Business Management

DCTC named one of the best online colleges for online Human Resource Programs

Dakota County Technical College was named as one of the best online HR programs in the country. You can read more at http://lnkd.in/7HRjkv. The HR program is a 17 credit certificate program which is available fully online. You can complete the certificate in as little as two semesters. The certificate entails both strategic and operational level functions expected of a human resource department. Courses include Human Resource Management, Business Law and Ethics, Training and Developing Employees, Managing Performance and Safety and Compliance Management. The program philosophy is to re-invent what human resources is all about using traditional, and not so traditional methods. HR has a neutral to negative reputation, and our program is meant to put the “human” in human resources. The program webpage is at http://www.dctc.edu/academics/programs-majors/business-management/supervisory-management/human-resource-development-certificate/. Please contact Scott Gunderson for more information at 651-423-8295 or scott.gunderson@dctc.edu.

Congratulations to la Loma Tamales and Los Garcia…

http://www.kare11.com/news/article/922041/396/MN-Hispanic-population-shot-up-75-in-decade

Seek a Mentor…and improve your personal and professional life

By Harold Torrence, Supervisory Management Instructor

Dakota County Technical College

Today’s workplace environment is increasingly complex and challenging for individuals who are trying to move up the career ladder, or simply trying to get a job. As we struggle to balance our personal lives and work, we can suddenly find ourselves feeling lonely in a jungle of unorganized thoughts and ideas.

When you are unclear and uncertain, finding the right path to the next level up can be very difficult. Because of our individualized human natures, we tend to keep our feelings and desires to ourselves. This reality can hinder our chances to identify and embrace new and better opportunities.

In a way, what we have is a choice between viewing the world with tunnel vision, or making a change so that we see things from a 360° perspective.

To gain a 360° outlook on your world, you will need support from people who can listen to you and provide honest, insightful feedback and ideas. What you need is a mentor. Look around and chances are you will discover that one or more of your friends, coworkers, family members, teachers and/or professional acquaintances fit the description.

Once you encounter a good potential match, don’t be afraid to ask that person to be your mentor. Formal and even informal mentoring can be indispensable in helping you reach  your personal and professional goals.

Students in Dakota County Technical College’s Multicultural Leadership program build mentoring relationships with individuals who are professionally and academically successful. Having established mentors gives them a solid understanding of what it takes to reach higher levels of performance both personally and professionally.

Jason Kelvie, a member of our multicultural leadership learning community, works for the city of Burnsville. Jason found that his mentor was extremely helpful in allowing him to understand his workplace relationships and improve his communication skills so that he could forge stronger bonds with his coworkers and managers.

“While this mentoring experience was happening, I was able to transition to a new and better career opportunity,” Jason explained. “My mentor’s examples helped me adapt my communication style with my new supervisor. My mentor also helped me see challenges and opportunities from a more positive outlook. As a result, I was able to establish a new friendship and expand my network of connections and resources.”

A trusting and well-structured mentoring relationship can help you uncover and reinforce your strengths, which will give you the power to reach your human capacity and potential. Something special and different happens when a mentor takes the time to listen attentively to your concerns, challenges and opportunities. This exercise alone can make you reframe your way of thinking. For example, you will almost certainly start replacing the word “problem” with “opportunity.”

When setting goals, we sometimes find it difficult to visualize a clear mental picture. However, when you start chatting and interacting with your mentor, all of a sudden you are able to understand yourself better and see new options and alternatives to get where you want to be.

Your priorities will dictate the kind of mentor you’ll need. You can seek a mentor for career enhancement or one that will focus on your personal development. What’s important to know is that you don’t need a sophisticated mentoring program to have a mentor.

Seeking someone who cares about your success and has a sincere interest in your future development is a personal decision with a tremendous professional impact. It’s never too late to change—so go ahead and start your lifelong mentoring journey.

What Happened to Loyalty?

