madness is an event that many Americans look forward to each year, and accommodating that interest can boost morale by bringing the excitement of the event into the workplace.”

Oja’s report also found that managers also organized watch parties or displayed games on the giant video board in an arena.

Embracing this type of approach can actually lead to another positive result. “These employees understood the importance of remaining professional and completing their work assignments,” Oja says.

Naznitsky agrees that this approach can be beneficial to companies. “Having designated office festivities allows employees to enjoy sporting events during specific times, potentially reducing additional distraction throughout the day,” she explains. “Workers may also be more motivated to complete their assignments so they can participate in the celebrations.”

The vast majority (75 percent) of senior managers in the Robert Half survey organize sport-related festivities. If your company is thinking about celebrating as well, Naznitsky offers the following tips:

Grant time-outs. “Allowing employees to take quick breaks to check scores or chat with co-workers about the tournament can help them recharge,” she says. “An informal lunch or dinner at a restaurant to watch a big game also can build camaraderie.”

Foster friendly competition. Naznitsky recommends letting employees wear their favorite team’s apparel or decorate their workspace (as long as it doesn’t get too wild). “Consider organizing an office competition where individuals can win bragging rights or small items such as company-awarded gift certificates without the exchange of money.”

Go over the rules. “Clearly communicate policies regarding employee breaks and internet use so professionals know what’s acceptable when it comes to March Madness and other non-work activities,” she says.

Take the lead. Managers should set the example for how to participate in the tournament festivities while remaining productive. “If you complete assignments before talking hoops, employees will likely follow suit,” Naznitsky explains.

Evaluate your bench. If your employees want to take time off to watch the games, she recommends asking them to submit requests as far in advance as possible. “This will help you manage workloads and determine if interim assistance is needed to keep projects on track.”

Share This:

  • 0

Tips for onboarding new employees

Tags : 


For many churches, by the time you’re able to hire someone you’re already feeling the strain of not having anyone in that role.

While it’s tempting to toss a mile-long to-do list at a new employee as soon as he arrives for his first day in the office, that’s not going to set him up to win long-term. Instead, it’s best to complete an organized on-boarding process for each new team member.

Here are several steps to consider when planning to get a new employee fully onboard:

No. 1: Provide him/her with the church employee handbook

This document should include policies and procedures, dress code expectations, how to request time off, when to expect paychecks, etc. Take the time to review the highlights with a new employee, then ask him/her to read and sign it.

No. 2: Set up essential equipment and access

Most employees will need a workstation, computer, and phone. You’ll also need to provide them with access to the church’s network (or online electronic file storage such as Google Drive), the church management system (ChMS), and email. If you can have these items ready before their first day, that helps them be productive as soon as possible.

No. 3: Make introductions

Hopefully, this new employee received a tour of the church facility and met a few current employees during the interview process. Regardless, the first day or week on the job is a good time for a tour along with introducing her to the rest of the team.

Consider having a quick all-staff meeting on an employee’s first day to make introductions, share coffee and donuts, and get to know the team. Also, provide an organizational chart of all church staff and explain the functions of each department. Help new employees understand how each department or ministry area interacts.

Finally, introduce new employees to the volunteer leaders they’ll work with the most. This may need to happen over a few weeks as volunteers help during their scheduled services. Volunteers need to know the new staff member they’ll work with, and your new employee needs to know the volunteers in his area.

No. 4: Deal with financial details

Have new employees fill out a W-4 and your church’s form for direct deposit payments (if applicable), then get those to the church finance office. Also, train new employees on how to submit purchase requests for items they’ll need for their job.

No. 5: Provide training

If their role requires them to use the church management system, provide new employees with training on that tool. Other systems they may need training on could include volunteer scheduling, where to find and save electronic files, online facilities request forms, and more.

No. 6: Discuss goals and expectations

If you’re the new employee’s supervisor, you may have goals you want him/her to meet within the next few months. Discuss these goals and ask your new team member to set goals as well. Don’t forget to tell your new employee what you expect from him.

No. 7: Invite to meetings

Add new employees to any recurring all-staff meetings or regular meetings with their department. Also, consider setting up weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss priorities for the upcoming week, progress on goals, answer questions, and assign tasks.

While this list may seem fairly long, it’s imperative to invest the time now to help new team members succeed in their roles. You’ll see better results and will have more satisfied employees when you set them up for success from the start.

