Recruit, Inspire & Retain

August 2006

Ideas for “Marketing” and Providing “Customer Service” to Current and Potential Employees

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bullet FUN Days to Celebrate (Contact TRAINING SYSTEMS For Ways to Celebrate the FUN Days to Celebrate!)
bullet Cell Phone Courtesy Month, cont'd.
bullet RECRUIT - McMurry Scouts Top Talent to Produce Winning Results
bullet Who’s Wearing Fun Meters?
bullet Test Your Knowledge of Our Posters – For A Prize!
bullet Cool Calls
bullet INSPIRE - Hanging Out
bullet TRAIN - Are You Prepared for the Loss of People Due to Your Aging Workforce?
bullet RETAIN - Perks Need to Be Interwoven Into Company Culture
bullet Professional Development Conferences
bullet Ways to Volunteer & Give


What do you wish you’d known before you started your current job? (We’ll put the whole list up without names, so you can learn from others.)


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August Special Days
August is...

Happiness Happens Month
Smile Month

August 1-7 – Clown Week
August 7-13 – Smile Week

August 5 – Mustard Day
August 6 – Halfway Point of Summer Day (awwwwwwwww!)
August 7 – Unity in Diversity Day & Picnic Day
August 8 – Cheesecake Day & Happiness Happens Day (happiness always happens with cheesecake!)
August 9 – Send an Email Day
August 11 – Son’s and Daughter’s Day (they need a day?!)
August 12 – Thank You Day
August 16 – Tell A Joke Day & Roller Coaster Day
August 19 – Spicy Food Day, Homeless Animals’ Day & Potato Day
August 20 – Lemonade Day
August 22 – Eat A Peach Day
August 24 – Waffle Day & Can Opener Day
August 25 – Banana Split Day & National Park Day (Banana splits in the park. Serendipity.)
August 26 – Cherry Popsicle Day, Toilet Paper Day & Dog Day (what a combo!)
August 27 – Banana Lovers Day & Compassion Day
August 29 – Lemon Juice Day
August 30 – Toasted Marshmallow Day & Red Telephone Day (red telephones get a day?)
August 31 – Eat Outside Day

We know July is over, but so many of you were happy to hear that there was a Cell Phone Courtesy Month in July, we thought we’d extend it ourselves. Here are a few tips:

1. The person you are with (in person) is the most important person to talk to. Utilize the caller ID feature for screening options or turn it off or to vibrate while you’re “live” with human beings. You may decide to let voice mail take the call and return it at a more appropriate time.

2. Use text messaging to simplify your life. Are you expecting important information from a colleague, but need to be in a public area? Ask them to send a text message to your phone.

3. Change the ringing tones on your phone to match the environment you are in. Use a loud ring for outdoors, but inside, use silent or vibrating options.

4. Turn off your phone during public performances or while in public spaces (like in restaurants with your family!)

5. Talk normally on your cell. Most devices have sensitive microphones that can pick up even a whisper. There is no need to speak louder on your cell phone than you would on any other phone.

PRIVACY Cell Phone Sanctuaries. It may sound like an oxymoron: “A phone booth for the mobile world.” But that’s the slogan Slam Industries of Woburn, Mass. is using to push its “cell phone booths” to libraries, stadiums, nightclubs, and restaurants in response to complaints about blabbermouths and privacy concerns. The Cell Zone is priced between $2,400 and $3,500. And stands about 7 feet tall. It blocks 30-40 decibels of noise. U.S. Cellular purchased 2 of them for a summer music festival that the wireless carrier is sponsoring in Milwaukee. Cell phone booths may revive a “bygone era of privacy”, says Jacqueline Whitmore founder of July’s National Cell Phone Courtesy Month.

Email TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. for ideas on how to celebrate any of these days.

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McMurry Scouts Top Talent to Produce Winning Results

McMurry Inc. was selected one of the “Best Small & Medium Companies to Work For In America” by The Great Place to Work® Institute. (Remember, you read here about Fortune’s “100 Best Companies To Work For” – this is the same, but for small & medium companies.)

Each company participating in the ranking process for this list earned a score based on 2 primary factors. of the score is based on the answers given by employees to a special survey instrument designed by The Great Place to Work® Institute. The remaining of the score is based on responses from employers to a 2nd instrument designed by the institute. A total of 38,778 employees completed this survey. Their list is separated into 2 categories: small, (50-250 US based FT & PT employees) and medium (251-999 US based FT & PT employees). To learn about the eligibility requirements for the 2007 list, go to The deadline for applications is August 15, 2006.