Inspiring allegiance and dedication in your workforce

 by Scott Gunderson, Business & Management Department Chair

Dakota County Technical College

 As you know, Brett Favre finally decided to retire from the Minnesota Vikings—much to the chagrin of Green Bay Packer fans, me included. Some of us  remember Brett signing with the team in the 90s and how he said—and I quote, “I will retire as a Green Bay Packer.”

 I recall saying to myself, “Now that’s loyalty!”  We are in an age of free agents and transitional workforces, but you can still ask yourself why Brett apparently stabbed Packer fans in the back? It’s simple: He was loyal to himself and his own goals—not because of the money, but because he had a passion for football.

 Looking closer, we can wonder if Brett was the one who turned his back on Packer fans, or was Packer leadership simply peering into the future without seeing No. 4 anywhere on the horizon?

 Here’s my point. Many employers inadvertently cultivate disloyalty and disengagement in their employees, fueling bad attitudes and poor performance. This negative approach often drives good employees—the star performers and rainmakers—to leave the company because they don’t see a management structure that understands that contributing to employee success naturally promotes organizational success. In other words, you have to give a little to get a little.

 In my previous life as an operations manager, I had a good many supervisors. I remember one day when one of those supervisors refused to give an employee the day off because no one else was available to fill the shift. The employee came to me and complained about what he saw as a raw deal.

 After researching the situation, I found that the employee worked more voluntary overtime than anyone else in the company. This employee was consistently stepping up for the company and coming through in the clutch.  So how did we reward him? We denied him the day off.

 If I stood by and did nothing, I felt that the employee might just call in “sick,” leaving us in a worse predicament than if we had granted the day off in the first place. I also thought that the employee would most likely discontinue volunteering for overtime in the future. 

I’m guessing that you have encountered similar situations. The good news in this story is that the employee got the day off after all, and our supervisory staff learned a valuable lesson—you have to give a little to get a little.

 Too often, especially in a harsh economy, we can take the easy route and only look out for ourselves. This downturn will eventually turn around, but if we undervalue our employees and fail to show them the loyalty they deserve, we will find that it’s very difficult to turn them around. 

 One learning point the downturn has brought to light is that we have become a spoiled society. We constantly think, ME! ME! ME!—quite often at the expense of other people. The anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks just passed, causing me to remember how we came together as a country. For some companies, the current hard times are taking a terrible toll. Are we coming together as we did in the aftermath of 9/11, or are we just looking out for ourselves?

 I’m not advocating that a company go bankrupt because its leadership won’t make the tough decisions needed to ensure the organization’s survival. I am saying that we have more ways to weather this storm than just coming down hard on our employees, which could ultimately capsize a company just as effectively as a poor economy. 

 How can you tell if you have a culture of loyalty in your business? Watch what happens when your ship, i.e., your company, starts taking on water. Are your employees bailing out on the next available lifeboat, or are they busy bailing water to keep your ship afloat?

 At DCTC, we are seeing workers with 20 and 30 years of experience who are jobless even though their companies are still in existence. I am a proponent of the idea that seniority does not guarantee a job, results do. Having said that, what motivates a company to let good, experienced employees go? Some would say that those workers cost the most to keep on, but I contend that such an approach is shortsighted.

 Folks who stay with an organization for 20 and 30 years are the Baby Boomers who believe strongly in loyalty. They gave their best effort as a rule and took on extra shifts to help when needed. If we let them go and the economy rebounds as it surely will, how will we replace that lost knowledge, experience and loyalty? 

 What follow are some recommendations that employers should consider:

  1. Trust your employees first—and they will trust you. If you think providing tuition reimbursement will prompt an employee to leave for another job, what does that say about your approach to loyalty?
  2. Involve your employees in decisions that may affect staffing decisions. I have talked with many dislocated people who said they would have worked for short periods without pay to save their jobs.
  3. Meet your employees halfway. Remember that even though they work for you, your employees want to know their company is working to protect them. Where would any business be without loyal employees? More to the point, where do businesses end up that are not loyal to their employees?
  4. When an employee makes an honest mistake, even a costly mistake, ask yourself if you contributed to the mistake by not providing proper training or support.
  5.  Challenge employees and keep them engaged. Let them know the truth about the challenges the company is going through.  You may be surprised that they may have the ideas you are looking for.

