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How to Make a Final Selection from a Pool of Qualified Candidates

You’ve scoured resumes and held interview after interview, and now you’re faced with a happy dilemma—choosing your new hire from several equally qualified candidates. While this is a problem most IT managers love to have, it can be challenging to make the final decision. You want the best possible hire, one who’ll make a long-term, productive employee and add the most value to your company.

And of course, you don’t want to second-guess your decision down the road.

If you’re struggling to choose between two or more candidates with excellent qualifications for the job, these tips will help you make that important final selection.

Take your time

Hiring in haste often leads to significant, or even disastrous, mistakes. While your company may be operating short-handed right now, it’s better to give yourself the time you need to make the best decision and hire an excellent employee who’s likely to deliver value for years. Otherwise, you risk hiring the wrong candidate—and if things don’t work out, you’ll have to start the hiring process all over again.

Consider cultural fit

With technical qualifications being equal, an important differentiator for the right candidate is cultural fit. Look for a candidate with soft skills and personal qualities that will balance out the team they’re being hired to, as well as the organization overall. Choose someone who holds values and ethics that align with the company, and who will get along well with other employees.

Identify unique skills

Review your top candidates’ backgrounds and ask yourself what kind of unique skills each of them would be able to bring to the company. For many organizations, one of the best deciding factors is finding a candidate who has demonstrated the ability to adapt their expertise to various environments. A sense of willingness to learn new skills or adopt new viewpoints is also a big plus.

Hold a final interview round for outside opinions

Ask your top candidates to come back for another interview—and this time, have the department manager or other team members sit in. This will give you a working idea of the chemistry between the candidates and the existing team, helping you determine the best cultural fit. It’s also an opportunity to ask further, more in-depth questions about the candidates’ specific skills and experiences in areas that are most important for the position.

Look for the little things

Did one candidate arrive for the interview in formal attire, while the rest were somewhat dressed down? Did any of your top choices send a handwritten thank-you note as a follow-up to the interview? Consider hiring a candidate who took things a step further than the rest—their attention to detail is a good indication that they’ll make a valuable employee.

Pick the passionate candidate

If you’re still struggling to make a final decision, passion may be your trump card. A candidate who’s passionate about the profession, and the specific position at your company they’re interviewing for, may be the best choice.

Consider personal passions as well as professional aspirations here, and look for places where the two align. Employees will be putting 40 or more hours a week into their jobs—so they should be doing something they enjoy, or their morale and productivity will suffer.

IT Management How to Be Hands on without Micromanaging

Being a hands-on IT manager is good for you, and good for your team. The hands-on approach ensures that you’re aware of how projects are progressing, how your employees are performing as individuals and as a team, and whether you’re on track to meet deadlines. Hands-on management allows you to be involved without demoralizing your team, and enables you to address potential issues proactively, before they become serious problems.

But there’s a fine line between hands-on IT management and micromanaging. Take over too much of the process yourself, and you’ll have the opposite effect: slowed progress, reduced productivity, and gutter-level team morale. Micromanagers dictate instead of delegate, and rob themselves of their most powerful resource — their team.

The differences between micromanaging and hands-on leadership

A good manager will be heavily involved in making desired outcomes clear, checking in on staff progress, and reviewing projects after completion to find lessons that can be applied to the next project. A micromanager will be overly involved, to the point where team members feel they’re not allowed to make decisions or take responsibility — and they’ll never learn or grow from the experience.

Here are some specific differences between micromanagers and hands-on managers:

  • Hands-on managers communicate expectations clearly; micromanagers dictate how expectations will be met
  • Hands-on managers offer feedback and ask team members to redo work that isn’t quite right; micromanagers redo tasks themselves
  • Hands-on managers place the responsibility for projects on employees and expect their best efforts; micromanagers assign work task-by-task and retain responsibility for the project themselves
  • Hands-on managers ask for representative samples of the work to review; micromanagers insist on reviewing every email and being present at every meeting
  • Hands-on managers adjust their approach to managing employees of varying skill levels and projects of varying importance; micromanagers are uniform in managing every aspect of employees and projects, regardless of skill level or importance

How to implement a hands-on approach

How can you strike the right balance in a hands-on approach to management, without crossing the line into micromanaging? The first step is to make sure you and your team are on the same page, by clearly conveying goals and objectives that paint a picture of what success looks like. This paves the way for handing off responsibility to your team, so you can step back and measure the progress.

Once you’ve developed an effective strategy for clear communication:

  • Spend less time doing, and more guiding: If your expectations have been clear, you won’t have to monitor every detail of your team’s progress. Instead, spend your time serving as a resource, offering guidance as needed to keep everyone on track.
  • Check in regularly: Make time to touch base with your team, both collectively and individually, to review their progress and results to date. Offer constructive feedback and go over current project priorities, making adjustments as needed to keep things running smoothly.
  • Be forthright about concerns: If an employee is not meeting expectations, or work is not progressing the way it should, take a proactive stance and address the issue right away — rather than waiting to see if it will work out, or taking over an aspect of the project yourself. Whether the issue requires simple feedback, or reconsidering the fit of a team member to a current role, resolve the problem quickly so the project continues to progress.

As an IT manager, your job involves getting the results you need, both short-term and over time. A hands-on management style will help you monitor your team’s progress without meddling, and empower them to generate the right results.

Want help becoming a hands-on manager, or getting away from micromanagement? Contact The Armada Group today! 

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Why You Should be Encouraging Feedback from Your IT Employees

Honest and constructive feedback is a valuable tool for any manager. But while you may have no trouble offering feedback to your IT employees, receiving honest feedback can be challenging. There are many reasons your employees could be reluctant about being honest — but overcoming those roadblocks and encouraging feedback can benefit your team in a big way.

Why employees avoid giving feedback

Even if it’s solicited, a lot of IT employees are worried about offering feedback. One of the most common reasons is concern that their opinions will be used against them, resulting in a more difficult working environment or negative consequences for their career. If this concern exists, employees will typically either give falsely positive feedback, or not speak up at all.

Another popular reason employees refrain from giving feedback is the belief that their thoughts and suggestions won’t be taken seriously, or even considered at all. If they feel, rightly or wrongly, that you’re just asking for feedback to humor them or because it’s expected, they won’t waste their time offering it.

How to encourage honest feedback

Whether your employees are afraid of recrimination or feel they won’t be taken seriously, you can overcome these issues by clearly communicating what will and will not happen when feedback is offered, how you’ll use the feedback you receive, and how your employees can help.

Trust is essential to giving and getting honest feedback. In order to find out what your IT employees really think, you need to create a company culture of open, authentic communication that encourages honesty. To do this:

  • Start with yourself. If you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t expect to do better with your employees. Genuine feedback can be a powerful tool to help you identify opportunities for improvement and change your company for the better — but only If you really want to hear it. If you’re just going through the motions, your efforts could have negative consequences.
  • Show your commitment. Simply asking for honesty isn’t enough to get real feedback. Demonstrate that you’re offering more than talk by acting on the feedback you receive and making changes that address employee concerns. When you show that you’re serious, you’ll find your employees far more open and willing to participate in feedback.
  • Enlist your people. It’s far too common for leaders and managers to solicit feedback from employees, and then vanish while they “fix” everything themselves. This not only places more pressure on you, but also keeps employees from seeing the efforts you’re making to incorporate feedback. Make sure your processes are designed to engage everyone in making changes.
  • Check your reactions. If you’re known for reacting poorly to bad news or things you don’t want to hear, don’t be surprised when your employees fail to offer honest feedback. Taking note of and tempering your reactions will go a long way toward an open and secure workplace environment.

As a leader, your actions and attitudes set the tone for your IT team. Encouraging and gathering honest feedback — whether you use simple surveys, focus groups, interviews, team meetings, or informal hallway chats — can benefit you significantly and help you build a successful, productive, and focused workplace that gets results. If you want to find out how to better solicit honest employee feedback, contact The Armada Group today. They are industry experts who know exactly the types of feedback you should be seeking from employees, and how to get it.

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10 administrative skills every IT manager should have

IT managers need to know more than the tech side of a business. And while administrative skills might seem counterintuitive to the IT professional, there are some non-technical skills you must have in order to successfully manage your IT team.

As an IT leader, you serve as the bridge between your team and upper management or business users — ensuring projects are cleared, tasks are assigned, everyone stays motivated, and the work gets done. Having or developing the following10 indispensable administrative skills will help you do just that.

1. Clearly defining projects and goals

Most IT professionals are creative and resourceful, and will find a way to complete any type of project — as long as they fully understand the project’s objectives and desired outcomes. To keep your team productive, you must be able to define requirements, goals, and expectations to a detailed level. This may mean rejecting sandbox work or project prototyping if there is no definable objective, or identifying the right point to cut off work before it enters unproductive territory.

2. Relationship building with upper management

Like it or not, IT is inextricably linked to the politics of business. Your team’s ability to progress hinges on a solid working relationship with mid-level and upper management throughout the organization. Great IT managers are able to build trust with other management personnel, which gives their own team the leeway they need to undertake projects without interference.

3. Fighting for the budget

Nearly every IT team has experienced the frustration of stopped work because it’s “not in the budget.” IT managers must be able to sell the work to management convincingly, with project justifications, detailed returns on investments, and the hard numbers to back everything up.

4. Serving as a political shield

While there are some exceptions, most IT pros would rather stay in the world of technology, and avoid the world of office politics. In addition to relationship building with management, a successful IT manager will take on political pressures and battles for their team, whether the conflict is with management, shareholders, or other departments — ensuring a clear path to progress.

5. Addressing problems proactively

No project goes off without a hitch, but small snags can often become major roadblocks if they’re not addressed quickly. IT managers should be able to spot problems in any area — technical, strategic, political, or operational — and diffuse the issue before it becomes a full-blown situation.

6. Promoting teamwork

A cooperative and committed team is essential to the success of your projects. However, if there is a competitive environment in your organization where everyone feels the need to outdo everyone else, this atmosphere can adversely affect your team and cause them to work at cross-purposes. Effective IT managers must not only encourage, but practice teamwork — and demonstrate that assisting others is just as valued as individual contributions.

7. Employing the power of praise

Encouraging teamwork, along with productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty, can be fairly easy to accomplish through the simple method of praising your team. Studies have shown that recognition of an employee’s efforts — even if it’s nothing more than a spoken thank you — can drive engagement and boost a company’s bottom line.

8. Demanding accountability

In any given team, you’ll find at least a few people who are adept at passing the buck. They’ll refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes or problems — and when that happens, the whole team loses. As an IT manager, you need to be familiar with the everyday situations and responsibilities of your team. This way, you’ll know exactly what went wrong with who, and ensure that no one is blamed or demoralized for someone else’s mistakes.

9. Being accountable

As the saying goes, you can’t talk the talk unless you walk the walk. Everyone makes mistakes, including IT managers. If you want your team to practice accountability, you need to own up to your own responsibilities and admit when you’ve gone wrong.

10. Spotting employee burnout

Many IT professionals are highly driven, willing to work hard and put in extra time to solve a problem or complete a project on deadline. But this relentless pace can sometimes lead to burnout — a dangerous situation, and one that the most driven of your team will never let on about. As an IT manager, you need to be able to recognize the signs, and step in to reward hard-working team members with a day off to recharge.

At The Armada Group, we recognize what it takes to find great IT professionals, and are adept at picking out top talent in every facet of IT. Speak with a member of our team today, and learn how we can quickly fill vacancies at your facility with the best talent across the nation.

