Hire character, train skill

Hire Character

(Image by Ziglar.com)

“Good character improves every aspect of a person’s life”.

(John C. Maxwell)

Inspirations for Walk into the Future articles come to me from multiple sources.  I generate most of the topics based on things I am doing or interested in.  I continually ask my friends and tree branches to send me suggestions then work to develop their input into an article for others to learn from.

This post is unique because it has taken years to get to a place where I can develop this topic.  My extra inspiration came from one of my closet friends when she texted me a picture that said Hire character, train skill.  Believe it or not but I have been saying and using these words over the years when I need to hire someone to join my team.  Just never developed it out to highlight the importance of this concept.

The hiring processing is an ongoing concept for me.  I learned a long time ago to anticipate future openings and have adequate bench players (basketball term) available.  My first action is to create a professional development program to enhance current team members’ knowledge, so they are promotion ready.  A lot of organizations state they hire from within, but this is impossible if you are not actively training your staff.  My goal has always been to prepare staff to take over for me if I am not there.  This has led to staff being attractive to other organizations and I am thrilled to serve as a professional reference for my folks if they need it.  Happy to report 5 out of 11 members from my Florida State University Employer Relations team held Director or Associate Director titles for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.  Immensely proud of my crew and the great things they are getting done.  They are all high character people and wanted to learn daily.  They were also quick to apply their new knowledge within the work environment.

My second action is to build relationships with people in my industry through networking and conference attendance.  This allows me to identify people who will fit within my team structure if I have an opening.  I offer direct mentorship to these folks to help them grow their careers at their current locations.  I make a point to let a select few know I would like them to work on my team if an opening exists.  Please note, some of these people may not be looking or interested in the current location but it helps to put out feelers before there is a need to hire someone. Again, character is a major part of this outreach effort.

My third action is to never eliminate someone simply because their background and experiences may not line up perfectly with the job description.  Nothing I have done professionally is rocket science and someone with the right character can be trained for the work I perform.  The character of the hire should enhance the overall performance of the team and bring some unique talents to make us better.  It helps to bring in someone who has diverse thoughts, background, and experiences so we can learn from them as well.  Maintaining a solid organizational training program provides the foundation needed to bring someone in with less on paper experience and gets them up to speed on the operational pace needed for success.  I would rather invest the time to train someone with the character needed for success than bring in someone with paper skills, no integrity, teamwork, or ability to make the team better.  I have seen these folks destroy the team dynamic and it takes a long time to recover. Energy vampires!

I cannot say I have gotten this process right 100% of the time but I have more successful character hires than not.  I continue to learn and evolve my hiring practices but hire for character, train for skill remains the foundation for me.

Look at the current national leadership model to understand the importance of character in the work environment!  The lack of character can destroy organizations from within.

What is your hiring philosophy?  How has it evolved over the years?  Thanks!

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”.

(Abraham Lincoln)

Zoom into the Future

zoom

(Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay)

“When in doubt, zoom out”.

(Reggie Watts)

I like starting Walk into the Future articles with a quote to inspire my thought process and get me going.  Well, the quote above is the best I could find with zoom in it but has nothing really to do with this article.  Forgive me but thought it was funny and had the appropriate word (zoom) I needed to move forward.

The last several months have been productive, exciting, and frustrating (COVID-19) but progress has been made daily.  The Zoom application has become a popular way for the workforce to keep making positive things happen considering the COVID-19 pandemic.  More people are using this platform to ensure daily operations and tasks are completed in this new way to go to work.

Zoom interview

My first foray using the Zoom application came back in February when I was introduced to it for a first-round interview.  I have used Skype to interview for past positions and to interview candidates for openings on my team.  Did not know much about Zoom but found the process a lot more seamless than the Skype application.  Simply receive an email with a link, click on the link at the appropriate time and you are meeting with the folks on the distant end.  Zoom provides the capability to host multiple people in multiple locations so this appears to make getting a team together to interview candidates a bit easier than Skype.  I am sure there are still uses for the Skype platform but thought Zoom took pressure off me as the candidates since I did not have to test my computer/software as in the past.

