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How To Supercharge Your Value In Your Organization

How To Supercharge Your Value In Your Organization

 

According to Jeff Bezos, being able to admit that you were wrong is the number one sign of high intelligence. Bezos surrounds himself with smart people so that he can achieve his objectives. How does he filter for smart people? He looks for people who can admit they are wrong and are willing to change their opinions. 

The ability to reconsider a problem that appeared to be solved is an excellent skill, suggesting someone is creative, open and flexible. People who are entrenched in their position don’t easily take in new information and are often resistant to trying a different idea. Being willing to change your mind, on the other hand, demonstrates intellectual curiosity and openness to new information, which is a good indicator of intelligence.

Believing in yourself and “sticking to your guns” are both valuable traits. But having the ability to reassess a situation and pivot is team-building gold.

Cultivate Intellectual Humility

In science, this ability to change one’s mind without ego-collapse is referred to as intellectual humility. According to research performed by Duke University, those who are willing to entertain the idea that they have made a mistake tend to make significantly better choices. 

The experiments measured:

  • how open people were to being wrong
  • how that affected their opinion of those with opposing views, and 
  • how well they’d understood the arguments. 

Those with low intellectual humility tended to attribute logical and personal failings to those who disagreed with them. This was despite having no evidence to back this up. Holding an opposing view doesn’t necessarily mean that one camp is misinformed. They also did more poorly at distinguishing speculation from facts. 

Stanford professor Bob Sutton described the trait of intellectual humility as “strong opinions, weakly held.” Being able to let go of an idea allows room for new ideas to flourish. Even if your original idea was the best, being able to put it on hold allows room for creativity, tweaking, objectivity and new connections. 

So ask yourself, what did you get wrong this week, this month, or this year? Even more importantly, what did you do to change it? Making mistakes is normal. Admitting them can be hard. Learning from them and applying the changes supercharges your value in any organization and is valuable in personal lives, too.

Listen to any heated argument and you are likely to hear anger, frustration and perhaps even personal attacks. You’ll witness people defending their positions with each person’s ego wanting to raise the stakes and declare himself or herself the “winner.” 

More intellectual humility would allow the participants to hear what is being said to them and run with new ideas with open minds to see the advantages and disadvantages. This might lead to compromise, a reversal of opinions or an informed decision to continue to disagree. 

It’s a personality trait that has tremendous value in the workplace, no matter what position you hold. Whether you are a candidate for a job, you’re making hiring decisions or you’re in a job you enjoy, your greatest strength is continuing to evolve and grow as an employee and a person

Say: “I Don’t Know”

In an early interview for the VP of product management position at Google, Sundar Pichai was asked what he thought of Gmail. After thinking for a moment, he answered: “I don’t know. I haven’t used it.”

It was an accurate, honest answer, without fluff — and a risky, but ultimately good answer, too, because Gmail had just been released that day. While others may have speculated or improvised a response based on hot air, Pichai was straightforward. He also got to the position of Google CEO.

It’s not always necessary to have a detailed answer, especially if it means making one up to please the listener. Admitting that you don’t know is an answer. Having the ability and willingness to find out is also valuable.

Why does this matter to you? 

Soft skills are increasingly important in today’s business world. We need people who can work in teams and communicate effectively, often in different states or countries, with different expectations and cultures. Emotional intelligence helps people convey information, share ideas and listen effectively, all of which stimulate the creativity that businesses need to survive and be flexible in a fast-moving world full of opportunity.

You don’t have to know everything or be able to do everything. Teams help us extend our abilities and knowledge and reach bigger goals. And that’s why being able to work in a team or lead a team is an incredible asset. Whether you are an employer or an employee, intellectual humility will make you a better team player, enhance your intellectual curiosity, and advance your career. 

Here’s to staying curious and seeking out answers when you don’t know. If you need help with some of life’s big questions about what’s next in your career, then make sure to talk to me. One of my “super powers” is guiding people through the unknown. It may seem like you’re alone sometimes, but let me reassure you that you’re not. Just message me on LinkedIn, and we’ll go from there.  

Michelle Restovich

Michelle Restovich

Senior Professional Recruiter

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.
Why Do Information Technology Projects Fail?

Why Do Information Technology Projects Fail?

IT is driving the 21st-century economy, but not all IT projects are meant to be. According to a 2017 report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 14 percent of all IT projects fail. Almost a third of successful projects did not meet their initial goals. More than 4 in 10 exceeded budget and nearly half blew their stated deadline. 

