Are you dreading your year-end performance review? Many employees would rather have a root canal than sit down with a manager or supervisor and discuss their performance one-on-one. But an annual review doesn’t have to be a traumatic event. Instead, you can use your year-end review to gain critical insight that will catapult your career in 2015.
Here’s how to plan for and carry out an annual performance review that will fuel your next year and bring your career to new heights:
Self-review: Compare your job expectations to your performance
The first step in preparing for a year-end review is to dig out your original job description and go through it line by line, evaluating yourself on how you’ve performed in each area this year. It can help to use a scale of one to five, with one representing areas where you had little or no skill, and five for those in which you excelled beyond co-workers or professionals with similar qualifications.
You don’t have to be overly critical. The main objective with this self-review is to identify your strongest areas of performance, so you can expand on your contributions and successes in the next step and build a case for personal advancement.
Generate performance proof
Regardless of the workplace culture at your company, at the end of the day, a business views its employees as investments — and they expect to see a return. What’s your employee ROI? The ability to spell out exactly what you’ve accomplished for the business will help you navigate your year-end review and come out ahead.
Consider your role in terms of how you’ve saved the company time and/or money. You might have delivered great customer service, which resulted in repeat business (and more money), or implemented a strategic plan that reduced delays (and saved time). Any measureable reduction in time or costs, or increases in profits, that you’ve accomplished are worth noting.
Plan your own reward
Once you’ve made a strong case for your contributions, you can leverage your performance presentation to ask for the type of reward you’d like for your hard work. You may simply want a raise — which is common and often expected for year-end reviews. But if you’re already receiving a competitive salary, more money might not motivate you or help you advance your career.
For example, you may be more interested in a promotion. If there is no higher position currently available in your company, you could request a change of duties to align more with the position you want to move into, or additional responsibilities that would help prepare you for moving up. Or you may want to advance your career through training, and request to be enrolled in courses or sent to workshops, trade shows, or industry events. Another commonly sought-after benefit is flexible scheduling or part-time telecommuting.
Ask for a review sooner instead of later
For those who dread year-end performance reviews, this strategy might seem counterintuitive — you may want to put it off as long as possible. But keep in mind that employee reviews are just as exhausting for management and HR. Whoever is responsible for the review process will be fresher and more open to discussion during earlier reviews, but as the process drags on, they’ll just want to get it over with.
Requesting an early review also demonstrates your motivation and willingness to improve. Managers will see this as a positive quality, and may be more enthusiastic about helping you advance your career.
Don’t forget to follow up
One you’ve gotten through your performance review successfully, make notes about what you’ve discussed and detail your understanding of the review session’s outcome. Include both the actions you’ll take to correct and improve performance, and the rewards that were promised for your performance to date. Send your quick recap to your manager or supervisor the same day of the review, so any miscommunication can be addressed before the results are documented.
Handled properly, the year-end review is your opportunity to move your career forward and accomplish your goals for the upcoming year. Contact The Armada Group to learn how to better be prepared and positive, and don’t miss your chance to elevate your career in 2015.
More companies may be moving away from IT cost reduction, but the responsibilities of IT departments continue to expand. In addition to standard operational and tactical activities, IT is often expected to drive innovation, foster business agility, and increase its own value to the organization — with the same limited resources.
For many IT departments, the best response to this challenge is to get more from their existing resource pool, particularly IT talent. The trick is ensuring that your team must stay motivated to be more efficient and productive, without burning out.
Here are three strategies you can use to unlock the potential of your talent, generating heightened productivity and innovation:
Encourage time management with “zones”
Improved time management leads to greater efficiency, but your team may not know how to get started. There are so many time management strategies to choose from that simply deciding on a method to implement can be challenging. As an IT manager, you can help by encouraging everyone on your team to learn and use the same strategy.
