Innovative Strategies for Today's Needs and Tomorrow's Challenges

2014: A Renewed Commitment to Core Services

 Happy New Year!

Hope all is well as 2014 unfolds.  This year has already opened with many interesting projects.  I continue to provide consulting for the Middlesex County Small Business Development Center at Rutgers School of Business.  And the experience has been extremely educational.

Feedback from business owners puts this challenging business climate in perspective.  I’m getting quite a bit of real, front-line concerns from the business community.  Besides looking for financial resources, increasingly, many businesses have been seeking advice on how to safely attract, select and retain talent to grow their businesses.  So I have been busy developing learning sessions, conducting one-on-one consults and researching resources to address a wide array of Human Resources issues.

Recently, I delivered a learning session as part of an intensive Walmart/Sam’s Club sponsored Small Business Boot Camp.  It’s an excellent program that connects small businesses with vital information and support (and it’s free for businesses with five or more employees).   

Last year we experimented with taking on diverse projects that weren’t traditionally in our wheelhouse.  We met some great people, worked with some incredible organizations and learned quite a bit about ourselves as a business service provider.  Most importantly, we learned that even though we were able to deliver what was promised, the old adage rings true: “You can’t be all things to all people.”

This New Year brings us back to the essence of The Chenault Group, Inc.  Providing companies with creative and sustaining learning and development strategies that help elevate an organization’s collective IQ will be the impetus of all our actions.  I am truly excited and energized about our renewed commitment!

So, how are things shaping up with you?  Feel free to connect when you have a free moment.  I would love to find out more about you and how The Chenault Group can help you achieve your goals.

January 16th, 2014 Posted in The Idea Network, Work Like You Own It! | No Comments »

How do I recover when things do not go as planned?

Things aren’t working out the way you planned. The results, thus far, are less spectacular than projected. You suggested this solution. You even received a few pats on the back from senior management for your novel approach to problem solving. So you took the lead and assembled a team. Initially, things looked promising. There was a bit of resistance (crossed arms; sideways glances and under-the-breath comments from a few of your colleagues), but you had solid research on your side so success was anticipated. Yet, the outcome produced no fireworks! Just deflated air and lowered eyes at the mention of your project in follow-up team meetings.

How to recover when things don’t go as planned

Pre-emptive move: Review and make adjustments
To stave off the naysayers, be open and honest with progress from the start. Let people know what is working and what is not. Fear of failure lends itself to hiding and side stepping when things just aren’t working as anticipated.

Maintain visibility and effectiveness in all other areas of your responsibilities
It’s easy to barricade yourself in your office or evaporate behind technology. Maintain visibility and effectiveness when experiencing major changes to let your team know you are actively engaged and focused on not only finding a solution to this challenge, but also in other areas.

Include your team or expand your team to find new solutions and a turnaround strategy
American Industrialist Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Don’t waste time pointing fingers or blaming others. Enthusiastically engage your team in reexamining benchmark metrics and root causes, and to identify alternative approaches. Expand your team to add talent and differing perspective to the problem solving process.

Keep lines of communication open
Be a conduit of information to senior leadership and subordinates. Express your thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a clear, succinct, and compelling manner in both oral and written mediums. Adjust language to capture and maintain attention to critical issues when interest wanes. Sideline frustration by actively listening and understanding what others say throughout the process.

Recognize when to call in an outside expert
In an era of skin and bone staffing, many are called upon to become in-house “experts”. However the challenge may demand more professional and technical skills and experience. Present senior management with cost analysis of the project to highlight the benefit of utilizing outside consultants if needed.

Understand that it may take a while to rebuild confidence
Remember the oft-used phrase “You’re only as good as your last sale” or, the not oft-used but just as important, “They may not remember what they had for dinner, but they always remember the dessert”. Don’t let a disappointing outcome define you. Persistence and accountability is the key to overcoming a short fall and getting to the well-remembered dessert to gain confidence. Success is achieved by overcoming multiple attempts.

January 17th, 2014 Posted in Q & A | No Comments »

The Idea Network

The light bulb over your head pops on, brilliantly illuminating a path toward a future opportunity…the heart and mind races with the excitement of potential…and a passion is born! It’s a great idea…one of the best ideas ever. Now how do I make it work?

The Idea Network is a resource to help ignite the “spark” to take your idea from theory to practice while maintaining the passion. The Idea Network is an ongoing dialogue between those who have taken steps to move their idea from concept to reality and those who have a burning desire to do just that. The Idea Network will highlight individuals who have started businesses or introduced new concepts within their organization. We’ll discuss their challenges, solutions and current business perspective. And through our Q/A, we hope to share resources, establish connections, and help you get started and stay focused while transitioning through all stages of your big idea’s life cycle.

We hope you visit The Chenault Group site and visit The Idea Network often. We hope to not only deliver practical advice, but provide Idea Network participants with strategies and connections that will help bring your “big idea” to light.

Spark a conversation! Click on the comment to leave your questions, thoughts and comments for The Chenault Group.

January 16th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

YOU ARE MEANT TO BE THE NEXT BREAKOUT STAR!

You are meant to be.  You are meant to contribute.  Believe these words and you will be on your way to achieving the life you want.  Although just believing you are meant to be will not make it happen.  Hard work is required.  You have to put some muscle behind it.  Not doing the work cheats you out of invaluable experience of learning and applying newly learned skills into daily practice.  It’s the experience of working with the belief of being a valuable contributor that enables you to articulate and share what you have learned with others.

So take a few deep cleansing breathes (Do it right now!) and:   

Think Big:  Write out your BIG Goals

Consider what you want in life.  What do you want to do, have and be?  Write it out.  Not in simple words and phrases.  Be specific and detailed.  By taking pen to paper (best method) you can create a clear image of what you want.  Use the journalist approach by answering the questions: Who, What, When, Where, How and Why.    Remember to be detailed and specific when writing out your goals.  (Who is involved in helping me reach my goals?  Where do I need to go to get information?  Why is it important that I do this?)

Once you have written it out.  Read it aloud.  Not in a whisper, but read it aloud with confidence.  The action forces you to hear and feel what you have written and make adjustments.  Now re-write it.  This time make the picture you’ve created even bigger.  For example if the goal is a new job, expand that goal to create a visual of you in the highest position possible.  Remember, you are meant to BE!

Plan with a beginning and end date in mind

Once you decide what it is you want to do, have and be, select a realistic date to actually be doing, having and being.  Circle that date on every calendar (even on your mobile devices) and post the date where you can see it daily.  Every time you see that date it will serve as a reminder that there is work to do to meet your deadline.

Communicate/Share/Welcome Feedback

Not since we were in grade school have we been more secretive.  Remember we sat at the hard one armed desk and wrapped an arm around our paper to cover our answers.  We were afraid someone would see our circles, checks and multiple choice answers and take credit for our hard work.  Now is the time to be open to sharing our ideas, dreams and goals.  Sharing reinforces our intentions internally and externally provides vital feedback, support and resources.

Yes, there are folks out there who may take the ball and run with it.  Or even more terrifying, pour cold water on our fire.  But YOU are meant to contribute.  No one can do what you do, how you do it.  Your ideas will remain yours.  It’s all in the passion, execution and delivery.  They have your distinctive DNA.  The return on the investment of openly sharing ideas outweighs anything someone else could possibly do with them (At least you’ll find out who is really in your corner).

So do it.  Share. You will be surprised at how communicating with others can keep you motivated and uncover new information that can move your ideas forward.

Continuous Learning

Once you know what you want to do, to have or to be, the world will continue to spin on its axis and bubbling brains of other human beings will continue to pump out new and exciting inventions that will change the way we do things and how we interact with each other.  Investing time to keep abreast of new tools, methods, research and information will help keep your engines primed, pumped and moving in the pursuit of your goal.  Learning about new technology, industry trends and even key people in your relevant field help shape the process of goal attainment along the way.

Keep your mind open to learning and information will present itself.  Suggestion: Say aloud to yourself, everyday (even throughout the day), “I am going to learn something today!”  Let that be your mantra.  And you will learn some things that will push you into the 2014 spotlight!

         

January 5th, 2014 Posted in Resources | No Comments »

Need Inspiration? Read an excerpt from Liberty and Justice for ALL…Stories of Middlesex County African-American Veterans of WWII and Korean War

We look to our past to provide us with the strength to overcome current challenges.  View an excerpt from our latest leadership project that profiles heroes who persevered beyond the trials of adversity.  The following is from our interview with Tuskegee Airman, Charles R. Nolley II:

Charles persevered and pushed onward to continue his training – first as an Encryption Specialist, then as a Tuskegee Airman pilot.  Each step provided him more pay and valuable expertise and experience.  Charles wanted the opportunity to prove them wrong; to prove to everyone that African-Americans deserved a chance, the right, to fight for their country.

News of the war continued to be fed to the soldiers on the base however, the men were not sent to fight.  Whenever they completed what they thought was the last bit of training, they were called back to do more.  White officials thought that they were not ready for combat no matter how much training they received.

They didn’t send us to combat.  “[They would say] those niggas don’t have it up here (tapping his head)…if they got to combat they wouldn’t know what to do.”

White boys were in the A20s [plane]. It was no way equal to the Messerschmitt (German plane).  They had to protect the bombers. They did the best they could.  I have to give them credit.  It [Messerschmitt] could turn better.  They did the best they could.  They gave them [white soldiers] training and sent them to combat.  They trained us and when it was time, they gave us more training.

In the meantime the government was trying to build a better plane.  When we first got in, we got the new plane.  It was like the A-20 except in one phase it could turn better.  We got the P51-Mustang, variety C.  That was the real McCoy.  At that time, I thought that was the fastest thing made.  It did everything.  It was there [its destination] as soon you were thinking about it.  It could out fly anything in the air.

Unbeknown at that time, there was an advantage hidden in the flawed perception and negative actions of white officials on the base.  By holding back the Black airmen and giving them an inordinate amount of training and practice runs, the men gained and heightened their skills and technical ability to expertly fly all types of aircraft.  The Tuskegee Airmen became the ultimate fighter pilots.

Thank You, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt…“These colored boys can fly!”

The war was getting intense.  General McArthur repeatedly called for more men on the front line and asked for the unit.  However General Hunter continued to say the black squad was not ready.

Finally we were called into combat.  Mainly I think because of A. Phillip Randolph and his threat, but also because Mrs. Roosevelt came to Godman Field.  There was a pilot in our squadron we called Chief.  He had flying experience before the war.  We respected him because he already knew everything we were trying to learn.  He took her up to show her what the plane can do.

After the flight, she called her husband [President Roosevelt] and told him, according to what I heard, “These boys can fly!”  Shortly afterwards we were sent to overseas.

Thanks to our First Lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt…It was an honor to finally go to combat.

We were anxious to go and fight to prove ourselves.  So many negative things in their papers and writing that we couldn’t handle combat.  So like most of the guys…I was young and I wanted to show them what I could do.  We had got a good plane and good training…best trained pilots in the Army.  When we finally got this great plane we were anxious to go

Carving the Way Through the Sky

We were stationed in North Africa, but flew over Germany to escort the bombers.  Our job was to protect the bombers.  We never lost a bomber to enemy planes.  There were guys in my outfit who would just look for things to bomb.  On their days off, on their own (although most of us waited for orders), they would go into Germany to scout airports and look for fighter planes.

Turn…Turn…Turn.  Get on their tails!

In combat I wasn’t afraid, I was excited….then to hear these big enemy buzzing things were trying to kill me…I’m going to kill him first… I’m a better pilot with a better plane I’m a better man than he is…I’m going to shoot him down and make him sorry.

Soon as we got there (combat) we were told by the experienced guys – turn!  We were told to turn to get on their tail.   When they [the enemy] got on your tail you turn and get on his.  And we would turn and pretty soon we would wind up there.

Some of those guys [Tuskegee Airmen] could do anything….they were just wonderful.  They named some of the guys, Hunters or Avengers…they would go out with their wingman to hunt for planes.  They were just so nasty to us in basic training.  It made us anxious to go fight.  Just to show that the things they wrote about us…that goes for the top of the Air Force.

We were there to protect the bombers and we never lost a bomber to enemy planes…purely to show that we were the best in the world.  Our [US] bombers won the war.  Because we got them there safe.  So we must have won the war.

“The Enemy tried to fight us…then they tried to outnumber us… when they sent up extra planes, we just said there were more people to shoot down…when they saw us come over the horizon they would about face.”


We hope you will return to our site to learn more about our heroes and the progress of this project.


The Chenault Group, Inc. has partnered with the NAACP Metuchen Edison Area Branch and Middlesex County Cultural Heritage Commission to undertake this project of immense opportunity for learning and sharing the history of struggle, survival and perseverance. The first phase of the project covers time periods surrounding WWII (1939 – 1945), and the Korean War (early 50′s).Our goal is to interview and photograph Middlesex County African American veterans from different branches of the military in order to create engaging, detailed written, visual and audio accounts of each Veteran’s experience.We hope to illuminate the African-American perspective to the call to defend America on foreign soil; the conflict between patriotism and racism; and the residual effect of war on personal lives, family and local community as they transitioned from military to civilian life.


WE NEED YOUR HELP!To make this an outstanding presentation befitting of the sacrifices made by our Veterans, we are in need of:

  • Interview subjects: WWII and Korean War Veterans
  • Personal photos of family, social events taken in and around Middlesex County from 1939 -1945 and early 50′s that include Veterans (preferably in uniform)
  • War-time related memorabilia (newspaper & magazine articles, obituaries, posters, post cards, etc.) and unique artifacts
  • Uniforms and other articles of clothing, medals, awards, certificates

DON’T LET OUR HISTORY VANISH! Help us take this rare and unique opportunity to preserve history and increase awareness of the contributions of our soldiers.


For further information, contact Monica Kilgore directly at monica.kilgore@thechenaultgroup.com or (732) 261-8279

January 19th, 2012 Posted in Q & A, Resources | No Comments »

How do I keep my team motivated in a time of uncertainty?

How to motivate those who have seen it all…done it all and don’t want to do it again, ever…


 

With so much change coming at us from so many directions, we may find ourselves paralyzed by the sheer weight of negative information. We are exposed to so much, at such a fast pace, that many of us have become numb, immobile and frankly cynical about the future. Many have either adopted a “whatever”, “It is what it is…” mentality as we wait for the next shoe to drop or spin around in panic-mode.

 

For those of you who have survived the latest round of layoffs and are now charged with leading other weary colleagues how do you keep yourself and others motivated when it is so important in this challenging economy to be proactive?


 

 

…By implementing a motivating and guiding communication strategy


 

 

Don’t avoid the challenge of facing a difficult situation head on You can’t overcome what you don’t confront. Don’t hide behind the desk or emails. Be visible. Go directly to those who need to know in order to provide assurance. Share your feelings. Encourage others to speak openly about their fears. This provides an opportunity to address critical issues and concerns in an open forum. Frustration and negativity is infectious. Act with a sense of urgency to nip unproductive dialogue in the bud. Don’t wait until you have ALL the answers. You never will. It is important to respond quickly with information you do know. Present a “we are all working through this together” theme.


 

Create and deliver a vision of the future state. Where do we hope to be as we venture through new economic territory? Paint the picture in realistic terms. Avoid over-used terminology and “kumbaya” phrases. Let your employees know there is an action plan in place and it’s in motion. Get as specific as possible. Remind them with facts and data that illustrate where we were, where we are and where we want to be once we’ve gone through this transition. Make it an informal presentation and open for questions.


Be accessible and approachable. Your door should be wide open during times of challenge. Understand that change affects everyone in different ways. Don’t be afraid to have an open, honest conversation with individuals who may not express their concerns in a group meeting.


 

Send consistent messages to communicate the vision. Remind your team that this transition period is an active work in progress. Create and use as many venues as possible to present clear, simple, memorable phrases and positive messages that drive home the vision.

 

Create a periodic newsletter that frequently focuses on positive changes within the company and provides information on how individuals can prepare for the future. The newsletter should point out related change initiatives that is/has occurred within your industry and throughout the economic community.

Create a simple phrase or phrases that effectively illustrate where you want to be – Stronger…Skilled…Innovative…Green…Community centered, etc. Use these phrases as opening or closing points in regularly scheduled meetings or briefing sessions to point out what is being done on a day-to-day basis to reach this end state. Use them as tags in your emails and meeting agendas. Create banners, posters or an enterprise-wide reward program to recognize those who walk the talk. Keep the message as visual as possible in order to perpetuate the action of movement in a more positive direction.


