Learning how to “act like a grownup” on the job
By Frank Connolly
Senior Editor, MindEdge Learning
In the olden days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was fresh out of college, people didn’t talk about “emotional intelligence in the workplace.” What we talked about, instead, was the need to “act like a grownup.” But looking back, it seems that we were all talking about the same thing.
In 1990, the academics Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer defined Emotional Intelligence, or EI, as the “ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” Five years later, science journalist Daniel Goleman popularized the term in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, and in the years since EI has become a favorite topic for management gurus and HR mavens. But what does it mean for the average employee?
In his book and in subsequent writings, Goleman defined five key elements of emotional intelligence:
To be honest, all five of these “EI competencies” fit my definition of “acting like a grownup,” but Goleman argues that there’s more to them than that. In an influential 1998 article in the Harvard Business Review, Goleman posited an explicit link between high EI and success in business—specifically, success in leadership roles.
But EI is not just for leaders. In a highly publicized 2011 survey of 2,600 hiring managers and HR professionals, 71 percent said they value EI more than IQ—and fully 75 percent said they would promote a high-EI candidate over one with a high IQ but low EI. As author and educational consultant Kendra Cherry writes, “If you want to succeed in the workplace and move up the career ladder, emotional intelligence is critical to your success.”
Why? EI is valuable in the workplace for many different reasons, but arguably the most important boils down to a single word: teamwork. People with high emotional intelligence—people who can control their own emotions, people with social skills such as listening and being respectful of others, people who can empathize with their coworkers—are, almost by definition, going to be better team players than those who lack these skills. And team players are more likely to be recognized and promoted by management.
Advocates also argue that workers with high emotional intelligence are better able to cope with workplace stress, and address workplace conflicts, than those with lower EI. Those attributes are obviously valuable traits in a worker, and even more valuable in a leader—which is why Goleman and many management consultants consider EI to be a vital leadership skill.
Unlike IQ, an inborn attribute that is mainly a function of genetics, EI is something that can be taught. Many schools districts across the country have embraced an approach known as social-emotional learning, which seeks to instill the basic elements of EI in schoolchildren. And courses in emotional intelligence have become an integral part of many management and leadership development programs (including those offered by MindEdge).
Of course, not everyone has jumped on the EI bandwagon. Critics point out that the tests designed to measure EI are not very scientific and can easily be gamed; at the same time, it’s fairly obvious that emotional intelligence didn’t have much to do with the success of legendary business martinets such as Steve Jobs or Jack Welch or, for that matter, Donald Trump. And John Mayer, who along with Peter Salovey wrote the first scholarly article on EI, has derided the approach taken by Goleman and his followers as mere “pop psychology.”
For all of this criticism, though, corporate America’s embrace of EI is not going to end any time soon. If you’re interested in climbing the corporate ladder, you’re going to have to take stock of your own emotional intelligence, and find ways to enhance it.
Or at least learn how to act like a grownup.
For a complete listing of MindEdge’s course offerings on emotional intelligence and other management skills, click here.
Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.
From Scrum to Kanban, there’s a version to suit your needs
By Dan Picard
Senior Editor/Manager, Quality Improvement Programs at MindEdge Learning
When most people think of the Agile approach to project management, they envision a team holding daily 15-minute meetings to update colleagues as they complete the items on a prioritized task list. While this image may be typical of one form of Agile, it represents only one of the many methodologies under the Agile umbrella. In truth, there are several types of Agile methodologies that can be used iteratively to create and improve project results that directly and immediately provide value to end users.
The Agile Methodologies
Any Agile framework includes a “light” methodology—one that relies on the close interaction of practitioners to collaborate and uncover needs in quick cycles, rather than producing long, elaborate plans that may be obsolete by the project’s end. The most common methodologies include:
- Scrum. Scrum is the form that most people visualize when they think of an Agile approach. Scrum structures work in short, iterative cycles (called sprints) where team members pull from a list of requirements that have been prioritized so that the features developed first are of the highest value to customers. At the end of each sprint, the team presents a usable product to its target audience, then turns its attention to enhancing its processes and procedures before launching a new sprint.
- Extreme Programming. Extreme programming (XP) is an engineering-based system that uses automation and an inwardly focused effort to increase productivity and minimize interim work products. It incorporates automated testing and integrates results on a daily basis, as team members pair together to review and correct mistakes as they are generated.
- Lean Software Development. Lean software development focuses on eliminating all the steps and processes that do not add value for customers or for the organization. Removing these wasteful activities and tasks allows development teams to focus on creating results that reflect what customers want and appreciate, and reduces the time to market for products and services.
- Kanban. The Kanban method prevents teams from being overwhelmed by limiting the amount of work that can be in process at one time. Work is “pulled” into the next stage of a project only after existing work has been completed. This method is especially helpful in areas where new requirements are added to a system at varying times and in varying amounts—it allows the team to focus only on a limited amount of existing work, without worrying about what work will be waiting in the production pipeline.
- Scrumban. Scrumban combines the Scrum and Kanban approaches to organize work in short sprints and limit the amount of work-in-progress in each project stage. Work is again pulled into action only after current tasks have been completed.
- Scaled Agile Framework. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) uses a systems-thinking approach to synchronize work and project results across an organization, and to scale Agile processes and practices to larger, more-complex projects. It views the interactions between and among organizational projects, to ensure the best rhythm and flow of work for projects and programs.
- Large Scale Scrum. Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) is used to coordinate multiple Scrum teams, which are working concurrently, to create one large-scale product or project result. It synchronizes the teams’ actions and activities to achieve overall goals and objectives efficiently.
Regardless of the approach chosen, all of these methodologies share commonalities that are based in the Agile Manifesto and Agile Declaration of Interdependence: working in close collaboration with customers; adapting to change quickly and efficiently; integrating results into working products; and focusing on providing value to end users. At the same time, all of them aim to increase satisfaction among customers, staff, and management by empowering employees to produce results at a sustainable pace, while meeting user requirements and enhancing revenue streams.
For a complete listing of MindEdge’s course offerings on Agile Project Management, click here.
Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.
Changing times require different skill sets
By Frank Connolly
Senior editor, MindEdge Learning
The storm has been building for years. Now it’s hitting with full force.
The storm currently battering the nonprofit sector is a generational one. Leaders of the nation’s 1.6 million nonprofits are old (the median age for mid- and upper-level nonprofit manager is 52, according to a 2018 nonprofit leadership survey), and getting older. And like a lot of Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers, they’re ready to retire.
A 2011 study found that 67 percent of nonprofit managers and leaders were planning to retire within the next several years—in other words, right about now. And the Bridgestone Group estimates that this generational storm is forcing the nonprofit sector to replace almost 80,000 new senior level managers and leaders every year.
And where will we find all those replacements? Step right up, millennials!
As the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, millennials already have outsize influence on the American economy. But they, as a group, seem to be an especially good fit for the nonprofit sector. As the National Council of Nonprofits’ Tiffany Gourley points out, millennials share four traits that align well with the nonprofit world view:
- A desire to give back and make a difference to society
- A preference for flexible working arrangements
- An interest in career stability
- An aversion to political labels and partisanship
If, as Gourley argues, millennials and nonprofits are a match made in heaven, then it’s tempting to assume that millennials will move effortlessly into the many nonprofit leadership positions that opening up these days. But that assumption doesn’t quite match the reality.
Running a nonprofit is hard work, and it’s getting harder. A generation ago, many nonprofit leaders could rely on fundraising skill and good connections to get the job done. But in today’s rapidly changing digital economy, that’s not nearly good enough. Today’s nonprofit leaders need a deep and diverse skill set that incorporates both hard and soft skills— a blend of technical, measurable aptitude with less tangible, interpersonal abilities.
MindEdge’s Nonprofit Management Council has identified seven areas that should be found in every nonprofit leader’s tool kit:
- Traditional management and business skills, to help keep the lights on while successfully hiring and retaining staff
- Relationship-building and communication, to forge strong relationships with donors, foundations, government officials, and other nonprofits
- Collegiality, to instill trust among peers and develop open and honest work relationships with staff
The ability to multitask, which is especially important at smaller nonprofits, where the ability to be a jack-of-all-trades is essential to success
- Fundraising basics, including traditional, direct mail, social media, and Web-based fundraising, as well as grant writing
- Technological savvy, especially with regard to fundraising, donor communications, marketing, and branding
- Strategic thinking, to help leaders see the forest for the trees, and navigate safely through times of change
Not that many people can bring every one of these critical leadership skills to the table. But there are ways for younger professionals to augment their skill sets: classroom-based education and training, online learning programs geared towards working professionals, and continuing education courses can all help millennials (and even their older colleagues) keep up with the most in-demand skills.
In the long run, the best leaders will be those with the most diverse and balanced skill sets. They are the ones who will help the nonprofit sector weather today’s generational storm, and set a true course for the next 20 years.
For a complete listing of MindEdge’s course offerings on Nonprofit Management, click here.
Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.
In contract negotiations—as in most other aspects of modern life—you’ve got to pay attention to the details. Rich Maltzman, PMP, says it’s crucial to avoid contract language that is overly broad. And it’s absolutely vital that you understand how the contract’s enforcement clauses will work, in the event of real-life conflicts down the road.
For a complete listing of MindEdge’s course offerings on project management, click here.
Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.
It all depends on what you want, and why you want it
By Jennifer Ware
Editor, MindEdge Learning
Negotiating is an attempt to exchange things we have for things we want. People negotiate when they have different interests and need to reach an agreement.
You’ve engaged in countless negotiations in your life, without benefit of any formal training. But there are formal skills you can learn, which will improve your chances of getting what you want or need out of different situations.
Not all negotiations are the same. To get the most out of every negotiation, you need to think carefully about what you want and why you want it. How you approach a negotiation will be largely determined by the relationship you have with the person on the other side of the negotiating table.
If that person is someone you are close to, or with whom you have a valued relationship, you may be more inclined to make sacrifices or explore outcomes that also serve that person’s interests. If you don’t have a close or meaningful relationship with the other party, you may approach the negotiation with a more competitive strategy.
Of course, some negotiation strategies should always be avoided because they are unethical: presenting inaccurate or false information, offering bribes, or issuing threats.
Here are three general approaches to the negotiation process:
When the parties involved in a negotiation have an important relationship that they value, it can be a good idea to explore outcomes where everyone gets what they value most. In such cases, an integrative approach, where the goal is to find a win/win solution, is probably appropriate.
The first step in an integrative negotiation is to identify ways that additional value can be added to the current situation. The idea is that if more value can be identified or created, then both parties may be able to get what they want without making any significant sacrifices.
Integrative negotiations almost always require that the negotiating parties figure out not only what they want out of the negotiation, but why they want those things.
For integrative negotiations to be successful, both parties must be motivated to work collaboratively rather than competitively, and the interests of both parties must be compatible.
Distributive negotiations are used when two (or more) parties are trying to claim the maximum amount of profit or benefit for themselves. The focus is on individual gain—both parties want to get as much as they can and neither is interested in giving the other party what they want. Someone will inevitably lose and someone else will gain as a result. These competitive interactions occur when the interests of the parties are incompatible.
Typically, distributive negotiation works well when the nature of the interaction is short-term and transactional.
Many inexperienced negotiators rely solely on distributive negotiation techniques. They do so either because they believe that competition is the only way to negotiate, or because they assume the other party will take a competitive approach. This is a mistake; you should only select a strategy after you have evaluated the issues completely, have an idea of the strategy the other party will pursue, and have assessed the importance of the negotiation’s outcomes and your relationship with the other party.
Mixed Motive Negotiation
Mixed motive negotiation employs aspects of both the integrative and distributive approaches. The idea is to create additional value so both parties have some of their interests met, but with an understanding that the newly created value might not be enough for everyone to get the same amount, or everything they want.
There is no one way to conduct mixed motive negotiations. The parties may blend tactics from the integrative and distributive negotiation, or they may switch from one strategy to the other.
Mixed motive negotiation is most often used when the parties involved are not sure if their interests are compatible.
For a complete listing of MindEdge’s management courses, including “Effective Negotiations,” click here.
Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.
Skills, Security Top the List of Concerns
By Marco Martinez
Editor, MindEdge Learning
Rapid changes in technology are constantly making headlines—and they’re also making headaches for IT departments and company managers alike. Today’s managers face an increasing scarcity of trained personnel, a rise in security breaches, and a host of other IT problems, all competing for their attention. And doing nothing is definitely not an option: IT is no longer just a business enabler, it is a critical business driver, and businesses ignore the shifting IT landscape at their own peril.
Here are the top four IT issues with which managers must contend, if they hope to keep their companies competitive:
Training and the skills gap. The high rate of technological change has resulted in a workforce that lacks some critical IT skills. According to a 2017 report by CompTIA, the computer technology trade association, there’s a critical and widening skills gap that threatens worker productivity, customer service, and, ultimately, company profitability. Predictably, the biggest gaps are in some of the hottest emerging technologies, including cloud infrastructure and applications, automation and AI, and the Internet of things. To help close the skills gap, companies need to step up their ongoing training programs. Organizations that actively seek out training for their workers will win in the long run: up-to-date skills training provides a tangible incentive for workers to stay with the company, and those skilled workers will end up contributing more to the organization.
Hacking and security breaches. If 2017 seemed, at times, like the Year of the Hacker, 2018 has been no better. In an increasingly connected world—with more personal and corporate information than ever now available online—and with hackers taking advantage of ever more sophisticated techniques and scams—cyber security threats will only continue to grow. And that’s a nightmare scenario for most managers: these days, the value of information far exceeds the value of physical assets for most organizations. Safeguarding that information is an urgent priority, which means that security cannot take a back seat to network performance, as it often did in the past. Ongoing security training for all employees is essential in fostering an organization-wide security mindset. And security training also needs to be coupled with regular assessments that can evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s security program.
Budget cuts. IT departments are constantly being squeezed to deliver, even as many of them are watching their budgets decline. In this environment, managers need to be more strategic about their budgeting decisions. And they should recognize that knowing which solutions to spend money on—and which ones are not worth the investment—may require getting some outside help. Reputable consultants can help in evaluating new IT solutions and prioritizing the ones that can best further the company’s business goals. Consultants cost money, of course. But working with firms that have a track record of implementing new technologies—that is, technologies that can help grow the business—may well prove to be cost-effective in the long run.
The innovation culture. Creativity, when applied properly, will set an organization apart from its competitors. It can also strengthen the company internally when employees are encouraged to share their ideas about improving business and IT processes. That’s why it is vital that managers strive to create a workplace culture that fosters innovation, communication, and teamwork. Collaboration between teams and departments helps eliminate information silos, encouraging better communication. And an organization that rewards innovation will likely retain top talent and spur greater productivity as a result.
This is not an exhaustive list; there are plenty of other IT issues lurking just over the horizon, as well. And, like the ones on this list, they may require making tough decisions and sometimes difficult changes. But coping with change and making tough decisions is what being a manager is all about. Just remember, you don’t have to go it alone: when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask around for some expert opinions. The more information you have, the better the IT decisions you will make.
For a complete listing of MindEdge’s course offerings on cyber security and CISSP®, click here.
Copyright © 2018 MindEdge, Inc.