7 Tips to Achieving Career Success

Career success

It’s easy to get in a rut with your career but we want to see everybody achieve the career success they deserve.  It’s important to take a step back and ‘sharpen the axe’ as they say.  This article offers some great tips for the early-career types and is a good, brief refresher for the mid-career professional.

Original article click here.

Engineering, medicine, fine arts or finance – plenty of career choices are available. One is required to select the best suited career option and proceed towards your success. Friends and family can influence your choice of career but when you decide what and who you want to become, success can embrace you with open arms. Money has its own role to play but a career success is mainly defined by your importance in the organization based on your performance and the added value that you bring to that organization. In order to achieve this tangible goal, one will need to take the following steps into consideration:

Steps towards a Successful Career

  • Self- introspection

    Many a times you will be forced to choose some career option under tremendous pressure from your family and/or friends. Instead of complaining at a later point of time or playing the blame game, you should take a step back, examine your thoughts and feelings, and try and picture yourself as where and the type of person you want to be. Why follow the dreams set by someone else? It’s your beloved career and be it a baby step or a giant leap forward, both should be willingly taken by you. This will help to place you on the right path to bring success closer to you.

  • Hard work

    Hard work is the key to success. This proverb is applicable to any profession. Once you have fixed your career path and have started treading in the same confidently, work hard to the maximum possible extend. Prepare your day well ahead and plan each activity smartly so that your hard work pays off at the end. When you are ready to work hard and push your limits, success comes running gleefully towards you.

  • Goal setting

    Any target is achievable when you set goals. These goals should be set for a fixed time frame. This adds clarity to your target and hence your efforts get channelized. You can choose to set short term or long term goals with respect to your career growth. Once your goal is set, you need to timely monitor how far you have progressed towards your goal against the time frame set. You can then evaluate the slippage and this way your success can be measured through goal setting.

  • Adaptability in work environment

    To achieve success in your career, adaptability at work is very important. Whatever is demanded from you, you should be in a position to deliver the same without any time delay. This plays a major role in your success as your superiors will be able to note the versatility and robustness in you as you take up unconventional work which is not listed in the job description. In today’s scenario where every industry is moving towards globalization, adaptability to unfavorable conditions and situations will help drive your success.

  • Inquisitive attitude

    Inquisitiveness does not mean you should be a peeping tom. Inquisitiveness at work refers to the eagerness you display to learn new facets of your job and the organization. As you are exposed to new responsibilities, you should be presented with the ability to outperform your coworkers and emerge successful. Hence always be inquisitive and intuitive when you are exposed to new work to succeed in your endeavor.

  • Learning from mistakes

    Learning is an art. As you grow in your career, you will need to unlearn many and learn new things. At the beginning of your career you are gullible and susceptible to make mistakes. However, as you progress through your career, you should learn from those mistakes and evolve into a more responsible and rational person. This helps you to progress in a faster pace. Repentance alone is not the right reaction when you commit a mistake at work. Not repeating the same error(s) is what will make you shine. Learn from your mistakes and move forward.

  • Behavioral Courteousness

    Politeness and courteousness are important virtues of a successful person. To achieve a successful career you should first be grounded and treat all your peers with respect. Once you establish trust with your colleagues, you can easily take them hand in hand and together you can achieve your goals without major conflict of thoughts.

Slow and steady growth in job profile along with colleague’s good will and trust from management, are the biggest catalysts for a successful career. There will for sure be plenty of environmental and emotional roller coaster hurdles in your journey. But the biggest strength of a career oriented person is that he eyes his goal at all times. If your vigor is high and skills are impeccable, then there is hardly a force that can stop you from scaling heights and to succeed in your career.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!

2016 Engineering and Construction Industry Trends

Construction and engineering job trends

We work to stay atop the latest news and trends of the industries we write for.  This article looks at the trends shaping the construction and engineering industries in 2016.

Original article click here.

It’s easy to pinpoint why the engineering and construction (E&C) sector is in the doldrums. Demand has fallen significantly as the sudden collapse of oil prices in 2015 led virtually every energy company to slow down, postpone, or outright cancel major projects all over the world. Commodity prices have also tumbled, and the mining industry has reduced its capital spending considerably.