Share This:

  • 0

The real truth about learning

Tags : 


I was recently asked to coach an executive who was having a difficult time assimilating into her new leadership role, even though her company had invested a ton of money sending her to an executive leadership program. She confided in me that she could barely recall what she had learned six months ago. I’m not surprised.

I’m going to let you in on a secret that will save your organization millions of dollars a year. Real learning takes place in real time.

Think about it. You can’t learn how to ride a bike by reading a book or attending a two-day session on the theory of bike riding. You have to get on the bike. The same is true regarding leadership development.

Let’s say you’ve attended a leadership development program where you learned how to deal with difficult employees or something more tactical, such as basic interviewing skills. You’re fortunate in that you don’t have any problematic employees on your team, nor do you have any job openings.

Six months later, that all changes. You look at the notes you took in your training class and can’t decipher what you wrote. You’re too embarrassed to ask for help, so you wing it — a move you soon regret.

What if, instead, you had access to an expert who could help you quickly think through your options and provide you with feedback regarding your next move? Having this would free you up to make better decisions more rapidly. You could then use this time to advance the goals of the organization, as well as your own.

This expert might be an internal resource. That is if your organization has enough people on staff to provide real-time coaching. Or they may be an external coach, hired to provide timely advice when needed. In both scenarios, the results provide a much higher ROI than most leadership training programs.

My most successful clients use a hybrid approach. Managers who attend leadership development programs are assigned coaches to support them. As a result, they’re better able to apply their learning by working through their leadership challenges as situations arise.

What’s your experience been? Have the management training classes you’ve attended been a worthwhile investment in terms of your time, or would you be a better leader today, had you been given a coach?

Share This:

  • 0

Are you being served? What about your customers?

Tags : 


Who do you know who would purposely understaff an airport rental car location at a major resort locale so customers are kept waiting for two hours for pre-reserved, prepaid rental cars?

How often do you tell your wait staff to bring the wrong dish to a customer (twice) or serve food that is dry, overcooked, and tasteless?

When would you set up an interactive voice-response system so confusing that customers are forced to spend long periods of time to navigate their way into the right queue — only to then be disconnected?

Not many of us would ever want those things to happen to the customers of our businesses. And yet, much too often, they do.

If we start with the assumption that most businesses do want to serve customers in a way that keeps them coming back, how can incidents like these occur on such a frequent basis?

Management says one thing then does another. Customers are our first priority — that’s what we say. But when the rubber meets the road, that’s not what we actually do.

Compensation rewords the wrong behavior. Employees are compensated for meeting metrics such as the numbers of customers served per hour, rather than how often customer complaints can be appropriately resolved without further escalation.

Standards aren’t set high enough or they’re not enforced. It’s acceptable to not serve customers the best quality product or service; therefore, no one is particularly disturbed or surprised when bad service occurs.

There’s no repercussion for bad behavior. There’s no consequence for issues that occur when employees who treat customers badly. It’s business as usual, regardless of the quality of the experience, and customers realize this.

Employees feel nothing they do really matters anyway. This is magnified when employees feel a big distance between themselves and management — whether it’s because they’re physically remote, many levels down in the organization, or when their input and feedback aren’t heard or acted upon.

Fixing this requires acting in the exact opposite manner:

Walk the talk. Make sure what you say and what you do are congruent. If you expect attention to customer experience, make sure your executives model this behavior.

Choose the right metrics to encourage proper behavior. Reward actions that matter, rather than setting arbitrary targets that are meaningless and potentially harmful. Then let the whole organization know who the heroes are and why.

Set high standards and reinforce them. Be clear as to what you expect. Anything less than that will not be tolerated. Identify the consequences for not making the grade, then follow through.

Solicit and integrate employee feedback. These are the people closest to your customers. If they tell you they need more staffing to properly handle high customer traffic on a particular day, listen to them.

If they tell you customers aren’t happy with the quality of the food they’re being served, take this to heart and find out what’s causing the issue. Why would you ignore what they are trying to tell you?

There’s another great way to understand what’s really going on: shop your own business. That might be in person, by phone, or over the web.

Regardless of the method, make sure staff does not know they are dealing with the boss. See how you’re treated when no one knows management is on the other end of the line.

Are you satisfied with how you were treated? Were you properly served? If what you experiences isn’t good enough for you, how can it be acceptable for your customers?

