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Up the Career Ladder or Across It?

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Horizontal progression or lattices started to spread among employees, particularly millennials, years ago. Many individuals are working to progress their career paths horizontally instead of vertically. This raises two important questions: Is it better to move up the ladder or across it? Is it better for the companies to hire those who progress vertically or horizontally? 

Vertical career progression refers to usual career growth within the same field. Being promoted from a marketing executive to a senior marketing specialist, and then to a marketing manager is an example of that progression. As for horizontal career progression, it refers to growing skills in more than one field. For instance, an individual may start working as a marketing executive, and then decide to shift to the sales department to gain more experience in selling products and dealing with customers.

Vertical career progression has always been the common career path in the workplace across the industries. However, change has been going on at a fast pace. All types of organizations (profit, non-profit, public and private) are all experiencing quick changes in various areas. Especially after the pandemic, things have developed massively, and new skills and competencies are arising everyday in the workplace, particularly in companies working on creating innovative and agile environments. 

Benefits of Horizontal and Vertical Career Progression

Both types of career progression are essential and beneficial in the workplace as they will enable managers and leaders to have a wide range of skills within one department. With organizations reducing their boundaries every day due to the changes occurringmanagers, leaders, and recruiters need to look at career progression from a different point of view other than the traditional one. 

Employees going up the ladder will benefit their departments with their long experience and in-depth knowledge in terms of delivering their projects or tasks on time and with high quality. Even when they deal with their clients, they will be able to reflect easily using their long experience in the field. Moreover, they will be able to transfer their experience and knowledge to the younger ones via coaching, feedback sessions, and on-the-job learning.

Due to the wide range of skills, employees moving across the ladder are also vital and  bring a positive impact to their departments. Despite their short experience within one field, they are equipped with a set of skills that will be beneficial to various situations. For instance, an employee who spends some time in the marketing and the sales department will have some experience not only in promoting the company’s products but also in communicating with the customers.

The marketing department can benefit from such employees in enhancing their customer outreach and passing on knowledge to others through tips or advice in communicating with customers. This can be valuable in companies trying to embed agility within their cultures. Most common types of agile environments include scrum and lean. These types of environments require flexibility, continuous problem solving and discovering solutions. As a result, both types of employees will provide lots of ideas and solutions. They will look at problems from different angles. 

How Companies Support Employees’ Career Progression

According to Deloitte, due to today’s flatter organizational structures, businesses have less options for developing their employees and moving their career up the ladder. So, lattice organizations are expanding career tracks to incorporate lateral, diagonal, and planned descents as a strategy to help employees progress. They report that employees become more adaptable through career movements across organizational silos, improving their strategic flexibility.

Incorporating different options of career development will require companies to change the way their job structures, work cultures, and career development plans. However, companies will reap its sweet fruit through having more motivated and productive employees, innovative culture, better performance, as well as more flexibility and adaptability. Moreover, it will help companies face their current challenges such as high turnover rates and employees with limited skills that cannot balance the needs of today’s industry.

In the end, it is believed that even with all these changes undergoing in the world, both career paths are needed within the workplace. Employees get to choose the career path that suits  their priorities and future plans. But at the same time, their choices have to be well planned and thought of because there is a huge difference between growing horizontally in a structured manner and hopping from one job to another. In the same context , companies need to go beyond the traditional linear career path and embrace other ones to be able to come up with the changes going on.

Whether you go up or across the ladder in choosing a career growth, it is important to be competent. Invite your colleagues and join The KPI Institute’s Certified Performance Management Professional course to boost the knowledge and skills on improving performance at all organizational levels. Visit The KPI Institute’s website for more information.

   

Upskilling or Reskilling: Are You Ready for Tomorrow’s Workforce?

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Image Source: Geralt | Pixabay

The future of work requires transformation not just at the organizational level but also at the individual level. Changes in the job market induced by technological innovation contribute to the global skills revolution. 

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), believes that technical positions, such as data analysts/scientists, artificial intelligence specialists, big data specialists, and digital marketing and strategy specialists, will generate demand in the future. 

According to WEF, about 50% of companies expected their full-time workforce to decline by 2020 due to automation. Meanwhile, more than half of all employees may be compelled to reskill and upskill.

Upskilling is defined by the Cambridge lexicon as ‘the process of gaining new skills or teaching workers new skills,” while reskilling is ‘the process of acquiring new abilities in order to perform a different job or of training others to perform a different one.”

How can employees prepare themselves for the revolution? Should they reskill or upskill?

Key Strategies

If the last several years have taught us anything, work flexibility and an openness to change are essential for a successful career. Both reskilling and upskilling can help you future-proof your career and increase your employability. It’s critical to make the right decision, and here are some ways to help you determine your next career path.

Decide on your future career goal: Whether you want to stay in your current industry or move on to something new, it’s critical to be explicit. Decide where you want to go with your career and divide it into manageable chunks of information. With a clear plan, you can easily determine the steps aligned with your end goal.

Recognize your existing skillset: Before you try to better yourself, it’s important to understand your strengths, skills, and potential first. After you’ve written down your qualifications, ask bosses and friends to assist you to grasp your personal and transferable abilities as well as your role-specific ones.

Determine what you need to learn: A little research can go a long way here. Job postings, online career guides, attending industry events, and speaking with companies can all assist you in obtaining the information you need.

Choose a learning approach that works best for you: Online training is one of the finest solutions for reskilling and upskilling. Online courses are extremely adaptable, accommodating a wide range of learning methods and fitting seamlessly into even the busiest schedules. It is perfect if you want to maintain strong job standards while also preparing for the next big move.

The technological improvements of the last five years alone have caused enormous shifts in the types of skills needed today. Furthermore, an unprecedented pandemic has compelled sectors to rethink their approach to skill development.

On the other hand, the pandemic’s isolation protocols have resulted in a major push for remote workers. It appears that the shift is here to stay. Upskilling choices that are simple and accessible must be developed. Learning paths can make a difference in this area because of accessibility, flexibility, and effectiveness.

Businesses must invest in upskilling and reskilling in order to prosper. One approach to ensure this achievement is to use learning pathways. Upskilling has become a cornerstone of today’s business strategy that benefits both the individual and the company. However, it is also an investment to make. As more companies recognize the importance of upskilling and reskilling, now is an excellent moment to look for high-quality training programmes and certifications.

Both upskilling and upskilling are excellent options if you’re considering a career change but don’t want to work for a different organization. 

Industry 4.0 and the Need to Revisit the Balanced Scorecard Concept

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Traditional quality management and business excellence practices are proving to be ineffective when used in the context of complex processes. Additionally, these initiatives are defamed for generating a lot of papers or soft documents without any analytical or added value in respect to automation and productivity. Due to that, the focus must now shift towards a quality movement that will make industries ready to fully utilize the advantages of the digital economy.  

End-to-end digital integration leveraging newer technological innovations, like big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, simulation, and Cyber-Physical Systems are helping in virtual space connecting with physical systems and in making real-time decisions and strategic planning. Industry 4.0 refers to the reform, transform, and perform industry with the help of IoT, especially AI and ML. This use of advanced information and communication technology (ICT) for industrial growth is now often called the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’ 

The concept of BSC was developed decades back when technology was just at its nascent stage. Currently, the concept needs to be revisited else it will only become a subject of academic interest. The performance measurement model should be such to evaluate the quality aspects of an organization in the context of Industry 4.0. The framework used should develop virtual tools to assess weaknesses in the current systems.

The impact of Industry 4.0 can help in enhanced customer value proposition through a better understanding of customer needs, data-driven product development, automated manufacturing, and continued product usage data monitoring. These will have benefits like better CRM, new strategic partnerships, expansion of the geographical reach of products and services through digital channels, as well as the development of new client bases and better retention of old clients. Hence, any performance scorecard should help customers in terms of availing of superior-quality products at low prices and better service.

The perspectives of BSC, especially internal processes and learning and growth, should evaluate the quality aspects of an organization in Industry 4.0. It should ensure that strategy formulation, strategy execution, and performance measurement system are aligned to new technologies so as to reap the following benefits: 

  • Improve productivity – enabling to do more with fewer means, such as in production; faster production in a cost-effective manner with given resources can give more and should help in less downtime and improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
  • Flexibility and agility – for instance, it should help in easier scale up or down output as a smart factory, making it supposedly easier to introduce new products or processes.
  • Regulation – complying with regulations in industries should not be a manual process; instead, Industry 4.0 technologies need to be leveraged to automate compliance, including tracking, quality inspectionsserialization, data logging, and more.
  • Customer experience – Industry 4.0 should be used to quickly resolve customer issues and offer them more choices. 

 A traditional approach of BSC leads to fixed or orthodox KPIs which are not relevant in today’s technological scenario. The concept should revolve around improving processes using the latest IT; this includes having new KPIs. The main hurdle emanates from the harsh reality that the BSC concept owners are traditionally performance management consultants and they are not fully aware of Industry 4.0’s percept and concept, barring a few jargons. This eventually restricts their vision to old and proven approaches which are not helping in providing that competitive edge to the industry. The present winning strategy is flexibility and response to the fast-changing and uncertain ecosystem which can be achieved through Industry 4.0 technology. 

There is a need to develop a scorecard or maturity level assessment tool that evaluates an organization and its adoption of the benefits from Industry 4.0 while taking the given budget and deliverables into consideration. This can happen only when we involve tech specialists in developing and keeping the tools themselves dynamic so that these may undergo revision after around every 12 months to keep abreast of the advancements in technology.

Top 5 Skills CSRs Should Master in 2022

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In the context of the pandemic, the face of customer service was drastically changed by accelerated digitalization. One recent study developed by McKinsey discovered that customer interaction is now accelerated within 3 to 4 years. What count the most nowadays are customer needs or expectations, influenced by remote working. 

Gartner developed a survey on customer service and 64% of respondents stated that the focus for 2022 is related to the growth of the business and client retention by using two main approaches: firstly, to prioritize people and processes, together with the best use of tech solutions, and secondly, improving the self-service-channel, by SEO optimization and organizational websites. 

If the customer service and customer experience have changed, this means that customer service specialists should develop new skills or refine their skills so they can achieve greater results. In 2022, customer service representatives (CSR) should blend technological skills with data and more specialized talent, which means it is essentials for the companies to invest in training and development. There are five skills that any CSR should focus on mastering and what skills talent management specialists should look for when they are trying to hire new customer service specialists. 

Technical skills

CSR agents are not IT specialists. However, they can influence and offer feedback on the tools they are using because they listen to the customer and know their issues best when they navigate on the company’s websites or chat boxes. 

  • Tip #1: Use WhatsApp like a Pro

    WhatsApp has become one of the most efficient channels to use in customer interaction. Having 2 billion users, following Facebook and YouTube, it has become the third most popular social media channel and the most popular global mobile messenger app.

    The most recent tool, integrated by WhatsApp is Click to chat, which works for both its mobile app and the web browser which allows you to chat with someone without having their phone number saved in your phone’s address book. You only need the phone number of the person you want to chat with and the country code using this link in HTML format: https://wa.me/<number>. Going to that link will open a chat function with the person.

Emotional intelligence

If having tech skills is a need that is making strides, having emotional intelligence is just right behind it. Service agents can hear and feel a customer’s irritation over the phone and can solve issues as quickly as possible. Another great way of using emotional intelligence is social listening

  • Tip #2: The Five-Minute Golden Window and Instant gratification

    Dr. James Oldroyd discovered in 2007 in his Lead Response Management Study, that agents who can answer to the client in less than 5 minutes from the inquiry submission can be 100 times more able to contact the client and 21 minutes to win a sale, than the agents with a later 30 minutes reply rate.

    A KPI which can be measured and can help improve the speed of answer is # Speed of Answer (SA). It measures the average speed of answering a customer’s call by an available agent after the call is being placed in a queue. Other variations are:

    # Average speed to answer a phone call (ASA)

    # Time of answer

    # Average time to answer (ATA)

    #SA is used to indicate the call center operators’ accessibility and rapidness. It can impact the caller’s satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

  • Tip #3: Improve Live Chat Speed of reply

    Millennials use to chat more on Live Chat than baby boomers. They value personal and instant interaction; they want to speak to a real person and are not happy if they wait long to receive a reply. This means CSR should master Live Chat communication skills and improve their #SA.

    A recent study developed by Super Office showed that the average reply to a chat is estimated to be 2 minutes and 40 seconds, with the fastest reply time being 7 seconds while the longest took around 9 minutes. The live chat should include pre-written templates, a personal welcome template, and some FAQs prepared, rather than having manually type out replies. The reply time can vary from each field of interest; as such, each business should benchmark its results with its competitors. 

Communication skills

Customer service means customer interactions, and the clients always seek a human touch when they need help with a product or service purchase.

