Distractions at work: The good and the bad.

By Scotti Mizner – Senior Recruiter at Grafton Staffing

DistractionsEveryone has been distracted at least a couple times while at work. The casual conversation, a “ding” on your phone which causes you to read the newest alert, or some app on your phone that you get lost in for twenty minutes. With the advance of technology and smart phones, the list could really be endless for distractions in our daily lives.

Are all distractions bad?

We have all been in that place where you are working your hardest and not making progress. It’s frustrating. You’re not sure what else could be done to reach your goal. Maybe you are ready to throw in the towel and see who else can pick up your slack. You end up walking away from your desk, chatting with a co-worker, refilling your coffee, and doing anything other than what you are supposed to be doing at the moment.

You sit back down. Twenty minutes go by and all of a sudden something clicks. You use a different approach, and BOOM! You accomplished what you had been stuck on for the last three hours. Sometimes, walking away and taking a break can show you an angle that you hadn’t seen before. Maybe the distraction is what you needed at the moment.

On the other hand, you can also have distractions that eat up your day.

These don’t benefit you or your company. You find yourself reading the latest trending topic, then that branches out to another topic, then another. Now forty-five minutes have passed and you aren’t sure what you even read about.

To eliminate these distractions, you have to take stock of what is distracting you. Was it your phone or a co-worker?

By understanding what distracted you, you can start to put in place behaviors and habits to avoid those distractions. Was it your phone that distracted you when a notification went off? Turn off your notifications while at work. Then allow yourself to manually check your normal phone apps, but with a certain cut-off time, if your work allows.

Did you get stuck chatting it up with Kathy in the office? Two options there. Either avoid Kathy’s office like the plague (potentially offending to Kathy, just a heads up) or limit the time spent inside Kathy’s office. Go into her office with a plan of what business needs to be talked about, and set a time limit. If the business talk lasts the whole time, sorry Kathy, we can chat at lunch.

So… while distractions get a bad reputation, it’s the type of distraction and how we let it affect our day that can be the difference between a bad distraction, or maybe a good one. It is all about how we use the distraction to our advantage, and limiting the time spent on distractions. We must use our distractions and stay productive, instead of just wasting time counting down until the end of the day.

The longer you spend with a distraction, the longer the day is, and the less gets accomplished for the day.

Starting a conversation with people you don’t know.

By Jeff Hagen – President of Grafton Staffing

Starting a ConversationI recently celebrated my nine year Rotary anniversary. I remember going to the first meeting and feeling isolated and alone. Picture me walking into a room full of nearly 70 other people I didn’t know. Starting a conversation with people you don’t know can be an intimidating experience. It’s still a fear of mine, but here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. Always ask about them.

Generally, people like to talk about themselves and they’re an expert on the subject!

2. Find something about the situation you’re both in to comment on.

One of my most successful introductions had to do with a parking situation. A few times a year, there’s a big meeting of business leaders in downtown Kansas City. It was a cold, windy, wintry day, and I had to walk a block or so from the parking garage to event location. A gentleman was walking next to me. I turned to him and said, “I wish we were back in the suburbs today where we could park close to the building!” That conversation eventually lead to a couple of civic opportunities I wanted.

3. Always find someone to sit next to.

“Is this seat taken?” is probably the easiest way to start a conversation with someone. After that, it’s easy to ask about the speaker or event you are attending or the banquette chicken being served.

4. Hang out by the food or beverage area.

This works in situations where everybody seems to know everyone else. However, many people go get a beverage by themselves… so it’s a little easier to start a conversation. You don’t have to interrupt a conversation happening in a group. You can meet people quickly over something as simple as getting a drink.

5. Always keep your eyes up.

You aren’t the only one in the room looking for someone to talk to.

6. Use a wing man.

If you know one person in the group, approach them and say hi. They will introduce you to the person they’re talking with. Your wing man goes to get a beverage by themselves while you continue the conversation with the person you were introduced to. After your conversation is over, go find your wing man. Odds are they will make another introduction for you.

Always try to follow up with people after you meet them. Starting the conversation is just the first opportunity to get to know someone. Not everyone is going to end up being a great friend or business contact, but that isn’t the only objective. Most people I meet will become great resources for other people in my network.

Teamwork makes the dream work… cliché, but true.

By Kylie Fanning – Senior Recruiter at Grafton Staffing

Teamwork makes the dream work.As much as we like to play hero and accomplish things individually, we all run into situations and careers that don’t always allow that to happen. It’s a good thing because anyone can use help no matter what the situation is.

