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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is my co-host JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.”
In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about careers without college. JoDee and I use this podcast forum to talk about a variety of topics focused on the world of work, and we often hear from our listeners, asking for career advice or questions about career coaching. So today is going to be one on careers without college. One frequent question we hear from people who feel stuck in their job, many times, they don’t have or didn’t finish their college degrees and feel as though employers will automatically reject them, as so many job postings require a degree. Neither one of my parents have a college degree. My mother never went on to college. My dad ended up being a lawyer, but it was back in the day when if you could pass the test, you could go to law school without a college degree. So really, my brothers and sisters and I are really first generation college graduates, and I’m one of six, four of us went on to get our degrees, and two did not. They ended up, I gotta tell you, terribly successful at what they chose to do. So…
Interesting. So I’m also first generation college. My mom went to nursing school, which was more traditional at that time for nursing, to go through a hospital training program, but did not get a bachelor’s degree. And then my dad, who was the president of a small town bank for many, many years, never went to college, he was in the military and learned a lot of his skills, worked in finance in, in the military and learned his skills there.
So, you know, I have to say that probably you and I don’t believe that as many jobs that require degrees really need those degrees. I think that if truly challenged, most employers would say it’s a nice to have, but not a bona fide occupational qualification.
I agree. And I have to admit, many times, I always tell our clients to ask for more than what they really need. And I’ve just, in preparing for this podcast, I really, really thought about that, on how many applicants they might be missing out on who are afraid to apply because they don’t meet that specific requirement, so I’m changing my tune on that one right now. So…
I’m pleased. I’m really pleased. I do think there probably are some – there definitely are some positions where you have to have really strong technical knowledge and you can only get that perhaps in a college classroom, or through certainly through an apprenticeship or some other technical training. But I think the employers are cheating themselves when they drop in a degree requirement when not – when it’s not truly necessary. We’re not going to solve for the problem today, but we can help shed a light on some really good jobs where college degrees are not asked for. In researching today, we found some information that the Foundation for Economic Development had online in an article in October of 2018 entitled “Five Lucrative Jobs that Don’t Require a College Degree.” JoDee, why don’t we share those?
Number one, truck drivers. Truck drivers can earn up to $80,000 a year, and there are currently estimated 50,000 jobs open in that field.
I am reading more and more about how competitive companies are about trying to get truck drivers. So it’s really, if it’s something you haven’t thought about doing or maybe thought it might be on your wish list, you may want to explore it. Number two on the list from the Foundation of Economic Development was elevator installers and repairers. The average annual salary is $79,000 per year, and the only education required is apprenticing.
Who would have guessed on that one?
Number three is boilermakers. Now I thought that was a Purdue fan, but evidently, they can make an average pay of up to $62,000.
Number four does not surprise me. It’s plumber, and they say that the average salary range is between $52,000 and $90,000 a year, depending on where you practice. I would pay anything when I’m having a plumbing problem. I don’t care what it costs, get someone here to fix it.
Yeah, yeah. Number five, web developer, where the median salary is $62 to $122,000 a year. What is unusual with this profession is you can teach it to yourself via online classes, reading books, or practicing and figuring it out. A lot of need for those positions as well.
Yes. Well, on this list of five, there’s actually one industry that three of these relate to, and we know it’s in hot demand, and that is the construction industry. There are many great opportunities in construction and they aren’t all what you might expect. We’re fortunate today to have some guests who are very focused on helping link non-degreed applicants to lucrative careers in the construction industry. All of our guests have a common desire to create and promote job opportunities as a workforce development initiative. Another facet of this is really creating awareness among high school graduates and their parents who sometimes are extremely influential in what their kids decide to be when they grow up, right? There is a prevalent stigma around construction jobs and in some communities, there’s a stigma if you choose not to go to a four year college route. We’re hoping in this podcast today, we can help shine some light on why that doesn’t make sense.