Working at McMurry Inc. isn’t easy. Challenging, yes. Rewarding, sure. But, easy, no. In meetings, it is common to hear phrases like, “I challenge you” or “I expect you” or “Here’s a better way to do this.” “There’s no coasting here,” notes Sonia Washington, prep specialist at the marketing and custom business publications firm in Phoenix. “In the back of my mind, I’m thinking ‘I can do it this way and get it done, or I can do it that way and exceed expectations.’ ”

“Exceed expectations” is one of the eight corporate values that employees live and breathe. Other values that serve to raise the performance bar here include “deliver raving customer service,” “produce quality always” and “earn a reasonable profit.”

It’s the mission of Lee Vikre, Vice President of Tremendous People, and every one of the 100 employees to tap talented workers who can excel in their positions and fit into a culture where there are no rules and no limitations. Vikre estimates she spends 60% of her time meeting candidates in person across the country or talking with them over the phone. She maintains a database of nearly 700 candidates the company is keeping an eye on, similar to talent scouts who watch players perform, form relationships with them and monitor them for future recruitment.

“If I call you for a job opportunity, chances are I’ve already met you,” says Vikre.

Recruiting is the top priority for everyone, says CEO and second generation leader Chris McMurry, who contributes to the database and interviews every candidate. “I tell managers that every week they should look for talented people to fill future positions,” he says.

To weed out the best from the rest, candidates are put through their paces in a rigorous hiring process that includes peer interviews, technical and personality assessments, and, for most, a presentation with a question-and-answer session.

A hiring “caucus” with cross-departmental representatives meets to discuss each candidate to determine if he or she is an “8”. (10 is unattainable; 9 is a once-in-generation performer; 8 is a star.)

“Every company I had interviewed with before McMurry offered me the job within an hour,” recalls Beth Tomkiw, vice president of creative services. “So, when I wasn’t hired on the spot here, I was a little like, ‘Whoa! Wait a minute here,’ ” she adds with a laugh.

An arduous system like this takes a while -- anywhere from two weeks to nine months and interviewing more than 100 candidates to fill a single position -- but the payoff is enormous. Respect is earned like entrance to a fraternity after initiation.

“I know I can work with a new person because they’ve made it through the process,” says Amy Shepard, senior marketing consultant.

Adds editor Andrea Decker: “I knew that any person I encountered really wanted to be here and that they were smart, capable and accountable.” Preston V. McMurry Jr., who founded the company 17 years ago, and is now Chairman and “Corporate Values Shepherd,” says, “If someone doesn’t perform here, it’s our fault for picking the wrong person or for not helping the right person grow.”


Get more tips on recruiting great employees from TRAINING SYSTEMS.

Secrets of Hiring Top Talent, by Daniel Abramson
Get the Best, by TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. own Cathy Fyock
Both available at (10% off by typing “RIR” in Special Instructions) Or call 800-469-3560 or e-mail

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Recruitment, inspiration, training, and retention ideasHave a recruitment, inspiration, training, or retention idea or question? Ask by clicking the question mark, and we’ll post your idea or question (and the answer) in Answers & Ideas on Recruiting, Inspiring, Training, & Retaining Great Employees at

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Fun Meter   * Phil H is giving them out to people in his AA relapse group. Their leader ends each session with “Go out and have more fun sober than you ever did when you were drinking or using”. (Thanks, Phil, for letting us tell your story.)
* Linda Burroughs is giving them to The A Team. 
* Deb Trinter
* Two Wheel Training

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Test Your Knowledge of Our Posters – For A Prize!

Who Said:

  1. “Always do right – this will gratify some and astonish the rest.” 

  2. “An ounce of action is work a ton of theory.”

  3. “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.” 

  4. “Empowerment isn’t magic. It consists of a few simple steps and a lot of persistence.”

  5. “Every day, tell at least one person something you like, admire, or appreciate about them.”

  6. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves.”

  7. “Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that he sometimes has to eat them.”

  8. “Man only hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

  9. “A moment’s kindness and a smile can mean the world.”

  10. “The most effective leaders are in touch with their personal stories.”

OK, Honor System here! Email us if you got 5 out of the 10 right — with how many you get right and add your mailing address. We’ll mail you a cool learning PRIZE and list you in next month’s Recruit, Inspire & Retain.