Zoom team meeting

Leveraged my newfound appreciation for Zoom by hosting my first team meeting with my new team at Indian River State College prior to starting work.  Again, COVID-19 has most organizations working remotely to avoid large meetings and practicing physical distancing.  I wanted to get a head start on teambuilding prior to moving to Fort Pierce and Zoom was the perfect application.  We were able to host 10 people in 5 different locations (physical distancing) and build a team foundation to help us find ways to ensure students, faculty/staff and employers continue to receive world class customer service.  I have talked with tree branches who are using Zoom but found it to be an even better platform than described.

Zoom work process (onboarding, team meetings, teambuilding)

Realize there are several who will read this article who have been using Zoom for a while.  I am just getting my feet wet and see so many useful ways to use this platform even after we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Staff on satellite campuses can continue to participate in meetings, workshops, and teambuilding activities without having to drive to the main campus.  There will be times when they need/want to be present, but Zoom can save time and driving to and from the main campus.  Also, see the benefits of conducting one-on-one sessions with distant students, employers, and staff.  Just getting my thoughts together but I am sure I will leverage Zoom to find ways to ensure our students have the best employment opportunities available.  Zoom appears to be setting the pace for a new world order!  Stay tuned as I will continue to share how I am zooming into the future. 😊

 How does your organization use the Zoom platform?  Do you have tricks of the trade you can share?  Thanks!

NOTE:  Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate are three platforms I am actively using at work.  The three platforms are easy to navigate and provides similar functionality.

Planting seeds in Orlando to grow new trees!

Planting seeds at UCF

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

“To move forward, you have to give back”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

My Walk into the Future provides me with flexibility to work on projects in multiple locations.  I consider myself a running tourist but can also travel and work in different locations with others when needed.

I’ve worked on projects for the Seminole Tribe of Florida (Immokalee), Intern Pursuit podcasts (Orlando), Salvation Army (Tallahassee), Mastering College to Career podcasts (Orlando), individual clients (Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and DC), Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee), MLK event Keynote (Jasper) and the University of Central Florida (Orlando).

Each project had a different audience and expected outcomes which is exciting to me.  Picking these projects allow me to hone my skills and continue to grow as I extend my reach and grow new tree branches.

“Your greatness is not what you have, it’s what you give”.

(Unknown)

My project with UCF was especially rewarding because I was invited to train a group of student workers by an active tree branch.  We have worked together for the past 10 years—first at UCF, then at FSU and now again at UCF.  Full disclosure, this tree branch worked directly for me at FSU.

I conducted team building training for her student workers at FSU and she wanted to bring the same training to UCF as a part of their enhanced student professional development program.  An extra bonus for me conducting the UCF training is my niece, Jayla, is a current student worker in the UCF Career Center and would be a participant.  This was her first time to see me working with students instead of hearing about my work.  Think she came away proud of her uncle! 😊

These opportunities allow me to give back and help the next generation Walk into the Future.  Love the energy I get when standing in front of motivated college students.  Believe the energy they put out helps me find another gear when presenting material to them.  They inspire me to get better daily.

This workshop was designed to help the student workers understand the importance of working within the team environment.  We also touched on how they can still be individuals but can’t let this hinder the overall function of the team.  Example, someone who is naturally quiet will still have to speak publicly in a customer service environment.  We explored understanding differences and how to find strengths in others to ensure work is being accomplished in a proper manner.

We were also able to leverage communication styles and techniques to enhance workplace interactions.  The students were well versed in how their personalities can impact interactions with peers, faculty and staff.  We utilized their knowledge to build team dynamics and translate this information directly to their respective roles in the Career Center.

Team building is not a formal course of study and takes time to implement.  Believe getting students engaged in understanding team building dynamics early will translate directly to their work and life experiences after college.  It also creates a strong foundation they can utilize while in school—group projects, presentations, fraternity/sorority life, student government, etc.

We can all sharpen our team building skills—this workshop is my way to keep this important workplace tool growing.  I was able to plant seeds during this presentation and look forward to watching the new trees grow in the future.  Several students have reached out via LinkedIn and I’m actively mentoring them to help reach their respective goals.  One of the students that reached out works for another tree branch in Orlando—small world!

What are your favorite team building tools?  How does your organization ensure team building is a strong component for growth?  (Respond in the comments section—thanks!)

Thanks for walking with me!

“As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands – one for helping yourself and the other for helping others”.

(Audrey Hepburn)

UCF Training