So our guests today will be Chuck Haberman with Gaylor Electric Company, David Decker with Hub and Spoke and Melinda Stephan, a college and career counselor at Carmel High School.
So our first guest is Chuck Haberman with Gaylor Electric Company.
Chuck, thanks for joining us today. We know that you are with Gaylor Electric, but can you tell us about your role, and how did you get into the job that you have?
Yeah, so I am the leader of Workforce Development here at Gaylor Electric, and I focus on providing opportunities for employees to develop themselves at every stage of their career. I got into this role because I have a passion for the skilled trades, and my dad and my uncles were all in the industry in some capacity, and I’ve always just had a passion for it. And so at a very young age, I learned to value those skills and how important they were across society and in everyone’s community.
So, that’s great. Chuck, please tell us a little bit about the types of jobs that Gaylor offers and maybe which of those jobs require degrees and which ones don’t?
Yeah, we have many kinds of jobs here at Gaylor Electric for people at every education level, from, you know, people without a high school degree to people who are postgraduate degrees. But really everything in between. The beauty of the organization is that we provide an environment where you can come into the organization and kind of carve any, any path that you like, blaze a trail, and we’ll support you throughout that journey.
Nice, nice. Can you tell us about some of the opportunities in construction that people might not even realize are available?
Yeah, I think, you know, there’s a big misconception that construction is a fallback career path, that it doesn’t really require a lot of intelligence or mental aptitude, but that’s – really couldn’t be any further from the truth. Technology, for one, has really changed the game in construction careers, you know, with drones and BIM and robotics and using GPS, to name a few, those are all things that have drastically impacted the way things are designed and built in the construction industry today. Really, many contractors will build the entire project today digitally, and then they can allow customers to walk through it virtually before a single spate of dirt is removed. Equipment operators, they use GPS to ensure grades set within razor thin margins, drastically reducing the risk of quality issues. And it really improves, you know, everything all around by utilizing technology that’s out there.
That’s fascinating. I have – my church is getting ready to add a significant expansion, and for the first time, I just saw one of those visual walkthroughs where we were able to, to take the whole parish, really, through a walkthrough of the proposed addition, and it was fascinating, but I have to admit…
Yeah, it is really, really cool.
Yeah, I have to admit, I didn’t really connect with me, still, really thinking about how much technology has probably changed your world.
It has really revolutionized the industry for sure.
Yeah. So Chuck, what kinds of personalities seem to find long term success and, really, satisfaction working in construction?
Well, it may sound cliche, but it’s because it’s true. The most successful construction workers are really supportive team players who take pride in hard work and mastering their craft. You know, press – people spend their day pushing their bodies and minds to the limits, but they do it every day because in the end, they can look back and say, I built that. You know, I think that’s something that, you know, maybe not a lot of people can do in a lot of different industries, and it’s a pretty unique characteristic and personality of skilled tradesmen.
Yeah, I love the idea of tangible results for all that hard labor.
I, Chuck, it reminds me of early in my career, I was working with a client who was a CFO of a very large organization. He was very successful in his role and with his company, but he was telling me that he had young kids and, and sort of trying to explain to them what what he did. He said, I just always wish I could just point to something and say, I built that, and as the CFO, that was likely not ever going to happen. But I do think that’s an interesting piece of your world that people can point to and say, I was a part of that of that project, of that road, of that building, of that stadium, whatever that might be. So…
And, you know, it’s not just, yeah, you can drive down the road after the project’s done and point to it. But, you know, it could be pictures in the newspaper. It could be, you know, textbooks, you never know where that building might show up, and you can share that you had a part in that history.
Yeah. Nice. Nice. You mentioned that one of the misconceptions about working in construction was that maybe for some people thought of it as a default career. Are there some other misconceptions that you think people might have about the construction industry?
