Wednesday, 03 October 2018 07:00

Great Places to Work. Part Two: What can you do to help create a great place to work.

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In part one of this article, we reviewed a survey I held that established the following five things as attributes of making somewhere a Great Place To Work (GPTW).

The top two were highly consistent and close in order:

Flexibility (1.3)
Daily work I like doing (1.7)

The next three were also highly consistent, with two being almost tied for position:

Excellent company culture (3.3)
Professional growth (4.0)
Excellent supervisor (4.3)

We talked about what these mean. In this article we’re going to talk about what you can do to help make your job a Great Place To Work.

Flexibility

While a lot of this is controlled by the specific needs and environment of your workplace, if you’re a manager can help you can help make this happen by setting expectations about service levels. How rapidly communications are to be returned, what core business hours should be kept, how to handle deadlines and responsibilities. How work-from-home is to be scheduled or communicated. As a manager, holding people accountable for outcomes instead of process will make you highly appreciated! (It might just reduce your management headaches, too!)

If you’re an employee and you need more flexibility than you have, you can start a dialogue with your supervisor about what kinds of flexibility you need. You should back up your request with a proposal about how you intend to be visibly, transparently, and easily accountable for this. Ensure that giving you more flexibility doesn’t entail more work for the supervisor!

Daily work I like doing

At the simplest level, work is you employing your time and skills in exchange for money from your employer: you should enjoy it as much as it is possible. Working somewhere that aligns with your interests and goals will move you from having just a jay-oh-bee, to somewhere that you are happier and more invested in because it helps drive your own success, however you’ve defined it.

Beyond that, you have to know what you like doing and be honest about it at interviews. It is hard to get what you want, if you don’t know what you want!

For supervisors, you have a lot of control about this by being honest about what the job entails, what the day looks like, and by working hard to get the right candidate, not just any candidate, into open positions. Obviously, this is something you control more from the hiring process than the actual job itself. The job itself simply is what it is.


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Excellent company culture

As we talked about in part one, this is a hard item to pin down, and in my opinion it definitely is about the common values and behaviors of the people in the company.

Senior level and leadership employees definitely influence culture more strongly than less senior ones...but we are always strong influences in the space immediately around us. A commitment to having strong values, showing them through your actions, and keeping a positive, supportive, empowering and enabling environment is something that anyone can make, no matter what kind of position they hold!

Whether you are an individual contributor or a manager you always influence those around you. Make your influence something positive, creative, supportive, and growth-oriented, and you will find it makes a difference to others.

Professional growth

The good thing here is that you have huge control and influence on this one, no matter who you are! As an analyst, project manager, team lead or stakeholder you can try new techniques as they apply to your situation, you can encourage others to participate. You can hold lunch-and-learn sessions around topics of interest. You can organize book clubs, or keep plugged-in to the professional events in your city and let your team know about them. The list goes on and on!

Of our five things, this is the easiest one. You can immediately make a contribution of your choosing here!

Excellent supervisor

If you are a supervisor, you know that this is important to your team, and this is the one that only you can control. There are tons of books regarding management and leadership, and I won’t try to recap those here. I think employees want to know that their supervisor is looking out for them, has their best interests in mind, and is conscious of connecting them with the kinds of opportunities the employees want to have.Let me prompt you with a few questions to consider.

Can you answer these questions about each member of your team?

  • What are their professional interests and passions?
  • What is important to them outside the office?
  • Given their career stage and goals, what expectations do they have of you?

When you think about yourself:

  • Are you giving appropriate levels of supervision, helping where needed, avoiding micromanagement?
  • Are you a servant leader?

Obviously, that’s just a start. Maybe a final question is: are you being the kind of supervisor you would have valued before you got into management?

What does this mean for you?

Making a great place to work is a little like the old story of Stone Soup - everyone benefits when everyone contributes something to the pot!

Your contribution can be anything. If it aligns with something valuable to your workplace you’ll stand out more, make a difference to your co-workers, and be seen as a more valuable team member by people above you in the organization!

Best wishes in your career & life,
Ryland

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Ryland Leyton

Ryland Leyton, CBAP, PMP, CSM, is a business analyst, author, speaker, educator, Agile coach, and technology translator. He has worked in the technology sector since 1998, starting off with database and web programming, gradually moving through project management and finding his passion in the BA field.

Ryland is passionate about strong analysis practice and prefers Agile environments where possible. He has built both Agile and waterfall SDLC processes for development teams, customizing each one to the challenges facing that particular client group. Ryland is one of the authors of the second edition of the Agile Extension to the BABOK.

He is an active member of the Atlanta Chapter of the IIBA, speaks at local and national conferences, and serves as Lead Business Analyst and Agile Coach at Aptos.com.

Ryland’s book, “The Agile Business Analyst: Moving from Waterfall To Agile” has received excellent critical and personal reviews.

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