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Buy Into New Processes

Information technology teams are often eager to work with the latest technology, but they aren't always that eager to work with new processes, which are seen as management fads with little benefit to the technical workers. If the team doesn't support the new process, it may fail, reinforcing that opinion. Managers should take steps to get the team to buy into the new process, so they are invested in its success. Here are some steps that will help your team buy into a new process and help it succeed:

Explain the process and stand behind it

When you talk about the new process with your team, your belief in it has to be evident. If you aren't able to convincingly explain what the new process will achieve, the team won't be motivated to make it work. If you can show the team how the new process will benefit them – not just you or the business - that's even better. Even the most dedicated employee has a little bit of "what's in it for me?" inside them.

Don't be a dictator

Even if you're the one mandating the new process, if you take input from the team, they'll feel ownership of the process and want it to succeed. When someone offers a good suggestion, integrate it into the process. Also, realize that developing a good process requires iteration. Be willing to modify the process, once you see how it works in reality.

Stay involved

Don't mandate a new process and then wait for a final report. It may take time to fully roll out the process, and you need to be aware of how the team is responding each step of the way. Have regular feedback meetings, and let the team know that getting feedback is a priority. If you're not hearing any complaints, don't assume everything is going fine. Schedule one-on-one discussions with different team members to get their opinions; you may get feedback they weren't comfortable offering in a public forum.

A team is also more likely to believe in the value of a new process if they hear about benefits from a peer, not just management. If the new process is rolled out over time, rather than implemented across the entire company simultaneously, non-management employees who found the change to be positive can become evangelists for the change. Let them spread the good news to your team and share their excitement. They can get your team excited about the change, too, which goes far beyond simply accepting the change, and is much more likely to make the change succeed.

Behavioral Questions to Use in Your Next Interview

No matter what type of work you’re interviewing for, there are a key set of traits that would be best suited for the position. As the hiring manager, it’s your job to pinpoint what those traits are and establish an objective way of evaluating the character of each of your candidates. Whether you give them a personality test or ask targeted questions during the course of your interview, you can establish a unique behavioral profile for each interviewee.

The first step is to create your list of ideal behavioral attributes. When making your checklist of ideal character traits, it’s important that you consider these three categories of professional personalities.

Teamwork

Teamwork skills will make it easier for you and your staff to work with the new hire. Candidates who lack many of these skills can be difficult to manage, overbearing, or ineffective as employees. Depending on the type of position, teamwork skills may be less important than their ability to self-direct, for example. Remote workers or those who will be largely isolated during the course of their workday may not need exceptional teamwork skills. Examples of these traits may include:

• Communicator
• Conflict Manager
• Active Listener
• Perceptive
• Assertive
• Empathetic
• Persuasive
• Cooperative

Work Ethic

No matter what the position entails, many hiring managers will rank work ethic very highly on their list. A good work ethic, however, is often a learned behavior that results from a very particular set of personality traits. Even if you’re interviewing someone with very little experience, if they possess traits that are conducive to hard work, they can develop a very strong work ethic during the course of their employment. A candidate with a good work ethic may have some of these personality traits:

• Focus
• Organization
• Reliability
• Flexibility
• Initiative

Professional

Professionalism is a highly sought-after behavior, particularly since many workplaces are moving away from traditionalism and into a more laid-back environment. This behavior is learned and not inherent, so if you’re hiring a candidate who comes from a more casual background, they may not have the experience to demonstrate the professionalism you’re looking for. However, if they possess the right personality traits, they can often pick up business cues and learn as they go.

Again, this may vary in importance depending on your unique company. These personality traits may often manifest themselves in other ways than traditional professionalism, so they may be valuable in other context as well. A highly professional person will be:

• Principled
• Objective
• Loyal
• Professional
• Ethical

Create Your Checklist

Once you’ve chosen your ideal character traits, rank them on a scale of importance and use this scale to weight the final score of each candidate. Bring your list of traits with you to the interview, and rank each character based on how they stack up against your expectations. This will not only help you get a good picture of their personality, but you will also remain consistent and objective during the course of each interview.

Linked in

personality over skills

In the IT job market, your technical abilities can often be the be-all and end-all. The idea often seems to be that if you don’t meet the long list of necessary skills, you simply aren’t the right person for the position. However, this isn’t always the case. For many hiring managers, certain aspects of your personality may actually be more important than skills you’ve picked up along the way.

Below are a few examples of soft skills that may land you that IT dream job, and why hiring managers may choose them over more technical capabilities.

Willingness (and Ability) to Learn

A thirst for knowledge is a highly sought-after character trait in any industry, but it can go a long way in tech. You may not have mastered PHP or networking just yet, but if you have a voracious appetite for new information, you may find that hiring managers are willing to teach you the necessary skills. Quick learners are often a worthwhile investment, as they tend to stay on top of their skills and constantly refresh and update their knowledge base.

