Transparency at work? You need it.

What is one of the most important values which create a positive organizational culture?
Transparency. As transparency, I mean having clarity about the organizational structure, the work streams, the career plans and the recruiting processes. Considering that organizations are open systems built by their employees, the transparency is the result of the human interactions and the processes’ implementation.

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You can create various social links with your team members, external stakeholders, colleagues of other departments and your manager. Let’s talk about the importance of the relationship with your manager. We always expect full transparency from our managers. As mentioned earlier, this transparency is related to the operational and the career management level. We expect transparency; however, are we always direct with our managers? I do not think that it is always the case.
If you do not have an open and direct relationship with your manager, I definitely advise having one. Why? It allows you to work with a greater confidence and it makes easier to discuss a mistake. Having an open dialogue enhances trust and empowerment for both sides. Creating this link allows you to manage and think about your career in a more responsible way.

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The data scientist self-promotion is like the hacker case.

The recruiting world is influenced by trends, temporary or medium-term ones, as it happens for other areas and departments of an organisation.

This post is not about any employer branding or talent acquisition strategy. I’d like to talk about a specific job title: the Data Scientist. Oh yes, we will talk about a job title, not a job profile. Why are we not talking about a job profile? The Data scientists have different expertise, skills and focus considering the organisations they work for. Another variable to be taken into account is the tech stack.  So, defining or discussing the job profile is extremely complicated.

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During the last two/three years, we’ve observed a surge of the need of data experts; it is especially true if we consider the Data Scientists, the insights’ experts. No problem so far, considering that companies discover their needs and try to fill the gaps looking at specific expertise into the labour market. The problem does not stem from the need to have one or many data scientists; the issue rises with respect to the research of this profile. Many professional who minimally work on the insights part are used to define themselves data scientists. It happens very often. If a professional manages data, the Data Scientist job title is listed on Linkedin. However, a Data Manager is not automatically a Data Scientist.

Do you remember when many software developers were used to defining themselves hackers?

We are in the same situation…. Data rhymes with Scientist as it happened with Software and Hacker.

 

Stop talking only about the candidate experience. There is much more!

Let’s start with a simple statement: the candidate experience is very important. However, we need to broaden our horizons. We need to talk about the customer journey when it comes to recruiting and employer value proposition. The customer journey is very important.

Why?

The first thing to consider is that the candidate experience is related to professionals who are already interested in your company. They might be already part of a recruiting process. Being exclusively focused on them leads to exclude an important part of the “market“. Following the advice of the best marketing or acquisition departments, we cannot forget the prospects (for example, the so-called passive candidates) or our customer base (the employees). Therefore, the organization must think about providing a service to them too.

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Then, the recruiting processes involve and request the commitment of professionals of the organization, not just the recruiting team. Therefore, all the participants in a recruiting process (for example the interviewers) are brand ambassadors   https://goo.gl/fBP0zM . We must not forget that organizations are not only the brand but people.

Finally, when a candidate accepts an offer becomes a customer of your organization. Moreover, the candidate, now employee, becomes also a brand ambassador. Organizations need to be aware of this conversion process and need to work to optimize it.

A prospect who becomes an employee through the recruiting process needs to be treated as unique. Why? The professional can decide whether to become a customer of your brand or continuing to be one of your customers, to convince others that your business and your brand are exceptional, refer friends and spreading the word about your brand…. We know that the word of mouth is still the best form of marketing and proposition. What about the candidates who have not been selected? You need to value them and treat them as the ones that accepted your offers. These candidates can be selected in another process, make referrals, being your customers and brand ambassadors.

A different approach to the candidate experience is definitely needed.

No respect for your time? Your organization has a problem.

We work in ecosystems where people and processes create unique and not replicable dynamics; in other words, what characterizes the life and the culture of an organization is completely different from what characterizes another one.  In order to being able to understand the environment and perform your tasks you need to balance your efforts between different dimensions. These aspects are technical ones (skills, tasks to be completed, your career progression), social (your team, the relationships with the business) and the political dynamics (relationship between teams, your manager). You need to find your balance while you manage your time.

Your time is critical to complete your tasks and matching your job’s responsibilities; however, you need to invest time in thinking about your career and your competencies. Time for yourself

It might be trivial to say but your time is the resource that vanishes and you can’t recover. Additionally, your time is a dimension that you cannot completely manage at work.  Why? Your time is managed and influenced by the business’ priorities, the demands of your manager, unexpected events and your team’s needs . Let’s say that in most cases you do not manage your time, you try to optimise it. Due to this fact you have to learn to respect the time that you have; however, optimising your time does not mean stressing it in order to rush your tasks. It is fundamental to think about the quality of your work and the time that it is needed for your job.

