Back in December, we published a few of our lessons learnt over the past year and how we might avoid making the same mistake twice. We promised part two, and here it is – we’re sure some of these resonate with many of you!
Issue: Resources and Gen Y
Are Gen Y’ers really all that bad? Do they really expect higher than average wages, big bonuses and flexible working options or are they just bolder in voicing their requests? Do you avoid hiring or working with Gen Y because you think it will just be more hassle than it’s worth?
I believe it is like all human behaviour and stereotyping – there are good, average and bad and we can’t tarnish the whole generation with the same brush. Particularly since the GFC, Gen Y’ers have had to become a little less demanding and a little more realistic in their approach, and underneath it all, there can be some great employees with fantastic technical skills who know how to act in the workplace.
What can we learn?
• Focus on what Gen Y can bring to the workplace – e.g. quick adoption of new technology, comfortable working in different environments, adaptable to change etc.
• Developing your interviewing techniques will be important to challenge Gen Y applicants and see if they are a good fit for your team – don’t just use the old-fashioned question approach
• Acting appropriately and quickly to any issues that may arise – Gen Y’ers expect quick turnarounds and they are used to having every answer at their finger tips
• Don’t just expect that they will leave when a better opportunity comes along – whilst some Gen Y’ers will be on the lookout for what else is out there, many realise that the grass isn’t always greener and are happy to stay loyal if their skills can be advanced with your organisation
Issue: Communication for Virtual Project Teams
Many, if not all, companies today have team members based out of the office, either domestically, overseas or both. Maintaining communication with offsite employees can be tough, even with the proliferation of communication tools and applications on the market.
It’s not just when you’re running a project that communication needs to take place, but everyday processes like payroll, annual leave submissions and performance appraisals can be done remotely, reducing or eliminating the need for face-to-face interaction with offsite or overseas colleagues. But, finding the right tools for each of these requirements can be tough.
What can we learn?
• Real-time communication can be achieved quite easily through mobile and tablet tools, many of which are free. Our favourites are Windows Live Messenger, Skype and Whatsapp. Mircosoft Lync is also great for businesses that rely heavily on video conferencing and Yammer (like an internal Twitter for businesses) is also becoming more popular for inter-company micro updates.
• Online and Cloud storage and sharing tools are a great way to ensure everyone has access to the documents they need and remote collaboration becomes the norm. Tools such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive also have mobile and tablet applications and provide in-document editing so you can always have the most up-to-date version of a document.
• Tasks and planning often cause the most headaches when working remotely, especially those ever-changing project plans! At Asq Projects use ProjectObjects a cloud-based project and portfolio management tool that caters for all activity levels from team initiatives to enterprise-level implementations.
• Finance and human resources processes are easy to forget when the team members work remotely but, if managed correctly, many can be automated. ProjectObjects also offers fantastic tools for timesheets, leave submissions and expense reimbursements.
Issue: Cross Country and Cultural Projects
Any business wanting to succeed in today’s market must know how to work effectively within various cultures and constantly adapt to different methods and approaches to achieve their goals.
Aside from the obvious time zone and language considerations faced when working internationally, intricate differences in cultures, working practises and values exist and need to be respected if you are to succeed. Of course, embracing the differences in cultures also brings a lot of fun and creativity to projects that you might never have imagined!
What can we learn?
• Use time zones to your advantage – being in the office when no one else is so you can catch up with your overseas clients can bring a new level of focus to your work
• Recognise workplace cultural differences and adapt accordingly – some cultures are excellent at following a very clear scope of work but are not so good with vague or flexible requests
• Managing inter-cultural communications poses many challenges. Set out your expectations clearly from the beginning and explain that you would rather hear of issues as soon as they arise instead of having to deal with a major issue down the line because they didn’t want to trouble you
• Some cultures will say yes or agree with you to please you or to save face so be aware of this and double check that something has been done the way you expected
• Organise regular communication sessions to ensure things are on track but note that some cultures will not raise issues or ask questions in front of peers or colleagues, so provide an alternative 1:1 communication channel too
• Be aware of the role of women in the workplace – certain cultures will find having a female boss or person of authority challenging so set out the roles and responsibilities early
• Language barriers – an obvious one but always use multiple communication methods. Some cultures will prefer updates via email but others will expect face-to-face briefings out of respect
• Enjoy the differences and be open to new ways of doing things
What challenges have you faced in your organisation and how did you overcome them? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page your lessons learnt.
About the Author
Founder and Managing Director
Steve founded Asq Projects in 2001 after a long and successful career in Portfolio, Programme and Project Management for blue chip firms in his native New Zealand and subsequently in Australia, UK and China.
Prior to the establishment of Asq, Steve spent 6 years consulting across change management, solution design and business analysis having had experience in all areas of designing, implementing and supporting IT systems, and 5 years providing design, technical and project management services for 24/7 contact centres.
Steve brings broad sector experience to Asq leadership having delivered projects of varying complexity across Banking & Finance, Government, Transport & Logistics, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare and IT & Telecommunications.
Leading from the front, Steve maintains professional accreditations across PRINCE2, AGILE, P3O and other methodologies to ensure the business remains totally relevant to its customers from top to bottom.