News & Articles

Confidentiality, Privacy and Security

As the year comes to a close, we’d like to remind you of your responsibilities with respect to our clients’ confidential information. Many of you are aware of the heightened awareness and ever increasing reminders with regards to confidential information and protection of that information, by our various clients. They, and by extension, all of us, operate in a competitive business environment so it is very likely that the wrong thing spoken (or written) about in the wrong place at the wrong time will have serious negative impact on new products coming out or in the development. To help ensure their competitive advantages, and our success, every one of us has a responsibility to protect any and all client confidential and/or private information.

When each of you came to work for us, you signed a non-disclosure agreement; you also signed an NDA with our client.  It’s very important that you review these agreements and that you do all that is possible to protect the information and knowledge that you gain while working with our clients.

Many of you who have worked in the Aerospace/DoD environments are aware of “need-to-know”When discussing or transmitting client information/projects at work, be aware of the parties involved and whether or not they are ‘authorized’ to receive such information—it doesn’t matter the color of their badge; if in doubt ask your supervisor. They will appreciate your efforts at protecting the security of their data.

Some of you may be involved in collecting and/or processing ‘private’ data for our clients. At the time of your hire, you may have been so informed and provided with additional training on how to protect such information. Please review the instructions that were provided to you.  Following is a link provided by one our clients details good instruction on how to protect private information that you may be exposed to during the course of your employment. If you have any questions, contact your immediate client supervisor and/or one of us.

Any information, regardless if it is well known or not in the public sphere, as long as our Client has not authorized its release by you, is considered confidential. Violation of confidentiality and/or privacy agreements constitutes grounds for immediate dismissal.

Non Compete Clauses: Fair or Foul?

Below is a reprint of an article discussing House Bill 1926, introduced into the Washington State legislature in 2015 and reintroduced in January 2016. We at NWCS do NOT include these clauses in our employee contracts. We believe ‘non-competes’ are unfair, uncompetitive and misused by many of our competitors who use these contract clauses to restrict your rights to seek employment in a free market.

 

Rep. Derek Stanford introduces bill to ban non-compete agreements

February 3, 2015 | By Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA – In Washington state some of the best and brightest future entrepreneurs are knocked out of the running by overused non-compete agreements that reinforce the wealthy and stifle startups.

But today the House Labor Committee heard House Bill 1926, a bill from Rep. Derek Stanford (D – Bothell) that would prohibit all future non-compete agreements in Washington, with few exceptions.

“Non-compete agreements have ballooned into a business practice that’s used too often and too broadly,” Stanford said. “Of course, there are legitimate business interests in protecting things like proprietary information and trade secrets, but those can be protected by non-disclosure agreements. The overuse of non-compete agreements only hurts workers and discourages entrepreneurs.”

Non-compete agreements are often used in the technology industry, where even temporary software developers, coders and web designers are forced to sign contracts that prohibit them from finding a “similar” job after their temporary employment ends. While large tech companies claim that prohibiting non-compete contracts would hurt business, Stanford cited evidence to the contrary in today’s hearing.

“California beat us to banning non-compete agreements — back in 1872,” Stanford said. “We’ve all heard of the Silicon Valley and companies like Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe and Facebook. These are all companies that thrive in a state where non-compete agreements have been banned for more than 100 years.”

Non-compete agreements are not only used for restricting future work for highly-skilled employees in the creative and tech industries. Last spring, The Seattle Times reported on a wage worker who left a $15 an hour job in water-damage cleanup with ServiceMaster of Seattle — a franchise of a national corporation worth $3.4 billion — when he was offered an $18 an hour job at Superior Cleaning of Woodinville. ServiceMaster sued the worker to force him to quit his job on the grounds he signed a non-competition clause that supposedly prohibited him from working in water-damage jobs. For that matter, ServiceMaster claimed he couldn’t work in fire-damage jobs, janitorial, window washing, floor- or carpet-cleaning jobs since ServiceMaster also offered those services.

Stanford’s bill is awaiting a vote in the House Labor Committee.

 

New Year’s Resolution

Resolutions for 2016

 Sustaining success is the great challenge of our time.

Every generation has taken on some great cause and left its mark on history. In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s our ancestors took on the challenge of the Great Depression and World War II and guided us through an extraordinary advance in education. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s wise and courageous people took on the issues of civil rights and have generated extraordinary progress in creating greater opportunities for more people just in our lifetime alone. Over the past thirty years a technological revolution has allowed people around the globe to communicate with each other in real time and advanced our lives in countless ways. Why can’t we set a goal to continually improve our results and maintain positive momentum through the end of this decade?

You have resources for sustaining success that you can turn to over and over again. In doing so, you can successfully build on your earlier achievements and continually improve your performance and results.

 Resource #1: Your Terms

Take out a sheet of paper and write down your definition of success. What does achieving success mean to you? For example, one definition of success is bringing a vision into reality. Since you get to choose the vision you want to bring into reality this allows you to not get caught up in what other people consider to be success. Or if you’re working with another person to clarify the desired vision then you’ve chosen to co-create that vision with this individual or group of people. However, we are creating the desired vision and not allowing other people to impose their standards on us.

In general what does success mean to you? What is your definition? Then think about the different areas of your life both on an individual basis and in terms of the organizations you are a part of. Write down specifically what you consider success to be for each of the different aspects of your life.

Resource #2: Your Time

You get 24 hours to do what you want with. If you let other people dictate how your time is used up, that’s up to you. Just know that time is one of your resources for continually improving your results. The way you manage it will determine to a large degree whether or not you sustain your earlier performances and go beyond them.

 Resource #3: Your Choices

Sustaining success is just as much about avoiding the stupid, debilitating decisions as it is about proactively selecting the moves that generate better results. If you look at the wild economic swings the world has experienced in recent years, you can see where poor decisions led many people to a financial breakdown whether it be in the housing market or the dot-com bubble mania or some other area.

Before moving into action or making a purchase or investing in an idea, ask yourself, “Will this decision bring only a short-term gain or will it increase my chances for sustaining my current success and building on it?” Pausing to reflect on this question may help you avoid stumbling backward.

 Resource #4: Your Integrity

Looking back on the first decade of this century it seems that most collapses for enormously successful people can be traced to financial fraud or cheating on a spouse. Go back several decades and find the same pattern. In other words, successful people interrupted their ability to sustain their results by choosing to cheat. Perhaps they lost sight of what they wanted in the first place or decided they wanted shortcuts to increase their “success.” Whatever the reason, letting go of your integrity greatly diminishes the chances for sustained success.

In maintaining your integrity, you can start each day with a clear conscience. That alone can help you to sustain success over the long term. When you lose your integrity, you’re done, and eventually your results will prove it.

Before moving into action, ask yourself, “Do I believe this is the right thing for me to do?”

 Resource #5: Your Capacity to Earn Your Results

If you blame others or something outside of yourself for your results, it may feel good in the short term, but it might keep you from taking hold of your results for the long term. On the other hand, if you ride some short-term advantage such as being in a hot industry to great results today, you may find that the advantage is not sustainable.

Take responsibility for your results regardless if they are good or bad. In doing so you can see what adjustments you need to make in order to steadily improve results.

No matter how tough times get don’t relinquish your capacity to earn your results.

 Resource #6: Your Purpose

In studying very successful individuals and organizations for twenty-five years, one common denominator is that they all had a clear purpose that they held on to for an extended period of time. These individuals and organizations knew why they were doing what they were doing.

Without a clear and compelling purpose for doing what you are doing in any aspect of your life it is unlikely that you will maintain the energy necessary to continually improve your results.

The fundamental question you need to answer is, “Why am I doing what I am doing? What is the purpose behind my activity?” If you can’t find a compelling reason for doing what you are doing, you need to move on to an area that fits much better with your purpose.

 Resource #7: Your Strengths and Passions

You can take away all of the trappings of success from a great performer, and he or she will generate as great or greater success in the future as long as you leave the person his or her strengths and passions. However, if you take away the person’s strengths and passions while leaving the trappings of success in place, the person will soon lose all of the indicators of success.

Luck

There are certain types of luck which you cannot affect (deterministic or probabilistic or elements such as where you were born, or which card you draw from a deck of 52), there is absolutely a lot of luck that you can meaningfully influence. Arguably, most of “work luck” can be influenced — i.e. you can increase your propensity to be lucky at work if you understand how.

 

How? Being “luckier” at work is fundamentally about having the right LUCKY ATTITUDE. As it turns out, luck is as much about attitude as it is about probability.

We have found in research that people who self-describe themselves as lucky in their entrepreneurial profile with us tend to be luckier because they have the right attitude. Their secret towards a lucky attitude — whether consciously or unconsciously- stems from three traits:

 

  1. At the foundation of a lucky attitude is humility. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, helped identify humility as one of the key traits of the high performing leader. Having a lucky attitude begins with humility and open vulnerability towards your own limitations. You need enough self-confidence to command the respect of others, but that needs to be counter-balanced with knowing that there is much you simply don’t know. Humility is the path towards earning respect while self-confidence is the path towards commanding it. But it is humility that humanizes leaders and allows them to be luckier. It is at the root of self-awareness, and creates the openness for one to take on our next lucky attitude trait — intellectual curiosity

 

  1. Intellectual curiosity is an active response to humility. Humility gives people the capacity to be intellectually curious. Conversely, people who are fully confident or arrogant are less likely to question their personal assumptions and outlook of the world. Business builders who are intellectually curious hold a voracious appetite to learn more about just about anything. They devour reading, listen to suggestions, and explore new ideas at a much higher rate than others. They are more frequently asking questions than trying to answer them. Ultimately they become luckier because they are more willing to meet new people, ask new questions, and go to new places.

 

  1. Optimism is the energy source to allow for positive change. If humility is the foundation for intellectual curiosity, then an optimistic disposition gives one the belief and energy that more, better, faster is always possible. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: more luck tends to come to those who believe in possibility — to those who see the good in something before they see the bad. Optimists are givers of energy rather than takers of it. By having a positive disposition, such individuals are more likely to have a greater number of seemingly “surprise” encounters with good fortune. They are also more likely to act on what they find through their intellectually curious pursuits because they believe — always believe — in the potential for better.

 

The basic equation of developing the right lucky attitude therefore is quite simple. It starts with having the humility to be self- aware, followed by the intellectual curiosity to ask the right questions, and concluding with the belief and courage that something better is always possible (optimism).

 

The luckiest people in the business world are those who hold all three elements of this lucky attitude equation of humility, intellectual curiosity, and optimism. They are the people who say to themselves: I am humble enough to say I don’t know how to make better/perfect happen on my own; I am curious and courageous enough to ask questions that might help make something closer to perfect; and finally I embrace the “glass half-full” optimism that the end result can always be improved, so let me act towards that objective.

The 8 Dumbest Career-Ending Mistakes That Smart People Make

(Forbes.com)

 

  1. They assume their past success will continue in the future on new projects.There’s an arrogance that can take hold in really smart people over time.  They’re used to being the stars.  They’re used to having an audience of admirers.  Their whole lives have been a series of one success after another.  Why wouldn’t this pattern continue, they think?  This over-confidence breeds lots of blind spots.

 

  1. They stop paying attention to details.When you have success early in your career, you get promoted and you get further opportunities to show your skills.  Quite often, you get more responsibility too.  If you’re over-confident that your past success will continue, you can stop paying attention to all the details like you used to during the early times when you had some of your biggest successes.  You can start mailing in your efforts, or you simply delegate the details to others and forget to check up on them later.  Because you’re still so busy, you don’t realize everything that’s slipping through the cracks beneath you.

 

  1. They forget their own strengths and weaknesses.Let’s face it, none of us is perfect.  No matter our college degree or education.  No matter our latest achievement, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  The most successful people in the long-run never forget their weaknesses when they look in the mirror.  They find a way to surround themselves with people who can cover those weaknesses because others have strengths in those areas.   The smart folks who fail assume they can be experts in areas that they have no business offering opinions on.

 

  1. They banish people from their inner circle who have a different opinion.Nobody likes to be told they’re wrong.  At the early stages of our careers, if our boss tells us we’re wrong, we have to accept it.  As we grow into positions of authority, someone tells us we’re wrong, we can simply tell them they’re probably not the best fit on our team.  Over time, the smart people who make dumb mistakes surround themselves with “yes” men or women. They assume – based on all their past success – that they can’t be wrong.  And they will drive full-steam ahead on one of their decisions, even if it drives the whole company off a cliff.

 

  1. They forget that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.There’s an old saying: “be nice to the people on your way up, because you’ll also be seeing them on your way down.”  We all have highs and lows in a long career.  At some point, no matter how successful you are in the moment, you will get knocked down by something or someone.  And then you’ll need allies and supporters.  Therefore, don’t alienate people by telling them how brilliant you are and stupid they are — even if it never seems like you’ll need their support in the future.  You never really know who you might have to call on for a favor in the future.

 

  1. They decide to move out of their area of expertise.Sometimes on business TV, you’ll hear people quoting how so many big mergers or acquisitions have ended up destroying value instead of creating value.  We might be successful because we know the business we’re in but that doesn’t mean we can now know every other business under the sun.

 

  1. They don’t build bridges with all the senior people who will have a say in their fate.A lot of times, smart people assume that their results will speak for themselves.  But we live in a world where relationships matter.  It’s not just in Game of Thrones where good guys get their heads chopped off out of nowhere thanks to some enemy they never realized they had. It’s again arrogance to think that your brilliance and successes will speak for themselves.  They might have just the opposite effect of annoying some key influencers above you who think you’re full of yourself and not ready for the next big promotion.  You’ve always got to be selling yourself to others to ensure they know your success and abilities (although you have to do it in a way that doesn’t annoy those above you).  It’s got to be sincere, not obsequious.  Who’s going to do your PR if not you?

 

  1. They take needless risks in their personal lives.One final word of warning: if you think you can be the top of your game in your work life and have one vice in your personal life that won’t affect it, you’re probably very wrong.  Whether it’s gambling, alcohol, drugs, adultery, or something else, you’re playing with fire if you can’t control yourself in those areas.  Sure the politicians like Anthony Weiner, Gary Hart and John Edwards come to mind, but there are lots of smart and successful engineers and other professionals who succumb to this one as well.
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 –

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