3 Ways You Can Become a Better Boss

Two of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and Professional Development/Skills. Many individuals want to be the boss, but it comes with a great deal of responsibility and risk. In many instances it requires constant learning and evolution. The following contributed post is entitled, 3 Ways You Can Become a Better Boss.

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Looking after your workforce can have many benefits for your business. If you have a high turnover rate, this could possibly mean that staff morale could be low due to the frequent number of employees that have been replaced amongst other things.

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As the owner of the business, the last thing you want is for this to reflect badly on your company. For this reason, you will need to be proactive in making sure you are giving your employees what they need to be able to the job well. And also enjoy the job they are being employe to do and want to stick with you.

A happy workforce has the potential to totally change your company’s fortune. After all, chances are, if you have people working for you, you realistically can’t do this all yourself. So what can you do to change the fortunes of your company by focussing on your employee’s needs?

Staff Training

Are you taking the time to properly train employees when they start work with your company? It can be tempting to rush training, especially if you need to replace employees quickly to keep things ticking over. But in short, this could harm you in the longer-term rather than help you.

Sending an under-qualified, under-trained member of staff to do something they are confident doing could have a detrimental effect on your company. Resulting in poor customer service, flouting of health and safety regulation and again, poor staff morale. Invest in their future with you and make sure they have been thoroughly trained to help them do what they need to do well.

Look After Their Emotional and Physical Well Being

Have you taken the time to get to know your employees and what they require to be able to work? A lot of people have different physical requirements to help them be able to do their jobs. Being able to accommodate this or make allowances or adaptations will make you feel that you care about them and have their best interests at heart.

Contracting a company such as Jobfit Health Group can help you provide healthcare for your staff including pre-hiring checks and workplace injury assessments. Making the health of your staff a priority will instil trust throughout your workforce.

Provide the Correct Equipment

Sure training the team is highly important, but so is making sure they have the correct tools for the job too. Employees can’t expect to do their jobs well without the correct equipment for what they need to. From the right, suitable safety clothing, to stationery, or even company cars to keep in touch with clients. People work better when they have everything they need to do their job easily. Unsure of what they need? Ask them! After all, they are the ones performing the job day after day, they will know what will make things easier for them.

At the same time, if what they need is more flexibility, can you see how you can offer this to. From the working parents who need to start at slightly altered working hours or even the option to work from home to reduce days taken off sick to those with health issues who struggle to do things able-bodied people take for granted.

Advancing Forward In Your Career

Two key focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and Professional Development/Skills. Everyone has to think about how to advance their career forward. Many people have the desire to do it, but don’t know how. The following contributed post is entitled, Advancing Forward In Your Career.

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There often comes a time in your employment that you get a little bored of your surroundings – your role may no longer challenge your abilities or interest you as it once did, and you may be unhappy with the amount of responsibility you have as well as the amount of money that you earn. Researching ways in which you can advance your career will aid you in opening up new opportunities for you to advance forward and reach new heights, and it couldn’t be easier to get started and improve yourself for the benefit of your employment situation. There are several simple tips that you can make the most of to ensure that you can break free from your dull 9-5 to reach ultimate job satisfaction in no time at all, so if you would like to find out more then read on for some of the best tried and tested steps that you can utilise now.

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Seek Out Extra Qualifications

One of the best things that you can do to enable yourself to reach your career goals is to seek out extra education and qualifications that you can add to your resume. Showing your commitment by heading back to school will allow future employers to see that you are dedicated to self improvement and willing to put in the time and effort to learn new skills and advance forward. Whether you decide to attend school full time to achieve an integrated design degree, or opt for a remote learning course that fits around your current lifestyle, just do a bit of research online to identify which pathway will best suit your current needs. Having those extra qualifications on your file may just give you the upper hand over another candidate, so it’s vital that you can grab any education opportunity with both hands.

Network Among The Right Circles

Another great concept that can really support you in advancing your career involves networking among the right circles to gain new industry connections. Getting yourself out there to build a positive reputation and meet with other professionals will allow you to essentially ‘get your foot in the door’, or get noticed by potential future employers. If just one of the reputable people you converse with sees your capabilities then they may decide to invest in your career and offer you guidance and support, so it’s definitely worth the effort you have to put in. Networking can be done in several different forms, such as visiting industry conferences and events, joining business groups on social media and blog sites, and so much more. You may have to work on your confidence before deciding to take up such a feat, as it requires you to strike up a conversation with many people that you might never have met before, whilst really selling yourself and pushing your own personal agenda.

Advancing forward in your career has never been so simple when you are able to make the most of the information detailed above.

How To Make Sure You Land The Job You Want

Three of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussions, General Education and Professional Skills/Development. The job hunt can be very competitive depending on your employment history, the current state of your field and location. If you can, you want to set yourself up to beat out the competition and have the best chance of getting the position you want. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Make Sure You Land The Job You Want.

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When it comes to our professional lives, it’s safe to say that we all want to work in a job that we’ll love. Not all of us get to have that luxury all of the time, unfortunately, but it’s certainly something that everyone looks for. Working takes up an awful lot of our time, after all.

It’s not just a case of picking a field and walking straight into it, as you probably know by now. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of skills looking to take your opportunity away from you. You have to, therefore, put the work in and show you’re better than those alongside you. It’s by no means a walk in the park, but it’s also not an impossible task.

If you’ve found something that you’d like to pursue and feel as though you need to up your game, then here are a few things you should probably do if you want to increase your chances of landing such a gig:

Do Your Research

If you know what you’re talking about, then you’re obviously going to have a better chance of getting the job. If you were to stumble into the interview with limited knowledge, then you’ll be laughed out of the room. You obviously know that you’ll need to know a thing or two about the job at hand, but you should probably go one further and research all kinds of finer details. Whether it’s regarding home building projects, or whether it’s to do with types of machine tools, learning more and more will only benefit you. Not only will it help during the interview, but it’s always nice to have those extra pieces of knowledge going forward.

Present Yourself Perfectly

We all know that there’s no such thing as perfection, but you can do your best to get darn near. If you want to impress potential employers, you’ll need to make sure you look the business! This means getting your resume spot-on and dressing to impress. If you get these initial steps right, then that stands you in good stead going forward.

In terms of the resume, you’ll obviously need to get all of the vital information written down. But you’ll also need to make sure that it’s attractive to the eyes, too. Many employers have been known to toss resumes in the trash if they look a little untidy! Be warned!

Practice Confidence

Yes, that’s right. In order to become a confident person, you need to drill it into your own head. Practice speaking in the mirror – this is a simple one, but it’s great if you want to get into the habit of confidently getting your words out. Constantly work, too. If you’re lounging around and doing very little, your overall confidence levels will drop. Your confidence in the field you’re looking towards will also dither.

Don’t Put One Place On A Pedestal

If you don’t get the job in the company that you were expecting, then that’s okay. There will have been lots of people vying for that role, too. Never put all your eggs into one basket – that’s a sure-fire way of being disappointed. If you have lots of different options with an equal amount of importance, then you’ll constantly be focused, and your chances of success will increase.

3 Reasons Not to Be Disheartened by Your Personal and Professional Setbacks

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Career Discussions and Professional Development/Skills. Most career tracks are not straight lines and do involve some adversity and setbacks. Reaching your goal will ultimately require perseverance. The following contributed post is entitled, 3 Reasons Not to Be Disheartened by Your Personal and Professional Setbacks.

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Whether in our personal or our professional lives, setbacks and failures are an unwelcome but ever-present reality and inevitability.

While, of course, success can and should be pursued and achieved, it is seldom ever won without a significant dose of trouble and challenge along the way. But one of the things that most consistently separates high-achievers from the rest of us, is that high-achievers know not to be disheartened by their personal and professional setbacks.