In the staffing industry, teamwork is huge, for a few different reasons.

Not every recruiter is a master at every skillset their clients require. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of getting the job done…  they can still provide their clients with the assets they need to succeed. Teamwork becomes vital at this point due to the nature of the business and how it works. Most of the clients that we work with aren’t sold by the recruiter. And the nitty gritty details of any job requirement can be deal breakers.

As a recruiter, we rely heavily on our sales and account managers to provide us the details needed to find the perfect fit for our open positions.

At Grafton, our workflow is nothing short of symbiotic.

Teamwork makes the dream work.Not only do the recruiters count on the account managers to get every little detail right, but they also have to be able to count on the recruiters to find the talent for their client’s needs. To us, teamwork means a lot more than a typical business. It’s vital that we have open communication and work together to find solutions to the things that Google can’t seem to give us the answers to.

It isn’t just necessary for our clients happiness, but also for our own internal staff as well. It provides each of us the opportunity to learn something new, to boost a fellow teammates confidence, and improve the morale of our company as a whole. As cliche as it sounds, teamwork really does make the dream work over the long hall.

Maintaining a Sense of Urgency

By Greg Dabbs – Business Development Manager at Grafton Staffing

Sense of UrgencyI think overall there has been an increase in a lack of sense of urgency in our culture. We relax and put things off. But we need to move things forward whether it be in our personal lives or our business lives. The lack of sense of urgency can lead to things like procrastination which is a part of human nature that I think everyone has experienced at some point.

Some people have it worse than others, but we all have fallen victim to procrastination at some point. Establishing a sense of urgency will help reduce this procrastination disease as well as other negatives.

Picture yourself returning to your office from lunch. You’ve been back for about an hour when you notice you didn’t have your wallet. You realize you’ve left it at the restaurant where you had lunch! Would you say, “I think I will wait until tomorrow to go by and see if they have it in the lost and found.” No, of course not. You would double time it to your car and get there as quickly as you could. You would embody the meaning of the phrase “lighting fast”.

That is the mentality you should have often. A sense of urgency with things in your personal and professional life.

There are many ways you can adopt and maintain a sense of urgency. Here are four that might help.

  1. Be proactive not reactive.
    If you’re thinking that there is something that needs to be done, then you probably need to do it. If you think there is something wrong, there probably is and you need to address it. Being proactive is related to urgency. If you feel like you’re in an emergency situation, then you’re being reactive, not proactive. Always have the urgency to be thinking about steps you can take now to move the deal forward or solve a problem and set yourself apart.
  2. Watch out for complacency.
    Don’t take things for granted. Don’t sit on your hands. These things lead to being complacent in your environment. Finding positive energy and being confident will help prevent this behavior. Make a decision and do it. Also, remember your own values and your company’s core values. This will help you stay on track.
  3. Live the phrase “why put off until tomorrow what you can do today”.
    Don’t say you will do it later. Strike the word “tomorrow” from your vocabulary and replace it with “today” and “now”. Always be thinking ahead and get things done sooner rather than later. Then interesting thing is that when you operate this way, you are able to relax more when the time is right.
  4. Incentivize yourself.
    Reward yourself for being ahead of the game. When you accomplish a goal in a timely manner, treat yourself to a steak dinner. Leverage your brain’s reward center because it feels good and will encourage you to do it again next time. If you meet your goals by the end of the week, go buy the thing you’ve been wanting to purchase.

There’s only so much time in the day. You need to be organized and prioritize your daily routine. Finding and maintaining a sense of urgency will help you knock things off your list and help you be successful. It will help you fly, move mountains, cross the deepest valleys. Store it, remember it, live it, breath it and recognize its power. It will serve you well.

Want to know more about Grafton? We’ve been making lots of changes.

By Jeff Hagen – President of Grafton Staffing

Jeff HagenFirst off, thanks to all our partners and employees in 2018. I enjoy this time of year. It’s great time to reflect and appreciate all the people who’ve influenced you. Change is a part of every organization, and Grafton saw plenty of change last year. I believe we made a few changes in 2018 that will help us achieve greater success in 2019.

New Website

We launched a new website in early 2018. It was great to update our corporate look. However, we’ve seen some real benefits on how people interact with us. Our new site is much more user friendly for people using mobile devices. We’ve seen much more traffic and applicants applying from those devices which benefits both our clients and candidates.