  • Tip # 4: The mirror technique

    When interacting with a customer, the real success lies in the ability to adapt to the customer’s communication style and expectations, then to mirror and respond adequately. For instance, if the communication is performed on the phone, what matters the most is to promptly answer and solve the issue. It is also important to talk as some customers need this kind of interaction.

    Let’s see other useful tips:

    – Always introduce yourself

    – Feel the customer

    – Personalize the interaction

    – Avoid negative phrases

    – Empathize

    – Avoid customer interruption

    – Communicate clearly and concisely when offering solutions. 

Personalization and micro-moments

The customer is bombarded with content, and the most important fact is to use the right time or moment and to provide a quick solution. Micro-moments basically happen when people reflexively use their devices and search, watch, or discover something. If you can reach them at that time, the chances that they will buy from you are high. 

  • Tip #5: Send Live Chat transcript as a follow-up email

    CSR agents should use their imagination in various aspects of their jobs. They can make customers feel special by having a better understanding and response to their individual needs. CSR agents can send personalized email headers and subject lines, but finding the right time to send a personalized offer that will help the customer to reach his goals is essential. Live Chat transcripts can be also another smart way to reach the customer when following up.

Working remotely with skill and passion

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people work forever, and there is no sign of going back to normal soon.

Working from home is quite more challenging than working from an office. It can require having a dedicated home office, a dedicated phone line or a phone software solution, an updated PC, or a good phone headset, and that’s besides having a good internet connection. 

Apart from that, social isolation, issues with teamwork and collaboration, sedentarism, and finding a balance between life and work are also other challenging aspects.

  • Tip #6: Level up your motivation while working remotely

    Think positively and focus on telecommuting advantages such as working from the comfort of your own home, being closer to your family, and others.

    For some people, dressing for work at home can be a good tip. Others may find that eliminating checking social media channels during work or turning off notifications on their phone might work. Sometimes, a short break outside or taking in some fresh air can be the best remedy.

    Another useful activity to keep you motivated would be to invest in continuous learning and training. This will keep you focused and help you become more productive.

Customer service is now in an era of innovation, being anchored on customer experience. There are also other important skills a CSR agent should have and improve, such as product and industry knowledge, consistency, patience, perseverance, accountability, empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and many others. 

A great way to keep pace with 2022 trends is achieving The Certified Customer Service Performance Professional recognition, through which you will be able to manage, monitor, and evaluate your overall Customer Service Performance, and have a direct positive impact on customer loyalty.

How To Hygge Up Your Christmas

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In a previous article, the Danish concept of hygge and its role in today’s lifestyle was looked at. The use of natural, environment-friendly items and a cozy room set up everyone can enjoy are two of the leading themes in the hygge design. All these habits are rooted in the main objective: to appreciate the simple joys in life.

Apart from the fact that hygge is essentially effective all year round, it has a significant place in Danish Christmas celebrations. As  Meik Wiking would say, “it’s the most hyggelig time of the year.” In this season, hygge is exceptionally cherished everywhere in the country.

As we enter the holiday season, it is the perfect time to consider applying hygge to bring comfort and warmth into our homes and families. It is especially favorable for those who are still going through another lockdown period in the face of the new variant of COVID-19 and wish to have a festive, yet safe Christmas. Below are several ideas on how you can decorate your Christmas hygge style.

  1. Light up your candles

    Remember the first rule: no candles, no hygge. Aside from advent candles, you can also either purchase scented or organic ones in various sizes. If you go for scented candles, pick soft fragrances for an utmost cozy atmosphere. Nevertheless, there are a lot of brands out there that provide holiday-themed candles you may consider as well, such as pine, cinnamon, and even candy cane.

    Feel free to put the candles anywhere in the house; on the dining table, along the windowsill, around the fireplace, you name it. Not only does the light add to the homely atmosphere, but it will also elevate the aesthetic aspect of the room. You can choose to keep it lit the whole day, the Danes usually light up some advent candles for only an hour each day throughout December.

    Most importantly, make sure you put them in a safe place. Avoid areas where the candles can fall easily, such as on top of stacked books (some people do it, but it is not entirely safe). If you have kids, best to keep the candles out of their playing area. You do not want to set fire to your house, right?