Here are a few reasons not to be disheartened by yours.

Because failures and setbacks are an excellent opportunity for addressing a weak point and improving for the next round

First and foremost, failures and setbacks identify some kind of weak point or error in your plan, system, approach, attitude, or business model.

On the one hand, you could allow those setbacks to completely crush your confidence and convince you that the particular weak point in question is insurmountable – but how accurate is this sentiment actually likely to be? And more importantly, how does it help you to give up all hope?

A much better and more productive approach is, instead, to treat your failures and setbacks as excellent learning opportunities that show you the way to strengthen and improve yourself or your business, so that when it’s time for the “next round,” you will be in a much better position to meet and overcome your challenges.

If, for example, you ended up in a situation where clients of your business were indebted to you and were in no way holding up their end of the bargain and actually paying, that could be a great lesson to outsource some elements of your business going forward and to utilise the services of a collection agency.

The most capable businesses and people are generally that way because they have systematically identified and addressed many weak points along the way.

Because your destiny is largely shaped by how you respond to circumstances and occurrences

There are always going to be things in life that are out of your direct control, but that nonetheless significantly affect you or your circumstances or environment.

That’s true for everyone. But it doesn’t do any good to sit around feeling sorry for yourself and complaining about circumstances that you can’t do much about.

When all is said and done, your destiny is primarily going to be shaped by how you choose to respond to circumstances and occurrences. There are always more and less proactive and empowered ways of dealing with things. Your challenges, then, are an opportunity for you to show and develop your character.

Because all the best stories ultimately include an element of adversity

We are all the protagonists of our own stories, and life should be an exciting, fulfilling, and gripping tale for each and every one of us.

So, when was the last time you heard or read a great story that didn’t include any element of adversity whatsoever?

In all likelihood, it’s impossible to find a story that anyone cares about where nothing challenging ever happens, and where no failures or setbacks are encountered by the protagonist. As a human being, you need challenges in order to keep life interesting, and to keep you on your toes.

Of course, some challenges and setbacks are going to be absolutely tragic, and it might feel completely inappropriate to use the metaphor of a “plot device” to refer to them. The point remains, though, that you are the one with the ability to shape the course of your life – of your story – largely by how you respond to the challenges that confront you.

Instead of allowing your challenges to break you, meet them in as heroic a way as possible, and write a story that can uplift others.

What Kind Of Masters Is For You?

Three of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussions, General Education and Professional/Skills. Many careers require education beyond the bachelor’s level. As such, many individuals pursue Masters degrees. Choosing the right degree is important as it will affect your career long-term. The following contributed post is entitled, What Kind Of Masters Is For You?

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When you’re looking at finishing college, or you’re thinking of further your education, you may find that you’re considering getting your master’s. However, the most important question of all, is often what should you study? Sometimes, it’s easy to work out – you may find that you want to follow your major. But it isn’t all that easy. Sometimes, you need some inspiration. Here are some great options to contend with.

Business

To start with, you may find that you could consider getting your Master’s in Business Administration. An MBA can be really handy for a lot of people that want to either move into the business field or get a professional career in the future. Whether this is right after a bachelors or not.

Education

Another really great idea is education. Sometimes, you just want to think about the way that you can further your intellectual career or shape a future generation. If you’re passionate about one topic in particular, then this could be the route for you.

Political Management

Then, we also have political management. This could be a really great master’s field for a number of candidates. There can be a huge benefit to a number of different industries and professionals, not just politics itself. These can include social media manager, attorney, intelligence analyst, public affairs specialist, marketing specialist, and communications director.

For more information on the master’s in political management, just take a look at the infographic below.


Infographic Design By George Washington University

How To Be More Successful In Your Job Search

Two key focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and Professional Development and Skills. Searching for a job can be one of the more difficult things you can ever do. There are keys to increasing your chances of finding the job (s) you want. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Be More Successful In Your Job Search.

