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.

 

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.

Are you a brand ambassador? And recruiters?

We often read blogs’ posts and articles that have branding as main focus. No, I’m not referring to employer branding but to the what so called “personal branding”. In short, personal branding is the process where a person is represented and represents a brand (in some cases you’d be officially called “brand ambassador”). The relationship between employees and brands has expanded its meaning and consequently its responsibilities. Your “personal branding shadow” (thanks to the presence of social media) it is not just confined to your personal network; actually, it could resonate louder and going beyond geographical boundaries.

Do you remember the time when someone explained you how to write a CV and what to include into the personal interest section? Here we are with the power of social media. Being a “brand ambassador” leads to give great importance to your hobbies and what you do in your spare time. The combination of your work, your social life and your hobbies creates your personal branding image. Some people have grown so much the personal part (personal interests) that have created their own job; think about the travel or fashion blogger (Youtubers situation is slightly different, but the result is very similar).

Now, what about recruiters? What about the brand ambassadors (at least, but not only) of the recruiting process? Thanks to Linkedin, we are all brand ambassadors (not only the recruiters) or at least we contribute to it. The boundary between personal and work life regarding the usage of social media is thinner for recruiters than other people. But is it only about employer and personal branding? I think that in the long run the scenario will be a bit different. Recruiters have their personal network and they enlarge it following and being followed by people who are interested in the brand they represent or simply the work for. So, when their network is enlarged, they become the perfect bridge between brands and prospects. Simply and (potentially) recruiters could eclipse the work of the placement agency. Again, being the “bridge” is true for everyone because everyone could be the brand ambassador; but for recruiters even more true: if you want to be in contact with a company the simplest way is contacting a recruiter. So, think about if you want, are or would like to be a brand ambassador… your company will be happy for that.

Industrial districts? Not only for 200 years ago!

…and If we’re really return to industrial districts? For those who are not familiar with the topic, the industrial district is a cluster of small and medium-sized companies located in a specific territory characterized by interconnections between themselves and social context where they are built. Industrial district is something that characterized industrial revolution,  but do not you think that might be part of the startups or the big tech world? Does it sound like Silicon Valley for example?

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Let me explain why this might seem to be the future.  In recent years there have been various initiatives that move what is the interest of the well-being within the company, going to move more and more to what happens externally. Obviously it is essential to go to improve the internal conditions of your employees:  simply for the fact that they spend most of their time on the farm or in the office; then for the same reason it is necessary, in my opinion, going to move to the outside world are the ones that move (  Organization intrusion?  ). If work life balance agenda is full of topics related to commuting, create lighter careers in terms of presence in the office (simply called flexible hours plan), industrial districts may be the answer. It’s because at the time of the industrial districts, companies also had an impact on such as programs of housing and neighborhood home- office. Designing your own branded – town clearly has costs and must be evaluated in the long term in terms of integration with the territory and daily life; it definitely could have a positive impact on corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Breaks at work? Please do not fill your office with TVs and video games

We often hear about how organizations can and should be more flexible, not only from the point of view of the processes and bureaucracy,  but also for activities that improve work atmosphere.
One trend is the so-called gamification, which is usage of games and playing techniques in work environments; gamification is actually a system that invest on games and simulations aiming to improve critical thinking and  people attitude.For me it is not enough. It is true that transforming working tasks and training sessions (at least part of them) can help; but what then changes quality of working life it is most of all something that goes away from the task-specific. Essentially there is a lack of spaces where you can leave room for creativity and personal expressions. Apart from large multinationals, there is not such space. If you think about it, even in schools there is recreation; so why workplaces shouldn’t have that? Please do not remind me lunch breaks, which satisfy a primary need, eating, not entertainment and enable creativity.

Diapositiva1For my idea of organization, system made up of people who have always strive for innovation, achievement of critical and collaboration, we should just consider distractions as strength (clearly if job performances are satisfactory and organization is mature from this point of view. If not, distractions becomes evasions from what should be done).  Let’s say that, a part from lunch breaks, you have give for example 30 minutes for creativity and freedom. No video games that many cognitive psychology studies established that do not allow to relax and creativity (there is a sort of brain freeze), but encourage reading, writing and liberal arts . Even watching television does not help  because it has same effects of video games. We just need spaces for painting, poetry and writing; I am definitely an indomitable romantic, but it would help to go also to develop cognitive skills maybe not used during that day. Do you remember left and right brain discourse? so, go for it!

Maintaining your work pace attitude even on holidays? Read how

This post is probably one of the most personal of this blog because it concerns an aspect of my professional life, borrowed since my college’s experience.
More than being referred to a work experience, I would suggest this kind of little trick that goes along with my work approach. There will be maybe readers that could think that it is not a trick but a normal workaholic approach; more than that, I think that could work for many. I would define it essentially a matter of maintaining an aggressive and costant approach in dealing with experiences with a high level of pace.
The approach consists in dedicating time (1 or 2 hours), even while traveling or during holidays, to stimulating your mind with work’s subject related thoughts/readings. Let’s say that this blog has been created also a bit to keep this aspect alive. Clearly when you spend two hours with that mindset even during weekends, this definitely allows you to think with a “calm and relaxed” mind to what has happened during your work week, to what are your next tasks and what you can propose as innovative approach/ideas. For example I usually read books, articles and watch videos that can be maintain high my attention to job related matters. Also just browsing educational catalogues of important universities, it helps to maintain fresh your mind.
Diapositiva1The first year that I realized the possibilities of this positive behavior was at university; specifically at the end of the first exams’ term I had a terrible headache because of the consequent discharge of tension. Definitely not a pleasant feeling; then, in following weeks when I started again classes at the university my approach was not really effective; it was not easy because after the break picking up again my pace was not easy. From that moment, I experimented that trick.
If you are not convinced, let’s try once and let me now.

Career downsizing? Only one case is accepted, the run-up strategy.

During last weeks I’ve been reading and hearing about a new phenomenon called “career downsizing“. It has been a recurring topic within my network and it emerged also during conversations with friends. In this case it is not the related to corporate restructuring that aims to reduce staff number but to an individual decision; which one? reducing work commitments. It is not related only to a specific job, but to whole career in order to put first personal life. It is typical consequence of living in bad work environment, excessive workload and stress accompained with a repetitive and anonymous job. There are mainly 2 types of downsizing: external and internal. First one is related to decide leaving a company and second is characterized by drastic reduction of work commitments in terms of dedication and engagement that means damage to career plans. Obviously I am not saying that’s wrong move, but several elements need to be addressed before taking that path. Firstly, I am surprised because my network is mainly composed by young professional who comes from a country where unemployment rate is around 13% (same levels of 1977); so, I feel to ask respect for who does not have a job. So quitting a job for living in a bad work environment, it is something that I cannot accept.

 

Diapositiva1Secondly, if you have studied for years and you decide to downgrade your  career after founding difficulties at first or second job , you have to be aware that you maybe are going to lose positions in career grid towards your peers. In order to recover, you need to work harder than past time; so downsizing only for having rest, it is a clear career suicide. So, as title says, only if you want to restart or give another pace to your career, downsizing can be a good idea but only if you are ready to work harder aiming to create a run-up strategy.

Here question arises, where does downsizing come from? actually it is something that does not “shock” me, but it is expected since years; universities teach you that you are going to “rock the world” straight after from your studies. This false- prophecies production create a huge displeasure when you face entry level jobs. Psychologically, downsizing is characterized by a defensive strategy, because quitting responsibilities keep you away from stress. Other aspects can be related to a not ready work attitude in terms of readiness to fight in complicated environments. Finally, all elements mentioned before (work environment, workload, stress, not interesting job) and also poor future career developments are cleary factors that determine career downsizing.

You maybe know that I am fan of fighting attitude at work, not against colleagues but against obstacles of your career, but run-up strategy is key for several careers’ blocks. And then, if done with courage and dedication, run-up strategy will boost your career and you will see effects in long run.

Work life balance initiatives? Most of times are for single

We often hear about work-life balance or how organizations are trying to balancing employees’ private life needs and work commitments. But are we sure that work-life balance strategies are working correctly?
If you think about your experience (fortunately not all organizations are like this), your company definitely has some programs that seek to improve this aspect ; your private life, right? Obviously in this post I’m not going to criticize companies that offer these initiatives, so far from that intention; we have to appreciate attempts but anyway we have to think more about how these programs really work.

Diapositiva1First examples that came to my mind  are discounts for certain activities, sports , chance to work from home or reduction of working time or the so-called fridays off . On the other hand , for the latter point, there is the whole issue of flexibility thanks to external connections to corporate mailboxes and smartphones, but this is another story. I would go instead to be focused on “who ” are beneficiaries of work-life balance programs , because the question arises right here. The fact is that all the programs mentioned above aim at the individual and often do not involve other people a part from individual organization contributor . It’s true that the number of singles exponentially is increasing , a clear example is Italy , but it seems that the work life balance programs are made only for singles !  I say so because collateral activities that involve friends, families or increasing quality of time off from work , are often absent, Simply , organizations should complete what are doing now with anything that can create real time for recovering , not something that get it busier . Promoting cinema discounts it is ok , but could a laundry subscription paid by company be better ? Or an help with houseworks ? It should just be something aiming to save time for you and people around you. For example, if you come home at 9.00 pm and you have to iron , where does the balance of your home – work go ? You change commitments from work to home ones, but you always have a commitment and you have less time for your loved. Clearly an attempt to “buy” time also works on gender lack of balance , specifically with regard to certain tasks that are often assigned to women (historically at least in the context of where I am; I do not agree obviously but it is another matter).

Organization must therefore help employees to save time promoting discounts for activities that maybe are not cool and appealing;  but how do you feel if you go home and your shirts are already ironed ?I know that you would like to have it already this evening with your pile of clothes to be ironed absolutely vanished and you can spend time in million different ways. This is something that will help you really relaxing, eliminating also “toxic” stress and being really recovered for following work days. A real work-life balance program.