Tag Archives: Mainebiz

Challenge the Status Quo with a Trusted Expert

mainebiz_logo(This article, written by Rick Dacri, was published in Mainebiz, December 23, 2013)

Running and growing a business takes a lot of work and smarts. Success, whether personally or professionally, often requires reaching out to trusted experts to help you. Whether it’s a financial planner to ensure your family is taken care of, an attorney to protect your assets, or a consultant to improve the performance of your company—you know you can’t do it alone. But letting go, not doing it yourself, and depending upon someone else, requires both trust and knowledge that you have found the right expert to count on.

Finding one and knowing they really are what they claim to be is never easy. Mistakes can be costly. Here’s how to do it. To begin, get referrals. When a trusted colleague can share a personal experience in working with an individual, you have the gold standard. But while referrals may be the ideal way to find an industry expert that does not always mean this person can help you. You still need to do the hard work of vetting. Check them out. Google them. Interview them thoroughly. Find out what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished. And lastly, be comfortable that you’ll be able to work with them. Never minimize fit.

Before you make a decision, make sure you have the real thing. Here’s what trusted experts look and act like that you can count on: Continue reading

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CEO & Board of Directors: Forging An Effective Relationship

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(This article, written by Rick Dacri, was originally published in Mainebiz)

Nobody takes care of the boss. The CEO’s job is to take care of everyone in the organization, but many CEOs feel no one is taking care of their personal and professional needs. Their Boards of Directors expect them to run and grow the business; carry out their mandates; recruit, retain and develop the internal talent; and prepare the organization for the future. CEOs accept this but expect to be taken care of just as they do for their staff. As one CEO said to me, “I work everyday trying to move this organization forward while keeping everybody happy and just once I’d like it if someone was there for me.”

It is the role of the Board to take care of their CEO. Not in a kumbuya sort of way, but more in a supportive manner. And this is where it often breaks down.

CEOs, like any employee, want their basic needs met and when they are not, resentment occurs. They want a Board that can provide:

  1. Clear expectations and accountability standards: After all, if you want her to drive the organization where you want, give her a map.
  2. Understand his needs and expectations: Boards need to take time to get to know what makes their CEO tick.
  3. Provide a timely performance review and know the market for executive compensation: Late reviews and salaries that fall below their peers are two areas that cause the greatest resentment resulting in breakdowns in the relations and turnover of CEOs.
  4. Set realistic performance goals: the strategic direction of the organization will only be achieved when this is done well.
  5. Provide ongoing feedback on performance: It’s lonely at the top. The CEO needs input from the Board.
  6. Support the CEO’s development: Grow your CEO. The world is constantly changing and your CEO must be able to keep up.

The role of the board is difficult and complex. Continue reading

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Recruitment: Getting a “Yes” to Every Job Offer

Getting a “Yes” To Every Job Offer

10 Foolproof Steps

By Rick Dacri, Dacri & Associates, LLC

 This article was originally published in Mainebiz, October 1, 2012

Finding the perfect candidate to fill the critical position in your company is never easy. Search, interviewing, and reference checking can be draining to you and your organization. And once you find the “right” one, you’d like to believe your job is over, but it is not. Getting the candidate to say “yes” is the most important part of the entire recruitment process. Without a “yes” everything else you have done is simply practice.

After you have completed the interviews and references, ask yourself: Can he do the job? Will she be accepted? Will he fit? Is she interested? What is the likelihood that he will stay? Will outside factors interfere with her performance? Are there any red flags? Am I excited about him? Is my staff? Is she the one?

If you are convinced that the candidate has the right stuff and will add value to your organization, then it is time to prepare the job offer. Don’t underestimate this step. Too often, we assume the candidate will automatically say yes. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Unless they are unemployed, there is often a pull to stay in the current job then to accept your position—a “buyer’s remorse.” And, they may be interviewing elsewhere where a “better” offer may already be on the table.

 To begin, let’s look at some of the reasons candidates accept new positions. Continue reading

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Affordable Care Act: What Employers Need To Know

(Post was written by James McCarthy, Mainebiz)

Rick Dacri, owner of a Kennebunkport-based consulting firm that advises businesses on work force issues, says his client list ranges from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits employing fewer than 10 people. Whatever their size, he says, health care benefits and their costs have long been a front-burner issue for Maine employers.

Yet, when asked about the 5–4 Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Dacri carefully sidesteps the political controversy that preceded the June 28 ruling and continues in its aftermath. He prefers to focus more on the practical steps employers need to take now that the law has been ruled constitutional.

“I don’t think it’s as big a deal as is being portrayed,” Dacri says, noting that most of his Maine clients, even the smaller companies, already provide health insurance to their employees. For them, he says, it’s an essential way to attract and keep quality employees. Continue reading

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Affordable Care Act: What HR Managers Need To Know

(Post written by James McCarthy, Mainebiz)

Kristine Avery, senior vice president of human resources at FISC Solutions in Lewiston, has four words of advice for HR managers now that the ACA has withstood its legal challenge: “Get informed, get educated.”

Avery, certified as a senior professional in human resources, quickly adds that there are plenty of resources available, including the Maine affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management, which she leads as state director.

While acknowledging the complicated mix of legal and political questions to be evaluated, Avery says there are some ACA highlights that HR managers should know now. Continue reading

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Star Performers Eyeing Greener Pastures in the Budding Economic Turnaround

(This article, written by Rick Dacri, was published in Mainebiz on 3/21/11)

 Here comes the recovery. Employment, sales and capital expenditures are expected to increase over the next six months, according to the Business Roundtable survey. CEOs of the nation’s leading companies expressed economic optimism in the CEO Economic Outlook survey. The national unemployment rate dropped from 9% to 8.9% in February, the lowest level in two years, while Maine’s rate in January held steady at 7.5%.

 Some 80% of the CEOs in the Roundtable survey expect their company’s sales to increase and 45% expect more hiring in the next six months. While we aren’t in the clear yet, there is reason for optimism. All signs point to a strengthening economy, though growth will be slow.

 Yet not all this news is promising for employers. As some employees gain confidence in an improving economy, many others will bail in 2011. Frustrated at cuts in pay and benefits, watching fellow employees lose their jobs, and fatigued due to working more with less will push workers to begin searching for better jobs. At the same time, external recruiters will target employers’ star performers for poaching. As business improves, key staff will be in high demand, and those who are unprotected and unappreciated will be vulnerable and open to a recruiter’s pitch.

 The news about employees is alarming. A recent CareerBuilder.com survey paints a disturbing picture: 20% of respondents plan to quit their job this year; 25% are dissatisfied with their current career advancement and training opportunities; 90% are unhappy about not getting pay increases; and 23% rate their bosses as poor. While last year most employees were simply happy to have a job, the tide has turned. Workers now believe they have options and plan to make their feelings known by walking.

So what should Maine employers do to protect their work force? If one-fifth of them plan to quit this year — and you can bet the best workers will find new opportunities elsewhere — then employers must take steps now.

 Taking action

 It’s time to mend fences. The downturn required tough economic decisions. Many employers moved quickly into survival mode and made moves that badly hurt their workers. Some took a slash-and-burn approach to protect their bottom line, not thinking about its impact on their work force. Those who did will likely suffer the consequences. On the other hand, those who took a strategic approach, focused on surviving the downturn while managing and preserving their work force and positioning themselves for the future, will find themselves in a strong position.

 A group of Lewiston-Auburn employers told me that, though affected by the recession, they used the time to position their companies for recovery. They emphasized three themes: 1) the need for flexibility; 2) the urgency of improving efficiency while eliminating waste; and 3) the importance of a well-trained work force. They talked repeatedly about keeping their operations and employees agile to respond to a changing environment and demanding customers. That meant investing heavily in their work force — in training, communicating and recruiting the top talent that became available during the downturn.

 As other organizations cut costs and people while hanging on until the recovery set in, those Lewiston-Auburn executives took advantage of the downturn, gaining new customers and upgrading talent. The recession was hard on everyone, but, as one executive told me, “We are a better company because of it.”

 Employers must take steps now to retain their star performers. Workers consistently report that they want to work for employers who offer competitive pay and benefits; good career advancement opportunities; a positive work culture; and a company that is stable and growing. In that same CareerBuilder survey, employees said they also want flexible work arrangements; a sense of ownership in their positions so they can make a difference; and camaraderie, where they can enjoy a family-like work environment.

 Focus on your best employees. Tell them they are important to you and your organization. That will be a powerful conversation and one most employees never experience in their careers. Retaining workers requires meeting their specific needs. It also means managers must develop a management style that inspires respect, loyalty and appreciation. Employees quit bosses, not jobs.

 Turnover does not have to happen. Strategies focused on growing the business while taking care of your employees will ensure that 2011 is a good year. Your success is dependent on an engaged work force.

 There is reason to feel confident. Employers and employees, working together, can feel optimistic again.

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Shades of Gray, Part 4:The Gig Economy

This article is reprinted with permission from MaineBiz. Derek Rice, author. Fourth of four parts.

Despite, or perhaps because of, these types of challenges employers are facing, the work force seems to be evolving in a way that could benefit older workers.

Rick Dacri of human resources consulting firm Dacri & Associates in Kennebunkport says many organizations are looking more at a freelance-style work force. Rather than hire employees full time and incur the cost of benefits, office space and other things, they are looking to hire people on a project-by-project basis.

“Work forces are always evolving, especially during a recession, but what’s different this time is that there’s a greater emphasis on a contingent, ‘just-in-time’ work force,” he says.

Of course, this model is nothing new. It’s been used for years in the IT arena, in which workers typically come in to a company to perform a specific task (such as a server installation), then leave and return only on an as-needed basis. What is new, however, is the broadening range of tasks that just-in-time workers are being hired for.

 “We’re seeing the age of the specialty worker expanding,” Dacri says. “Companies are running leaner, so they want to focus on their core business and bring in people when they’re needed.”

This growing trend isn’t unique to Maine. Across the country the “gig economy” (a term coined by public relations consultant and blogger Ann Brenoff) is flourishing. In fact, the Department of Labor anticipates that the number of people engaged in part-time work in their chosen field who are being paid on a project basis will grow 83% from 2008 to 2018.

On its face, this model seems to benefit employers the most, as they save money on costs associated with full-time employees. But Dacri says it could also work well for Maine’s aging population. Many retired workers have the types of specialized skills companies may need, but who don’t want to work on a full-time basis.

Those “smart, business-savvy” people Dave Tomm, who operates Seasoned Workforce, works with aren’t looking to be unemployed, and would prefer to work to their full potential. Under project-based employment, they could conceivably find themselves on the training side of the equation, rather than the trainee side. For example, they could be brought in to complete a specific project that requires consulting with the company or even providing training and mentoring to younger workers.

“This could be a great opportunity for older workers to share their expertise while earning an income that will help them make ends meet,” Dacri says. “It also allows those older workers to work less than a full week, if that’s what they want.”

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