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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Retaining Talent: The Role of a Supervisor

Contrary to popular belief, pay is not the primary reason that employees leave their jobs.  The number one reason cited among job changers is the environment created by their supervisor.   To retain talent, companies must focus attention on their supervisory staff.  This means more than just picking the right person for the job; you must continually monitor how effective the supervisor is with his/her assigned team.

Knowing how to supervise does not come naturally.  Often, supervisors are promoted because they have an exemplary performance record, yet the skills required on the factory floor differ from those needed to encourage and engage employees.  These skills can be learned with support and coaching from management.  Taking the time to nurture your supervisors will pay off.  According to Rick Dacri, human resource consultant, knowing how to supervise “is learned and developed and with good training, lots of coaching and mentoring, along with experience and time, one can become good at it.  It takes a lot of time to develop a new supervisor, but it takes even more time to deal with the effects of poor management.”   The damage that can be done from a destructive work environment can affect your company’s morale, employee performance, quality and safety – ultimately, it affects your bottom line.

Employee engagement is critical.  Gallup, which has tracked employee engagement for 30 years, reports that less than one-third of employees are engaged at work, more than half are not engaged in their jobs, and nearly one-fifth of employees are actively disengaged.   If engagement is the key to retaining top talent, then the supervisor holds that key.  As the first line of leadership in an organization, the supervisor plays a critical role in creating a positive and productive work environment.

Good supervisors require a variety of skills – communication, organizational, technical and coaching.  Encouraging your supervisors to grow in these areas will make them more comfortable and effective in their new role.  Develop an ongoing plan for developing your leaders.  Recognize that your staff is your most valuable asset.  Coach your supervisors, invest in developing their skills and lead by example.

Because of the skills gap, companies will continue to rely on inside resources as a pool for new supervisors.  Companies must take the time to identify strong leaders and provide the opportunity for them to grow into effective supervisors.  With good training, support and coaching, you can effectively transition that exemplary record into an effective supervisor.

The Precision Metalforming Association, in partnership with ERC, is providing a two-part Supervisor Training Series.  This series addresses the need for companies to provide supervisors with tools to enhance their effectiveness and lead employees with confidence.  Topics include communication, conflict management, teamwork, problem solving and coaching.  The first session will be held on October 20-21, and the second will follow, December 1-2, in Cleveland, OH.  For more information, please visit

Contributions for this article provided by:
Dacri & Associates, LLC
SHRM Foundation

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PMA’s August Business Conditions Report

CLEVELAND, OH—August 18, 2015—According to the August 2015 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies anticipate little change in business conditions during the next three months. Prepared monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 127 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

The August report shows a slight upswing in economic activity, with 26% of participants predicting that activity will improve in the next three months (up from 18% in July), 59% expecting no change (down from 65% last month) and 15% believing that economic activity will decline (down from 17% in July.

Metalforming companies forecast little change in incoming orders during the next three months, with 33% anticipating an increase in orders (down from 36% in July), 45% predicting no change (the same percentage reported in July) and 22% expecting a decrease in orders (up from 19% last month).

Current average daily shipping levels dipped slightly in August. Twenty-eight percent of participants report that shipping levels are below levels of three months ago (compared to 23% in July), 44% report that levels are the same as three months ago (down from 48% last month) and 28% report an increase in shipping levels (compared to 29% in July).

The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff remained steady at 11% in August, the same number reported in July. The August 2015 figure is higher than this time last year, when only 6% of companies reported workers on short time or layoff.

“PMA member companies are somewhat less optimistic today than they were one year ago, but overall their outlook for the next quarter is favorable,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “The automotive industry remains quite robust, but a number of other important markets, such as heavy equipment, energy-related industries and construction, continue to lag growth expectations. At a recent PMA CFO Roundtable, there was modest concern expressed about slower growth, due to the strong dollar and the expectation that the Federal Reserve might begin raising interest rates. However, it was nearly universally believed that single-digit percentage growth in orders and shipments would continue as long as there were no sudden shocks due to adverse domestic or global events.”

Full report results are available here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Few Moments with Hal Becker – CEO, The Becker Group Inc.

Hal Becker is a nationally known expert on sales, customer service and negotiating. He conducts seminars or consults to more than 140 organizations a year. At the age of 22, he became the #1 salesperson among a national sales force of 11,000, for the Xerox Corporation. Six years later in 1983, he survived terminal cancer only months after launching Direct Opinions, one of America's first customer service telephone survey marketing firms that facilitates more than two million calls per year with offices throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. He is the author of "Can I have 5 Minutes of Your Time?" which is now in its 21st printing and is used by many corporations as their "Sales Bible." He has also authored three other best sellers and has been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Nations Business and hundreds of newspapers and radio/TV stations around the world, and is currently syndicated in more than 45 newspapers and magazines.

He will be speaking at PMA’s annual Sales & Marketing Conference on September 29 – 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Hal Becker, CEO, The Becker Group, Inc.
Q: How did you begin working in sales and what motivated you to stay in the field? 

A: My first job out of college was at Xerox, and the training was so unbelievably great that I really grabbed onto it and for the first time in my life I felt that I really became a student of sales. After the first year I became the number one salesperson of 11,000 people in their national sales force. Following Xerox, I started a company from the ground up, and sold it in 1990 in order to pursue consulting.  I have been a sales trainer for most of my life, and my first book came out in 1993. It has been a wild ride since then as I continue to present lectures and consult sales organizations across the world.

Q: At the age of 22, you became the #1 salesperson among a national sales force of 11,000 at Xerox. That’s very impressive! What advice do you have for young sales professionals looking to find success in this field?

A: I didn’t do anything crazy, but I got to where I’m at today just by working harder than everybody else and doing it consistently. Essentially I was doing 100 sit-ups while everyone else did 50 and did it consistently. To this day I continue to challenge myself to maintain that same consistency and persistence with my work ethic. 

Q: Where is the coolest country you’ve presented?
A: The world is such an amazing place to travel but wherever I go, everything is 72 and fluorescent because all I see is the hotel and airport. However I’ll never forget landing in Trinidad, and the 30- minute taxi ride to the hotel only taking 11 minutes because the speed limit is however fast you want to go! I also found my visit to Thailand to be enjoyable because the people there are so incredibly friendly and nice to be around. 

Q: Do you believe that successful sales strategies remain the same across various industries or should manufacturing sales professionals be given specific guidance and advice based on their industry? 
A: From a sales standpoint, it’s all the same. You either know how to sell through question-based sales techniques, you have high empathy, integrity, desire and organization, or you don’t! In business to business or business to consumer sales, it is all the same. People buy from people we trust and like.

Q: Can you speak on any trends in the sales and marketing industry that will greatly impact sales management in the next five years or so? 
A: Sales management has gone away. The term I use is puff management, which occurs when all of a sudden a salesperson who has done fairly well is promoted to management without any training, but they have a whole different set of skills. Sales are about the individual, but the management is about the team. Great sales training has gone away, and today they’re great at training product, but not teaching the fundamentals of selling. Nothing has changed about sales, except that technology allows us to get a foot in the door but in the end it still comes down to selling skills.

Q: Can you speak to your involvement in PMA’s Sales & Marketing Conference and what you will be presenting on? 
A: I like to make my talks relevant and fresh, so I usually plan it out closer to the event. However, I intend on speaking about what makes a top salesman, why most salespeople fail, why elevator speeches are irrelevant, and why objections are everything. 

Thank you for speaking with us, Hal! 

For information on PMA’s Sales & Marketing Conference, visit the event homepage or contact Rosemary David ( / 216-901-8800). 

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