How Your Employee Expectations Fosters Under-Performance

Photo by Joel Dinda

Photo by Joel Dinda

My brother-in-law often tells a story of a trip he once took in which after years of dreaming about it he was finally able to visit a very famous MLB baseball stadium. Walking around the stadium and absorbing the history of that place made it a trip of a lifetime for him. Though he was able to tour the stadium, he was unable to actually take in a game because the team was traveling during that time frame. One upside of the team being gone was that the guided tour he participated in allowed visitors to enter the home team dugout and catch a glimpse of the view the players have during a game.

Through the process, the tour guide was constantly reminding them of what rules they must adhere to while on the tour. “Don’t enter that door. Don’t touch that picture. Don’t go pass the barrier.” I am sure herding a group of baseball fanatics around such an iconic stadium is similar to herding a group of children at Disney World.

As they tour reached the dugout, the number of tour requirements and the policing of those requirements began to increase. With that many die-hard baseball fans in the group, all it would take is one lone wolf to break ranks and instigate a riot. I can just see the avalanche of adult men and women cascading out onto the field, running around on the grass and rolling in the dirt, completely destroying what the grounds crew had worked so hard to perfect.

To prevent such a scene, the actual touching of the field was completely forbidden. In the dugout, the tour guide repeatedly stressed to the tourists “Please do not touch the grass.” Over and over he had to repeat himself as hands slowly leaned in for just a brush of the beautiful green turf.

Of course, even with all the requirements being clearly laid out and constantly reinforced, what do you think my brother-in-law did just as soon as the tour guide became distracted? In his words he recalls “I reached out, grabbed a hunk of grass and shoved it in my pocket.” Continue reading

Three Questions To Ask If You Want To Be A Manager But Lack Experience

Darth Vader Manager

by JD Hancock

So you want to be a manager but do not have any experience? That can be a challenge. The way to overcome your lack of experience is to find ways to demonstrate your skills in your current role. In order to help you, here are three questions to ask yourself to see if you are a management candidate worthy of consideration.

Are you already leading your current team?

When looking to fill a manager position, hiring managers look to identify those candidates who are already demonstrating their leadership abilities. Look at your current team and ask yourself, who is the leader? Who is the go-to person? If it is you, then you are in a great position to demonstrate your leadership abilities. If not, then you have some work to do. One option would be to ask your manager for opportunities to demonstrate your leadership skills.

Another option is to simply volunteer when the need arrives. In my career, one of my best moves was to volunteer for a project that no one wanted. The team I led was very successful in delivering the project and management quickly took notice of our accomplishments. I might not have been offered a management position if I had not volunteered for such an unwanted role.

A big challenge here is how to lead without being appointed the leader. Remember, I am not saying you need to try to take charge of the entire team. Instead, work to lead in areas lacking leadership. Volunteer when needs arise and always keep in good communication with other team members.

Are you already managing your current project?

Not only are hiring managers looking for candidates who are leading their team, they also want to see that the candidate is already displaying some project management capabilities. When your team is blocked or runs into an issue, who is the person seeking to resolve the blockage? Who is the person coordinating with other teams to assist in removing the blocking issues? Who is documenting what is needed to get the team back on track? Whoever that person is, they are the ones demonstrating project management skills.

When issues arise, instead of informing your manager or other team members and then waiting for them to take care of the issue, identify the issue, bring it to the teams attention, then take leadership in finding a resolution. Facilitate any necessary meetings with other key personnel and lead in researching a possible solution. Each of these will demonstrate that you have the ability to manage a project.

Are you a team player?

It may sound odd to ask this question when referring to a management position but managers serve on teams as well. They serve on a team with their direct reports as well as on a team with other managers. If you have difficulties working as a member of your current team, the management team may not be willing to take the risk in having you join their team. Team members rely on one another but at the management level, the consequences increase. Managers want to make sure other managers on their team are an asset and not a hindrance.

If you want to become a manager but do not have any experience, the key is to demonstrate your management skills in your current position. Always be looking for opportunities to lead and volunteer to handle issues. If you are consistent in your effort, your skills with begin to be noticed.

Interviewing 101: When You Ask Stupid Questions You Will Get Stupid Answers

Lately we have been hiring for quite a number of positions at the company where I work.  I have been conducting interviews on my own open positions plus I have also been asked to sit in on other interviews for other groups to provide some added expertise. As I have been sitting in on these interviews and hearing the questions being asked, one thing really struck me: when you ask stupid questions you get stupid answers.

I can remember some of the questions I have received in the past when I have interviewed for different positions. Yes, you get the technical questions such as “How many bytes are in an Integer?” but you also get questions such as “When was the last time you made a mistake?” What is the interviewer trying to determine about my skills? Do these questions really give them a clear picture of my ability to do the job?

When I choose interview questions, these are some of the guidelines I follow.

Continue reading

Video Learning for Microsoft Web Development

Watching videos is a great way for to learn new web development techniques. There is something about videos that I enjoy more than reading articles. Articles have their place, but if I am trying to digest large amounts of information on a topic, for me, videos are the way to go. I thought it might be helpful to list some of the sites that I have frequented in the past that contain helpful instructional videos for Microsoft web development. Continue reading

SQL: The Language of Data

If you want to build websites in today’s environment, you have to know how to interact with a database. Databases are used for much more than simply storing financial or numeric information. Take this blog for instance. Not only is each blog post that I create stored in a database, but even the page names and their attributes are stored there as well. Databases serve a wide range of functions. Yes, they do store large amounts of numeric data, but they do so much more. All of your usernames and passwords are stored in databases. All of your Facebook posts and information, such as your likes, comments and FarmVille scores are stored in a database as well. For you to progress in your web development abilities, you must learn how to interact with a database. Continue reading

Scripting Languages: The Power Behind the Design

If your purpose is to simply display static information on your web page, HTML and CSS are all you need. But if you really want to unleash the power of your site, you must learn a server side scripting language.

What is a server side scripting language? It is a computer programming language that runs behind the scenes. It does things such as allow you to dynamically change the content of your page based upon the user. It also allows you to interact with a database, which is a necessity for most modern websites . The question we need to answer is which scripting language to begin learning? Continue reading