Zone-based time management is an effective method that works well in an IT environment. This strategy, developed by Eric Bloom of Manager Mechanics, is based on the idea of being “in the zone” — a time of peak productivity when a person is focused, motivated, and knows what needs to be done. In zone-based prioritization, IT pros tackle complex tasks like software development and business case writing while they’re in the zone, and perform less demanding activities at other times, according to their alertness levels. Here’s a look at the breakdown:
- In the zone: High-level tasks (development, project planning, business writing)
- Alert but not creative: Structured tasks (status report writing, project plan vs. actual tracking)
- Functional but not up for a challenge: Routine tasks (returning emails, expense reports, reviewing spam folders)
- Basically not sleeping: Low-level or busywork tasks (cleaning their office, deleting old email, filing things)
Develop talent diversity with cross-training
It’s a well-known fact that training existing employees is cheaper and less time-consuming than hiring new employees, yet many IT departments avoid this approach — whether it’s because they’re too focused on the idea that “hot new talent” must be acquired, or they believe multi-disciplined IT pros are less effective because their skills are spread out further. However, cross-training is a smarter, faster, and longer-lasting solution not only for getting more out of your existing talent resources, but also for increasing employee loyalty, satisfaction, and motivation levels.
The majority of IT professionals appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills, especially if they’re provided training on the company dime. Cross-training boosts employee retention, while equipping your organization with the right tools to handle constantly shifting business requirements. When everyone on your IT team is able to tackle multiple disciplines, any given project will be smoother and more efficient.
You’ll also have happier developers and engineers who are motivated to stretch their skills, try new things, and drive innovation and success for the company.
Schedule personal creative time for your talent
For top IT talent, technology is often more than a job — it’s a way of life. Many IT pros have a side project or three going on, in addition to what they’re doing at work. And if you allow your talent on-the-clock time for pursuing their own creative ideas, those side projects could ultimately benefit your organization.
The best way to let your team tinker with personal projects during the workday is to actually schedule creative time, building it right into your company’s planning process. Set a percentage of time — anywhere from 5-to-10 percent works well — for employees to indulge their personal creativity, and work out the best way to provide that time. It might be several hours on a certain day of the week, or a few hours set aside on two or three days.
When implemented consistently, this freedom to develop creatively will increase motivation and productivity for your talent, and lead to potential spinoff products that add to your organization’s bottom line. If you want to know more about driving motivation and productivity, talk to the pros at The Armada Group today.
IT reorganization is one of the biggest projects you may ever undertake as an IT manager. No matter how you approach a reorg, it’s going to cost you time, resources, and productivity. This means it’s essential to have a sound, business-oriented strategy in place before the decision to reorganize is made.
Here are the most important considerations for launching and implementing an effective IT reorganization for your company:
Know why you’re considering a reorganization
The best way to avoid potentially complex and costly mistakes is to understand the actual problems that prompted you to consider an IT reorg, and decide whether there’s another way to address those problems.
Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with a reorganization. If your goals can be met through alternative fixes, try implementing the less disruptive solutions first.
If alternatives fail, or if reorganization is the clear answer, then it’s time to talk strategy.
Decide where to start
IT reorganization is a measure that’s intended to solve problems with the organization’s tech department. This means you need a thorough understanding of not just the problems themselves, but the issues they’re causing throughout the organization.
The first step in building a reorg strategy is to communicate — with your IT team, with key stakeholders, and with C-level management. Your approach may vary depending on the parties involved, but the goal is to same: to open conversations and gather input on pain points affecting various parts of the company, and IT areas that could stand improvement.
Gauge your reasons for reorganizing
There are several legitimate reasons to undertake IT reorganization. Here are some of the most common:
- Your technology is an island: In today’s highly connected business environment, insular IT departments simply won’t survive. Bryan Kirschner, director of the Apogee Institute, indicates three must-have qualities for successful IT: outside-in, cloud-first, and mobile-centric. If your organization lacks these qualities, a reorganization may be the right solution.
- IT is failing to deliver results: This is one of the most obvious reasons to consider a reorganization, but it’s also one that requires the most caution. If your IT department regularly misses deadlines and exceeds budgets, a reorg may be called for — but only if there’s no other way to fix these problems.
- You’re new at the helm: If you’re a newly appointed IT leader, whether you’ve been promoted or arrived from another company, you may be itching to make sweeping changes. Depending on the actual situation, this may be a good idea — just be sure it’s the right one. Reorganizing simply because “it’s been a while since the last one” is never a good strategy.
- The company mission refocuses on new technology: Every business in every industry today needs technology to thrive. If your organization is facing major changes to the way technology impacts your daily operations — such as migrating from single-channel to omni-channel customer experiences — reorganization is almost certainly the right choice.
Obtain buy-in at the C-level and within your team
If you don’t have key personnel on board, your chances of successfully reorganizing will plummet. As with any business initiative, C-level buy-in can make or break an IT reorganization — so make sure to involve them from the start, and maintain transparency by sharing your objectives throughout the process.
You’ll also need to involve your IT team, in order to keep morale elevated and maintain productivity during the often difficult and lengthy reorganization. Keeping your team involved and informed not only helps to decrease the stress that always comes with change, but also helps them feel they have a stake in the success of the reorg.
With thorough planning and communication, you can roll out an IT reorganization smoothly and effectively, and enjoy the benefits of a streamlined IT department for the entire organization. If you need help with this, or any, IT procedure, contact the experts at The Armada Group.
Being a great leader — whether you’re already in an executive position or looking to be promoted to one — requires strong emotional intelligence. And an important part of emotional intelligence is the ability to keep negativity out of your communication and interaction with other people. Negative thinking and emotion prevents you from getting results both for yourself and with others. What’s more, negativity can spread stress like it’s contagious — studies have shown that negative thoughts transmit stress-producing hormones that affect those around you.
Even if you have high emotional intelligence, you may be putting out negative vibes without realizing it. Here are five subtle but common ways you might not know you’re being negative, and what to do if you spot yourself engaging in them.
Not accepting compliments
For many people, responding to compliments with a demurral is an instinctive reaction. If you’re told you did a good job, your instinct may be to downplay the sentiment by crediting someone else, insisting it wasn’t that hard, or even saying you were just lucky. You may think you’re being humble — but this type of reaction actually undermines your confidence and makes it harder for other people to trust your skills or abilities.
Instead of demurring, learn to accept compliments with grace (and a dash of humility). Own your positive actions or accomplishments, even if your response is a simple “thank you” with no further discussion on the subject of the compliment.
Negating a positive
Negative inferences happen when you make a positive statement, and then follow it up with something negative that undermines the effect. For example, you might say, “My last performance review was fantastic, but I’m still not making the salary I should.”
The first part of this statement is positive and worth both consideration and discussion. But when it’s followed immediately with negativity, the positive value goes out the window — and suddenly you’re one of those people who always sees the glass as half empty. Negative inferences crush enthusiasm and prevent others from taking your side.
Instead, keep your positive statements positive and focused on your options. For example, you might say, “My last performance review was fantastic, so now I’m going to work on presenting my accomplishments better so I can negotiate a higher salary.”
Reacting too quickly
When something goes wrong, people have a tendency to react — and in the heat of the moment, your reaction might be less than emotionally intelligent. For instance, if a team member says something unfortunate during a meeting, you might approach them after the meeting with a comment along the lines of, “That was a stupid thing to say!” This type of reaction is not constructive, and can quickly break down relationships.
A better way to handle moments like these is to focus on responding, instead of reacting. When you respond to a problem, issue, or negative situation, you give yourself time to consider what really happened and why it might have happened — and then formulate a thoughtful reply that is constructive and considerate.
“Yeah, but…” mode
Everyone’s said it from time to time. Someone makes a suggestion, and you want to agree, but you immediately calculate the problems with the idea and your response sentence starts with “Yeah, but…”
This opening is a blocker. The word “but” dismisses anything positive that came before it, and makes collaboration with other people difficult. If you find yourself saying “Yeah, but” frequently, people will lose interest in listening to you.
Instead of agreeing, and then immediately disagreeing, focus on validating ideas that you believe are worthy, and offering possible changes or alternatives for those that don’t quite seem there yet. Keep the “but” out of your responses.
Bringing others down to raise yourself up
Emotionally intelligent people understand that the path to success is not forged by blatantly stepping on others along the way. However, you could be engaging in a more subtle form of diminishing other people, through statements that contain gossip or put-downs — even if they seem innocuous.
Besides the risk of having these negative comments get back to the people you’ve made them about, the person you’re talking to may wonder what you’re saying about them to others. If you’re tempted to put someone else down in order to feel better, ask yourself what your real motivation is for making these damaging statements. It might be insecurity about your own performance, jealousy of someone else’s abilities, or simply just a bad habit of engaging in gossip.
This type of negativity can be the most difficult to overcome — but it’s also the most rewarding. When you have genuine respect and kindness for others, they’ll reciprocate, and you’ll be better positioned for leadership.
Want to learn more about being an emotionally intelligent leader? Contact the staffing and recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We can help you find – and retain – the best in IT management and professionalism.
The role of the IT manager is changing as rapidly as technology itself. And while the normal mode of operation for IT concerning internal end users used to be rigid control over technology choices, many of today’s CIOs and other IT leaders are realizing the benefits of saying “yes” to user requests for new technologies, while finding ways to maintain standards and mitigate risk.
In the past, IT managers were able to tell employees and end users that they had access to the best technology available — even if it wasn’t completely true. But today’s employees have access to the latest apps and industry information. They’re savvy, they know what’s out there, and they want the right tools for the job.
On the other hand, allowing access to any tool your employees want to use can create security risks and productivity issues. Here’s how to balance end user demands for new technologies with best practices and a degree of control, so you can bridge the gap for end users across departments.
Give end users tools that work
Many CIOs are realizing that when employees use tools they don’t have permission to use, it’s not because they’re contrary or looking to break the rules. They just want to get their jobs done — and if a tool helps them accomplish that, they’re going to use it. Often this means the tools IT has made available to them simply aren’t working well.
It’s important to make sure you’ve authorized tools, apps, and services that help employees do their jobs. You may have enterprise solutions in place that are confusing, or that don’t integrate well with existing systems. This is when employees start to look for workarounds in the form of easier tools that may or may not be authorized.
How can you figure out what users want? One strategy is to use a cloud visibility solution like Skyhigh to see what services employees are actually using — and instead of restricting usage, look for common needs and deploy solutions that address them. For example, if a lot of end users are engaged in file sharing, look into the app or apps that would work best for them without risking security, and authorize its use.
Collaborate on tech budgets
Even as technology expands and advances, many IT budgets are shrinking. The primary reason is that other departments are receiving higher budgets for technology investments — marketing, for example, typically invests heavily in analytics and Big Data strategies. For many organizations, marketing departments are becoming the largest software centers.
Rather than fight this shift, CIOs and IT managers would fare better by cooperating with other departments and gaining a say in how technology budgets are allocated across the organization.
Separate departmental decisions on IT spending can fragment an infrastructure and cause more headaches for IT. Instead, tech leaders should focus on working cross-departmentally and acting in an advisory capacity for marketing, sales, HR, and others with budgetary discretion. It’s easier to create a unified solution that successfully integrates with multiple systems from the start, than to throw a bunch of disparate systems together and try to patch things over after the investments have been made.
The new role of the IT manager is to bridge technology gaps for end users throughout the organization, and keep things running smoothly, efficiently, and securely. Being open to saying “yes” more often, and willing to cooperate with other departments, is the key to success in today’s business IT landscape. For more information on how to use this knowledge to benefit your organization, contact the IT recruiting experts at The Armada Group.
What makes a great leader? There are nearly as many definitions as there are leaders in IT, but certain characteristics tend to stand out when you consider outstanding IT leaders. And if you’re aspiring to greatness as a leader in your field, emulating these characteristics will help you improve your own performance as well as your team’s — and place your career on the path to success.
Here are five tips that will help you understand what makes an outstanding leader, and how to implement best practices in your own leadership career to achieve greatness.
1. Communicate effectively
Do you assign tasks or projects to your team, only to find that the end results are far from what you had in mind when you implemented the project? Does your team ask you a lot of questions that you feel they should know the answers to? Are there frequent disagreements among your team about how, when, and with whom work should proceed? If these problems are present, you may have communication issues.
Great leaders are able to describe what they want done succinctly and clearly. The key to effective communication is considering not only what you’re saying, but how the people you’re addressing will receive your message. If you can’t communicate your vision, your team won’t be working toward the same goal — and the end results will suffer.
2. Embrace delegation
Some people in leadership positions subscribe to the philosophy that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Unfortunately, this is the opposite of what leadership is all about — motivating and inspiring others to perform to the best of their abilities.
The ability to delegate is an essential quality for a great leader. You can’t do everything yourself — and you shouldn’t, because your team will suffer. Failure to delegate tasks (without micromanaging the implementation of the tasks you’ve assigned) demonstrates a lack of trust in your team, which leads to a breakdown of loyalty and motivation.
3. Generate confidence
Outstanding leaders know that confidence breeds confidence. This means remaining confident in the abilities of your team when things are going right — and when they’re going wrong. One small crisis can set off a chain reaction of issues and problems, especially in IT. If you react negatively to everything that goes wrong, you’ll create an atmosphere of uncertainty and doubt that will severely impact productivity.
Maintain a positive attitude, and remind everyone on your team — including yourself, if necessary — that setbacks are natural and expected. When you remain calm and confident through a crisis, you help to keep everyone on track and working toward the common goal.
4. Walk the walk
When making a distinction between bosses and leaders, it’s common to point out that bosses talk, but leaders walk. The very best leaders are those who lead by example — you can’t expect your team to turn in their best performances, unless you’re putting forth your best efforts too.
Commitment is a vital quality for outstanding leaders. You need to demonstrate through your actions that you’re committed to producing great work right along with the team — in other words, you need to be the person you want to lead.
5. Hone your sense of humor
One of the easiest ways to spot a great leader is to observe the workplace environment. Are the employees excited and engaged? Do they show up every day with a positive attitude, and look forward to tackling the challenges ahead? If this is the case, you’re sure to find a leader with a great sense of humor at the head of the team.
The ability to find humor in struggles and challenges can transform your work environment, creating a happy and healthy space that your team will enjoy coming to every day. Learn to laugh at yourself, even in the midst of crisis, and you’re well on your way to becoming an outstanding IT leader.
If you need more help distinguishing these characteristics in your management team, or yourself, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today. We know what it takes to cultivate a strong leadership team, and have a wide talent network of top candidates who exhibit the five traits mentioned above.
Working from home is a dream for many IT professionals. It’s great to imagine reducing your commute to a few steps down the hallway, wearing pajamas to work, and never having to deal with office politics again — not to mention being able to set your own schedule and rates, and making enough money to have an in-ground pool as your office.
But the fact is, while the work-at-home lifestyle is portrayed as easy and carefree, it’s not so easy to actually work while you’re at home, surrounded by endless distractions. It takes some serious discipline and practice to stay focused, but it can be done.
Here’s a great collection of must-read advice for staying productive while you work from home.
Let go of telecommuting myths
When you work from home, you’ll be your own boss and have plenty of free time — or will you? It’s important to realize, especially when you’re first starting out, that you’ll have to work hard for several different bosses on all the freelance IT projects you take to reach success (but ultimately, you have the final say in what you do or don’t work on).
Microsoft’s Crabby Office Lady takes a look at common telecommuting myths, and offers tips on getting work-from-home to work for you.
Learn the 10 Commandments (of working from home)
From actually getting ready for work in the morning — even though you’re not going anywhere — to making time for your physical and mental needs, this checklist is a must-read for anyone considering or already working in a telecommuting environment. The bonus commandment also helps you maintain your friendships, which will be invaluable when the isolation of working from home gets to you.
Thou shalt read and remember the 10 Commandments of Working From Home.
Find out if you’re the work-from-home type
Telecommuting is not the right choice for everyone. If you don’t work well without direction, or depend on interaction with other people to get you through the day, you may flounder when the only person holding you accountable and keeping you going is you. You also need to have a real working space, and the ability to separate your personal and professional lives.
Find out why Entrepreneur.com says that Working From Home is Hard Work.
Get the lowdown on eating well at home
A lot of people who work from home find their eating habits dropping drastically into the poor to disastrous range — they might end up constantly snacking at the computer, or “forget” to eat for hours (or days). It takes a little planning, but balancing your nutritional needs with your work-from-home lifestyle is essential for keeping up motivation and productivity.
Lifehacker discusses how to eat well while working from home.
Avoid becoming a hermit
Another common problem for telecommuters is the sense of isolation. Spending the majority of your day alone, when email may be your only contact with other people, can take a toll on your mental health, creativity, and ability to produce. Fortunately, there are many ways you can alleviate the isolation and still work from home successfully.
Inc.com discusses this and more with 8 Ways to Be Happy and Productive in Your Home Office.
Know how to work from home…with kids
For a parent, working from home can be a fantastic opportunity to earn a living without having to shell out for daycare and juggle transportation. The ability to have a flexible schedule and be there for your kids is priceless — but making things work when you’re surrounded by little ones can take some extra effort.
One work-from-home mom shares her secrets to success in How to work from home without losing your mind.
Discover your personal productivity boosters
Everyone has different work habits. The best way to be successful as a telecommuter is to find what makes you most productive, and work it into your routine. There are plenty of out-of-the-box strategies that can help you keep things running smoothly in your home office.
Check out these productive work-at-home hacks from Lifehack to get started.
If you need help implementing successful work-from-home tactics, or are searching for a career with flexible hours and telecommuting options, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today.
What web-based company has the world’s largest Hadoop cluster? Surprisingly, it’s not Google, Facebook, or even Twitter — it’s Yahoo!, with 455 petabytes of data stored on over 100,000 CPUs in more than 40,000 servers. The company’s biggest Hadoop cluster, at around 4,500 nodes, is around four times the size of Facebook’s largest cluster.
Hadoop is a hot topic in today’s tech world, especially when it comes to Big Data. As more organizations work toward mining and implementing Big Data strategies, the use of Hadoop on a larger scale is set to become the new standard for practical, results-driven applications of data mining.
What is Hadoop, and why does it matter?
At the most basic definition, Hadoop is a free, open source software library that makes useful, cost-effective processing of Big Data possible. The Hadoop library, developed by the Apache Software Foundation, is built on underlying technology that was invented by Google to index the massive amounts of data collected by the search engine and transform it into relevant results for searchers.
Hadoop consists of four modules — Hadoop Common, Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Hadoop YARN, and Hadoop MapReduce — and includes several compatible add-ons such as programming languages and databases, which enhance the real-world applications of the library.
Providing scale and flexibility for large data projects, on a basis that’s affordable for both enterprise and small business, makes Hadoop an attractive solution with endless potential.
The appeal of Hadoop
As Yahoo! has come to realize, Hadoop provides a wide range of flexible, scalable capabilities and vastly increased potential for the real application of Big Data. In most large organizations today, data is siloed — stored and worked with in separate systems with little to no cross-functionality. Large-scale Hadoop installations make it possible for organizations to share data quickly, easily and effectively, with strong security measures still in place to prevent data breaches and malware attacks.
With an organization’s data stored collectively, Hadoop installations can then run YARN to manage data ecosystems. Hadoop YARN is a framework that provides job scheduling and cluster resource management, enabling the system to spread resources out sufficiently across multiple machines and deliver increased flexibility. The YARN framework also maintains redundancy to guard against data loss and system failure.
With YARN, engineers and developers can work immediately on small clusters within a larger deployment, and collaborate with others without sacrificing security.
Combining Hadoop with other systems
Within Hadoop, there are several distinct systems that can be operated independently, but still remain part of the larger ecosystem. This includes elements such as Hbase, the non-relational distributed database for Hadoop; Pig, a high-level platform for large-set data analysis; and Hive, a data warehouse infrastructure.
Hadoop has the capabilities to handle large swaths of an organization’s data needs, but depending on the individual company, other systems may be used to supplement a Hadoop installation — and the library integrates well with popular enterprise systems. For example, Yahoo! employs other systems for email serving, and photo serving in Flickr, but stores copied data from these systems in Hadoop.
The rise of Big Data and the need for efficient, cost-effective analytics has paved the way for Hadoop to become standard in organizations of all sizes. To find out if your organization should be undergoing a Hadoop installation, contact the IT experts at The Armada Group.
Most IT departments are, by nature, results-driven. And because IT loves numbers and formulas, you’ll find myriad combinations of analytics and KPIs and data charts designed to measure success — usually in terms of output or dollars. But how good are these measurements in gauging the success of your career on a day-to-day basis?
If you’re an IT pro, and you want raises and promotions and accolades (and who doesn’t?), all those analytics won’t help you much in the way of personal advancement. There are better ways to track your progress that can alleviate the daily stresses of your job and help you become more satisfied, productive, and promotable.
Here are three of them, relating to the most common issues IT professionals face in the workplace: prioritizing, communicating, and building relationships.
Prioritize: Measuring where all your time really goes
For an IT pro, there are never enough hours in the day. Your workload always seems to exceed the amount of time you have to spend on it, and every week you feel further behind. But the good news is, you’re probably spending a lot of time on tasks you don’t need to worry about — and you can focus your efforts to increase productivity and decrease stress.
Take the time each day to write down your top three-to-five priorities. Then keep track of what you do all day, and how long you do it. Once you have these lists, figure out what percentage of time you’re spending on your priorities versus everything else, and prune out the clutter. If your workload is actually too heavy to accomplish your core tasks, you can show this data to your boss and ask to have non-essential activities reassigned.
Communicate: Measuring the effectiveness of what others are hearing
Good communication is essential in the workplace. As an IT pro, you need to communicate not only with the rest of your team, but also with your supervisors, management, people in other departments, or even customers. And the most common barrier to communication is that not everyone you need to convey information to speaks the same language.