 

A positive attitude and optimism goes a long way. There is a lot of doom and gloom out there, so focus on the positive. What we can do and how we can support each other in our own personal change initiatives. For example, if you’ve communicated that we need a more skilled workforce to be competitive in the future. Discuss what training is available and how we can make time to obtain certificates and degrees.

 

Publicize and reward innovative, out of the box team work that help build and strengthen positive thinking alliances. Acknowledge those who are creatively solving problems that help move the department and the organization forward. Get out the pom-poms; change can be exciting!


 

Be the change you want to see in others. Take bold action steps. Walk the Talk. Make an extra effort to communicate with everyone at all levels. Dress for action…for success. (Even though the news from wall street may make us want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over our head, we don’t need to walk around looking as though we just rolled out of deep depression sleep). Try something new and talk about it, whether it worked or not. Just the action of attempting something new may propel others to take a risk. Network with others and freely share information. Mentor someone.


 

Although change and uncertainty may cause us to react unproductively or retreat, business and organizations continue to be in constant movement. So, no matter what changes come our way, we have to continue to march on in order to outpace the competition and be prepared for the next wave.

November 9th, 2011 Posted in Q & A | No Comments »

How do I build a resume that beats out the competition?

Your Resume: Illustrating Professional Growth and Achievement

Most companies are in business to make a profit through either providing better service than their competitors or making wise and calculated investment decisions. Therefore, businesses are only interested in having employees who can help them achieve these goals.

Your resume must show them that you can give them what they want.  Why else should they hire you?

A resume takes you only the first few steps toward that new job.  A poor resume can stop you dead in your tracks. It is a powerful marketing tool that introduces your skills and accomplishments to a potential employer.  It has to clearly, distinctly and single-handedly convey your strengths in order to survive the competition.  It is your road map to and through the interview and hiring process.

Your resume must speak loudly and clearly of your value as a potential employee. Resumes that are acted upon are those that demonstrate how well you can perform – one that focuses on your successes.

Businesses work by success. In other words, what have you successfully accomplished?  How did you contribute?  From entry-level to CEO, how did you impact the bottom-line?  Did you handle an overwhelming number of incoming calls, efficiently and effectively?  Did you master a computer application?  Did you turn around a troublesome department or division?

Your accomplishments differentiate you. Your accomplishments sell your potential.  Focusing on them tells the reader that you are results oriented, accomplished and a significant contributor.

Surviving the 7 Second Cut…
To survive the 7-second cut, your resume must grab the reader’s attention and tell them exactly how you can help the organization meet its bottom line.

BEFORE WRITING YOUR RESUME, ASK YOURSELF…
Hiring Managers are looking for individuals who can not only fulfill the functions of the position, but also resolve the day-to-day issues and challenges of the job to the best interest of the organization and their internal and external customers.

Before writing your resume put yourself in your potential employer’s shoes by asking yourself the following questions.  Write out your answers.  Provide detailed examples that reflect:

  1. The problem(s);
  2. Challenges to resolving the problem;
  3. Steps taken to resolve the problem;
  4. Quantifiable results

Can you provide complete and detailed examples of the different kinds of problems (i.e. people related, equipment/system related, organization related) that you solved on the job?

Can you provide complete and detailed example (problem, steps to resolve and results) of your most problematic project?

How did you turn-around a problematic project(s)?

How did the company benefit from your performance?

How did you do the job or resolve problem(s) differently and better than the person before you?

Did you introduce a new program or system?  If yes, what purpose did it serve and what were the results?

Did you save or earn money for the company?  If yes, how much? (Your answers can be in $$$ or %)

What were you most proud of at your former job?

What would your supervisors and co-workers say they would miss most about you when you leave? ( Rephrased:  What expertise do you possess that you could yourself a subject matter expert or what do you do differently than your co-workers or what do you individually contribute to a team effort?)

Have you led or work as part of a team?  (Example(s) should include how you managed that team so they worked cohesively and completed the project or how you worked as a team member)

Did you make any suggestions that streamlined a process or increased efficiency, profits, productivity, etc? (Include who and how you made this suggestion/s)

Did you sell a new concept, idea or procedure that was implemented?

Your ability to answer the above questions will help you create an accomplishment driven resume, as well as, formulate clear, concise answers during an interview.

September 5th, 2011 Posted in Q & A | No Comments »