ProTips

The E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals

(No. 12, November 2004)

 

A guide to this month’s edition

1. Welcome

2. ProTips for Professional Development

3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

4. Topic of the Month: How to Present Like a Pro: Part I

5. Quote of the Month

6. Ramblings

7. Announcements

 

Welcome

 

Welcome to Issue No. 12 of “ProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals.”

 

This month’s newsletter is filled with tips and thoughts to help with your professional development and to manage your business more profitably. My purpose is to stimulate your thinking; the industry benefits most when we all do our best.

 

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If you would like more information about any of the topics discussed in this newsletter, or have any thoughts you would like to share, call me at 510.881.9440, or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com.

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2. ProTips for Professional Development

 

Evaluations…It’s that time of year when you should start thinking about evaluations for the folks who report to you. Evaluations are an opportunity to show your staff how much you appreciate their hard work. If your company has a formal evaluation program, embrace it. If it doesn’t, don’t let that stop you; do evaluations anyway. Start pulling together the information you need to provide a thoughtful and useful evaluation. Remember, a good evaluation should be candid and helpful--never caustic and demeaning. Choose your words carefully to provide an overview of what the employee did well, what s/he can improve on, and what you would like to see accomplished throughout the next year. Done correctly, evaluations will benefit you and your staff and set the tone for a positive New Year, which is just around the corner.

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Evaluations…are not just for your staff; give yourself an evaluation. Once you’ve finished evaluating your staff, take some time--a good bit of time--to evaluate your own performance. At a minimum, it will be the basis for setting the next year’s goals. Be objective, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back where you deserve it, and identify how you can improve. You can’t improve if you refuse to acknowledge the places where you could touch things up a bit. Most important, your self-evaluation will provide a base to compare your perception of your performance with your boss’s perception. If you and your boss don’t see eye to eye, it’s time for a serious discussion; your future depends on it.

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Evaluations…Your boss also will benefit from your evaluation of her/his performance. I’m not kidding…take some time to evaluate your boss’s performance. You should use the same process as for all other performance evaluations. What did s/he do well, what can be improved, and what would you like done differently next year? By now, you probably think I’m crazy, but I think not. Even bosses want to be appreciated for their efforts. Now if you work for an ogre, your evaluation will identify exactly how not to act as a boss, but if you have a well-adjusted, self-confident boss--one you would like to emulate--the effort will probably be appreciated. Having said that, you’re on your own as to whether or not you share your finished evaluation with your boss.

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3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

Security...is not something you should take for granted. With all the talk about terrorism, security should pop into your mind from time to time. I only raise a red flag here; I’m not trying to strike fear into your heart. Terrorists may not be the perpetrators of acts of vengeance at your company, but an errant employee or a disgruntled customer may be. You provide a vital community service, and have a responsibility and an obligation to make your facilities and your equipment secure. If something does happen, the first thing you’ll be asked, once things get back to normal, is to provide your security plan. If you don’t have one, or the one you have wasn’t followed, there will be heck to pay. Do your company and your community a favor; make sure your facilities are secure at all times, and that your rolling stock is secure both when parked and on the road. You’ll rest easier at night.

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Lights on for safety…and I’m not just talking about headlights; I’m talking about the whole truck. Our business spans the day, from early morning until late in the evening, with some operations working around the clock. We work in the dark a lot. Make sure all your trucks, especially older ones, are highly visible. Buy the best and brightest lights and reflective tape on the market, and don’t skimp on quantity--the more lights the better. It should go without saying, but make sure you comply with all applicable laws. Gary Mosier, a nationally recognized safety expert, likes to see trucks “lit-up like a Christmas tree” when they are on the road. A well-lit truck just might prevent an accident, and may also limit your liability if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in one. Light up your trucks and make a statement about your company’s commitment to safety.

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High visibility is not just for trucks…it applies to your workers as well. A couple of months ago in my interview in this newsletter with Edward Maghakian, another well-known safety expert, Ed identified that employees not wearing high-visibility clothing were still an issue. No sooner did I finish writing the article than I saw a driver working around his truck wearing a t-shirt advertising some monster truck wheels. To begin with, he didn’t look professional. More importantly though, the t-shirt spoke loudly about the company’s lax attitude about safety. Employees should be wearing high-visibility clothing such as shirts and safety vests.

 

Get up a couple of hours earlier and go visit a few trucks each day. If the drivers are wearing high visibility clothing, comment positively on their safety attitude. If they are not, take the appropriate action. Wearing high visibility clothing is essential for the safety of your workers. Don’t let them leave home without it.

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4. Topic of the Month: How to Present like a Pro: Part I

From time to time during your career, you will be called upon to make a presentation. It might be for a rate increase, convincing a city council to accept your proposal, or to a group of employees you want to motivate to provide higher quality service. It doesn’t matter if the group is five or 50--the process is the same. You have to develop the presentation and then deliver it. If you keep a few simple things in mind, your presentation will be a success, and you’ll look like a pro.

First and foremost, remember that you are your presentation. Slides, visual aids, and props are there to serve you, but they are not the presentation. It’s easy these days to develop a glitzy slide or video show on your desktop computer, but be careful. Too much glitz can take away from your message. When crafting it, you want to adhere to the KIS principle…Keep it Simple. This is the time when less is more.

When you start to develop your presentation, take a few minutes to carefully construct your message. What is it you want your audience to remember? Are you trying to motivate or inspire them? Is this a call for action? What’s in it for them? Write out a few sentences that capture your message. Unless you clearly know what you want your audience to take away, you’ll have a difficult time pulling your presentation together.

