Stay Safe While Operating Machinery

June 15th, 2021

We all know that sawmills and meat processing facilities are dangerous places to work. Giant spinning blades, boiling vats, and mechanized lifters and crushers are hard not to notice, and anyone with an instinct for self-preservation will increase their level of vigilance in an environment where injuries are common and obvious. But far too often, quiet and seemingly harmless machinery can lull workers into a false sense of safety and oblivion. Don’t let this happen in your workplace. Here are a few tips that keep everyone in a healthy and appropriate state of heightened awareness.

Post signs when needed, take them down when not.

Too many safety and warning signs can be more dangerous than none at all. Take a tour of your facility and review each warning sign for its level of effectiveness. Is the sign clear? Is it visible and readable? Does it make proper use of text and graphics? Tiny font, faded letting, unclear drawings, and excessive intensity can all make safety warnings useless. Fix what isn’t working, and if a machine is actually safer than the sign suggests, take the sign down. Otherwise, more important warnings will be ignored as well.

Don’t drive distracted.

Most workplace operators of forklifts, reach trucks, crushers, and conveyors are not intoxicated while on the job. But distraction and sleep deprivation are just as dangerous and are far harder to detect and prevent. Encourage your employees to use their common sense and trust their instincts if they aren’t in a safe state of mind. If an employee is ill or working on no sleep and they tell you this to protect themselves and others, thank them for their honesty and keep them away from the machine until they’re ready.

Horseplay is never okay.

Horseplay on or around dangerous machinery should never be tolerated in the workplace. Impose and follow through on strict penalties for dangerous clowning, and don’t let good cheer and friendly bonding interfere with a culture of responsibility, maturity, professionalism, and safety.

Walk the walk.

Make sure your managers and senior staff take safety rules as seriously as employees are expected to take them. There’s no excuse for walking in a hard hat zone without a hard hat, no matter how busy or important the non-wearer may consider him or herself to be.

For more on how to keep your workplace safe and your employees compliant with the rules that protect them, talk to the management experts at PSU.

It May be Time to Update Your Job Descriptions

May 11th, 2021

You hire new employees on a somewhat regular basis (or at least a few times per year), and each time you do so, you create new files and accounts for the employee for HR, IT, and a variety of departments and projects. So why not take a few minutes to update the job description that made that new relationship possible? In fact, why not update all of your job descriptions? This may seem like a non-urgent task, but in the long run, doing so can save you both time and money.

Here’s how to update your job descriptions:

You should have access to updated and accurate job descriptions during the hiring process.

You don’t need to hire for this role anymore. After all, you just brought a promising new star on board. But time flies by quickly, and it’s a good idea to be prepared for the day you’ll need to go through all of this again. It may not be tomorrow or even three years from now, but when it happens, save yourself a headache and simply access the file you’ve already created.

Clear away confusion and disputes before they happen.

Disagreements about an employee’s level of responsibility, the sphere of influence, or control over specific tasks all begin with a clear job description. Disputes may arise during performance evaluations (“I didn’t realize that customer service was essential to this role”) or salary negotiations (“You accomplished a lot, but we never asked you to do this”), or even accountability investigations when something goes wrong. Having a job description in writing can reduce the cost and drama associated with this process.

New employee onboarding will be easier for both parties.

Job descriptions let an employee know exactly who they’ll be reporting to and who they can turn to when they have questions or need resources to do their jobs correctly. Clear job descriptions can also allow both parties to set accurate expectations for success. Far too often, new employees clear every hiring hurdle and step in the door only to find out the job isn’t the one they thought they were applying

for. That kind of disappointment can be frustrating for them and expensive for you. If everyone knows exactly what to expect, employees are more likely to stay with the organization for a long time.

Update and take out the buzzwords and fluff.

When you’re pitching a position to potential star applicants, you’ll likely use exciting, attention-getting language that suits the culture and the time period. But all trendy language goes stale eventually. Modern job applicants look for different keywords now then applicants did ten years ago. As times change, talented candidates want and need different forms of compensation and flexibility. Stay in touch with these changes. For more on how to bring success to your hiring process, contact the experts at PSU.

Why Confidence is Key in Any Job Interview

April 26th, 2021

Despite what our culture might have us believe, shouting affirmations at yourself in the bathroom mirror won’t change a few essential facts: either you know how to do a specific task or you don’t. Either you possess a strong base in a specific area of knowledge, or you don’t. You can’t shout or affirm yourself into being better at something than you are. Cheering yourself on can be a hollow gesture if you don’t truly believe you have all the tools and experience it takes to accomplish a difficult thing.

