12 Work Life Balance Still Exists Fact or Fiction

In the not-too-distant past, work was something you went to five days a week, and left at the office on weekends and holidays. But today’s business world is dominated by always-on technology, and the boundaries between work and personal life are increasingly blurred, if not obliterated.

It may be logical to believe that company expectations for employees to be constantly available are the cause of eroding work-life separation, but even in demanding companies, this isn’t the sole reason. Human nature and societal norms contribute significantly to the disappearing divide between work and home — and as a consequence, we’re focusing on the wrong problems.

What causes work-life imbalance?

There are real business reasons that most employees are unable to separate eight hours a day from the rest of their lives. Email is one — it’s omnipresent, available anywhere there’s a connection, and most employers don’t think twice about expecting their staff to keep up with email at all times. There’s also the globalization of business, and collaboration with co-workers and partners in various time zones that skew the start and close of the “business day.”

In addition to the modern corporate environment, the nature of people encourages a blending of work and life. American employees take pride in hard work and self-sacrifice, and many people thrive on being needed. Furthermore, some work activities — such as opening a new, unread email — influence us chemically, releasing dopamine that makes the action addictive.

Finally, exceptional employees are always working, even outside the office environment and without being required to. For many people, dedication to great job performance means constantly thinking up new ideas and planning ahead. This process naturally works itself into everyday life.

Conquering the work-life balance myth

In order to successfully address the issues surrounding work-life separation, we first need to accept that separating them is impossible for most people. The good news is that blending work and personal life doesn’t have to mean erasing your identity as a person, eliminating all free time, or becoming defined by your job.

What is the best solution for achieving both professional and personal satisfaction? For many, the answer is to embrace the blurred lines, and strive for a work environment that grants more control over personal time with flexible scheduling. The typical nine-to-five workday is practically extinct — and the best way to thrive in the modern business landscape is to get rid of rigid boundaries and time clocks, so the stress of “balancing” personal and work life is eliminated.

Any employer looking to provide work-life balance for their employees should institute a more flexible scheduling process. Despite beliefs to the contrary, studies have repeatedly shown that workers who have more control over their schedules are more productive and motivated, produce higher quality work, and have a greater sense of loyalty to their organization.

There are several reasons why flexible scheduling is so effective. One is that allowing greater control over work schedules allows employees to work at their personal optimal times, rather than conforming to a one-size-fits-all, eight-hour shift. Some people are much more productive first thing in the morning, while others don’t really get into gear until the afternoon.

Another, perhaps more impactful reason this arrangement works is the blending of personal and work time a flexible schedule allows. When employees can take time off in the middle of the work day and make it up when it’s convenient, they’re able to accomplish personal tasks they’d otherwise have to skip with a rigid schedule — like getting school-aged children on and off the bus, banking, attending personal classes, or caring for elderly parents. This allows employees to reduce or eliminate the personal stress that would otherwise affect their performance at work.

It’s in the best interests of any company to care for their employees as a whole person, rather than an eight-hour chunk of labor. By allowing and encouraging overlap between personal and professional lives, your company can bust the work-life balance myth and achieve a truly happy, productive, and loyal workforce.

11 5 Tips for Running More Effective Weekly Meetings

Weekly meetings can be a great way to track company metrics and keep everyone accountable, solve problems by drawing from the collective intelligence of the team, and review customer feedback and issues that can help your organization improve performance. But they can also be a boring, non-informative, mandatory gathering that everyone in your office dreads.

Of course, you want your weekly meetings to be more like the former, and less like the latter. These tips will help you conduct more effective and engaging meetings that keep your team informed, productive, and looking forward to the next session.

1. Start with the executive team

In mid-sized or large companies, there may not be a need for every department to have a weekly meeting — but regular sessions with the executive team are a must. Smaller companies can condense weekly meetings into a single, company-wide event, while those with more staff can cascade up or down as needed from the executive meeting.

2. Know your priorities

One of the most important keys to effective weekly meetings is to know what you’ll be discussing ahead of time. For best results, determine your top three to five company priorities at the start of each quarter, and for each priority:

  • Assign accountability for various goals and results
  • Establish metrics and success criteria

You can then structure your meetings around these priorities, and leave each week with measurable results and detailed action plans.

3. Keep a log

Have some way to record the meeting or take notes, so you can refer back and review to look for issues or problem areas that will help to streamline future meetings. Make sure the meeting log includes who said they would do what, and when, to help continually track accountability and stay on point throughout the week.

