RESPECT… Earning employee respect isn’t always easy, but when employers find ways to build respect at work, positive benefits ensue. How do you build employee respect at work? According to Bruce J. Avolio, Ph.D., executive director at the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking in the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, five tips for employers/managers to earn the respect of employees include:

  1. Be authentic:  Be an authentic reflection of your organization’s espoused values and principles while promoting transparency and justice.
  2. Promote ‘ownership’:  Make all employees feel like ‘owners’ versus ‘renters’, that their voice matters, and that people in positions of power listen to learn and engage with their employees.
  3. Develop potential: Help each individual feel like they are reaching their full potential and achieving their performance goals by investing in development.
  4. Create an energized culture: Create a positive climate where your followers’ energy is directed towards winning against competitors versus defending against internal detractors from what you’re trying to accomplish.
  5. Sacrifice when necessary: Be willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the organization when such sacrifices contribute to everyone’s success.

Bill Mixon, president of Universal Hospital Services, Inc., believes the key to earning employee respect is to empower employees and model the leadership behavior you desire by treating employees with dignity and respect. “If employees respect a person’s leadership, they are more prone to put those same leadership qualities into practice. Empowering employees to make decisions also builds trust. When you show employees you trust their knowledge and skills, you allow them to make smart decisions that benefit the company.”

Developing employee potential is also important. Notes Mixon, “When employees feel valued and appreciated, they take stronger ownership of their work and seek new opportunities to grow in their roles. This not only benefits the employee, but also the company and its customers.”

Howard Behar, retired president of Starbucks Coffee Company, used this same tactic of showing employees they are appreciated to help establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses the importance of people over profits. For example, Starbucks made sure there were no special perks for executives. “All employees are called ‘partners’ and there is no separation in any way of partners and the management team. Outside of pay and stock, every partner gets the same, even the same health insurance. We did this because it was the right thing to do, not because we thought it would help us build respect,” Behar explained.

In addition, the Starbucks management team held ‘open forum’ meetings where any partner could ask anything and they would address it. “It was open dialogue, and I mean really open dialogue during these meetings. If they wanted to debate what I was paid as the president of the company then they could,” said Behar. “No topic was off-limits.”

The management team also included a feedback card in every partner’s paycheck asking for comments on anything that seemed in contradiction to the company’s values and morals – with Behar reading every feedback card submitted. If an executive didn’t live up to the values and morals of the company, the organization would eject that individual. Behar added, “You could get fired a lot faster for not living the values than not achieving the financial numbers.”

Bottom Line: Are you a manager/employer looking to earn the respect of your employees? Then focus on relationships and trust. The foundation for earning respect is establishing good relationships with employees by building trust within the organization. Explains Behar, “If people are feeling trust, they will be more productive, are more willing to take risks, be creative, and solve difficult problems. It doesn’t mean issues won’t arise, but it means you can withstand just about anything because you can talk things through.”

Source:  Lisa Quast http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/09/17/5-tips-for-employers-to-earn-respect-from-employees/#110b5df15e33

Editor’s Note: In a field that evolves as rapidly as geospatial information science and technologies, the idea of “getting a GIS job” may not be as straight-forward as it sounds. What are employers looking for, and how do you know that your training and education will get you there? Join Directions Magazine as we begin a short series of articles examining these topics.

Was there really ever a time when all you needed to know to get a GIS job was how to do a few software tasks and design a map or two, or is that as overly idealistic and unrealistic as the image of every 1950s household having an apple pie cooling on an open window sill?

If you did manage to get a job on that “lick, spit and promise,” are you still in that position? What daily tasks are expected of you now that didn’t even exist 15 years ago?

New GIS degree and certificate programs continue to launch each year. Keeping curricula current, and instructors both confident and competent, is a perpetual challenge. There are also more numerous and diverse approaches to professional development than ever before. Is there validity in the Monday-morning-quarterback statement that what employers want, what degree programs provide, and what students actually learn are always out of synch?

In an effort to understand distinctions and requirements of GIS jobs, Jung Eun (Jessie) Hong, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of West Georgia, recently completed a content analysis of GIS job advertisements. She compiled almost 1000 GIS job postings, spanning 2007 – 2014, from GIScareers.com, GISjobs.com and the GIS Jobs Clearinghouse. The titles of the jobs were used to sort the positions into five different job categories:

  • Analysts (27.4% of job postings)
  • Programmers/developers/engineers (29.8%)
  • Specialists (14.0%)
  • echnicians (11.2%)
  • Other (17.7%).

Though programmers, developers and engineers differ in training and expectations, their primary job tasks are similar enough to be grouped at this scale. The “Other” category included GIS coordinators, instructors and the like.

Then, individual skills specified in each ad — such as data mining, web mapping, programming or project management, for example — were all coded into four technical areas:

  • Analysis/modeling
  • Cartography/visualization
  • Data processing/management
  • Software/application development

and three general skill areas:

  • Analytical
  • Management
  • Personal/social

Hong then used this coded information in NVivo, a product designed for analyzing text-based content.

What were the similarities and differences in skills among the five job categories? The most requested skill set across all jobs involved analysis and modeling, with over 56% of all job ads specifically referencing such needs. This includes such tasks as aerial image interpretation, data analysis, database development, data mining, network analysis and/or the use of spatial statistics. The second most requested skill set was a general one: communication, interpersonal skills, and self-motivation and independence.