But here’s the counterpoint: Before you land a job and start working, you don’t actually KNOW if you’re qualified and ready. You have no real idea what the job will require. Nobody does. And in most cases, the employer doesn’t either– That’s why they’re hiring someone.

So with that in mind, confidence is like money left on a negotiating table: It’s yours if you take it. If you don’t take it, it just lies there. You don’t know for sure if you’re ready…so give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You may not have it all, but what you do have is plenty. Here’s why.

Confidence is sometimes all that matters.

Someday you might interview for a job as a juggler, and if you can’t juggle you won’t get the job (it’s for the best). But sometimes, the confidence you radiate IS actually the reason why someone may want to hire you. Sometimes the skill set makes or breaks the deal, but sometimes confidence ITSELF is the capital in which you trade. Your confident demeanor may be the actual item your employer would like to buy…so sell it.

Confidence helps other people relax.

The next time you step into a room, try an experiment. Step across the threshold as if you’re looking for someone. Then cast your glance around the room making brief eye contact with every person present as if that person is the one you’re looking for. Smile as you do this. As you rest your eyes on each person, say in your head “there you are!” See what happens.

Confidence in yourself will make the whole team stronger.

If you believe you can do it (whatever it is) others will believe it too. As they relax and put their trust in you, their own confidence will build, as will their trust in each other.

What you don’t know, you can learn (and you will).

No matter what this job entails, if you don’t have it, you can gain it. Otherwise, you would not have been called in for an interview. You’re in the ballpark, whether you’re an exact match for the role on not. Your interviewer knows this, and you should too.

For more on how to gain confidence and use it to your advantage during your job search, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

How to Stay Motivated at Work Every Day

March 26th, 2021

It’s Monday morning and you feel a familiar sensation coming on. Your eyes keep drifting toward the window, and your thumbs keep scrolling through the internet. You’re daydreaming about parallel lives you could be living, other jobs you might have, other cities you might live in…none of which reflect your actual life. You know you should be focusing on the work your boss has asked you to complete, but it’s hard to channel the full force of your creative energy into this task, because quite honestly, you don’t want to.

You’re not motivated to do your best work, because you ARE motivated to do something else, somewhere else, and the prospect of winning your boss’s approval just isn’t snapping you back into the moment. Here’s something to consider: It’s time to forget about your boss and start working for your OWN approval.

The strongest motivation doesn’t usually come from the desire to please and impress someone else. It comes from the end of a day in which we’ve pleased and impressed ourselves, a day in which we’re truly proud of 1) what we’ve done and 2) what we’ve overcome in order to do it.

To stay motivated every single day at work, keep these simple tips in mind.

Pay attention to how you feel at the END of the day. Before you fall asleep, list the things you’re glad you did. Consider how you’ve spent your precious time. What are you most proud of and why?

When you get up each morning, identify what you’re most excited to experience during the day. Are you excited to give that 2:00 presentation? Are you excited about an opportunity that might come your way today? Are you excited about something you have planned after the workday ends? Clarify what lights you up inside…and what doesn’t.

After a few weeks of this, take a hard look at your job. How much of your excitement, pride and motivation are exclusively linked to this place? How many of these things could you easily find somewhere else? If your answer is “all of them”, it may be time to start looking beyond these walls for your long-term source of fulfillment, ambition, and growth. Contact the team PSU. We can help you apply your self-knowledge, accomplishments, and personal goals to find a job that actually gives you what you need.

Why You Never Seem to Reach Your Career Goals and How to Change That

March 12th, 2021

Every year you wake up on January first with ambitious career plans. In addition to working out, cutting out sugar, and getting more organized, you decide this is the year to truly shake up your career. You start out with the best of intentions.

But somehow, your plans don’t entirely pan out. You end each year with a few small accomplishments under your belt, but no really significant changes to your circumstances. Why does that happen and how can you fix it? Here are a few possibilities to keep in mind.

You may be aiming in the wrong direction.

