Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Entrepreneurs say they desperately need more foreign workers

According to a brief from Worldwide ERC, U.S. entrepreneurs say they desperately need more foreign workers but the government is only making it harder. Maureen Torrey, who owns Torrey Farms in upstate New York, says she cannot find Americans with the skills she needs to tend her crops and her farm has lost money for the past two years. Meanwhile Atul Jain of Global Software Solutions says he may have to send work overseas this year because there are not enough Americans with technology skills and a willingness to spend months overseas. “We’re in a crisis situation as we see no action by Washington,” he says. He and other entrepreneurs had hoped immigration reform would bring in more foreign talent, but Congress has not moved on the issue and federal agencies are making it harder to get employment visas. Regulators say they are protecting U.S. jobs and want to make sure they are not being taken by foreigners, but Jain says “The economy will not improve just because foreign workers can’t come.” The problem is tougher for small companies, as they have fewer resources for managing visa applications or establishing units overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor.

It's Getting Harder to Hire Foreign Workers

According to a brief from Worldwide ERC, U.S. entrepreneurs say they desperately need more foreign workers but the government is only making it harder. Maureen Torrey, who owns Torrey Farms in upstate New York, says she cannot find Americans with the skills she needs to tend her crops and her farm has lost money for the past two years. Meanwhile Atul Jain of Global Software Solutions says he may have to send work overseas this year because there are not enough Americans with technology skills and a willingness to spend months overseas. “We’re in a crisis situation as we see no action by Washington,” he says. He and other entrepreneurs had hoped immigration reform would bring in more foreign talent, but Congress has not moved on the issue and federal agencies are making it harder to get employment visas. Regulators say they are protecting U.S. jobs and want to make sure they are not being taken by foreigners, but Jain says “The economy will not improve just because foreign workers can’t come.” The problem is tougher for small companies, as they have fewer resources for managing visa applications or establishing units overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Immigration - some countries want it!

Here's an interesting snippet from the Guardian.co.uk - especially in light of the current debate about immigration into the United States:
With the financial crisis a thing of the past, the authorities in Singapore are looking at ways of letting in a fresh wave of immigrants. This year 100,000 foreign workers should be needed to cope with the powerful surge in the city-state's economy, with 18% growth for the first half of the year.
The full article is worh a read - see it HERE

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Left Brain, Right Brain

One of the things I have learned during my career is the need to develop synergy between both hemispheres of the brain. In order to be truly effective, we need to use the logical and analytical left side of our brain without neglecting the creative and intuitive right side of the brain.

Most analytical, logical, and rational thought takes place in the left hemisphere, where the tasks for well reasoned arguments take place. That may be the reason most people prefer to hold their phones against their right ear. The right ear connects directly to the left side of the brain - the side that processes language and analytical thought.

In today’s work environment, I find the right side of the brain is not used nearly enough. The right hemisphere is where our brains focus on the big picture. It is where we are creative and intuitive. In order to gain a competitive edge, especially in the realm of international business, we need to be able to draw on the resources of our whole brain – creativity and intuition to find the possible solutions and alternatives to a problem and logical and analytical reasoning to implement the solution.

In the world of organizations and business, the logical thinkers who tend to concentrate on data and details often dominate. In my consulting work, I find many teams where not one team-member is right-brain dominant. In part the reason for this is that the detail oriented logical thinkers find it hard to recruit personalities different to their own. The result of such self-selection is quite predictable – the team gets lost in data, details and processes, struggling to see the big picture.

During my career (see my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines"), I think I was able to develop synergy between both halves of my brain.  My boss, for many years, was a logical thinker who focused on detail. He didn’t spend a lot of energy on feelings – but he always seemed to manage to stay in touch with his intuitive side. He trained us to see the big picture, to seek creative solutions and then focus on process and implementation. Like so many corporate and organizational types, I tended to be a data-focused logical thinker and the organization I was with became quite left-brain dominant. The how of getting things done tended to be more important than the why.  As a result, we tended to focus on a rational approach to life and spirituality with a decided bias towards action. On the positive side, that is one of the reasons we got so much support from powerful business people – we knew how to get things done and we spoke the action oriented language of business.

Our bias toward action was tempered with an intense dedication to prayer – although our prayer life too tended to be structured and regimented. That approach probably worked best for our dominant personality type. A solid prayer life does help one keep in touch with the creative and intuitive side of the brain. I have since learned that optimism is probably the most important emotional asset in business. There’s nothing like a good prayer life to cultivate optimism.