Share This:

  • 0

4 ways you are apologizing wrong

Tags : 


Apologies are something we love to receive and hate to give. They are especially tough as a leader. They require a great deal of humility, which challenge your pride and ego. They are an open admission of failure and wrongdoing, but when delivered with sincerity, they hold power with your team.

Unfortunately, too many leaders give superficial apologies loaded with excuses and blame. Apologizing for the sake of apologizing is a non-genuine insult to those wronged. If you want to be taken seriously in your company, it’s important to know why an apology is necessary and to deliver it in a way that’s heartfelt and honest.

Here are four ways you are apologizing wrong and how to make sure you don’t make these mistakes in your next, “I’m sorry.”

1. Not Owning the Mistake.

Placing blame or trying to justify your actions will diminish the power of your apology and hurt your credibility. Using excuses to justify your actions or shortcomings will only intensify the feelings of rejection, animosity, anger and pain.

Simply own your mistake. Acknowledge what you should have done differently and commit to making a change in the future.

2. Not Carefully Considering Your Words.

Before rushing into an apology, consider how the receiver will interpret what you’re saying and how you say it. What we say when admitting a mistake can affect the trust we establish in the relationship moving forward. If we don’t consider our words carefully, we can add insult to injury and further jeopardize our connection.

3. Leaving Out the Specifics.

Know what you are apologizing for before you do. Don’t rush to apologize without all the facts. The person affected needs to know what you are apologizing for. It allows you to elaborate on the reason and acknowledge greater ownership.

4. Making it Impersonal.

The method of apology is as important as the message itself. Recognize when a mistake requires a face-to-face admission and don’t rely on technology to do your heavy lifting. Look them in the eye and apologize.

If face-to-face interactions aren’t possible, pick up the phone. Let the offending person hear your voice and acknowledge your sincerity. Just don’t hide behind the screen.

All of us make mistakes. Acknowledging those mistakes while taking ownership demonstrates responsibility and maturity as a leader. Apologies allow us to build stronger, more trustworthy relationships with those around us. They also help us grow as professionals and in our roles as leaders. Owning our mistakes provides a great example for our team to do the same.

Share This:

  • 0

Women leaders: Helpful steps to getting your first board seat

Tags : 


Getting on a board is a boon for any leader. It helps propel professional growth, provides insight and perspective for companies, and advances the interests of the organization of the board on which they serve.

It has been proven to increase the likelihood they will be promoted and that they will benefit economically as well. Everyone wins. Yet the percentage of women on boards is so woefully low that some countries — and California, of course — are requiring companies to add diversity to their board rooms.

While specialty organizations and recruiting firms are trying to address these needs, there are a few helpful steps women leaders can take right now to help themselves.

You are not that short

First, it is imperative that we realize we have sufficient skills and experience to serve on a board. Studies and our own anecdotes have proven time and again that women will assume they are not qualified for a position until they are overqualified for a position, while men are more likely to step up and figure it out.

With board seats, it is no different. Thus, there are two approaches we can take right now.

On one hand, we can continue to underestimate ourselves but at least go for the seat by focusing on a smaller, volunteer board. Once we get the magical experience we think we are lacking — or more likely, we realize that we have more than enough skills to serve on a corporate board, we take the next step.

On the other hand, we can just take that next step now by figuring out how all the skills and knowledge we have acquired up to this point translate to corporate board roles. For example, audits, budgets, mergers and acquisitions are all experiences many women leaders have that would clearly benefit a corporate board.

Get clear

Once we recognize we can do it, we need to get really clear on why we want to do it. Serving on a board is a significant time and intellectual commitment.

Thus, we must get clear on our own motivations and what type of board will help us meet those goals. Then, we need to get that intent down to one or two sentences that are easy to say and create a natural connection to who we are and what we do.

Then, we need to start sharing those sentences, repeating them to anyone who will listen. The way most people get on boards is the way most people get jobs, via networking and connections to people already there. While we may not know anyone now, someone we know does. Get the word out there.

Help someone else

Finally, get involved in projects to get more diversity on boards. Once we tune into the issue and start paying attention to the landscape, the opportunities for us and our colleagues will become more obvious. Finding ways to help others along the path enables us to meet the great people we will refer and recruit once we are on a board.

The bottom line is, we need to stop selling ourselves short, get clear on the value we bring to the table, and start networking our way to the boardroom.

Share This: