News & Articles

Not My Job

What is your job? It is your job to provide what the customer needs. The only reason that our customers engage our company’s services is because they have things that need to be done that they either don’t have time to do, don’t have the personnel to do, or just plain don’t have the inclination to do, If each of our employees makes it his/her focus to constantly be on the look-out for things that the customer needs done and that they have the skills to do, all would go well for both the customer and you.

It should never be your inclination to say (or think) “That’s not my job!” It is your job to give the customer what the customer thinks they want. Each of us should function in a manner that recognizes that we are not consultants hired to tell our customers what they should do. We are hired to do what our customers want us to do. Yes, if they ask for an opinion regarding what should be done, you should feel free to offer advice based upon your experience and knowledge, but without a specific request, the focus of your work should be set by the wishes and needs of our customer.

When you start limiting what you consider to be “your job”, you start limiting the duration of your job. Our customers value flexibility and willingness to adapt to whatever the customer sees as today’s priority situation. Our longest service employees have all shown a willingness to adapt and that ability has made it very easy for us to continue placing them in different groups as they have developed a reputation for taking on whatever needs to be done without the “not my job” attitude. Make it your goal to be more like them in this regard.

When it really is your fault

 

Step up and confess as soon as you realize what went wrong. Waiting to see how things shake out is a bad idea. As soon as a situation starts going south, step up and point out where the problem started – with you, yourself. The sooner the problem is identified, the sooner a resolution is possible, and that minimizes consequences.

 

Don’t skate around the issue. This means you should state the problem directly, clearly and simply rather than beating around the bush or attempting to confuse the issue in order to make you look less responsible. Again, when problems crop up, the quickest way to the solution is simple, direct identification of the problem’s origin and details. Trying to skate around an issue is just frustrating, and in the end the problem takes longer to deal with and becomes more complicated the longer it goes on.

 

Don’t try to shift even a part of the blame. This doesn’t mean that you should accept blame that you don’t deserve. But saying things like, “Well, if he hadn’t done this then I wouldn’t have done that.” It is lame. Instead, say, “I am so sorry for this. I had no idea that what I did could cause this type of problem. How can I help fix it?”

 

Realize that the truth will be discovered eventually. It’s been said, and is generally true, that “the truth is just a shortcut to what’s going to happen anyway.” If you’re around when the truth does come out, and you haven’t confessed your part in the problem, your credibility for all future situations will be compromised terribly. When others realize that you had the last clear chance to step up and own that mistake, but instead you allowed them to share blame with you, they will not appreciate it at all. When your boss realizes that you allowed others to bear responsibility for your mistake, your days will be numbered, or at the very least, your prospects for advancement will be curtailed significantly.56

 

Help solve the problem. Once you’ve caused a problem, don’t wait to be forced or pressured to remedy it – volunteer. Don’t ask if you can help – ask how you can help. Watch carefully as those who help the most do their work, and take note of the way they resolve the issue. File this information in your memory and have it handy for later use.

 

Explain yourself. Once the recovery is underway, you should try to explain what your thought process was, so that your boss, significant other or parent can understand what led you to the point where things went pear-shaped. Many times, once you’ve explained your thinking, others will say, “Well, that does make sense in a way, however…” By doing this, you are allowing them to help correct the way you think about things, and helping yourself for the future. Be careful not to justify the mistake or behavior. Look at the difference in these two statements: “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but I haven’t been sleeping well.” (Justification) versus “I’ve been on edge because I haven’t been getting much sleep lately, but it was wrong of me to yell at you and I’m sorry.” Learn how to apologize properly.

 

Accept consequences. There may be some – that’s why it’s scary to step forward and admit responsibility. But shouldering blame early and helping in the resolution of the problem will make any punishment or penance less harsh. Take your punishment as courageously as possible, and when it’s done, it’s really over – you’ll have learned your lesson and maintained personal integrity in the process.

…He who shall not work…

“…he who shall not work, shall not eat…”

John Smith, 1608

Jamestowne, Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in the New World in 1607. Most of the early settlers were men of ‘gentry’; gentlemen whose birthright (in the old world) ‘entitled’ them exclusion from such menial labors such as farming, fishing, hunting, ‘smithing, etc. As a result more than half of the 140 or so initial settlers died that first winter, mostly from starvation.

John Smith was elected leader in 1608. He was a soldier, adventurer and realist. He knew that to survive in the New World, Old World traditions had to be discarded and so did away with the cultural mores of entitlement and enacted more egalitarian measures of behavior – everyone was expected to ‘pull their weight’ or be punished– he also allowed those who farmed the land, to keep that land and profit from their labors. This ‘stick and carrot’ approach ensured the survival of the settlement as it eventually grew and prospered.

As harsh as this story sounds, it has been repeated many times through many other explorations, adventures and circumstances where survival is at stake. One lesson we can take away from this, is that you do profit from your own labors, and collectively, we all benefit from our individual pursuits of money, fame and fortune. However, no one of us is entitled to any more than we can provide for ourselves or others.

The World is still a tough place, but there are always opportunities for growth and prosperity and all it takes is a little initiative and a willingness to work outside of our ‘comfort zone’.

Resilience

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

How do people remain calm and cope under pressure – whether it is in the face of a major corporate drama or when they’re on the verge of a melt-down due to a relentless workload and impossible deadlines?

Some interesting research from is helping to develop an understanding of how people can develop their own personal ‘resilience’ and respond better to the pressure that work (and sometimes ‘life’) increasingly throws at us.

The following practical tips can help you in any setting, cope better with difficult challenges and unwanted change.

1. Find your sense of purpose

Having structure, commitment and meaning in life will help make you more resilient. A clear sense of purpose can help you assess setbacks better and look at them within the bigger picture. One of the best ways to do this is to think about “who” and “what” is important to you when you are under pressure.

2. Develop your problem solving strategies

The way people perceive situations, solve problems and manage change is crucial. Take a step back and think about how you approach difficult issues, how often you follow objective logic or how often your judgment is clouded by emotional responses and irrational thinking.

3. Develop your self-awareness

The more self-aware you are the more resilient you will be. Try developing a stronger belief in yourself and your capabilities by looking back at memorable and challenging experiences (both positive and negative) and thinking about what impact these had on your personal development.

4. Embrace change

Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you will be better equipped to respond when faced with unexpected work challenges or a personal crisis. This often involves getting outside your comfort zone and increasing your curiosity and openness to new experiences both in and out of work. Resilient people often use an adverse event as an opportunity to branch out in new directions.

5. Become a continuous learner

Learn new skills, gain new understanding and apply these during times of change. Don’t hold onto old behaviors and bad habits, especially when it’s obvious that they don’t work anymore. Start thinking about what drives your preference towards these old behaviors and bad habits and whether they are truly helpful for the situations you now face.

6. Get enough sleep

When you feel stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercise and not getting enough sleep are all common reactions to both everyday pressure and a crisis situation. By taking care of your own needs, you can boost your overall health and resilience and be fully ready to face life’s challenges.

7. Do the things you enjoy

In situations of increased work pressure it can be extremely difficult to still do the things you enjoy. People often focus on solving the challenge at hand and may work longer and later and to their own detriment overlook other parts of their life. You will feel revitalized if you continue to do things and take part in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good about yourself, even when under pressure.

Impact and Influence

(Linda Cattelan, humanresources.com)

 

What is Impact and Influence?

 

Impact and influence as a competency is the ability to persuade or convince others to support an idea, agenda or direction.  Sometimes we refer to it as strategic influence.  It involves taking a variety of actions to influence others including establishing credibility or using data to directly persuade or address a person’s issues or concerns.
Impact and influence is often linked to organizational awareness.  Understanding who the key decision makers are, who wields the power and who the influencers are, enables you to be more strategic in your dealings and approaches with stakeholders in order to get your desired results.

 

Here are some ways you can increase your ability to impact and influence others:

 

Be Confident:

 

Confident people command more attention.  Do what you can to build your confidence.  That could mean doing more research or homework on the topics you are trying to promote or influence.  Practice speaking in front of a mirror until you like how you are coming across.

 

Be an Observer:

 

Successful people really do listen twice as much as they speak.  Learn to observe others: what they say, how they say it, what they value, how they communicate both verbally and non-verbally, through their body language.  Study and observe your audience until you understand what makes them tick.

 

Build Relationships:

 

Get to know your key stakeholders and build rapport with each of them.  Rapport is the first step in building stronger relationships and the key to effective and more meaningful communication.

 

Ask Questions:

 

The best way to understand your client or prospect is to ask lots of open-ended questions.  Ask questions to better understand their needs, wants and desires.  This will help you better plan your communication strategy with each of them.

 

Communicate Effectively:

 

How well do you know the communication style and/or preference of the person you are trying to influence?  Knowing whether they are visual, auditory or kinesthetic can assist you in better targeting your communication and your message.

 

Know Your Outcome:

 

What is it that you are hoping to achieve?  What does success look like?  Be clear on your desired outcomes.

 

Be Strategic:

 

Plan and do your homework.  Have a plan and work your plan.  Know who your stakeholders are and find out as much as you can about each of them.  Determine how and when you will communicate with them.  Follow your plan and change as you go.  Incorporate your learning into any changes you make.  Keep your focus on your goal.

 

Increasing your impact and influence capabilities will increase your credibility and your success in getting things done with others and through others.  The stronger your ability to impact and influence others the more likely you too will become a power player, a key influencer, or an organizational decision maker –

Workplace Etiquette

Having good etiquette at the workplace is extremely important apart from talent and qualifications to be a favorite in your office. However, it has been observed that many, young as well as middle aged professionals, are not aware of the workplace etiquette guidelines and this creates a very bad impression in the office. The workplace etiquette tips mentioned in the next few paragraphs will help you to maintain a professional appearance.

 
Among all the workplace etiquette guidelines, the most important is to be punctual to your office. Though going late due to an emergency is okay, habitual late comers are never appreciated in any organization. By arriving at your office on time, you show that you are aware of your responsibilities and have respect for the organization. In case you feel that you would be late, then calling the concerned authority and reporting the matter to him would be a good business etiquette in the workplace. More on workplace ethics.

 
The workplace etiquette guidelines for behavior in the office are many. Many times, you will have to communicate with the co-workers of your office working at another location or your clients located in any part of the world. In such instances, a proper knowledge of the workplace email etiquette is a must. In the official e-mails, you need to clearly mention the subject and be concise. While at the same time include all the important details which are to be shared. You should use good and grammatically correct language while writing e-mails. Always use correct and relevant recipients – e.g. ‘reply all’ or mass mailing should be used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary.

 
A knowledge of telephone etiquette in the workplace is very essential as we all have to speak on the telephone at some point during our daily work. While talking to your managers or colleagues on the telephone, be polite and listen to what they are saying carefully. Only then should you say what you feel. Speak in a voice which would be heard clearly at the other end as any wrong interpretation of information can cause big blunders in the office.

 
The workplace etiquette guidelines are important even while you are dining or celebrating with your coworkers. If you get a call in between, then seek the permission of the others by saying excuse me and then receive the call. Do not talk loudly while eating. Be very careful while interacting with the other employees and especially with female employees. Greet people well and try to make them feel comfortable while being in your company. You should remember that your behavior and manners are under observation and this can play a very vital role in your promotions and increments. Any company would always want decent, well behaved and smart people to occupy the topmost positions and guide the company towards the set targets. So, any kind of misbehavior can destroy your advancement prospects to a great extent. Following a dress code for the office is a good practice.

One of the most important of all the workplace etiquette guidelines is to avoid indulging in activities such as bad mouthing fellow workers or even the company you work for in front of others or gossiping. You should be mature enough to understand that in an organization, everyone is given an equal opportunity to excel in his/her work and office politics will help you in no way to get ahead.

The only way of achieving what you wish, is to deliver better performances every time you get an opportunity. Try to complete your targets in the time allotted to you and be assured of getting good returns for your hard work.

Hard Work

Most people will do what’s easiest and avoid hard work — and that’s precisely why you should do the opposite. The superficial opportunities of life will be attacked by hordes of people seeking what’s easy. The much tougher challenges will usually see a lot less competition and a lot more opportunity.

Strong challenge is commonly connected with strong results. Sure you can get lucky every once in a while and find an easy path to success. But will you be able to maintain that success, or is it just a fluke? Will you be able to repeat it? Once other people learn how you did it, will you find yourself overloaded with competition?

When you discipline yourself to do what is hard, you gain access to a realm of results that are denied everyone else. The willingness to do what is difficult is like having a key to a special private treasure room.

The nice thing about hard work is that it’s universal. It doesn’t matter what your job role is — hard work can be used to achieve positive long-term results regardless of the specifics.

We used this same philosophy in building this company. We seek people that are not easily found, with skills that are not easily acquired.  I try to address the unusual needs of our clients that other people don’t and bypass the low hanging fruit. We strive to understand the new roads that our clients are cutting through the frontier of product development even when they are not yet ready to define those roads. We do lots of reading and research. We find exceptional people and must accept the fact that sometimes those people are taken from us by our clients. We do not get paid for our time, but just as each of you are paid, we are paid for our accomplishments. This is not easy work, but being anything but average requires hard work.

Hard work pays off. When someone tells you otherwise, beware the sales pitch for something “fast and easy” that’s about to come next. The greater your capacity for hard work, the more rewards fall within your grasp. The deeper you can dig, the more treasure you can potentially find.

Being healthy is hard work. Finding and maintaining a successful relationship is hard work. Raising kids is hard work. Getting organized is hard work. Setting goals, making plans to achieve them, and staying on track is hard work. Even being happy is hard work.

Hard work goes hand-in-hand with acceptance. One of the things you must accept are those areas of your life that won’t succumb to anything less than hard work. Perhaps you’ve had no luck finding a fulfilling relationship. Maybe the only way it’s going to happen is if you accept you’re going to have to do what you’ve been avoiding. Perhaps you want to lose weight. Maybe it’s time to accept that the path to your goal requires disciplined diet and exercise (both hard work). Perhaps you want to increase your income. Maybe you should accept that the only way it will happen is with a lot of hard work. To be more than average, do the hard work.
Best Career Advice Ever

(K. Hedges, forbes.com)

The reality is that a whole lot of career stuff is situational. What works for one person, or in one company, doesn’t do so well elsewhere. That said, there are a few, consistent pieces of advice that hold up anywhere, for any level of professional. Follow these, and you’ll fast-track your own career. 

  1. If you see a fire, run into it.

 

In chaos, there is opportunity. Most major career accelerations happen when someone steps into a mess and makes a difference. In the technology sector, people will remark that one year in a start-up is like five years in an established company. There’s ample opportunity to stretch your wings, wear many hats, and create a name for yourself when there’s not a set plan to follow. You can find the same opportunity in any organization, if you seek it. 

 

  1. Follow up.

 

If, as Woody Allen made famous, 80% of life is showing up — then 90% of career success is following up. Our organizations are rife with lack of accountability, whether by intention or incompetence. Be the person who meets deadlines, holds others accountable, and heck, even remembers to say thanks when it’s due. Following through on your commitments is trust-building, and the opposite erodes it quickly and indelibly. 

 

  1. Tell the truth.

 

Truthfulness seems a bit obvious to be on this list. However, companies are rife with damaging lies of omission. In an effort to look good, and not cause waves, we don’t express our truthful opinion. Being brave enough to respectfully state the truth in a politically astute way sets you apart. Most good managers want to hear dissenting opinion; they crave more information not “yes” people. Expressing a difference of opinion actually helps your career. 

 

  1. Treat everyone as an equal.

 

Respect has a place at work, but not deference. Being relaxed and confident in front of authority elevates your own brand. People see you the way you see yourself. The same goes for those down the chain. Introduce your subordinates as colleagues, not staff. They’ll see you, and themselves, more favorably.

 

  1. Pull yourself up with one hand, and reach back to others with the opposite one.

 

It is extremely common feedback that a leader manages up well, but not down. This works for a while, but turns out you have to be seen favorably by all levels to succeed.  The inability to build and maintain a team is the top reason organizations fail.

 

 

  1. Make valuable offers to others.

 

Every day in our organizations, we see areas that could be helped, or processes that should be fixed. We let them slip by because of time, political boundaries, or not wanting to speak up. When you see something that you can affect — don’t wait to be asked — make a proactive offer to help. (Or, if appropriate, just do it.) Even if you aren’t taken up on the offer, the fact that you cared enough to make it speaks volumes about your character and your initiative.