 

The deterioration of energy and commodities markets is in large part a consequence of the skidding economy in China, which had been a major driver of global economic activity and infrastructure projects over the past decade. Anemic and inconsistent growth in developed markets has been unable to make up for the Chinese shortfall and similar weaknesses in other emerging countries. Continuing global economic instability will almost certainly drive E&C sector revenues down in 2016 compared to the year before, stalling the recovery that had followed the previous collapse in spending in the sector during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

 

That’s not to say that there are no bright spots for E&C companies. In the U.S., construction starts were up about 15 percent in 2015 and are forecast to advance another 6 percent this year. Also, infrastructure spending has been neglected since the 2008 recession and some analysts believe that worldwide annual infrastructure spending will grow to more than US$9 trillion per year by 2025, from a little over $4 trillion now — that is, if the political will can be mustered to support much-needed improvements.

 

In addition to the fundamental economic stresses on the E&C sector, established companies face intensifying competition from firms in low-cost nations, which weighs on E&C profit margins and has driven many in the industry to commoditize their services. To make up for it, some E&C companies have turned to a mergers and acquisition strategy centered on acquiring companies offering promising new sources of value in new geographies, new lines of business, or both.

The return of lean times shouldn’t come as a surprise to companies in the sector. For many years, E&C companies have struggled to disentangle themselves from predictable cycles of growth and decline and to find paths to profitable and consistent performance. Success has been fleeting, but in our view that’s because E&C firms have not adopted strategies that directly address the endemic problems their industry faces. Indeed, to break out of this vicious cycle, E&C companies must do two things:

 

Embrace engineering and construction technologies and specialization that lead the market, outpacing competitors.

 

The technology puzzle

In general, the engineering and construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies; indeed, some firms are still using paper-based processes that can only be described as archaic. However, as a reaction to tight margins, a few E&C companies have recently automated and streamlined ways to carry out projects, not just in the design and engineering phase, but in construction as well.

 

Among the ways to cut costs, firms have offshored and consolidated design centers and adopted BIM (building information modeling) systems to automate much of the work of design and engineering and to supply critical information to workers on the construction site itself. Workers can also share information across project sites and send it back to the home office. These programs have reduced wasteful discrepancies and rework and boosted safety. Such technologies also let companies simulate the construction of just about anything before the project begins, instead of having to figure things out during the construction phase. Companies can perform detailed analyses of costs and scheduling as well.

 

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In addition, advanced construction techniques that were pioneered in offshore oil and gas construction and in aerospace and defense, such as standardization and modularization, are becoming increasingly common in E&C. And the most cutting-edge firms are making use of newer breakthroughs such as 3D printing to produce components for modular construction and drones to inspect sites and monitor progress, quality, and safety.

 

Although these techniques have the potential to speed up the design and execution of projects and to lower costs considerably, they must be implemented as the centerpiece of a larger strategic platform. If they are not, the gains will dissipate within the ongoing commoditization of the services provided by E&C companies. Simply put, for E&C companies, the trick is not to delay the adoption of new technologies, but rather to figure out how to use these tools to differentiate themselves from the competition.

 

It’s a two-step process. First, the E&C firm must use collaborative technologies to develop a complete archive of every aspect of the engineering and construction process for current and past projects, gathering information from subcontractors and suppliers throughout the construction chain. The company can then leverage this data to provide its customers with a fuller and more transparent picture of the progress of their projects, and to do so nearly in real time. Second, having demonstrated to customers its ability to achieve better performance, better communication, and open interactions at lower cost throughout the project, the E&C firm will be positioned to outclass its rivals for future efforts.

 

With this strategic approach, E&C companies can win the volume jobs and use their skills with new technologies to profit from standardized projects, such as natural gas terminals, even as prices fall. And at the same time, they will be front-runners for more complex projects in difficult geographies, because their reputation for advanced capabilities will serve as a calling card.

 

Know your market

The E&C sector has been in the throes of consolidation for the past few years. Long a highly fragmented business, especially in design and engineering, the industry is finally shifting. Firms are now looking for greater value through acquisitions — they want to enter new geographic and vertical markets, to diversify or narrow their service offerings, to become more vertically integrated, and to boost their talent pool. The sheer number of deals remained high in 2015. There were few if any true megamergers; virtually all the deals involved big companies buying smaller companies to serve a particular strategic objective.

