To bring more of her skills to the people side of the working world, she tried marketing and then consulting. But eventually she decided to go back to graduate school because she would find herself being pushed back into engineering roles and more technical positions. She realized she would have to re-specialize so people would see beyond her engineering background.
But before making the leap, she took some night classes in Psychology to be sure this was the route she wanted to go down. And before becoming a psychologist, she considered being a therapist or counselor. A volunteer experience on a hotline convinced her otherwise, so she opted for social psychology with an emphasis on organizations and the workplace.
After a few years of working for a consulting firm and teaching at university, she formed Flexible Work Solutions. Her company provides assessment for leaders and teams of people, her personal niche is with technical people.
What types of scenarios does she typically get called in to work on? There are a few. One might be where a company is looking at their directors and above (their executive team) and the company evaluates what skill sets they currently have, who is going to get promoted and what is their succession plan.
She works with a company in this situation by doing an assessment: figuring out who has what skill sets, and what the team currently has and what they might want to develop or hire for the future.
Another scenario is individuals who have just moved up into leadership positions – this is especially common in the engineering world and the biotech world. A person has a particular expertise and then are promoted to a leadership role in which they have to utilize an entirely new set of skills outside of their expertise. She helps them through trainings and coaching.
Because she has some much experience in a variety of tech companies, I asked Joanie to tell us one of the top challenges she sees regarding communication in the workplace. Joanie says with the technical people, a challenge she often sees is a lack of value attached to people skills.
There’s more emphasis on using data and relying on data, rather than looking at potential emotional reasons that may exist.
For example, people have outside factors that affect them at work and those are things that leaders must be able to address. I agree and think this is a common issue we have in tech today. We tend to negate the emotional side of things.
Joanie goes on to tell us some tools we might consider using to help with team communication. We also talk about how to speak authentically, how to structure meetings to do check in with your team and more on today’s CTO Studio.