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Tuesday, Jul 22 2014

Building a Diverse IT Workplace

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Building a Diverse IT Workforce

Diversity isn’t just an HR buzzword; it increases productivity and business results by offering different perspectives. This can single-handedly increase an IT agency’s overall efficiency and help it to produce more with less. In addition, many technology companies are now seeing the benefits of a diversified workplace. Here are a few tips on finding qualified, diverse candidates:

The National Black Data Processing Associates group (NBDPA) is dedicated to African-American individuals in the IT field. They are geared specifically towards those with an interest or profession in computer science or Information Technology, and have a very qualified candidate pool to draw from. With a chapter in nearly every city, their national presence is very strong and extremely capable.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a great place to begin searching for more diverse talent. Also, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education has a large number of well-educated  technology experts. While neither of these are aimed specifically towards IT, a conversation with their associations and a job posting on their website will certainly net results.

The National Association of Professional Women is a great place to look for female talent, as is the American Business Women’s Association. Both of these have large U.S. presence, and, while neither is aimed towards IT as a profession, there are undoubtedly women in both who are in the IT field, and are qualified professionals.

Veterans groups are a little harder to narrow down, but the best place to start is Hireveteran.com and Vetjobs.com. Veterans who receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill will have access to education far more easily than others, which make them great candidates. Moreover, they tend to do well under pressure and have the type of precision skills that allow them to excel in the field of information technology.

Diversity is important, not for political correctness, but for the overall mission of the team. Having different viewpoints will bring different solutions to the same problem, and being able to present multiple solutions allows an IT workplace an agility and flexibility that otherwise might not exist.

At The Armada Group, we recruit the top talent – regardless of gender or race. We work with some of the fastest growing and most innovative companies in the nation, and recruit diverse, unique talent – with the soft skills that enable a business to work more flawlessly. Contact us today to see how we can help you! 

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Thursday, Nov 28 2013

Traits of Great IT Leaders

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Things are always changing in the tech industry, and that includes leadership. Today, being an IT leader means something different than it did even ten years ago. Leaders are no longer controlling, reviewing, and directing every aspect of a project-instead, they’re empowering skilled team members to work both independently and collaboratively, doing what it takes to get the job done with efficiency and excellence.

So what makes a great IT leader? Here are a few of the most common traits shared by successful leaders in the tech industry, and how these traits help them guide and develop the most powerful and complex component of IT-human resources.

They know themselves

The best IT leaders are self-aware. They have high degrees of emotional intelligence-understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing who to surround themselves with in order to complement those aspects. They’re also aware of their own emotional triggers, which helps them to manage logically.

To be a successful leader, you also need to know your own leadership style. When you’re aware of both how and why you manage as you do, you’re able to project an authenticity that your team can detect in every interaction-making it easier for them to respect you.

They create a team environment where it’s safe to fail

Collaboration is essential in today’s IT landscape. A great leader is able to encourage effective collaboration by knowing who should work together on what projects, along with when and where collaborations should take place. Leaders embrace the idea that “none of us is as smart as all of us.”

Working together can also help to cultivate innovation-and a strong leader is aware that innovation sometimes requires failure. It’s important for an IT leader to encourage team members to take reasonable risks, and not to penalize them or call out individual employees if a risk fails. Team members should know that they’re allowed to make some mistakes along the way.

They’re always learning

Without question, the most successful IT leaders never stop to rest on their laurels. Even those who reach the pinnacle of the company ladder are aware that they don’t know everything-and they’re always looking for ways to grow and improve.

This is especially essential for leaders in the tech industry. With frequent changes and upgrades, and continually emerging technologies, the only thing IT professionals can be sure of is that things will be different tomorrow. Staying up to date with the latest advances that are relevant to your company is crucial for successful leadership.

However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t only strive to improve your industry knowledge. If you’re aware that you struggle with soft skills like decision-making, or communication, or strategic thinking, you can continue to learn more in those areas-take a course, read relevant books, or even network with and learn from other leaders you admire.

Most great leaders aren’t born that way. They learn to improve through awareness and experience-and you can, too.

If you are looking for a staffing partner to help you recruit top IT talent in California, contact us today. The Armada Group has the top IT recruiters in Santa Cruz

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