As part of our prayer life, I would have to include the enormously healing, holistic effect of Gregorian chant.  The French doctor Alfred Tomatis pioneered research on the neurophysiologic effects of chant on the minds and bodies of its singers and listeners. According to his theory, there are two kinds of sound: "discharge" sounds (those that tire, fatigue and drain the listener) and "charge" sounds (those that give energy and health). According to Dr. Tomatis, Gregorian chant may be the most potent "charge" sound to promote strength and vitality. Unlike other types of music, the rhythm of the chant is based on the breathing of the participants rather than on a mathematically calculated beat. Just try listening to a small amount of it each day, or better still, chanting some of the traditional melodies, and you will quickly notice how calming it is as you get in touch with your intuitive and creative side.

I am thankful that most of us analytical types got to spend a balanced amount of time on creativity-enhancing exercises. A solid physical exercise regime helped us manage stress; we all spent a lot of time on writing, metaphysics and brainstorming. We listened to well selected classical music and had ample time for silent meditation.  I think the positive result of all of the above, for me, is that I learned to be in touch with both hemispheres of my brain. As I wrote at the beginning, this is not a skill I come across often in the corporate, technically oriented world I live in.  Did I learn anything usefulfor the oft-maligned creative types? Yes. My creatively inclined confreres got in touch with their logical left-brain processes by playing dominoes and chess, studying scholastic philosophy, developing plans and budgets and adhering to the strict schedules that marked our life in community.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Memoir About Life in the Controversial Legion of Christ by a Former Member Reveals Insights into the Double Life of Founder Father Marcial Maciel

Press Release

TRUMBULL, Conn., May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- As Vatican-watchers await the appointment of a papal delegate to oversee the Legion of Christ, a new memoir by a former member claims that few Legionaries were aware of the double life led by their founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel.

Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman Found his heart and Nearly Lost his Mind, http://www.drivingstraight.com (ISBN 978-0-9845227-0-5, Trade paperback, 352 pp, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2) provides author Jack Keogh's insights into the inner workings of the Legion of Christ and the intimate thoughts of a former priest who collaborated with the controversial Maciel, the founder of the Mexican congregation.

Keogh, the first Irish-born Legionary to set foot in Mexico, tells how he ultimately came to believe that God does indeed drive straight on the crooked lines of our lives after first nearly losing his mind.

Spanning locations across the globe, Keogh's "gripping story offers realistic insight, told with a subjective, non-judgmental outlook," says Australian writer and editor Cerian Griffiths. "Keogh's sincere narrative, in which he faces many challenges, inspires an attitude of hope for the future. His story is told with candor, a sparkle in the eye, plenty of blarney, and Irish good humor."

Investigative reporter, author and film director Jason Berry, whose recent report on the Legion of Christ's Father Marcial Maciel was published in the National Catholic Reporter says, "I was pulled along by the story of a young Irishman drawn into the world of the Legionaries of Christ, unable to see the raw truth of Father Maciel, coming to the painful realization of Maciel's psychological tyranny as time passed, and having the fortune to leave early enough to make a new life. This is a sad yet, in the final measure, uplifting memoir."

Keogh is Managing Director of Keogh & Associates Consulting, LLC of Trumbull, CT, which advises multinational corporations on leadership and cross-cultural communications. A resident of Fairfield County, CT, Keogh studied in Spain and Italy and is fluent in their languages. Many thousands of people around the globe have attended his presentations.

For more information about Driving Straight on Crooked Lines or to schedule an interview, please contact Jack Keogh at (203) 268-3126 or visit http://www.drivingstraight.com. The book is available on http://www.amazon.com, and http://www.barnesandnoble.com.

Book Cover: http://www.ereleases.com/pic/DrivingStraightonCrookedLines.jpg

CONTACT: Jack Keogh Iveagh Lodge Press Trumbull, CT (203) 268-3126 info@iveaghlodgepress.com

This press release was issued through eReleases(R). For more information, visit eReleases Press Release Distribution at http://www.ereleases.com.

SOURCE Jack Keogh

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Matcing the right hire to the right job: a critical managerial skill

No one can guarantee the performance of a manager or executive appointed to a new position.
The reports and surveys we are constantly bombarded suggest we can safely say most executives make poor promotion and staffing decisions.

Peter F. Drucker repeatedly said:

“In no other area of management would we put up with such miserable performance (as we do in people decisions)...indeed, we need not and should not...Managers making people decisions will never be perfect...But they should come pretty close to batting 1,000, especially because in no other area of management do we know so much..."

I completely agree with the following points taken from Human Resources. Read the full article here.

1) Think through the assignment. Failure to think through the assignment, Drucker observed, was the number-one reason for staffing failures. Put differently, executives making staffing decisions must “match strengths to opportunity.” many times when thinking through the assignment, the necessity for reorganizing the existing organization becomes apparent. The nature of the assignment requires multiple knowledges and a variety of skills impossible to find in one person.

2) Make sure the appointee understands the job.“It is not intuitively obvious to most people that a new and different job requires new and different behavior,” Drucker said. “Most people continue to do what they've done before.”

3) Match The Right New Hire For the Right Job. A successful bus driver, in all likelihood, cannot run the bus company.

Questions to ask:
"What is the task?” “What is the experience and knowledge base required to carry out the task?" "Does the appointee understand the job?"

Creating new opportunities for people involves helping them learn and develop. That's something Keogh & Associates Consulting, LLC specializes in - but that is a topic for another day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Emotional intelligence and its relationship to transformational leadership

The May, 2010 of the "IE Update" Newsletter provides the following abstract of a research study on Emotional Intelligence. The study refers to the "MSCEIT" one of the instruments that Keogh & Associates Consulting, LLC uses in our approach to team and leadership development.

Clarke, N. (2010). Emotional intelligence and its relationship to transformational leadership and key project manager competences. Project Management Journal, 41(2), 5-20.

This study examined the effect of Emotional Iintelligence, as assessed using MSCEIT, on several competences (i.e., communication, teamwork, attentiveness, and managing conflict) and transformational leadership after controlling for personality and cognitive ability. Results based on a sample of 67 UK project managers revealed a number of significant correlations between the MSCEIT and the dependent measures. Branch 2 of the MSCEIT (using emotions to facilitate thinking), Branch 3 (understanding emotions), and the overall EI score were all found to positively correlate with the project manager competence of managing conflict. Both the abilities of using emotions and of understanding emotions positively correlated with the project manager competence of teamwork. Using emotions to facilitate thinking was the only EI ability found to have any significant correlations with transformational leadership. Both total EI and branch scores showed minor correlations with personality measures, offering further support for the predominantly independent nature of these two aspects of individual difference.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A strategic approach to Talent Management

According to Michael Fineman and Jodi Starkman of ORC worldwide, the most important thing a company can do to ensure a continuing supply of well-prepared, well-deployed key players is to create a talent culture: an environment in which finding and nurturing talent is considered an important management function.

Fineman and Starkman identify seven essential elements for building a talent culture. They lay the groundwork for translating business strategy to people strategy, create a common understanding of process and vocabulary, and provide the tools managers need to help them implement a coherent, aggressive talent management plan.

  1. Deep involvement of senior management
  2. Dedication of sufficient time, staff and IT support
  3. Breadth and depth of talent reviews.
  4. Consistency and Structure.
  5. Meaningful Developmental Experiences
  6. Motivation and Retention
  7. Monitoring the TM Program

Expatriates are not a dying breed

From an article by Sanchia Temkin:

"Expatriates are not a dying breed.. They are still very much part of the business strategies of many companies seeking to expand their activities beyond their homes bases," said Siobhan Cummins, MD for Europe, the Middle East and Africa of ORC Worldwide."

However, expatriate assignments are changing, with assignments lasting only one to three years, instead of much longer, which used to be the norm. Another change is that companies are paring down the assignment package, and are no longer paying large tax-free gratuities upon the completion of an assignment."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Light in the darkness of the soul

Viktor E. Frankl was Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School and Distinguished Professor of Logotherapy at the U.S. International University. He is the founder of what has come to be called the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy (after Freud's psychoanalysis and Adler's individual psychology) -- the school of “logotherapy.”

Born in 1905, Dr. Frankl received the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Vienna. During World War II he spent three years at Auschwitz, Dachau and other concentration camps. He died in 1997.

His book "Man's search for meaning" where he describes his ordeal in the concentration camp is a marvelous and uplifting read.

 I’ve just come across a short video snippet of one of his lectures. It lasts four minutes. You can see it here. Dr. Frankl in his charming accent basically says: “If we take man as he is, we'll make him worse. But if we take man as he should be we make him capable of becoming what he can be".  A beautiful and relevant lesson.

The ancients knew well there is indeed light in the darkness of the soul. To get to the truest nature of a human being we have to aim very high. Dr. Frankl suggests that being an idealist is the only way to be a realist.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Value of training

According to Jim Harris in his book The Learning Paradox, a number of issues would begin to appear, if company employees did not receive on-going training. In a down economy – like the one we are currently experiencing – one of the areas that is subject to cutback is training and development. This means, I think, that HR people need to know how to measure the strategic value of training in business terms. Harris suggests the following outcomes when training goes away; I suggest that these outcomes should be the basis of how we measure the value of the training we deliver:

1. Fewer skilled employees
2. Lower-quality work
3. Poor customer service
4. Higher customer turnover
5. Increased marketing costs
6. Slow corporate growth
7. Higher employee turnover
8. Higher recruitment costs
9. Reduced attraction for new employees
10. Increased IT support
11. High informal training costs
12. Increased workload
13. Increased burnout
14. Slow response to bids
15. Slow response to competition
16. Turf battles, office size and politics are valued

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where you live affects your attitude to sports and physical activity

Since 1973, the European Commission has been monitoring the evolution of public opinion in the Member States, thus helping the preparation of texts, decision-making and the evaluation of its work. This is the website for the Public Opinion Analysis sector of the European Commission (Eurobarometer.) I found the following analysis of Europeans reactions to sport and physical activity interesting. I did know that, allegedly, my fellow native Dubliners are, I think, the second fastest walkers... what follows is more scientific!

