The Technology Impact On Our Workforce: Are recents grads as technology savvy as they have been portrayed?
Maria Manus Painchaud
The following are excerpts of the findings from the employers focus group segment of the NH Technology Landscape Study examining K-12 technology curricula. The focus group was comprised of employers representing 3 segments: 1) small employers/organizations that have opted to outsource their IT departments, 2) mid to large size employers/organizations that have inhouse IT departments, and 3) the organizations/vendors that provide the IT services. They included for profit and not-for-profit organizations as well as two fortune 500 companies. Additionally, there were representatives of higher education faculty and administration.
Over the last 50 years, the acceleration of the advancements in technology has consistently increased at a higher and faster pace. Challenges for companies to keep upgrading, adjusting, and integrating, at minimum, sustain and hopefully advance, their competitive advantage. With each generation entering the workforce, the advancements in technology have provided new and different ways of addressing problems and issues; while creating new challenges in managing the workforce. There were three key findings through this focus group:
- Education and workforce needs are not in alignment.
- The lack of human relations skills, also known as soft skills, is more evident than ever in the workforce and essential in any position.
- The concept of shifting from teaching technology as a discipline to integrating it throughout the curriculum as a tool to be used in concert with learning and development.
For more details see Technology and Education Post.
Effective Workplace Teams: The “I” in Team
Steven R. Painchaud
Most hiring managers believe they know what employees need to be successful in their organizations. And so, they will employ various recruiting strategies intended to attract candidates possessing the required knowledge and skills. Yet, even if successful in hiring individuals with the knowledge and skills needed, organizations that rely on workplace teams to accomplish their objectives need to overcome another common obstacle – overcoming the “I” in teams.
A team is typically defined as a collection of individuals who possess complementary knowledge, skills and abilities, and have been placed together and expected to work collaboratively to accomplish a goal not achievable as individuals working alone. How often have you have heard the statement, “There is no “I” in team?” This is usually said to convey the importance and expectation of team members working cooperatively, and not allowing the goals of any individual on the team to become more important than the team achieving its objective.
And yet, the very definition of team refers to a “collection of individuals.” Individuals who, to be sure, often possess the complementary knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to complete whatever task or project they are assigned. But, these team members also possess their own individual personality traits. They have their own distinctive decision-making styles. They also possess varying communication abilities, as well as individual preferences for dealing with conflict. This is some of the “I” that is present in all teams.
And this ‘I” in team, those individual traits, preferences and characteristics, must be acknowledged and addressed for members to reach their full potential and the team to accomplish its objectives. Important questions to ask include: Are team members more naturally focused on accomplishing the task, or understanding the process? As personality types, are they more introverted or extroverted, more conceptual or analytical? When communicating, what is their preferred way of responding to another person? And do they appreciate how other response styles might elicit different results? As decision makers are they more reflexive or reflective? How comfortable are they with uncertainty? How do they learn new things?
Often members of teams are not aware of what makes up their own I’s? Nor, are they aware of what makes up the I’s of their teammates? This lack of awareness is often at the heart of team dysfunction. Perhaps, if team members knew how individual characteristics, differences, and similarities of themselves and their teammates could be leveraged to assist in achieving common goals, then the I’s in team could become strengths to be leveraged.