2002 Handshake I-dition

The I-dition (Internet Edition) of the Handshake does not always include all articles published in the printed edition


The President's Corner

By Bob Worthy

Training: to instruct so as to make proficient or qualified

Yes, here we are again in that dreaded 'every-other-year' license renewal cycle. Naturally, there are some renewal requirements. I hear this story every other year.

"The State wants to get into my business and my pocket by telling me that I have to go to school to get more training. Not only that, but, I must get my technician certifications renewed as well. This means they must get more training too!! It doesn't do me any good, it only costs me money."

This person had at least enough education about the law to get his technicians certified. You would be surprised at how many companies don't know or refuse to do it. They are violating State law. When a company knowingly violates the law, the Attorney General's office has deemed every contract entered into, by that company, as "invalid." What is this company worth now?

I have yet to figure out why people fight education, fight becoming better at what they do, fight having an edge over their competition and fight having the most proficient and qualified technicians in the industry. It is proven that if education was not mandated, even as a limited requirement, most people would not make the effort to better themselves and their technicians. Although some companies are proactive about education within their organizations, others have the "get the most for the least" attitude. It shows in their companies as well.

Some of the recognizable signs are that they cannot hold onto employees. Employees have a yearning to better themselves. This usually calculates into a better wage once higher levels of proficiency are reached. However, an employee that is more proficient leads to more profit and less loss. If your employees do not have access to the required education, they will seek it out through different avenues, possibly your competitors, for instance. Companies having high false alarm ratios are not educated on years of studies that have been done on false alarm reduction efforts. Service problems stem from poor installation techniques, and the lack of education on troubleshooting compounds the problem. This calculates into high attrition rates as well as collection problems.

Companies that are still using yesterday's technology obviously have not taken the time to attend any one of the hundreds of seminars that are available, and if they do, they leave after the food is gone. To make fulfilling the requirement of continuing education as painless as possible, these companies go to any "free" class that is offered. I thought everyone despised that word in this industry. These companies compete against the "free" word everyday by telling their prospective client to be careful because "you get what you pay for" and yet they will go to a "free" class that evening. Go figure!

Times at the ECLB are changing. Many of those free and low cost classes do not meet the requirements for license renewals. Some classes are for license holders only, while other classes are for the initial technician certification and others are for technician renewals. CEU's do not meet any requirement in the State of Florida. The State of Florida requires CE's. There is a difference. Many of the courses that are on the market have expired from the State list of approved courses because the provider did not renew the course. If you take the course and it has expired, you will not get credit. You have wasted your time, you have wasted your money, and you probably will be fined by the State for not meeting the required amount of hours. There is no negotiation. It is your responsibility to make sure that you comply with the law.

There is a new four (4) hour required course for this year only. It is known as a "core" course. This course is required to be taken by every license holder from every trade in the State of Florida. It is about the new Florida Building Code. After this year the State is requiring that your class hours be electronically uploaded to the Board as you take the courses. Your hours will be up to date as you take them. You will be audited if the State does not receive the required amount to continuing education hours or "CE's." Are you sure the provider that gave you those "free" hours is going to be set up with the State to upload your information? Do those "out of state" providers even know about the upload requirement? Does that provider really care about you and your license? Sure he does. He is doing this all over the country for "free" out of the goodness of his heart and has all the time in the world to make sure you are protected with the licensing board. It is OK to listen to their sales pitch but all you are going to receive is a "night out."

You are a member of the Alarm Association of Florida. Training from the Association is a benefit to you as a member. The benefit is to ensure that you, as a member of the Association, are protected by offering State certified courses, offering courses that have not expired from the list of State approved courses, offering courses that are taught by State qualified instructors, develop new and updated courses as dictated by technology and code changes, filing and storing hardcopy records of the courses that you have taken through the AAF, upload all necessary documentation of your course attendance to the State of Florida, provide a state wide training program for easy access by you and your employees, provide certificates and state required badges for technicians, keep up to date training schedules on the Associations website and most importantly, provide trained, competent staff to handle all of your training questions and requirements. Besides our regular training schedule, watch for classes to be offered at the upcoming Electronic House Expo, as well as ADI Expos and the ISC East in Orlando, Florida.