Say you work as a middle manager for a small accounting firm. So each year, naturally, you decide you’d like a promotion to a senior position doing essentially the same work in the same industry. You aim to climb the same accounting ladder that you happen to be on, for no other reason than the fact that you’re on it. Stop and think. If you don’t care about accounting and would prefer to be a healthcare professional or a mechanic or an administrator, climbing this ladder won’t get you where you really want to go. Some part of you knows that. Listen to your instincts and climb if you choose, but know that you can’t climb your way to a destination that doesn’t exist.

You may be biting off too much at once.

Instead of a shortlist of impossibly small jumps, like “get a promotion”, “get 20 percent raise”, “become CEO of the company”, try breaking your steps down into smaller and smaller substeps. Take each goal and turn it into at least ten small partial goals. Then break each of those partial goals down into an even smaller set, and keep doing that until the step in front of you is so easy you can do it in ten minutes. Take that step, and you’ll be on your way.

Don’t listen to other people.

In life, it seems like every motivational speech and every inspiring poster tells us to listen and to share. But when it comes to setting career goals, it’s often better to keep your ambitions and plans to yourself, at least at first. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself, so no one is actually qualified to tell you what you can or can’t or should or shouldn’t do. They WILL tell you if you let them. So don’t let them. You have a long journey ahead, so pace yourself by keeping your own counsel as long as you can.

Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously.

Plans change. That’s okay. Give your goals an honest effort, but don’t rigidly cling to a plan of action that doesn’t speak to you anymore. Be strong and flexible at the same time. Hold on until it’s time to let go. Then shift in a new direction.

For more on how to make meaningful progress toward your goals this year and every year, turn to the experts at PSU.

Make a New Years Resolution to Finally Quit Your Job

December 18th, 2020

New Year’s resolutions are different for every person and every set of circumstances, and while some people may be setting their sights on stepping into a job this year, it’s time for you to focus on the opposite. It’s time for you to let go of the job you have. This can be much harder than most people imagine.

Our culture teaches us to relentlessly worry about our job status—Do we have a job? Could something terrible happen if we lose our job? What if we can’t find another job? We’re always taught to cling to whatever “job” we have, even if that job makes our lives measurably worse because the alternative—no job—is believed to be a bad trade. But sometimes that’s just not true. If your life is going poorly right now and your job is the cause, it’s time to get out. You’ll need to step into the unknown in order to reset and make a meaningful change.

Here are a few moves that can help.

Recognize your anxiety about quitting, and accept that this feeling is normal.

Your employer, your company, and all employers and companies everywhere have something to gain when your fear of the unknown makes cling to a job you don’t like. This fear is not an accident; propagating it keeps salaries down and keeps employees obedient and quiet. If the world beyond these walls felt safe and inviting, employees would leave as soon as their needs weren’t being met, and massive shifts would occur in our culture and labor market. Your fear is real, but it isn’t necessarily warranted. Once you recognize this, it’s easier to see past it and get a realistic view of what your life will look like when you’re no longer coming to this place every day.

You will find another job. It may take a while, but it will happen.

You got this job, and you’ll get another. And another after that, and so on. If you make it happen, it will happen. Decades ago, job “success” may have felt like marriage success—a lifelong commitment to a single employer that began with graduation and ended with retirement. Anything short of a 40-year stint may have been positioned as a “failure”. But that’s not the case anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. In fact, job success is now measured in increments of about five years. At five years, you can

and should be scanning the landscape for the next adventure, even if you’re content with your current job. And if you’re NOT content, there’s nothing to be gained by staying beyond this period. It won’t look impressive on a resume, and an excessive tenure can keep you from gaining important skills and experiences.

Pull off the band-aid.

Some employees hesitate to leave a bad job simply because they dread an awkward conversation with the boss. Don’t be held back by this. Speak your mind, explain what you need that the job isn’t offering, and state your intention to leave in exactly two weeks. You don’t owe your boss a detailed description of what you plan to do next. Whether you have another job lined up or not is not your employer’s business. How much that job may or may not pay is also your own concern. Don’t be bullied or frightened into backing down, and DO allow your boss to make an offer (pay raise, promotion, etc) that may entice you to stay. Have the courage to face down a ten-minute conversation that can change your life for the better.

For more on how to stand up and walk away from a job that isn’t giving you what you need, turn to the career management experts at PSU.

Tips on Improving Productivity Every Day

November 20th, 2020

You work hard, and over time, your years of hard work seem to slowly pay off. You do the best you can for your employer and gradually, day by day and year by year, you can see increases in your overall productivity. A task that once took three hours now takes two, and you’re better able to put that saved hour to your advantage than you used to be. That’s great. But what if you could find a way to take these steady, gradual productivity increases and speed them up? What if you could make yourself one percent more productive with each passing day? Where would you be in a year?

