Taking a “REAL” Vacation


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How many of you spend your vacation at home doing chores? How many of you regularly skip vacations and work nearly every day of the year without a break? While sometimes bigger projects like painting are worth saving until you have more time off, if your only alternative to skipping vacation to avoid home projects is staying at work you are not doing yourself any favors.

Health wise, and mentally we benefit from checking out of the daily routine to decompress. Spending any vacation away from work is a good beginning. However, if you can step away from home too, and experience something new, you come back refreshed, and that is what vacation is supposed to do.

You don’t have to take your whole two weeks at the same time, but devote at least a week to an away vacation. With time away at a hotel and different food than the home kitchen, you are treating yourself to new experiences. Cruises, Land Tours and Resorts in varying degrees can transport you to new experiences and new places.

But if you are like most of us, you may have experienced a poor vacation. Hotel reservations that got screwed up, or air travel disruptions that caused delays. Maybe that driving vacation was going great until the car decided to die. Don’t let those times mess with you. Stuff happens, and the key is to find vacations that minimize the bad experiences.

Take cruising vacations as an example. We all hear about the ships that hit bad weather, miss ports, or have mechanical problems. The difference is the cruise lines make up for these very rare inconveniences. After 30 some cruises without incident, I found myself on a ship leaving Los Angeles that found the need to be towed back less than 24 hours later due to mechanical problems. It took 2 days to be towed back, and yet it was the healthiest cruise I’d ever been on with mostly fresh fruit and vegetables eat, and lots of sleep. We got a full refund and a free cruise for next time. It was an experience I would never want to repeat, but I ending up on the winning side of a bad stroke of luck.

Many people skip travel insurance, and yet it is inexpensive and covers delays, cancelations, lost baggage and medical costs to name a few, and one more thing that can save your vacation from disaster. How about taking tours on your own that get you lost versus professional tours with guides that don’t get lost and don’t lose you?

Now while I love to cook, I hate trying to decide where to go eat at each meal. I can nickel and dime a vacation into a rather miserable experience for my whole party. This is why I love resorts with meals included, or my favorite vacation on a cruise ship. The only work I have is packing and getting myself on the ship. After that they take care of everything and I get a real vacation.

If you have never had a really good vacation, or you wonder if you have paid too much for ones in the past, you may need a new Travel Agent. I would love to help you, so stop by my website – www.JimLoriTravel.com and you will be routed to my Cruises Inc. website. Call me or send me an email at jhopkins@cruisesinc.com and let’s put together your next “Real Vacation” – One you will remember!

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Slamming One Door Closed and Opening a New One


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In one month from now I will be hanging up my Learning Development career, and jumping in with both feet into the travel business with a new franchise business. Some have asked if I’m sad about leaving training, and I respond, no, just disappointed.

The past 12 years I’ve been consulting and the primary reason I left the corporate world for a life of self-employment was so that I could leverage my time better and help more organizations get the most out of their training efforts. I found so many broken training functions that it encouraged me to publish two books on the subject of fixing the training function and I really thought I would have work for life.

Finding clients that actually wanted to fix their training functions has been my life’s obsession for the past decade, and while I have uncovered a lot of good leads, there have been very few organizations that put their money where their mouth is as the popular phrase goes. Often we would agree on the challenges, the solutions and that I was qualified to do the job, but few wanted to fix their problem. Nearly all of the time I found that leaving it broken was not going to hurt their career. No harm, no foul, so why bother?

Making a career change from what has been a deep passion of mine for 27 years turned out to require some help. I lucked out with a great franchise coach that worked with me for several months and she discovered that next to training, I loved to travel. And not just fly around to one hotel after another, but cruise vacations. I know cruising like the back of my hand, have sailed on 40 cruises, and take pride learning all I can about the different cruise lines and ships.

So after looking at a few options for getting into the travel industry, I landed on an old and respected organization called CruiseOne, part of the bigger World Travel Holdings organization. My wife and I purchased a newer brand of CruiseOne called Dream Vacations. Once I understood the value I could bring to people shopping for a dream vacation, I knew I had found my second passion. In some ways it is a lot like performance consulting as the more you understand about what makes a great vacation for your clients the better solutions you can offer.

Probably one of the biggest changes I am looking forward to is not having to convince people of the right path. With a vacation, the right cruise for example is just being honest with expectations. Training options always included cheaper but less effective ways to train so the outcomes differ greatly. With a cruise, you can have a great time no matter how cheap or expensive your choices. You are buying memories, and my job is to make sure you get as many memories out of the available time you are on vacation.

While my training business will remain open, I will not be looking for new clients. I remain available for past clients as a way of thanking them for their support these past 12 years. But for those of you that failed to act after 12 years, the reality is you never wanted to support me or your employees. But you can always buy my two books on Amazon or go to www.thetrainingphysical.com for more information.

Look for updates on our new Dream Vacations business the end of September 2017!

Bon Voyage!