There is a price for quality and reliability, but don't let that stop you. I put my money in the hands of the people that I can depend on to oversee my training requirements. That is why I train through the Alarm Association of Florida. Your license is your lifeline. Let the AAF help your protect it. So, lets get smart!! Call the AAF office today to schedule your required classes.

Public Safety Member of the Month - Phil Dailey of Coral Springs Police Department. Welcome aboard Phil and call upon us for any help you need. Good luck in your new position as alarm coordinator!

Board Member of the Month - Steve Moore. Steve recently hosted our budget committee meeting at his new Kissimmee facility and it was terrific. Steve conducts tours by appointment and it is very much worth the 'look'. Thanks again Steve, for your great hospitality!

Regular Member of the Month - Robert 'Dan' Lanier. Dan is one of those members who keeps a low profile, but has consistently and greatly supported the Alarm Association of Florida. His participation at all levels of this organization is appreciated and very much welcome. Dan, we salute you as a member and a dealer people can count on. Thank you Sir!

Associate Member of the Month - Roy Nilsen, Southeast Security Products. Roy took the time and made the effort to help the Association with business at our upcoming ISC event in August. Thanks for the assist Roy and our members look forward to doing more business with you!


FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR…..

Whenever I am in the office (usually all day every week day), I am astounded by the amount and frequency of telephone calls from contractors and potential contractors. They all center on the same theme. Licensing, certification and the items required to remain ahead of the curve. Most are very sincere in their inquiries and when we quote to them the state statutes regarding the requirements, they may have some vague understanding. However, when we break it out chapter and verse they are all at once appreciative and sometimes overwhelmed at what is required of them.

Because of our services to our members, there are no outrageous prices to pay (most courses are very competitive and quite reasonably priced for the membership) and most are frequently scheduled in their areas. The only complaint I hear is that when we are able to offer the full versions of these courses to members and non-members alike at certain venues, is that they are adverse to travel to that site.

For the past year we have offered to our members the opportunity to take many of the license CE's free of charge at the regional meetings. We employ this as one way to provide our members with useful and timely information and services. This is only fair that they as members receive this service for the effort they have made to participate actively in alarm industry.

The second method is to offer the courses in a 'one time only forum' over the course of two days (14 hours = 2 days of classroom time). This year you are fortunate. We are going to offer not only segmented classes (2,4, 6 hour segments) but also the total fourteen-hour course renewals at two international shows on two different dates. The first offering is at the Electronic House Exposition in Orlando March 6-8, 2002. The second is at the International Security Conference in Orlando August 14-16, 2002.

However, under these circumstances our investment is different for these classes. We must pay for materials, staff, classrooms, instructors and refreshments at these shows. While we have done our level best to make these courses available at reasonable prices and times for the last two years (and would like very much to offer them for free) we simply cannot. But all is not lost. Perhaps you can bring the family during this show. While they are at the parks, you can go to the shows and take your classes. Maybe even a tax advantage or two would be in order for these expenses.

I was astounded when one dealer informed me that he could not drive the two hours and stay over one night to complete his continuing education because "It was too far away!". To ignore the obvious advantages both educationally and financially under these terrific circumstances would be a real shame. Use all of this to your advantage. Maybe play a little golf at our show tournaments. After all, you can have some fun there too!

PLEASE VISIT OUR WEB SITE www.fla-alarms.org FOR THE LATEST CLASS SCHEDULES AND INDUSTRY INFORMATION.

Bob Neely - Executive Director, Alarm Association of Florida (Visit our website @ www.fla-alarms.org to download your registration forms today!)


WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP YOURSELF?

By Roy Pollack

" How much would you pay for a Government and Industry Relations person?
" How much would it cost you to hire a lobbyist?
" How much does it cost you when you are unaware of rules and laws governing your business?
" How hard is it to take 1 evening a month to attend a business related meeting to participate and learn about what will affect your livelihood?

