How to jug­gle team train­ing and your own work

Job ad­vice from Liz Reyer and Diane Stafford

The Hamilton Spectator - - CAREERS -

Q: Celia, 44, is a se­nior con­sul­tant. She writes: I have been asked to lead a team of seven fairly in­ex­pe­ri­enced an­a­lysts to help them be­come a high-per­form­ing team. At the same time, my boss says I spend too much time with the team; she wants to see “suf­fi­cient” bill­able hours from me. How do I bal­ance th­ese com­pet­ing ex­pec­ta­tions?

A: Fo­cus on cre­at­ing value around the non bill­able as­pects of your work.

Doc­u­ment the po­ten­tial pos­i­tive im­pact for the com­pany from the train­ing. If each an­a­lyst cur­rently bills at $X per hour and mov­ing them up the lad­der al­lows their bill­able rate to dou­ble (for ex­am­ple), it’s easy to quan­tify the value of your train­ing.

This is es­pe­cially true if you have ca­pac­ity chal­lenges. If you and other se­nior an­a­lysts are not able to del­e­gate be­cause your team doesn’t have the skills to back you, your com­pany’s rev­enue po­ten­tial hits a cap.

Once you have demon­strated the po­ten­tial for growth that this staff de­vel­op­ment un­leashes, out­line a train­ing pro­to­col that ef­fi­ciently helps each team mem­ber ad­vance. List all of the skill ar­eas in the job, and as­sess where each per­son stands on them.

Then de­ter­mine your ap­proach to fill­ing the gaps. In the case of tech­ni­cal skills, some train­ing may be in or­der.

If mul­ti­ple peo­ple will ben­e­fit, then so much the bet­ter, but fol­lowup with in­di­vid­u­al­ized help as needed.

For other, more sub­jec­tive needs, a more coach­ing/men­tor­ing style will be called for. This may ap­ply to, say, be­com­ing a more com­pelling writer or learn­ing to ef­fec­tively en­gage with clients.

There are no short­cuts here. You can let them learn on their own or you can pro­vide guid­ance, which re­quires time from you ev­ery day.

How much time is needed for this level of lead­er­ship? Just to get a rough es­ti­mate, if you spend half an hour each day help­ing each team mem­ber, that’s about half of your time. This pro­vides time each week for re­view­ing their work and coach­ing them to help them im­prove it. And it still leaves bill­able time for you.

This may seem slow; in fact, it’s often faster to just fix things your­self. How­ever, that just puts more de­mands on you and, para­dox­i­cally, chal­lenges your abil­ity to bill time on higher or­der tasks.

Next, set up a meet­ing with your boss to re­view. Bring ma­te­ri­als that de­tail your anal­y­sis; hav­ing a for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion ready will help you make your case. An­tic­i­pate her ob­jec­tions, con­sid­er­ing any push­back she may be re­ceiv­ing from her lead­er­ship. Also in­clude an over­view of the risks to the com­pany if this is­sue isn’t ad­dressed.

By the way, be sure your per­for­mance ob­jec­tives are aligned with your ac­tual work — and are re­al­is­tic. You likely can’t be 75 per cent bill­able and de­liver a high level of skills ac­qui­si­tion for team mem­bers, for ex­am­ple.

Fi­nally, fig­ure out your stress tol­er­ance. If this is a short-term sit­u­a­tion, it may be sus­tain­able; if it’s longer term, make sure it won’t lead to burnout for you.

•Liz Reyer, Star Tri­bune (Minneapolis)

Take care on so­cial me­dia

It’s sum­mer. Va­ca­tions beckon. Here are some quickly di­gestible work­place bites.

Yes, it mat­ters what you put on In­sta­gram, Face­book or any­where else dis­cov­er­able on­line. It mat­ters if you’re job hunt­ing or there’s a pos­si­bil­ity you’ll be vet­ted for any po­si­tion.

Four out of five job re­cruiters re­cently sur­veyed by the work­place con­sul­tancy of Chal­lenger, Gray & Christ­mas said they do so­cial me­dia and other in­ter­net searches to learn about can­di­dates.

Three-fourths of re­cruiters said they search be­fore they ad­vance ap­pli­cants to true can­di­dacy sta­tus, us­ing LinkedIn, Face­book, Twit­ter and Google searches for ev­i­dence of drug use, law­suits, felonies and “un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour.”

On the flip side, some em­ploy­ers said they were con­cerned if a can­di­date had no on­line pres­ence. No tech savvi­ness? False iden­tity? Or clue­less about a lot?

There’s lots of ad­vice about how to han­dle jerks at work or other dis­agree­able en­coun­ters. Out­side of ad­vis­ing, “Be nice” or “Don’t en­gage,” there’s a wrench­ing is­sue here.

The Na­tional Al­liance on Men­tal Ill­ness in the U.S. notes men­tal ill­ness is the lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity in the work­place. De­pres­sion is the big­gest fac­tor, but that’s not the only rea­son why a co-worker may be­have in off-putting or oth­er­wise dis­agree­able ways.

Fail­ure to un­der­stand and treat men­tal health con­di­tions con­trib­utes to crime, home­less­ness, un­em­ploy­ment and work­place flare-ups.

•Diane Stafford, The Kan­sas City Star

MATHEW MCCARTHY, WATER­LOO RE­GION RECORD FILE PHOTO

Jeremy Fox­croft jug­gles with friends dur­ing the UW Jug­gling Fes­ti­val in Water­loo this spring. Colum­nist Liz Reyer has ad­vice for when you have to jug­gle team train­ing and your own work.

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