Now with your message clearly in mind, write out the two or three main points that will get it across. “Ron,” you say, “I have a 20 or 30 minute presentation; I need more than two or three points.” Not so! If you cover too many points, your audience will get confused and you’ll lose them. Trust me on this one…your presentation will wander aimlessly if you don’t narrow it down. Remember, you’re trying to maintain your audience’s undivided attention. If you go a-wandering, so will they.

As you continue to build your presentation, keep asking yourself if each sentence--each word--helps get your message across. If it doesn’t, don’t use it. Like a good sauce, you have to keep reducing it until you have the essence of the flavors, or, in this instance, the essence of your message.

Now that your message is complete, it’s time to prepare it for delivery. I strongly suggest you write it out verbatim. This doesn’t mean you’re going to read it to the audience. The purpose here is to make sure you have covered all the points completely and that there are no holes. The writing process also plants your message firmly in your mind. As you write, more ideas--better ideas that will strengthen your presentation--will pop into your head.

The process of developing a presentation is no different than writing an article or a report. You have to write, edit, rewrite, and edit some more. You want the final product crafted to make the best use of the time you have to present, be it 10 minutes or 30 minutes. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll spend about two hours for every minute you speak. Now don’t get excited, the two-hour/minute rule also includes the time you’ll need to prepare your slides and rehearse your presentation. If you are going to use sophisticated visual aids or props, you may need even more time.

Now that your presentation is expertly crafted, it’s time to turn your attention to delivering it. Next month we’ll cover preparing slides (if you choose to use them), rehearsing, and other tips and techniques for How to Present Like a Pro.

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5. Quote of the Month

 

If you keep your mind sufficiently open, people will throw a lot of rubbish into it.

—William A. Orton, Author

 

I thought this was an interesting quote for our industry. I hope the author meant that you have to be discerning when taking in information. It’s up to you to turn the trash into treasure.

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6. Ramblings

 

On October 2, 2004, the California Refuse Removal Council (CRRC) held their 13th annual Truck and Mechanic’s Safety Road-e-o at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. If you haven’t been to one of these programs, you’re missing the fun of watching some of the best drivers in the industry apply their skills.

 

Hundreds of people attended the event, and dozens of drivers and mechanics participated in the contest. More than 20 associate members volunteered to be judges, along with my sons, Ron and Joel and me. It was awesome to watch the drivers up close, effortlessly maneuvering those big trucks with ease and grace through the serpentine, challenging obstacle course.

 

I started my career as a driver, and was pretty darn good at it (self-evaluation--be kind to yourself)! I could turn the truck on a dime and squeeze it into the tightest places. But that was a different time, with a much smaller truck--nothing like the big trucks in the Road-e-o. It seems the trucks we put on the road today just keep getting bigger and bigger. It’s a sign of the times, I guess. Bigger trucks equal bigger payloads.

 

I worked on the team that judged the offset drive-through obstacles, which is a set of gates barely wider than the truck. Once the driver gets through the first gate, s/he has to make a slight left turn, and then an immediate right turn to get through the second gate without hitting anything. It’s quite a challenge. Many drivers, the ones who are extremely skilled and at the top end of their profession, made it through without touching a thing.

 

This family event offers something for everyone. While the drivers and mechanics were competing, the children were whisked away to their own road-e-o where they were treated to games, prizes, and face painting. Each child received a raffle ticket for prizes, and went home with at least one gift. All this was made possible through the generous donations of the CRRC members and associates.

 

Once the contest was finished, we headed over to a sumptuous barbeque prepared by the CRRC’s venerable chef, Mark Figone, of East Bay Sanitary Company. Mark and his crew did a great job of making sure everyone had enough to eat. I didn’t ask Mark how much food he cooked, but can you imagine what it took to fill all those hungry garbage collectors and their families--a lot!

 

The day ended with awards ceremonies. The second and third place winners got a trophy and a certificate recognizing their achievement. The first place winner got a certificate of achievement and a beautiful leather jacket embroidered with the CRRC Truck Road-e-o logo. Best of all though, the first place winner got bragging rights to say, “I’m the best of the best!”

 

Thanks to John Rossi of South San Francisco Scavenger Company, the Road-e-o chair, and his committee for putting on a flawless event (John also won the Owners Driving Contest--who says owners can’t drive?) I’m sure John will agree, too, that the Road-e-o would not flow as smoothly as it does without the efforts of Trish Roath, CRRC Executive Director.

 

The CRRC Truck and Mechanic Safety Road-e-o is a terrific opportunity for companies to let their drivers know how much they appreciate their skills and professionalism. The next time a Truck Safety Road-e-o is in your neighborhood, check it out and support all those drivers who take pride in their profession. They are the backbone of our industry.

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7. Announcements

 

“ProTips, the E-newsletter For Waste Industry Professionals” is produced and distributed monthly by R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc. I encourage you to share it with your colleagues and friends. You may reproduce this electronic newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include the correct copyright notice (at the end of this newsletter), with a link to my website, http://www.protoconsulting.com.

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If you would like more information on any of the above topics, call me at 510.881.9440 or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com. Please visit my website at http://www.protoconsulting.com for more ideas on professional development and operational improvements.

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Your submissions are always welcome. Send them to ron@protoconsulting.com. If I use your submission, I’ll give you credit, unless you wish to remain anonymous. All submissions become the property of R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc., unless otherwise requested by the writer. (Sorry, that’s my lawyer friend).

 

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© Copyright 2004 Ronald J. Proto all rights reserved.