  2. Set up your own hyggekrog

    Entering the festive season does not necessarily mean that you do not have time for yourself. After working hard the whole year, you deserve to enjoy this holiday by having a peaceful rest and doing hobbies you did not have the chance to do much, such as reading for entertainment purposes. Setting up a hyggekrog or a reading nook where you can cozy up with a warm blanket, soft cushions, and your favorite book in hand sounds like a perfect holiday plan.

    Larger seating options, such as a sofa bed or a corner sofa, might be more applicable for houses with big spaces. For those who have limited living space, worry not! You can try using an armchair or even lay a simple rug then add a nice blanket and pillows. Best to have this set up next to the window so you can savor the view of either a winter wonderland or rain pouring outside your house.

  3. Decorate your home with nature

    A hygge Christmas is dominated by neutral and earthy colors. White, beige, and sage are among the color options you may want to bear in mind. However, it does not necessarily mean that you are not allowed to use the primary Christmas colors. Combining these two palettes in your decor will help you achieve a harmonious look.

    One interesting Danish Christmas tradition is cutting down a pine tree right from the forest and bringing it into the house so people can decorate it with candles. Talk about being deeply connected to nature; bringing in natural elements into the house will amplify your hygge experience. However, if it is too much of a task to have a freshly-cut Christmas tree, you may opt for smaller natural decorations that are easier to find, such as branches, leaves, acorns, and pines. 

  4. Create your own DIY decorations

    There are several ways to make a DIY project with natural elements. One option is to arrange the leaves into a garland which you can further decorate with Christmas lights, ball ornaments, ribbons, and pine cones. Another idea is to attach the branches on the wall then add hanging stars or Christmas bells underneath.

    If you are feeling even more creative, crafting your own natural advent wreath will not only boost the overall look of the house but also sharpen your skills. You will need some straw, wires, and spruce. Essentially, you need to wrap and weave the straw and wires into several layers to make sure you have a strong base. Then, layer the spruce on top of the wreath and decorate it with greenery, pine cones, ribbons, and other Christmas decorations of your choice.

    Additionally, figures of nisse (an elf or gnome), animals, and Father Christmas, as well as woven paper hearts made of glossy paper often adorn the houses in Denmark. These paper hearts are especially unique crafts to the Danes. They’re fashioned from two double-layered glossy paper cutouts, with the flaps of the two cutouts weaved together to form the heart shape.

    Aside from the paper cutouts, glossy paper is often used to wrap Christmas gifts. Exchanging presents has indeed been an innate tradition of Christmas as a form of shared happiness. However, most of the regular types of paper used to wrap gifts are not good for the environment because they are rarely recyclable. What can we do to avoid this?

  5. Use eco-friendly gift wraps

    In spite of the fact that people still widely use conventional ink-printed gift wraps, some of which are made of foil or plastic, most recyclers consider them difficult to process. It has become a problem because recyclers usually need additional chemicals to get rid of the ink when recycling wrapping paper. Taking this into account, there are some sustainable alternatives you can consider utilizing.

    You may be familiar with kraft paper, which is a brown paper used to wrap packages, shopping bags, and lunch sacks. Despite its plain look, kraft paper is recyclable so you do not have to worry about polluting the earth during this festive season. Besides, you can decorate kraft paper with dried flowers and ribbons to make your Christmas gift look elegant and pretty.

    Another recyclable and biodegradable gift wrap is newsprint. Using old newspapers makes the gift look vintage–which is in line with the spirit of hygge as it favors the nostalgic value of vintage items. Even so, newsprint with ink usually takes longer to biodegrade. Otherwise, you may opt to use repurposed gift wrap, such as old magazines or nice packaging you have from buying certain products.

    Nonetheless, the easiest and probably the quickest packaging you can find in a gift bag. You can choose between those made of paper or fabric, such as a tote bag. It is convenient and reusable; recipients of the gifts can reuse it for when they shop or gift another person in the future.

As the main purpose of hygge is to create a joyful experience through simplicity, you can still pass on the festive spirit of Christmas while still being considerate to the surroundings by prioritizing a homely atmosphere and the use of eco-friendly materials. In the age of heightened consumerism where people prefer fancy things that often harm the environment, hygge emphasizes going back to nature which is one foundation for the existing concept of modern lifestyle. Hopefully, this ignites new and interesting ideas that you can try with your loved ones at home this holiday season.

And with that, have a merry hygge Christmas!

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