The Bullseye - October 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In This Issue:
Survey Says: Recession Almost Over,
Alumni Update,
Confrontation in the Workplace,
Monthly Contest Winner,
Credit Card Companies: More Willing to Negotiate,
Network with Orion

Survey Says: Recession Almost Over

A new Federal Reserve study shows that US economic activity is beginning to stabilize. The survey, released on September 9th, indicated that all but one of the Fed’s 12 “regions” had begun to balance out. Most businesses in the regions were “cautiously positive” according to an AP press release. This survey aligned with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other financial analysts’ predictions that the economy has started to grow again.

Of the 12 regions, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Richmond, and San Francisco reported “signs of improvement,” and Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis and New York were, “stable or showing signs of stabilization.” The Dallas region communicated that economic activity had “firmed”. The only region to indicate a decline in economic activity was the St. Louis region. However, they did report that the decline had begun “moderating”.

Most of the Fed regions were “cautiously positive” about the economy and analysts were forecasting growth in the current July-September quarter at an annual rate of around 3-4%. This growth was expected from businesses loosening their grip on spending.

While the Fed stopped short of declaring a victory, they did state that economic activity was evening out and that inflation would remain “subdued for some time”. The central bank also cautioned that unemployment would remain high and that they would keep their interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future.

Alumni Update

I have used Orion’s services twice; once in October 2007 when I was hired as a Pace Technician for an oil & gas company; and the second time in the beginning of 2009. I was placed with Mafi-Trench Co. as a Field Service Engineer, and I started this new position in April 2009. 

I now work in natural gas separation and geothermal energy as a Field Service Engineer for Mafi-Trench. A typical day for me when I am in Houston is me at home and on call, which is roughly six months out of the year. When I am out on a job, my day consists of driving to the job site and meeting up with a prearranged contact to discuss the problems that are occurring with the machine or plc, and then working with the facility personnel to fix the problem, which could be either electrical or mechanical. My day can also start with a site visit, where I go through a check list and make sure that all the ducks are in a row, so that when the facility wants to start they should encounter only minimal difficulties.

Since being out of the military, I have never had a doubt of whether or not I made the right choice to separate. Even with the recession, I was able to get a job offer through Orion. All in all, if I could do it all over again, I would not change a thing.

- James Morreale, Field Service Engineer, Mafi-Trench Co.

 Do you have an update to share with us?  Did you get promoted, have a new addition to your family or any other news you’d like to share?  Click here to tell us about it.

Confrontation in The Workplace

Confrontation in the workplace is almost entirely unavoidable. A vast mix of personalities with different interests and opinions make up the modern workplace and create differences on a regular basis. Whether you are on the factory floor, chatting with a co-worker, or in a management meeting, these tips can help you get through confrontational situations.

An article titled “Dealing with Confrontations in the Workplace” on suggests  changing your perception of what confrontation is. First, start by realizing that conflict is not neccessarily a negative thing. It can actually be quite helpful if dealt with in an appropriate manner. Properly handling a confrontation should always make you a better employee, regardless of whether you are the confronter or confronted.

When confronting someone, start with the positives. Tell them the things that they do well, and let them know you respect them. Follow this initial conversation with your confrontational piece. When you let the person know what it is that is impeding their job performance, be sure to allow them a chance to speak. Sometimes you may not understand why a person does things a certain way and there may be a solution that meets both parties’ interests. Many times misunderstandings are resolved by obtaining more information. It is largely a learning process.

It is also important to deliver the information gently. Speaking with an accusatory tone or words will only put the receiver in a defensive mode. Asking the receiver’s opinion is also a valuable tactic to handle confrontation. If they were you, what would they do? How would they handle a particular situation? Perhaps they will begin to see your point of view and understand where you are coming from.

Matching communication style is also helpful in a confrontation. If you speak to someone using “big” words or saying things that don’t make sense to the receiver, they will not understand and will only become more argumentative.

An important way to accomplish less confrontation is to request instead of demand. If you would like to tell a coworker that you can’t stand listening to them bicker on the cell phone all day, phrase it in a way that asks rather than tells. Instead, say something like, “Do you think it would be possible for you to take cell phone calls in the break room rather than at your desk? I know that might be frustrating to you, but I really have a hard time concentrating when you are talking on the phone.”

Another helpful tip is to not use the word “you” first. When you are describing your feelings begin with “I” and let the party see how you feel and where you are coming from. If the confrontation starts with “you always do this,” the receiver will not feel as open because they perceive they are being criticized or reprimanded. A better way, for example, is to say, “I feel frustrated when the pencils are put on the top shelf, because I am short and cannot reach them.”

Finally, once the two parties have come to a resolve, be sure to reiterate what the solution is so that both of you are in agreement and know what needs to be done to move forward.

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Congratulations to This Month's Winner


Stephanie Ottey won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  
Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!.

Credit Card Companies: More Willing to Negotiate

Consumer stress has some credit card companies more willing to negotiate. Americans are losing jobs at a record pace, which is making it difficult for them to pay their credit cards on time, if at all. Enter the consumer advantage; banks and credit issuing companies are more willing to forgive some debt and even modify terms/interest in the cardholders favor. This is a change from years past where credit companies were unwilling to negotiate interest rates or find a happy medium with the cardholder.

The credit card companies are beginning to realize they stand to lose a significant amount of customers (and money) if they don’t ease their strict standards. That being said, don’t expect the companies to issue any statement advertising their new found flexibility. The companies fear that they will see an influx of customers lining up to settle their debts. Generally speaking, the most common negotiations include lowering interest rates or minimum monthly payments (for a period of time), waiving fees, or settling the debt for less than was owed.

According to an article titled “Banks Ease Burden Of Credit Card Debt,” in the Washington Post by Nancy Trejos, “industry executives confirmed that the practice is becoming more common as card issuers face a record percentage of charge-offs, giving up on collecting debts that consumers never repay. The charge-off rate on U.S. cards for July was 10.52%of balances, according to Moody's, which expects it to reach at least 12% in the middle of next year.”

In the same article, Nessa Feddis, vice president and senior counsel at the American Bankers Association, explained, "I think the credit card companies have learned from the mortgage problems the value to them and their customers of trying to work something out where it's appropriate and feasible."

Borrowers need only contact their credit card companies to determine their eligibility. Sometimes if the first line of contact is unable to negotiate, ask to speak to a supervisor. Be wary that forgiven debt can be taxable and can negatively impact a borrower’s credit for up to seven years. Credit scores can also be impacted when an account is asked or forced to close. It is important to weigh all options prior to making any decision.


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Network with Orion


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Click here to join Orion International's Alumni Group today.


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