Within job categories, the similarities were more interesting than the differences. Not surprisingly, the number one most requested skill for a programmer/developer/engineer was web or mobile application development; 57.4% of all job postings within that group identified that skill. But what was the most frequently expected skills for the other four categories of GIS jobs positions? Communication skills, above all other technical or more job-specific needs, with up to 45.9% of the postings specifying that skill set.

Another revealing result from within each job category was that database development was ranked as the second most frequently desired skill across all five job type categories. Within the domain of GIS&T, “database development” can have a specific meaning for a specific use case, but those two words are also common and important on their own within the fields of computer science and information technology. Their high frequency designation as a skill across all of these GIS job postings may reflect diverse and different interpretations of what “database development” actually means in a given scenario…which makes us wonder about the myriad ways that “communication” itself plays out in the world of GIS&T.

In practice, communication skills can include everything from accurately representing one’s self on a resume to finding out during an interview that everyone is interpreting “database development” in distinctive ways. In the Venn diagram world of database development, surely there is overlap with data manipulation, programming, and/or database design. Are you ready for that? Or, does the new boss really just need someone to populate an Excel spreadsheet and join it to a shapefile? Either way, whether you are a wise boss or an eager job seeker, are you prepared to listen carefully enough to the other person so you could tactfully, professionally and courteously adjust and address the miscommunications? Voila, now you get points for interpersonal skills as well!

If the ubiquity of “database development” may reflect instances of commission, Hong’s research also illustrates an example of omission with the absence of the term “geocomputation” in any of the job ads. She had been prepared to code the term as an example of a required or desired skill within the analysis and modeling set, based on the fact that geocomputation had been identified as an entire knowledge area in the 2006 GIS&T Body of Knowledge, one of the sources for her coding information. Geocomputation had been described in the BoK as the “development and application of computationally intensive approaches to the study of complex spatial-temporal problems.” The complete absence of the term from job ads does not mean that those complex spatial-temporal problems are no longer an issue! Instead, I would suggest that the high performance computing, cellular-automata and agent-based models, and simulation modeling that once differentiated a geocomputational approach have now become expected and necessary, and thus have been integrated into analytical approaches in general. Perhaps “Big Data analytics” is more likely to be the nom du jour in a job ad of today, but these are of the same ilk.

Overall, Hong’s findings confirm what many of us have experienced over time: that technical skills will always be critical on a particular day for a particular task, but those must be complemented with a life-long ability to unravel problems. When the Department of Labor’s Geospatial Technology Competency Model was revised in 2014, the bulk of the changes were specific technical competencies in Tier 4 and above. Personal effectiveness, academic and workplace competencies, largely the “general” skills in Hong’s study, have remained as solid and important as ever.

In psychological and human resources parlance, skills are things which we can acquire and learn, while abilities are things that we have naturally. Importantly, both can be refined through training and education. To increase your employability, hone your skills as well as your abilities, and develop your competence and confidence to communicate about them both. Consider these 20 Challenging GIS Interview Questions, which are as relevant today across all types of GIS positions as when they were first published; effective communication is central to them all.

By Diana S. Sinton


The US state of New York has passed legislation that will gradually raise the minimum wage to $15, bringing it level with the rate in California.

Rising global inequality has made minimum wages a hot topic in countries around the world, as governments attempt to ensure low-paid workers have the chance to escape relative poverty. For example, the UK has also recently introduced aNational Living Wage of £7.20 ($10.25) for workers aged over 25.

So what does the minimum wage look like around the world?

On top Down Under.

Click here to view the chart that shows the situation in 27 countries across the globe (based on data from 2013). The figures have been adjusted to their post-tax rate and for purchasing power parity, in US dollars.

Australia has the most generous minimum wage, with workers earning a minimum of US$9.54 an hour. Next is Luxembourg, where workers can expect to take home at least $9.24 after tax. The top three is completed by Belgium. Here, the post-tax minimum wage sits just above $8.50.

Several other European nations feature high up the list, with Ireland, France and the Netherlands following Belgium. There are also places in the top half for New Zealand, Canada and the United States, among others.

The minimum wage and inclusive growth

Last year’s ‘Inclusive Growth and Development Report’ from the World Economic Forum highlights the link between minimum wage policies and inclusive growth.

The report argues that “data shows that inequality often starts in the labour market.” Therefore a broad package of coherent labour market policies, including minimum wages, is vital to tackle inequality and ensure that economic growth benefits everyone.

The report points to International Labour Organisation data showing that changes in the distribution of wages and job losses accounted for 140% of the increase in US inequality between 2006 and 2010.

“Ensuring that the benefits of growth reach the many rather than the few is one of the great challenges of our time, and rising wages are clearly a key driver of inclusive growth. When wages remain stagnant, imposing a minimum wage is one vehicle for driving them higher,” explains Jennifer Blanke, Chief Economist at the World Economic Forum.

“This of course leads to higher wages for those with jobs, but the potential downside is that employers cut jobs, leading to higher unemployment. History has shown that minimum wages that are not ‘too high’ have a benign effect on unemployment, and can be an effective lever (although the threshold is of course difficult to determine). Recent efforts to impose much higher minimum wages are experiments that will provide us with a better understanding of how and under what conditions they work best.”

Written by Joe Myers

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