Address these six factors to maximize the success of your IT project:

  1. Deliver on the deadline
  2. Meet the set budget
  3. Fulfill the intended function
  4. Achieve use by clients
  5. Satisfy investors
  6. Meet the original goal

If your project fulfilled all six criteria, we can safely say it was a success. Trying to balance all six points can be challenging in the best of times. Using these criteria, however, we invite you to look at why so many IT projects fail, so you can avoid the same happening to yours.

Here’s what to do to meet all six factors. 

1. Define the project

What does the client want? Did the project manager understand the client’s needs? Too many projects fail due to misunderstandings and lack of communication. 

Before embarking on a project, allow no uncertainty regarding the project’s goal. The project creators must meet the people that will make it happen. Drifting project objectives are responsible for a whopping 36 percent of project failures. By avoiding misunderstandings and keeping everyone on the same page, you can limit failure significantly for an IT project.

2. Avoid leadership and management failure

Flexibility, excellent communication and effective management are vital. The development team must be able to think outside the box and come up with original and practical solutions for the problems they encounter. It’s also wise for progress to be measured and reviewed regularly.

Ignoring practical evidence in favor of following a profoundly optimistic and theoretically sound project plan is a recipe for failure. Theory rarely mirrors reality. Maintaining a goal-oriented attitude while respecting the original goals and needs of the client is a better way to go. 

Another vital aspect to take into account is how implicated the client or sponsors are in the project. According to the PMI report, 27 percent of tech projects failed due to sponsors pulling out. The leadership role for an IT project should involve keeping people up to date about the impact of the project and excited regarding its progress and its objectives.

3. Budget

Failure to balance a budget is another reason projects fail. The main factor affecting budgets is poor initial estimation.

The budget for any project is often thought of as an educated “guesstimate,” especially in the initial phases. Inexperienced managers tend to propose wildly optimistic project budgets. They often ignore the things that can and will go wrong on a project. Budgeters must look unflinchingly at this unpopular collection of problems, however, and adjust the budget accordingly.

Mining data for similar projects is a much better way to provide an estimate, so as to not depend on human perception. How long similar project took and what the costs were is a more accurate way to estimate the budget.

4. Hone time management skills

Lack of personnel, underestimating the time needed to bring the project to fruition, and even technical issues with data or equipment can delay a project. The sound of a clock ticking often proceeds the sound of nails hammered into the lid of an IT project.

Just as with budgeting, the best policy is to add what seems like extra time to the initial estimate. If things go without a hitch, the project will beat the deadline. The client will rejoice. If not, you’ll have some leeway to fix the situation before the deadline.

5. Motivate the teams 

Updating everyone involved in the project can be challenging. It can be unpleasant too, if the project encounters unexpected difficulties. However, project leaders must keep clients, team members, and specialists up-to-date and motivated throughout. 

Procrastination accounts for a massive 11 percent of all project failures. A successful IT project is one in which everyone understands the stage of the project and is moving in the same direction as everyone else.

Keep your eyes open and stare down those hard truths that accompany project planning. Here’s one that applies to almost any service: you can categorize most services as good, cheap or fast. At most, you can have two at once. Succeeding in an IT project means understanding that. It means being realistic about primary goals and their obstacles, likely or otherwise. It’s about measuring progress and keeping everyone involved on track. It means being realistic and trying to avoid the planning fallacy, which means that humans tend to underestimate time and costs and overestimate the benefits.

With paying attention to these factors, there’s a chance those failed IT projects could have been a success. How would those projects impact our world? 

Are you an IT professional with management and leadership skills who wants to breathe life into valuable IT projects? Contact me at Concero Technology Group. We’ll help you find a place where you can be part of a successful team. 

Blair Turley

Blair Turley

Senior Professional Recruiter

Watch Blair’s spotlight or connect with him on LinkedIn 

How to Overcome The Task Switching Problem

How to Overcome The Task Switching Problem

Before entering into the subject of task switching, we need to talk about multitasking. Multitasking is performing different tasks simultaneously. Many professionals believe they are multitasking when, in fact, they are task switching. Neither is great for productivity. 

According to the American Psychological Association, three types of multitasking exist.

Classic multitasking: this is when you are genuinely performing more than one task at once. An example of this is talking on the phone while making notes. This works.

Rapid task switching: this means moving quickly from one task to another. Translating could be described as an activity that involves rapid task switching.

