News & Articles

How to Do Work That Gets You Noticed

Rebecca Thorman, USNews.com

Use the following strategies to do work that gets you noticed. You’ll find effective and efficient ways to get the job done, and discover how to prepare for a successful climb up the career ladder.

1. Set and exceed expectations. First and foremost, complete your existing tasks and responsibilities. Once you’ve mastered your basic task list, start exceeding expectations. If you know you can get a project done by Monday afternoon, tell your manager you’ll hand it in on Wednesday. Give yourself enough room in case something goes wrong or comes up, but make every effort to hand in the project on your internal deadline. This makes you look good, and lets you get ahead of schedule to boot.

2. Ask, “What would make me an invaluable employee?” Stop guessing and instead ask your manager what you need to do to become a top performer. Outline specific goals with your team, and decide how to quantify those goals. When you reach a goal, make sure to tell your boss and record the accomplishment in an ongoing document so you have all your good deeds in one spot when it’s time for your performance review.

3. Automate your work. You can’t take on more responsibility if you’re drowning in your existing responsibilities. Batch and automate your to-do list for effective time management. For example, let’s say you’re in charge of the company blog. Create an editorial calendar of content three months in advance, write all of the blog posts in one day, and then schedule the posts, along with the social media updates on Twitter and Facebook to finish the project in a short time period.

4. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking will get you nowhere but a frenzied state. Instead, prioritize your tasks. Structuring your to-do list with one big, three medium and five small tasks. Once you’ve separated your tasks into each category, focus on your one big item for each day. As long as you complete the main priority, you can sustain your productivity over long periods of time.

6. Ask, “Can I take on additional work?” There’s no better way to get on a team member’s or manager’s good side than asking for more work. Keep an eye open for new opportunities and places for growth. And take on projects and things that you aren’t asked to do. While it may be more comfortable to stick to your job description, you become invaluable when you make others look good.

7. Send regular updatesTry sending or scheduling a weekly update with your boss and a monthly update with your company, so others know what you’re working on. It helps to increase communication and collaboration, and makes it clear the value you provide to the organization. Keep it fun and informal by explaining how you really enjoyed working on the last project, and store the updates as reminders for when you’re ready to move up in the company.

Doing great work is satisfying by itself, but it’s also rewarding for your career. By the time you’re ready to ask for your next raise or new title, you can be sure that you’ll get it.

From the November 5, 2013 NWCS Newsletter

Your Reputation 

 

The most valuable tool that you have that assures your continued employment and career growth is your reputation. Your reputation is a creation of your efforts. It is a thing that you can either enhance or destroy without anyone else’s assistance. Each day, each week, each month, each year, what you do to build a reputation that both makes you proud and desirable as an employee, is totally within your control.

 

The unfortunate truth, however, is that a single poor decision can wipe out all that you have built and put you back in a position of having to rebuild your reputation. Some time ago we had an experience with a former NWCS employee that had become a blue-badge. This person was caught up in a reduction in force and made the mistake of vocalizing negative feelings toward Microsoft during the exit interview.

 

Apparently, there was no ambiguity about the feelings this person was having.  A few weeks later, after all had calmed down, the person was offered a v- role in another group. Everything seemed to be going well until the group with which he had the too frank discussion heard of the v- offer.  Dust flew and so did a little fur, in the end someone else had to be found to accomplish the work.

 

Build your reputation as a good worker, an intelligent resource, a person that persists even in the face of difficulty and your reputation will ensure your continued opportunities in the future. But remember, that reputation is a fragile thing that is torn down much more quickly than it is built.  Each day you need to both add to it and guard it. Not thinking about it and just letting things slide could have you using BING to get to the unemployment insurance web site.

 

 

New Website

 

 

To better serve our customers, Northwest Contract Services announces the launching of our new Website. This new Website will help our existing customers navigate our services, help potential customers learn about what we can do for them, and provide information useful to both current and future employees.

The new website refreshes the older static website that the company had been using. It introduces the new company logo which will be extended to letterhead, envelopes and checks. It is an active, engaging website that utilizes modern website elements to communicate with our employees and clients.

The company has grown dramatically in the last five years and it had become important that our website be reflective of the company that we have become.

NWCS Employees Are Not Contractors

 

 

Independent contractors and employees are not the same, and it’s important to understand the difference. The distinction is about more than taxes. It is a distinction that also involves relationships, responsibilities and respect. The IRS discusses contractors and employees in terms of very specific differences. To the IRS,

An Independent Contractor:

•    Operates under a business name
•    Has his/her own employees
•    Maintains a separate business checking account
•    Advertises his/her business’ services
•    Invoices for work completed
•    Has more than one client
•    Has own tools and sets own hours
•    Keeps business records

These are all attributes that apply to the 1099 subcontractors that NWCS uses on some projects. These people make up a very small portion of our company’s resources, but their exceptional knowledge and experience make them an essential part.

To the IRS,

An Employee:

•    Performs duties dictated or controlled by others
•    Is given training for work to be done
•    Works for only one employer

Whether a person is an independent contractor or an employee generally depends on the amount of control exercised by the employer over the work being done, according to the IRS.

We believe the difference between contractor and employee is defined by the relationship between the company and the worker. At Northwest Contract Services, we see our relationship with our workers as a symbiotic one, a relationship where each party benefits from the relationship and where each performs to the benefit of the other at different times in the relationship. When a NWCS employee completes a project and is ready for a new assignment, the administrative team in the company advises on resume updates, scours the marketplace for new opportunities for the worker and arranges informational meetings and interviews so that the employee may be properly evaluated and appreciated for his/her potential contribution to the new assignment. Once the employee has his/her new assignment, the employee contributes to the well being of the company through the fees charged to clients for the work accomplished by the employee .We work for the good of one another.

Additionally, the tools our employees need to do their work are provided by Northwest Contract Services and by our clients. We pay all appropriate taxes for our employees. We compensate our employees for the work they accomplish. We meet with our employees on a regular basis and provide guidance and training on effective workplace behavior and we hold periodic employee appreciation events. Our workers are our employees.

Our employees are more than just our workers. Many of our employees are our friends, are people whose knowledge and experience we respect and admire, and are the people we lose sleep over. Northwest Contract Services genuinely believes that  our company supports not just the families of the owners, but also the families of the more than 100 employees who have chosen to work as part of our company, and that is a responsibility… a responsibility that we take upon ourselves most seriously.

Project Planning With Northwest Contract Services

 

 

At Northwest Contract Services, we know a project is successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met. We define a stakeholder as anybody directly, or indirectly impacted by the project.

Once we determine who the stakeholders are, the next step is to find out their needs. The best way to do this is by conducting stakeholder interviews. We are always sure during the interviews to draw out the true needs that create real benefits.

Once all the interviews have been conducted, and we have a comprehensive list of needs, we work with you to prioritize them. From the prioritized list, your team and ours create a set of goals that can be easily measured.  These goals need to be time-based and trackable, relevant and realistic, attainable and agreed upon, measurable and meaningful, and specific. This way it will be easy to know when a goal has been achieved and to measure how well we are doing in meeting your need..

Next, deliverables need to be determined. Using the goals you have defined, we create a list of things the project needs to deliver in order to meet those goals. We agree upon when and how each item must be delivered.

The deliverables are added to the project plan with an estimated delivery date. More accurate delivery dates will be established during the scheduling phase, which is next.

Together we create a list of tasks that need to be carried out for each deliverable identified in step 2. For each task we identify the following:

•    The amount of effort (hours or days) required to complete the task.
•    The NWCS or client resource who will carry out the task.

Once we have established the amount of effort for each task, we can work out the effort required for each deliverable, and an accurate delivery date. Then we can update your deliverables with the more accurate delivery dates.

A common problem discovered at this point, is when a project has an imposed delivery deadline from the sponsor that is not realistic based on the estimates. If we discover this is the case, we contact the sponsor immediately. The options you have in this situation are:

•    Renegotiate the deadline (project delay).
•    Employ additional resources (increased cost).
•    Reduce the scope of the project (less delivered).

If you are going to need additional resources, you will need to define the essential skills and knowledge that each resource will need to bring to the project. If you do not have the essential skills and knowledge in house, you will need to identify the resources that Northwest Contract Services will be need to find and deliver to your team.

Next, we describe the number and type of people needed to carry out the project. For each resource we detail start dates, estimated duration and the targeted price point for the project either in terms of hourly rates or a price for the duration of the project effort.

Once we have agreed on these targets, you will just need to give it to your NWCS contact and prepare to begin selecting your ideal resources.

Although often overlooked, it is important to identify as many risks to your project as possible, and be prepared if something bad happens.

Here are some examples of common project risks:

•    Time and cost estimates too optimistic.
•    Customer review and feedback cycle too slow.
•    Unexpected budget cuts.
•    Unclear roles and responsibilities.
•    Stakeholder input is not sought, or their needs are not properly understood.
•    Stakeholders changing requirements after the project has started.
•    Stakeholders adding new requirements after the project has started.
•    Poor communication resulting in misunderstandings, quality problems and rework.
•    Lack of resource commitment.

Risks can be tracked using a simple risk log. Add each risk you have identified to your risk log; write down what you will do in the event it occurs, and what you will do to prevent it from occurring. Review your risk log on a regular basis, adding new risks as they occur during the life of the project. Remember, when risks are ignored they don’t go away.

New Employees Joining NWCS This Month

Dan Grantham (Again 🙂 ),  DVE, WDS

Diane Chen, EE, WDS

Gary Cheung (Again 🙂 ), PM, Xbox Accessories

Debripriya Nath, Interop Tester, Kinect Sensor

Abram Lopez, Test Engineer, Personal Devices

Rolf Mogster, DVE, Kinect Sensor

Brian Gill, DVE, Kinect Sensor

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