Coach vs. Mentor – What’s the Difference?

Coach vs. Mentor – What’s the Difference?

Coaches and mentors both exist to help an individual develop their potential. They come alongside and offer support from a position of greater knowledge and experience. In both professional and personal development, having a coach or mentor is a good thing.

However, if you can only have one, which should you choose? Let’s look at the differences between coaches and mentors in the context of professional development.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone with career experience who is willing to take a person under their wing and share what they know. Mentor and mentee form a relationship that is often mutually beneficial.

Over time, the mentee gathers knowledge and input from someone who has been where they are now. He or she might receive decision-making advice instead of having to rely on trial and error. They might make fewer mistakes and find a more efficient path to achievement.

Mentors get something out of it too. In their role of trusted advisor, they receive respect. They develop their own leadership skills. Communicating their views and thought processes often crystalizes that knowledge. They often report feeling personal satisfaction from knowing they’ve helped someone. They feel pride in the growth they nurtured.

What do Mentors Do?

A mentor might take on the following roles:

  • Teacher – He or she might pass on practical knowledge regarding skills helpful at their company or in their industry.
  • Advisor – A good mentor is a sounding board. He or she doesn’t tell the mentee what to do, but instead helps them refine ideas, explore solutions and become self-reliant. Mentors serve as a trustworthy confidante.
  • Role model – Good mentors show as much as they tell. They embody core organizational values. They walk the talk, are there when it counts, honor their commitments and persevere through challenges.

Mentoring tends to be more long-term and holistic than career coaching. The mentor and mentee might meet on a schedule, but they could also interact on an informal, as-needed basis. Growth happens because of repeated interactions over time.

What is a Career Coach?

Coaching is typically more targeted and structured than mentoring. While a mentor might help with overall professional development, coaches often take a systematic approach to focus on one skill or goal at a time.

Mentors might not have any formal training in mentorship, and they don’t always specialize in what the mentee most needs to learn. Coaches often have training in the areas of desired growth. They can train or up-skill, and they may offer a way to measure results.

Usually the coach is in charge of development. The trainee can have input, but they’re not responsible for driving sessions. Where a mentor might share personal experience to advise on next steps, coaches focus more on reaching the next goal or level than sharing their own background. Career coaches are more likely to charge for their services.

Coach Responsibilities

In the workplace, businesses basically use coaches to help individuals and teams fill in gaps. Coaching develops the skills workers need to solve problems, form and reach long-term goals or develop missing soft skills. A coach might

  • Use survey data to measure current employee behaviors, link them to business outcomes, then recommend appropriate training.
  • Conduct personality and behavior assessments to help decision makers better understand current culture.
  • Help individuals or teams set goals, develop action plans and overcome challenges.
  • Work with executives to improve leadership skills or plan for succession.
  • Help supervisors and managers develop lacking people skills.
  • Assist older and younger workers in eliminating stereotypes.
  • Develop programs that encourage employees to make better health decisions.

Mentoring and coaching both have the goal of helping workers reach their potential. Organizations don’t have to choose one over the other, both will create a ripple effect of learning, support and ongoing development that will make your company stronger and better over time.

Tomorrow’s Workforce – What They’re Saying Today

Tomorrow’s Workforce – What They’re Saying Today

Lately if you’ve watched anything filmed in 2019 or earlier that showed a busy workplace, you might have felt caught in a time warp. “That was pre-pandemic,” you may have told yourself. “It doesn’t look like that anymore.” You may have also wondered a little nostalgically if it will ever look that way again.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict the workforce of tomorrow will function, think and produce in ways that are much different from the traditional model. What will the changes be? The answer to that question depends both on what’s happening with the current workforce and what high school and college aged individuals are experiencing today.

Change, Accelerated

Even if the first COVID-19 infection never happened, the way people work was already changing. Artificial intelligence was already replacing grocery store checkers, assembly-line workers, proofreaders and market research analysts. Technology also made it easier to outsource tasks to contractors, hire people who lived in another country and work outside the office.

The powerful forces of globalization and artificial intelligence were already reshaping work. Children who started middle school five years ago had already begun experiencing the world through virtual reality, personalized intelligent tutoring and machine-assisted collaboration. Brands looked to technology to assist in their struggle against employee disengagement and to unpack the growing mountains of available data.

Pandemic-induced disruptions accelerated the change that was already happening. As we struggled to understand the long-term repercussions, organizations like the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business School and Deloitte created reports analyzing the current situation and predicting how it would affect tomorrow’s workforce. Here we summarize some of their key findings.