4. Structure meetings intelligently

For best results, weekly meetings should be relatively short and follow a preset schedule. By planning ahead of time, you can hold effective weekly meetings in 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the group.

Business coaching firm Positioning Systems suggests a strategic and highly effective weekly agenda that includes:

  • Good news: (5 minutes) Open the meeting by having everyone share two positive stories — one business, and one personal.
  • Numbers: (5 to 10 minutes) Review individual or team weekly productivity metrics, without conversation or comment.
  • Customer/employee data: (10 minutes) Discuss recurring issues or problems facing either teams or their customers, and assign at least one issue to a person or group to investigate in the coming week.
  • Review accountability: (10 minutes) Review the accountability notes from the previous meeting, reschedule or reassign tasks as needed, and discuss commitments for accountability for the next meeting.
  • Collective intelligence: (10 to 30 minutes) Choose a top priority and ask for everyone’s input on the matter. You can also use this section of the meeting for a presentation on one of the company priorities, led by the person who’s accountable for it.

5. End on an informative note

At the close of the meeting, ask everyone in the group to offer a word or phrase that describes how they felt about the meeting. This gives you the opportunity to gather feedback that can be used to adjust future meetings, and ensure that things go smoothly for everyone. Try to end with positive encouragement, so everyone looks forward to next week.

10 Sourcing Strategy How to Find Top IT and Engineering Candidates

Making the right hiring decisions the first time is crucial to the success of your organization. If you hire someone who’s not suitable for the position, you’ll typically end up losing significant time and money — simply by having to start the hiring process all over again. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management finds that the average cost of a bad hire is five times the amount of the salary for that position.

This includes hiring the right IT and engineering contractors. Recruiting top IT talent is a major challenge, especially considering that there is no guaranteed recruiting roadmap you can use for every open position. However, you can increase your hiring success rate by knowing where to go in order to find the best candidates.

The following resources will help you source and retain top IT and engineering candidates, so you can hire the right person for the job.

Your job description

The job posting you provide for open positions is one of the biggest and most effective tools you have for successful recruiting. The job description is usually the first thing candidates will read about your company — so make sure it’s clear, concise, and candidate-focused, with an emphasis on how working for you will benefit the job seeker.

Once you have a great job description, make it easily accessible to a wide pool of candidates by posting it on:

  • Your company’s website
  • Popular job boards, such as Monster and CareerBuilder
  • Niche IT job boards like TechCareers, Dice, 37Signals, and FlexJobs

Social recruiting

Social media has become a very common tool for both employers and job seekers to connect, network, and find the best matches between professionals and careers. In addition to helping you get the word out about your open job positions, social platforms also give you the opportunity to communicate your employer brand, and attract the best talent to your open positions.

Build your social media presence on:

  • LinkedIn: The largest business-oriented social network in the world offers a wide range of tools and features for employers, recruiters, and job candidates
  • Facebook: Still a highly effective platform for making connections, Facebook gives you an opportunity to showcase your employer brand and interact closely with potential candidates
  • Twitter: This fast-moving network can help you gain a broader reach and quickly spread the word about your job opportunities

Third-party recruiting

The recruitment process is a complex and time-intensive undertaking. In fact, recruiting the best talent is a full-time job by itself. If you’re struggling to devote the necessary time and resources to recruiting top candidates, there are third parties whose sole function is to recruit, screen, and interview candidates according to the needs of your organization. These include:

  • Staffing agencies and firms
  • Recruiters (both contingent and retained)
  • Executive search firms
  • Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms

Many of these third-party organizations specialize in sourcing IT talent, and have an existing pool of highly qualified candidates to choose from.

Direct recruiting

While recruiting is a nuanced and time-intensive process, there are many ways you can leverage your own contacts in order to locate top IT and engineering candidates. Within your HR department, some of the available resources can include:

  • Resume databases
  • Internal databases of past candidates and contractors you’ve worked with previously
  • Referrals from existing employees

You can also reach out through personal connections using resources such as online user groups and alumni groups, business schools and technical institutes, or professional networking contacts. Finally, look for talented candidates by getting involved with IT forums or programming competitions on sites like HackerRank, InterviewStreet, and GitHub.

09 The Growth of IT A Look into the Future of Salary and Demand

Just as technology is constantly evolving, so is the complex IT job market. Knowing the latest hiring, salary, and industry trends can help IT professionals navigate the tech job industry, and be prepared to advance their careers with upcoming opportunities.

The recently released 2015 Modis Salary Guide for Tech Professionals reveals very promising news for tech professionals in the near future, with a look at the overall tech job market as well as the hottest IT careers over the next few years. Here’s what IT pros can look forward to for in-demand jobs with great salaries.

The IT jobs market at a glance

Overall, tech job continue to show rapid growth across multiple sectors. The report from Modis projects that while other industries will experience 10.8 percent employment growth by 2022, IT jobs are expected to show 18 percent growth in the same time period.

In the United States, 685,000 new tech jobs are projected to be added by 2022.

Most in-demand IT jobs

The IT job market is generally growing across all areas, but some sectors are hotter than others. Here are the tech careers that will be the most in demand — and some of the highest paid — over the next few years:

Analysts: Systems analysts jobs are expected to grow 25 percent by 2022. An example of the projected salary in this sector is Business Data Analyst II (mid-level), with a salary range of $55,376 to $86,535, and an average salary of $70,453.

Health IT: The value of the health IT sector is expected to reach $56.7 billion by 2017. Some of the most in-demand jobs for this sector include:

  • Revenue cycle analyst (salary range $36,892 - $71,829; average salary $51,930)
  • Clinical systems analyst (salary range $64,927 - $101,154; average salary $82,454)
  • Clinical informaticist (salary range $42,282 - $74,147; average salary $55,728)

Database development, administration, and business intelligence: With big data becoming a must for many businesses, database and analyst related jobs are projected to show a 15 percent growth by 2022. Positions in high demand include:

  • Data scientist (salary range $79,285 - $138,281; average salary $109,260)
  • Database administrator (salary range $81,497 - $129,993; average salary $107,130)
  • Business intelligence specialist (salary range $88,930 - $137,534; average salary $110,197)

Programming and software engineering: These positions are constantly in demand, and developer jobs are expected to show 22 percent growth by 2022. Some of the top positions for this sector include:

  • Applications engineer, entry level (salary range $45,069 - $80,665; average salary $59,355)
  • Applications engineer, advanced (salary range $86,819 - $156,118; average salary $122,627)
  • Programmer III, mid-level (salary range $71,616 - $111,422; average salary $90,528)
  • Software engineer II, mid-level (salary range $62,811 - $96,472; average salary $78,410)
  • .NET developer (salary range $55,689 - $95,556; average salary $75,995)

Project management: This area has a growth forecast of 15 percent by 2022. Anticipated salaries for project managers include:

  • IT project manager I, entry (salary range $51,173 - $101,266; average salary $76,282)
  • IT project manager III, senior (salary range $81,603 - $129,987; average salary $107,203)

Security: Another area that is always in demand, the growth forecast for security and security analyst jobs is robust at 37 percent by 2022. Some of the most sought-after IT security jobs will include:

  • Security administrator (salary range $50,812 - $108,106; average salary $74,917)
  • Systems security analyst (salary range $62,102 - $111,026; average salary $84,941)
  • Data security manager (salary range $91,305 - $157,778; average salary $115,415)

Web development: High-end web developer positions are projected to grow 20 percent by 2022. The most popular positions in this sector include:

  • Web application developer (salary range $52,462 - $84,613; average salary $66,212)
  • Interface design director (average salary $129,421 - $179,701; average salary $155,669)

07 Recruiting an IT Project Manager Make Sure You Look for These Important Skills

In order to make sure your IT project is completed on time and in budget, you need a great project manager. But how can you spot one? Unfortunately, holding the title of project manager doesn’t always mean that a person can effectively manage projects.

Here are the skills a good IT project manager should have to complete projects successfully, without wasting your time or money.

Organization and multi-tasking

A project manager’s organizational skills can make or break a project. A strong project manager will be able to juggle multiple tasks, or even multiple projects, and track project issues on a daily basis — so they’re spending less time looking for information, and more time managing the project productively.

Leadership skills

It goes without saying that project managers should be good leaders, but it’s important to realize that there’s more to manage than the IT team. A great IT project manager is able to take charge of the team, and also lead vendors and stakeholders in order to reach a collaborative consensus.

Good project managers inspire their team to realize the project vision, and maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders that ensure alignment with project goals.

Effective communication

Key personnel in any project will include both technical and non-tech professionals. Good project managers are excellent communicators — able to clearly explain even complex concepts to key stakeholders, and ensure that communication is maintained among all stakeholders as well as between stakeholders and the project team.

Effective communication encompasses more than the ability to translate tech speak. Great project managers will be able to relay both good news and bad news to all staff levels, in a timely and tactful manner. They’ll also understand who needs to know what, when, and how — and ensure that the appropriate information is delivered to the right people, at the right times.

Negotiating skills

A good project manager will know both how and when to negotiate. With most projects, the IT project manager is working with people whose interests may not align with their own, or who don’t seem to be interested in understanding the goals of the project — or why they should help accomplish them.

Successful project managers develop relationships with stakeholders and determine their interests, which enables them to negotiate cooperation by appealing to the stakeholders’ needs — while still remaining within the objective parameters of the projects.

An eye for detail

When it comes to IT project management, details count. A great project manager will take a meticulous approach to handling project details big and small, and understanding the impact every detail will have on the overall success of the project. Failure to pay attention to details can mean failure of the entire project.

Decisive problem-solving

In every project, issues and obstacles will arise — and some will require an immediate solution. A good IT project manager must be able to make critical decisions quickly, arriving at the best possible solution in the shortest amount of time to avoid delaying or derailing the project.

Relevant technical skills

While project managers don’t need high-level IT skills to be effective — after all, the skills brought to the table by the IT project team are crucial to success — an effective project manager must have a firm understanding of the programs, software, and platforms that are involved in the project, or that the company works with regularly.

Great project managers will have enough technical skill to be able to take on some of the project tasks themselves. By completing project tasks personally, project managers can earn the respect of the team, which enables them to work more effectively as leaders.

08 Big Data Means Big Jobs 5 Areas to Specialize in for Career Success

In the IT industry, change is accelerating — and a large part of that change is due to big data. With organizations just beginning to realize some of the massive potential that big data holds, the demand for IT professionals working in big data-related areas is rising fast.

In fact, technology research firm Gartner predicts that 2015 will see 1.9 million IT jobs created to support big data in the United States alone, with each of those roles creating positions for three non-IT people. In total, Gartner says, the information economy will generate 6 million jobs over the next four years.

The challenge for businesses is filling those jobs, because there simply isn’t enough talent to go around. Gartner estimates that only one-third of IT jobs can be filled with the current talent pool. So if you’re considering a career in IT, there will be ample opportunity to jump on the big data bandwagon.

Here are four areas revolving around big data that will be in high demand as companies struggle to close the talent gap.

Cloud skills

The cloud can be described as the foundation for big data. All of the areas that feed into this discipline are build on the cloud — big data itself leans heavily on cloud platforms and apps, social media is powered by the cloud, and mobile is basically a personal cloud.

One of the most talked-about advantages of the cloud is the potential cost savings, but today’s cloud environment is about more than saving money. Employers are now looking for IT professionals who can leverage the potential for new capabilities, architectures, services, and approaches to app design — with big data as the lynchpin for powering the effectiveness of the cloud.

Mobile skills

According to Gartner predictions, by 2016:

  • 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile
  • Two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone
  • More than 1.6 billion smart mobile devices will be purchased globally

The outlook for tablets is equally strong, with an expected 20 percent of sales organizations to use tablets as their primary mobile platform, and 70 percent of mobile workers using a tablet or hybrid device by 2018. Even now, CIOs are purchasing iPads by the tens of thousands.

With an increasing reliance on mobile devices comes a growing demand for IT professionals who specialize in mobile — including app development, big data integration, and mobile device management. BYOD policies also require mobile specialists to manage the corporate network across disparate platforms.

Social computing

Even as the biggest social networks reach their limits in terms of growth, social is becoming even more important from a business standpoint as organizations develop a more disciplined approach to social media. Gartner forecasts that at least 10 organizations will spend more than $1 billion each on social media in three years.

Part of that spend will be on talent as organizations hire more IT pros who specialize in social media and big data. There are massive amounts of valuable social data available, and as big data tools and platforms become more refined, more businesses seek talent who can extract actionable insight from this information.

Information and analytics

Finally, big data itself will create more job opportunities directly. Organizations can access a continual flood of information from both internal and external sources, providing them with endless opportunities to innovate, optimize, discover new insights, and transform the way decisions are made.

With big data, companies are able to turn information into revenue. This opens up career opportunities for IT pros who can work with structured and unstructured data, and mine “dark data” — data that is being collected, but not used — for business value.