Opportunity Cost and Its Relationship to Curiosity at Work

Opportunity Cost and Its Relationship to Curiosity at Work

When recently researching content for my work on curiosity, I was reminded of the importance of opportunity cost. For those not familiar with the expression, it means, “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.” In other words, what do you give up when you make a choice of one thing over doing something else? I meet many people who become paralyzed in their decision-making process because they find weighing alternatives challenging. However, what they might forget is that indecision is a decision.

In business leaders, often think about the benefits, profits, and values of actions and choices, but they often overlook how opportunity costs can be associated with people. If people’s skills are under-utilized and they are not aligned to jobs that match their interests, it is essential to consider the opportunity cost involved.

That is why it is important to consider the value of curiosity. I found that four factors hold people back from their natural levels of curiosity. These include fear, assumptions, technology, and environment. Fear can keep people from asking questions, from researching opportunities, and from exploring their natural creativity. Assumptions that employees might not like an activity or might not be good at it can keep people disengaged from improperly matched jobs. Inability to understand technology or fear of it is often overlooked. A culture or environment that does not promote curiosity can be the one thing that keeps the competition one step ahead in the race.

The opportunity cost of not developing curiosity in our workforce can lead to catastrophic results to the economy. Employees will need to learn new skills as technology replaces less-skilled labor. Organizations might have other opportunities for people who show initiative and creativity. Individuals who fear their jobs could be in danger, need to develop foresight to be proactive to change and become indispensable to organizations.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Einstein, and others have all credited curiosity with their success. This experience drove me to determine how to ignite that desire in other people. What I discovered was that it was not enough to understand the value of curiosity; it was essential to determine the things that hold people back from being curious. That is why I created the Curiosity Code Index assessment to go along with the book, Cracking the Curiosity Code, to discover the things that impact curiosity and provide an action plan for how to improve.

Cracking the Curiosity Code and the CCI includes everything from:

  • How curiosity impacts engagement, creativity, innovation, and productivity
  • How fear, assumptions, technology, and environment (FATE) can impact curiosity
  • How to set strategies for overcoming the factors that hold people back

The book and assessment are due to be released by the end of 2018. To learn more and get notified of their release, please go to http://curiositycode.com. Consider the opportunity cost of not improving your curiosity. Can you, your company, and your employees afford it?

Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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Linkedin Endorsements Poorly Utilized

 

Linkedin has provided an opportunity for networkers to endorse the skills of people with whom they are connected.  This was meant to be a time saver for people who normally wrote full recommendations. The idea had promise.  However, it is not being utilized well.  When users sign onto their Linkedin profile, they are given a list of people in their network and asked if they want to endorse them for a particular skill. There is the option of being able to endorse all of the people that pop up as choices.  The problem is, many people are doing that.  People may receive many endorsements from people who have not witnessed some of the skills they have endorsed.  At that point, the Linkedin endorsements become meaningless.

It is far too easy to choose the option of endorsing people as it is currently configured.  If the point was to make recommendations easier, it is understandable that there should be some way to do that.  However, if everyone is endorsing everyone for everything, there is no value to the endorsement.

To find out more about Linkedin’s Endorsements check out the following articles

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Companies Interested in Supertemps

 

Welcome to the ever-changing corporate environment.  As virtual jobs become popular, so have other non-traditional job types.  The supertemp is gaining popularity in the business world.  What is a supertemp? According to The Harvard Business Review article The Rise of the Supertemp, “Supertemps are top managers and professionals—from lawyers to CFOs to consultants—who’ve been trained at top schools and companies and choose to pursue project-based careers independent of any major firm.”

Entrepreneurial people may find the life of a supertemp to be appealing.  The author of the Forbes article Are You Ready for the Supertemp, explained that Supertemps may “now pick and choose from among many cool, well-paying projects, sometimes obtained through agencies that work with these high-end independents.

