Monday, December 17, 2012

Traits NOT Essential to Leadership

You may think you know what leadership looks like. Well, you may be surprised. Here's a list of traits not required for project leadership.
• Herculean work effort. Those who work long hours are often praised as loyal leaders who establish a "standard" to emulate. But a person's effectiveness is the real measure of a true leader. There is a difference between effectiveness and "being busy."
• Technical capability. Controlling the technical direction of the project is certainly important, but this does not equate to strong leadership. How often have members of the firm been elevated to a position of leadership based on technical proficiency alone?
• Intimidation. As a management style, intimidation leads only to short-lived success. It also drives away followers, and every leader needs followers in order to succeed.
• Reporting status to clients. This is an important role, but not a leadership role. A leader will go a step further and maintain a rapport with the client.
• Keeping record of who is responsible. A leader will never make excuses like "The contractor didn't understand the job," or "Principals kept charging to the job." A good leader takes responsibility for the project's success or failure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

6 Keys to Managing Millennials

Millennials, those born in the 1980s and 90s, are flowing into the A-E industry like a tsunami. They’re diverse, work well in teams, tech-savvy, and looking for fun. They come from a childhood with intense schedules and structure, and often had hovering, “helicopter” parents. Managing Millennials is slightly different than managing Gen-Xers, and extremely different than working with Baby Boomers. Here are some tips for overseeing this new professional generation:
1. Be a mentor. Millennial employees need guidance, and they want to look at you as a leader, for both personal and professional feedback. When developing your project work plans, include some professional development time for coaching and instructing these younger team members.
2. Allow a balance of work and life.  Millennials grew up watching their parents overloaded with work so that their kids could be given every amenity and activity, and they don’t want to follow in their footsteps. In addition to work, they want an active social life, they want to volunteer in their communities, and they want to enjoy hobbies and sports. Let them!
3. Use their computer skills.  Whatever you think you know about IT, WiFi, mobile computing, and the Cloud; Millennials know more, and are faster. Take advantage of their tech-savvy talents to enhance your team and the services to your clients. It might even be fun to let them give some computer/mobile lessons to the older team members.
4. Don’t be bothered by multi-tasking.  Though it’s still frowned upon in many offices, Millennials have an innate ability to be on the phone with a client while, at the same time, checking Facebook and texting with friends. As long as they are fulfilling their job responsibilities, don’t let this bother you. In fact, it may even make them more productive, because they’ll be enjoying themselves at work.
5. Challenge them. Because they grew up with over-structured schedules, Millennials get easily bored. Give them extra work and opportunities. If they’re excelling at their tasks, allow them to try something new.

6. Remain Structured.  Despite Millennials’ desire and ability for multitasking and a work-life balance, you’re still trying to push a project through on time and on budget, so make sure that your team and process are structured. Meetings and schedules must be taken seriously. Assignments and action items must be clearly stated, with formal feedback and assessment.
It has been estimated that as many as 75 million Millennials have just entered or are about to enter the U.S. workforce. Not only will you be managing a number of them on your project teams, you will be helping to grow a future generations.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Human Resources: Transactional or Strategic?

Wages, payroll taxes, 401k, Section 125, 529 Plans, health insurance and other administrative roles need to be reliable and secured transactions, which have always been the core responsibility of the "Personnel Department." However, in the 21st century, Human Resources (HR) has also acquired a strategic role.

HR is no longer simply a service provider but a strategic partner with Principals and line managers. Performing HR activities in a strategic manner may involve helping the organization prepare for change, forecasting human capital needs that will be required to achieve strategic goals, leading talent management, restructuring the organization, and developing performance management systems that support strategic objectives.

If you are an owner of a firm and want a strong HR Professional to be your ally or, if you are an HR Professional who wants to have a career path that leads to the Strategic Board Room, here is a list of essential HR experience and personality traits:
• Strategic planning process
• Business management functions of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling, then using those functions in a strategic way
• Managing change in a diplomatic way
• Risk management, including thorough knowledge of labor laws
• Employee relations and career path development
• Understanding of compensation and benefits coordination
• Understanding of budgeting, accounting, and financial concepts
• Ability to influence and motivate people
• Ability to change gears fast and often
• Credentialed by the Human Resources Certification Institute as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
Keeping your workforce knowledgeable, skilled, productive and engaged, saves companies a great deal of money. With the cost of turnover estimated at 1.0 to 1.5 times that position's annual salary, it pays to invest in a strategically focused Human Resources Director.
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