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One of the biggest organizational problems is that often there is a lack of respect of other people time. Are organizations ready to facilitate the balance between personal, team and process time management?  I do not think so. How many times happens to you to work with a colleague who asks for a meeting that ends with a 5 minutes chat? Or, when a process could be optimized but due to the logic of “we have always done like this” you waste precious time? In how many meetings you sit that are actually the update of last meeting and work to program the next one? I think we can list an endless list of examples where our time is threatened by the lack initiative, autonomy and entrepreneurship of other people or the organization setup.

When organizations and individuals will begin to be include as one of the main values the respect of the time, your organization will mature.

Time for yourself? No, you do not need to quit.

Taking time for yourself is not exactly what you are thinking of. No, I’m not saying that you need time off or you have to quit... well, that’s not a bad idea if you hate your job.

I often write about career management, career’s choices and which competencies you should have to be more effective at work. I have always been passionate about these topics and the ones related to the personal development and growth (learning, organization’s support and psychological concepts).

In order understand your career you need to invest time in a self-reflection exercise. You need to be consistent and organized; you can’t improvise.

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Why do you need to plan having this time? If you do not do it, you might end up thinking about your career when you are stressed or when you have done something wrong at work; if it is the case, the negative thoughts about yourself will distract you from having an objective evaluation and you will end up being over critical with yourself. Being constant and focused on this exercise will improve your approach to self-reflection, even if at the beginning it is going to be difficult and painful.

As mentioned before you can’t improvise. Why? You need quiet time and you need to be ready also at the emotional level.  You can’t rush it for 10 minutes in a middle of a busy day at work.  Your emotions, the stress and the lack of time could lead to hasty conclusions.  It is important to create your “lab” when you are alone with your thoughts.  Let’s say, you need at least 30 minutes a week; 30 minutes when you slow down and think. As I said in a recent post about curiosity, you should spend some time researching, studying and understanding. Give space to the curiosity about yourself. Give yourself time to think about it.

This self-reflection time is very important. More than you think. Try and let me know.

Being curious? Do not forget about it!

We often read articles about the skills and competencies that each professionals should have. It doesn’t matter in which field you are working on; nowadays, it is clearly important to have good analytical skills, being able to communicate well and navigate the politics of your organization.

We should consider the programming skills, not only for software development roles. Steve Jobs was used to say that everyone should be able to program. Why? Not because we need to be developers; we need to be able to program and writing software because it “will teach us how to think”. He was used to say the same thing about studying Law as different approach to reasoning. In other words, you should train yourself to think with a different mind-set.  To be honest, it reminded me what my high school teacher was used to say about Latin language. However,  I’d really like to invite all to watch Steve Jobs’ interview with Robert Cringely in 1995 … impressive accuracy in presenting scenarios that will happen 20 years later.

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That interview recently made me think about one subject that is very dear to me: curiosity. You will discover why very soon. Our curiosity is the engine of many of our actions and it is the energy that boosts our knowledge. And no, I do not mean the usual and trivial questions to ask to a recruiter at the end of an interview to show curiosity. You do not need only to show curiosity, you need to apply it.

Why is curiosity so important?  As said, it is the engine which drives us to improve. We discover something new thanks to our curiosity. If we are not curious, we’d never discover our areas of development. Doing research, the stress (or pleasure) of learning new things, reading, researching… These are the results of our curiosity. Acquiring knowledge is the result of curiosity.  However, curiosity is not only this.

Curiosity is asking ourselves why something went wrong. Beware that you need to be curious also when everything is going well; you do not need to stop this process of discovery. Trying to memorize and replicate some steps or mental processes is fundamental for your learning.  Curiosity is the mechanism that pushes you into difficult situations and it is also what pushes us to travel and discover new places.

Finally, the curiosity is desire to know other people. Understand them, do not understand them and try to understand why we are not understanding them.

Being curious comes for free… let me think about a MBA….

Swearing while presenting? I will not listen

I attended an event some time ago and one of the topic was about public speaking.  Specifically, the talk was about the tricks we can adopt in order to engage other people and having a focused audience.

Considering that having the attention of colleagues or other stakeholders is fundamental in any jobs, I was very interested in listening to the presenter. He was talking and I was listening. As the presentation continued, I started becoming too “familiar” with the concepts that he was explaining. The tricks and the examples used resonated too familiar How? Why? The presentation was very similar to one that I’ve listened to almost 5 years ago. Fine with it. Being original is not always easy (well, hard to say which of the two presentations was inspired by the other). I was not annoyed about the fact that I was listening to a very similar presentation; however, I started getting annoyed about the content he was going to present because I knew it.