The site is also getting new content  every week through the stories on our blog. We now have three times the amount of people coming to our website each week. Candidates can read about success stories, or how we helped provide training to improve the skill sets of hundreds of employees. We’re a team that cares about their success. Clients have learned about how we partner and how we’ve offered some unique solutions to everyday issues.


I think at one point we thought culture change was a project. That it was going to be done at some point, and we could move onto another project. I was wrong. A culture of accountability is something that needs constant, every day attention. We’re getting better. We have a team that wants to be accountable and successful. Each week I have staff asking for reports, so they can compare numbers to last week/month. They’re driven to be better each week.

As we continue to offer additional training to our staff, it will be exciting to see how far each of them can grow. I’m looking forward to helping them get there.

Expanding our Footprint

Lots of changesGrafton has always been bigger than most people realize. Based on revenue, Grafton is in the top 15% of the largest staffing firms in the United States. Based on W2’s, Grafton is one of Kansas City’s largest employers. (For the most part, I’m okay flying under the radar.)

Kansas City will always be home, but now is the time for us to engage with clients across the United States. We have expertise in animal health, pharmaceuticals and engineering that could assist other partners outside of the Kansas City region. The technology and staff are in place to push forward and have a record 2019.

Thank you to everyone that was part of our success in 2018. We’re looking forward to working together in 2019!

The 22 Mile Hike for the 22: Veterans Honor Those Who Took Their Lives

Scotti Mizner

Post written by Scotti Mizner, Senior Recruiter

When you hear the number, “22,” what does it mean to you? An age? An athlete’s jersey number? A special date?

To veterans that number is something special, but unfortunately not in a good way.  The number 22 represents how many veterans take their own life every day.

That number actually refers to a study by the VA back in 2012. The study only included 21 states, and the actual range was 18-22 per day.

Nonetheless, veterans have taken this number to heart and it’s painful to all who serve or have served.

Out of all the veterans I know, each of them knows at least one person who has committed suicide.

Just in the first eight months of my military contract, I personally knew of two members who decided to take their own life.

Being the big family that the military is, everyone wants to help when needed. Veterans want other veterans to know that they’re there to speak with them or listen, even if they’ve only spoken a couple times. It’s a bond built among the services.

There have been multiple ways veterans have tried to spread the news of “The 22”.

There was the “22 push up for 22 days” event on social media. While more people were made aware of this number, and these people again offered their ears to those who needed it, the event didn’t last long.

22 with flag-800x800

The event now sweeping through veteran communities is the 22-mile hike for the 22.

This hike again brings recognition to the reality that 22 veterans a day commit suicide.

What this event also does is make a charitable donation to different veteran programs, allowing the specialist to help others.

The best thing about this event is it brings a group of veterans together and gives them the chance to make new connections with people who have the same interests.

At the same time, those veterans get the comfort and comradery of being around other veterans.

Sharing jokes and stories and, at least for a day, forgetting about things in their lives that may be distracting or uncomfortable.

Recently, Kansas City had its own 22-for-22 hike. A bitter Saturday morning in December.

There’s nothing like building new… and strengthening old… friendships on a cold and painful 22-mile hike.

The day is spent hiking to the veteran’s community project in Kansas City, an organization dedicated to building tiny homes for veterans. Check out their website here.

Some don’t want to spend their Saturday walking in that cold weather. But to others, helping out and building friendships is a perfect way to spend a Saturday. The veteran community is a very small one, but I’ve always known veterans to help other veterans like they were family.

If you would like to donate to the Kansas City Veteran Community Project, there is a GoFundMe page that has been set up for the 22-for-22 hike. You can find it here.

7 Benefits of Being a Partner vs. a Vendor

Greg DabbsPost written by Greg Dabbs, Business Development Manager

I have two words to share with you today: Partner and Vendor.

Most people are familiar with those words but many people don’t really think about the difference between the two and the importance of one versus the other.

Looking at it from a business perspective a vendor is someone or a company that exchanges goods and services for money…an order taker.

Being a partner is someone or a company who engages in a business relationship with another person or company and understands equal participation and being a resource and solutions provider.  The latter of the two, being a partner, is what truly drives your business relationships forward to success.