 

Sometimes expansion is the goal: AECOM’s 2014 acquisition of rival URS for $4 billion significantly enhanced AECOM’s global client base, primarily for power distribution and oil and gas projects. More typically, firms make acquisitions to target particular geographic markets. That can be risky — URS bought Flint Energy Services in 2012 to gain traction in western Canada’s oil sands region, a deal that might have struggled in the face of the recent collapse in oil prices. A further motivation involves buying another firm in order to gain entry into a particular services area, either to augment a company’s current services portfolio or to move up the value chain in search of less commoditized offerings.

 

As the talent shortage in the sector becomes more acute, E&C firms are also making acquisitions simply to build up their talent pools. This is particularly the case in construction, which is graying quickly and becoming more dependent on talent in specific locations. (Design and engineering, in contrast, have benefited more from globalization and technology, allowing firms to hire younger skilled people and put them to work anywhere in the world.)

 

Consolidation as a strategy, however, won’t succeed unless the engineering and construction firm understands its market well, to the point of being able to forecast growth areas that can be targeted better by an acquisition. Firms need to fully understand the markets they want to get into, the best way to get into them, and the particular differentiating capabilities those markets require for success. With that insight in mind, E&C companies can undertake acquisitions with a disciplined view of the skills they need and how they plan to use the acquisition to differentiate themselves from competitors. Acquisitions must be made carefully, with an eye toward how the combined companies are integrated and create unique value in the market. The deal must also complement the acquiring company’s current services portfolio, be accretive to earnings, and fit clearly into the growth strategy.

 

No matter what path E&C firms decide to take in order to escape the commoditization trap — whether through better technology, new geographies, augmented services portfolios, or fresh talent — success will be determined by those who can differentiate themselves from the crowded pack. Companies must ask themselves what their source of competitive differentiation is, what they do well, and what is no longer helping them. If they can’t answer these questions and then gain differentiation through new technologies, organic growth, or acquisitions, they won’t create value for their customers, or themselves. Differentiation means getting there first, and the coming years will soon sort out the winners in this race.

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!

The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World

Leadership Competencies

Some skills and abilities are innate and some are learned.  We write for a lot of successful executives and leaders and love to learn about what makes them tick and how they got to the point in their careers they’re at.  This article offers some inspiring insight about leadership competencies so we thought we’d share.

Original article click here.

What makes an effective leader? This question is a focus of my research as an organizational scientist, executive coach, and leadership development consultant. Looking for answers, I recently completed the first round of a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74. I’ve grouped the top ones into five major themes that suggest a set of priorities for leaders and leadership development programs. While some may not surprise you, they’re all difficult to master, in part because improving them requires acting against our nature.

Demonstrates strong ethics and provides a sense of safety.
This theme combines two of the three most highly rated attributes: “high ethical and moral standards” (67% selected it as one of the most important) and “communicating clear expectations” (56%).

Taken together, these attributes are all about creating a safe and trusting environment. A leader with high ethical standards conveys a commitment to fairness, instilling confidence that both they and their employees will honor the rules of the game. Similarly, when leaders clearly communicate their expectations, they avoid blindsiding people and ensure that everyone is on the same page. In a safe environment employees can relax, invoking the brain’s higher capacity for social engagement, innovation, creativity, and ambition.

Neuroscience corroborates this point. When the amygdala registers a threat to our safety, arteries harden and thicken to handle an increased blood flow to our limbs in preparation for a fight-or-flight response. In this state, we lose access to the social engagement system of the limbic brain and the executive function of the prefrontal cortex, inhibiting creativity and the drive for excellence. From a neuroscience perspective, making sure that people feel safe on a deep level should be job #1 for leaders.

But how? This competency is all about behaving in a way that is consistent with your values. If you find yourself making decisions that feel at odds with your principles or justifying actions in spite of a nagging sense of discomfort, you probably need to reconnect with your core values. I facilitate a simple exercise with my clients called “Deep Fast Forwarding” to help with this. Envision your funeral and what people say about you in a eulogy. Is it what you want to hear? This exercise will give you a clearer sense of what’s important to you, which will then help guide daily decision making.

To increase feelings of safety, work on communicating with the specific intent of making people feel safe. One way to accomplish this is to acknowledge and neutralize feared results or consequences from the outset. I call this “clearing the air.” For example, you might approach a conversation about a project gone wrong by saying, “I’m not trying to blame you. I just want to understand what happened.”

Empowers others to self-organize.
Providing clear direction while allowing employees to organize their own time and work was identified as the next most important leadership competency.

No leader can do everything themselves. Therefore, it’s critical to distribute power throughout the organization and to rely on decision making from those who are closest to the action.