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In essence, among the tricks presented in order to keep the attention of your audience, he suggested to swear. The reason? Swearing attracts the attention of the audience and breaks the status quo.  Let’s say that the goal is understandable, particularly if it is a lengthy presentation; however, in my opinion, it is not the way. The focus falls naturally. Normal. Nothing new. There are several work psychology studies that measure the so called attention span; on average, our attention span ranges between 45 minutes and 75 minutes. As said, after 5 years, I still do not agree with swearing just to keep the audience focused. Call me old fashioned on this; however, I simply prefer techniques which are more intelligent, simple and refined.

Alternatives? Clearly, try to present interesting topics. If you are not presenting exciting subjects, use images, examples or ask questions to the audience. Do not forget to create an interactive environment. Forget the bad words

Asking questions? It does not hurt you (much).

Making mistakes is a normal step with respect to the growth of any professional. There are many examples of entrepreneurs that have begun with a career or business plan, but then they have changed their paths.   Making mistakes allows you to make experience and realizing that there is another way or opportunity.

When you work into a positive organizational environment, your mistakes are interpreted as the chances for improvement or just a sign of commitment; there are other contexts where a mistake is stigmatized and who made the mistake is punished in some way.

In both cases, making mistakes affects our self-esteem. In other words, a mistake brings us to feel embarrassed and it is accompanied by stress which is of course not pleasant. We can feel down and inadequate. As I said before it is essential to experiment and make mistakes.  However there’s something we can do in order to try to avoid mistakes if we are not sure about a task/situation.

 

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The self-esteem is the powerful psychological aspect which allows us creating our personality and our status within our organization. In order to defend our status we do not want to show weaknesses to other members of the organization (or even to our colleagues). If this is the case, especially into very competitive environments, we tend to do not ask advice or guidance. It happens because the psychological mechanisms related to our self-esteem stop us in a self-defensive process. Of course, it would be good to ask for help or support before making a mistake.

In other words, it would be better to lower our defensive mind-set (ask for advice) in order to avoid the “destruction” of those (making a mistake). The mistakes have a stronger effect on our psychological well-being than asking questions. Again, making mistakes helps our growth; however, sometimes, you can ask without thinking of being judged.

This is not another post about time management!

Our behaviour at work is the result of the perceptions of the reality around us. For example,  the perceptions related to a particular work environment are different amongst the employees of the same organization. There are employees who find the work environment very enjoyable and other ones who hate it.

One important perception is the one related to “time”. Let’s start with a simple example. We usually feel that the time is flying while we’re doing something that we like. On the contrary, we have a completely different experience when we are part of something (task, project, activity) that does not stimulate us and/or does not boost our creativity. As a consequence,  it is difficult for a manager to interpret the individuals’ perception of time. Why? We interpret our roles/task/activities in a complete different ways.

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However, the managerial role is not tricky as for what I am going to describe now. Specifically, what is the perception of time with respect to success or failure?

Well, the whole thing becomes even more complicated and less generalizable than what said about the interesting (or not) tasks . The reaction towards the time spent to a complete an activity can be positive if you have completed something quickly; however, it can be perceived also positive if you have finally completed a task after a lot of time; why? you feel relieved.

 

Moreover, how much time we dedicate to the celebration of success or thinking about failures? Again, another perception and interpretation which depends on personality, attitude and also the work environment.

Yes. lt is very complicated. There are cases, such as in sales departments, where the achievements ( for example new deals) are celebrated. But, as the group celebrates, what is the achiever thinking? Is that celebration perceived as enough? Or is it needed more time for an individual (personal) self-reflection?  

Yes. It is complicated.  Your perception of the time is simply a fundamental dimension of your relationship with your job.

 

What’s the simplest thing to do for creating a collaborative team?

What’s the simplest thing to do for creating a collaborative team? I will tell you in a minute.

It happens often to read several articles about team building and collaboration; the fundamental elements which are usually presented as fundamental to create the “chemistry” are:trust, clear communication , clear goals and having an inspiring manager. In order to achieve this framework, organisations usually invest money for programs or specific initiatives. I imagine that it is happened to most of us to participate in offsites, social events or simple team meetings where your manager defines (or redefines) the team goals and/or the way of working.

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But, are these official occasions enough? Do they really create that needed chemistry? Probably they do, but not completely. The first reason is due to the fact that not all the organisations invest in this kind of initiatives . Secondly, even if they do,  there is a lack of continuous development which follows these events; in other words, there are not initiatives which follows the official event.
So, which is the simplest thing to do? Creating a culture of gratitude. Saying “thank you” when someone is working with you, saying “thanks” to your boss for the opportunities and supports are just few example. Recognition is fundamental in order to creating a good teamwork atmosphere and a needed collaboration…

Do you usually thanks people only when they have done something for you? Better to open up your horizon to create a better work framework.