Interrupted task switching: here you are moving from one task to another while the initial task is still pending. This is what most of us are doing when we think we are multitasking.

None of us are immune to task switching or problem switching. The problem is that it’s estimated that only two out of 100 people can do it well. The vast majority of us are losing productivity. Our brains can’t maintain focus for long periods without wandering. And the problem is anything but benign. Task switching can cost us up to 80 percent of our productive time, according to celebrated computer scientist and psychologist Gerald Weinberg.

Inc., estimates the cost of lost productivity due to multitasking at $450 billion! While the costs of individuals task switching are usually almost invisible, the problems become clearer when we consider that most people require around 25 minutes to recover from an interruption. Heavy task switchers can temporarily lower their IQs by as much as 15 points. Task switchers tend to complete work more slowly and make more mistakes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, task switching is one of the leading causes of stress in the workplace. Its related effects include deteriorating health and lack of work satisfaction.

Internal and external task switching

Internal causes of task switching include email alerts or text messages. Even taking a few seconds to check social media can cost you more productivity than you realize because you are allowing the erosion of your concentration. External factors include being interrupted by a colleague. It’s nice to be asked if you want a cup of coffee, but imagine if you could get through the day with killer focus instead.

After an interruption, it takes most people at least a few minutes to resume previous levels of concentration. If interruptions are successive and continuous, we end up redirecting our attention continuously too, which can lead to exhaustion and underperformance.

Limiting the effects of task switching

  • Group relevant tasks: task switching might be inevitable, but its effects can be regulated if we group relevant tasks. This allows the brain to stay in touch with the task at hand, moving flawlessly between closely related activities. For example, when writing an article about birds, you may switch to performing the relevant research from time to time. It’s still task switching, but you can stay on point throughout the successive tasks because it’s all about the birds.
  • Plan: assign specific days of your workweek to particular tasks. For example, you could make Monday meeting day. Tuesday is for research. Wednesday is for writing. To stay focused, group tasks related to one project.
  • Turn off notifications: Email notifications and other incoming messages are some of the most disruptive agents in professional life. Vibrating phones and email pop-ups cause you to focus on them instead of the task in hand. Once you’ve seen or heard them, part of you wants to know what’s arrived. That part of you is no longer concentrating. If you allocate certain times of the day for your emails and phone use, however, you can take control of your attention and your workday. 
  • Discipline: there will always be times when disruption is unavoidable. Mitigate distractions by looking at your essential tasks and tackling them individually, in order of importance. This will allow you to handle any challenge or crisis efficiently, avoiding fatigue and overwhelm. It’s also helpful to recognize that not all distractions are external. According to Microsoft, the average attention span is now just 8 seconds, which would mean that goldfish now have the drop on us. While the stats behind this figure are murky, the study highlights that people focus and refocus on a given task. Disciplining yourself to avoid distractions such as email notifications and social media (turn them off) will improve productivity.
  • Concentration: Improving your innate ability to concentrate will help you get things done. Ways to improve your concentration include getting a good night’s sleep, prepping tasks before you begin, and having all relevant material and research at hand. A comfortable workspace and adequate lighting will help avoid discomfort, distraction, and fatigue.

Task switching is unavoidable at times, but you can manage it. One of the best ways to minimize the adverse effects of internal and external distractions is to plan for them. Indeed, you should count on them.

You may want Jedi-like focus for eight hours straight, but it’s much more likely that a myriad of side tasks erode your concentration. By managing task switching, you can get more done and decrease undue stress. By being aware of daily distractions, you can minimize them. 

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do too many things at once. If you’re a proud “multitasker,” try focusing on one task at a time instead and watch your productivity soar.

No matter what job you’re in, we want you to be productive and happy. If you’re not and you’re finding that it’s much easier to get distracted, then maybe it’s time to consider something else that will be more interesting and personally fulfilling. Contact me today to find out more about the Concero recruiting process and how that can make your life better. 

Kendra Corley

Kendra Corley

Professional Recruiter

Connect with Kendra on LinkedIn.
Work in IT? Here are Top 10 Ways to Prevent Eyestrain for Programmers

Work in IT? Here are Top 10 Ways to Prevent Eyestrain for Programmers

Whether it’s tweaking settings to boost business performance or using tech wizardry to save an organization from potential ruin, IT specialists like programmers are on the front line. While their skills and objectives vary massively, they always have one thing in common — a lot of screen time. 