Consequences of Unqualified Hiring


thT8EBKFKNIf you are the type of person that needs to be the smartest one in the room in order to maintain your self-esteem, you likely hire people that are less qualified than you. When everyone around you is less qualified to do their job, they have no other recourse than to fall back on your vast depth of knowledge and experience to survive. You remain the smartest person in the room by default because everyone else around you is incompetent compared to you.

And while everyone else in the organization sees you as indispensable, you have created a domino effect by setting the standard. The people you hire then hire people that are less competent than they are too, and the dumbing down of your part of the organization is well on its way to 100%.

I’m watching the fallout of an organization that normally does not hire like this and looks for people that are smarter and bring new talents to the organization. However, one senior leader is very insecure and staffs her department with people that don’t meet minimum job responsibilities, and must lean on her to solve work challenges. This makes her become indispensable because her team really does need her. Where it shows up most often as a problem is when she is on vacation or out of the office. Everything gets backed up waiting for her return.

I forget who said it first, but I have always agreed with the statement that “if I am the smartest person in the room, I need to add more people to the room.” I have always hired people with more expertise than me so my department not only survives in my absence, but we continually grow. While the direction may change with a new leader that replaces me after I leave, the team still functions because no single person was dependent on me for wisdom.

As a leader, if you hire someone that is totally incompetent for a job, you send a single that no one needs to be qualified to work for you and/or get promoted. Your managers will also mimic you and hire less than qualified people to remain looking indispensable themselves. Before long, the only person that can do their job is the one leader at the top; so what happens when they quit?

Odd Qualifications for TOO Many Managers These Days


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If you have children in their late teens to mid-twenties in the workforce, you may have heard a few dozen horror stories about their managers and thought they were exaggerated. Unfortunately your ears did not deceive you nor did your kid’s experiences get blown out of proportion. The minimum qualifications to become a Shift Lead, Assistant Manager or even the Manager are nonexistent; unless of course you consider the following requirements as standard guidelines these days.

 

“Managers Wanted For Hire”

We are seeking warm bodies with zero previous supervisory or management experience to lead our retail locations, restaurants, and revolving door enterprises. The following requirements are mandatory unless otherwise stated as preferred:

  • You must have zero knowledge of any Human Resources Policies, Federal or State Employment Laws, and be completely unable to identify Workplace Harassment (even if it happens to you).
  • If your staff members should have the audacity to report your management style to senior members of the company or Human Resources as “Hostile” or “Illegal” you have the assurance that these complaints will be fully ignored until such time as you are able to terminate these staff members.
  • In order to make your sales, service and expense goals, it may be necessary to work staff without paying them regular or overtime wages, skipping meals and breaks, and learning how to trick the time clock.
  • You should understand that your role makes you the superior life form in your location and all staff are considered your subjects and/or slaves and should be treated with very little regard.
  • Giving Directions and Feedback should come from your emotional stability at the time and never from your brain. Ripping an employee’s face off is a sign of a strong manager. If you are referred to as a Witch with a B, consider it a badge of honor and that you are doing things correctly.
  • Experience with Performance Improvement and Team Building is not necessary. If any employee doesn’t perform as expected within the first two days on the job, they should just be fired. You can always hire someone else to replace them.
  • You do need to be a proficient recruiter and interviewer with an emphasis on telling each person what they want to hear so they accept the job. You will not be held accountable for any promises you make as we put nothing in writing. We do not have a written list of prohibitive interview questions either and we discriminate in our hiring process based on each manager’s personal biases.
  • It is vital that you have never received any management or leadership training in previous positions and we make the promise to you never to require any such training nonsense as long as you work for us.

 

NOTE: While this blog was meant to be humorous in nature, unfortunately it is the sad truth that many employees are working for managers with these skill sets. Your friends and family are being subjected to poor management because these issues are allowed to exist up the food chain. If you ever wondered why a company only wants the younger employee and not older ones, it is because the older employee knows the rule of law and will not put up with this nonsense. They also are quick to report bad behavior and hire attorneys if needed to resolve issues. Parent need to be vigilant in their efforts to educate their children on proper workplace behaviors and rules.

 

Hypocritical Leaders


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While you may not like the term hypocritical as a label that describes your favorite political party, at least for that party it works for them. They say one thing and hold others accountable and look the other way when their own members spike the ball. Yet at least in politics it is seen as part of the game. Politicians are always seen as playing to an audience they need for votes instead of doing the right thing for their country.

Yet this blog has spent a lot of words over the years talking about leaders in the workplace. And while you may want to point the finger at a politician for being hypocritical, the problem exists in every industry and way too many of our corporate leaders. People seen as walking a different talk are seen as hypocrites too!

I witnessed first-hand again this week a leader saying one thing and allowing the total opposite to happen. In my world of HR & Training it happens on a regular basis because my peer group is afraid to speak the truth to management. Not always mind you, but those rare individuals that see their roles as problem solvers and not everyone’s friend are hard to find. One such associate told me when she interviewed to be the Director of HR, she warned them that if she “sees a problem, she will be a pain in the ass until it is fixed.” Yes she not only got the job, but she is fulfilling her promise daily!

As I said, this past week I met with a CEO who happens to be an advocate of regular Workplace Harassment training, and since this is in California where we have mandates that include 2-hour versions for managers I was intrigued by the enthusiasm. As is my normal practice before recommending any kind of learning solution, I asked to interview several employees about what they knew about workplace harassment law. My findings were somewhat surprising, and difficult to convey back to the CEO.

I interviewed several people in this small company and it was unanimous that they all knew the laws and procedures well. Except for the training being mandatory again this year, none of those I interviewed really needed to go through the training. However, every single one of them had a story to share about the need for the CEO to learn how NOT to harass. Oh my, what fun I will have telling this person that she is the primary problem.

The hypocritical leader emerged in full force with indignant push back that it was not her actions in question. I spent several minutes making a list of every person she could think of that needed help and she was not on that list. Now no one in their right mind will ever tell this person face to face about her challenges because those that have tried and no longer with the company. So I had both the joy and privilege to share some scenarios and interpretations, being careful to disguise the sources. After an hour I broke through and we agreed to talk again after the training was completed.

While this one situation ended up in the win column, the hypocritical gene (if there really is one) is still very much a part of this CEO’s DNA. Until she is able to point to blame in the right direction, I am afraid that working with her will always come with a challenge to those that have that “pleasure.”

Making Decisions is a Lost Art for Many Leaders


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Too many decisions are not being made in a timely manner and the organization suffers for it on every level. Most delays come from leaders that are afraid of making mistakes and paying dearly for the rest of their career. Politics, even in the corporate workplace, play a significant role in decision making, and all this time waiting causes delays all across the organization.

Let’s look at a few that you may be facing in your workplace:

  • Why does the recruiting process take so long? While many want to put the blame on the recruiter, often they are no more involved in the process than pushing paper along. No one usually asks their opinion, and they also are not empowered to push people into making hiring decisions. The hiring managers are unclear what they want, so even if the “perfect fit” is sitting right in front of them, they don’t engage with an offer. Time slips away, and when a decision is finally made, the applicant has either taken another job or just lost interest in the one you have to offer.

 

  • For the last 15 years straight, the number one competency that management says they want to build in their workforce is leadership. Yet for any one of a thousand reasons, each year passes and not a single person is provided with leadership development. A vision never gets implemented because it requires decisions as to what skills need to be included and how the training will occur. In no time at all, another year passes and the need continues to be a “top priority.”

 

  • Have you ever had to work with someone that has screwed up so many times you have lost count, and yet they are still employed? You know, because they have shared with you that they have been given feedback about the need to change, but nothing ever changes and they still have their job. Terminating employment is often the hardest part of a manager’s job, and yet what happens when they avoid those decisions? Not only does the problem child still exist, but it sends a clear message that performance problems will never lead to anything very severe. So if one doesn’t need to fear getting fired, what is the last resort available to correct performance?

 

Yet have you noticed that when leaders make decisions in a timely manner, it is often criticized as being premature. Honestly, you can’t win! However, if I was to have a choice between people that react quickly and people that procrastinate, I will work for a decision maker any day of the week!

What are other workplace issues that you see a lack of decision making?

 

Voting With Your Feet


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In a world where social media seems to be the only place to post a grievance, I didn’t start there this past week when faced with an action by a company I do business with that I didn’t agree with an action they took. I instead reached out to the humans with this company and voiced my concern.

In a nutshell, a company I have done personal business with for 30+ years decided that their corporate image would be tarnished if they continued to advertise on a network based on allegations being made about a particular personality. I will stop by saying if the allegations are found to be true; I would also abandon my support of this individual. However, without a trial, the media convicted this individual and the advertisers left in enough quantity that the network fired the individual.

I am purposely not naming names here, because I believe if you are following the news you already know what I am talking about, and if not it will make no difference to my point. I also don’t need to name the company that I have been a client of for the past 30 years because my issue with them is just about our relationship.

The company I disagreed with was happy to listen to my concern over them bailing out and agreeing to the allegations before all the truth came out, but their response became so high and mighty, too pure and perfect for my stomach to endure, that I simply said the following when they asked why I called. I said, “I am your customer, and while I can simply move my relationship to any of several other competitors, I felt it was my obligation to inform you as to why I am leaving after 30 years.”

His reply was, “Okay, thanks.”

In just two words he told he told me he cared less about my opinion. He then said he would pass on the information at his next PR meeting with corporate. However, “we are on the right side of this issue!”

Our New America – Guilty Until Proven Innocent!

I am now in the processes of shopping for a line of replacement products that I have not really given the time of day researching for 30 years, all because my opinions are incorrect. So while losing my relationship is not going to hurt this company, it makes me feel better knowing that I am walking my talk too.