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Going back into the world of recruitment can be a process and so much so that many of us will remain in a job we’ve lost a passion for. The idea of going through the process that involves securing a job can be tiring to just think about, but it has to be done when you are no longer feeling the role is for you. Here are some tips on how to be more successful in your job search.

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Look Again At Your Resume

Your resume carries a lot of weight when it comes to the very beginning of your application. A job can have many individuals who will apply, and it’s usually someone’s job to filter through the resumes. It’s important that yours stands out, and you may find that the current state of it can be improved. Take a look at your resume again and try to make improvements where possible. It could be that there are a few grammatical errors that need fixing or that you’ve missed out some skills that are vital for the role that you’re applying for. Try to do what you can to sell yourself in the best way, and hopefully, you’ll secure yourself an interview.

Seek Professional Guidance

There are a lot of resources and avenues that you can explore and take advantage of in order to give yourself the best opportunities. Nowadays, you have plenty of websites like Cornerstone Medical who will help in doing a lot of the work for you. By grouping all types of jobs under one website, it makes for much easier navigation. When you’re exploring a new career path, it’s good to seek professional advice and guidance where you can. Those who are in the current role you’re applying for or have done it previously can let you know what was needed or what can be done to improve your chances.

Be Detailed In Your Applications

Applications are where it really counts, and although resumes are important to work on, the application as a whole needs detail. Sometimes you may be required to write a cover letter or answer some initial questions as part of the vetting process. These may be put in place to weed out individuals who are simply not right for the role or don’t have the experience to answer such questions.

Work On Your Interview Technique

Interviews can be a very nerve-racking process, but they are what’s standing between you and the potential job offer. If you find that your interview technique needs improving or sometimes you lack confidence in what you’re trying to get across, practice. Practice makes perfect after all, and if you can give yourself plenty of prep time, then you are likely to walk into that interview, feeling more confident.

Not every role that you apply for is something you’ll suit, and sometimes the company is not the right fit for you. Be detailed in your application process, ask for help, and always work on your conversational skills to give yourself the best chance.

How to Improve the Ambience of Your Office

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. A key focus is Professional Development and Skills. No matter what kind of organization you’re running, managing and operating your office space is key. Your office space can impact your employee’s productivity both positively and negatively. The following contributed post is entitled, How to Improve the Ambience of Your Office.

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Your office is more than just a space to get some work done. It’s an extension of your company and plays a direct role in how well your employees are able to work. As such, it’s in your interests to cultivate a positive working environment. Not only will it make going to work more enjoyable for you and your staff, but it’ll also help to boost productivity, and help to give your visitors a positive impression of your business, too. We take a look at a few tried and tested methods for doing this below.

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Set the Tone

The ambience of the office stems from you, the boss. When you walk into an office, you can normally tell pretty quickly whether it’s a happy office or not. Whichever it is, it’ll be because of the person in charge. If you want to create a positive environment, then you’ll need to bring the positivity. The best way to do this is to work on yourself and make sure that you’re a good boss. If you’re viewing your staff as people, not robots, then you’ll be on the right path.

Hire Pleasant Employees

Of course, while you can help to create a pleasant environment, it’s worth remembering that your staff is going to have a big role in the overall atmosphere, too. You might do all you can to push it in the right direction, but if you have staff members who are not interested in bringing the positivity, then you’ll run into trouble. So how do you get around this? By hiring pleasant employees. Talent and experience do count for a lot, but they’d have to be pretty special if they’re not going to bring a cheery attitude, too. When it comes to interviewing, consider their ‘pleasant factor’ before offering the job. It really will have an impact on how nice the office can be.

Tidy and Spacious

Of course, you could hire the nicest people in the world, but if the office is dark, dingy, and dirty, then it’s not going to be a pleasant atmosphere. The people are only one component of the ambience. So take a look at making your space more enjoyable to be in by making it spacious and clean. You can add more space by getting rid of any old documents and other belongings that you don’t need (you can throw them away, or put them into storage). To keep things clean and tidy, hire a company such as Southern Cross Cleaning. They’ll ensure that your space is neat and organized, without disturbing your staff or operations.

A Touch of Color

Finally, take a look at the decor of the office. There’s nothing wrong with the old, boring grey decor, but there’s not a whole lot right with it, either. You can liven things up by adding some color to proceedings, be it through the choice of paint for the walls, works of art, or by adding plants and flowers. It’ll help to make the space especially inspiring.

Get Back to the Books

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. Three key focuses are Career Discussions, General Education and Professional Development and Skills. Once starting a career, everyone has to eventually decide what their next steps will be. Is there the potential for promotion at your current position? Should you switch organizations? Should you go back to school? The following contributed post is entitled, Get Back to the Books.

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You might find yourself wondering from time to time what the next steps are when it comes to your career. Are you going to stick at your job and work your way up the corporate ladder or take a chance on a whole new job.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and both carry a certain amount of risk. However, if neither of those options appeal there is a third way and that’s going back to school. We’re not talking about studying full time necessarily, there are a number of options but instead looking at ways to either boost the professional expertise of the field you’re already in or explore a new career.

In this blog we take a look at why training up might just be the right thing for you.

Professional Qualifications

If you’ve been waiting for promotion to come your way and it’s just not happening, now is the time to get proactive.

Take a look at some of the professional qualifications associated with your industry. Would taking a course and getting some more qualifications under your belt put you in a better position? Would gaining that Florida Contractors License pay off? If the answer is yes, it’s time to put yourself out there and back into the classroom.

Don’t waste your time doing qualifications just for the sake of them. Pick the ones that are recognised in your area and will allow you to leverage them for promotion or at the very least, better pay.

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Distance Learning

One of the biggest dilemmas about studying is squeezing it in around your working life. This is made particularly hard if the qualification has nothing to do with your current job. One of the best options you can consider is a distance learning course from a reputable education facility.

These courses often offer part time study that fits around your schedule. While you may need to travel to an exam centre once a year or so, that should be the only time off that you’ll need to schedule. While it often takes a little while longer to complete the course, the pressure of trying to get it all done in a short amount of time is off of your shoulders.

Consider this option a long term investment into your future.

Evening Classes

The final study option is evening classes. Use these to access higher education courses later on down the track. If you’re struggling to pay for your training, consider asking the company you work for help. If your course can, in any way, help you in your current position you may be able to persuade them to subsidise your study.

If that isn’t an option for you, you may find that many education centres offer bursaries and grants for more mature students or those studying for specific industries – nursing or education for example.

When you want to change your working world, think about how education might help you achieve your next goal.

Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Different things to different people

“The coaches at some of the other Yale Cup schools thought I had an unfair competitive advantage because of the intramural program I started at Hutch-Tech!”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. I originally published this series on the Examiner back in 2014 and have subsequently began adding to it. As a teen I dreamt of being a basketball player just like a lot of kids – a dream for which one must have lots of ability, drive, and luck to achieve. My experience turned out to be quite the adventure, and I didn’t formally play basketball beyond high school. The lessons I learned there however, not all of them happy and pleasant, helped me as I progressed into adulthood and into my Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career. As mentioned, when I began reposting this series, I’ve started working on an ambitious writing project chronicling my early basketball journey in Western New York.

If I’m able to get my project published, one of the things that will be special about it is that it’s a story involving real people. The project has required me to do multiple interviews. It has been both an interesting and fun experience. As noted by well-established authors like John U. Bacon, who has written numerous books on Michigan Football, some people are open to being interviewed and being characters in book projects, while others are reluctant. Some agree and then drop out of contact, while others are difficult to contact. As a writer I now understand why some names must be changed in the final story.

I consider my breakthrough interview to be that of Jason Rowe, which led to interviews with others, and I want to thank everyone who participated; some of whom I’ve never met personally. My interview with Jason was followed by an interview with Coach Pat Monti and then his star guards, Carlos Bradberry and Tim Winn. It’s been a fun ride with at least one more big interview on the way, so stay tuned.

One of the key figures in my story is Dr. Kenneth Leon Jones, who was the Head Coach of the Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team during my freshman, sophomore and junior years. Before he passed away at the end of 2018, Coach Jones told me that he was okay with being a character in my story. In my piece about his basketball camp, I discussed Coach Jones, what I learned from him and what he meant to me.

That was just my perspective though and I discovered many other points of view on Coach Jones in my research. I actually started learning of other peoples’ views of Coach Jones in my junior season where I hit some personal adversities. My struggles, in part, contributed to our team’s struggling and spiraling out of control that season. During my personal storm one classmate sought me out one day and told me that he disliked Coach Jones because he had ‘cut’ his brother years earlier. It was then that I realized that there were many backstories to Coach’s tenure at Hutch-Tech in addition to the successes he experienced my freshman year.

“Most of the time, when somebody is giving you orders and instructions, if you’re not emotionally ready – if you’ve got your mind on the wrong part, you’re not going to try as hard. You’re not going to be into it. You’re not going to absorb as much,” said a player I’ll call “Curtis” about Coach Jones in my interview with him. Curtis was the ‘engine’ that powered Coach Jones’ 1990-91 city and sectional championship team. He said a lot of powerful things during our interview, but this quote very much applies to the relationship between coaches and players, much which I experienced myself, or witnessed with teammates.

One of the cool things about working on a project where you’re interviewing multiple people is that you get to hear multiple points of view. Amazingly, my interviews for The Engineers revealed that Coach Jones was multiple things to multiple people. While there was a group of us who held him in high reverence, appreciated his teachings and the mentoring he gave us, he had several detractors as well. Again, he was multiple things to multiple people. His detractors fell into three groups, some of which might surprise you.

The first group consisted of some of the other coaches in our league called the “Yale Cup”, which was the league for all the Buffalo Public Schools. For those readers unfamiliar with the Yale Cup in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it consisted of fourteen schools. Three schools that no longer exist today are: Buffalo Traditional, Kensington and Seneca Vocational High School.

The Yale Cup was a poorly funded league which lacked a Junior Varsity (JV) program at all its schools to properly prepare its players for Varsity competition. Coach Jones and the Buffalo News called this a “feeder system”. The result was a 14-team league where all of the teams were run differently, and where all the coaches had varying levels of experience and interest. This led to drastically different levels of coaching and attention to detail. Some of the Varsity coaches (Coach Jones included), ran an informal JV program for no extra pay simply because there was a need for it.

We also played in outdated and antiquated facilities. Many of the gyms in the Yale Cup league looked like antiquated factory storage rooms with peeling paint and old industrial smells. Most of our gyms had solid white backboards without ‘break away’ rims. Only a few of the courts, like those at Grover Cleveland and McKinley for example, had ‘regulation-size’ courts with the proper dimensions. Our old little gym at Hutch-Tech was more of a small box than anything. Someone I interviewed recently jokingly said that Performing Arts’ gym resembled a bit of a bowling alley.

“The coaches at the other schools thought I had an unfair competitive advantage because of the intramural program I started at Hutch-Tech,” Coach Jones said during one of our interviews. He shared a lot of things with me that I didn’t know as a teen and probably wouldn’t have understood. There were so many layers – so many things happening at once surrounding the Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team in plain sight and behind the scenes. The same is true for Coach Jones’ two immediate successors who I’ll keep anonymous at this time.

One of the hallmarks of Coach Jones’ tenure at Hutch-Tech was his intramural program. The program was for all the boys in the school so that everyone could get taste of competition and where a champion was crowned. More specifically, it allowed Coach Jones to scout the talent in each class. It wasn’t something he was doing for extra pay, but instead it was something for the students and for the school.

“Some of Jones’ players played angry,” a former player also from Coach Jones’ city and sectional championship team who I’ll call “Pep”, said jokingly. My interview with Pep might be my favorite of all of the interviews I’ve done simply because I could hear that he was having so much fun talking about his playing days. In any case, Coach Jones’ second group of detractors were surprisingly on some of his rosters.

Before getting to Hutch-Tech, the program looked like a utopia from the outside. My research though revealed that there were several conflicts and perpetually hurt feelings involving some of Coach Jones’ players. In some instances, there were personality conflicts. In other instances, there were players who felt they had to prove themselves repeatedly and in general felt unappreciated. Some players felt that they didn’t play enough, and others didn’t play at all though they were given roster spots.

The third group of detractors were outside of the team, but in the student body. The individual who stands out the most for this group is the classmate described above, but there were others. The reality in life is that there are winners and losers, and there usually isn’t enough of everything to go around. This particularly applies to a basketball team where a coach can realistically keep up to 18 players, while only being able to play 8-10 regularly.

In short, not every kid at my school who wanted a roster spot got one, and there are any number of reasons for that. I may write another teaser-piece just on the criteria Coach Jones presented on his ‘invite list’. That’s right, during his tenure, you couldn’t just come out for the basketball team, you had to be invited. This cut a lot of kids out of the picture from the start even before having a chance to show him they could dribble the ball, make baskets, play defense or even run one of his offenses.

Why does this all matter? Like the entire story, it was a sample of what was to come throughout the rest of my life in college and then in the adult world. For some of us who earned roster spots and submitted to his coaching, Coach was father figure, a mentor and a leader. Others on his teams felt like his whipping boys and even underappreciated. Other students didn’t feel like they were given a fair chance to play. Some didn’t like his fundamentals-based way of teaching the game. Some of the other coaches in our Yale Cup league thought he was cheating.

This is why interscholastic sports are good teachers going forward in life. Two of the things you learn about in addition to your sport, are people and leadership – neither of which are easy aspects to manage. As a leader, whether it’s a coach, a college professor, a clergyman or a supervisor, not everyone sees you the same way. Depending on our backgrounds, our values, our individual natures, and where our minds are in seasons of our lives, our experiences with that person will vary, and in many instances, vary greatly. It’s also true that because we may see a given person differently, our truths may be different.

Whether it was the Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team, my research lab in graduate school, or now within the government agency I work in everyday, there were always individuals charged with leading larger groups or teams. Some people within those teams possess different levels and proficiencies at their crafts. All possess different levels of emotional intelligence. Some are better communicators than others, and some are just better team players than others.

“If I could go back, I would be just as demanding, but more understanding,” Coach Jones said to me several times during our talks. He knew that he drove his players hard and demanded a lot from us. He also concluded that he could’ve been a little more understanding of each player and what they were going through as each of us came from different homes and had different life struggles in our teens.

“If you look at that team that almost made it to Glens Falls, Coach Jones let that team do a lot, but that was all earned. He said, ‘Hey, I’ll let you shoot a three-pointer or a long jump shot outside the offense because I know that we’re playing good enough defense that we’re going to get a possession back,” said a former teammate named “Chris” who played under Coach Jones for four years. Chris was a captain on our team in my sophomore year and a true leader. Some of Coach Jones’ critics thought he was too restrictive and controlling of his teams, particularly on offense.

“When I went to college, I played Division III at the Coast Guard Academy. I didn’t play Varsity, but instead played on the equivalent of our JV squad. We played against a bunch of junior colleges and prep schools. I’ll say that I was able to shoot the ball a lot more,” Chris said. “I look back though, and I think if we were able to play defense like we did in high school, we would’ve been able to keep up with a bunch of those teams. So, shooting the ball wasn’t always the best policy.”

I’ll probably write another teaser-piece just talking about the program Coach Jones created at Hutch-Tech, but for now I’ll just say that if done right, while it can be rewarding, coaching isn’t easy. You must not only have to know your sport and its evolving nuances, but you must also assemble a team of players, develop them and get them to buy into a common goal. That isn’t easy as coaches must also play psychologist, in addition to a quasi-parent in some instances, especially for kids who don’t have fathers or who come from tumultuous homes.

