Employees

How Vulnerable Should You Be in the Workplace?

by Jenny Szakonyi
Sr. Recruiter, projekt202

Jenny

When you think of how the generations have changed, we went from a very silent generation, to now a very open and “share everything” generation. So how do we determine the best candidates for our company?

Social media has opened up a whole new light to what we reveal in our personal and professional lives, but when is it too much?

This leads me to the topic of vulnerability. Is being vulnerable “being too open?” Or putting yourself out there “too much?” Let’s look at this in terms of the workplace.

Brene’ Brown’s article in Forbes -- “How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better” -- talks about the challenges of measuring this vulnerability and the fears that people often face thinking about this in its true form. What’s more important, and why I write this article, is, what about vulnerability in our professional life? We may often hear things like, to be loved you must give love, or love with risk, or a great relationship comes from true vulnerability, but what about how it affects us at work? Is it a good idea to be vulnerable in the workplace and, if so, how much?

There are many myths about vulnerability that have been reported on this topic, such as vulnerability means weakness, vulnerability means to air all of our dirty laundry or being vulnerable means you get to opt out.

So let’s think about the real definition of this word. Vulnerability is showing up and being seen, and not fearing what the results will be or how others will respond. It doesn’t mean we hurt or offend others, but rather we have the courage to act, and we take risk by being true to ourselves and our own character.

Is this a good idea in the workplace?

As a corporate recruiter, one thing I have learned is to stop looking for the “perfect” candidate. When I first started my career as a recruiter, I was often told I would get “candidate crushes” as I talked them up to my hiring managers. I would reveal a long list of things that this candidate did or qualities they had in an effort to “sell” this candidate based on their credentials.

But as I grew into my role, I began to see that it was the imperfections, or the “vulnerability,” in the candidate that made them an even better consideration. It doesn’t mean I hire someone who has several flaws, but it means I am more interested in the candidate who isn’t afraid to share their challenges or their struggles, and how they overcame them.

We have to be willing to be vulnerable ourselves in order to get it on the receiving end. Here are some of the qualities that vulnerability births:

  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Trust
  • Change
  • Communication
  • Accountability
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Problem solving
  • Feedback
  • Joy
  • A sense of belonging

As hiring managers, if we aren’t vulnerable in our own approach, we won’t recruit candidates who are more likely to have these qualities. These are all qualities we want in our company from our top performers.

So how do we as recruiters and hiring managers find these people, and how do we as candidates ensure we’re being as vulnerable as we can in our interviewing process?

We have to be willing to take a risk and we have to be willing to fail. There is zero innovation without failure. Top performers in companies most often have stories of failures. Many of them had to struggle in order to get where they are. As a company, we want to allow “opportunity” for these failures in order to find the qualities that make top performers. We identify that these struggles and challenges often are talent that is transformed to becoming resilient, self-reliant, with great purpose, very driven, incredibly dedicated, and problem solvers.

Once we begin to weed through the “perfect” resumes, or perfect credentials, we no longer risk overlooking qualified candidates who are vulnerable enough to show their struggles and true selves. It doesn’t mean we look for people who often make mistakes and forget about the good folks; it just means we get “real” and look at who people are, and not only about what they’ve done.

A personal experience I’ll share about my own vulnerability was how I became a recruiter. I was working part-time in a completely different role and one day decided I wanted more hours. The budget wasn’t there and I didn’t have any experience in most of the other roles available, so I didn’t see much option. When I saw that our HR department needed assistance, I thought perhaps I could increase my hours by offering my time there. It took me a while to ask because I was actually afraid I’d get turned down. I feared, since I knew absolutely nothing about HR at the time, that I may fail at it. I wasn’t sure I should take the risk of putting myself out there.

Instead, I decided to be vulnerable and honest about what I wanted. I stepped out, showed up, and told it how it was: “I don’t know anything about HR yet or if I’ll be any good at it, but I’d love to have the additional hours to help the company more.” That opened up the opportunity to take on HR tasks. A year later, I moved into full-time recruiting.

Without stepping out there, I would not be doing what I am today. Without the company being willing to take a risk, I would not have had that opportunity.

So how vulnerable should we be in the workplace? There are boundaries and it isn’t necessary to be a victim, but we need to be vulnerable enough to allow our true character to shine. Vulnerability creates a natural desire for striving, but not for the purpose of perfectionism or for the sake of others, but for the sake of self-improvement.

We as both employers and employees have to figure out what’s keeping us out of the arena, what do we fear about it, and why do we fear it?

