Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: positive attitude

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to having a positive attitude.

Graciousness in the Workplace… Where Did it Go?

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Graciousness in the Workplace... Where Did it Go?In today’s fast paced world full of never-ending negative social media blitzes, over-hyped reality television, shock-jocks/journalist rants, and larger than life politicians, it appears that the concept of being gracious to one another has been lost.  People are too focused on trying to get our attention with outrageous and unkind behaviour.  They fail to see that the simple act of being gracious can have a more positive and lasting outcome and, yes, get our attention too!

In speaking with contractors, I always ask them why they left their last place of work.  Did the contract end? What were the people like? What was the work environment like? I often hear how negative workplaces have become, how managers and executives don’t seem to care, and that everyone is too stressed out to focus on basic human decency.  This is one of the main reasons contractors do not take an extension with a current client or want to leave a project early. On the other side of the coin, “Was a candidate gracious?” is not the top reference question a client asks, but they do ask if that person was a team player and were they easy to get along with. Therefore, there’s an argument for everyone, clients and independent contractors, to bring graciousness back into the workplace. So how do we do that?

The simple act of saying THANK YOU goes a really long way.  Often, people will stay in a busy work environment if they know they are working with great people in a team who recognize their effort.

Another easy way is by being in the moment — giving someone your full attention and time. When you are in a meeting, or even more importantly, speaking with someone directly, put away your device.   It shows the person you respect them and value what they have to say.

Give positive feedback along with the negative.  People want to hear the good and the bad but want to hear it in a constructive manner.  Graciousness goes along way when working with others on how to improve their work.  You can still get the same message across without being overly negative.

Be open to helping others.  How?  Some simple ways:

  1. If a new person joins the team, introduce them to others.
  2. Say HI to your co-workers
  3. Recognize people’s achievements – privately and publicly
  4. Be genuine
  5. Share your project knowledge capital and help them get set up for success
  6. Be responsive

I know graciousness is sometimes hard to embrace because it demands our time and it can seem counter intuitive to business strategies that promote looking out for #1. However, graciousness does lead to a better workplace.  A better workplace leads to happier people, and happier people lead to better project outcomes, which lead to better references and more work in the future.  WIN-WIN-WIN for all!

IT Contractors: Are You Being an Ant?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Hard-working ant representing an IT contractor in good timesAesop’s “The Ant and the Grasshopper” is a timeless tale that makes the link between hard work, saving and the security that comes from doing both. It tells the story of a hard-working ant who spends the summer collecting food, while a more relaxed grass hopper sings the summer days away. Come winter, the grass hopper is stuck begging for food while the ants are prepared for the rough season.

In the present day, we see this story playing out on a macro-scale, right down to the individual level.  I recently attended a speaking engagement featuring Larry Berman (BNN’s “Bermans Call”) and he suggested that the future of the EU is uncertain should the Germans eventually get fed up working to older and older ages to support countries such as Greece where people can take an early retirement pension as early as 45 years old.

Closer to home for me, living in Calgary, current economic conditions are certainly rewarding “the ants”.  Although it is hard to predict when the tough-times are going to hit, they surely come; and when they do, that rainy-day fund (and all the sacrifices made to accumulate it) really does provide some much-needed security.

Along with the many benefits of being an independent contractor, one of the common risks is that these “winters” are more likely to happen, and for any number of reasons extending beyond a challenging economy. For example, sometimes projects being shut down or personality clashes cause gigs to end abruptly. Although you may have relationships with a number of IT recruiters in your region, they may not be able to find you new work immediately. In other situations, you could suddenly get sick or have to take time away from work for a period of time which, again, would leave you in a stage with no revenues.

In any case, the story referenced above can be used as a lesson for independent contractors to always be gathering for the winter. Perhaps that means taking on multiple contracts when they’re available or ensuring you’re always setting some cash aside for times when IT jobs aren’t coming as quickly as you’d hope.

There are many benefits to taking an “ant-like” approach to both your work and your life, as discussed in this article from Success, but should there be a balance? Just because you’re in a “summer” period, does it mean you have to work 24/7 to prepare for a “winter” that may not arrive for a while? What approaches have you taken as an independent contractor to prepare for winter and balance your life?  I encourage you to leave a comment and share your ideas with our readers!

