Intertech Named the #4 Medium Sized Employer in Minnesota 

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No. 4 Medium: Intertech Inc.

Intertech was named the #4 medium sized employer in Minnesota.  My thanks to our loyal customers and mega-dedicated team for making us possible.

Here’s an excerpt from the publication: “Software developer Intertech Inc. is receiving its 14th Best Places to Work this year. It’s one of the Business Journal’s winningest companies. Helping it attain this distinction are employee benefits that include three-month paid sabbaticals for every seven years of employment, a flexible work culture and selective hiring standards that focus on building a cohesive team.”

See the full article here.

9-to-5 in 2018: Surprising research about women in the workplace

Dabney Coleman, as the dastardly boss, in the old movie “9-to-5” exhibited all the worse behavior that men can use to make women miserable at work. Way before the #MeToo movement, which focuses exclusively on sexual misconduct, Coleman’s character also brazenly stole the good ideas of the women around him and made sure to “keep them in their place” to ensure his own dominance.

As an entrepreneur running a business in the 21st century – and the father of a whip smart young daughter with infinite potential – I’m committed to running a work place and helping to build a world where “gender equality” is more than just an HR catch phrase.

Achieving something approaching gender balance has become an important goal at Intertech. It’s challenging, in part because women in computer science has been on a decline since the 1980’s.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics and other institutions or studies, as a percentage, the computer science degrees granted to women is in the upper teens.  We’re not willing to use that excuse, though, and have begun looking for ways to actively encourage women IT professionals to apply. I’m also proud that the Intertech Foundation STEM scholarship has been awarded to prom ising young women three out of the four times since we founded the scholarship in 2015.

These are good things, but it’s more than just ethics or political correctness inspiring us to push for gender equity. Common sense tells us that women bring new ideas and approaches to problem solving – or do they? An intriguing and, frankly, surprising article (“What Most People Get Wrong about Men and Women” in Harvard Business Review (May/June 2018) shares the well-researched thesis that “Research shows the sexes aren’t so different.”

Huh?

Besides our obvious biological differences, Georgetown University professor Catherine H. Tinsly and Harvard Business School professor Robin J. Ely write that so-called “gender differences” at work are really the amalgam of popular myths. “Women lack the desire or ability to negotiate.” “Women lack confidence.” “Women lack an appetite for risk.” These and other popular myths are neatly demystified in this excellent article, which also exposes the real reasons women do not advance at the same rate as men in many industries.

As the old comic character Pogo once commented, “We have found the enemy and it is us.” This is not to say that all men are the equivalent of the sexist doofus in 9-to-5, but the research is indisputably clear that myths about women often turn into self-fulfilling prophesies that leave women behind as their male colleagues.

“The problem with the sex-difference narrative is that it leads companies into ‘fixing’ women, which means that women miss out on what they need  — and what every employee deserves: a context that enables them to reach their potential and maximizes their chances to succeed,” the HBR authors.

They recommend four steps for actively advancing gender equity and the advancement of women in the workplace:

  1. Question the narrative: Reject simplistic statements, such as “women lack fire in their belly” to explain why fewer women are in senior leadership positions within your firm.
  2. Generate a plausible alternative explanation: Instead of blaming women, look for alternative reasons such as different access to the conditions that enhance self-confidence and success (such as mentors).
  3. Change the context and assess the results: Treat women the same way you treat “star players” and watch how they perform. The results might (happily) surprise you.
  4. Promote continual learning: As leaders, we need to keep learning to recognize our own unconscious stereotypes. It helps to continually questions assumptions and proactively change conditions to give more women the opportunity to develop and shine.

As the authors conclude, “The solution to women’s lagged advancement is not to fix women or their managers but to fix the conditions that undermine women and reinforce gender stereotypes. Furthermore, by taking an inquisitive, evidence-based approach to understanding behavior, companies can not only address gender disparities but also cultivate a learning orientation and a culture that gives all employees the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

This approach might not make a great movie plot, but it might just win applause from your employees, customers and community.

Intertech to Host and Sponsor WomenHack Event

I’m happy to announce that Intertech is hosting and sponsoring an upcoming WomenHack event.  Below is the media release:

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Intertech to host & sponsor WomenHack event to facilitate networking & hiring of women IT professionals by Twin Cities’ companies

WHAT: Top area employers will join IT consulting and training company Intertech at its Eagan headquarters for a high-powered evening of rapid interviews (five-minutes each) with leading women technology professionals in the Twin Cities. The event also includes a discussion about the importance of diversity, equality and inclusivity in the workplace. Participation by women IT professionals – primarily developers, designers and project managers – is by invitation only to ensure candidates have a solid work history and proven expertise. Area companies register and pay a fee WomenHack to participate.

WHY: Studies estimate that women make up only a quarter of employees and eleven percent of executives in the IT industry. What’s more, almost half of the women who go into technology eventually leave the field, more than double the percentage of men who depart. The turnover of women and minorities, according to a 2017 study on “tech leavers,” costs Silicon Valley more than $16 billion each year. WomenHack assists organizations working toward equalizing their IT employee base while building diverse, inclusive teams.

WHEN: Thursday, November 30, 2017 – 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.

WHERE: Intertech, 1575 Thomas Center Drive, Eagan, MN  55122

WHO:  Intertech, WomenHack sponsor and host, is a leading Twin Cities-based software development consulting firm with a national presence. The company’s unique blend of consulting and training has empowered technology teams in medium-sized businesses and government agencies.

WomenHack is a community that empowers women in tech through events, jobs and reviews, with the goal of building more inclusive, equal and diverse workplaces. More at www.womenhack.com

 

 

 

Thoughts from The 100: Onboarding

TomToTalk-TTYou probably would not casually throw seeds on the ground, walk away and expect an award-winning garden to pop up in a few weeks. The smart gardener provides good soil, fertilizer and water, and checks in regularly to pull weeds and prop up plants that need a little extra support.

Gardening provides a good metaphor for bringing a new employee into your organization. Here are my top three tips for helping new hires to thrive (which you can read more about in my book “The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership”):

Set the tone quickly 

Newly inaugurated U.S. presidents seek to make a significant mark within their first 100 days in office. That’s important because first impressions matter. In the case of new employees, the first few months are critical in determining whether he or she becomes a valued, long-term employee.

You can begin setting the tone before your new hire’s first day: send flowers with a note of welcome within one week of his or her acceptance. Then send an email explaining what to expect during the first week, about one week before the person’s start date.

The first week on the job is crucial. Take time to explain your company’s history in a personal way, such as over lunch with a few of the employee’s new colleagues. Focus on how the employee fits into your firm’s future and your confidence in him or her.

Check in regularly

I recommend informal check-ins with new employees at 30, 60 and 90 days. Use these conversations to ask how things are going and to determine if the employee understands what he or she should be doing. We always ask if the person needs any training or additional tools, and if there is anything else that might help him/her be more effective. Check-ins usually result in “all is well” comments, but they show employees you are committed to their success and, in rare cases, enable you to catch problems before they get out of control.

Be patient

Remember that gardener waiting for his seeds to grow? It’s a similar process with new people. It takes time to learn a new environment and hit the “sweet spot” where a person is working optimally. In the meantime, be patient and encouraging. And remind them that “a person who never makes a mistake never makes anything at all.”