Love those COLORFUL QUOTE POSTERS you see in TRAINING SYSTEMS' group training and conference bookstores? Email or call
800-469-3560 to find out how to get packs of the topics you need.
PowerPoint screen show that features 40 humorous posters that are pre-set to work on “auto-pilot”. Makes a great “WELCOME” message or enhancement to your session break. Runs about 5 minutes, and is set to automatically recycle. You can add in your own slides. (a great place to slip in your objectives!) Get your PowerPoint screen show here!

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* Phil H emailed (after receiving his rush Fun Meter order): “I received 31 buttons from my order via U.S. Poster Express Mail. I’m acting like a kid and so excited, and I’ll probably give them out tomorrow night at my second to last session. I’m guessing you went out of your way to send the 31 unites with balance of order to come in a snail mail postal fashion. Training Systems is in high regard with me, and I will spread my feelings about all the products your company makes available thru your website. Thanks again.”
* ASAE's Professional Development Forum Online published Don’t Lose Your Learners—Involve Them! by TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. President, Carolyn B. Thompson, in their “BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR JOB EASIER” section. Email for a copy.
* On 7/23/06, the Herald-News published the news in their APPLAUSE section that Carolyn B. Thompson, President of TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC., has been elected a director of the Joliet Rotary Club. Read the story at

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Hanging Out

Hanging out is the opposite of multitasking. Doing zero tasks instead of 2 or more at the same time.

We’re in such a hurry to “get things done” that we overlook what empty time can do for us. Hanging out is doing nothing and doing nothing is the highest form of something. We need our “nothing times to listen to ourselves, to others, and to the world in which we are immersed. When we fall off the wall and break into a 1000 pieces, those pieces are tasks we were frantically trying to complete. Let’s take off our collective hats to the super-organized people whom we frantically are trying to emulate. Lots of luck. They are a different species. And they are certainly not us. As Dick Bolles has said these many years: Be yourself. Nobody else qualifies.

Multi-tasking focuses on minutia – where am I supposed to be when? What is the name of that prospective client? What is the address of that foundation? We’re so afraid of forgetting something or someone that we obsess about all the data spilling out of pocket reminders. Multi-tasking encourages the least common denominator of achievement of work. It proposes that the more things you get done, the better you’re doing your job.

Now, lemmeesee. I answered 18 emails this morning, took care of 14 phone calls, and updated my office log. Why, I’ve done a full day’s work already and it’s only 11 o’clock. Hanging out is a lost art. It’s when we let our intuition roam freely and we talk loosely, idly, scatteredly. What are you up to? is not a call for a formal report but an invitation to air out your thoughts and hear what others say about them. However, the gadgets bleeping, burping, and winking from our belts and purses must be given attention, so we come to believe that hanging out is a waste of time. Not hanging out may spell the decline of civilization. No more getting to know people informally. No more reflecting on the consequences of our actions. No more laughter for laughter’s sake. We’re well on the way to burying ourselves in tasks to be completed.

When 2/3 of all employees are rigidly focused on what the next quarter’s earning statement will be, it’s no wonder that the planet, human relationships, health care, etc. are up to their eyeballs in problems. I say let’s elect a President who makes it urgent for humans and animals of all stripes to hang out with one another on a regular basis. Is it possible that Enron may not have happened if there had been more hanging out? Would people treat each other more kindly and ethically if they bumped up against each other? I think so. Rope off a large room for a day, round up 200 people from all walks of life, send in pizza and, I promise you, good things will happen. Hanging out can also be done with oneself. You get good ideas and insights sometimes when you are alone, not doing anything and not thinking. You receive images about how your work impacts others. Nobody asked you for these thoughts and that’s all the better. Hanging out will do wonders for your clients’ health. Build a few castles in the sky and share them with your friends. I’m sure Edison, Whitney, Curie, and others checked out many of their best ideas this way. Only when your mind is free and loose (and, not thinking) do you make your best decisions – career decisions, personal decisions, etc. In the mathematics of Hanging Out, zero is greater than two. Break the chains of multitasking. Take what comes to you when you are dozing as gifts from yourself, your friends, and the universe.

This essay by Howard Figler, Ph.D, first appeared in the July/August 2006 edition of the
Career Planning and Adult Development Network Newsletter
and is reprinted with permission.

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Get more tips on inspiring great employees from TRAINING SYSTEMS.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
Creativity: Flow & The Psychology of Discovery & Invention, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
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Are You Prepared for the Loss of People Due to Your Aging Workforce?

We know you think this is a recruiting issue, but after you read Cathy’s Strategies for Preparing, you’ll see much of it is a training issue – training on Succession Planning, training on the benefits of continuing working, training on creating new work options like job sharing, training for departing employees on how to share their job knowledge, etc.

Very few employers have begun to strategize about this very real staffing dilemma and may find themselves dealing with any number of organizational issues. Just consider the following:

Lost knowledge. Do you know the historical perspective of why a product is designed the way it is? Do you have key customers who do business with your organization just because of the career-long relationships that have been established and cultivated by your sales professionals? Do you understand the underlying cultural issues that explain why your organization values certain behaviors and job competencies? If you don’t but your senior employees do, this is a huge area of vulnerability.

Few strong succession candidates. Who will take the places of your senior leaders when they retire? Do you have a strong team to fill their shoes at their time of retirement? Many organizations are now finding they have much work to do to prepare junior staff for key leadership roles.

Limited selection of qualified candidates. When your retirement-eligible employees retire, are their skill-sets readily replaceable in today’s job market? Organizations are often finding that new graduates and new workforce entrants have neither the education nor the experience to qualify them to productively handle these roles.

Overworked and burned-out employees. If you will likely experience difficulty in replacing your senior workers, then it is also likely your existing workforce will quickly become overworked and burned-out as they work extra hours to cover their own jobs and those of retirees who could not be replaced.

Strategies For Preparing

Anticipate staffing needs to avoid being caught unprepared. Identify those in your organization who are close to retirement; then, calculate the rate at which your employees tend to retire. Do all those who are eligible for retirement at age 65 take retirement, or do only about 50% opt out? Also, calculate at what age your employees tend to retire. With this information, you’ll be able to determine what your potential liability might be.

Create strategies to retain/share key institutional knowledge. If you haven’t read David DeLong’s book, Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce, you should put it on your short-term reading list. Read a review in the December 2005 Employment Strategist. (Back issues are available for your review at Click on e- briefing). DeLong suggests such strategies as IT, storytelling, and mentoring in order to improve the transfer of knowledge.

Educate employees about the benefits of continuing to work. Do you only educate your employees on the benefits they are eligible to receive at retirement? Do you ever talk about the benefits of continuing to work for your organization? Many organizations offer educational programs that discuss employment options, such as contract work, phased retirement, or double-dipping options.

Redesign benefits so retirees can afford to return to the workplace. Some organization’s pension plans are designed to offer benefits computed on the last x-years of service. This design can negatively impact workers who might like to take a step down from their current, high-pressure position to a less demanding role, or work part-time instead of full-time.

Focus on development and training of junior staff. Is your junior staff ready to accept leadership roles? Do they have the requisite management and leadership knowledge and experience to move up the ladder? If not, initiate training and development programs to foster their speedy development: mentoring, coaching, and classroom development opportunities.

Re-examine policies that promote retirement and that inhibit return-to-work options. Is it more financially feasible for your employees to take retirement? Are pension benefits negatively impacted when a retirement-eligible individual opts for part- time work or a position earning less salary? Ensure that your policies are designed to meet your specific and changing employment needs.

Create new work options, such as part-time, job sharing, phased and rehearsal retirement. Many organizations are finding their mature workers want work options when all they offer is either full-time work or retirement. Traditional part time work options (part-day or part-week) and non- traditional part time options (part-month or part- year) may better meet employees’ motivations for work. Other unique programs, such as phased and rehearsal retirement are becoming more popular as employers investigate ways to meet the needs of both their employees and the organization to keep experienced and knowledgeable workers. AARP has just initiated a sabbatical program to help reward and retain its high-performance staffers.

Change your culture so working in lesser positions or taking a demotion is not stigmatized. In most organizations today, there is a stigma attached to taking a step down the employment ladder. Yet many harried managers may want to remain in the organization, utilizing their knowledge and experience, in less stressful roles. Organizations may want to explore their internal values, and through focus groups, determine ways to redefine their culture.

Reprinted with permission from Employment Strategist by our Associate Cathy Fyock, 5/06.

Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of An Aging Workforce, David DeLong
America's Workforce is Coming of Age, by Cathy Fyock
Order by Emailing  or calling 800-469-3560. (10% off by mentioning “RIR”)

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Perks Need to Be Interwoven Into Company Culture

Visit Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) on a stunning spring day, the kind that tempts workers to head home early, and you’ll likely find 40 or so cars in the employee parking lot as late as 7 p.m.

From the outside, you’ll see employees using the on-site gym and enjoying dinner -- one of three free meals the company provides each day.

What you won’t see as readily is how these perks are seamlessly interwoven with the company’s culture and business needs. The generous extras are not aimed primarily at driving employee behavior but at reinforcing a culture that takes care of employees, provides opportunities for varied and interesting work assignments, and offers flexibility in scheduling, career development opportunities and career paths.