 I have always trusted first and take people at their word. It’s up to them to cause me to think otherwise. Of course, I have been burned on more than one occasion, and maybe Brett Favre is a good example. But I’m thinking that I might just have the last laugh, because selfishness has no part in my life, any company or on the field—or, in my case now, in the classroom.

 Maybe I’m old school, or cut from a different mold. I do know that I’m an idealist. I believe that selfless behavior breeds selfless behavior. Selfish behavior breeds selfish behavior.

 If you would like to challenge my views, or would like answers to questions about the DCTC Business, Management for Technical Professionals and Supervisory Management or Individualized Studies programs, please contact me at scott.gunderson@dctc.edu.  

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A higher standard of leadership learning from Martin Luther King Jr.

by Harold Torrence

Leadership is a very complex concept that has been studied from ancient times to today. Even so, humanity has not yet overwhelmingly embraced a particular leadership model. The body of knowledge and the number of extraordinary leaders in the history of humankind is enormous, which makes trying to define leadership through multicultural lenses a titanic endeavor.

However, it is feasible to start learning from the life of someone who has been recognized by the world as a global leader, one with the heroic mission of creating a truly multicultural society. Such a leadership example can be found throughout the life of Martin Luther King Jr., a legendary transformational leader who changed history by creating and communicating a vision of a genuine multicultural society in the United States. Dr. King eloquently communicated this vision in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on Aug. 28, 1963.

To learn more about King’s legacy and core values, we need to examine his most important speeches and essays. His leadership framework will emerge in any attempt to understand the most important statements that shaped a guiding coalition dedicated to fulfilling the dream of a true multicultural society. One of the best resources for analysis is “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” edited by James M. Washington, who brilliantly compiled Dr. King’s most crucial writings.

King was a leader capable of creating a tremendously effective coalition of women and men who decided to stand up and fight for their human dignity. The civil rights movement did not happen overnight. It was the result of hard work and sacrifice. Ultimately, this historical movement was made possible due to the support and commitment from people of different races, cultures, religions and ages. Through their differences, they were united for a novel and common cause.

King explored in depth the concept of love and its Greek definitions, which are four: agape, storge, eros and philia. However, King emphasized the need to experience and give the most attention to the highest level of love – agape. “Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all men,” he wrote. “It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative.”

Moreover, individuals must first love themselves before they can love others. In this regard, King talked about self-respect. “We have a great opportunity in America to build here a great nation,” he wrote, “a nation where all men live together as brothers and respect the dignity and worth of all human personality.”
This vision statement is grounded on the concept of mutual respect, and this respect must start with the individual self. Individuals must respect themselves before they can respect others. The complexity of the human personality can only be understood if we have the willingness and courage to respect the dignity inherent in the life of every human being.

To overcome hatred and ignorance, leaders must develop morality as a vital core value of their leadership style. Self-worth and agape love are at the center of every individual experience in the vast realm of humanity. If we want to become true leaders in a multicultural society, we must possess these attributes. Fundamentally, we must develop a higher sense of spirituality to understand the highest purpose of life, which is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. This is easily the most difficult and highest standard ever reached by a human being. It requires completely removing our egotistical human nature and replacing it with the unlimited power of love.

Once you create a strong foundation based on agape love, morality and spirituality, you will gain a higher sense of self-respect and dignity with the discipline and courage to make the right decisions and take action. This is a lifelong process and, more than likely, each of us will experience some setbacks and some success.

Leadership is about taking action. This holiday season is the perfect time to demonstrate agape love to one another as we work together to embrace a better future.

Harold Torrence is a supervisory management instructor at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount.