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99 Skills of 21st Century Market Place : Week 26

Week 26 of the 99 Skills of the 21st Century Marketplace is Here! This week we focus on three critical Mentoring Skills: Reliability, Constructive Criticism & Cultural Sensitivity. These are fundamental for effective communication, trust, personal and professional growth, conflict resolution, and creating inclusive environments. Let us delve into strategies, techniques, and exercises to develop and enhance these Mentoring skills. These qualities, essential for building strong relationships, promote clarity, trustworthiness, understanding, and collaboration across diverse contexts. Mastering these skills empowers individuals to excel professionally, impact their organizations and communities positively, and ensure long-term success, fostering personal growth and meaningful contributions. Join us as we explore these vital mentoring skills and share your thoughts on the 99 Skills because the 100th is You!

76. Reliability

A Quote:

“ Reliability is the precondition for trust. - Wolfgang Schauble

A Definition: Reliability refers to the consistency and dependability of a system, product, or process to perform its intended function without failure over a specified period of time or under specific conditions. In short, it's about trustworthiness and the ability to consistently deliver results.

An Example:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing platform provided by Amazon. It is one of the largest and most widely used cloud services globally, offering a wide range of infrastructure and computing resources to businesses and organizations. In 2017, Amazon Web Services (AWS) encountered a significant outage that had far-reaching implications for a substantial portion of the internet. This outage was the result of human error during a routine debugging exercise, which inadvertently led to the removal of a more extensive set of servers than initially intended.

However, AWS's response to this crisis exemplified their commitment to reliability. AWS engineers swiftly identified and addressed the problem, displaying transparency by maintaining open communication with customers throughout the incident. They also took immediate steps to prevent similar occurrences in the future.A key factor in AWS's resilience was its substantial investment in redundancy and failover mechanisms. These architectural choices allowed many well-architected applications to seamlessly transition to unaffected regions during the outage, mitigating the overall impact.

Furthermore, AWS demonstrated a proactive approach to reliability by conducting a comprehensive analysis of the incident. This post-incident review was instrumental in understanding the root causes of the problem and formulating strategies to prevent its recurrence. AWS implemented additional safeguards and procedures to enhance the overall reliability of their services, ensuring that lessons learned from the outage were applied for continuous improvement. This case underscores the significance of robust reliability practices in the realm of cloud services, emphasizing not only the importance of preparedness and responsiveness but also the value of ongoing learning and refinement.

A Checklist:

  1. Incorporate redundancy and failover mechanisms.

  2. Conduct comprehensive testing and quality assurance processes.

  3. Implement regular maintenance and real-time monitoring.

  4. Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.

  5. Ensure personnel are well-trained.

  6. Allocate adequate resources.

  7. Develop clear channels for customer reporting and effective communication.

  8. Develop a long-term strategy for maintaining and improving reliability.

  9. Conduct regular inspections and audits for potential issues.

  10. Manage data through backup and restoration procedures.

  11. Establish procedures for handling unexpected failures.

  12. Account for environmental factors that could affect reliability.

  13. Incorporate feedback into continuous improvement efforts.

  14. Ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.

  15. Stay updated with changing requirements.

77. Constructive Criticism

A Quote:

“Leaders look out for people who can criticize them constructively and rebuke them reasonably.” -Israelmore Ayivor

A Definition: Constructive criticism is feedback or commentary provided in a helpful and positive manner to assist someone in improving their work, behavior, or skills.

An Example:

Microsoft's operating system, Windows Vista, faced significant challenges upon its release in 2007. Many users and industry experts criticized the new OS for performance issues, compatibility problems, and hardware requirements.

After the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft faced a wave of criticism, with users and industry professionals providing feedback about various issues.In response to the challenges faced by Windows Vista, Microsoft adopted a proactive approach to address constructive criticism from users and industry experts. They established user feedback channels, encouraging users to share their concerns and suggestions through platforms such as online forums, customer support, and user surveys.

Furthermore, Microsoft prioritized engagement with the community by actively participating in online discussions, openly acknowledging the issues raised, and demonstrating a commitment to addressing them. This level of engagement and responsiveness exemplified the company's transparency and dedication to improvement. Through a series of regular updates and service packs, Microsoft not only addressed performance and compatibility issues but also actively listened to constructive criticism to guide these enhancements. This approach ultimately led to the transformation of Windows Vista, from a poorly received operating system to a more stable and user-friendly platform, demonstrating the value of actively incorporating user feedback in the pursuit of product improvement.

A Checklist:

  1. Have clear intentions focused on improvement.

  2. Choose an appropriate time and place for the discussion.

  3. Offer specific feedback with examples.

  4. Maintain a positive and constructive tone.

  5. Practice active listening and empathy.

  6. Suggest solutions or improvements.

  7. Approach feedback with an open mind and without defensiveness.

  8. Seek clarification and understanding of specific points.

  9. Avoid justifying actions and appreciate the feedback.

  10. Encourage suggestions and solutions.

  11. Reflect on the feedback and take action where needed.

  12. Encourage a culture where feedback is welcomed and seen as a growth opportunity.

  13. Provide training and resources for effective feedback exchange.

  14. Follow up on feedback with progress and actions taken.

  15. Normalize constructive criticism as a part of growth.

  16. Recognize and celebrate instances where feedback leads to positive changes and improvements.

78. Cultural Sensitivity

A Quote:

“Increasing workplace cultural sensitivity is never a quick fix; you must maintain a culture that widens the mind and spirit to willingly transform to a higher standard of engagement.” - Ty Howard

A Definition: Cultural sensitivity is the awareness and respect for cultural differences, norms, and values, fostering effective and respectful interactions across diverse cultures.

An Example:

In April 2018, Starbucks, a global coffeehouse chain, faced a significant incident of racial bias when two African American men were wrongfully arrested in a Philadelphia store while waiting for a business meeting. This incident drew widespread attention and criticism.

In response to the incident, Starbucks took a proactive approach by temporarily closing 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States for an afternoon to provide racial bias training to its employees.Firstly, Starbucks prioritized understanding implicit bias, designing the program to help employees comprehend and confront their own implicit biases. The training included educational materials and activities that encouraged participants to recognize and mitigate racial and cultural biases, thus fostering a more inclusive and culturally sensitive environment.

Secondly, Starbucks demonstrated its commitment to cultural sensitivity by seeking the expertise of external professionals in the field of diversity and inclusion. These included academic researchers and experts in diversity matters who were brought in to engage with experts. Their involvement ensured a balanced and well-informed perspective, enhancing the effectiveness of the training.

Lastly, Starbucks promoted cultural sensitivity through open dialogue and active listening. The training sessions provided a platform for employees to engage in open conversations, allowing them to share their personal experiences and perspectives on racial and cultural biases. By emphasizing active listening and empathy, Starbucks encouraged its workforce to foster greater understanding and sensitivity towards cultural differences.

Overall, this case study illustrates Starbucks' commitment to addressing cultural sensitivity and promoting inclusivity within its organization. It exemplifies the company's response to a cultural sensitivity issue through education, external expertise, and open communication, reinforcing the importance of addressing implicit biases and fostering a more culturally sensitive workplace.

A Checklist:

  1. Educate yourself about different cultures and avoid making value judgments.

  2. Actively listen and be aware of non-verbal cues when interacting with diverse cultures.

  3. Show respect for diverse cultural practices and avoid stereotypes.

  4. Use inclusive and culturally sensitive language.

  5. Adjust your behavior and communication to accommodate cultural differences.

  6. Reflect on and reduce your biases regarding different cultures.

  7. Participate in events that promote cultural diversity and encourage inclusion.

  8. Familiarize yourself with cultural norms and show appreciation for customs.

  9. Approach conflicts with an open mind and seek mediation from cultural experts when necessary.

  10. Stay informed about cultural developments and engage in ongoing education for enhanced cultural sensitivity.

Come & Collaborate

Thank you for joining us on this journey through 99 skills at the 21st-century workplace. We believe that the key to success is continuous learning, so we encourage you to keep seeking out new knowledge and skills.

To help you on your path, we are offering a special #DISCovery Session for our readers. This one-on-one coaching session will help you identify your strengths, set career goals, and progress to a personalized plan for success. To book your session, go to a and use the code "99SKILLS" for a special discount.

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