How to Become a Top-of-Mind IT Contracting Candidate

How to Become a Top-of-Mind IT Contracting CandidateA few weeks ago, we kicked off a series of posts about “top-of-mind” candidates and how you can become the preferred IT contractor for a recruiter, ensuring you’re one of the first people they call as soon as an opportunity arises.  In that post, we discussed the importance of being in this group and how first impressions play a big role in getting there. In this post, we’ll go into the specifics of how to become a top-of-mind candidate.

It could easily be expected that having many in-demand skills is all that’s needed to become a top contractor. After all, if you can do the work better than anyone else, why shouldn’t you be the first phone call? This is a factor for Eagle recruiters along with your references from past contracts, your ability to be personable, your communication skills, and your rate expectations. It may surprise you, though, that only 12% of recruiters said that your in-demand skills are the top trait that makes you memorable.

Being personable will be your biggest advantage with a recruiter and if they had to choose one trait that makes you most memorable, it would be how well you interact with others. Recruiters consider every communication with you, from phone calls to interviews to networking events, and use that experience to conclude if you’ll work well on a client’s team.  When a recruiter has a great conversation with you, learns a lot, and feels comfortable around you, they’re more likely to remember you when a suitable role presents itself. Vice-versa, when you come off as rude, stand-offish, or unwilling to open up about your experience, they’ll remember that too!

The second most memorable trait for Eagle’s recruiters is how well you have worked with them on past contracts. This is obviously more of a long-term element considering you first need to win and complete a contract, but it’s a crucial point nonetheless. When a recruiter enjoys working with you and a client raves about your fantastic work, you pretty much guarantee yourself a spot as a top-of-mind candidate. It can even be argued that being personable, the most memorable trait, goes hand-in-hand and is a pre-requisite to earning positive feedback about your work.

The final conclusion we drew about how to become top-of-mind is that LinkedIn cannot be just an option anymore. Not only did 80% of recruiters say that having a LinkedIn profile increases your chances of becoming top-of-mind, but almost ¾ of them say that most or all of their top-of-mind candidates are active on LinkedIn. That means that if you want to be competitive, you should create your profile and be an active member of the community. In a Quick Poll of our readers from last November, we learned that almost all contractors have a professional picture and keep their profile up-to-date, but few take the time to share articles, participate in group discussion, or make recommendations. That presents some great opportunity for you to make yourself a more attractive option to recruiters! For some extra tips on improving your LinkedIn activity, have a look at any of these past posts.

With every list of what to do well, there has to be a list of what not to do. Keep posted to the Talent Development Centre in the coming weeks and we’ll share some faux-pas, as well as some tips that will help you redeem yourself. If you have any more questions or comments about how to become top-of-mind, we’d love to hear them. Please leave them below.

The Troubles Tree – A Parable

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This post first appeared on Eagle’s CEO Blog on July 13th, 2012

I thought I would try something a little different with today’s blog … and would like to give credit to the website Parablesite.com for this story.

The Troubles Tree - A ParableA carpenter was having a tough day. It started with a flat tire that cost him an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stoney silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. After opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward, he walked me to my car. We passed the tree, and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier. “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning, I pick them up again.” “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

Growing up I was educated in Catholic schools and often they used parables to make a point …so they are certainly not a new invention, and perhaps not even trendy.  For some people they may even seem a little “hokey”.

The interesting thing about how people learn is that we are all a little different and different styles of learning will work for different people.  If the visualisation of a parable can help to drive home a point then it seems like it could be a good tool!

This parable has a number of messages … all of which you have heard before:

  1. The extent of your “problems” is largely governed by your attitude.  (Its mostly in your head)!
  2. You can let problems overwhelm you or you can actively “put them in their place”.
  3. It is possible to have a great home life, even if things at work are not going so well … and vice-versa.  When you let one overwhelm the other then you are really just making it all worse.
  4. Very often what seems like a big problem doesn’t seem nearly so bad later.
  5. Remember what is most important to you and protect that … .you really don’t want your family to remember you as “the grouch”.

10 Tips to Improve Your Life

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on October 25, 2015

Look for the good in others quoteI think the “pursuit of happiness” is a goal for almost everyone.

People think “if only … ” and list things or situations as being the answer to their happiness.  If only I had more money, that person would marry me, I had a house in that neighbourhood; I owned a Porsche; and on and on.

At the same time that we are wishing for changes in our lives that will “fix things”, we are focused on all that is missing in our lives and THAT gets in the way of happiness.

The single biggest cause of unhappiness is focusing on what we don’t have!

Similarly we often focus on what other people in our lives don’t have … and THAT adds to our angst!  My partner is messy, my kids don’t listen, my parents don’t understand me!

So … 10 tips for those who truly want to be happy.

  1. Focus on what you have … not what you don’t have.
  2. Do not be envious of other people.
  3. Make plans and set goals … and improve the things that are meaningful to you.
  4. Celebrate your wins.
  5. Look for the good in the people around you.
  6. Look for the good in your circumstances.
  7. Focus on the things that you can control.
  8. Push yourself … and understand what you are truly capable of achieving.
  9. Don’t look for the easy way.
  10. Give more than you get!

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”  Audrey Hepburn

Share Your Success!

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Share Your Success!

I’m not sure if it’s because the world we live in spends so much time talking about the negative, but it occurs to me that this has rubbed off on a lot of us. We spend an inordinate amount of time in our personal or business lives apologizing and feeling bad about the things that have gone wrong. Maybe it’s because, as Canadians, it seems the default setting is to say “sorry,” even when we’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.

As an example, the staffing industry is full of rewards, but it can be challenging. When we work out problems between our clients and contractors, we end up being the middle player. Situations can get tense and we do what we have to do to make sure everybody is satisfied with the service received. The result of this can be a real beat down and if you are not careful, you’ll forget about all the good things you do or accomplish in a day. Everybody experiences these kinds of situations, regardless of their industry or profession, including independent contractors. So, if you’re feeling defeated and it seems like every negative day is followed by another one, I would like to suggest the following:

  1. At least once a day, by yourself or with your team, celebrate the hard work and victories accomplished. This is not excessive. At Eagle, we have a simple program set up where peers can recognize the great work that they do for each other on a daily basis. Talking about wins reinforces good practices and encourages continuous learning and improvement by hearing positive stories. We always hear about learning from your mistakes… how about the important lessons learned from your wins?
  2. Propagate those stories. As a sales person, this is a powerful tool I use to demonstrate to new or existing clients the good work my team is doing. When dealing with your existing clients, spend time during meetings to let them know the recent successes you’ve enjoyed while delivering service to their firm. Believe me — they will hear about everything that goes wrong so it is important that you make sure they hear about what is going right. And if there are things that have gone wrong, there is nothing embarrassing about talking about how a problem has been fixed and turned into a win.
  3. It’s not bragging! It’s that Canadian thing again. People prefer dealing with a professional who is positive and proud of their record. Think of your own experiences when you have had the chance to evaluate a product or service. It is so much better to speak with somebody who is confident and proud to tell you about their success and it in turn gives you greater confidence in the product or service you are buying.
  4. Finally, and most obviously, if you want to accentuate the positive, you have to walk the talk. You can’t make up success and if you want to tell good stories, you have to be committed to creating them.

Whether we like it or not, bad things happen but let’s not forget, nor forget to celebrate all the good things that we accomplish in a day. Hopefully that will help put a smile on your face and that alone will make your day a better one.

The Secret to Climbing Africa’s Highest Peak

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

The Secret to Climbing Africa's Highest PeakI just returned from one of the toughest, but also one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. A little over a month ago, I posted about my preparation and challenges for my upcoming climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. Now that I’ve completed the journey, returned home safely, and had a chance to reflect on the past couple weeks, I’d like to share with you one of the most important take-aways I brought back with me. Something I always knew, but this trip made me see it in a whole other light:  When taking on any major challenge, a solid team with an exceptional leader will make the difference between success and failure.