Poor lighting, consecutive hours sitting, and the need to stare at screens to do your work can all lead to physical discomfort, especially eyestrain. Modern computer displays look much more like printed material than ever, but even with sophisticated adjustments for contrast, brightness and hue, IT professionals tend to be more at risk of eye strain and computer vision syndrome than other people.

Don’t get Computer Vision Syndrome.

Computer vision syndrome can be described as the problems that come from prolonged screen viewing with devices such as computers, tablets and cell phones. Despite improvements in computer screens and lighting, we are still tied to human physiology. Our sensory limitations mean that we interpret the information coming from a screen and this can stress both brain and eyes.

Screens are a part of working with IT, but it doesn’t mean that computer vision syndrome has to be part of IT life too. To protect your health and your future in programming, you can take a few daily actions to reduce the risk of eyestrain and have a happier, healthier work life.

Address the Basics

One of the most basic characteristics of a computer screen is its refresh rate. A screen’s refresh rate refers to how frequently per second the screens are redrawn or refreshed or how often a new picture is made. 

Generally, 60 times a second (a frequency of 60 Hz) is considered acceptable. This is because that frequency is indistinguishable to the human eye and appears to be a continuous, uninterrupted display. Slower refresh rates, such as 30 Hz, have a flickering appearance to the human eye. That can cause eyestrain. With modern computers, you can usually set the screen’s refresh rate to something that works for you.

Here are 10 ways programmers can help prevent computer vision syndrome:

  1. Make screen viewing easier on your eyes by regularly taking breaks. Never mind “getting your groove on” or being “in the zone.” Programmers and other IT specialists deserve and need to take regular breaks. If you really can’t leave your desk, the 20-20-20 rule is effective. It suggests that you take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on something about 20 feet away to help protect your vision.
  2. Simple eye care will help too. If you haven’t used eye drops, try them. If you haven’t had a recent eye exam, get one. Describe to your eye doctor the kind of work you do, and for how many hours a day you work with screens. 
  3. Programmers might benefit from a prescription for new glasses to help with their work. Tinted glasses, like the FL-41 variety, block wavelengths from fluorescent lights that can cause dizziness and headaches. These glasses, called blue blockers, may help with screening the wavelengths that computers emit.
  4. Keep the computer monitor at the right distance from your eyes, which is about 15 – 20 inches. Don’t have the monitor positioned so your eyes are level with the screen’s center. Have the screen so you are looking a bit down at its center. That also gives your head and neck a more comfortable position for extended viewing, like reading a book.
  5. Sometimes simple solutions are the best. Adjusting your screen’s contrast, brightness, and resolution. While you may be tempted to dial it up to the maximum resolution to increase the amount of “real estate” you can fit on your screen, a lower resolution and a larger font may be easier on your eyes and allow you to work more effectively.
  6. Take control of your lighting. Would “daylight” bulbs be better than fluorescent? Don’t have the lights too bright and avoid glare. You can also get filters for computer screens that reduce glare, as well as glasses. 
  7. If your office or workspace has sunlight coming in, try to position yourself properly. Aim to have any sunlight behind you, instead of in front of you, as long as the sunlight does not cause obtrusive reflections on your screen. 
  8. Your seating position is important. Programmers and other IT specialists using screens can benefit from sitting upright and being able to look slightly downward at the center of the computer screen. 
  9. What about your chair? It needs to support your back. If your arms are on the desk, supporting your weight, a better seating position will protect your back and make it more likely that your eyes are at the optimum distance from the screen.
  10. The placement of reference or ancillary materials can affect your vision through the day. If you need things like pens and notepaper, keep them about the same distance from you as your computer screen. Your eyes won’t have to change focus to look at these things. 

Take care of your vision to safeguard your future in IT. If you’re looking for employment in the IT field, get in touch with us at Concero Technology Group. We can help you “see” where you want your career to go. 

Bethany Hutchins

Bethany Hutchins

Technical Recruiter

Watch Bethany’s Spotlight video or connect with Bethany on LinkedIn.

What Does an Electrical Controls Engineer Do?

What Does an Electrical Controls Engineer Do?

In addition to the support we provide to those in the IT industry, we also have a division that is focused on those in the industrial sector and engineering. Concero Industrial Group works with people from the shop floor to the top floor. With more than two decades in industry and manufacturing, we “get you.” From an EIT to a CE to a PE, we have job placements across the entire sector. 

Curious about our knowledge and experience, read our most recent article “What Does an Electrical Controls Engineer Do?” 

Tim Newman

Tim Newman

Senior Client Relationship Executive

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn.