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Management consulting: How to get/give the maximum benefit

Management consultant? A company buying such services? Either way, to achieve the best results, check out the 8 components of success here.

The latest estimate is that globally, companies paid roughly 285 billion U.S. dollars for management consulting services in 2019. Did they all get their money’s worth? An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that many did not.

The article’s author, Arthur N. Turner has experience in this field as a consultant, as a supervisor to consultants, and as a result of interactions with other consultants. In addition, Turner has done research on what effective consulting actually means.

Turner proposes that the key to a successful management consulting relationship is clarity of purpose. His article gives a framework for achieving this.

 

How to achieve clarity of purpose

Similar to the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, Turner informs that the successful management consulting partnership is a hierarchy of eight purposes or mini goals. Purpose/Goal #1 forms the base of the pyramid, the starting point, with purpose/goal #8 being the top of the pyramid, the ultimate goal.

To paraphrase Turner’s words, these purposes/goals are:

  1. Making a permanent improvement to the effectiveness of the organization.
  2. Facilitating client learning—in other words, empowering the client with tools for future problem resolution.
  3. Constructing a consensus and commitment around corrective action.
  4. Assisting the client in implementing the recommended solutions.
  5. Recommending as needed based on the diagnosis.
  6. Making a diagnosis—may necessitate redefinition of the problem.
  7. Finding solutions to the client’s problems.
  8. Giving information to the client.

Turner suggests that not all of these purposes are regularly addressed. He states that, in general, purposes 1-4 are considered “legitimate functions.” As a result, most consultants will achieve these goals. Purpose 5 is somewhat controversial, so it is at this point that the chain begins to break down. The last three purposes/goals (6-8) are mostly overlooked for two reasons: many consultants do not address them directly, and clients do not know enough about the management consulting process to ask for them.

 

Yet, it is these final three purposes which are essential for the management consulting relationship to have maximum benefit.

 

Turner suggests that the “sophistication and skill” of the parties involved is the main reason these last three vital goals are not usually achieved. In other words, the consultants themselves may not have the expertise, and the clients may not have the knowledge.

In a bid to empower both consultants and clients, Turner’s article then discusses each of these purposes/goals in detail. Each discussion further defines the goal and gives suggestions/tips for how it can be achieved, as well as important cautions for what not to do.

 

Why is this knowledge important?

An article in the UK Financial Times online reports that more than 60 years on, the conclusion of their 1961 report about effective consultancy still holds: “the best test of a consultant’s worth is their performance.” This conclusion is especially relevant in view of the upheaval taking place in this industry at the moment.

This CEO World website item indicates that management consulting companies which have not innovated and/or evolved are beginning to feel pressure. There appear to be two main, global scale reasons driving this change to the status quo: “the gig economy and the rising popularity of crowdsourcing as a feasible alternative to small and finite groups of professionals.” (source)

 

The final conclusion?

If you are a management consultant, it would be wise to assess your methodologies, bringing them in line with today’s market needs and expectations.

If you are a company intending to purchase management consultancy, educate yourself as to what you are entitled to and how this can be best achieved.

In both cases, you may wish to read more here.

This is what Gen Y & Z employees want from their workplaces

3 key expectations of Generations Y and Z. Workplaces with these key elements have younger employees who are more satisfied for longer.

John Francis Welch Jr., American business executive, chemical engineer, writer and chairman/CEO of General Electric is quoted as having said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

This article will give you some insights about how to “grow” and develop your Gen Y & Z employees, keeping in mind that generalizations can only be taken so far, since people are individuals after all.

On the same page

Just to make sure you are thinking about the employees we are talking about, here’s a brief definition of both generations. We have given fixed dates for clarity, but some definitions soften the dates to give a slight overlap.

Generation Y (Gen Y, Millennials): People born between 1981—1996. At the time of this writing, the oldest of them are approaching 40.

Generation Z (Gen Z, Centennials): Those born between 1996—2010. Currently, the oldest of this generation are approaching 25.

 

Here’s a window on three top things these generations are looking for at their workplaces.

 

Relationship with technology

If Gen Y are digital natives, Gen Z could be seen as human-tech hybrids. In other words, while Gen Y are completely comfortable with technology (having successfully migrated from analogue to digital at a young age), Gen Z have it in their DNA. As a result, both generations are expecting workplaces which embrace all the features a tech-internet world has to offer. One huge example is remote working.

A recent study by Upwork and Inavero showed that Gen Y and Z see remote teams as normal. Of over 1000 managers surveyed, 69 percent of the younger ones have team members who work remotely. This is such a strong trend that according to this study, 73 percent of every team will include remote workers by 2028.

In the workplace

Workplaces which do not currently have a remote work option should actively start developing one now.

 

Human relationships

Generations Y and Z are “so comfortable with technology, for instance, that they sometimes have a hard time recognizing when a face-to-face conversation is more appropriate than an email exchange or text message” says assistant management professor Stephanie Creary of the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania, USA) in a recent article.

On the one hand then, these younger generations are looking for workplaces which interact via devices with screens.

Having said that…

An Australian study checked in with 67 university students to assess any differences between remote (online, screen) and face to face (F2F) meetings in an educational setting. The study divided the students into two groups. One group had their classes online (written work, discussions, assessment); the other in a totally F2F way via the traditional classroom setting.

The results were as follows:

  • There was no significant difference in the academic achievements of the two groups.
  • Students strongly preferred that class discussions be face to face. This was due to a greater feeling of engagement and more immediate feedback.
  • Although online written tasks meant more flexibility as far as when the work could be done, the students preferred the classroom setting as it gave them the opportunity to discuss the content with their classmates.

The preference for face to face communication is reflected in workplace data, too, but only for Gen Z. This generation prefers face to face meetings while Gen Y opts for digital interactions (email, text).

In the workplace

Overall, workplaces should provide some physical, human contact even if this is not the first preference of some employees. Having periodic, physical meetings in addition to online conferencing is one place this could happen. Another natural event is face to face performance reviews.

 

Personal fulfillment

Work-life balance is important (47% for Gen Y and 39% for Gen Z) according to Forbes Magazine. Since 84 percent of Gen Y employees report feeling burned out at work, employers need to make this a priority. It is recommended to check in with your younger employees frequently, getting feedback about how they are really feeling. If needed, offer flex-time or remote working, so they can re-energize.

More than the status quo is what millennial and centennial employees expect. According to Matthew Mottola, Future of Work and On-Demand Talent Program Manager at Microsoft, millennials “expect to architect our careers according to our lifestyle and our passions.”

Passion is a word Gen Z employees use, too. Bruntwood UK describes them as people who “want a job that makes a positive impact on the world around them, with many happy to volunteer for roles if it gives them a better chance of securing a job role they are passionate about.”

In the workplace

The first step towards workplaces offering their younger employees opportunities to fulfill their “missions, visions, and values” is getting to know who they are as individuals. With this knowledge, it will be easier to suggest roles and tasks which meet their needs.

Another keyword in younger employees is “human.” Despite their love of tech, both Gen Y and Gen Z do not want to lose the aspect of humanity in their lifestyles.

Humanity is more than face to face communication. It is about social causes and global impact. Workplaces which support their local communities and/or have world-wide humanitarian projects will make themselves more attractive places in which to work and encourage Generations Y and Z to stay with them longer.

Here are the things you need to know to be a great mentor at your workplace

Anyone can be a great workplace mentor by knowing a few important points and having a solid plan. All the info you need is in this article. 

A great mentor can have an enormous influence on a person’s life. Great mentors enable their mentees to gain greater career satisfaction and achievement. In addition, great mentoring develops and supports a “shared vision of the future.”

Statistics show that in formal business mentoring programs, 84% of mentees are being helped in significant ways such as avoiding costly mistakes and growing into their roles more quickly.

You, too, can be a great mentor. It’s not difficult. You just need to know a few important points and have a solid plan.

Section I—The first mentoring meeting: Clarification

This meeting should result in a clear description of what your mentor-mentee relationship is going to look like. It is recommended to prepare for this meeting in advance by reviewing the following steps and creating your plan.

During the meeting, you will review these points with your mentee, adjusting the plan, when possible, as per your mentee’s ideas and feedback.

 

Step 1: Define the goals

Make a list. Include information about any known (and most likely to happen) obstacles to achieving those goals, along with possible solutions. Keep in mind that your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. It is a good idea to write them down in a shared document which can be updated as time goes on. By their very nature, SMART goals are realistic and success-oriented which is great for both mentor and mentee motivation.

 

Step 2: Describe the mentorship

Will it be F2F meetings? An e-mentorship? Perhaps a combination of both?

The data shows that e-mentoring is an effective mentoring form as long as “the goals and expectations are clarified at the beginning”—which has been done in the step above. Thus, e-mentoring can be a good option when there is limited time for F2F meetings. Text messages and chats are acceptable for daily communication. It would be unusual for a mentor to meet with their mentee every day. However, a weekly meeting is a very recommended “must.”

Weekly meetings should be one hour long. An hour a week is the recommended minimum which should be spent on a mentee. On a particular week, you may not use all the time planned for, and that is fine. To make sure these meetings happen on a regular basis, set a schedule. Of course, there will be times when meetings must be rescheduled, but having a definite schedule really helps. Add this schedule to your shared document.

Nature Magazine surveyed 6,300 graduate students about mentorship at their educational institution. One of the big reasons that respondents were dissatisfied with their mentorships was a lack of time spent with them by their mentor.

So, making sure these meetings happen should be one of your top priorities.

 

Step 3: Ask your mentee

Does your mentee have any requests or concerns not touched upon during the two steps above?

Listen openly to each one. Write them down on your shared document. If needed, brainstorm possible solutions or next steps. Add agreed solutions/steps to your shared document. In this first meeting, it is important to create an atmosphere of confidentiality. Your mentee should know that they can tell you anything, and you will keep it confidential, unless your mentee agrees that it can be shared.

This element builds and maintains trust—a key component of a great mentorship.

 

Section II—Weekly meetings: Structure and content

Whether in person or via a device, your weekly, one-hour meetings should hit the following points, updating your shared document as needed.

 

Step 1: Goal checking

Review the progress of each goal, noting any new obstacles or challenges. Spend about 10-15 minutes on this part.

 

Step 2: Give constructive feedback

Great mentors give truthful praise and clear-cut points for improvement. They include specific examples of both the positive and negative, so their mentees understand exactly what is working and what needs changing. Spend about 10-15 minutes on this part.

 

Step 3: The mentee’s turn

Half of the meeting (that’s right, 30 minutes) should be given for “mentee talk.” Seems like a lot? You should know that a top need of mentees is a mentor who listens, is a sounding board, and is genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Mentee talk is anything on your mentee’s mind. It could be related to the work they are doing for your company or organization, including “personal roadblocks, blindspots, or other concerns.” However, it could be an out-of-work event/situation that they are happy about or struggling with. As your mentee talks, check for clarity every so often to make sure you accurately understand what they are telling you.

Getting to know your mentee as a person is an important key to mentorship success. In the Nature survey (mentioned above), some mentors did not even know their mentee’s name. “He called me by the wrong name in the middle of my PhD,” she says. “That was a low point.” The more you know about your mentee, the better you will be able to adjust your mentoring for maximum achievement.

 

A last thought…

Ciara, an American musician, is quoted as saying: “As we get older, it’s important for us to help hand back some of what we’ve gained as we’ve grown older. It should be one of your responsibilities.”

And that is what great mentorship is all about. It is a sharing of what you have learned for the benefit of another, done in a genuine, humble way which reveals your mentee’s potential. It is a deep, positive connection with someone else for their good, your good, and the greater good.

As long as you keep it real and committed, you will be a great mentor.

7 ways to leverage the diversity of your team

If diversity is not managed effectively, it will become a disadvantage instead of a benefit. This article gives you seven practical management tips.    

Leveraging diversity can increase your company’s resilience. In other words, your organization will be better able to anticipate/deal with potential threats and cope more effectively with unexpected events. Then, using the knowledge gained from both types of situations, your company can facilitate dynamic, organizational change as needed.

There’s a catch though…your company diversity has to work for you, not against you. For diversity to be a positive tool, it must be valued and well-managed. Here are seven ways to leverage the diversity of your team.

 

1. Make diversity a priority.

When diversity is a company value and not just a buzzword, employees are more able to embrace it fully, no matter what their personal feelings are. Managers and leaders of diverse teams need to model acceptance of diversity in any form, ie. culture, gender, disability, age, etc. The knock on effect is that no employee feels marginalized, thus promoting the value of all.

 

2. Acknowledge that bias and prejudice exists.

The most effective strategy for reducing stereotyping and prejudice is admitting that it exists. This leverages your team’s diversity in two important ways. It legitimizes both the negativity which a team member may be receiving as a result of his or her diversity AND the resistance a non-diverse team member may be experiencing when told to “get on board.”

Admitting the problem says: “OK, we’ve got a situation. It is real. We are not interested in fault. We are interested in solutions. It might take a while. We’re committed.”

 

3. Actively develop connections between team members.

Interactions among diverse individuals present many opportunities for learning. These interactions rarely happen spontaneously because for many people, working in homogeneous groups is a habit. Leverage your team’s diversity by actively connecting team members who might not choose to connect on their own. Working together with diverse others towards mutual goals appears to be the most productive strategy.

 

4. Make the unknown familiar.

People are more likely to be inclusive when they feel comfortable. A lack of knowledge about another’s culture, religion, ethnicity, etc. may make a person not only uncomfortable but afraid. People who are afraid are not their best selves. Increasing your team’s knowledge about each member will help them see the familiar similarities rather than the scary differences between them.

 

One idea for increasing your team’s inclusiveness is Diversity Days.

Each time, a different team member presents information about themselves in a creative way. Here are some examples:

  • The employee could bring in several different foods/dishes which reflect their culture.
  • They could talk about their mother tongue, giving some interesting comparisons and contrasts with English.
  • Another idea is to speak about an important holiday in their culture or religion, with lots of visuals and perhaps authentic items.
  • A team member with a disability—perhaps in a wheelchair, for example—could let their teammates have a short, actual experience of navigating the office space from their point of view (that is, in the wheelchair).

 

5. Teach good listening skills.

Diversity means that different people may communicate things in different ways. This could be due to language differences, cultural habits, or just variations among people.

Increasing communication and minimizing miscommunication will leverage your team’s diversity. The best way to do this is through good listening. As team leader or manager, you can educate your team members with a series of mini-workshops. This material is for teachers, but really, it suits anyone who wants/needs to be a good listener.

 

6. Celebrate diversity.

No, not a party (although that might be a great idea, too). The point here is to use your team’s diversity to advantage when assigning work. Matching team members with tasks at which they can succeed and advance will celebrate their diversity, reinforcing its benefits for the employee, the team, and the company as a whole.

 

7. Create an honest feedback loop.

It’s all good…if it is working. The only way you are going to know that for real is if your team trusts you enough to give you honest feedback. So, you are going to need to ask some questions. Questions to ask of diverse others include how well they feel the company is communicating respect and how valued they feel as a diverse employee.

Non-diverse others should give feedback, too. Their questions should ask about how comfortable they feel working with diverse others, what types of inclusiveness challenges they still need to work on, and how they feel the company should be helping with this.

 

Much of human bias is unintentional.

This does not excuse it; it merely explains the challenge: teaching people awareness—awareness of the words which they use, the preconceived attitudes they have, the judgments and opinions which they are constantly forming.

The seven points above will go a long way in increasing this awareness in your team members, empowering each and every employee, and enabling you to leverage your team’s diversity.

5 things you should look for when hiring an intern

Next level your internship interviews, gaining you better interns currently and increasing the chances of them as future employees.

Obviously, quality internships are of great value to the interns themselves.They get excellent opportunities to “link classroom knowledge with workplace realities”, gaining experience which makes them more valuable when they begin job hunting.

Yet, the host company or organization must spend a good amount of resources on an intern. For example, besides a physical work location, someone must mentor this individual, taking time away from their regular workload.

So, why would a company or organization dedicate resources to an internship?

One huge reason is future employability. Converting an intern into an employee can lower an organization’s recruitment and training costs.

Is this really relevant?

Why, yes! It is estimated that over 50 percent of interns become employees (46.6-58.6%). In order to give your company the best chance of converting your interns to employees, here are 5 things you should look for when hiring an intern.

Before we dive in…

Succeeding at each of these tips means you need to take some time to think about each point before interviewing your interns. Obvious, right, but you might be surprised how many busy managers and entrepreneurs don’t make the time. As a result, they don’t always end up with the best intern match, and they can forget about any future employee potential.

The 5 Things

Existing skillset

What does your potential intern bring to the table, and how well do those skills match your organization?

An intern may be incredibly talented…but in areas which are not relevant for the internship you are offering or even your company as a whole. While you are prepared to spend time on your intern, you should not have to train them from scratch.

 

Team member

Most likely, your intern is going to be part of a team.

Are they going to fit in/get along with the other team members? Best to take an honest look at the team, noting their plusses and minuses.

Are members supportive or quick to criticize?

What is the team culture, humor, communication style?

Keep in mind that a poor intern-team fit is going to cost your organization time and morale.

 

Personal goals

Of your intern, that is.

Where do they see themselves after the internship?

What are some of their personal goals and aspirations?

The suggestion is to dig deep here. For example, if their dream job is in a surf-friendly location and your company is high up in snow country, chances are they will not be interested in continuing as your employee. Perhaps your prospective intern has always wanted to create a startup, and their idea is to work for a few years and then go it alone.

Would their “perhaps” few years as your future employee be worth your “for sure” investment in them now as an intern?

Of course, we never know how long an employee will stay at an organization, but knowing up front that it’s only for a short time could be a game changer.

 

Non-academic stuff

Grades are only one window into who someone is. What else makes up this person? Time to ask questions about who they are outside of school.

Do they volunteer? If so, where and for how long.

Are they responsible for some or all of the care of a person or pet? This can give you some insight into their commitment and self-motivation—good qualities for interns.

Have they been employed anywhere till now? If so, where and for how long. Perhaps their employers can give references.

What about hobbies? Even if they don’t have time for hobbies right now, what did they do in the past?

 

Grittiness

How gritty is the prospective intern? If you have not ever seen it (or not for a while), spend a worthwhile six minutes watching this TED talk.

Food for thought, right?

It would be a good idea to check the grittiness of this person. You can have them do it online (no need to give any personal information) or download the PDF. Alternatively, you could just slip in some of these questions during the interview, observing their reactions and body language as they answer.

 

To wrap it up…

Evaluating prospective interns using the above 5 tips can enable a better intern-organization fit. Also, it can increase the probability that you will want to hire them as an employee—and they will accept. If you do get to the employment stage, chances are that their stay with your company will be more productive for longer since you have, essentially, “test-driven” them during their internship.

How to inspire and motivate your team as a transformational leader

What is a transformational leader? How can you become one? “Do them today” actionable steps and tips are just a quick read away.

You are the key to inspiring and motivating your team.

It is called “transformational leadership”. According to the research, transformational leadership includes four components:

  • attention to the individual,
  • inspiration motivation,
  • intellectual stimulation,
  • charisma.

Of all the components, the data shows that “attention to the individual” is the most important.

This is key, whether your team is physically in the office or working from remote locations. Google has roughly 100,000 Googlers, working in more than 150 cities, spread out over 50 or so countries. Google surveyed 5000+ of their workers to measure indicators such as well-being, performance, and connectedness. Their survey results, as well as other research, confirm that employees are inspired and motivated by leaders and managers who really know and care about them.

 

What does such a relationship look like?

First of all, it is authentic, genuine. You, as manager or team leader, must be truly interested in connecting with your team members. Secondly, it is reciprocal. In other words, in order to get, you are going to have to give. You will need to share your personal information with your team members.

Many team leaders and managers worry that this will make them look “weak” in the eyes of their employees. While it could happen, the overwhelming evidence is that it won’t. Here’s why: for most employees, a weak leader is someone who is afraid. Weak leaders do not ask for feedback, opinions, or ideas. They behave as if they always know the answers. You get the picture, right? So, leaders who genuinely share are very motivating and inspiring—especially when they show that they also have strengths, weaknesses and challenges.

Here is an actionable plan of how to create authentic, caring relationships and then some ideas of how to use those connections to motivate and inspire your team.

Which personal information is needed

Anything that gives an in-depth picture is a good idea. What do your team members’ lives look like outside of the workplace? Ask about personal things such as family, hobbies, challenges/problems, likes/dislikes.

Also, find out work-related things such as when they would prefer to have team meetings (time of day, day of week), how they are feeling at the company, and what their long-term goals are.

 

Dig deep without overdoing it.

When to get personal information

One opportunity is at the start of a team meeting. In your agenda, build in 15 minutes or so for this purpose. Team members can share what they did over the weekend. However, this might get repetitive…and if there is more than one team meeting per week?

Another option, then, is for team members to answer an interesting question such as “If you were a food, what would you be and why?” There are many lists of conversation starters or ice breakers on the internet. Here is one list to get you started.

It is recommended to also include some one-on-one time. Is there a cafe or casual eatery nearby the office? Invite your employee for a coffee/tea/juice. Spend about half an hour chatting about yourselves.

You may wish to make a few notes about each team member, so you will have some “memory-joggers” at hand as needed for authentic, follow-up engagement. Simple Sticky Notes is a free phone app that would be perfect for this purpose.

Authentic, follow-up engagement

Without going overboard, continue the conversation. At work stations, in the kitchen getting a drink, at the photocopier, say things such as:

  • “So, Dave, how’s that cooking course going? What techniques did you learn last week?”
  • “Hi Sarah. Is your dad feeling better? Do you need some flex time to deal with anything for him?
  • “James, I got interested when you said you had started playing basketball again after so many years. Last weekend, I had a game with some of my buddies. It was fun, but boy, was I sore the next day.”

Use the information in a compassionate, caring way. For example, try to schedule team meetings on days and at times that best suit your team.

If you know that team members have important, recurring events right after work (attending classes, picking up children up from childcare, catching infrequent trains or buses, etc.), don’t schedule team meetings for late in the day when they might run overtime. If it is unavoidable, give advance notice, so that team members can make any necessary arrangements.

If you can’t accommodate everyone, then a rotating meeting schedule is a great idea. In this way, everyone is inconvenienced equally and not too often.

Anyone can be a transformational leader, inspiring and motivating their team(s).

Transformational leaders cause positive change in people by forming genuine, authentic, two-way relationships with their team members, including an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and being attentive to their needs. The knock-on effect is teams that are inspired and motivated, leading to valuable changes in systems and organizations.

How employee happiness can increase company success

The happiness of your employees has a direct influence on your company’s profits. These 10 facts will give you lots of material for improvement.

Time and time again, successful businesses prove that happy employees are a main factor in happy customers.

Besides being ‘nice’ for employees, their happiness is very nice for the company since it  translates to an improved bottom line.

So, how can managers and entrepreneurs increase employee happiness?

 

These 10 facts will give you lots to work with.

 

1. Happy employees are measurably more productive.

By how much? The data shows that it can be as much as 13 percent. The happiness-productivity relationship has been quite a popular theory. This UK study gives the first ‘hard evidence’ to show that it is correct. Besides work-related factors, the study also found a ‘local weather-happiness connection’: bad local weather decreased employee happiness.

Is it time to consider a sunlight alternative in the office?

 

2. Employee happiness can increase sales.

Studies consistently show that employee happiness has a direct result on sales. The group studied (workers at British Telecom’s contact centers) worked more quickly and—more significantly—converted more of their sales calls. Due to the fact that happy employees are more engaged and productive, sales can rise as much as 37 percent. In addition, employee happiness decreases turnover. Basically, ‘two for the price of one’ to increase the company bottom line.

 

3. Managers have an up to 70% effect on employee engagement.

Polls in both the U.S. and the U.K. show that managers have game-changing power with regard to employee happiness. Significantly, this is a well-established fact. For example, the U.S. poll (Gallup, 2015) has found consistent results over 15 years (from 2000 when Gallup first started to measure workplace engagement).

 

4. Hedonistic workplace experiences = short-lived employee happiness.

Hedonism: a feeling of pleasure and happiness from the external world

Hedonistic examples at work include appreciation for a job well done, company vouchers for spa treatments/dinners/fitness clubs, and casual (or dress down) Fridays. While these things are a necessary part of employee happiness, they get old soon and need to be part of a bigger picture.

 

5. Eudaimonic well-being = long-term employee happiness.

Eudaimonia: an inner feeling that your life develops your personal strengths and contributes to the greater good.

Research appears to show that the day-to-day eudaimonic experiences of employees are better predictors of their workplace performances. The latest research describes eudaimonic workplace well-being as a synthesis of two main factors:

 

Interpersonal situation Intrapersonal needs
Quality relationships with others in the workplace (co-workers, management, customers, etc.) based on positive social acceptance and social integration.

 

 

The work itself satisfies the employee’s needs for value and meaningfulness at work. It also gives the employee opportunities for autonomy/independence as well as personal growth and development.

 

6. Managers can directly increase their employees’ eudaimonic workplace experiences.

Here is a short list of examples:

  • Focus on employee productivity and freedom instead of micromanaging.
  • Consult with employees about modifications to work/projects.
  • Encourage employee autonomy/independence—what can they contribute?
  • Give meaningful rationales for tasks.
  • Support employees—work on office/company morale; keep an eye out for destructive workplace personalities.
  • Provide opportunities for personal growth and development—challenging tasks; workshops and other education; promotions; etc.
  • Cultivate an office/company culture that believes company success is due to the developing abilities, professional attitudes, and valuable hard work of its employees.

 

7. The work-life balance affects employee happiness.

According to the data, workplace stress can literally make employees sick. One study estimated that in the U.S., 8 percent of the money spent on health care was related to the effects of stress. Worse, this same study estimated that stress is responsible for 120,000 deaths each year. Companies which support an optimal work-life balance for their employees can improve their profitability.

 

8. Workplace happiness is a personal perception.

Two co-workers can work for the same manager, on the same project, in the same roles. One will feel happy; the other will not. Personal happiness is an idea we each have based on factors such as the generation we are a part of, our cultural values, role models who have influenced us, and our current wants and needs (which change over time). Effective managers spend time getting to know their employees’ perceptions of happiness.

 

9. The new CEO = Chief Eudaimonia Officer.

A software company CEO, Matthew Gonnering has redefined his role. He now practices ethical decision-making at work by incorporating eudaimonia into his thinking. Gonnering believes that “businesses should encourage well-being across several dimensions.” One example of his encouragement is to include people with developmental challenges as part of his team.

Gonnering feels that this 5 percent of his staff has caused the empathy, compassion, and gratitude of his other employees to develop. He believes that improvement in these skills have translated to a “better ability to create marketing technology.”

 

10. Futurists suggest that employee well-being and happiness is a must rather than a ‘nice to have.’

Increasing AI means that employees are going to have to be more multi-skilled, creative, and complex than before. This could lead to increased employee stress and/or burnout. Add in globalization which offers employees a wider choice of job opportunities. In other words, it’s more of a ‘buyer’s’ (employees) market. The big picture indicates that companies need to prioritize employee well-being and happiness.

 

Overall…

It is true that attention to employee happiness may force a big change in your company’s culture and practices.

Yet, the overwhelming evidence shows that companies which do not take employee happiness seriously may find themselves out of business in the not so long run.

Encourage creativity in your teams: top three tips

Managers and entrepreneurs can successfully increase team creativity by creating a dedicated innovation culture. Top 3 tips here.   

It is pretty much a given that team creativity is positively linked to innovation.

More than one study has shown that teams which can develop ideas and solutions provide new opportunities for their company or organization. To make sure your team(s) are as imaginative and original as possible, here are the top three tips to creating a culture of creativity.

 

1. All thoughts, comments, and ideas welcome

There needs to be authentic acceptance of anything a team member suggests or says. True brainstorming means carefully considering every single thought, comment, or idea. When any kind of genuine creativity is offered, it should never be answered with negativity. If someone is going to get shot down when they speak up, why bother? After all, there is no shortage of proof that the silliest idea could inspire the greatest breakthrough. (Up for some humor? Read more about 18 highly successful “silly ideas” described in witty ways.)

 

2. Flexibility in “who, where, and how”

A recent article in the New York Times online pointed out that teams are often multi-generational. With these age differences can come distinct, working style variations. While not 100 percent, surveys show that there are definite generational preferences. Catering to these preferences can make or break a team’s creativity.

Let’s consider a few of these variations…

Collaboration or Individual effort?

Some team members prefer to start the creative process in groups; others alone. While there will most likely have to be collaboration at some point, the initial spark might not need to be created with others.

Brainstorming location?

There are teammates who feel the most creative in the office, and those who do their best innovating while working at home. Agreeing to different locations also implies a more flexible timetable. For example, team members who work at home could choose any time of the day or night to put in their brainstorming hours.

How is the creative content submitted?

The team member could say it out loud during a meeting, with someone taking notes. The idea could also be submitted in writing, a voice message, or as a video and then shared with the other teammates.

In sum… by offering team members the flexibility that suits their generational cultures, the overall creativity of the team is likely to increase.

 

3. Provide constraints + enabling dynamics

Brent Rosso, a researcher at Montana State University, USA studied four teams:

  • the large team whose project related to a “groundbreaking new coating material”
  • a smaller team which were tasked with developing “a new material with unique chemical and physical properties to be used in a healthcare application”
  • a medium-sized team which were in the middle of developing “an electronics interface for consumer electronics”
  • another medium-sized team whose focus was “a novel software development project”

 

Rosso found that a combination of constraints + enabling dynamics gave the best possibility for creativity.

Constraints

Rosso identified two categories of constraints: process and product. Process constraints involve time, equipment, human resources, and money. Product constraints refer to product requirements, customer and market needs, business needs, and intellectual property issues.

Enabling dynamics

This factor involved five categories: collaboration, communication, task structure, leadership, and the social environment. There needed to be authentic collaboration with team members feeling that they were focused on team goals. Healthy tensions and open conversation promoted the optimum communication. The task structure had to incorporate accountability, flexibility, and freedom/autonomy.

Leadership encouraged creativity when it macromanaged rather than micromanaged, insulated the team, gave managerial support, and advocated leadership within the team. Lastly, a cohesive social environment emphasizing similarity and including humor, playfulness, and trust gave the most creative productivity.

Operative conclusion

Rosso explained his results in the following way. The constraints add an element of tension to the creative process. This tension is essentially a paradox. On the one hand, teams feel that constraints limit them, taking away some freedom. On the other hand, these boundaries give the creative process a healthy structure.

Teams with enabling dynamics appeared to have a better collective awareness and grasp of the pros and cons of constraints. They understood the “freedom-structure” continuum and were better able to use this understanding for better creativity.

So, get rid of the cookie cutters.

If team creativity ever was a cookie cutter culture, it is one no longer. Team members must be sure that all their genuine contributions will be appreciated in an authentic and positive way.

Since a team can be made up of generationally different individuals, their working style preferences need to be taken into account operationally.

Constraints and enabling dynamics should be part of the creative process. The constraints provide needed structure while the enabling dynamics give teams the understanding to see the constraints as valuable and cope well with them.

International networking for students: why it’s important and how to do it

Do you network? It’s very helpful and not hard to do. Find out why you should network and get tips on how to succeed at it here.

Has anyone asked you for your LinkedIn profile? Or Twitter? Or perhaps even Facebook?

That’s because all three are top examples of international networking opportunities. Yet, international networking for students is more than uploading your profile information onto social media sites.

We’ll get into that in just a moment, but before, let’s make sure you understand the importance of networking in the first place.

Quiz time

Question 1

What percentage of jobs are filled via networking?

Answer

Estimates vary, but the range is from 7085 %. That’s A LOT of jobs which aren’t posted anywhere! Candidates are chosen from people these employers already know.

Question 2

What percentage of recruiters use networking sites?

Answer

LinkedIn is one of the primary networking sites. Data shows that 90 percent of recruiters use it. In other words, people with a LinkedIn profile are going to have a big advantage.

But networking is more than just for future jobs

As an international student, you are away from your usual “network” of family and friends. Expanding your contacts can help you feel more at home in your new surroundings. It’s also a good idea to have people nearby on whom you can count for advice and help, if needed.

How to build a strong network

As an international student, you have natural opportunities to network, even before you think about an online presence or not.

1. Get to know people

The main idea of networking is that people know people. As an international student, you are going to meet a lot of them. It’s time to next level your “sociability” and be more outgoing. Take advantage of opportunities to get to know a wide variety of people.

First category: fellow students. Roommates, dorm mates, people in your classes—all have potential. Want to narrow it down? Join a student organisation such as the newspaper to meet more “like-minded” people.

Take the contact details of anyone who you “connect” with. These are most likely the people who you are going to stay in touch with.

Second category: professors. Any professors are good but especially useful are those in your field. They will have contacts inside and outside academia. You probably already have their phone numbers from the university website. Keep them. Who knows where that could lead?

Third category: anyone, really.

