Workforce Development in the Public Transportation Industry

Wednesday July 13th, 2016 at 12:10pm
Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director

Every day millions of people travel from one place to another using buses, trains, subways, ferries or other forms of public transportation. The larger the city or urban area, the more likely that public transportation is a major driver of the economy and the primary way for a significant portion of the population to get to jobs. Most people don’t realize the agencies that run public transit organizations are in desperate need of new workers to operate and maintain the current transit systems and build new systems to meet the growing demand for transportation options.

Over the next decade, it is estimated that more than 1 million workers will be needed just to replace the workers who retire. The transit industry is also experiencing a technological evolution. Buses and rail cars are able to troubleshoot themselves and send messages to technicians to let them know about potential problems. Computers are now the primary tool in a mechanic’s tool box.

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How to Develop a High-Impact Succession Plan

Wednesday March 23rd, 2016 at 9:01am
Written by Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant

In its basic form, succession planning is a way to identify and develop professionals entering a leadership position. Transition is undoubtedly something every organization experiences - the ebb and flow of people entering and exiting various roles. Some organizations have mastered a process of continuous succession planning. Yet, many small and medium size businesses remain unprepared for sudden or imminent changes that require immediate action.

EDSI has identified a succession planning process to successfully address changes like retirement and loss of key people. The process focuses on the collection and analysis of specific data, allowing for highly customized solutions. One major focus of this process is certainly communication. Communication builds trust and subsequently reinforces a message to employees that their skills and experience are valued.

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I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!

Wednesday November 19th, 2014 at 8:31am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

*Original article written in August, 2014

I…    I BELIEVE…   I BELIEVE THAT…   I BELIEVE THAT WE…   I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! 

If you have been addicted to the 2014 World Cup (like I have been), then you are probably familiar with the “I BELIEVE” chant that has been sweeping the nation.  If you aren’t familiar, here is a link to the patriotic ESPN commercial:

 


Even though the U.S. Soccer team looked and felt like a team of destiny at times, simply BELIEVING that they were going to win did not prove to be enough for the team to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. 

What in the world does this have to do with the HR profession, or your business?

HR professionals are often asked to BELIEVE in the strategic vision of their senior leadership team, even if they aren’t at the table during their companies’ short-term and long-term strategic planning sessions (hopefully at your company, HR does have a seat at the table).  Unfortunately, there is not always a correlation between BELIEVING in the strategic vision and watching the strategic vision come to fruition.  

Over the past few months, we have talked to countless HR professionals around the country who have told us similar variations of the same story:  “We have some key employees who are getting dangerously close to retirement.  We know it is coming, but we don’t know what to do about it.” “Succession planning has been on our 3-5 year strategic plan for 3-5 years, but we have not done anything about it.”  

Back in the late 1990s, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had more employees in their sixties and seventies than in their twenties, and there was a big bubble moving toward retirement.  To address the issue, the TVA came up with a process to prioritize their Knowledge Transfer strategies. The following is a quick and easy way to jump start your Knowledge Retention/Succession Planning journey.  By using this simple mathematical formula, you can start to prioritize the WHO part of the equation: which individuals are the closest to retirement, and how long will it take to adequately train their successors.  



You can start this process today (all it takes is some rudimentary knowledge about how to set up formulas and how to sort and filter data in Microsoft Excel). Once you have completed this first step in the process, feel free to reach out to me, and I can share additional best practices on how to continue along your Knowledge Retention/Succession Planning journey.


I'll take "TWO NUMBERS THAT SHOULD SCARE HR PROFESSIONALS" for $2,000

Monday September 29th, 2014 at 9:35am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

"What are 94.5 and 101.49?"

That’s right, after the 3.1 inches of snow that fell in Mid-April at Detroit Metro Airport, the 2013-2014 winter has officially been crowned champ!  The 94.8 inches of snow that have fallen this season in Metro Detroit make it the snowiest winter on record, eclipsing the previous record of 93.6 inches that stood for over 130 years.  Oh yeah, did I mention the Dow Jones is up 101.49% over the past 5 years?

These two numbers on an island might be enough to cause some Baby Boomers to ponder retirement.  Couple them together, and don’t be surprised if HR Managers start to see more and more “surprise” retirements.