This piece isn’t unique to Coach Jones. He was my coach. If you read my interview with Jason Rowe, Jason stated that while his Coach, Joe Cardinal, was highly scrutinized, his players loved him. Ironically, even though Coach Cardinal was highly criticized, his Bulls coincidentally made deep runs in the post-season play most years. The same is true for Coach Pat Monti who led the LaSalle basketball dynasty. During his 10-year run of dominance leading the LaSalle Explorers, there were numerous critiques about him and his program from the outside. Talking to him and his players on the inside was completely different though.

The first picture used for this post is the schedule for the 1989-90 Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pepsi-Cola of Western New York used to create cardboard schedules for the area high school teams in addition to hosting the Al Pastor Memorial Basketball Tournament for a select number of schools. It was Coach Jones’ second season at Hutch-Tech. I was an eighth grader looking to go into high school and was learning about Coach and his teams through my brother Amahl who was a sophomore that year and his Hutch-Tech yearbooks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup and State Tournaments
Niagara Falls basketball legend, Tim Winn, discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls basketball legend, Carlos Bradberry, discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls coaching legend, Pat Monti, discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

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Why You Should Always Respect Your Employees

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. Three key focuses Business/Entrepreneurship, Career Discussions and Professional Development and Skills. No matter what kind of organization or business you’re in, respecting your employees is critical. Your employees are doing the work on the ground level and your operations can falter if they aren’t giving it their all. The following contributed post is entitled, Why You Should Always Respect Your Employees.

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Image source Pixabay – CC0 Licence

Being respectful of your employees is vital if you are to maintain a cohesive team that buys into your business vision in order to help your startup thrive. Without a team with high morale, you may walk into the office every morning to view a sea of yawning faces and twiddling thumbs. You need to ensure that your staff are happy, positive and that there is a purposeful buzz in the office. As an employer, it is up to you to facilitate this. Mutual respect between boss and employee is crucial. Take a look at how you can foster a productive working relationship with your employees.

Training

It’s important that you invest in your team. By putting up some money and helping them improve their professional skill set, you are showing them how much you value them. Conduct professional development meetings with each staff member and construct a career plan. This may mean that they eventually leave your company to move to pastures new. This is natural. However, while they are your employee you can ensure that they are skilled up and apply this knowledge to your company. This means that you have the best staff working for you. Being valued means that your staff will feel more committed to your business vision because they will care more about your venture.

Environment

As a boss, you need to create a great environment in which to work. You may find that your newly leased office is a little drab, the beige carpet tiles are uninspiring and the walls are scuffed. In this sort of environment, your employees will lack the motivation to work. Whip out the white paint, get some local artwork on the walls, and add a splash of greenery to your workplace. This brings the outside in and can lift the mood of your team. Get rid of the old school desktop booths and swap these for collaborative meeting pods. Banish the tower computers, and allow your team to enjoy the luxury of neoprene sleeves for a swanky new set of high powered laptops. Giving your staff the equipment and tools to be productive as well as the environment in which to thrive will benefit the reputation of your business.

Communicate

Don’t be one of those elusive employers who is never seen in the office. Get out on the metaphorical shop floor and converse with your staff. Have a weekly briefing every Monday to discuss goals for the week and to allow your team to air their views. Ask their opinions on issues and act on great ideas. Send out a Friday email every week to celebrate successes and to namecheck those individuals who have gone the extra mile. This positive praise shows your team that you value them. Use a reward system of extra days off and meals out to incentivize your team.

Making the transition from employee to employer is tough. However, by following this guide, you can ensure that you get the most out of your team by fostering an environment of mutual respect. If you do ever experience any problems associated with any of your employees, remember there is help out there. Professionals like The Law Office of David H. Rosenberg can offer advice on further actions!