Overall, our trek up Kili was a very difficult climb — harder than we expected due to some horrible weather conditions. Fortunately, we were accompanied by a team of experienced climbers, including a Chief Guide. Our Chief Guide informed us from that start that every day would be a challenge. She would give us instructions to follow that seem simple, but were critical to making it to the peak (like eating food when we did not have an appetite due to the fact the altitude had killed our appetites).  She kept us on a very short leash, yelling instructions from the minute we got up at 6am until we fell asleep exhausted in our tents at 9pm.  Twice a day we were given information about what lay ahead and what was to be expected.  She was tough on us but we knew what was expected.  She told us over and over again that she and the rest of the team (all 93 of them) were there for us and that everyone wanted to see us at the top!

The most gruelling part of the trip was Summit Night, where we set off to reach the summit starting at midnight. Forming a long conga line of people up the mountain, we had only our headlamps and the night moon to light our way.  As a team, we had to work slowly and take one small step at a time, as anything bigger was dangerous due to the slope of our climb, the darkness and the fear of hitting someone in front of us.  We all had to work as a team to get to the top and we were kept in spirits by Fuso who sang to us to help keep us awake and positive.

It was tempting to let the overall toughness of the challenge consume us but, as our Chief Guide told us, the key is to focus on the step in front of you, and don’t get overwhelmed by the day and its challenges.  It is easier to cope with any problem or task one step at a time. What kept us going was thinking about all the little steps that need to be taken in order to achieve the overall goal of reaching the summit.

Overall, it was a team effort that got us to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Every day had its challenges throughout the journey, but we were well taken care off.  We knew what we had to do and it was one step at a time that led to the ultimate success!

The 5 People You Need to Succeed

By Elizabeth Bromstein at Workopolis
This article originally appeared in the Workopolis Career Resources Blog

The 5 People You Need to SucceedThere was a time in my life when I looked around me and realized that a lot of the people I knew never actually did anything. They talked a lot about doing things – writing books, going back to school, going skiing – but nothing ever actually got done.

Today I prefer to surround myself with a different sort of person – one who does things. They’re better conversationalists: talking about all the things you did, rather than all the things you’re “going” to do makes for better conversation. Also they’re a galvanizing force. Being around people who do a lot of things makes me want to do things. And doing things is good.

Of course, we all have different ideas of what it means to be successful. For some it’s great wealth, for others it’s great life balance and great love. Whatever we’re striving for, the people with whom we surround ourselves have a big impact on whether we achieve it.

If you’re looking for a job, changing careers, or starting a business, the people in your life will be absolutely instrumental in your success or failure.

Here are five people who will help you get a little closer to your goals. Feel free to add your own. Then head over here to read about the 10 people you need to ditch before they drag you down.

The connector: This is the person who knows everyone. They have thousands of Facebook friends, who are real actual friends (not random strangers they don’t actually know in person), and everyone knows who they are. The connector is well liked and always willing to connect the people they know with each other.

The cheerleader: The cheerleader thinks everything you do is awesome, and is always encouraging you to do more of whatever you want to do. You want to start a business, go back to school, invent something to end world hunger? The cheerleader is sure you can do it.

The realist: Cheerleaders are great but sometimes they’re … what’s the word? … oh, yes, crazy. Sometimes your ideas are just bad. It’s not that you want people to step on your dreams but maybe you shouldn’t quit your job to write that musical about Nazis. Oh, wait, that’s The Producers…or is it The Sound of Music? OK, so maybe that particular idea is actually great. But the realist will let you know if you have a really bad one, and be your sounding board. The realist is not a pessimist. The realist can also help you come up with realistic ways to implement your ideas.

The idea generator: I have one friend who is an endless fountain of creative energy. He has as many ideas for other people as he does for himself – art projects, writing projects, business projects, solutions to problems. He never runs out and is always willing to share. No, they’re not all great ideas and some are crazy, but many are great, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Just being around him gives me ideas. Everyone should seek out someone like this to have around when your own idea well is tapped.

The success story: The success story is the person who is living their dream, whether that turned out to be the original dream they’ve been chasing all their lives, or some variation thereupon. I’ve got many of these in my life and every one of them is an inspiration when it seems like everything sucks.

Who do you keep close?

