Four Common Distractions That Decrease Productivity

April 8th, 2016

For most IT workers, avoiding distractions at work is impossible. It’s inherent in the way the workplace is designed with low-walled cubicles that mean there’s no such thing as a confidential conversation. You probably can’t do much about the office layout, but there are things you can do to reduce these other four common office distractions and help your team stay focused and productive.

Massive Email Blasts

Keeping everyone informed is important, but massive email blasts that cc: everyone on a project are more distracting than useful. Target your emails to only those who need to respond to them. If there’s valuable information you want to make sure doesn’t get lost, use a collaboration tool and either save a document or create a discussion thread that will be archived and searchable for future reference. That way, the knowledge is saved and accessible, but it doesn’t clutter up email inboxes and require everyone to figure out whether they need to respond, decide whether they should save the message, and create a filing system to keep things organized.

Ban Smartphones From Meetings

Keep meetings on track by banning smartphones from the conference room. This lets everyone focus on conducting the business of the meeting, rather than reading unrelated emails or stepping outside to take personal calls. You can minimize the withdrawal symptoms by having a concise agenda to keep the meeting brief. Make sure that having a meeting is the most effective way to achieve your goal. And start meetings on time, even if you’re missing some attendees; otherwise, you’re wasting everyone else’s time.

Funnel User and Support Requests

Requests from end users for help can pull developers off project work into production support. Don’t let end users call their favorite developers for help directly. Have a support hotline to call and assign one person to staff it (possibly on a rotating basis). That person will buffer everyone else on the team from user interruptions, bringing in them in for assistance only when needed. It’s important to have a cookbook of common problems and solutions to help the support person resolve issues without involving the rest of the team.

Automate Routine Tasks

Routine tasks often take longer than they should, because employees find them boring and look for ways to avoid doing them. Instead, use technology to free up routine tasks like packaging releases or deploying them into a test environment. That will help the tasks get done quickly and consistently, and reduce the need for your team to seek out distractions during the process.

The time you spend searching for employees is a distraction from your main job responsibilities. Working with a staffing agency like InReach IT allows you to offload this distraction to an experienced team of recruiters who will focus on finding the right people for your open positions. Contact us to learn how we can help streamline the hiring process and make you and your team more productive.

Evaluating an IT Candidate’s Personality

March 4th, 2016

Sometime in the future, robots may replace all workers, even IT workers. When that time comes, employee personality won’t matter. If a robot worker doesn’t fit in, you’ll just have them reprogrammed. Until that time comes, though, employees are people, not robots. Personalities can’t simply be reprogrammed, and an employee whose personality doesn’t fit in can have a surprisingly large impact on the rest of the team.

Conflict With Employees and Job Responsibilities

There can be a personality conflict between employees and their bosses, between employees and their co-workers, and even between employees and their customers. All of these conflicts make it difficult to work together to achieve the goal of a project. Conflicts with customers can even result in a company’s losing business.

Even if an employee’s personality doesn’t cause conflict with others in the workplace, it can get in the way of performing the job. For example, a very introverted worker wouldn’t be a suitable fit for a position that requires lots of public interaction, even if they are experts in every technical skill the job needs.

Assess Personality Before Hiring the Candidate

To ensure the candidate has the right personality for the job, make sure your hiring process doesn’t focus only on technical skills. Certainly, keywords on a resume may suggest you should bring in the candidate for an interview, and the interview should prove the candidate’s expertise in those skills. But the interview is also a time to evaluate the candidate’s soft skills and interpersonal capabilities.

Personality tests can rate candidates on measures including intro- or extroversion and ability to lead or propensity to follow, and behavioral interview questions can help you understand how the employee would react in specific situations they’re likely to encounter at work. You can also learn about the candidate’s personality by finding out how they spend their free time away from work.

Because the candidate will likely work as part of a team, have more than one person interview them. Getting multiple perspectives from different members of the team will give you a sense of how well they’ll fit in to your organization.

Work With a Staffing Agency

Staffing agencies like InReach IT Solutions understand both the formal qualifications needed for a job as well as the personal characteristics needed to succeed. With our 20 years of experience and a deep pool of potential hires, we can help you find a candidate who will excel both technically and personally. Contact the Dallas IT staffing professionals at InReach IT Solutions to learn more about our services.