Do you go to the same restaurant and have the same server? Strike up a conversation. Perhaps they have a partner/family member/friend who could be helpful. Just because a person works somewhere doesn’t mean they don’t know people who work in other places…places you might want to work in.

What about the people you sit next to on busses, trains, and airplanes or stand near in long, slow lines?

If you have at least 15-20 minutes, find out who they are. Worst case scenario is that you weren’t bored while you were traveling or waiting. Best case scenario is that you add a valuable contact.

Also consider hobbies and volunteering.

Besides improving the soft skills  employers are looking for (and enriching your c.v. [resume]), you are going to get to know a lot of great (and future useful) people.

You say you are not outgoing? That it is difficult for you to talk to people , especially to be the one who starts the conversation?

You are not alone. The good news is that being social is a skill which you can develop. Try these 3 tips to help you.

Tip 1: Whatever happens is ok. It is, really. It may seem horrible at the moment, highly embarrassing even, but quite soon, it will not make any difference to your life as a whole. Someone didn’t want to speak with you or the conversation was a bit lame. So what?
Tip 2: Be yourself. To the right people, the ones you want to network with, you will be interesting. Those are the people you are looking for. So, if you are not enough for this person, that means they are not enough for you.
Tip 3: Keep at it. Like most things, the more you practice, the more skilled you get. Consider that being sociable is something which many future employers are looking for since lots of jobs require teamwork. Keep this in mind to motivate yourself to stick with it. Eventually, at your own pace, it will get easier…and even more enjoyable.

2. Have an online presence

We mention LinkedIn because at the moment, it is the preferred business networking site. The current numbers show that

  • 20 million companies and 14 million open jobs are listed on this site;
  • LinkedIn connected 122 million people with interviews;
  • 5 million hires happened via a LinkedIn connection.

And even though LinkedIn doesn’t have as many users as Instagram (1 billion) or Facebook (2.5 billion), it is a professional, business networking niche site for its 675 million monthly users. This makes it the preferred choice for international students interested in networking.

Last thing…

As you begin building your network, keep in mind these words by businessperson, Christine Comaford-Lynch: “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, your uniqueness, what you stand for.” The rewards (both personally and professionally) will be worth your effort.

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Increase your internship chances with the right answers to these 5 questions

There’s a lot of competition for internships…now more than ever. Preparation is key to being the intern chosen. Do your homework now.

Study after study, case after case, data after data all show that internships increase your chances of being hired by an employer. By how much? One recent study of graduates who had done internships showed that:

  • 98 percent were either employed, studying onwards or in the military.
  • 90 percent said that they were working in their field of study.
  • 53 percent credited their internships with their current employment.

Makes sense to do an internship, even a virtual one, right?

 

Having the right answers to these 5 questions will give you the edge you need.

What’s your skill set?

What are you bringing to the internship? How well do your skills fit the position you are interviewing for?

No matter what you know and how good you are at it, if your skill set does not match your internship position, you are not going to give much value to your employer. Employers are ready to spend some time training you, but they are not looking to start at square one.

Make sure that your skill set matches the one needed for the internship position you are interested in.

 

Are you a team player?

Chances are, you are going to be joining a team.

How well will you be able to fit in and get along with these people?

Ask yourself how able you are to cope with team members who…

  • criticize, rather than support;
  • are quick to take credit for your work;
  • have a different communication style than yours;
  • belong to a different cultural community than you do.

During the interview, ask questions about your internship team to increase the chances of a good fit.

 

What are your future plans?

Since many employers hire their interns after the internship, they are going to be interested in interns that have more future potential. They want to feel that there is going to be long-term ROI on their internship efforts.

Are you thinking of changing careers after this internship?

Is this internship a springboard towards becoming an independent entrepreneur?

Consider the future value you are offering your employer. Is your internship with them a “one and done” or would you seriously consider working there full- or part-time?

Choose internship positions at organizations which have some future interest for you.

 

How do you spend your non-school time?

Your academic grades are important, sure, but they do not tell the whole story of who you are.

Employers are going to want to know about your commitment, self-motivation, and who you are socially. They may ask you questions such as:

What other activities/hobbies/responsibilities do you have (or did you have)?

Do/did you volunteer?

Are/were you fully or partly responsible for caring for a person or a pet?

Have you been employed anywhere before?

Be ready for these questions with a list of names and dates.

 

What’s your “grit factor?”

If you do not know what we mean by “grit” in this context, invest a worthwhile six minutes watching this TED talk. Then, take a few minutes to complete her questionnaire: online (no need to give any personal information) or download the PDF.

How gritty are you?

If your score was not that high, look at the Grit Scale items which were challenging for you. Take steps to change your behavior to be more gritty.

 

Have some of these shaken you up slightly?

That’s good. It means you can better prepare yourself to ace that internship interview.

 

Don’t think you have much to work on?

That’s good, too. Now that you have checked your readiness, go out there, and get it!