40% of EU citizens play sport at least once a week and 65% engage in some form of physical exercise. But 25% are almost completely inactive, according to a special Eurobarometer Survey on Sport and Physical Activity published by the European Commission today. Ireland and the Nordic countries take sport most seriously, with 23% of Irish citizens practising sport 5 times a week or more, while Sweden, Finland and Denmark score the highest ratings for exercising ‘regularly’ or ‘with some regularity’ (once a week or more). At the other end of the scale, only 3% of citizens in Bulgaria, Greece and Italy say they play sport regularly. Men in the EU play more sport and also exercise more than women. The disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group. The survey also finds a correlation between socio-economic status and physical activity. 64% of people who left school by the age of 15 say they never play sport, while this rate falls to 24% for those who left education after 20.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

HR Leadership Abilities

I consult with a broad range of HR Professionals. Often, I work with them to deliver leadership training programs. Here are some leadership qualities, in no particular order, I wish I saw more of amongst HR Leaders:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Strategic thinking ability
  • Creativity
  • Ability to manage ambiguity
  • Cross-cultural communications skills
  • Global Mindset
  • Change management
  • Coaching ability
  • Negotiation skills
  • Courage
  • Interpersonal skills: Diplomacy
  • Mature judgement & decision making
  • Integrity
  • Humility

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Social Networking. Time to turn on the privacy settings?

A survey by CareerBuilder.com of about 2,700 executives in America last year found that 45% of them looked at job candidates’ social-network pages as part of their research, and more than a third of those had unearthed information there that put them off hiring someone. Time to turn up those privacy settings?

In recessionary times it is very smart to stay in touch with as many social and professional contacts as possible. Reinforcing the connections with the people you work with and improving your ability to stay in touch with and expand your “network” of contacts, is a great way to join the digital revolution - in the unlikely event that you are not already on board. I’d like to share a quick and simple method that I use for researching contacts. CLICK HERE to read a short article I wrote.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Phoebe Prince, an Irish teenager

This story might make you feel sad. I think it's the sort of story that we must read. What can we do to deal with this awful problem?
"Like a lot of kids her age, Phoebe Prince was a swan, always beautiful and sometimes awkward."
That's how Kevin Cullen begins to report on a truly heart wrenching event - the result of school bullying.

"Last fall, (Phoebe) she moved from Ireland into western Massachusetts, a new town, a new high school, a new country, a new culture. She was 15, when all that matters is being liked and wearing the right clothes and just fitting in. She was a freshman and she had a brief fling with a senior, a football player, and for this she became the target of the Mean Girls, who decided then and there that Phoebe didn’t know her place and that Phoebe would pay.

Kids can be mean, but the Mean Girls took it to another level, according to students and parents. They followed Phoebe around, calling her a slut. When they wanted to be more specific, they called her an Irish slut.

Ten days ago, Phoebe was walking home from school when one of the Mean Girls drove by in a car. An insult and an energy drink can came flying out the car window in Phoebe’s direction.

Phoebe kept walking, past the abuse, past the can, past the white picket fence, into her house. Then she walked into a closet and hanged herself. Her 12-year-old sister found her.

You would think this would give the bullies who hounded Phoebe some pause. Instead, they went on Facebook and mocked her in death.

They told State Police detectives they did nothing wrong, had nothing to do with Phoebe killing herself.

And then they went right back to school and started badmouthing Phoebe.....the Mean Girls who tortured Phoebe remain in school, defiant, unscathed.

Last week, Phoebe was supposed to visit Ireland, where she grew up, and she was excited because she was going to see her father for the first time in months.

She did end up going back to Ireland after all, and when her father saw her she was in a casket."

CLICK HERE to read the poignant, thought provoking report.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.
© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get a Visa to Work Overseas

Useful information from Juliette Giannesini.
Check Juliette's blog for the details!

"Most people assume that working abroad is synonym with finding an employer willing to do the immigration paperwork on your behalf or immigrating permanently. There is an easier way: the Working Holiday Visa (WHV).

What is the working holiday visa?

The WHV is a work and travel permit issue by one of the many participating countries:  

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.