Stringer: Winning Woman

Communicating Well

Baldrige Aspirants

Year 2K Challenges

Corrections or additions?

These Survival Guide stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on October 14, 1998. All rights reserved.

Your Workers: Your Gold

Consider the hiring process an investment in intellectual capital says Linda Resnick, president of CEO Resources Inc. Resnick is on a panel to discuss the latest trends in staff hiring on Thursday, October 15, at 8:30 a.m. at Intelligroup Inc., 499 Thornall Street in Edison. Sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council's human resources peer track, the panel is entitled "Strategic Staffing: the Business Perspective" and also includes Ashok Pandey, president of Intelligroup, and Terry Williams of T. Williams Consulting. Cost: $25. Call 609-452-1010.

Resnick points out what is obvious to anyone recruiting for technical and high level management positions, that the economy is so good that it is difficult to get qualified candidates. "It is such a competitive market because talented people have jobs," she says.

Resnick's CEO Resources specializes in executive and upper management placements. She is the author of "A Big Splash in a Small Pond," a book about jobs in small companies, and she has appeared on the Today Show.

If hiring is indeed an "intellectual capital" investment, it should be incorporated in the business plan. "You need to build in the strategy for staffing needs as well as marketing needs," says Resnick, who will moderate the panel. Some of the topics she will cover:

Developing business plans where staffing is a strategic function;

Using in-house personnel as recruiters;

Choosing the right consultant to handle the hiring process ;

Attracting and keeping qualified technical personnel.

Terry Williams has more than 20 years experience in the staffing industry with eight years in executive search and high tech recruiting. He is president and CEO of T. Williams Consulting Company, based in Philadelphia. The firm provides "comprehensive solutions to staffing problems," which may include a job candidate profile, staffing process analysis, and a plan of action including recommendations and implementation of the program. A current client is Dialogic Corporation in Parsippany, a leading computer telephony components provider.

"We are not contract recruiters. We do more than that, we look at the staffing process and we look at the business," Williams says. "We provide formularies for high tech for winning and competing in the market place for talent." He will discuss the staffing process, modern source techniques, and how to market and sell your company to top candidates.

Ashok Pandey will use the company he founded as a case study to discuss human resource issues for technology companies. Recently ranked second in the New Jersey Technology "Fast 50" company list, Intelligroup Inc. is an international professional services firm focusing on the rapid implementation of enterprise-wide business solutions, such as Oracle and People Soft. The company provides business process consulting, package implementation, client/server system integration, and custom software development.

Pandey has seen his organization grow from a small company to an organization with more than 1,300 employees serving clients world-wide. "The secret of our success is our ability to hire the right people and retain them, and also to make the right decisions at the right time."

"No matter what business you are in," says Pandey, "people are the key to success."

-- Patricia L. Frasier

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Stringer: Winning Woman

Rutgers University women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer loves to win because "it hurts so bad to lose. I'd rather avoid the pain." And as one of only five active coaches to reach 500 career victories, Stringer, who has been voted National Coach of the Year three times by her peers, will share her tips on winning both on and off the basketball court in her welcome speech at the Governor's Conference on Women at the New Atlantic City Convention Center on Tuesday, October 20.

Stringer explains that in sports as in life, "in many instances you can work extremely hard but you find that your best is just not good enough. Perhaps your competition is better and you come up a little short." Over the long term, the difference between those who eventually succeed and those who don't is persistence. This is the same quality the successful Ph.D. candidate uses in the long trudge towards completing class work, exams and finally, the thesis, she says. Winners learn to "just stay with it."

Another important key to winning is visualizing yourself as a winner, says Stringer. She describes the process for a basketball player. "You have to see yourself winning. You have to see the smiles. You have to see the tears and the victory lap that is taken. You have to feel the good feelings."

But bad things can happen: blowing a job interview or falling behind in a basketball game. Dealing with failure requires creative thinking. The correct response, says Stringer, is not "woe is me but rather I have to find another way, another more creative way to get the same job done." Stringer considers paramount the ability to remain disciplined and focussed even in the face of failure.

Stringer is the only coach in women's basketball to lead two different teams to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Last year, her third at Rutgers, Stringer pushed her inexperienced squad of nine freshman and sophomores, two juniors and zero seniors into the Sweet 16 quarter finals of the NCAA Tournament. Yet she readily admits repeating success carries its own distinct stresses. "It's tougher because you have a level of expectation. The next time you come back and you're the hunted instead of the hunter and you're expected to become somewhat different."

"Less than a Sweet 16 was not acceptable," Stringer says regarding last season. Despite this year's anticipated loss to knee surgery of Tomara Young, who was averaging 18 points a game, Stringer's expectations for the team remain high. "We will still set our sights at the highest level."

In her plenary address, Stringer plans to discuss "our commonality as women, the need to be motivated, to support each other, and to know that we all do understand the struggles." Despite different personal situations, all women strive for appreciation, respect, and acceptance yet often feel they are coming up short. "Each of successes that women get, whether it's as an astronaut or the formation of the women's basketball league, that all speaks to our victory as women," she says. From Stringer's vantage point, it is still a man's world but she strongly cautions against harping on this. "Do we use this as an excuse or do we continue to reach upward?"

Her advice, for those aspiring to stand inside the winner's circle, applies to both the point guard and the corporate climber. "You have to learn to be a team member. You have to learn to deal with everybody and their shortcomings, all for the sake of a common goal." For Stringer, basketball easily serves as a metaphor for the bigger picture. "The court is just a small translation of the court of life."

-- Caroline Calogero

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Communicating Well

Communication is a skill that is universally needed, applied at all levels, in all industries, and no matter how good you are, you can always learn something more to make you more effective," says Joni Daniels, founder and principal of Daniels & Associates, a consulting practice specializing in management training.

Daniels will be conducting the "Say What You Mean: Proactive Communication" training session at the New Jersey Technology Council office at 500 College Road on Wednesday, October 21, at 8:30 a.m. Cost: $175 for the first of three sessions or $400 for three. Call 609-452-1010 for information.

Effective communicators make things happen every time they present ideas, whether talking to one person or addressing a group, says Daniels, and the ability to communicate a little better than others becomes a tremendous asset to one's career.

Daniels has 15 years experience as a consultant on personal and professional development in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania (215-635-5359 Fax: 215-635-4943 E-Mail: JDanAssoc@aoI.com). She has degrees from the State University of New York at Oswego and at Brockport, plus a certificate in organizational development. Her audiences have included the Wharton School (where she is an instructor at the small business center), chapters of the National Management Association, the Greater Valley Forge Human Resources Association.

"Communication," Daniels says, "is getting an idea from my brain to your brain. Proactive communication is when you actually initiate the communication process, and not just react or respond when someone comes to you." Four skills are involved:

Talking, the whole art of transmitting the message;

Asking Questions, which allows you to get information to refine your message;

Listening, which you have to do to further prepare and refine your message; and

Awareness that you need to talk, listen and ask questions.

Proactive communication is not as sophisticated a skill as many people expect it to be, Daniels says. "It's a basic skill and what separates the people who do it well is that they pay attention to the skills that are required and communicate well consistently every day. It is not esoteric. It is basic stuff but basic stuff applied well and consistently."

She will cover specific nonverbal tactics used in interpersonal communication. We can illustrate interest and openness with our eyes, the way we position our head, the way we lean forward as if we are involved in the communication, by eye contact, she says. Similarly, she adds, there are many messages sent by the expression on our face -- about how tense we are, how stressed we are, how disinterested we are, or how angry we are -- which we can communicate without saying a word.