As we travel around the country, we see more and more HR Managers caught off guard as some of their most tenured employees announce retirements.  There are a myriad of reasons why employees decide to retire.  Some walk away due to health-related concerns (themselves, spouses, parents, etc.).  Others can finally sell their houses at a profit and move to a warmer weather climate (where they don’t have to worry about shoveling close to 8 feet of snow over the course of 5 months). Others still have just watched their youngest child walk across the stage at college graduation, and finally feel they can afford to retire.

As the stock market, the housing market and the economy tanked during the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009, most companies were given a reprieve.  During the “lost decade” more and more Baby Boomers chose (or were forced by circumstances) to work a few more years until their nest eggs were a little more secure.
 
You may remember the ING “What’s Your Number?” commercials where people walk around carrying big orange numbers that represent the amount of money they need to save to retire comfortably.  Whether they admit it to their employers or not, most people have a “walk away” number.  The scary part for employers is that as the economy has rebounded over the past 5 years, more and more employees are getting dangerously close to that number.
 
We have seen a handful of scenarios where employees have given several years of advance notice.  We have seen other scenarios where employees show up to work (after shoveling ten inches of snow, and battling a two-hour commute) and decide that today is their last day.  Hopefully you are never unlucky enough to experience the latter, but as the saying goes, “luck favors the prepared.”


As always, know that we are here to help you on your knowledge retention journey!


What Can We Learn About Knowledge Retention from Three Olympic Gold Medalists?

Monday September 15th, 2014 at 10:20am

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

The final game of the 1979 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament marked the beginning of the rivalry between future Hall of Famers Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.

Michigan State, led by Johnson, won the national title with a 75-64 victory in the final game over a previously undefeated Indiana State team, led by Bird.

Both Johnson and Bird would enter the NBA the following fall, and the rivalry between them and their teams (respectively, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics) would burn strong for over a decade.

Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers were two dynasties that dominated the NBA during the 1980s.  In fact, at least one of these teams made it to the NBA Championship series in every single year between 1980-1989, winning a combined 8 NBA Championships!

In November of 1991, Johnson announced that he had tested positive for HIV and would retire from basketball.  Bird, plagued by back problems, would announce his retirement the following year.

After Johnson and Bird retired, it would take another 9 years before the Lakers or the Celtics contended for another NBA Championship.


In the absence of Johnson and Bird, dominance in the 1990s would belong to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  Michael Jordan and the Bulls would go on to win three consecutive NBA Championships from 1991-1993.

After the 1993 season, Jordan announced his retirement (only to return one year later).  Upon Jordan’s return, the Bulls would go on to win three more consecutive NBA Championships from 1996-1998, capped by yet another Michael Jordan retirement.

It has been 14 years since Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls (for the second time), and they have yet to play in another NBA Championship series. 


In 1992, Johnson, Bird and Jordan joined forces to play on the United States men's Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the "Dream Team." This was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players, and has been described by some as the greatest sports team ever assembled.  The team defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points en route to the gold medal.  In addition to winning the gold medal, these three “Dream Team” members were so dominant that over an 18-year stretch, Johnson, Bird and Jordan won a combined total of 14 NBA titles, 11 Regular Season MVP awards and 11 NBA Finals MVP awards.

What is the moral of the story?


Don’t become the post-Johnson Lakers or the post-Bird Celtics of the 1990s, or the post-Jordan Bulls of the 2000s (zero combined NBA Championships)!

The thought of replacing the most talented people within an organization often causes paralysis to set in. As a result, most companies wait until the members of their “Dream Team” announce they are leaving before they start to think about the rebuilding process.  Don’t fall into the same trap.  The rebuilding process is considerably easier if time is on your side!

So how do you get started?


I would encourage you to spend 5 minutes to write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. Who are the members of your “Dream Team?” 
  2. Who are the key stakeholders that need to be involved in the development of your internal Knowledge Management Process?
  3. What steps need to take place in order to schedule a meeting with these key stakeholders?
  4. By what date are you going to implement your first Knowledge Retention “pilot project?”

Ok, be honest…did you physically write down the answers to these four questions?  If you did, congratulations!  You have successfully started your Knowledge Retention journey - and getting started is the hardest part.


An Expecting Father & Knowledge Retention: What's the Connection?