Yeah, I would say, you know, I kind of alluded to it a little earlier, that it’s just kind of mindless grunt work, you’re in the field, and, you know, it doesn’t take a lot of smarts to be successful. But, like I said, it is anything but the truth. The technic, the technical knowledge that craftsmen have is just uncanny. Yes, it’s physically demanding. Yes, the conditions aren’t always climate controlled and perfect. But in the end, anybody can do it if they’re willing to take the time to learn it and put in the effort to really master that craft, and it can be very rewarding, you know, for a very long time.
Nice. Chuck, how easy or hard is it to get a job in construction, would you say, and how would any of our listeners who might be interested start that journey of exploring a career in construction or in one of the trades?
Absolutely. I would say getting a job in construction is pretty easy. The part that takes some work is finding what aspect of construction would fit you best. But there are a couple of really great organizations that have great connections to the field and would be a great resource for your listeners about careers in construction. One would be Associated Builders and Contractors. ABC provides trading opportunities at over 30 trade – skilled trades in Indiana and across the country, and then Build Your Future Indiana, their mission is actually to provide knowledge and exploration and education for careers in the construction industry. And both of the websites have great websites that are a wealth of information.
Nice. And tell us about maybe some of the pay, benefits, or perks that we might not realize are there in the construction industry?
Yeah, I think you guys mentioned a little bit earlier in the podcast that many skilled trades pay very well, and they all have great growth opportunities, you know, so that’s one, you know, one thing you can look at as far as compensation goes, but of course, you know, pay, benefits, perks, they’ll vary by employer, but many construction firms offer pretty competitive packages that include health benefits, retirement programs, PTO, and other training opportunities and career development opportunities. So I think that’s what a lot of people might not fully know about is that, you know, there’s a lot of the same opportunities that you might find in a tech company or in a healthcare organization, that you can still find the same rewarding benefits in a construction company.
And Chuck, how many employees do you have at Gaylor, and how many of them would you guess do not have a college degree?
I know that we have over 1,200 employees, the exact number I can’t, I can’t say verbatim as far as how many employees or what’s the ratio of college degreed employees versus non college degree. I would venture to say that the majority of our employees do not have a college degree.
Yeah, I would say maybe 15 to 20% of our employee base has a college degree. Now, the nice thing about ABC is you could go through our apprenticeship program, any one of their apprenticeship programs, and you can come out of that after four years with your apprenticeship program, so you’d be a skilled tradesman, you could test for your journeyman’s license, as well as have an associate’s degree in general studies from Ivy Tech or Vincennes University.
That’s terrific. I gotta ask you, Chuck, how difficult is it for you when you have openings at Gaylor to get those filled? Is it pretty competitive right now trying to hire people?
It’s absolutely competitive. You know, the challenge is not necessarily finding people, it’s finding highly qualified people that meet our needs. We can bring in, we have a great system of bringing in people that are unskilled and building them from the ground up. However, that’s a long process, and oftentimes we’ll find people who maybe aren’t prepared to commit that much time, and so we find that they’ll, they may leave the organization or after a certain amount of time, they can’t continue through.
Well, that’s why it’s important to get the word out, I think, so we get a lot of people starting in the pipeline. Right? It sounds like a wonderful career opportunity.
Yeah. Well, thanks for joining us today, Chuck. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners?
No, I’m just, I’m thankful that you guys had me, and I’m grateful that you guys are spreading the word about careers in construction, and, you know, alternative paths after high school, you know, continuing to tell people to be continuous learners and develop themselves. There’s a lot of different opportunities and different paths that people can take, and I think it’s just, it’s on us to communicate those to everybody and help them understand what there is out there.
Well, thank you for sharing that.
Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Thank you Chuck!
Our next guest is David Decker, co-founder of Hub and Spoke. We’re really excited to have you here, David, and learn more about Hub and Spoke. Let’s talk about that first, if you would.
A little bit about Hub and Spoke? What would you like to know?
What is it, how big is that, when did it start, and why?
So, those are a lot of questions all in one.