Daniels says that one of the barriers to effective communication is not understanding that communication is a two-way process. Not being interested, being angry, being covert, doing two or three things at one time, being distracted and not paying attention to the clues and cues, trying to rush through, are some other barriers.

Bad communication is frustrating, she says. "We wonder, `Is it their fault, or is it my fault?' It's usually both people's fault."

"Learning how to communicate effectively is a continuous process. If you're not learning how to talk better, you're learning how to listen. If you're not learning how to listen, you're learning how to ask better questions."

"As human beings we are always making mistakes, always mis-communicating, we are always not paying attention," Daniels says. "And as things get stressed out and more intense at work, people are looking for better and more effective ways of communicating with each other."

Anyone who can say with 100 percent confidence and assurance that they communicate well all the time, says Daniels, should "come help me teach this course. Because I do this training, and I study and I read and I still make mistakes and I learn." The most wonderful and most frustrating thing about communication, she says, is that there is always someone who presents you with a new challenge.

-- Teena Chandy

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Baldrige Aspirants

Organizations that embrace the Baldrige criteria have a lot of looking at themselves to change. The whole organization has to be `Baldrige towards improvement,' says Richard Serfass, executive director of Quality New Jersey,

New Jersey is one of the 42 states that have established work programs based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Established in 1987, the award has a set of criteria that organizations use for improvement. A private, non-profit organization, Quality New Jersey, along with the Commerce and Economic Growth Commission, administers the New Jersey Quality Achievement Award.

Quality New Jersey's "Self Assessment Workshop" on Tuesday, October 20, at 9 a.m., is for organizations beginning a management program based on the New Jersey Quality Achievement Award/Baldrige criteria. It will be held at the PSE&G Training Site, 4000 Hadley Road, South Plainfield. Cost: $75. Call Serfass at 609-777-1940 for more details.

Anyone in an organization with influence for encouraging and implementing improvements can attend this workshop, says Serfass. A seven-step process for conducting an organizational quality assessment will be presented.

1. Getting commitment. Getting the people in the organization to want to do it.

2. Scoping the project. Gathering information.

3. Designing the project. Translating the plan into a schedule.

4. Administering the survey. Deciding whether the survey is going to be sent out or have people gather in an auditorium and take them through it.

5. Analyzing the data. Interpreting the results of the survey from the data collected and deciding what to do with it.

6. Reporting the findings and make recommendations. After the data is analyzed, making recommendations to the bosses.

7. Developing a plan of action. Doing something about the recommendations made.

Many organizations have embarked on the Baldrige journey. Lucent Technologies, for example, plans to apply for the state award next year and the national award in five years. "It's great to see organizations make commitments that far," says Serfass.

An alumnus of La Salle, Class of '63, with a doctoral degree from Temple, Serfass was assistant superintendent of schools in Cherry Hill when he got involved with the education focus group of Quality New Jersey. He became a national examiner and helped develop the national standards for education systems. He succeeded Ed Nelson as executive director of Quality New Jersey.

It takes a lot of learning to understand the criteria, says Serfass. The core values and concepts of the Baldrige criteria are embodied in seven categories:

1. Leadership. A philosophy in the organization that believes that leadership runs throughout the organization and not just top down.

2. Strategic planning. The organization should know where it is going in the future and everybody in the organization should have an interest and a say in it.

3. Customer and Market Focus. Quality is judged by customers, Thus, for the most part, the organization's plans should be linked with the customer's needs.

4. Information and Analysis. Quality organizations are very fact oriented. Claims to improvement must be based on facts. The organization should know what data to collect, and how to analyze them.

5. Human Resources Focus. The employees are most important in any organization. Organizations need to ensure their well being, get them involved, give them recognition, and provide them opportunities for continuing growth.

6. Process Management. Every organization has a set of processes to got to an end. These processes need constant monitoring, improvement and feedback.

7. Business Results. A composite of customer, financial and non financial performance results, including human resource results and public responsibility.