Monday May 5th, 2014 at 2:56pm

Written by Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development with EDSI Consulting

kwatson@edsisolutions.com

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child and could not be more excited to be a father. If I am being honest, I am also slightly nervous. I am nervous because my father set the bar so high, and I know it will be challenging to follow in his footsteps.

I look up to my father more than any other man on the planet. He has shaped and molded me into the man that I am today, and I would be hard pressed to find a better role model. That said, I feel a great weight of responsibility to carry on his legacy.

I was thinking about it the other day as I was trying to figure out how I am going to distill down everything that I have learned from my father, as well as all of the important life lessons that I have learned over the 34 years that I have been on this planet. More importantly, how am I going to relay this information to my child, or children in a way that is meaningful, and that makes a lasting impression?

Upon reflection it occurred to me that this dilemma is becoming more and more common in the professional world as well. How do you come up with an effective strategy to capture/transfer several decades worth of “institutional knowledge” before your key employees announce their retirement?

According to a recent Gallup Poll, the average age at which U.S. retirees say they actually retired is now at 61, up from 57 in the early 1990s. That means that when your employees start to retire, they may have been with your company 30-40+ years. Let’s face it, these individuals have probably forgotten more than we know!

The Silver Lining: Most people that have been with the same organization for several decades want to feel like it was worth it. They take a great deal of pride in their work and want their legacy to carry on. That said, they will most likely be honored and thrilled if they are asked to become an integral part of your organization’s “Knowledge Retention” process.

Don’t short change the process, though. Remember, it took them half of their lifetime to accumulate this knowledge. We can’t expect to effectively distill that knowledge over the course of a day, a week, or even a month.

Interested in Knowledge Retention at your organization? Click below to learn more. And as always please contact me at kwatson@edsisolutions.com if we can support you in any way.

http://edsisolutions.com/knowledge-retention


5 Reasons Smart Companies Have Succession Plans

Tuesday March 25th, 2014 at 9:55am

Written by Jim Bitterle - Managing Partner with EDSI Consulting

jbitterle@edsisolutions.com

I recently received a call from a desperate CEO of a $28 million company.  His company’s Controller unexpectedly resigned three weeks earlier.  Then, two weeks after the Controller resigned, the CFO resigned.  Additionally, his Accounting department, due to a retirement, was already short by one person.  To make matters worse, the company was underperforming and its bank was requiring increased financial reporting and a plan of action.   After a nervous rant, the CEO exclaimed, “We need to provide financials to our bank by the end of the week.  If we don’t, they’re going to freeze our line of credit.  If they do, we won’t be able to make payroll on Friday.  Worse yet, I don’t have anyone in Accounting that knows how to finalize and print the requested reports.”  

It seems like this situation is extreme; however, Murphy’s Law has an amazing track record of ensuring critical departures occur at the worst possible time. Unfortunately, these events can be costly, and even catastrophic for some companies.  For this company, we were able to provide two financial consultants to assess the situation, close their monthly financials, create the necessary reports, then work with the bank.

Unfortunately, our financial consultants cost the company over $12,000.  Additionally, we had to locate an interim CFO to assist during the vacancy.  Her rates were high and the additional fees for her services were in excess of $10,000.  Lastly, the remaining accounting staff was called upon to work significant overtime.  These costs alone were over $5,000.  In total, the measurable cost of this event was over $27,000!  Had the company developed a clear succession plan, along with back-up systems and cross-trained personnel, the cost may have been minimal.

Situations similar to this story happen every day.  In cases where the company has an active succession planning program, the business disruption and associated costs are minimal.  Unfortunately, in most cases, companies don’t have active succession planning programs.   For these companies, the business disruptions can be severe, and the costs can be extremely high.


If your company doesn’t have a formal succession planning program, here are five reasons it should:

  1. Cost Minimization - When companies aren’t prepared for departures, it can cost them a fortune in overtime costs, lost revenues, quality costs, expedited training costs, recruiting costs, and the like.
  2. Risk Reduction - Key personnel losses can put customer relationships, employee morale, quality, customer service levels, profitability and even safety at risk. 
  3. Business Disruption Avoidance - When one or more key individuals leave, other employees scramble to cover the loss.  In some cases, key business activities don’t happen or are completed late or erroneously. 
  4. Morale Maintenance - Significant and/or frequent disruptions due to employee losses have a proven negative impact on employee morale.  Minimizing these disruptions minimizes events that will negatively impact morale.
  5. Improved Strategic Thinking - Succession planning helps executives see the organizational “big picture.”  It also helps identify areas of high risk that require organizational attention and planning.


