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.”

Thoughts from The 100: Hiring

TS2015-Softcover-BookCover-NewIn my book, The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership, I devote seven chapters to the hiring process. Why so much focus on something so basic? As Sherlock Holmes might note, “It’s elementary.”

Without great people you cannot build a great company. People are at the heart of everything we do and they are central to client satisfaction. So avoid the temptation to hire quickly. While hasty hires may seem like a simple solution in the short term, you’ll end up spending more time and money in the long run. I’ve learned it the hard way: employees hired in a hurry rarely make a good fit. We use a proven hiring process at Intertech, which includes:

  • Hire slowly – take time to thoroughly vet your candidates. If you’re wowed by someone’s technical prowess but concerned about his or her honesty or attitude, don’t risk it (more about this in my next post).
  •  Consistently ask all candidates the same questions – to ensure the best hiring result, use consistent questions that all candidates must answer. You’ll find it will be much easier to compare candidates if you have an apples-to-apples set of responses.
  • Vary the setting with interviewing candidates multiple times – for example, if the potential employee will have substantial client contact or need to interact with top management, take him or her to lunch to observe social skills and table manners.
  • Involve multiple people from your organization – at Intertech, the final in-person interview includes meeting with two of our employees for a team interview.
  • Use LinkedIn to learn more about any candidates that you may be seriously considering – this is a good way to find common connections, which may help you learn more about candidates from people you already know and trust.
  • Always check references and ask open-ended questions,– it’s easy to let emotions, especially positive ones, tempt you to skip your due diligence before offering a job to someone who appears ideal. Don’t yield to this temptation. Always call the candidates three or four most recent employers or clients and ask questions that get the real story. Ask, “What did Bill do?” instead of, “Bill said he was a project manager who oversaw 20 employees. Is this true?” Open-ended questions ensure that you will get a more complete and accurate description of the candidate’s past responsibilities and performance.

Next time:

Teamwork makes the dream work or as we say at Intertech, “One Team, One Dream”

Thoughts from The 100: Making a Job Offer

The-100-Title-OnlyLast time I shared Intertech’s hiring process (which you can read about in detail in my new book “The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership.”) But that was only half of the story. In my next several posts I’ll share my philosophy about how to select top performers and, most importantly, your role in ensuring that they thrive once they come on board.

Why only hire the most accomplished professionals? It takes time and patience to find and recruit top performers. Yet it’s a substantial investment that pays for itself over time. Companies that settle for mediocre employees experience eroding profit margins since lower pricing is their only competitive advantage.

It pays to be picky. In the world of Information Technology (IT), a top programmer is 100 times more productive than someone who rates at the bottom of a 10-point scale. Research (Bryan 2012) and my own experience back up this audacious claim.

Not surprisingly, top performers are not easy to find or recruit. They’re usually contentedly employed elsewhere and not terribly interested in switching jobs unless their current employer fails to recognize their value (and reward them accordingly!).

For this reason, strive to cultivate a “virtual bench” of possible candidates who are exceptional at their jobs even if they are happily employed elsewhere. Stay in touch with these folks because circumstances can change and they may become interested in new opportunities down the road.

When you find a top-performing candidate whose skills, personality and values fit your organization, it’s time to negotiate an offer. Some may consider my approach unorthodox, but I believe in treating people candidly. Ask your candidate what’s most valuable to him or her: time off, telecommuting, money or something else? Take that into consideration when you make your offer. Of course, if someone expects a lot, you should expect – and receive – a lot in return.

Negotiate your offer clearly, present face-to-face, and provide a firm deadline for the candidate to decide, although do give a reasonable amount of time to make a decision. If you require candidates to sign a non-compete agreement, you must disclose that at the same time you make the employment offer. Assuming your candidate accepts your offer, you still have plenty of work to do in ensuring that he or she succeeds at your firm… more about that on my next post.

Increasing Productivity and Profits with Employee Engagement

What if you could increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, and outperform your competitive set by over 2X?  Not only is it possible, it’s proven!  In this session that I delivered at the Entrepreneur Organization’s Thrive event, I share practical, actionable ways to increase employee engagement from building trust with co-workers to helping employees feel valued and understand how they fit in the big picture.