Research has repeatedly shown that empowered teams are more productive and proactive, provide better customer service, and show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their team and organization. And yet many leaders struggle to let people self-organize. They resist because they believe that power is a zero-sum game, they are reluctant to allow others to make mistakes, and they fear facing negative consequences from subordinates’ decisions.

To overcome the fear of relinquishing power, start by increasing awareness of physical tension that arises when you feel your position is being challenged. As discussed above, perceived threats activate a fight, flight, or freeze response in the amygdala. The good news is that we can train our bodies to experience relaxation instead of defensiveness when stress runs high. Try to separate the current situation from the past, share the outcome you fear most with others instead of trying to hold on to control, and remember that giving power up is a great way to increase influence — which builds power over time.

Fosters a sense of connection and belonging.
Leaders who “communicate often and openly” (competency #6) and “create a feeling of succeeding and failing together as a pack” (#8) build a strong foundation for connection.

We are a social species — we want to connect and feel a sense of belonging. From an evolutionary perspective, attachment is important because it improves our chances of survival in a world full of predators. Research suggests that a sense of connection could also impact productivity and emotional well-being. For example, scientists have found that emotions are contagious in the workplace: Employees feel emotionally depleted just by watching unpleasant interactions between coworkers.

From a neuroscience perspective, creating connection is a leader’s second most important job. Once we feel safe (a sensation that is registered in the reptilian brain), we also have to feel cared for (which activates the limbic brain) in order to unleash the full potential of our higher functioning prefrontal cortex.

There are some simple ways to promote belonging among employees: Smile at people, call them by name, and remember their interests and family members’ names. Pay focused attention when speaking to them, and clearly set the tone of the members of your team having each other’s backs. Using a song, motto, symbol, chant, or ritual that uniquely identifies your team can also strengthen this sense of connection.

Shows openness to new ideas and fosters organizational learning.
What do “flexibility to change opinions” (competency #4), “being open to new ideas and approaches” (#7), and “provides safety for trial and error” (#10) have in common? If a leader has these strengths, they encourage learning; if they don’t, they risk stifling it.

Admitting we’re wrong isn’t easy. Once again, the negative effects of stress on brain function are partly to blame — in this case they impede learning. Researchers have found that reduced blood flow to our brains under threat reduces peripheral vision, ostensibly so we can deal with the immediate danger. For instance, they have observed a significant reduction in athletes’ peripheral vision before competition. While tunnel vision helps athletes focus, it closes the rest of us off to new ideas and approaches. Our opinions are more inflexible even when we’re presented with contradicting evidence, which makes learning almost impossible.

To encourage learning among employees, leaders must first ensure that they are open to learning (and changing course) themselves. Try to approach problem-solving discussions without a specific agenda or outcome. Withhold judgment until everyone has spoken, and let people know that all ideas will be considered. A greater diversity of ideas will emerge.

Failure is required for learning, but our relentless pursuit of results can also discourage employees from taking chances. To resolve this conflict, leaders must create a culture that supports risk-taking. One way of doing this is to use controlled experiments — think A/B testing — that allow for small failures and require rapid feedback and correction. This provides a platform for building collective intelligence so that employees learn from each other’s mistakes, too.

Nurture growth.
“Being committed to my ongoing training” (competency #5) and “helping me grow into a next-generation leader” (#9) make up the final category.

All living organisms have an innate need to leave copies of their genes. They maximize their offspring’s chances of success by nurturing and teaching them. In turn, those on the receiving end feel a sense of gratitude and loyalty. Think of the people to whom you’re most grateful — parents, teachers, friends, mentors. Chances are, they’ve cared for you or taught you something important.

When leaders show a commitment to our growth, the same primal emotions are tapped. Employees are motivated to reciprocate, expressing their gratitude or loyalty by going the extra mile. While managing through fear generates stress, which impairs higher brain function, the quality of work is vastly different when we are compelled by appreciation. If you want to inspire the best from your team, advocate for them, support their training and promotion, and go to bat to sponsor their important projects.

These five areas present significant challenges to leaders due to the natural responses that are hardwired into us. But with deep self-reflection and a shift in perspective (perhaps aided by a coach), there are also enormous opportunities for improving everyone’s performance by focusing on our own.

Bonus Tip!  Figure out what makes you tick and why you want to be a leader.  Have a focused vision you would like to achieve.  

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Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWUSA is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!