Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Do Others Have a Negative Opinion About You?

I've known many job candidates who cannot figure out why they didn't get the job after what they considered to be a great interview. I've also heard from workers who don't understand why they don't get a promotion after receiving good marks from their bosses.

Why do these people fail to get the job or the promotion? New research may explain the reason.

Zakary Tormala and Aaron Snyder of the Stanford Graduate School of Business say their study reveals that when people are considering the pros and cons of a decision, their ambivalence makes them less likely to take action or be persuaded by someone. They explain that even a bit of negative information -- outweighed by positive points -- can tip the scales toward the negative.

I think this certainly backs up the opinion of many career experts that you want to ensure your interviewer or your boss don't have any doubts about you when it comes to making a decision.

So, it's always smart to ask an interviewer: "Is there anything that concerns or confuses you about me or my skills or abilities that I can address?"

Or, with a boss, you can ask: "Is there anything concerning you about me or my ability to do the job?"

You want to make sure that you're there to turn those negative opinions into positive ones. Make sure you show how any stumbles you might have had make you a better job candidate or worker because you've grown from the experience and will be able to put your learning to good use for the company and the boss.

What are some other ways to address negative information about you?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Merit Pay Raises: Why They're More Popular and How to Get One

If you're counting on a pay raise for next year, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

That's because despite greater competition for workers and a steadier economy, employers are re-thinking just who should get a pay boost -- and why.

According to an Aon Hewitt survey of 1,062 companies, an average of 12.5% of payroll is targeted for incentive and bonus pay in 2018. Two-thirds of the employers surveyed report they will use merit pay to reward workers who are doing a good job or those who need to improve. But 40% of those same employers say they plan to trim or eliminate pay boosts for low performers.

Further, some companies are going to raise the bar for high performance, with 15% of organizations say they will set higher targets for bonuses and incentive pay.

While some employers will continue their standard 2% to 3% annual pay raises for all employees, it may only be a matter of time before more organizations start to tie all employee raises directly to performance.

The message is clear: If you want a pay raise every year, you're going to have to ensure you hit important targets and make sure your boss knows it.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you go to work every day:

  • Be part of money conversations. Any time money is discussed, whether it's how to bring in new business, budgeting for a new project or cutting inefficiencies to save money, you need to take part. It doesn't matter if you're part of a key development team or a customer-service representative, you grow in value the minute you can help your employer make money or save money.
  • Solve a problem. Companies like Uber and Netflix were born out of a desire to solve a problem (finding better ways to get a ride or rent movies) and that's the kind of attitude that can quickly propel you into pay bonus land. What is a problem you deal with every day that irks customers, slows down processes or makes life more difficult for your boss? Try proposing ways to solve those problems -- even if the idea may seem a bit outlandish -- and you'll be seen as someone who has the company's best interests at heart.
  • Start shaking hands. Get out from behind your computer or work station and get to know people in other departments. Ask them what they do and their biggest problems. Could you do something to help? Could you collaborate to develop a better process or project? Use the same process with customers. What problems do they face that you could solve in the long term? Begin asking "why" questions and listen carefully -- do you hear a common theme that could lead to new opportunities for your company?
While such strategies may not lead to a performance bonus overnight, it's a good investment of your time that will help your company and enable you to develop the kind of skills that will certainly help your career now and in the long run.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to Unleash Creativity in a Team

When asked to describe the personality of a scientist, some might revert to the Sheldon Cooper stereotype made popular on “The Big Bang Theory” and describe an anti-social, uncreative, analytical and somewhat dull personality.
But Lina Echeverria knows better. As an engineer and scientist with a PhD in geology and more than 30 years of experience as a scientist and a senior manager at Corning, she knows that scientists aren’t dull or uncreative. She knows scientists like to jitterbug. And cook. And collect butterflies.
It’s those more creative attributes of scientists and other workers, she says, that help drive innovation in an organization – and too many companies and leaders are ignoring them to the detriment of the bottom line.
When Echeverria was at Corning, she was known for constantly asking team members how they felt about things, whether it was a project or hobbies in their life. Such conversations often led her to a better understanding of how to help her team members stretch and grow. She learned that technicians – who loved to cook gourmet meals – don’t always have to be assigned to technical roles, and can fit better into a human-relations role.
“Your hobbies let you be unrestrained,” she says. “That’s the same flow of energy you need at work to be innovative. A manager’s job is to discover what you have to offer and then let you unleash it.”
She says she encourages team members “to bring (read more here)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Technology Must Stop Being "People of No"

George Westerman thinks that IT leaders need to realize it’s time to change “from a caterpillar into a butterfly.”
Westerman isn’t referring to a change in wardrobe, but rather an evolution of IT leaders’ attitudes and actions.
“The market is moving so fast. Customer and employee expectations are changing so fast. If you do the incremental stuff, you’re going to be left behind,” says Westerman, a research scientist at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.
Westerman has spent much of the last decade pushing for IT managers to become senior partners in the business, to put behind them the “people of no” reputation that gets them shut out of innovation discussions.
“The first step is to stop talking like someone you wouldn’t want to talk to,” he says. “The next step is to start offering substantive solutions and delivering on those solutions.”
The best way to do that, he advises IT leaders, is to keep the conversation focused on value. That means doing “the right things at the right price at the right level of quality” and then moving into determining “how each project can deliver more value and more strategic power.”
Just a decade ago, the CIO was not generally regarded as a strategic leader, and there was a clear lack of IT and business alignment, finds the 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey by PwC. But the huge shift toward digital means that CEOs have embraced it as part of their mandate, the report finds, and technology is seen as a critical component to the business strategy as well as the business operations.
“I think increasingly the senior teams are tired of having technology people who are just technology people. They are really looking for technology people who understand where the business is going and help the business get there,” Westerman says.
That means that if a technology person wants to be involved in business (read more here)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Skill You Must Have No Matter Your Job

Many people believe that if they just get that college degree or industry certification, they will have no trouble finding a job.