Last fall the Automatic Fire Alarm Association, a competing trade organization, held a meeting in an attempt to reorganize and start up their Florida chapter again. I attended that meeting. Also in attendance were many fire alarm companies, along with several fire inspectors and plan reviewers.

When asked why these people didn't belong to the AAF, the response was typically the same, they didn't do burglar alarms and every AAF meeting was related to burglar alarms. I wondered what meeting they attended.

In December the Palm Beach Chapter of the AAF had Jeff Collins as a guest speaker from the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Division. He explained the new rules going into effect January 1, 2002 for runner response and UL requirements. There were about 15 alarm companies present.

The following month, January 2002, Lt. James Kersey of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Alarm Unit was the guest speaker. He spoke on the new proposed ordinance that is 99% guaranteed to be approved by the County Commissioners at their February or March meeting. 5 people attended. There are over 200 burglar alarm companies doing business in Palm Beach. I suppose nobody thinks it's important.

I contacted Larry Neubauer of the AFAA in mid January. I wanted to ask him if the AFAA would support an effort to raise the $5,000 sign and seal requirement for fire alarm plans. His response was the AFAA is a national organization and doesn't get involved in local issues. That would be for the local chapter to handle. I contacted the President of the Florida chapter, who didn't know that this was even an issue or that it should become one.

As any business, the AAF is competing for membership dollars. Where are you spending yours? Or are you spending any money to belong to any organization that provides timely, and up to date information? The AAF has been blamed for promoting the FASA/BASA legislation, and that is totally false. The AAF worked to get the proposed rule what it is today. It was a whole lot worse. The Board of Directors for the AAF meets regularly to discuss issues related to the entire industry. Most lately is the new state pool alarm regulation.

The AAF has a single individual on staff as the Executive Director, and two office assistants. It is impossible for Bob Neely himself to get to every town and city to find out what is happening locally. It is up to the local membership and volunteers who act as the regional directors to bring this information forward. I received the information about Palm Beach County from a friend at the Florida Fire Marshal's and Inspectors Association. This was passed on to the membership and a guest speaker was brought in to advise the membership about the issue.

But beyond the efforts of the volunteers, who themselves have full time jobs, and businesses to run just like you do, there is no mega infrastructure to support this. The AAF went that route and was nearly bankrupted 4 years ago. Not only is it embarrassing to have a meeting with only 4 people in attendance, but it also shows those that have worked so hard that the work is not appreciated. This can only happen so many times before the process collapses, and then there is none.

Each region of the AAF is struggling to find new blood, people with the vigor and vitality to step in and take over. Several regions have stopped holding their regular meetings for lack of attendance or the lack of an individual willing to step forward and take over the helm. If those fire alarm companies that don't belong to the AAF think it is only about burglar alarms, they haven't been around lately. If it is only about burglar alarms, it's probably because there are no fire companies in attendance asking questions, getting involved, or initiating the direction the AAF and its leadership should be going.

Outside of asking those of you that are not members to become members, we're not asking for money. Many times to some people money is a tremendous obstacle. Every region needs the involvement of its membership. One night a month isn't too much to ask. The two to three hours you spend at a regional meeting could mean more to you than that one sales call you need to put off in order to attend.

And if something happens you don't like, don't call the AAF office to complain. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem! Oh, and if you asked, "what new pool alarm regulation?" then I've made my point.


SALES & USE TAX ON BURGLAR AND FIRE ALARM

Please refer to this web site for updated information on the Sales and Use Tax on Burglar and Fire alarm monitoring, maintenance, security systems devices and other protection services. Updated Dec 6, 2001 Chapter 493.F.S.

http://sun6.dms.state.fl.us/dor/taxes/detective.html

Florida Department of Revenue, Taxpayer Services: Monday - Friday 8am - 5 pm; 1-800-352-3671 (In Florida only) 850 488-6800


The Organizational Personality & Organizational Performance

Vincent J. Natoli, Jr., DBA
(Copyright by Organizational Assessment, Inc. 2001. All Rights Reserved.)

