In the midst of an economic downturn, double-digit unemployment, and corporate downsizing, chief financial officers across the United States cite integrity as the most important trait when looking for prospective business leaders.
According to a survey from Robert Half Management Resources, 33 percent of CFOs interviewed said that other than technical or functional expertise, integrity is the trait they looked for the most when grooming future leaders. Interpersonal and communication skills also ranked high with business leaders, cited by 28 percent of respondents.
The survey included responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.
McDonald added that sharp communication skills are also important as executives take on greater responsibility. “Especially during difficult periods, managers must be able to promote open, two-way communication with their teams,” he says. “Executives in companies that have moved successfully through the downturn understand the importance of listening intently to feedback from employees and are always on the lookout for this skill in potential leaders.”
To ensure that the national study, based on telephone interviews, was statistically representative and that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportion of employees within each region.
The Great Acclimation Race
By Ann Pace
Forget the standard 90-day onboarding transition that allows employees to gradually grow accustomed to their new nine-to-five work environments—now, try nine weeks.
The Creative Group asked advertising and marketing executives, “On average, how long would you say someone is in a role before you know she is a good fit for the job?” The average response, based on more than 500 telephone interviews with executives from small and medium-sized companies, was 45 days.
“A lot of new hires are being expected to acclimate much more quickly than in the past,” says Donna Farrugia, executive director for The Creative Group. “Nine weeks isn’t a lot of time. Organizations today are moving at such a fast pace that even expectations such as these are moving faster.”
The condition of the postrecession workplace may contribute to this shortened time-to-acclimation. With fewer organizations hiring, employers that bring in fresh talent have higher standards for new hires from day one. Companies that have experienced reductions in force and budget cuts are most likely to execute leaner training and development programs and may not provide the robust orientation processes that employees once enjoyed.
Employees who enter their new workplaces with a plan will enjoy a smoother transition, Farrugia suggests. New hires must be aware that their new supervisors are evaluating their attitude, enthusiasm, teamwork, and performance within the first two weeks on the job. As a result, employees must be proactive and work to make immediate contributions as soon as they walk in the door.
“Don’t use the ‘I’m new’ excuse,” Farrugia warns. “Give it your all from day one: Soak up as much information as possible, see how your position fits into the bigger picture, and get a clear sense of your employer’s priorities and expectations.”
Of course the responsibility for success is not one-sided—employers have a role to play as well. Farrugia urges supervisors to remember that new hires are experiencing a significant life change, and with a new job comes a great deal of stress. “During the first two weeks, a new hire is deciding, ‘Is this job right for me?’ As an employer, you want this person to contribute as quickly as possible, so you must show enthusiasm as much as you want the new hire to show enthusiasm.”
To ease a new hire into his transition, an employer can introduce him to co-workers and give an office tour; ensure that his computer, email account, and phone are prepared for his arrival; and assign him a mentor. Also, if basic organizational and job training will not be given on the first day, communicate when that orientation will take place and what information the new employee can expect to learn.
T+D DECEMBER 10 // PUBLIC POLICY //
By C. Michael Ferraro and Jennifer Homer
ASTD and local chapter leaders keep an active eye on new resources and initiatives affecting training professionals, both at the federal and state levels.
To help members stay current on public policy activities that affect the learning and development field, ASTD monitors activities at the federal and state levels in the United States and regularly provides updates through this column and the quarterly ASTD Policy Brief at www.astd.org/
With the help of IBM, ASTD recently posted a new tool to help learning professionals identify state resources for training, including grant funding, tax credits, and other public programs for specific industries and populations. The tool, posted at www.astd.org/publicpolicy, provides the name of each state-based training program, the status of the program, and a direct link to more information.
WorkforceFlorida.com is one example. The state offers the Quick Response Training (QRT) Program, which provides grant funding for customized training at new or expanding businesses, and the Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) Program, which provides grant funding for customized training at existing for-profit businesses.
On September 30th of this year, a group of ASTD chapter leaders and members of the Public Policy Council met with 18 congressional staffers to discuss several issues important to the learning and development community. Discussions for the meetings were first centered on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization, which has recently stalled with no action on the Senate side in recent months. It is likely that this issue will not be taken up again until the next legislative session in 2011.
The second discussion centered on a permanent extension of Section 127 of the IRS tax code for educational tax credits. This provision of the tax code had been extended for 10 years and is up for renewal. Currently, there are two bills (S. 2851 and H.R. 5600) under consideration to make this a permanent part of the tax code.
After the meetings on Capitol Hill, ASTD participants took part in a debrief session to discuss their experiences and next steps to help local chapters move forward in these areas.
In addition to the Workforce Investment Act and Section 127 of the IRS code, ASTD is following the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed “gainful employment rule” that calls for for-profit schools and occupational training schools to prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”
For-profit schools have been under scrutiny by members of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in recent months based on the perceived connection between increased student debt and fewer opportunities to gain employment. The Department of Education’s proposed rule changes include provisions to police the quality of the for-profit higher education system and the integrity of student aid, and to provide more direction to describe states’ responsibilities to authorize proprietary schools.
The Department of Education received more than 9,000 comments related to the proposed rule changes. Agency officials pushed back the publication of the final rule from the original target date of November 1 to sometime in early 2011.
C. Michael Ferraro is president and CEO of TRAINING SOLUTIONS Inc.; email@example.com. Jennifer Homer is vice president of communications and career development at ASTD; firstname.lastname@example.org.
T+D DECEMBER 10 // FAST FACT //
Workforce Readiness Programs Prepare Future Workforce
This economic recession is forcing many employees to go back to basics, and several state and federal programs are preparing the future workforce with the competencies necessary to find work.
Job Corps, a career technical training and education program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, is helping young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 find entry-level jobs. With training on a defined set of competencies in academic, vocational, information technology, and independent skills, Job Corps students are finding jobs in fields such as masonry, carpentry, and nursing.
The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) has received a $1.37 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to prepare low-income, young adults in eight states for careers in the energy industry. The State Energy Workforce Consortia in Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Georgia, Florida, California, Indiana, and Minnesota will work with 5,000 young adults to assess their interest and skill levels for potential employment in technical positions. Roughly 500 participants will be placed into electrical and natural gas utility jobs, while others will be referred to jobs in construction and manufacturing.
The 2009 CEWD Gaps in the Energy Workforce Pipeline Survey predicts that by 2015, 46 percent of the existing skilled technician workforce may need to be replaced because of potential retirement or attrition, as well as 51 percent of the engineering workforce.
“We believe that postsecondary education institutions and employers can work together in innovative ways to meet the needs of today’s students and the growing demands for skilled labor,” says Hilary Pennington, director of Education, Postsecondary Success, and Special Initiatives at the Gates Foundation. “This project will give students a clear and well-marked path through college and into a growing field of good jobs.”
T+D DECEMBER 10 // INFOGRAPH //
Dominates Business Managers' Curricula