Hub and Spoke is, a it’s a design center plus a community coworking space plus a makerspace, all in one facility in Fishers, Indiana along the Nickel Plate Trail on 106th Street. So it’s about 86,000 square feet, and as I mentioned, is going to include a lot of coworking, so, like, the center of the building will be this magnetic area that kind of connects the different trades from the maker space to the retail tenants that are in the building and the community members.
So tell us what is a makerspace?
So a makerspace, a makerspace can be anything and the definition is very loose, could be from construction paper and scissors and glue all the way to something like we’re doing, which is a master makerspace., and it’s going to include things like 3D printers, laser cutters, woodworking tools, metalworking, vinyl printers, spray booth, almost anything that you can imagine. So it’s really going to depend on the funding that we raise for the for the space, but that’s our that’s our goal overall, was to have several different types of tools and equipment that you couldn’t put together on your own.
That’s great. And when does it open?
This time next year, so February 2020.
Nice. And, David, tell us about your own career journey and what, what led you to starting Hub and Spoke.
That’s a good question, as well. So after… I grew up in a small business, family run business, and pretty much worked since I was a little kid. I would go to work with my dad and kind of follow him around till I got old enough to work. And then when I reached high school ages and got my license, I got a part time job, and so I was going to school and working at the same time and graduated high school and was faced with a choice, to either take over the family business or not, and I elected not to, because I wanted to work for what I was given. So I decided to go to college and when I was in college, I was really struggling. I, I did well, in my first couple semesters, made the Dean’s list and stuff like that, and what I was really struggling with was figuring out the stuff that I was learning and I wasn’t able to apply in real life. And so I ultimately decided to stop college and went directly to the workforce and started my own business after that when I was about 24, and been going since, and I’ve started a couple since then too.
Well, there is a lot of pressure, I think, on young people coming out of high school to go to college. What do you – do you think a college for – a four year degree college is really the right thing for everyone?
No, it’s absolutely not. And I do want to say that I’m a huge proponent of education, and whether that’s in school or self-education or whatever it is, I mean, that’s, that’s, that was my journey was that I, you know, would buy… I would be a kind of interested in something and I would buy a book, actually multiple books, and I would read and read and read until I felt like I was an expert in that particular field. So totally believe in education, but college is not for everybody, as it wasn’t in my case, and as you see from the numbers The Department of Education put out there that 60% of kids don’t graduate within six years and they end up in debt, and so now they’re behind somebody that might have entered the workforce directly, so there’s a real breakdown in the system right now, and a lot of these schools are recognizing that which is very positive.
And why did you think there was a need for Hub and Spoke?
Well, for one, so, really, we wanted to make a bigger social impact, so we’ve been successful in business and this need to give back and help others find their purpose and passion earlier in life. So I felt like for me with going to college and kind of feeling like I was lost in that, that time period and starting my own thing have come to find that purpose and passion, and so I have, I personally now have a passion about helping other people find that sooner in their life, first and foremost. And then we’ve got, um, I’m also in the design and construction industry, and there is a, with all industries right now, there’s a workforce shortage, right, and so it’s huge in the skilled trades. So we saw this need and this opportunity, and there’s been a lot of talk about it. And we really decided to do something different and create this brick and mortar place, this community center that helps us because almost half of the workforce in skilled trades is over 45 years old, so they’re nearing retirement, and there’s no… not really a big push for new kids to come in, and so you can see the gap just continues to widen. And so how do we solve that? When you start asking around, there’s this real stigma around the industry, that kids don’t even realize what opportunities are there and that they can actually make a good living and make a very good living, right? And so it’s really that we need to educate them and show them that there’s really fun stuff that they can do and a real opportunity. And then with that, when you start to talk to the kids, then you have to talk to the parents, too, right? A lot of parents don’t realize the opportunities that are in the industry, too. So it’s this whole educational journey for us to help them see the opportunity, but it’s also done in a different way. And so, you know, you might consider, likem “vocation” is kind of a bad word these days, it feels like it, you know, and so, so we have to present it in a different way. And so our environment at Hub and Spoke is going to be more like an Apple or Google culture, and so it’s gonna be really interactive and fun and create this experience for these kids to come in. And it may be K through 12, we’re still developing programming on that, but you know, it’s a long term play, bring them in, let them see the opportunity, let them see the older kids building stuff, and then hopefully get them excited about it as well, and their parents.