Sometimes starting a succession plan from scratch seems like a daunting task.  Although it will take effort, it is not overly complex, and the effort will pay significant dividends for years to come.  

Here’s a basic road map to get you started:

  1. Ensure you have a completed, finalized organizational chart.
  2. Document all positions with complete job descriptions.
  3. Identify high risk positions that require immediate attention.  Remember, high risk positions can be found in all levels of the organization.
  4. Conduct knowledge retention interviews with key personnel.  These interviews should cover all aspects of institutional knowledge that will go away when the employee leaves the organization.
  5. Document the knowledge captured during these interviews in a usable format.
  6. Identify successors for high risk positions.
  7. Once identified, create a detailed training plan for the successor.  If these individuals do not exist in your organization, create a time-phased recruiting plan to attract required personnel at the required time.
  8. Create an implementation plan to conduct training and hiring.
  9. Once high risk position succession planning is completed, repeat the processes for all remaining essential positions within the organization.
  10. Maintain and update the succession plan on an ongoing basis.

Proactive companies have rigorous succession planning programs in place.  Once you have yours, you’ll be prepared for whatever organizational departures occur.


4 Things to Consider with Your Aging Workforce

Monday February 10th, 2014 at 8:22am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

kmall@edsisolutions.com

Do you know what your workforce is going to look like in 5 years?  

During the recession, a large group of retirement-eligible employees put their plans on hold. For an employer, when experienced employees stay to help manage a successful path as they anticipate retirement, it is certainly a benefit. However, impending retirements and the increasing use of technology in the workplace have most organizations wondering what their workforces will look like in the near future. The picture may not be clear, but that doesn’t mean that organizations can’t start planning for the future. 



Here are four things to consider with your aging workforce:

1) Do you know who and how many of your seasoned employees will retire in the next year?  Within three years?  Within five years?

2) Do you have a way to capture the knowledge and experience of your soon-to-retire employees?

3) Do you have a plan to transfer knowledge from retiring workers to current or new workers who will be their successors?

4) Do you have a plan for recruiting new employees to either replace the retiring workers, or backfill positions current employees will vacate as they assume positions of retiring workers?


Most people close to retirement are hesitant to provide an exact retirement date, but a simple calculation based on the person’s age and years of service can give you an idea. More importantly, instead of looking at just one or two employees, look at the whole department or company and load all employee data into a spreadsheet. This will show you who’s near the top of the list for retirement, and more importantly, what his/her role is in the organization. Knowing this information will give you a true roadmap for proper training plans and hiring decisions.

It is important to know when people will be eligible to retire.  Many of these key baby boomer employees are the people who know all of the in’s and out’s of the business; it often takes 2 or 3 new people to do their jobs – they are critical to your company’s success.

So, what if you just found out that one of your key employees, who has been with your company for 30+ years, is retiring?  This person has been with you through all of the company changes, good and bad.  He/she knows exactly what needs to be done in almost every situation.  Implementing a process to gather and catalog this person’s knowledge and experience is vital for a seamless transition to his/her successor, and keeping the business operating as smoothly as possible. 

With high unemployment numbers, many organizations think recruiting new talent is as easy as placing a want ad.  But if your goal is to find someone who fits the job requirements and your company culture, the process will become more complicated and take longer than anticipated. Creating a training plan and using it to evaluate the skills of new hires will help ensure they have the required skills. Cataloging the skills of the internal experts before they retire will give you the key puzzle pieces to develop your training plan.


5 Things to Know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer

Friday January 10th, 2014 at 8:15am

Written by Ken Mall - Managing Director with EDSI Consulting

kmall@edsisolutions.com

Are you prepared to answer the questions, “What are the current skill sets of our employees?”  or “What specific training do our employees need?”



For those companies who are already having these discussions internally, it is an important topic that deserves a lot of attention.  To meet long-term strategic objectives, many companies are concerned about concurrently increasing the skill level of their existing staff, while developing the skills and bench strength for their future needs. 