When you’re communicating something, the tendency is to think only about what you have to say. But the key to effective communication is to understand how the other person needs to hear it. If you’re speaking to a non-tech person, you can’t use jargon or complex terms. If your style is straightforward and to the point, a less direct person may find you abrasive or intimidating — and therefore will only hear your tone, not the words you’re saying.
Consider the communication issues you’ve experienced in light of your audience. Is it possible they could have misunderstood you because of their listening style? To measure your effectiveness in communicating, pay attention to nonverbal cues that suggest they’re confused by the terms you’re using, or tuning out your words in favor of your tone. You can adjust the way you convey information to make sure everyone’s clear, resulting in smoother daily operations all around.
Relate: Measuring your workplace relationships
Relationships make the working world go ‘round. When you have strong relationships in the workplace, your career will flourish — but weak relationships can hamper or cripple your progress. You may get along great with like-minded people, but what about those from different generations, different cultures, or even different departments?
Improving your workplace relationships will help you get ahead, and make for a more harmonious environment for everyone. It only takes a few minutes at a time to build rapport — you can choose a day to sit with a different group at lunch, or invite a co-worker you don’t know well for a cup of coffee. Make it a point to offer authentic compliments on other people’s work, especially those in different departments, and send a quick thank-you when another person does something that positively affects your work.
Charts and analytics are great for measuring the technical ROI of your work, but these real-world measurements can help you achieve personal satisfaction and advancement. Speak to the experts at The Armada Group today to find out how to take a better measure of your IT success, and enjoy lowered stress and higher productivity.
With the rise of easily accessible technologies like the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the digital landscape is more competitive than ever. Organizations looking for an edge need to focus on innovation — especially when it comes to apps.
App development is the new frontier for innovation and organizational change. The best way to achieve this is to give your developers room and encouragement to innovate, by making their lives easier and providing them with the tools they need to produce great apps and secure valuable intellectual property (IP) for your organization.
The following tips will help you help your developers, leading to increased innovation and driving competition in a fast-paced technical world.
Go all in with the public cloud
For most organizations, building an in-house infrastructure with enough servers, storage, and services to provide developers with sufficient resources for innovation just isn’t practical, or even feasible. The public cloud is a faster and more economical choice, both for developers and the organization as a whole.
Public clouds offer highly efficient, flexible infrastructures that can scale up as needed, and consume only those resources developers actually use. Embracing the public cloud reduces project completion times and product time-to-market, and saves you significant money.
Broaden access to tools and services
With the rise of SaaS and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), the many tools and resources employed by developers can be readily available. In the past, most organizations relied on long-term contracts for services and tools, often spending hundreds or thousands on legacy and enterprise software in the interests of cost efficiency over time — complete with drawn-out approval processes and lengthy installations and rollout.
This approach is detrimental to app developers, who may switch the tools and services they use from day to day and prefer to test out a tool before making a long-term commitment. You can encourage innovation by foregoing long-term contracts and letting developers self-select the tools they’ll use.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by giving them access to enterprise developer marketplaces, such as those from Windows Azure, Red Hat, and Heroku. These marketplaces allow developers to work with a wide variety of enterprise-ready tools and APIs, which help them build better applications, faster.
Encourage freedom from locks and controls
When your developers are locked down to a single platform or language, innovation is stifled. Allowing and encouraging them to design platform agnostic apps for the Web, mobile, and Internet of Things devices will save your developers a lot of time and grief.
What’s more, you can encourage innovation by limiting the controls placed on developer experimentation. Consider monitoring tools and API management solutions that take security measures into account, but still provide developers a window into network traffic.
Give developers time for pet projects
In general, developers are highly creative and love to make things. Regardless of what they’re working on for the organization, chances are high they’re also invested in a few personal side projects. They’ll work on these projects on their own — but your organization can benefit by allowing developers to pursue pet projects at work.
The ability to collaborate with co-workers on side projects and invest paid time in developing them often leads to positive, unanticipated developments, such as solving a business problem that was previously intractable. You may also end up with new products to add to your organization’s portfolio — AdSense, Gmail, and Google Hangouts all began as Google employees’ side projects.
If you provide your developers with tools and resources they can use without limits, and the time they need to pursue creative solutions, you’ll benefit from the innovative apps and products they turn out.
For more information on innovation – for your employees or your recruiting strategy – contact the innovative recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We know what it takes to stay at the forefront of our industry, and can help you with any staffing issue today.