Serfass believes that instituting awards like the New Jersey Quality Achievement Awards have helped to improve quality on the whole. "Still there is a long way to go. We have recognized about 40 organizations in 10 years. We would like to have 400 or 4,000." People that make the commitment to quality don't always go for an award, he adds. "Quality New Jersey has handed out thousands of copies of the criteria. There are some organizations that take it and use parts of it."

Unlike the ISO certifications that are based on compliance with a set of standards that many organizations achieve because they have to, the Baldrige criteria is based on core values. All the ISO ideas are included in Baldrige, but it is much more, says Serfass. "The whole philosophy is `How are you going to improve?.' The bottom line, of course, is that you want to make money. But you also want to see happy employees and satisfied customers."

The workshop is a way to start for organizations that want to begin this journey, Serfass says. "It is not the destination that is important, it is actually what you do along the way."

"We advocate that unless you have the whole organization working towards improvement, you may have success, but not the best kind. For example in schools, we believe that it is just not enough to have a great teacher or a great classroom. The whole system has to be excellent, even the transportation system. The kids should get to school feeling okay, feeling good and not after a grouchy old bus ride. All the pieces together make up the ideal system."

It's ideal, Serfass admits. "But if you don't shoot for ideal, why bother?"

-- Teena Chandy

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Year 2K Challenges

Surely the big biotech and pharmaceutical companies -- with their very up to date computer systems -- are not worried about their systems crashing under the weight of Year 2000 changes. Maybe and maybe not. But they do worry about their suppliers.

Technology New Jersey presents a Year 2K breakfast seminar for the scientific community on Tuesday, October 20, at 8 a.m. at the Hyatt. It will be followed by a similar workshop targeting the telecommunications, utility, and water companies on Thursday, October 22. Members are free, others pay $30. Call 609-987-1234.

Edward P. Zimmerman of Churchill & Harriman, the Research Park-based sponsor, will speak on "Your Supply Chain Readiness for Year 2000: Are You Sure?" He has been general manager of wireless data for Nynex Mobile Communications Corporation and manager of enterprise integration services for Digital Equipment Corporation. Vendor validation, sensitivity to customer Y2K needs, and the impact of vendor and customer compliance on Y2K projects are among the areas he will cover.

"Trials, Tribulations, and Criticality of Supplier Management" is the topic for Julie C. Smith of Johnson & Johnson on October 20. She is director of the Year 2000 program at the pharmaceutical firm. Smith will discuss such areas as supplier performance agreements, supplier audits, lack of response, evaluating responses, partnership meetings, and contingency planning.

Also on October 20, an attorney from Reed Smith Shaw McClay in Forrestal Village, Michael P. Weiner, will discuss "Year 2000 as a Risk Factor: Implications for Venture Capital and Beyond." Public companies, investment advisers, and investment companies have put on notice by the Securities & Exchange Commission that their Year 2000 disclosures will be closely inspected, says Weiner. One company failed to comply with these requirements, and Weiner will relate that cautionary tale.

On Thursday, October 22, Paul Bergen, overall manager for a major Year 2K project for IBM Global Services, will speak. His topic: "Don't Forget the Basics as the End Date is Near." Bergen successfully renovated, tested, and returned to production more than 5 million lines of application programming in an MVS environment.

Marjorie Chertok of the law firm of Greenbaum Rowe Smith Ravin Davis & Himmel will discuss how the millennium bug might affect new media, E-mail, and satellite applications. She will also discuss how regulatory obligations will change.

Elliot Familant of Bellcore will revisit the time and money crunch in a presentation entitled "Assessing Risk for Y2K Related Failures in Network Equipment" on October 22. He is director of Y2K Network Solutions at Bellcore, and he will tell what risk assessment he uses to create action plans for remediation of each network element. Be careful, he warns, because the usual prioritization methods tend to be too informal to withstand the rigors of legal challenge.

Corrections or additions?


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