Positive (or Negative) Influences Can Change Your Life

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This article originally appeared on the Eagle Blog on February 9th, 2015

We all know those “glass half full” people who always seem to be positive.  We also know negative people who always seem to have something to complain about.  Both of these characters can have a profound effect on our own mood, lifting our spirits or dragging us down.

The best thing you can do for your own happiness is to seek out the positive people, and spend as little time as possible with the negative people!

Positive people are a joy to be around, their energy is contagious and even inspiring.  When we spend time with them we feel good about ourselves, they lift our spirits and we too are more positive.

Negative people have a way of sucking the life out of you.  There is always some problem and it is everybody else’s fault.  They have a black cloud hanging over them and they pull you under it too!

“Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” Dennis and Wendy Mannering

Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Francesca Reigler QuoteMake a list of the people you spend your time with and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very negative and 10 is very positive.
  2. For all of the people that scored extremely low create a plan to either stop spending time with them, or at a minimum reduce the time you spend with them.
  3. For all the very positive people, make a plan to try and spend more time with them.
  4. Join organisations that have positive people … entrepreneurial organisations, learning organisations and charities are just some great examples.
  5. Do your part … be one of those positive people that others seek out.

This is easier said than done, but you can make a plan to improve things over time, just by increasing the time spent with positive people and decreasing the time spent with negative people.

Three classic issues you will need to contend with:

  1. Some of those negative people will be family! Clearly avoiding them altogether might be tough, but establishing new routines that decrease the time spent with them will work.  You may feel a little guilty but at the end of the day it is the right answer.
  2. How do you get to spend time with entrepreneurs and successful people? Get introductions, join clubs, get involved with charities and get creative with your networking.
  3. Do you need to tell the negative people that you don’t want to spend time with them? There is no need to be rude or even obvious about this, just change your routines a little at a time and it will happen naturally.

“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”  Oprah Winfrey

If you can spend the majority of your time with positive influencers it will change your life, and that is worth doing!

3 Attributes for a Job: Experience, Skills, Attitude

There are basically three things you bring to a team and project when you start a new Woman searching for a job onlinecontract: skills, experience and attitude. By improving each of them, you can secure great references from clients and impress during interviews which will significantly increase your chances of scoring your next contract .

You can’t do much about your experience, but you can do a couple of things to enhance it…

  1. add to your experience through charitable/volunteer work;
  2. put your experience in its best light highlighting how it can benefit an employer.

In order to get a job you need to stand out from the other candidates. Remember it doesn’t matter how many people are looking for a job, you only need one!  You can differentiate based on skills and most definitely on attitude!

SKILLS:

What can you do to add to your skills?

(i)      Take some courses;
(ii)    Get an unpaid job (intern) that gives you new skills;
(iii)   Do some self-learning online.

If your skills are too generic, can you consider going back to school and starting a new career?

ATTITUDE:

This is THE number one way to differentiate from everyone else but to truly take advantage of it you need to really buy in to your new attitude.  It is not enough to say the words, you need to live and breathe it.

  • Recognise that your job is an important part of your world so be truly grateful that you have it no matter what the job is!
  • Do everything you can to be a great contractor.  Even if it’s not your ideal contract, do it better than anyone else would and with a smile on your face. You can find a better contract after this one’s over.
  • Refrain from telling a client “that’s not my job.”  Add value by helping out on other projects and mentoring other contractors or employees when possible.
  • Dress for success take pride in yourself.  Take your cues from those around you but always try to dress at the upper range of your peers. If you’re in a casual environment where jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable, always wear presentable and clean jeans, a collared t-shirt, and nothing inappropriate.
  • Go the extra mile. Putting in a little extra time when it’s needed can make a huge impression.
  • Adopt a positive attitude. You have a job, your health, live in a great country etc.  Don’t get dragged down by negativity.
  • The world is full of people that expect the world to cater to them they expected their parents to give them “stuff”, they expect their government to provide them with “stuff”, they expect their client to pay them while they give as little as possible back!   You can beat them to the jobs every time, IF you can demonstrate a positive ATTITUDE.

How do you differentiate yourself to clients and recruiters?  Do you do anything extra that you believe has led to success?  Share your tips and help other contractors across Canada find opportunities too!