Expect Continued Acceleration

Vaccine development isn’t the only thing traveling at warp speed. Technology adoption is expected to snowball. Businesses that a few years ago were content with the way things always were are now researching cloud computing, e-commerce, data encryption and artificial intelligence.

Lockdowns and economic concerns drove companies to rely more heavily on machines. Artificial intelligence doesn’t get sick, spread germs or need time off to help with online learning. It never shows up to a virtual meeting in sweatpants and doesn’t ask for ergonomic equipment for the home office.

Where before technology adoption and task automation seemed intimidating and expensive, it became a necessity. Now a larger percentage of the work done by humans is accomplished by machines.

Tomorrow’s Workforce is Rethinking Options

If you talk to high school and college age groups, you’ll find they’re looking for opportunity, but not always along traditional pathways. Around half of surveyed Gen Z members (those born between 1997 and 2012) say they’re interested in something other than a four-year degree. They’re worried a college degree might bury them under a mountain of debt, that they might not be able to find a good job even with a degree and that they might not have the skills they need even if they do find work in their desired field.

Gen Z is the most populous generation since the Baby Boomers. Older members currently make up 24 percent of the global workforce.

Training, Reskilling and Upskilling Will be Key

What is tomorrow’s workforce saying today?

  • 29 percent say they are less likely to attend a four-year university because of the pandemic
  • Almost a fourth of them say they don’t intend to continue their formal education after high school
  • 38 percent say they feel companies should pay for some form of continuing education
  • 61 percent say obtaining skills-based education might be a better way to achieve the success they desire

Gen Z and Millennials have thinking and working patterns in common. They want to make a meaningful contribution, to have flexibility in their schedule and to receive recognition for their efforts. Gen Z members are digital natives, and pre-pandemic were predicted to be the most educated generation. They’re more comfortable with technology than older generations will ever be.

They’re interested in learning skills that will help them get ahead, and they’ll be attracted to companies that can help them achieve those goals. Because the economic landscape will continue to shift, holding a four-year degree in one subject might not be as important as the ability to develop proficiency at tasks as they appear.

Takeaways for Employers

One of the best ways to future-proof your workforce is to think now in terms of reskilling and upskilling. Start doing so now to keep existing employees engaged, attract the right kind of talent and prepare for periods of rapid change.

When you need the right person with the right skills now and you don’t have time to send someone through an extended learning program, call Brelsford Personnel. We match East Texas companies with workers who already have the skills needed to get the job done. Contact us online today.

How to Encourage Different Opinions Without Hiring a Bouncer

How to Encourage Different Opinions Without Hiring a Bouncer

People want to feel like their opinions are valued. They also want to work somewhere they feel psychologically safe. However, in our polarized society differing viewpoints can turn to arguments fast. Some managers feel like they’d be safer walking through a field of land mines than encouraging team members to share their opinions.

Successful leaders know how to create an inclusive work environment so people feel like they can share without getting attacked. They understand how to allow, sometimes even encourage healthy disagreements because they can lead to outside-the-box thinking.

Re-Frame Thinking on Differences

When someone disagrees with us, feeling threatened is a common response. We may have to give up an opinion or ideal we believe is “right.” The other person seems to think they know better than we do and it’s hard not to take that personally. We might be about to experience open hostility. It’s unpredictable and uncomfortable.

That tension and defensiveness cause us to shut down. We’re no longer listening to others; instead we’re preparing our stand or looking for a graceful retreat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the workplace among professionals, it shouldn’t be. When individuals feel safe, creative tension can lead to learning and innovation.

The first step is becoming aware of our emotional reaction to differences of opinion. If we start to feel tension when we realize someone has a different viewpoint, that tension can act as a trigger to become defensive or it can trigger introspection.

Encourage team members to recognize that tension over differing viewpoints signals opportunity. It means other perspectives or ideas are present. Workers have a chance to add to their knowledge and experience. It’s possible to share opposing views without determining that one person is right or wrong, good or bad, the winner or loser.

Conflict Isn’t Always Bad

Most of us have been in a situation where the majority wanted to move one direction and we weren’t so sure that was best, but we didn’t speak up. Conforming feels like forcing yourself into a mold you were never meant to fit, but sometimes the pressure to do so is intense.

Scaffold the development of better people skills so workers feel encouraged to express their opinions and understand disagreement is okay. Encourage individuals to learn to temporarily suspend the need to be right and instead look for common purposes.

As a team or organization, brainstorm ways to communicate respectfully even when individuals feel that tension. Allow workers to create behavioral guidelines for communicating differences of opinion. Document those guidelines, agree together to follow them, and keep them handy to reference as needed.

Then, start to invite discussions, healthy debates and exchanges. Try not to jump in at the first sign of tension. A competitive environment can be a good thing, and teams that have experienced conflict and worked through it develop a deeper respect for each other’s strengths.

Have Private Conversations

Sometimes you know individuals are too far apart on an issue, all sides have innovative ideas, and there isn’t time to come to a meeting of the minds. In that situation, don’t hold an open discussion.

Instead, have one-on-one conversations or ask for written input from individual contributors. It’s also a good idea to have a formal process for employees to privately submit opinions and suggestions even when you’re not asking for them.

Manage Strong Personalities as Needed

It can seem like the people most in need of sensitivity training are the least interested in reining in their abrasive behaviors. Others might describe them as brilliant but toxic, an antisocial genius, someone who does good work but engages in inappropriate or destructive behavior.

Sometimes leaders have to be the bouncer. That doesn’t mean you have to threaten to send that employee home for the day every time they get cantankerous, but you will have to find ways to keep their negativity from destroying the innovative, inclusive culture you’re trying to create.

Meet with that person or group privately to see if there are personal issues or misconceptions causing them to be unnecessarily combative. Give them prompt, critical feedback and work with them to identify specific behaviors that make open sharing impossible. Review the guidelines your group agreed on. Prompt them to make apologies if they crossed lines and coach them on how they can handle conversations in a more positive manner next time.

Hire the Right Employees

Sometimes certain individuals just aren’t a good fit, and that makes things difficult for everyone. Brelsford Personnel works with East Texas businesses to find employees that are a good match for their existing culture and who have the communication and people skills necessary to be successful in their role. If you would like to know more about working with us, send us a message online.

5 Steps to Solid Workplace Decision-Making

5 Steps to Solid Workplace Decision-Making

In business, we also admire people who are confident, assertive and quick thinking. However, the ones who are successful over time aren’t just lucky, and they don’t leap before they look. Instead, they’ve honed their decision-making skills with experience, and they are continually adding to their knowledge and experience base.

In action movies, the hero makes infallible split-second decisions. Part of what we admire about him or her is that brilliant decisiveness. There’s no self-doubt, no deliberation. They just somehow either have huge amounts of background knowledge or they’re incredibly lucky every single time.

Harvard Business Review says effective executives think in terms of what is strategic. They balance emotions with reason and see one decision as part of a bigger picture, and they follow the same basic process for making decisions large and small.

Clearly Define the Decision

Big problems can create emotionally turbocharged reactions. It’s natural to want to jump right to the fix, especially when you feel stressed, anxious or under pressure. However, successful workplace decision-making starts by making sure you clearly understand the question before you begin to formulate the answer.

Albert Einstein shared his decision-making approach when he said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” The Nobel Prize winning genius believed quality solutions came from careful research. He knew problems contain clues that allow you to better reach a successful conclusion.

Try not to see the decision at hand as positive or negative. Even if there’s a deadline hanging over your head, set that aside for a moment so your grey matter has more energy to fuel critical thinking.

The first step of solid workplace decision-making involves clearly identifying the problem you need to solve or the question you need to answer. Identify your goal as specifically as possible and set a time frame for achieving your goal or answering your question.

Research Options

Gather existing data. Brainstorm with your team to get solutions from multiple perspectives. Identify alternatives. Seek advice from industry experts or solicit feedback from customers. Consult studies, market research and, if necessary, advice from paid consultants. Check out what your competitors have done when they were faced with similar decisions.

Also, in some situations, it’s an option to do nothing, and it might be the best one. Fear of seeming indecisive isn’t a good reason to act, and it could get you in financial or legal hot water.

Identify Possible Outcomes and Consequences

Once you have a list of options, mentally and verbally walk through how each one might play out. Envision the worst case scenario, and who might be affected if that’s how things go. With that in mind, rank your choices from best decision to possibly most problematic.

Implementation

Being thorough is good, but don’t get so bogged down that you end up with analysis paralysis. It’s possible to go to extremes trying to consider every possible alternative. If you’re getting overwhelmed with the possibilities, take a step back and limit your consideration to the choices already showing the most promise.

Eventually it’s time to either take action on the decision you’ve made or decide you’re going to table the deliberation altogether, at least for the time. Come up with a plan to proceed in the direction you’ve chosen.

Analysis

In step one, when you identified the problem to solve or question to answer, you also should have set a time frame. When you reach that date, circle back to review whether or not your choice was a good one.

If things went as planned, were there hiccups along the way? If they didn’t, what can you learn from the mistakes? How can you unpack data and debrief with your team?

For Help With Hiring Decisions

Take the guesswork out of hiring when you work with Brelsford Personnel. We do the research, background checks, skills testing, interviewing and everything else to make sure you get the best employee for your needs. Send us a message if you’d like to know more.

Will Remote Interviewing Go Away Post Pandemic? Why We Say No

Will Remote Interviewing Go Away Post Pandemic? Why We Say No

Texas has lifted mask mandates and business restrictions. COVID infection rates are dropping, and an increasing number of people have received vaccinations. Travel and traffic are picking up.

As people return to in-person instead of virtual interactions, will Zoom meetings and online interviews become a thing of the past? We don’t think so for a number of reasons.

Employers Have Invested Heavily in Remote Interviewing

Remote interviewing technology existed before COVID but most companies weren’t using it because it was just more comfortable to stick to the status quo. Evaluating candidates through phone and video interviews wasn’t necessarily harder, but it was definitely different. Since before the pandemic the bulk of the work would be accomplished in person at the workplace, it made sense to conduct interviews there too.

Then, employers everywhere found themselves forced to shift. Conducting live interviews suddenly presented unnecessary health risks. When the CDC, the state and your local government recommends as few in-person interactions as possible, it doesn’t seem wise to have face to face interviews.

Organizations invested in technology and training to make remote work possible, and the same principles and tools were also useful for remote interviews. They had to overcome these major challenges:

  • Troubleshooting technical difficulties – Interviewers and job candidates struggled with technical aspects like audio, Wi-Fi and video conferencing apps.
  • Communicating company culture – Brands had to find ways to convey what they had to offer despite the fact hiring and onboarding were virtual.
  • Weeding through large numbers of applicants – Because geographic barriers were removed, job openings became available to a much larger pool of candidates.
  • Managing scheduling conflicts – Before 2020 we all felt like if we didn’t have to commute, we would have so much more time. But with remote work, lines blurred and business hours became less concrete.

The businesses that were ultimately successful in terms of staffing and recruiting were the ones who invested in tools and processes to overcome those challenges. Now they’ve made it through the growing pains, many won’t want to switch back.

Good Workers are Harder than Ever to Find – Geographic Flexibility Helps

Hiring managers from almost every industry we work with have expressed frustration with the difficulty of finding people who are qualified and willing to give 100 percent. What’s coming through the talent pipeline seems more like a sporadic trickle than a flood.

One of the main reasons we expect employers to keep using remote interviews is that they become able to evaluate interested candidates from anywhere in the world. Around two-thirds of the businesses that switched to remote work because of COVID-19 say they will keep work-from-home policies in place in some measure for the long term. That means new hires can come from anywhere.

Comfort Levels Have Changed

It’s already hard to remember what it felt like to interact with people before the pandemic. Now it feels more normal to talk through plexiglass or via computer. We stand far apart and think twice about shaking hands. Health officials caution even vaccinated individuals of the continuing danger.

Americans feel less comfortable walking into strange environments and interacting with others. Interviewers worry about taking germs home to their families. Hiring managers could catch something from a candidate and spread it around the office.

Even if COVID-19 disappeared tomorrow, that mindset has unfortunately become part of our culture. Remote interviewing is more cost-effective, it can save time, and it feels safer.

Simplify Your Interview Process

If the talent pool looks to you more like a mud hole and the thought of giving more interviews gives you a headache, we can help. We’ll perform background and reference checks, use state-of-the-art skills assessment and testing tools to verify skills and present you with qualified, pre-screened candidates. Contact us for more information.

What SMBs Should Know About Hiring Now

What SMBs Should Know About Hiring Now

Unemployment in America hit an all-time high in April of 2020, reaching a staggering 14.7 percent according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The pandemic was hard on everyone, especially small businesses.

While giants like Wal-Mart and Amazon were hiring, many small businesses were forced to downsize. However, gradually the economy began to improve, and businesses found the unexpected happened when they started recruiting for job openings.

Employees who kept their jobs were reluctant to make changes, even if they weren’t happy where they were. Applications dropped across industries. You would think small businesses would have a huge pool of hungry candidates to choose from, but instead, they reported one of their biggest problems was finding qualified applicants.

The hiring landscape has changed, possibly forever. Here’s what we’re hearing from Texas small businesses looking to hire in the months ahead.

Branding Matters

One thing hasn’t changed – how job candidates think about your organization has a direct connection to the size of your candidate pool. A LinkedIn survey found 49 percent of small businesses use referrals from current or former employees to fill openings. That number is even higher in our part of Texas.

When job seekers perceive your company as an attractive place to work, the cost per hire is more than two times lower. Companies that invest in employer brands also have 28 percent less turnover than companies that have weak employer brands.

Great employer brands are built by focusing on the people. They know who they are and what they want to accomplish and they communicate that message clearly. Then they hire people who feel the same and empower them to accomplish mutual goals.

Skills Testing is More Important Than Ever

Well-designed skills testing gives small businesses quantifiable insights. They might also help you hire a diverse workforce because they’re based solely on job-related criteria. Everyone gets the same evaluation on the same skills, so they have equal opportunity to succeed.

Resumes can be misleading. Skill assessments weed out applicants who claim more skills and abilities than they actually possess. It’s possible to be confident and engaging on the phone when you do a pre-interview screening and not be a good match for your opening. Skills assessments can tell you more about their ability to perform well at your workplace and whether or not they have qualities that make them a cultural fit.

These Recruiting Activities are Huge Time Sinks

Large corporations have staff members, sometimes even whole departments dedicated to recruiting and hiring, but that’s not typically the case with small businesses. Nine out of ten small business owners say they’ve been directly involved with the hiring process, and it’s enormously time-consuming. They report these tasks take hours out of their already busy work weeks:

  • Searching for candidates – 84 percent of SMBs say they have a hard time finding qualified talent even though they spend a huge amount of time searching. They feel like they spend time on recruiting, then lose top picks to larger competitors.
  • Interviewing candidates – SMB owners struggle with uncertainty over whether candidates will be successful. After time spent interviewing, 77 percent of recruiters say they go back and hire candidates who didn’t seem to be a good fit. Once they make a job offer, 75 percent of them say they have experienced candidates changing their minds.
  • Vetting candidates – Checking references, conducting background checks is essential, but being thorough takes time.

Our Staffing Agency Can Handle It For You

Businesses that work with Brelsford Personnel experience huge savings when it comes to advertising vacancies, skills testing, pre-employment and background testing, interviewing and onboarding. We already have a huge, quality talent pool with candidates looking for work right now. Send us an email and let’s talk about how we can make hiring easier for your business.

Remote Onboarding – Getting It Right

Remote Onboarding – Getting It Right

Some of the best advice for hiring top talent is harder to follow than ever. People want to work for a company that cares about them, that makes a difference in the community and that has a culture in line with their personal values. Wise employers hire for fit. But how do you expose new hires to that company culture when their first days and weeks are spent working remotely?

Today’s new hires can apply, interview and turn in paperwork without a single in-person interaction, but then what? If your offer implied they were about to experience a unique culture, opportunities to get noticed and meaningful collaboration and you don’t deliver, they might not stick around.

Even if your staff works at your physical location, things are different now. The office holiday parties, group participation in local charity races and in-person team building events aren’t happening the way they were before. In many workplaces common gathering areas are closed to protect employee health. Employers have to be more intentional with encouraging new hires to build personal connections, and it starts at onboarding.

Why Onboarding is Vital for Retention

When workers show up (or log in) for their first day, they’re already asking themselves whether or not they should stay. Here’s why your remote onboarding process is so important:

  • Only 12 percent of employees say their organization does a good job onboarding new hires.
  • Workers are more likely to quit when they’re new – turnover can be as high as 55 percent during the first 18 months.
  • Replacing and onboarding someone who quits can cost six to nine months of that person’s salary. Some experts say even more.

People decide to leave one job for another because they feel like the new job will be better than the last. Their decision-making process may have been logical, involving company research and comparing salary, benefits and perks. However, in the end, part of the decision was emotional.

Workers want to know they did the right thing, that their life really will be better. What happens during first interactions and first projects will shape their expectations of whether or not they’ll like working for your company long term.

Start Right by Showing Enthusiasm

New hires know employers are also asking themselves whether or not they made the right decision in offering them the job. They want to feel like you’re excited to have them and consider them a valuable addition to your team.

With any new hire, some employers focus on getting paperwork completed and filed away and training staff to complete tasks. All that has to take place, but before you jump into work, put effort into extending a heartfelt welcome.

Create a welcome thread using your group chat software. Encourage all staff members to join with a welcome message and brief introduction that includes their job title, where they’re working from and a friendly greeting.

Managers might start the day with a brief video call that expresses enthusiasm, then introduces them to the people with whom they’ll be working. Prompt team members to reach out through one-on-one messages to express excitement and offer support.

Assign a Mentor

Give new hires one point of contact they can trust to help them learn the ropes. Choose someone you know will be intentional about making connections and helping them adapt to their new work environment. Mentors might reach out daily at first with questions like these:

  • What are you working on today?
  • Are there any technology challenges that are causing you trouble?
  • What were the most unexpected aspects of your first day on the job?
  • If you could learn any professional skill, what would it be?
  • Where do you want to be a year from now in your career?

Create Virtual Interactions

When people show up every day at the same workplace, there’s regular built-in interaction. New hires note friendly body language and cheerful team members. They discover things they have in common from desk photos, organizational membership bumper stickers, sports team calendars and a host of other visual cues. Friendships form naturally over time.

People can still connect when working remotely, but it takes more work. For successful remote onboarding, managers should be intentional about helping break the ice.

Schedule virtual lunches or virtual coffee breaks for the first days and weeks that allow remote workers to connect. Pick up the tab with a prepaid card or allowance to order from a local delivery service.

Encourage staff to spend an hour a day working with their cameras on. Let workers know they don’t have to talk because it isn’t a meeting, but they have the opportunity to ask questions and exchange ideas.

Ask a few of the new hire’s team members to give a virtual tour of the space in which they’re working. Invite your new hire to do the same.

Send Swag

Give employees a tangible welcome with a company mug, shirt, hat, or all of the above. Send a care package with office supplies they’ll need to do their job. Add a welcome letter signed by their new manager or team and documents that outline your organization’s mission, goals and long-term vision. Make sure you’ve also provided remote hires with the technology essentials they need to get started and a contact person for troubleshooting.

Think Long Term

Your new hire might be able to complete your training videos and paperwork on their first day, but onboarding shouldn’t end so quickly. Don’t stop after a week. Onboarding should be a strategic process with stages for the first day, first week, first few months, and the first year.

One of the best ways to make sure you and your employees have a good experience is to hire the right person in the first place. At Brelsford Personnel, we specialize in connecting qualified, experienced East Texas workers with area employers for whom only the best will do. Contact us online to find out more about obtaining top-performing employees for your business.

How Mobile Apps are Changing the Workplace

How Mobile Apps are Changing the Workplace

We carry small, powerful computers in our pockets, and it has altered the way we do almost everything. Cell phones and other mobile tech affect the way we shop, communicate, spend our free time and so many other behaviors.

A survey recently revealed 66 percent of Americans check their cell phones more than 160 times a day. Much of that time, they’re using mobile apps, and employers are taking notice. Sometimes apps streamline workflows and improve engagement. Other times they do the opposite. Mobile app use for play and productivity isn’t going anywhere, so let’s look at how it’s impacting the workplace.

Apps for Workplace Communication

The pandemic forced many businesses to find ways to effectively communicate outside the office. Freelancers and field staff members had been using apps to stay in touch for years, but suddenly shut in workers across the nation needed remote work technology for their home office.

It’s been a long time since people used phones just for making calls. Now a huge percentage of work communication takes place through mobile apps for the following:

Teleconferencing – Last March, Zoom’s users went from 10 million to more than 200 million. Businesses use Zoom because up to 49 users can be on-screen at the same time, and video meetings can support up to 1,000 viewers from anywhere on the planet. Some teams also teleconferenced in virtual reality using apps like Spatial.

Instant Messaging – Employees use apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack to chat by topic or group and share files for collaboration.

Pros and Cons of Using Apps for Workplace Communication

Effective communication allows remote or on-location staff members to collaborate from wherever they set up their office. Apps like the ones listed above make it easy to share files and ideas.

Participants can share communication with everyone who has an active role. Plus, messaging apps can encourage collaboration from colleagues who might not get a chance to speak up in person.

There are also drawbacks. Larger groups might have a harder time staying focused while video conferencing. Being able to work anytime, from anywhere can make it harder to have a work-life balance. Some people find it difficult to disconnect from the constant notifications.

Also, some workers don’t hold themselves to the same standards for electronic communication as they do for in-person meetings and this can create miscommunications and misunderstandings. Employers using apps for communication can minimize problems by having clear guidelines for when and how teams use them.

Mobile Recruiting

Many Millennials and Generation Z workers are more comfortable with technology than with pen and paper. The majority prefer finding and applying for job openings on their phones. Surprisingly, mobile usage peaks among Generation X users, with 55 percent of users between 35 and 44 years old respondents in one survey saying they prefer using their phone to apply for jobs over desktop or pen and paper methods.

That means it isn’t just entry-level workers who respond to mobile recruiting. Qualified, experienced candidates also submit applications through mobile recruiting apps.

Apps for Payroll Processing

Now they’re using apps to accomplish payroll tasks on their cell phones. Instead of being stuck behind the office laptop or desktop, they can pay workers, access payroll information, enter earnings and other related tasks. Apps for payroll processing help bosses and employees like them too, because they have instant access to information they used to have to find on a pay stub.

Employee Tracking Apps

Giving employees the ability to “work anywhere” doesn’t always work. It sounds like a dream to be able to work from the couch or the beach, but the problem is, none of those places were designed for nine to five productivity. The beach and the living room aren’t for working, they’re for relaxation and recreation.

Employers who don’t want to pay workers to build sandcastles or binge-watch their favorite series are turning to mobile employee tracking apps. Geofencing apps use GPS to track individual workers’ physical locations. Time tracking apps log hours spent on tasks and jobs, and many integrate with apps like Google Docs, WordPress, Slack, Quickbooks or other programs your staff members may be already using.

Tracking apps can cut down on late starts and early finishes, extended breaks and other time theft activities. They keep the honest people honest – if employees know they’re being monitored, they’re less likely to waste company time. However, they can also seem intrusive, like an invasion of privacy or an attitude of distrust.

What These Changes Mean for Employers

The technology your company uses affects how you’re perceived by current employees and future hires. There’s competition across industries to secure top talent, some of whom live on their mobile devices. Savvy employers offer tools that encourage engagement and allow employees to be their very best.

Why Problem-Solving is a Must-Have Soft Skill

Why Problem-Solving is a Must-Have Soft Skill

You can learn to use graphic design software or run a table saw in a classroom. Someone can teach you the steps to making an omelet or baking a cake. Employers commonly train employees on following procedures specific to their workplace or equipment. But what happens when you encounter a new problem, one for which there is no manual or process? That’s when the soft skill of problem-solving becomes critical.

What Are Problem Solving Skills?

The U.S. Department of Labor says problem-solving and critical thinking are among the most sought-after soft skills. The definition they offer simply says, “problem-solving and critical thinking refers to the ability to use knowledge, facts and data to effectively solve workplace problems.” That sounds easy enough, but employers struggle to find staff with the problem-solving skills their companies need.

The Problem With Finding Problem Solvers

A recent SHRM article says almost three in four employers report having a hard time finding recent college graduates with the soft skills their companies require. When it came to critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, 64 percent of respondents said it was “very or somewhat difficult,” to hire staff that could solve problems on their own.

The article suggests a growing reliance on technology might make it harder for young people to learn soft skills. Young adults go online to click through life tasks that used to require in-person interaction. Instead of joining fraternities or sororities, participating in sports, marching in band or socializing in person, communication happens electronically. There’s less requirement for personal problem-solving and more reliance on technology.

However, the more machines take over tasks that can be automated, the more employers will need people who can solve problems computers can’t, who can think like humans instead of relying on a procedure or algorithm. Employers need workers who don’t go to a machine or computer to find the answers, but who are willing to look themselves.

How Problem Solvers Operate

People who effectively use the soft skill of problem-solving break their approach down into a series of steps.

  1. Pinpoint what’s causing the problem – That might require gathering and analyzing data, looking at what happened in the past and seeking facts about contributing circumstances.
  2. Brainstorm possible solutions – Once they identify all the possible sources of the issue, problem solvers, either individually or with their team, generate possible solutions. They might call this step brainstorming, creative thinking, project planning or something else, but the process is usually creative and informal.
  3. Evaluate options – Problem solvers go through their list of ideas and pick the one they believe has the greatest chance of success.
  4. Implement plan – Critical thinkers use their problem-solving skills to find a way to act.
  5. Evaluate – Problem solvers analyze results to see if their solution worked. If it can be tweaked, they do so. If it didn’t work, they go back to step one and start over.

Developing Problem Solving Skills

If unusual problems make you feel confused or frustrated, it would benefit your career to develop problem-solving skills. Here are some actionable ideas anyone can use.

Play Logic Games

Work your strategic thinking muscles with games that require you to think through problems. Sudoku, a Rubik’s Cube, crossword puzzles and online brain training programs challenge you to work problems backward and keep trying until you find a solution.

Start an Idea Journal

Get in the habit of regularly identifying something that causes friction in the workplace or in everyday life. Generate possible solutions and explore ideas.

Change Your Language

Allow your mind to relax by using language that creates possibility. When you propose possible solutions, start with words like, “imagine if…” or “what if we tried…”.

Make Mind Maps

People who have a hard time brainstorming sometimes find it easier to sketch their way to a solution. To get started, write your problem in the center of a piece of paper. Add branches around that hub to note factors contributing to the problem. Then continue to “map” out ways to address those factors.

Hire Problem Solving Employees

Brelsford Personnel is a full-service staffing agency providing qualified, pre-screened candidates for East Texas employers. We work hard to find productive solutions to your staffing needs. Contact us to find employees with soft and hard skills to run your business at its peak.

Integrity – Still a Thing in 2021?

Integrity - Still a Thing in 2021?

What’s the most important soft skill in the workplace? Communication, teamwork, adaptability and conflict resolution all rank high on the list, but most employers put integrity near the very top. Let’s look at what integrity is and why it’s so highly sought after in all areas of life.

More Than Simple Honesty

People with integrity are honest, but there’s much more to this soft skill than just telling the truth. Basically, everything about them lines up.

When they say they will do something, they do it. Their actions are consistent with what they say they believe. Their choices and activities are driven by a strong moral character. If someone said that person lied, cheated or stole your first reaction would be disbelief because to do so would be completely out of character for them.

Examples of Integrity

Integrity can be difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. Someone who has integrity does things like the following:

  • If he forgets to pay for or breaks something, he points it out and asks to settle up.
  • She keeps promises even when unforeseen circumstances make it hard.
  • He would never consider letting a co-worker take the blame for his mistake or taking credit for someone else’s work.
  • She doesn’t gossip or start drama.
  • He doesn’t take shortcuts that would compromise quality.
  • She works when she’s supposed to, even if she could get away with using company time for personal use.
  • He feels personally responsible for making efficient use of company resources.

Integrity Matters During These Professional Life Stages

Integrity makes a difference throughout the career cycle. During job seeking, candidates show integrity by being straightforward on their resumes and during interviews. When they do, they’re more likely to find work for which they’re qualified and company culture into which they fit. When candidates stretch the truth at this stage they may think they’re just trying to get their foot in the door, but they could destroy all chances of future employment.

Integrity makes all the difference when workers are establishing themselves in a new role. When they show up ready to work day after day and do what they promise, they quickly begin to stand out. Co-workers depend on them and managers trust them.

When people step into leadership roles and continue to demonstrate integrity, their team finds them worthy of respect. They have a track record of honesty, approachability and taking pride in work well done. Because leaders with integrity hold themselves to high standards, they can ask staff to do the same.

Can You Develop Integrity?

People with integrity often credit role models who shaped and inspired them very early in life. If you didn’t have the perfect upbringing, you can still develop integrity by connecting your inner values and external behaviors.

Ask yourself where your morals and ethics come from and identify the ones on which you refuse to compromise. Find people you know who consistently act with integrity and spend more time interacting with them.

Stop making promises altogether, except the ones to which you can be 100 percent committed. If you’re not sure about something just be honest. It’s better to say no to some things than to encourage someone to count on you and not deliver.

If you make a mistake, address it immediately. Admit what you did and apologize, then take steps to reimburse losses or undo the damage. If habits like speaking impulsively or overcommitting keep you from demonstrating integrity, find ways to change those behaviors.

Interview Questions About Integrity

Recruiters and hiring managers can spot candidates with integrity when they ask questions like:

  • Can you tell me about a time you experienced failure at a previous job?
  • What do you do when you make a mistake at work?
  • Have you ever experienced negative consequences for doing the right thing?
  • What do you see as the difference between company rules and company guidelines?
  • Can you give me an example of a time when your integrity was challenged, and how did you handle it?
  • Would your previous boss describe you as trustworthy? If so, why?

Everyone makes mistakes, the key here is to uncover how the candidate responded. Candidates with integrity will answer honestly even if the questions are uncomfortable or the situation could show them in a negative light.

Brelsford Personnel is committed to the highest standards of excellence in screening and selection for our clients. We can help your company hire candidates with the tangible and intangible skills you need. Get in touch to find out more.