Try these tips for one year and see what happens.

First, define productivity.

Your definition may vary from someone else’s, so make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to improve. Do you want to process more client transactions per day? Do you want to manage larger accounts? Do you want to finish your work faster so you can go home and spend more hours with your friends and family? Determine what “productivity” means to you and write it down. Then you can get to work.

Look for weaknesses in your current system.

Maybe you really enjoy sleeping till nine and you have a hard time getting your workday started, and maybe that precious hour between eight and nine offers lots of opportunities to get things done. In that case, focus on that hour. How can you get to bed earlier and fall asleep faster? How can you motivate yourself to be on your feet one hour earlier? What steps can you take to shore up this one specific weakness in your current routine?

Look for obstacles and find ways to skate around them.

Maybe your job requires you to get daily approvals from Steve in accounting before you take any critical step forward. And maybe Steve tends to stand in your way for frustrating reasons. Focus on those reasons and find a way to remove—or at least reduce—this productivity-draining roadblock. If you face several of these problems throughout your day, tackle and solve just one at a time. Keep at it until each separate issue has been addressed.

Look inside yourself.

Is there something else holding you back? Not just one frustrating account manager, but something bigger, an obstacle that lies within your own mind or heart? If so, study this problem fearlessly and face it down. There’s a chance it may be simpler than you think. For example, what if you just don’t like this job and you’d rather be somewhere else? What if you’ve outgrown this entire industry and it’s time for a new start? If you look inside and find that your biggest obstacle to productivity is yourself, be bold. Gather your courage and make the moves you need to make in order to turn your life in the right direction. If it’s time for a new employer, or a new job altogether, the experts at PSU can help. Contact our office today.

How a Temporary Job Can Restart Your Career

October 23rd, 2020

When you reach a career crossroad, it can take a while to find a new direction and a new sense of purpose. There’s no point in rushing the process; if you get impatient and leap in the wrong direction, you’ll just wind up at the same crossroads again in a few months (or days). Instead, pause and give yourself some time to make a wise and considered decision—while still maintaining the ability to pay your bills. A job and a career are two different things. In every life, there are times when we need to focus on one or the other.

Here’s how stepping into a temporary job for a while can help you move closer to your next career milestone.

A temporary job means low levels of commitment.

A temporary job is not a life sentence. Far from it. A six-month gig is by no means a full and total career pivot, but it CAN offer many things that can help you find your new purpose, for example, a chance to pause and think about what your last job may have lacked.

A temporary job brings in some fresh air, socially.

Your temp job—no matter where or what—will bring new faces, new friends, and new networking opportunities. Every time you meet a new person, you open a door. Open some doors and find out where they lead.

A temporary job helps you build new skills.

Again, no matter what your temp job entails– even if it doesn’t align with your current career—you’ll learn something new. You’ll learn how to use a new software platform, how to speak a new professional language, or how an unfamiliar business model works. Embrace this chance to learn something and expand the limits of what you know about the world.

A temporary job keeps the clock running.

Employers can sometimes be turned off by employment gaps in your resume, and this isn’t always a sign of narrow-mindedness; sometimes it’s a decision made by non-human algorithms and database management tools. If you stay steadily employed, you increase your options down the road.

For more on why and how to keep (or get) your career in motion with a temp job, contact the staffing team at PSU.

How to Get to Know the Real Candidate in an Interview

October 9th, 2020

If you encourage your candidate to open up during the interview and show his or her true personality, you’ll get a much stronger sense of the person’s fitness for the role. But to do this, you’ll need to set an appropriate tone and help the person relax.

Here’s how to make that happen.

Be friendly.

We all have a natural instinct to smile back when someone smiles at us. Humans are wired to be socially connected to others, and we mirror each other’s moods and feelings in a rapid and unconscious way. If you want to make someone feel guarded or tense, there’s no faster way to do this then by projecting those feelings yourself. And the opposite is also true; if you treat the candidate like a friend and demonstrate goodwill and trust, you’ll get the same in return. Smile, show interest in their comfort and behave as if the meeting is an enjoyable, warm and positive experience for you.

If you ask, be sure to share (or at least try).