Below are 7 key components that highlight the benefits of being a partner vs a vendor:

1. Transparency and trust

People see the truth in you through your actions, personality, and in how genuine you are with them. Always be that way and reveal what you’re thinking and what you’re trying to accomplish. Be straightforward. Don’t hide anything. Maintain this approach and you’ll be well on your way to establishing transparency and trust. If you take these traits and establish a good foundation, then the business will grow and take care of itself.

2. Excellent communication

A good line of communication is essential when establishing and maintaining a good relationship with clients. Make sure you’re communicating the good, the bad and everything in between. Attention to detail is key. And don’t make assumptions. Always clarify to make sure you and your clients are on the same page.

3. Be engaged in learning the business and goals of your partners

handshakeDon’t just know what your client produces, manufactures or sells, but gain an understanding of what goals they’re trying to achieve.

Whether it be adding new product lines, acquisitions, growth goals etc. Get to know what is new and groovy going on with their business. That’s an easy way to show them how much you care.

4. Run toward problems, not away from them

Some people are afraid when problems, mistakes or challenges occur in a business relationship. The tendency might be to ignore it and hope it goes away.

You’ll create a stronger relationship if you own up to any mistakes you’ve made and fix them. Or help come up with solutions to problems that have nothing to do with you or your company.

Take the initiative to create a solution, leap out of your comfort zone and help make things better.

5. Measure and re-evaluate

Always measure your actions and results with clients. This includes re-evaluating what needs to be improved, changed, corrected…anything that can strengthen the bond and trust factors.

Don’t sit on your hands if something isn’t working or going the way you think it should. Be proactive in coming up with solutions and switching things up to avoid recurring issues.

6. No hidden agendas

Hidden agendas bring a truckload of negativity. Don’t ever engage in a conversation or go into a client meeting with a hidden agenda. Be straightforward and clear on what you want to say or accomplish.

7. Be a consultant and solutions provider

Go to your clients with something that sets you apart from everyone else. For example, what is the niche where you have the most knowledge and experience? Become the go-to person for your client. Be proactive in showing them how you can make their lives easier.

Make sure they know you’re always there for them. Good service and true authenticity is sometimes the No. 1 thing lacking in this world. Make it happen.

What other advice or thoughts do you have on partnerships vs. vendor relationships? We’d love to hear from you!

4 Pieces of Career Advice from Women in STEM

Jeff Hagen

Jeff Hagen

Post written by Jeff HagenStaffing Exec ◉ Educator ◉ Award Winning BBQ’r ◉ DIY Hack ◉ Rotarian

A few weeks ago Grafton had the privilege to sponsor a Women in STEM event at Wichita State University.

It was a great event that was well attended by both industry professionals and students.

BioKansas was able to secure four excellent panelists to share their career knowledge: Jennifer Akers – AccuWeather, Jessa Wright – ICM, Janet Twomey – Wichita State University, and Sheila O’Conner – NetApp.

Below is some of the great advice they shared that is helpful for anyone looking to make a change.

1. Network

If you’re uncomfortable networking, start by simply practicing. Everyone has heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”


Networking can be difficult for a lot of people. I know I wasn’t even comfortable with it for a long time.

I started by asking friends to introduce me to people and then we’d meet for lunch or coffee and have a conversation.

Today it is easier than ever. If you have difficulty networking, pick three people each day to reach out to on Linkedin.

Pick an old friend you haven’t talked to in years or find someone from the same industry and ask if they’d be open to meeting.

With a little practice and perseverance, you’ll quickly get better and expand your network.

2. Use mentors and sponsors

Mentors are a great asset for anyone. I’ve typically used them to help solve problems that I’m facing at work. However, they can and should be used for more than that.

Mentors can help you evaluate job opportunities as they get to know your strengths and weaknesses.

They have a 3rd party view that can help you determine if an opportunity fits your skillsets and matches an environment you’ll be successful in.

A sponsor is generally someone in your company that has influence and is willing to help you. They can assist you in getting key projects or obtaining promotions.

This type of relationship takes a long to time achieve but will be well worth it over the course of your career.

3. Be flexible

Careers don’t always have to take a linear path…in fact, they rarely do.

Some of the most successful people I know have worked in multiple industries and/or have changed positions to have completely different roles and responsibilities.

If a role seems interesting to you, look into it. People do a better job when they’re in a role they’re passionate about.

4. Use your peer group

A peer group could be people you went to school with or perhaps people you worked with in the past.

Whoever they are, make sure you have a group that can be honest with you. They should be able to give you constructive criticism.