And so have you lined up businesses that are going to actually have a presence there, and how did you go about finding them, and how far along are you in that journey?
So yes. Yes, yes, yes. And so, so it’s a retail design center, first and foremost, and so that would be for the – say that you were building a home or remodeling your home, you could come into a facility and make all your product selections in one place instead of having to go to multiple different areas, right? So I’m in the design construction industry, so my company ACo will be relocating there. And then just by nature of relationships in the industry, it’s pretty easy for me to talk to some of the other people that are in the industry and get them excited about it. So we are… I want to say probably, today, we’re about 80% full when we haven’t broken ground yet, which is exciting, right?
So there’s, those are verbal commitments, some of them are signed, but we’re continuing working through that to see if the people come through and say what they’re… if they do what they say they’re, they said they were going to do then we’ll be in good shape.
That’s fantastic. And where are you… what do you think long term this might lead to in terms of not just you and your own business, but also with the students and the kids who come through the program? Where do you hope that to lead in five or 10 years?
So obviously, if we’re helping them find their purpose and passion earlier, and that could be they come to our facility and say, no, I don’t like it. To me, that’s a success too, because that’s one thing most that they’re gonna have to go through, to figure out what they are excited and passionate about. So I think there’s going to be a lot around that, a lot of new opportunity that people see, and we’re definitely going to get a skilled workforce out of that, we’re going to see success in the industry, we’re going to see success in the community. As I mentioned, the building will be community-based as well, so community members can come in off the new Nickel Plate Trail that’s there, experience the events that we have, utilize the makerspace, the coworking, and so that we just, we see a lot of success coming out of the initiatives that we’re doing. And ultimately, we want to really roll this thing out nationally once we get solidified here in Fishers, Indiana.
I do think one comment you made about ruling out a career choice, I think is really important. And I know more and more in college, colleges are requiring internships or different apprenticeships, but even being able to rule out some of those when you’re still in high school. I know for me, I was a student teacher with the sixth grade class when I was a senior in high school and as much as I enjoyed that semester, it 100% confirmed to me that I did not want to be a teacher. And I just felt that – I felt really good about that, that I had had that experience and knew that wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I was going to be a nurse until I met high school chemistry, and then I knew I was not going to be in the medical field.
What’s, what’s funny is, so I’ve done a lot of talking and meeting with students over at Fishers High School. I was just there this morning and spoke to about 250 kids, but one of the classes I asked that question of, you know, during this transition period, what do they want long term, like, instead of talking about all these experiences that they want to have, and one of the girls said, I thought I wanted to be a nurse. It was the same thing. She said, then I did an internship. God love them, I do not want to be a nurse. You know, that’s perfect. That’s exactly what we need is provide these experiences to figure out what your purpose and passion is.
That’s great. I love it. David, is there anything else our listeners need to know?
You know, as we get further along in the project we’re going to really look to the community for help and support, so I would say find us on the web. Sign up, stay informed, come out to some of our events. And if you have a passion for this, seeing this come in the community, then let us know, and we’ll plug you in.
And can you tell our listeners your web address?
Yes, it’s www.hubandspoke.works.
Dot works. Alright, well, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thanks very much. And good luck.
Yeah. Our next guest is Melinda Stephan. She’s a college and career counselor at Carmel High School. Melinda, we are interested in your perspective on helping kids and parents know about other great career choices. So tell us, what do you do as a college and career counselor?
Well, essentially, my job is to help students and their families navigate the high school process and then ultimately the planning for post high school process. So that kind of comes in lots of different forms. It might be simply advising them during the scheduling process in terms of trying to pick classes that help them maybe explore their interests. It could be, you know, looking for ways to gain practical experience so that they can start to apply those interests, maybe the learning that they’ve done in school. So it’s really just helping them navigate the process, and that looks different for every student. And depending on where they are in the process, depending on how much support they have, we’re in a very educated community, so a lot of our families have been through the process and can help and other – in other situations, they might maybe be first generation college students or first generation, even, US students, so helping them navigate the processes is really my role.
Yeah, you say that so, so calmly. It makes me nervous just to think about trying to do that with…
As a parent.
And as a parent!
It keeps it pretty interesting. There’s never a dull moment.
I bet not.
And no two students are alike, really.
That’s for sure.
So I think so often we think that high school counselors are really helping students figure out what college to go to, but it’s really much broader than that, isn’t it? When it’s a non-college route that the person, that, that the student or their parent, or you just think based on knowing them they ought to be considering. Talk about that a little bit, when it’s not college bound, what are some things we should be thinking about?
Well, I mean, I think it starts long before you even start talking about college or not college, it really starts with getting students to think about who they are, what their strengths are, what they’re interested in, and so that’s really where it starts. And then as you keep having those conversations, as, as they gain more experience in their courses, and out in the world, or in clubs and organizations or athletics, they start to figure out what they’re good at, what they want to do, and then that’s where the conversation about college or not college comes in. And I think sometimes we jump too quickly into what the next step is going to be without understanding who the student is and what their strengths are and how they can apply those things. So in my role, what I try to do is present all the options. That’s really my priority, is for students to understand that there are a lot of different options and a lot of different paths, and one of the things that I say frequently is you have to follow your own path. Your path is not going to look like the person next to you or the person across the room, it’s going to be very unique to you. There might be some similarities in terms of the things that you choose to do, but generally, you’re going to follow your own path. And so sometimes that path may lead you down the four year college route, and other times it may lead you to getting a certificate or very specific vocational technical training, or on the job training. And so that’s really the message.
And then, as you know, today, we’re, we’re focused on the construction industry. What, what do you hear from students or parents that might be misconceptions, or misperceptions about jobs in the construction industry?
Well, I don’t know that even the misperceptions are just focused on the construction industry, but I think they would be similar in a lot of sort of non four year or non, sort of in our world, traditional sort of paths, but it’s really about a lack of education, I think, of understanding what the options and the possibilities are. And I think… so sometimes, there are stigmas associated with, especially in a highly educated community and lots of professionals, lots of people who went to college themselves, and so I think that sometimes people just don’t know what the options are. And what you don’t know can be kind of scary sometimes. As far as, you know, perceptions or myths, I think, you know, there’s there’s always the fear, I think, especially on the part of parents, you know, are you going to be successful, are you going to be able to support yourself financially, you know. There might be, for some people, a prestige sort of stigma associated with it. I mean, I don’t want to put thoughts or words in anybody’s mouth. But I think it’s more about a lack of understanding and education about what the possibilities are and the options are, because we know that there are lots of opportunities, very lucrative opportunities in the construction industry and other industries that don’t require, you know, a traditional four year college path.
Sure. So, Melinda, what types of skills would be important for a young person to have leaving high school that would help them get a leg up if they chose the construction industry?
So I’m a big believer in the idea that college ready and career ready are really the same thing. I think you really need the same skills regardless of whether you’re going to go on to college, a traditional college route, or whether you’re going to enter the workforce or maybe something in between that’s very career focused career training. So some of the things that I’m, I’m adamant that people need, they need a strong work ethic, regardless of what your next step is, they need to be able to problem solve in novel situations, they need to be able to learn independently, because no matter what you do professionally, you’re going to have to keep learning in your industry, in your profession, and so you have to understand how to learn and how to use the resources available to you. I think you have to have strong interpersonal skills, regardless of whether you go on a traditional four year college route or whether you go into more of a training career focus route. I don’t think those skills are different, to be honest with you. Now, if you want to get very specific and sort of career specific, you know, you have to want to be able to think spatially, you know, physically, sometimes would be, you know, working with your hands, having a sense of how to sort of build and fix things, but those are sort of more specific to the career. But I think the skills that are very transferable across any industry are the skills that are really the ones that are highly prized, because the other things you can learn.
Right, right. I love it. I love it. Can you share a success story with us, Melinda, maybe one of your students who went into the construction industry after high school and has succeeded in that?
Sure. One student comes to mind immediately, and he’s someone that I have maintained contact with. I think he graduated in 2013, so he’s been out for about five, six years. He did, he did pursue a traditional four year route. He went to a construction management program at Ball State University, and he is now working in the construction industry doing construction management, and the thing that I love about him, his name is Patrick, is that he has maintained contact with me, and he is so interested and committed to helping students understand the possibilities in the industry he’s working in. So right now I’m working on planning a skilled trades majors and careers fair at Carmel High School on March 19, and he – I reached out to him, because I knew what he was doing and said, hey, I would love for you to be involved as a former Carmel High School student, but also someone in this industry. And then he started getting me connections with all kinds of people in the skilled trades areas and construction industry, and his goal was to have make sure that I had 50 people at this fair to share information about different opportunities. So he’s, he’s definitely the first person that comes to mind as someone who, he knew that’s what he wanted to do. He found the path that made sense for him and now he’s working to sort of advocate for opportunities in his field.
Isn’t that a great story.
So Melinda, what else do our listeners need to know?
That’s a big question. A wide open question.
I think, you know, and I’m always thinking in terms of my audience is typically students and parents, but those parents are also community members. And so, you know, what I typically try to get people to understand is that there’s more than one right way to do life, there’s more than one right way to do high school, there’s more than one right way to do post high school. And so keeping an open mind, and being open to lots of options and being willing to sort of take in information about some of the opportunities that may not be the things you thought were going to be the route for your own student, but, but may actually prove to be wonderful options for them. And then, you know, if there are students listening, I would say, you know, follow your own path. That is… that’s my mantra. You know, figure out what, who you are, what you want to do with your strengths and your interests, and then follow a path that makes sense for you and not what everybody else says you should be doing.
I love that. Have you taken StrengthFinders?
I’m familiar with it. I have not taken it.
I was just going to say to you that we are real big believers in StrengthFinders, and so it’s leveraging your strengths, which just folds right, nice, nicely into your mantra.
And understanding what they are. I think that’s probably our biggest challenge, maybe, at the high school level, and I’ve worked in other schools and I, you know, my colleagues in other places, is being able to have the time to help kids understand who they are from a personality perspective, from a strengths perspective, their interests, and then being able to take that information and figure out, okay, where’s the purpose in this? How do I apply all of this? I think sometimes we’re checking boxes, you know, getting diploma requirements done, but, but if we had a little more purpose in why we were doing that and understanding how it relates back to themselves, I think that would make a huge difference.
I think that’s great advice, Melinda.
Thank you for joining us today. We really appreciate it.
Susan, we have a question from one of our listeners. Today’s question is from Lauren in Ohio. “I am the person in my company who oversees all of our hiring. I post the positions, do the initial screen of candidates, and arrange for hiring managers to meet with the most qualified applicants. One of my senior hiring managers comes out of interviews with information about candidates I don’t want her to know, such as where the person’s children goes to school, what kind of car he owns, what Catholic parish she belongs to, etc. I have tried coaching her on the risk of learning these things in an interview, but she says I over worry and she is having rich conversations that enable her to see if she and the other person click well enough to work together. Help!” Susan, what do you think? What can you do to help Lauren?
Well, Lauren, I completely understand where you’re coming from, because I feel like I’ve walked in your shoes before. I do think that you are right to bring your concerns to her attention, and the fact that it sounds like she’s your senior executive, it doesn’t look like you can go to her boss. If there is a boss anywhere beyond her, I would try to pull them into the conversation, because an intervention might be needed. If she is the top dog, there is not anybody else to go to, I think you’re right to share with her why she’s inviting risk learning about information about candidates during an interview, recognizing you’re not going to be able to hire every single person you interview, you’re going to know some things. If you happen to know something about the person having children, or about the person’s religion, or maybe their place of national origin, any of the factors that are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you are inviting risk, because whoever you turn down, they might be surprised, and they may not be happy. What they do remember from the interview is that you talked about the fact they had children or you talked about where they came from, something that is protected, it opens you up to, potentially, them feeling as though they were discriminated against. So I think having those conversations with the senior leader, trying to explain why it makes no sense to invite that risk, to truly focus on what are the competencies necessary in the job you need them to perform and keeping the conversation positive and focused makes all the sense in the world. Now, it doesn’t hurt, periodically, when you see that a case has gone to a federal court, or that there’s things in the media talking about where people feel they’ve been discriminated against based on what occurred during an interview, I wouldn’t mind sharing some of those so they have a chance to get some data points about real world happenings. JoDee, any other suggestions?
No, I really like your last one, and I think is, is good to pull up some of those examples. Google some, go to the SHRM website. Providing people with that hard data of what has happened to other companies can typically be enough to scare anyone from having those kinds of conversations.
And if not, you will have done the bet – your best.
So Lauren, good luck.
So in the news, there was a January 7, 2019 Motley Fool article by Maurie Backman entitled, “Doing This 1 Thing Could Make You More Productive at Work.” JoDee, what do you think that is?
Getting up early.
You know what, I think that’s not a bad one. Well, Maurie said it’s office cleanliness.
I know. Maurie says that a messy, cluttered workspace can cause dust and germs to linger and result in illnesses. The average employee is losing nine working days a year to being sick. So who wants to have any more germs or make us any sicker than we already are going to be? Secondly, a Harvard University study shows that people who have clean, neat workspaces stay focused on tasks up to 18 and a half minutes at a time, whereas people with cluttered desks are only able to work steadily on the average of 11 minutes. Can you imagine if you’re getting seven more minutes of concentration, of focus at any given time, based on cleanliness? You could really step up your productivity.
Right. That’s a big difference.
I really love this news, because I worked at a very large company, and about 15 years ago, I kind of had an epiphany. I used to think I was organized, but when I would go home at night, like, I had stacked up in one corner of my desk all the things that had to be done tomorrow, I had the things that were next week on my back credenza, I had the stand up files. I mean, it was, it was everywhere. It wasn’t messy so much, but it was cluttered. And the organization came out with something called a “clean desk policy,” because they were fearful that someone might walk into the office and see some information they shouldn’t, primarily customer information, or because I was in HR, employee information. So the requirement was you needed to lock everything up at night, so it really was a changing moment in my life and I decided that I was going to be super organized and there was gonna be a place for everything inside a closed drawer, inside a closed credenza cabinet, whatever. And it truly – I felt more organized during the day. I took out the paper I was working on when I was working on it, put it away when I wasn’t, and it really has been kind of a practice that I’ve carried forward even now in my own consulting business.
I love it. I have to admit I went through about six years where I my desk was 100% cleaned out every single day. I did a lot of interviewing in one of my roles as an HR director, and I did the interviews in my office, where I wanted the candidate to not be talking over a messy space or seeing things on my desk that were confidential, and it was very powerful to me. But interesting, I’d have people come into my space, too, and say, are you quitting?
Or are you…do you not have anything to do?
It was so unique to have a clean desk. But unfortunately, I have not carried that forward, and I that’s a good reminder for me to get back in that habit.
When I realize I might stay healthier, with a clean desk, it motivates me to even keep it up even more.
Alright, well, thank you for your time today.
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