Defining your career path? You need to work on it

I often write about the importance of collaboration. It has been said that companies should invest and have invested in technology, projects and programs (for example team building or mentorship) to improve collaboration between and within teams. Technology has changed the way we collaborate and exchange information. Conference calls and emails have completely revolutionised our way of working.

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There is an aspect of your work that remains isolated and you should keep it isolated and personal.

What is it? Your career management. Receiving advice from colleagues or your manager is clearly important; however, your career path definition needs to be a personal investment and you cannot rely on collaboration. Managing your career path does not mean undermining colleagues or diminishing other people successes. Managing your career means creating your own path with your efforts. Take risks, join new teams, have different experiences and think about these experiences.

Do you want to be in contact with a recruiter? Do not use Facebook!

We can exchange and receive information in real-time; this dynamic and multiple sources’ network boosts innovation, knowledge sharing and relationships’ building.

The organisations have to embrace this revolution and their efforts are focused on (virtual) collaboration and cooperation. The results of this revolution brought also the organisations to be more open:  they have opened their doors to the external world. For example, the recruiting function has been affected by this cultural change; think about LinkedIn, the meetups and Glassdoor. You can search about the company using different media and get to know better the company culture. If you want to reach out a recruiter, it is super easy.

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So, why are you using Facebook? Why would you contact a recruiter via Facebook? Why would you move a contact from the professional level to the personal one? A recruiter might decide to do not answer a message. Additionally, your message might not show up because it has gone to the “spam folder”. So, I would not do it…and if you ask, the recruiters should not use Facebook to find candidates for the same reasons.

It is not always about the candidate

When you are a recruiter you know that you are providing a service; you have the mission of delivering a great service to your customers. Your customers are not only external ones (the candidates) but you have also internal clients (the business leaders and your team for example). However, the usual recruiter’s approach is focused only on the candidate experience. The candidate experience is the result of the interactions between the candidate and who is providing the service (the recruiter and/ or the interviewers). As it happens with other services, the attention to the details is fundamental to reach a good level of customer satisfaction. For example, the recruiter needs to provide a close support during the recruiting process, needs to be responsive and give to the candidates punctual and detailed feedback.

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As mentioned before, we must not forget who is providing the service; in this case, the recruiters and the interviewers. The candidates have surely their priorities and their needs; the business stakeholders (who are interviewers in this case) have them too. Providing a good service is linked to an old rule; no, the rule is not “the customer is always right”, because it is not true.  The old rule is treating other people like you’d like to be treated and understand the importance of a request. A request can come from the business or the candidate; as recruiter, you need to evaluate what is the most important one in that specific moment; it is not always the case that is the candidate’s one. It is just common sense approach based on mutual respect and prioritisation. The respect for the candidates, the interviewers, their commitments, their time, the recruiting needs and the respect of your time and priorities as recruiter are just a few things that you need to consider. It is true that the candidates choose a company also for what they have seen during a recruiting process; however, as recruiter, you need to remind yourself that a recruiting process is not only about the candidates.

 

Do you know the magical formula for being a great manager?

We usually hear that there is a magical formula to be a great manager. There are managers who adopt a very sympathetic approach and other ones who are much more demanding; there are managers who prefer to delegate and empower their teams.  On the contrary, there are other ones who prefer a direct and close supervision (the so-called micro –management style).

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Are we really sure that there is the magical formula for being great managers? Generalising is always difficult considering that organisations are made by people, the dynamics between employees, the structures and processes. However, there is something that all people managers should pay attention to.

What is it? As people manager, you need to adapt your managerial and leadership style considering the people of your team.

How can you do it? You need to know your team. Very well. It requires a lot of effort, time and energy; however, you need to discover more about your team members’ needs of supervision, coaching, freedom and collaboration.  Your role as manager is understanding and listening before doing things. For example, if one person of your team is extremely process oriented, is it worth checking if she/he is following the processes? Probably it should not be your priority as manager.

It is clear that each manager adopts one style or approach; however, people managers need to enable and empower their people following different and adaptive approaches. The secret? Before embracing a magical formula, you should know your team.

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.

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.

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.

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.