 

  1. Show gratitude.

 

No one succeeds on their own. Even if things don’t entirely go your way, there are still reasons to be grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given. Gratitude is a dying emotion in corporate America, where we can easily make a spirited case for our own entitlement vis-a-vis the faceless giant. We too often forget to say thanks for the opportunities and rewards we’ve been given — both large and small. Yes, you earned them. But you can still say thanks.

Customer Satisfaction

Every week, you hear me say, “Keep your boss happy.”  The simple reason why I say that and why I want you to hear it is because the success we enjoy is born as a result of providing our customers with the level of assistance and service that leaves them satisfied. That is why you were hired. That is why our client continues to depend on you. Because you can and do keep the customer satisfied.

Below are a few quotes that you may find useful in remembering what our focus should be as we go about our daily work lives. Hopefully, they help you in your efforts to be of service and keep your bosses happy.

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~Charles Darwin

All of you work in an environment where change is a constant and it is important that we be able to be responsive to the change that comes. Adaptability allows you to keep the customer happy regardless of what happens.

It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” ~Henry Ford

Your employment agreement says that you will be paid for all hours approved by the client. The client will approve hours that have brought them satisfaction with the work produced. Keep the customer happy and your continued pay check is assured.

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”  ~Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com

When you move on to your next assignment, you want a happy customer telling others about the quality and level of work you have done for them.

Thanks and Gratitude

It’s been a roller-coaster of a first year for me as President of NWCS. We’ve had new faces join us as well as having to say goodbye to old friends; we’ve also added new clients, while old ones have downsized. On the whole, I think we have weathered the year well – we implemented new benefits such as education reimbursement; paid time off; and coming in the New Year, a new and improved 401k savings plan.

Personally and professionally, I have much to be thankful for; this job has been every bit as challenging and exciting as I expected. I enjoy it very much and I particularly enjoy my interactions with you. However, because you are all so spread out in different locations and I don’t get to see each of you regularly, I want to express a few thoughts in this final newsletter of 2014:

Thank you…” We get so wrapped up in the process of managing a business, dealing with the requirements of our customers and trying to find the people we need to meet our customers’ needs that we overlook doing the most basic of things… like saying thank you.

I know very well that you have a choice in terms of employers. Since we do not impose a non-compete on you in our contracts, you are always free to choose to leave and go elsewhere. I appreciate the fact that you choose to work with Northwest Contract Services. Additionally, I thank you for being professional in your work performance and responsible in the tasks that you take on. I thank you for getting your timesheets in on a timely basis. I thank you for being the interesting, smart, capable people that you are each day. I thank you for helping to build our company’s reputation.

I’m amazed by the things you can do…” Though I am an Engineer by training – it’s been a while since I’ve ‘practiced’. I cannot do any of the things that all of you do each and every week… not even the easy stuff, to say nothing of the amazing things that you accomplish when you really put your minds to work.

I care about the things that bother you…” The fact that the person sitting next to you in the lab talks too loud and bores you with his/her long stories; The fact that your child is ill; The fact that you are worried about how much longer your current project will last. The fact that your computer blue screens once in a while; I care about the fact that these things are in your life, but I can’t always do anything about those issues. I am willing to listen and to do what I can to help.

I’m sorry you feel let down…” Growing the company is a process that I undertook as much for your benefit as for my own. We do not see our employees as temporary employees. I like to believe that we have a mutually beneficial relationship and that everyone will be with us for years to come. Believing this, I want to be sure that we have as many doors open to us as possible so that we can be sure that we can find new work for you when your current assignment ends. The more clients and groups we have open and the more people we have working with us who are keeping their eyes open for new requirements, the safer and more secure all of our employees can be. The bigger our group, the better the rates we can get on your employee benefits. The bigger the group the more our client’s managers feel that trusting a NWCS employee with the work will assure that it is done well.

We have had to grow, and at the same time undergo some contractions. That growth has changed some of the things that those of us who have been here for a long time have liked best about our company. This growth, however, has allowed us to expand our benefits and be a better employer. My promise to you is that we will strive harder at making ourselves available to you, so that we can together keep NWCS a good place to work, and while not the close family we used to be, we can be an extended family that helps each other to find success.

Thanks again and my sincerest wishes to you all for a safe and happy holiday season.

Gabe

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