Organizations, like people, have personalities but the traits are not necessarily the same because of the differences between organizations and people. While an organization has reporting relationships, people do not. Some traits, for example, authoritarianism and conformity, apply to both people and organizations while others, for example, employee participation, are unique to organizational hierarchies and do not apply to people.

5 Organizational Personality Traits

The organizational personality trait that is most relevant to organizations is authoritarianism. Herbert A. Simon, a social scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Economics, stated that authority is the mode of influence that distinguishes individuals' organizational from non-organizational behavior and authority gives an organization its formal structure. An organization chart, quite simply, is an authority structure whereby those in a position of authority have the formal power to distribute, withhold or retract economic benefits to those lower in the hierarchy. While not known to many, there is a formal psychological definition of authoritarianism and that is the 3 attitudinal clusters: aggression, submission and conventionalism. Organizations can be characterized as authoritarian if they have human resource (HR) practices scoring high on these 3 behaviors and non-authoritarian if they do not score high on all 3.

Punitiveness is the extent to which employers punish employees and punitiveness is related to authoritarianism because authoritarians control people by punishing them. An employer inclined to control employees with HR practices that punish them is more likely to rate high on punitiveness, and also authoritarianism, than an employer who controls employees through non-punitive practices.

Employee conformity is the extent to which employers move employees to their norms, that is, standards of behavior.

Employee participation is the extent to which employees share in the decision-making process. Employee participation ranges from relatively minimal where employers inform employees as to what is occurring in the organization, to relatively extensive, though unlikely in the United States, where employees sit on the board of directors and have influence in major organizational decisions.

Organizational socialization is the process by which employers acculturate employees to their norms, values and behaviors, although I sometimes use it to mean the extent to which employees are socialized or acculturated to the organization's norms, values and behaviors. Just as authoritarianism and punitiveness are related, employee participation and organizational socialization are related. Research shows that when people are given input to the decisions that affect them, they are more committed to those decisions so that if employees are given input to the norms, values and behaviors that affect them, they are more likely to be committed to those norms, values and behaviors and thereby be more highly socialized. The extent to which employees are socialized is important to employers because the more socialized they are, the fewer bureaucratic mechanisms are needed to control them.

3 Ways Organizations Gain Compliance

The organizational sociology literature states there are 3 types of organizations in terms of how they gain compliance of their members, or employees as in this case. Coercive organizations, such as prisons and custodial mental hospitals, are the most authoritarian and punitive, and least participative with the least socialized members, and gain compliance by force. At the other extreme, in terms of the personality traits of interest, are normative organizations such as religious institutions and charities. Normative organizations gain compliance of their members through common values, and normative organizations are the least authoritarian and punitive with the highest level of employee participation and organizational socialization. In between coercive and normative organizations are utilitarian, or remunerative, organizations which includes most businesses. Utilitarian organizations gain compliance of employees through the use of material rewards.

Employer Authoritarianism Outcomes

These 5 organizational personality traits are important to employers because over 60 organizational performance outcomes have been associated with them. Among the organizational outcomes associated with employer authoritarianism are: employee motivation and commitment; employee selection; employee complaints such as grievances, unionization, regulatory agency complaints and litigation; implementation of incentive plans; implementation of performance appraisals; empowerment; effectiveness of organizational change; productivity and effectiveness; organizational learning; coaching; employee need achievement; employee creativity; job enrichment programs; absenteeism; bullying; turnover; work stoppages; quality; and workplace violence.

Employer Punitiveness Outcomes

Among the organizational performance outcomes associated with employer punitiveness are: empowerment; performance appraisals; turnover; absenteeism; unlearning old behaviors; employee creativity; organizational learning; and productivity.

Employee Conformity Outcomes

Among the organizational performance outcomes associated with employee conformity are: organizational learning; role conflict; autonomy; job satisfaction; willingness to quit; organizational change; and employee involvement.