It’s an approach that has helped the firm earn the top ranking for three straight years on the Great Place to Work® Institute’s list of Best Small & Medium Companies to Work for in America. (AGI was named No. 1 among medium-sized companies for 2006 after taking the top spot in the small-company category the previous two years.)

More important, the company’s approach has helped it succeed and grow. To fully appreciate that fact, you have to know a bit about this firm’s history.

AGI was formed in 1989 by three engineers who left General Electric when they came up with a product that didn’t fit the large defense contractor’s business model of fulfilling specific work requests from the federal government. By contrast, AGI produces off-the-shelf software for civilian and military customers. (The software, for example, tracks the courses and attitudes of planes and satellites. It is literally rocket science made simple: Click your mouse and you can see not only where the International Space Station will be at any moment but also if its solar panels will be properly oriented to the sun.)

AGI’s business model, then, is different from -- and riskier than -- other aerospace firms’, says co-founder and CEO Paul Graziani. To properly manage these inherent risks, it needs employees who can understand and anticipate customers’ needs, understand the technology available to meet those needs, and make informed decisions.

The company does its part by providing the gym and free meals that make employees’ lives easier and give them opportunities to mix. But that’s only the start. Open communication is such a key part of this organization’s culture that even the CEO’s office has no door. "There are only about five doors in this building," notes Adam Gorski, applications engineer, and most of those are reserved for conference rooms or offices—such as those in HR and finance—where privacy is a legal necessity.

To ensure that information flows freely, the company holds annual business review meetings for all employees, quarterly town hall meetings and weekly Story Time meetings each Friday at lunch. Story Time is a chance for different departments to share information on what’s happening around the company. Employees say speakers are quick to praise co-workers who’ve helped them generate a new product or address customer concerns.

Such cooperation is key to an organization that requires flexibility and agility to respond to changing customer needs, and it is underscored by the fact that all employees get the same quarterly bonus percentage, based on the business’s performance. Employees, for their part, seem to understand the distinction between culture and perks. Many like knowing how the business runs, seeing how they contribute to its success and feeling listened to. And while they appreciate the gym and free food, many -- such as applications engineer Bill Bonnell – say they would work at AGI without them. In fact, all the employees asked said if they had to choose between the perks and the culture, they would choose the culture.

And that perhaps best illustrates the power of this culture, one that Graziani says evolved over time as the company tried different elements, keeping those that worked and dropping those that didn’t. Through it all, the organization seems to have stayed focused on sharing information, involving employees and treating them well—not as a means to an end, but simply as an end unto itself.

"We don’t serve dinner to get people to stay late," says Graziani. "We serve dinner because people are staying late. It’s a very critical distinction. I think if you go about this with the wrong motivations, it’s going to be very transparent to everybody, and it’s going to fail. So, we just do whatever we think the right thing is."

And it works.

Adapted from HR Magazine, July 2006.

**TOOL BOX** Building Corporate Culture in the Connected Workplace, by Peg Neuhauser, Ray Bender, & Kirk Stromberg
Creating A Culture of Success: Fine-Tuning the Heart and Soul of Your Organization, by Charles B. Dygert, Ph.D.
Order by calling 800-469-3560 or Emailing (10% off by mentioning “RIR”)

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August 19-22, 2006
ASAE’s 2006 Annual Meeting & Exposition, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA,

September 14-15, 2006
Learnshare’s Atlanta Sharing@LearnShare Conference: Achieving Competitive Advantage, Renaissance Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia,

September 25-27, 2006
IQPC’s E-Learning 2006: Evaluating, Delivering & Aligning E-Learning Technologies with Business Strategy, Renaissance Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, GA,

October 4-6, 2006
Strategic HR Conference, Phoenix,

October 16-18, 2006
SHRM Workplace Diversity Conference & Exposition, Los Angeles, CA,

October 23-25, 2006
Training Magazine’s Training Solutions Conference & Expo, Denver, CO,

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Global Volunteers (
You can:
select by type of work project
select by country and date
select by service program conditions
select by cost

Donate Old Suits
Check with your local Dress Barn.
Some have programs to help unfortunate women get jobs by supplying them with business suits people have donated. Plus, they offer the donator a 10% off coupon for any purchase. Give a little, get a little!

Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Electronics

Donate PCs to National Cristina Foundation,;  Goodwill,, Salvation Army,

Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.

Several other places to recycle old PCs:,,

Find local Electronics recyclers at and

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