News & Articles

Workplace Values

In addition to relevant skills, employers seek employees who have the personal values, characteristics, and personality traits that spell success. Good personal values are what makes the foundation for employ-ability.

  1. Strong Work Ethic

Employers value employees who understand and possess a willingness to work hard. In addition to working hard it is also important to work smart. This means learning the most efficient way to complete tasks and finding ways to save time while completing daily assignments. It’s also important to care about your job and complete all projects while maintaining a positive attitude. Doing more than is expected on the job is a good way to show management that you utilize good time management.

  1. Dependability and Responsibility

Employers value employees who come to work on time, are there when they are supposed to be, and are responsible for their actions and behavior. It’s important to keep supervisors abreast of changes in your schedule or if you are going to be late for any reason. This also means keeping your supervisor informed on where you are on all projects you have been assigned. Being dependable and responsible as an employee shows your employer that you value your job and that you are responsible in keeping up with projects and keeping them informed of the things that they should know about. 

  1. Possessing a Positive Attitude.

Employers seek employees who take the initiative and have the motivation to get the job done in a reasonable period of time. A positive attitude gets the work done and motivates others to do the same without dwelling on the challenges that inevitably come up in any job. A positive attitude is something that is most valued by supervisors and co-workers and that also makes the job more pleasant and fun to go to each day.

  1. Adaptability

Employers seek employees who are adaptable and maintain flexibility in completing tasks in an ever changing workplace. Being open to change and improvements provides an opportunity to complete work assignments in a more efficient manner while offering additional benefits to the corporation, the customer, and even the employee. While oftentimes employees complain that changes in the workplace don’t make sense or makes their work harder, oftentimes these complaints are due to a lack of flexibility.

  1. Honesty and Integrity

Employers value employees who maintain a sense of honesty and integrity above all else. Good relationships are built on trust. When working for an employer they want to know that they can trust what you say and what you do. Successful businesses work to gain the trust of customers and maintain the attitude that “the customer is always right”. It is the responsibility of each person to use their own individual sense of moral and ethical behavior when working with and serving others within the scope of their job.

  1. Self – Motivated

Employers look for employees who require little supervision and direction to get the work done in a timely and professional manner.

Self-motivated individuals require very little direction from their supervisors. Once a self-motivated employee understands his/her responsibility on the job, they will do it without any prodding from others. Taking the initiative to be self-directive will provide you with a better sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem. 

  1. Motivated to Grow & Learn

In an ever changing workplace, employers seek employees who are interested in keeping up with new developments and knowledge in the field. Learning new skills, techniques, methods, and/or theories through professional development helps keep the organization at the top of its field and makes your job more interesting and exciting. Keeping up with current changes in the field is vital for success and increased job security. 

  1. Professionalism

Employers value employees who exhibit professional behavior at all times. Professional behavior includes learning every aspect of a job and doing it to the best of one’s ability. Professionals look, speak, and dress accordingly to maintain an image of someone who takes pride in their behavior and appearance. Professionals complete projects as soon as possible and avoid letting uncompleted projects pile up. Professionals complete high quality work and are detail oriented. Professional behavior includes all of the behavior above in addition to providing a positive role model for others. Professionals are enthusiastic about their work and optimistic about the organization and its future.

Smart People – Dumb Mistakes

 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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?

8. 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.

New Benefit – PTO

Accrued Paid Time Off – effective July 1, 2014
Earlier this year, we introduced a new employee benefit program (Education Reimbursement). It has been very well received, with many of you already having taken advantage of it. We now announce a new benefit: Paid-Time-Off (PTO):

Highlights:
•  All NWCS FTEs, after 30 days employment
•  PTO hours accrue each pay period
•  64 hours per year
•  Carryover into new calendar year: up to 64 hours
•  For those eligible, the first accrued hours will appear on your August 5th, 2014 payroll summary.

NWCS believes that employees should have opportunities to enjoy time away from work. We also recognize that employees have diverse needs for time off from work. We have established this paid time off (PTO) policy to help meet those needs. Accrued PTO hours may be used for vacation, personal time, illness or time off to care for dependents. Employees must schedule their PTO and obtain approval from their supervisor in advance, except in cases of illness or emergency. The benefits of PTO are that it promotes a flexible approach to time off. Employees are accountable and responsible for managing their own PTO hours to allow for adequate reserves if there is a need to cover vacation, illness or disability, appointments, emergencies or other needs that require time off from work. Details will be forthcoming in the updated Employee Policy Manual later this month.

Why You Should Make Your Boss Look Good

The typical employee is probably more focused on doing whatever’s necessary to stay employed. Not showing up late, getting all your work done, bringing new ideas to the table and not making any major errors. Basically, not giving your boss a reason to fire you.

As good as those strategies are, they don’t take into account the one person whose opinion really counts: the boss.

Being a good employee is an important part of avoiding layoffs, not just in a recession, but all the time. Plenty of other workers and job seekers can replace you if you’re just doing the bare minimum. Not everyone can be your substitute if the boss has come to rely on you to be a part of his or her success.

Of course, you’re probably thinking: Shouldn’t I be more concerned with making myself look good?

You and the boss are the same … kind of

You’re not the boss, but you are a reflection of your boss, and it behooves you both to project a positive image.

“If you don’t look good, your boss doesn’t look good,” That idea extends beyond having your shirt tucked in and your pants ironed. Make sure anything that represents the team — whether it’s an e-mail or a voice mail coming from you — also reflects you and the boss in a professional, polished way.

Sometimes you know how to project the right image. Walking into a meeting with the high-level bosses and giving everyone a high five probably isn’t the way to score points with anyone. But on other matters, find out what the boss wants. Better to ask now and make a good impression later than to mess up and earn an unfavorable reputation.

“You’re the sidekick”, so delivering good work is really the best thing you can do for [him or her], and therefore, for you. What does it take to deliver good work? Or excellent work? Ask the boss! Try, ‘What can I do to improve this?’ or ‘Is there anything I can do to take some work off your plate?’ for starters.

Making the boss work for you

Improving the boss’s image isn’t just about making his or her life easier and earning pats on the back. The whole process involves better communication between both of you. At the beginning of this process, it might occur through direct questions, but eventually it can become an understanding if you build the relationship. Become invaluable to the boss so that you’re the default go-to person.

“Anticipate needs,” The difference between good employees and great employees is that the latter don’t just comply with requests well, they anticipate needs of their bosses and deliver above and beyond what the boss expects.

To get to that point, you need to be direct, and that means being prepared to ask the right questions.

“When you do something, check in with the boss to ensure that you really helped him or her out — don’t assume you did.”

You and the boss are not the same

At the end of the day, however, your boss is the boss and you are the employee. That doesn’t just mean you take orders; it means you’re an individual worker being judged on your own merits. All of the above tips can help your career, but don’t lose perspective, either. Keep focus on your own path before taking on additional responsibilities.

It may be counterintuitive, but if you really want to help your own career and boost your boss’s reputation, the best thing you can do is to boost your own reputation first. Your boss is ultimately judged not by [his or her] individual performance, but how well [his or her] people perform. Being the most effective employee you can be is therefore the best way to help make your boss look good.

Benefits Review and Pizza Party

Save the date:

June 17th, 2014; 5:30pm – Pizza dinner in Redmond

– Review our Dental/Medical, LTD, Life insurance plans and required re-up documents.

– Please RSVP tasha@nwcontract.com, so we can plan for enough food/drinks for everyone.

Round Table Pizza: 15025 NE 24th St Redmond, WA 98052

Taking Time Off

Taking Time Off

 If you wish to take time off summer for vacations, family events, elective facial enhancement surgery or for whatever reason, you should be sure to PLAN well in advance. Many product cycles begin to surge in the summer, especially for products that will be released near Christmas. Summer may well be a time of rapid changes requiring the attention of all team members.

TALK to your MS supervisor as soon as you begin to have knowledge of a forthcoming need to be away or if you have a desire to take some time so that the time you take is convenient for both you and the team. You and the supervisor can make plans to cross-train, get work done early or take an alternative route if there is sufficient advance warning.

Managers do not like having to scramble to cover for you without a good bit of advance notice. Keep your good standing and your autonomy by being courteous and flexible in your plans.

Civility

Civility in the Workplace
Barbara Richman

The workplace is a reflection of society at large. Today, we see a gamut of behaviors that demonstrate a lack of respect and civility, both inside and outside the workplace. Studies and polls indicate that Americans view incivility as a serious problem that is getting worse. One study found that 60% of employees believe that co-workers’ annoying behaviors negatively impact the workplace and, as a result, 40% reported that they are looking for new employment. These and other findings illustrate that disrespectful and uncivil behaviors drain productivity and negatively influence both an organization’s bottom line and the overall economy.

If each of us develops an awareness of respectful behaviors and necessary skills, it is anticipated that can serve asrole models and that these behaviors will spread in the workplace and beyond.  The following are ten tips will hopefully, assist you in accomplishing this objective:

1. Before acting, consider the impact of your words and actions on others.

2. Create an inclusive work environment.  Only by recognizing and respecting individual differences and qualities can your organization fully realize its potential.

3. Self-monitor the respect that you display in all areas of your communications, including verbal, body language, and listening.

4. Understand your triggers or “hot buttons.”  Knowing what makes you angry and frustrated enables you to manage your reactions and respond in a more appropriate manner.

5. Take responsibility for your actions and practice self-restraint and anger management skills in responding to potential conflicts.

6. Adopt a positive and solution-driven approach in resolving conflicts.

7. Rely on facts rather than assumptions.  Gather relevant facts, especially before acting on  assumptions that can damage relationships.

8. Include others in your focus by considering their needs and avoiding the perception that you view yourself as the “center of the universe.”

9. View today’s difficult situations from a broader (big picture) and more realistic perspective by considering what they mean in the overall scheme of things.

10. “Each one influence one” by becoming a bridge builder and role model for civility and respect. Act in a manner whereby you respect yourself, demonstrate respect for others, and take advantage of every opportunity to be proactive in promoting civility and respect in your workplace.

Thanks

Thursday this week is May 1st, the day called May Day around the world. It is both a day for celebrating spring, as in dances around the maypole and a day for celebrating workers and their accomplishments.

I have not brought a pole and ribbons so that we can have a maypole dance, so, instead we will look upon the day as a day for recognizing the people that work with us. Thank you for choosing to work through our company. We know that you have a choice in which company you have as an employer and we are glad that you have chosen to give us the opportunity to earn your loyalty.

Each week this space is filled with, hopefully, articles designed to help make you a more successful part of our team and of the teams that you work within at the client location. We always welcome your feedback and participation. We choose to believe that everyone that works with us has the essential blend of honesty, integrity, industriousness, and honor that makes for a great person and therefore a great employee.

 Thank You

 

For being part of our company and for letting us rest a good part of our reputation on your skills and your hard work.

Ten Phrases You Should Refrain From

“It’s not fair.”

She got a raise, you didn’t. He was recognized, you weren’t. “Some people have food to eat while others starve. Injustices happen on the job and in the world every day. Whether it’s a troubling issue at work or a serious problem for the planet, the point in avoiding this phrase is to be proactive about the issues versus complaining, or worse, passively whining.” Instead, document the facts, build a case, and present an intelligent argument to the person or group who can help you.

“That’s not my problem,” “That’s not my job,” or “I don’t get paid enough for this.”

If you asked someone for help, and the person replied with one of the above phrases, how would you feel? “As importantly, what would it say about him or her?” Regardless of how inconvenient or inappropriate a request may be, it is likely important to the other person or they would not have asked. Therefore, as a contributing member of the team, a top priority is to care about the success of others (or at least act as though you do).  An unconcerned, detached and self-serving attitude quickly limits career advancement. This doesn’t mean you have to say yes; it does mean you need to be articulate and thoughtful when saying no. For example, if your boss issues an unreasonable request, rather than saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t get paid enough for this,’ instead say, ‘I’ll be glad to help. Given my current tasks of A, B, and C, which one of these shall I place on hold while I work on this new assignment?’ This clearly communicates teamwork and helpfulness, while reminding your boss of your current work load and the need to set realistic expectations.

“No problem.”

When someone thanks you, the courteous and polite reply is, “You’re welcome.” “The meaning implies that it was a pleasure for you to help the person, and that you receive their appreciation. Though the casual laid-back phrase, ‘no problem’ may intend to communicate this, it falls short. It actually negates the person’s appreciation and implies the situation could have been a problem under other circumstances. In business and social situations, if you want to be perceived as well-mannered and considerate, respond to thank you’s with, “You’re welcome.”

“He’s a jerk,” or “She’s lazy,” or “My job stinks,” or “I hate this company.”

Nothing tanks a career faster than name-calling. Not only does it reveal juvenile school-yard immaturity, it’s language that is liable and fire-able. Avoid making unkind, judgmental statements that will inevitably reflect poorly on you. If you have a genuine complaint about someone or something, communicate the issue with tact, consideration and neutrality.

But we’ve always done it that way.”

The most effective leaders value innovation, creative thinking and problem solving skills in their employees. In one fell swoop, this phrase reveals you are the opposite: stuck in the past, inflexible, and closed-minded. “Instead say, ‘Wow, that’s an interesting idea. How would that work?’ Or, ‘That’s a different approach. Let’s discuss the pros and cons.’”

That’s impossible” or “There’s nothing I can do.

Really? Are you sure you’ve considered every single possible solution and the list is now exhausted? When you make the mistake of saying these negative phrases, your words convey a pessimistic, passive, even hopeless outlook. This approach is seldom valued in the workplace. Employers notice, recognize and promote a can-do attitude. Despite the glum circumstances, communicate through your words what you can contribute to the situation. Instead, try something like, “I’ll be glad to check on it again,” “Let’s discuss what’s possible under these circumstances,” or, “What I can do is this.”

“You guys.”

Reserve the phrase “you guys” for friendly casual conversations and avoid using it in business. “Referring to a group of people as ‘you guys’ is not only inaccurate if women are present, it is slang and lowers your level of professionalism. With fellow professionals such as your boss, co-workers and clients, substitute “you guys” with terms such as “your organization” or “your team” or simply “you.”

“I may be wrong, but…” or “This may be a silly idea, but…”

These phrases are known as discounting. They diminish the impact of what follows and reduce your credibility. Remember that your spoken words reveal to the world how much value you place on yourself and your message. For this reason, eliminate any prefacing phrase that demeans the importance of who you are or lessens the significance of what you contribute. Don’t say, “This may be a silly idea, but I was thinking that maybe we might conduct the quarterly meeting online instead, okay? Instead, assert your recommendation: “To reduce travel costs and increase time efficiency, I recommend we conduct the quarterly meeting online.”

“Don’t you think?” or “Okay?”

These phrases are commonly known as hedging—seeking validation through the use of overly cautious or non-committal words, she says. “If you truly are seeking approval or looking for validation, these phrases may well apply. However, if your goal is to communicate a confident commanding message and persuade people to see it your way, instead of hedging make your statement or recommendation with certainty. Imagine an investment banker saying, “This is a good way to invest your money, don’t you think? I’ll proceed, if that’s okay with you. Instead, you’d probably want to hear something like: “This strategy is a wise investment that provides long-term benefits. With your approval, I’ll wire the money by 5pm today.”

“I don’t have time for this right now,” or “I’m too busy.”

Even if these statements are true, no one wants to feel less important than something or someone else. To foster positive relations and convey empathy, say instead: “I’d be happy to discuss this with you after my morning meetings. May I stop by your office around 1pm?” These are common phrases that might be difficult to eliminate completely from your everyday conversations—but the trick is to gain awareness of the language you’re using. As is often the case with bad habits, we are unconscious of the fact we’re saying career-limiting words and phrases.

Our Business is Customer Satisfaction

Every week, as you leave the meeting, you hear us say, “Keep your boss happy.”  The simple reason why we say that and why we want you to hear it is…  the success we enjoy as a  company is born of providing our customers with the level of assistance and service that leaves them satisfied. That is why you were hired. That is why you continue to be employed… because you can and do keep the customer satisfied.

Below are a few quotes that I find to be 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 hour 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.

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