Personal questions are friendly and engaging, and questions that stay within professional boundaries are necessary for a job interview, of course. But the difference between a conversation and a grilling session can come down to one word: balance. Make sure your levels of disclosure are (or at least feel) mutually aligned. If you ask about the candidate’s pets or her summer trip to Spain, offer something about your own pets and travels. (Remember, questions about family are absolutely off-limits in an interview.)

Encourage.

When your candidate shares an accomplishment, praise the accomplishment. When she describes a past struggle, sympathize. When she shares a goal, encourage her and show confidence in her eventual success. None of these will be mistaken for an implied commitment or job offer; they’re just gestures of warmth, interest, and kindness.

Discuss her long-term career goals, not just the goals of the company.

We often advise candidates to keep the focus on the employer’s needs, not on the needs of the interviewee. The opposite also holds true. This is a partnership; each side should emphasize what the other party has to gain if the agreement is to move forward.

Let the candidate be nervous.

Don’t comment on the candidate’s jumpy nerves or shaking, sweaty hands, even to reassure or to make a friendly joke. Be polite and ignore them. Often these physiological responses to stress are involuntary, but as a culture, we associate them with a lack of confidence or sincerity. Don’t do that. Just pretend they aren’t happening and recognize that all of us have been and will be on both sides of the interview table again and again, and you’ll want the same politesse the next time interview palm-sweat happens to you. For more on how to make your candidate feel open and engaged, turn to the interview experts at PSU.

Five Practical Tips for Landing Your First Post Graduate Career

September 28th, 2020

You’ve just walked off the stage with your high school diploma or a college degree and you’re ready to dive into the workforce. Congratulations! So… what’s next? Some of your peers may have jobs waiting for them (due to family connections, unique opportunities or pure luck), but you’re not in that group. You’ll need to rely on your own wits and face the wild, unstructured world for a while before you land your first post-graduate job.

Here are a few tips that can help you bridge the gap from here to there.

Create your resume quickly.

Your resume is important, for sure, and it should be perfectly perfect in every way before employers review it. But here’s a fact: it won’t be. A resume is a living, ongoing document that is NEVER perfect. Even when it’s finally concise, comprehensive, and absolutely typo-free, it will need to be updated, since you’ll probably have held one or two more jobs or volunteer gigs during the time it took to polish your draft to perfection. Don’t wait until you can hang your resume in the Smithsonian before sending it out. Create, edit, send out, keep editing, send again, and again, edit more, keep sending and applying, etc, etc. Perfectionism will never be your friend as you move through your career—not today and not ever.

Keep hustling.

Rejection is a fact of life and a badge of valuable experience. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more rejections you accumulate, the farther you’ve progressed on your career journey. Every single rejection represents an opportunity identified and seized, and every single one makes you stronger, thickens your skin, broadens your perspective and helps you grow. Each one is a new plate in your suit of armor. Those who stay hidden away and afraid to pursue any job that’s less than a perfect match are not going anywhere. That’s not you. Get out there and get shut down! Face the storms of life, don’t hide and wait.

Look everywhere…literally everywhere.

Where can you find great jobs and open positions? Every single place you can imagine. Scour the internet, review job boards, contact companies individually by using the information on their websites, reach out to your contacts by email and phone, ask your friends, mentors, and former professors for

help, use Linkedin, use Facebook, use everything. Keep an eye out for scams (the greater the urgency you feel, the more scammers and con artists can sense that urgency and exploit it), but with that caveat, go forth into every corner of the world—online and off—and just see what you can find there.

Be willing to change course.

You studied accounting because you wanted to be an accountant. That’s great! But don’t let your open door—your degree—become a prison. If you meet someone who inspires you (a teacher, a salesperson, a forklift operator, a dentist, anyone), or a new opportunity opens up that you’d like to pursue, don’t cling to the path you’ve chosen. Let go. Change direction. There will never be an easier point in your career in which to do this.

Keep your bridges intact

A hard fact to accept: Others don’t care about your career as much as you do. If you reach out to someone and they don’t respond, or if you arrange a meeting that falls through, or if you ask someone to help you and they don’t, move on with grace. This is not rudeness or betrayal, it’s just life. Someday you may find yourself on the other end of a similar interaction and you’ll understand that goodwill preserves relationships so you can rely on them later—bad will sours and frays them very quickly. Stay friendly and self-reliant. For more on how to get your foot in the door of a long and rewarding career, contact the experts at PSU.

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