Sales professionals know that it’s easier to develop a great relationship with a current customer than it is to create a relationship with a new customer. The same is true for organizational talent; it’s easier to develop from within than to reach outside their organization. Today most organizations have to do both; fortunately, the steps to develop current and new workers are the same.  It is important to identify strengths and areas for improvement among your current employees and use that information to develop training for future employees.


Here are the 5 things you should know about Job Analysis and Knowledge Transfer:

1) Identify

Internal subject matter experts are the “go to” people who have been with the company for a long time and have full understanding of a job position. Picking the right subject matter experts is critical; they are your content experts and future mentors. 

2) Analyze

Conducting a job task analysis helps to document the relevant responsibilities and tasks needed to successfully perform a job, and is also used to develop training for new hires, or identify training needs of current workers. The job task analysis becomes the foundation for all skill assessments and training. 

3) Prioritize

Are there key tasks that only a few people in the organization are capable of performing? The job task analysis becomes the “score card” to identify critical tasks and prioritize knowledge transfer needs. Prioritizing the need will keep knowledge transfer initiatives focused.  

4) Implement

What is your organization’s track record for implementing a program and following it through to completion? What has worked for you in the past? What hasn’t worked? Creating a solid implementation plan with clear measurables, and ensuring high level management commitment will help make your program successful. 

5) Follow-up

Were your training priorities achieved? Did you measure results and were your outcomes realized? U.S. firms spent $156 billion on employee learning in 2011, according to the American Society for Training and Development. Research suggests that with little follow-up or meaningful assessments, 90% of new skills are lost within a year. 

A well thought-out and implemented program will result in a culture of learning that will benefit both the employees and the organization.

 

 

4 Critical Steps in Knowledge Retention

Tuesday December 10th, 2013 at 8:23am

Written by Brian Lester - Senior Consultant with EDSI Consulting

blester@edsisolutions.com

As America's population ages, so does its workforce. In fact, in the first decade of the new millennium, the number of workers aged 55 to 64 increased by 52%. Unfortunately, most companies are unprepared to manage the loss of many highly skilled, older workers. The situation is even more serious in organizations with a culture of employee retention, higher than average ages, or that still offer traditional pension plans. 

The challenge is to identify the skills and knowledge of your workforce and put the right plans in place to ensure your organization's future success. Very few companies will take a systematic approach to this problem since the full scope of risk isn’t immediately apparent, but an ad-hoc approach that may have worked in the past is not sustainable as the turnover in critical positions increases with the age of the workforce. Taking the time to carefully assess your knowledge loss risks can be an important competitive advantage.



1) Identify

Identifying and prioritizing the specific knowledge and skills at risk – When you identify the specific knowledge that is about to be lost when highly experienced employees leave for retirement, you are taking the first step in bridging a potential skills gap.  Identifying the deep, tacit knowledge (“Know-why” and “know-how” instead of just “know-what”) is the most critical step. This knowledge is the reason you value the employees’ performance, and is the risk you face with their departure.  This can save production, customers, and quality of service. Do you have a senior manager with a unique approach that needs to be documented? Is a high % of your experienced employees on the cusp of retiring?

2) Capture

Capturing processes, responsibilities, and tasks of subject matter experts – Capturing this information is critical to transferring experience and tribal knowledge that is crucial to the successful of your business.  Documenting the responsibilities and tasks will give you a play book on how to up skill incumbent workers and train new employees. This process may uncover best practices and successes that have yet to be communicated through your organization.

3) Communicate

Analyzing and communicating areas of risk and skill gaps within the organization – Take the information from the above items and develop a way to communicate it throughout your organization.  There are methods of creating a dashboard of critical information on projected retirements and knowledge loss by location and job role. There needs to be a buy-in factor with upper level management through to the jobs that are in jeopardy of being lost.  This creates accountability and responsibility.

4) Connect 

Developing concrete, actionable responses to mitigate knowledge loss and connect people, tools – This will be a road map on how to be successful in your organization.  This might include skill assessments, job analysis, and training plans.  Utilize on-the-job training or your local community college and work together to up skill your present employees and/or hire qualified applicants. Job shadowing, mentoring, and rehire after retirement programs may also be a part of these solutions.


 

Founded in 1979, EDSI is a national leader in workforce development, customized training and consulting.

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Had I not incorporated the EDSI process, I'm confident we would not be in business today. We would not have survived the downturn in the economy over the past 2-3 years. Matt Egrin; President - Broaching Machine Specialties

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