There are choices you’re going to have to make in your career and you want them to be able to help you evaluate options. They should know you well enough to let you why you should take the next opportunity.

Be prepared, though. This group can, and should, be brutally honest with you, but that will help you make well-vetted decisions along your career journey.

Hopefully, you have some relationship with people in similar roles or perhaps people that you went to school with that are in similar points in life. These people can help you navigate career choices. They’ve seen other people in your situation.

Get out there and start networking! Soon you’ll be sharing stories of how “who you know” helped you succeed throughout your career!

8 Tips on How to Proactively Manage the “Little Things”

Greg DabbsPost written by Greg Dabbs, Business Development Manager

If you want to accomplish something big in your life or career, it’s important to remember all of the little things that need to happen along the way. Nobody achieves their goals by going directly from A to Z.

When it comes to your work, staying on task and being consistent with the little things gets you where you want to be every day. There’s so much to do…

Whether it’s the emails you need to send, the customer calls you need to make, the reports you need to complete, the fires you need to put out, the praise you give a coworker, the prompt follow-up you gave to the ten clients you interacted with that day, returning messages promptly, the positive attitude you filled the office with, the hands you shook, the meaningful conversations you had with clients getting to know and understand them, the office lunch you bought for everyone, the positive feedback you handed out, the problems you ran toward and fixed, or the thank you cards you sent to clients.

WHEW! That’s a lot, right?

It sure is, but all of these things you do consistently day in and day out help your business and help you achieve your daily goals.

eightHere are eight tips that will help you make sure you’re proactively taking care of all of the “little things”:

  1. Prepare your daily task/goal list the night before.
  2. Get to work early to review your list and make adjustments.
  3. Attack the most important things on your list that will move you and/or your business forward.
  4. Stay FOCUSED. Stay away from social media, too much office chatter and any other things that easily distract you.
  5. Be a good quarterback. We all have unexpected things that come up throughout the day that need to be addressed. It’s important we give ourselves permission to call audibles, adjust quickly, and enable ourselves to still get to our daily goal line.
  6. Manage your emails. Some people like to respond to emails that come through right away. Others take ten minutes every hour to deal with email. And others manage emails three times a day. Whatever approach you take, make sure you’re managing your emails…and not the other way around.
  7. Show gratitude. Write down three or four things at the end of the day that happened that went well. That simple step will help give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation.
  8. Finally, don’t forget to find laughter every day!

What other things do you do each day that help you stay on task and reach your goals? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Allow Yourself to be Coachable

Mike Bollinger

Mike Bollinger

Post written by Mike Bollinger, Operations and Business Development

Earth is home to over 7 billion people with a variety of different races, cultures, beliefs, etc. We’re all human beings with many differences based on a number of different aspects. That being said, there are also many things that people of all races and cultures have in common with one another.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and cover all of the differences/ similarities that the global human population consists of. I do want to highlight one similarity that I believe to be a very valuable trait that I consider to be an individual choice.

That trait is allowing oneself to be coachable.

We all have things that motivate us. Whether it be a hobby, our career, family, athletics or really anything that we as individuals hold a place of importance in our daily lives.

It’s safe to say that no matter what demographic background we come from, all people are striving to succeed in one aspect or another. Allowing oneself to be coachable plays a major role in our ability to not only achieve our goals or dreams but to also maintain greatness once we get there.

The world we live in today is changing on a daily basis. If we don’t allow ourselves to be to coachable, it’s only a matter of time before we fall behind or don’t  “keep up with the times”.


We’re wired to be naturally hesitant to change and to fear the unknown. Try to think of a time where an organization that you were a part of went through a period of change. There were probably 3 different categories your fellow peers ended up falling under:

  • Resistant
  • Undecided
  • Embracing

Those who were resistant were basically not allowing themselves to be coachable or open minded. As a result, they weren’t moving forward in their journey to achieve their goals.

The Undecided folks did what needed to be done to continue to be compliant with operating procedures, but did put in the necessary effort to become a top performer in the organization.

The embracers are the individuals who understand that change is inevitable. These individuals chose to roll with the punches and committed themselves to becoming subject matter experts to maximize their performance and abilities.

The point is that if we’re not constantly learning and adapting, the only place we can go is backward.

No matter what position we hold on the leaderboard, there is always something new we can learn to improve and take our game to a new level.

So remember, the next time you’re faced with change or something new, allow yourself to be open-minded to the opportunity to add a new skill to your toolbox.