Enthusiasm

Passion and motivation can be invaluable for IT companies, particularly startups and those who specialize in innovative technology. Hiring someone who’s emotionally invested in their finished product will improve both the quality of their work and their drive to complete it. An infectiously enthusiastic personality can also impact the morale of co-workers, creating a more effective (and happy) workforce overall.

Self-Direction

In tech, it’s often expected that you be capable of a certain degree of autonomy. No matter how advanced your skills are, it simply isn’t worth the investment if your manager has to hold your hand through every project. A candidate who possesses self-drive, on the other hand, will not only be able to complete tasks on their own, but will be able to occupy themselves with meaningful work when they aren’t given explicit direction.

Ambition

A desire to succeed in your industry can be very appealing to hiring managers. This soft skill often translates into intuitive insight into what’s best for the company, granting you the opportunity to impress your managers with the added benefit of improving your place of work. Ambitious candidates are also fiercely competitive, and this competitiveness can inspire your team to work harder, particularly when you’re incentivized by upper management.

These are just a few examples of personality traits that hiring managers may prioritize over technical capabilities. Don’t let the fact that your skill sets don’t perfectly align with the position’s requirements discourage you from applying. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how valuable your soft skills really are.

interview objectivity

Remaining objective in an interview can be difficult. We’re often inclined to base our impressions of others on emotions and first impressions rather than fact. This can not only harm the interviewee, but it can also result in the loss of talented candidates. By maintaining objectivity and consistency in each of your interviews, you can ensure that the process is as thorough and accurate as possible.

These five key elements of an objective interview will keep you on the right track during your candidate search.

Create a Checklist

Before you begin reviewing resumes, create a checklist that you will follow for each interview. Steps can include “review the job description” or “review interview questions.” Closely following this protocol for each interview will help you maintain consistency throughout the hiring process.

Outline Your Expectations

It’s important to have a solid understanding of what you’re looking for in a candidate. Create a list of desired attributes, and rank them on a scale of importance from one to five. If computer skills are more important for this position than professionalism, for instance, then you will give that trait a higher rating. By outlining your expectations for the ideal candidate, you’ll be more able to objectively compare each individual interviewee to your set of desired characteristics.

Categorize Your Questions

As you’re writing your list of interview questions, try to categorize them by the list of traits determined above. If you need a candidate with project management skills, ask about occasions when they’ve influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership position. Other categories may be detail orientation, communication, and the ability to be a team player.

Use a Scoring System

Create a score sheet that will help you evaluate each candidate during the interview. Using your outlined traits, rate them on a scale of one to five. You should complete the score sheet as soon as possible after the end of the interview, while your impression is still objective. The same score sheet should be used for each interview.

Rank Each Candidate

Once you’ve rated your candidates, it’s time to compare their rating to the importance of each trait. Multiply the interviewee’s score in each category by its importance. This is their weighted score. Once you’ve weighted each category, add their total score and compare with other interviewees to choose the candidate best suited for the position.

These five elements of an objective interview process will aid you in choosing qualified candidates without clouding your judgment with emotions or “gut feelings.” This process is fair and consistent for the interviewees and delivers the best results for your company. By remaining consistent and impartial, you increase the effectiveness of your interview process and choose the best candidate each time.

employee contractor

Hiring managers must work within their budgets to hire the staff their companies need in order to remain productive and competitive. Once you’ve determined a need for acquiring talent, the next important question is often whether you should hire a permanent employee, or a contractor.

Each choice comes with advantages and disadvantages. When making this decision, it’s important to understand the needs and core requirements of the position you’re hiring for, and know which type of employment arrangement will be a better fit for both your organization, and the candidate.

What full-time employees can offer

Depending on the type and responsibilities of the position you’re filling, hiring a new permanent employee can allow you to strengthen your organization and improve overall productivity and performance. Some of the advantages of full-time employees include:

  • Collaboration: Employees typically work from a central location, enabling your company to foster collaboration and connectivity among staff
  • Communication: Most full-time employees share similar work hours, which improves organizational communication
  • Long-term productivity: With a full-time employee, the company receives continuous output by dictating all or most of the employee’s assignments and work projects

When should you consider a contractor?

Independent contractors can benefit your organization in a variety of situations. Hiring a contractor is typically a better choice when:

  • You’re hiring for a project with a set start and end date
  • Your company’s current employees can’t handle the entire project workload
  • The current project has tight deadlines for deliverables
  • You need temporary, specialized skills or expertise on a project basis, but not for day-to-day company operation

Hiring considerations for independent contractors

Before you begin searching for a contractor, confirm that you have the proper approval for hiring more staff. With project work that requires a contractor, determine your budget ahead of time, and include the target bill rate for the contractor in your calculations. Depending on the type of contractor you need, you may have to adjust your budget and the expectations of management prior to looking for talent.

Armada provides real-time, accurate snapshots of your local market conditions that will help you gauge supply and demand for specific IT employees, both permanent and contract. Accurate data on direct hire salaries and hourly rates can help you create an effective budget for your staffing needs. Contact us today to learn more.

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.