Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Stupid employee excuses

We're going...we're going...chill.
People are often late to work (a fourth of workers say at least once a week). You'd think they would have better "excuses."

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, notes a few of the lamer attempts...

--I thought of quitting but decided not to, so I came in late.

--My car caught fire from my blow dryer.

--Detained by Homeland Security.

--Had to chase the cows back in the field.

--My lizard died during surgery and I had to decide whether to let the vet dispose of it or bring the corpse to work.

--Fresh powder--so I had to ski.

--All of my clothes were stolen.

While the "old nine to five" may be morphing into more flexible systems, you will find that most employers expect you to show up on time.

Still, the dead lizard is a heartstringer plucker,

Monday, February 8, 2016

"On-ramping" can help female scientists get back into academia

Pursuing a career in industry or government after getting a PhD used to be considered deadly to having an academic career.

Now, the University of Washington is finding that getting such women back into the university setting has many advantages.

Researchers interviewed 10 women who had returned to university faculties after working in the government or private sector (J of                                                                     Technology Transfer).

These  women were interviewed at the UW Center for Institutional Change between 2009 and 2012.

They found these women needed a good road map on how to re-enter the university setting.

Some universities hire STEM faculty from other universities, but this does not widen the pool of such employees.

Many women out in the private or government sector developed products, not published papers. Some could not speak of their accomplishments, which were proprietary to their employers.

Others fear the male-heavy STEM areas in universities and wondered if this had changed.

But--they also wanted to do more than make a profit for a corporation and welcomed a way to do the world good by working with students.

UW offers development advice, workshops, and in-depth discussions of how such women can transition back to academia.

Sounds good--go to it!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Shouldn't everything be a video game?

Computer types at Colorado State in Fort Collins have joined with statisticians to turn disease outbreak planning into a video game.

Well, it has been a movie several times--why not?

This three-year project is funded by the Dept of Homeland Security--so it's not all fun and games.

Livestock outbreaks can spread fast across the country..or Bird flu...these illnesses not only affect animals but the economy and even humans.

When there is an outbreak, you need to know how severe it is, how long it will last, how many field personnel are needed, and what the economic consequences will be.

Computer scientists run "what ifs" like this constantly. They adjust for variables.

Disease planners, though, often work in isolation and don't know how their decisions affect the decisions others make.

The idea of  video game approach is to put all decision-makers in one virtual room--field agents to veterinarians--and plan.

This has to be useful in real time--no matter how many "players" or variables, Real time means milliseconds.

Challenging but with Zika and Ebola and bird flu etc popping up, probably timely.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Did you go back to the doughnuts this morning?

It's February--the traditional time to abandon the New Year's Resolutions.

Stacey Kendrick, a health educator at Vanderbilt, says making lifestyle changes takes time. Setbacks are part of it.

Often people give up when they have a setback (duh).

Did you forget to break your resolution into manageable goals--not lose 50 pounds, say, but 5% of your body weight?

And you cannot give up.

If you do have a setback--sleep through the alarm all week instead of going out in the cold to the gym or eating a pizza...you need to act.

--Energize your goal, Kendrick says. Try a new gym, get new workout duds, walk with a buddy, join a support group.

--Review your history of setbacks.Try to discover the triggers.

--Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that you can do it. Not that you are a big weak clod.

Above all, I would add, just pick up where you left off and carry on.

And put that thing down, guy, you're freaking me out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Will future leaders have good communication skills?

Talk already!
Communication guru Amy Castro, writing in Govt Executive magazine, said the government (but really all organizations) will be trolling the Millennials for effective leaders.

No matter how technnically perfect you are, you must be able to get this across. This requires six skills, Castro says.

--Intrapersonal communication. This is the conversation in our heads--what we worry about, what we tell ourselves about our decisions and ideas. Mastering this can increase self-confidence.

--Emotional awareness and control. We've all seen loss of emotional control on the job--profanity, sarcasm, calling out people in front of others, or people who are took weak to do any of this. Lders must communicate emotion without losing control.

--Interpersonal--One-on-one between two people. This means face-to-face, on the phone, texting or in writing.

--Conflict resolution. Conflict can be a way to get things in the open--but a leader needs to take into account individual conflict styles and how to reap a positive from it.

--Effective coaching and feedback. Feedback is more than a yearly performance review.  It must occur daily.

I would say if your office is full of people texting between desks or cubes, faces staring at screens, passive-aggressiveness such as the silent treatment, and so on--better communication needs to be emphasized.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Do you dog it when the economy is better?

First, the US economy is better, but still not great.

According to the American Time Use Survey, workers spend at least nine hours at work each weekday, but not all that time is spent working.

Well, duh.

This comes from a story in Govt Executive by Bourree Lam.

Personal work can consume as much as three hours or more. Didn't know it was THAT much.

Theoretically, if the economy is bad, employees would spend more time working in order to kepp their jobs.

Still, research done in the 1960s showed that labor productivity FELL during recessions.

But companies held onto their staff anyway--because of the cost of hiring and training someone new.

For most people, the more time spent at work means the more time doing personal work.

I guess personal work--surfing the internet, gabbing with colleagues--will always be with us...fear of firing being minimal.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Former employees can be an asset--if you do it right

See ya--but love ya, baby
When fast-rising employees quit, the assumption is usually that they were driven out by a bad boss. But University of Illinois researchers looked at this and found such employees often leave good bosses, too, and in that instance, an “alumni” of the company can be an asset.

The lead investigator, Ravi S. Gajendran, a professor of business administration, said these former employees or “alumni” can be assets to your company in terms of a source of future business or as a back channel of information.

So why do workers leave despite having such good  relationship with their manager?

According to Gajendran, people leave good managers, precisely because good managers invest in and develop their employees. They typically get a better job with more responsibilities at their next employer.

Even employees who are leaving can be valuable somewhere down the line, Gajendran says.

As a result, companies need to pay closer attention to the "off-boarding" process.

 "When people are leaving, you shouldn't just stop with an exit interview and a pat on the back. You should be thinking of them as a contact you can tap in the future,"

According to the paper, it also helps if managers at least make an overture to retain employees, even if they think it's unlikely they'll accept the offer to stay.

In short, if you're a manager who has poured a lot of resources into developing an employee, your first instinct might be to take their leaving badly. But it's to your advantage to keep good ties with them.

When I left my 16-year defense job, I was recruited back for a project. Never hurts to not burn bridges.