What type of people become supertemps? According to the Darton Equation article What is a Supertemp and Why Should You Care , “Supertemps are refugees from big corporations, law firms and consulting firms. Supertemps value the autonomy and flexibility of project-based work. Supertemps find that the compensation is comparable to what they earned in full-time jobs (sometimes even better). Supertemps leave behind endless internal meetings and corporate politics. Supertemps find any stigma on temporary jobs, and the people who chose them, as laughably dated.”

For those interested in becoming a supertemp, check out the CBS article: How to Become a $600K Per Year Supertemp.

Some job sites are now listing Supertemp in their job descriptions.  Check out this University of Virginia Supertemp opening.

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A Day in the Life of an Online Professor

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane Question:  I noticed you work for a lot of universities.  I’m considering working for several universities as well and I am curious what is your typical day like?

Answer:  My days vary, based on how many classes I teach.  I like to teach between 10-15 courses at a time.  I also serve as chair for 10 doctoral students and work on 5-10 doctoral committees.  Additionally I take courses to keep up with technology, education, etc. A typical day usually includes about 8-9 hours of grading papers, providing feedback, responding to discussions/emails, guiding doctoral students with dissertations, and developing curriculum.

I usually look at one school’s information at a time. However, I may have several school sites open at once, if my computer or the site is running slowly.  It helps that schools have different due dates for assignments.  For example, one school may require a “deliverable” or an assignment to be due on Mondays.  Another may have assignments due on Fridays, etc.  Usually it works out that all of the big assignments are spread out over the week.  However, most of them have discussions going on that I respond to on a daily basis. I will go to a school’s site to handle all email, questions, discussion responses, and grade any submitted assignments.  I do the same for the next school, and so on, until I have responded to every single item.  I do not stop working until everything is graded.   Most schools allow instructors a week to grade papers. I do not like to make students wait. If someone has submitted an assignment, I grade it as soon as I log on that day.

On weekends, less homework seems to be assigned, so I work less hours.  I probably work around 3-4 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays.  I do not usually take any days off, but that is not required. Schools usually require 5 or 6 days of work per week.  The nice thing about working as an adjunct is that you can decide how many courses you can handle. You can start off  with just a few and add more if you find you have the time.

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Learn Terminology Before Changing Careers

In the current economy, many people have discovered that they must change careers or reinvent themselves in order to keep their current positions.  Some are entering into fields that contain jargon with which they are unfamiliar.  In the article 13 Words Every Sales Training Manager Should Know the author defined words and phrases like:  knowledge transfer, sales enablement, funnel, pipeline and more.  Those entering the field of sales and are unfamiliar with those terms, may feel frustrated and left out of the information loop. 

For those considering a new career, here are some important links to help learn terminology and avoid some embarrassing mistakes:

  1. Terminology Used in Sales
  2. Terminology Used in Business and Entrepreneurship
  3. Terminology Used in Technology
  4. Terminology Used in Online and Education
  5. Terminology Used in Social Networking Sites Like Twitter
  6. Vocabulary Words Adults Should Know
  7. Company Executive Title Explained
  8. Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Words
  9. Top Grammar Mistakes
  10. Social Media Writing Mistakes

To find out more about career reinvention click here.

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Impact of Boomers Working Past Retirement Years

 

As people are living longer and the age for receiving social security payments is extended, baby boomers have found that they are working well into what used to be considered retirement years.  USA Today reported, “The Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll found a baby boom generation planning to work into retirement years — with 73% planning to work past retirement, up from 67% this spring. The poll involved online interviews with 1,095 baby boomers.” According to the Examiner, “boomers are likely going to work five to 10 years longer before retiring.”

There are currently 77 million baby boomers.  This group has found it difficult to retire because “41% of boomers said they are expecting to have to scale back their lifestyle in some way in retirement and 31% believe they will struggle financially.”

Having a lot of baby boomers in the workplace has had an impact on the post-boomer generations.  In the article Millennials Hoping for Boomers to Retire, it was noted that many people who used to retire in their 60s are continuing to work, making it harder for Millennials to find employment.

There are currently four generations coexisting in the workplace. These 4 generations include:

World War II Generation (aka depression babies) – Those born prior to 1945

Baby Boomers – Those born 1946 to 1964

Generation X – Those born 1965 to 1982

Generation Y (aka the Millennials) – Those born after 1982

Baby Boomers represent the largest segment of the American work force.  However, millennials will be replacing the baby boomer group soon.  According to Harvard Business Review /HBR.org, “The makeup of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: In four years Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world. In some companies, they already constitute a majority.”

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Companies Rewarding Employees for Entrepreneurial Ideas

 

Gone are the old days of having a suggestion box at work.  Today’s modern company has set up some much more sophisticated ways of obtaining knowledge and creative ideas from their employees.  The following list contains some useful tools that employers have utilized that have even replaced their need to go to outside consulting firms:

  • Innovative Management Programs – Sites like Brainbank, InnoCentive and Spigit are just a few of the popular sites that companies use to allow employees to submit and vote on ideas.
  • Idea-Management Websites –  PriceWaterhouseCoopers created a company site to gather employees’ input about cost cutting, improving customer service and other ways to improve revenue.  These sites can be very successful.  IdeasAmerica, an association for suggestion administration, surveyed customers and found that ideas submitted by employees saved over $110 million or an average of $1256 per idea.
  • Set up KiosksBruce Power is one of many companies who have set up idea kiosks.  Resembling ATMs, these kiosks are easily accessible and allow employees to vote on ideas.
  • Create Financial IncentivesCompanies may give rewards for employees’ ideas that result in cost savings.  They may receive financial incentives or points to use toward rewards.
  • Set Up Idea ChallengesAllstate created an online challenge for its employees to come up with some good ideas about how to create their company app.

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Women Becoming More Successful Than Men

 

Women are passing men in their abilities to get a degree, handle families and garner success at work.  As men are falling behind, women are making huge strides.  CNN reported that, “For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.”

Over half of college degrees are now being awarded to women. “In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men.”

Women are becoming stronger entrepreneurs as well.  Forbes recently reported:  “As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Overall, women-owned firms have done better than their male counterparts over the past 14 years. The number of men-owned firms (which represent 51% of all U.S. firms) grew by only 25% between 1997 and 2011—half the rate of women-owned firms.”

A study by Barclays Wealth and Ledbury Research may have some of the answers to why women are surpassing men.  One of the reasons they found is that women are less likely to take unnecessary risks or make rash decisions.  The Huffington Post backed up this point stating, “A 2005 study by Merrill Lynch found that 35% of women held an investment too long, compared with 47% of men. More recently, in 2009, a study by the mutual fund company Vanguard involving 2.7 million personal investors concluded that during the recent financial crisis, men were more likely than women to sell shares of stocks at all-time lows, leading to bigger losses among male traders.”

Women Dominating Sales Positions

 

Women are becoming a dominant force in sales positions.  In the article 10 Most Lucrative Industries for Women it was noted, “A recent study found that women are coming to dominate certain areas of sales, a traditionally lucrative field for those who excel. In fact, the study seemed to show that women tend to have better selling skills than men, translating into substantial earnings for saleswomen.”

When women were asked what their top 10 more desired sales careers would be, they chose:

1.    Pharmaceutical Sales

2.    Biotech Sales

3.    Dental Sales

4.    Insurance Sales

5.    Healthcare Sales

6.    IT Sales

7.    Medical Sales

8.    Advertising Sales

9.    Medical Equipment Sales

10.  Real Estate Sales

This is good news for women in the current questionable economy. Monster reported, “In 2010, more employers were willing to invest in their sales forces, having some faith that customers could be cajoled into buying. In October 2010 there were 145,000 more workers employed in sales and related occupations than a year earlier.”

For additional resources about women and sales positions, check out some of the following links:

Women Turning to Cosmetic Sales

Community of Women in Professional Sales

50 Best Careers of 2011

Sales Jobs for Women Search Site

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