They also believe that once they get their foot in the door, then they will continue to climb the ladder if they work hard.

If you believe the same, you are wrong.

Today, employers are looking for more than someone to write code or deal with customers. They are looking for those employees who show a greater awareness of how their behavior and interactions with others also impacts the bottom line.

Often referred to as "soft skills," employers want workers who know how to interact well with others, who won't act like buttheads and who can empathize with customers and colleagues. The reason for this emphasis on soft skills isn't just about being a nicer person -- your behavior is seen as a direct impact on a company's success. If you can't collaborate with others or get along with vendors or customers, then you're going to adversely affect a company's ability to be more innovative and competitive.

I don't care where you are in your career -- trying to get your first professional job or a seasoned worker with two decades of experience -- soft skills are critical if you want to get a job, keep a job or rise in the ranks of your company. Without such skills, be prepared to earn less, get less interesting assignments and possibly be forced out the door in favor of someone who does have soft skills.

Soft skills don't just happen overnight. You have to work on them every day, and be committed to making them just as important as your other job skills. Some things to focus on:

  • Seek out people who are different from you. It's easy to get along with people who work and act -- and even dress -- like you. But the only way to develop your interpersonal skills is to challenge yourself. Ask someone you don't know well -- or have clashed with in the past -- to have coffee or lunch. Spend time getting to know the person, and you will find yourself stretching your emotional boundaries in ways that will help you grow in your soft skills.
  • Be more positive. Maybe you don't look at the world with rose-colored glasses, and may even look down upon those who do. But who do you think is getting along better with customers and colleagues? Would it be you -- who rarely smiles, who gets impatient quickly and doesn't even say "good morning" -- or the person who is always friendly  and has a smile for others? Having a positive outlook not helps you get along better with your co-workers, but makes it easier for your boss to see you as having the right soft skills to take on big projects.
  • Breathe. Work can be stressful, no matter your job or title. That's why you may fire off a terse email to a co-worker than makes you sound like a real a**hole. Or, you ignore an invitation to lunch with some colleagues because you've got too much to do. Maybe you don't tell a co-worker you're sorry her cat died because, well, you've got problems, too! OK, it's time to take a deep breath. Wait a a while before you write that email. Go to lunch with your teammates and share some chicken wings and a laugh. Show a co-worker who has lost a beloved pet that you're not so self-absorbed that you don't recognize sorrow. Simply by taking time to breath before you act like a jerk can help you develop better soft skills.
Finally, soft skills aren't just something that will pay off for your career. You will also reap the benefits personally by developing deeper, more meaningful relationships that will help you see that you're not just a cog in the wheel -- you're someone who makes a difference in the lives of others. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Data

“In God we trust. All others must bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming.

Deming died in 1993, but the oft-quoted statistician and quality management guru’s words still ring true in today’s competitive environment where data is gaining more importance in business dealings.
Specifically, it’s estimated by IDC that worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will hit $203 billion in 2020, a significant jump from the $130.1 billion spent last year. That nearly 12% annual growth reflects the business shift toward data-driven decisions and the increasing availability of data.
But while businesses are showing no hesitation in beefing up data warehouses, does anyone really know what to do with all that data to make money now with what they currently possess?
Andrew Wells, CEO of Aspirent and co-author of “Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data Into Profit-Driving Strategies and Solutions” with Kathy Williams Chiang, believes too many companies do not.
The problem, he says, is that company leaders are issuing the wrong instructions to data scientists.
“In the old era of analytics, the analytics were clustered around the question,” Wells says. “The question helped you describe what was going on in the business.”
Today, leaders should instead make a decision—such as redesigning a website – and then collect the data to see if that’s a viable option or will cost too much money.
“A decision is actionable. It’s what you go do. So, you center your analytics (read more here)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Survey Reveals What CEO are Really Thinking About

Life would be much easier if you could read your CEO’s mind, wouldn’t it?
While that may not be possible, a new survey does shed light on what CEOs are thinking about every day, providing an insight into what your concerns and priorities should be now and in the future.
The survey by PwC of 1,379 CEOs around the world finds that these top leaders are confident about the prospects for business growth, with 38% of the CEOs responding that they’re optimistic about their company’s bottom line in the next year. Among American CEOs, 55% say that they’re looking for new M&A opportunities this year.
Still, that doesn’t mean CEOs aren’t concerned about remaining competitive, as the increasing globalization of business means they worry about economic uncertainty, overregulation and skills shortages.
 One of the ways that CEOs plan to stay competitive is through technology. Edward H. Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines Inc., says that “technology is our lifeblood. That’s our stream of innovation. That’s our R&D.”
Bastian says that because customers want to “be in more control of their experience,” technology is the way to make that happen.
Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor Co., agrees that technology is a game-changer for companies.
“I believe that there are a number of technologies that are going to change the way we live and work,” Fields says.
Tamara Ingram, CEO of J. Walter Thompson, says that while technology has “changed everything,” she believes that some things remain unaltered.
“What really remains the same is understanding and connecting human truth (read more here)