Employee Participation Outcomes

Among the organizational performance outcomes associated with employee participation are: productivity; organizational learning; organizational change; competitiveness; employee stress (which is related to health care costs); job satisfaction and commitment; employee creativity; employee performance; employee's sense of security; implementation of gain sharing programs; retaliation against whistle-blowers; absenteeism; turnover; morale; motivation; safety; and decision-making.

Organizational Socialization Outcomes

Among the organizational performance outcomes associated with organizational socialization are: turnover; discipline; organizational stability; retaliation against whistle-blowers; productivity; motivation; bureaucratic control; commitment and satisfaction; performance; and employee stress.

While the length of this article does not permit an extensive explanation of how these organizational personality traits lead to the outcomes, I will briefly explain some for illustrative purposes. Authoritarian employers who aggress against employees for refusing to submit to behavior the employer considers conventional, may find that the employee has a different concept of conventionalism and is not happy with the employer's aggression. Such unhappiness, depending on the extent, could lead employees to miss work, to quit, to produce a level of output the employee considers fair based on the workplace environment, to seek protection in the form of a union or litigation, to avoid risk-taking behavior, or, most drastically, to use violence as a form of redress. Similarly, participative employers have lower levels of employee stress because employees have more control over their work lives when they participate in the decisions that affect them; and, likewise, participative employers have employees who are more likely to show-up and not quit, and assume an ownership interest in their jobs with a greater concern for output.

5 Ways to Determine an Organization's Personality

There are 5 ways to determine where your organization stands in relation to other organizations on the personality traits of interest, particularly with respect to authoritarianism.
1- most obviously, is the law: if the employer's concept of conventionalism violates American legal standards, that is, American conventionalism, then your organization is probably too high, at least on the particular issue of concern.
2-standard American conventions.
3-industry or general business practices.
4-employee feedback.
5-benchmarking.

Organizational Personalities in Mergers and Re-Organizations

In addition to knowing where an organization stands compared to other organizations, in general, in order to improve its HR practices, it is also useful for an organization to know where it stands on the organizational personality dimensions to compare itself directly with another organization when considering a merger or acquisition. If an organization low on employee participation, for example, is considering merging with an organization that is high, it is less likely to have a successful merger than if the two organizations have a similar level. Similarly, it is useful to know where an organization's departments stand on the personality traits when an organization undergoes a re-organization and combines departments.

By optimizing the organizational personality, organizations can attain the more desirable HR outcomes. With respect to the trait of authoritarianism, there is a good reason to believe that employers can improve their behavior. The theoretical literature shows that authoritarians do not realize they are authoritarian and once apprised of their standing, authoritarians are often willing to change their behavior.

AUTHOR: Vincent J. Natoli, Jr., DBA, is the President of Organizational Assessment, Inc., the organizational personality experts, 805-379-9070, www.assessorgs.com, natoli@assessorgs.com, a Thousand Oaks, CA consulting firm that uses the organizational personality to improve organizational performance through organizational personality audits, supervisory training & employee selection.


REGIONAL REPORTS

Broward Region

The January meeting was called to order at 7:30 pm, with 15 in attendance, after having sandwiches and soft drinks. Many were absent due to training so Bob Worthy conducted the meeting.

The Palm Beach County Ordinance was discussed regarding the upcoming changes. Broward County is looking at changing its ordinance.

It was announced that all company license holders are going to need 14 hours of training including a 4-hour mandatory core course to renew their licenses. On Jan 23rd Broward County is holding its final core course in the plumbers hall on Andrews Avenue. The AAF will be offering classes at the Electronic House Expo in March and also at the ISC Show August 14-16 in Orlando.

The ISC Show was discussed, relating to the scheduled events, training and CE courses that will be available, as well as the trade show.

Bob Worthy spoke about inspections and enforcement regarding BASA, FASA, background checks and training.

Because there is no enforcement, people aren't doing FDLE checks, background checks nor the drug tests that are required by the State law and FASA and BASA.

Much discussion followed regarding numerous points including enforcement, licensing, unlicensed activity and penalties.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm.


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