We are quick to critique others on their weaknesses, but the critic is usually the one who won’t step into the arena. As a vulnerable person, you must be “all in,” and you must embrace both victory and defeat. It’s the only thing I believe will promote the top performers we want in the workplace.

So, for every recruiter or hiring manager, open up the doors for vulnerability. For candidates looking for opportunity, be willing to reveal your greatest challenges and struggles, and step into the arena and be seen.

Stay up-to-date with projekt202: Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

projekt202's Thought Leaders Provide Direction on UX, Strategy and More

Some of projekt202's Thought Leaders -- representing key areas such as User Experience (UX) Design, Technology, and Experience Strategy, among many others -- broadcast their expertise in solving complex challenges facing today's businesses. Their presentations were recorded this week as part of projekt202's new Thought Leadership series. The videos showcase the experts behind projekt202's methodology and holistic approach to experience-driven application development.

Solutions Architect Ben Bays hits his mark for his recording session, as Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson looks on.
Solutions Architect Ben Bays hits his mark for his recording session, as Vice President of Customer Experience Jeremy Johnson looks on.
Senior Experience Strategist Shannon Graf is one of the Thought Leaders in projekt202's new video series.
Senior Experience Strategist Shannon Graf is one of the Thought Leaders in projekt202's new video series.
Bringing focus to the ways projekt202 leads in experience-driven application development.
Bringing focus to the ways projekt202 leads in experience-driven application development.
Assembling a great design isn't child's play. Senior UX Designer Josh Christopher, UX Designer Anne Grundhoefer and Solutions Architect Drew Loomer share their creativity in helping companies deliver better solutions for customers.
Assembling a great design isn't child's play. Senior UX Designer Josh Christopher, UX Designer Anne Grundhoefer and Solutions Architect Drew Loomer share their creativity in helping companies deliver better solutions for customers.

Learn more about what we do at projekt202.

Why You Should Send Your Developers to Tech Conferences

Why You Should Send Your Developers to Tech Conferences

By sending your employees to conferences, you are letting them know that you care about their careers, you want them to learn and grow, and you want them to be active in improving your business.

Career Growth: Investing in Employee Success

A key reason for projekt202's standing as a Top Place to Work is the recognition of our team members' strengths, talents and career interests.

projekt202 Project Coordinator Carly Lord
projekt202 Project Coordinator Carly Lord

Project Coordinator Carly Lord describes her career path and responsibilities at projekt202:

I started at projekt202 as the Dallas Office Manager. From there, I became involved in the Experience Strategy and Insight (ESI) practice by assisting in the creation and operation of our Usability Lab in Dallas.

Exposure to projects that came through the lab led me to recognize an opportunity within the Project Management practice. Leveraging my skill set and background, I was promoted to a Project Coordinator, where I have been busy every hour of every day since.

In any of the roles I've held at projekt202, I've worked very hard to be the person that people come to in order to solve miscellaneous problems. When you are mortar and not so much a brick, you end up with a wide range of responsibilities that puts you in the face of many diverse challenges.

To be successful, you have to be transparent, kind and proactive. If you do all those things, there is no such thing as a challenge.

projekt202 has invested in me with trainings, certification classes and mentorship opportunities. They have put their belief in me to be accountable for the success of a client's investment and satisfaction with their experience at projekt202. That kind of investment and confidence is something I'm grateful for every day.

Leverage your skills and talents as part of our team. See projekt202's opportunities in Seattle, Austin and Dallas.

Career Growth: New Opportunities to Learn

 

"I have seen myself grow into a management position where I can mentor others."

If you're looking for a range of opportunities, you'll find them at projekt202, says Creative Director, UX Mike Townson:

projekt202's Mike Townson, Creative Director, UX
projekt202's Mike Townson, Creative Director, UX

Over the four years I have worked at projekt202, I've learned a lot, thanks to the ability to work on multiple client projects in many different industries. I have been involved in rigorous research activities and design sessions of complex software systems, educated Fortune 50 companies on the value of research and UX to get the job done right the first time, and worked alongside brilliant development teams, watching my designs come to fruition.

Along with all those opportunities, I have had the chance to move to another city and start a new life in a new office, yet with the same great company.

One of the things I have learned through my four-year career is that "you won't know the answer unless you ask" and "you can always learn something new."

Mike's passion for podcasting has enabled projekt202 to share its stories in another medium. projekt202 Chairman and CEO David Lancashire joined Mike for a recent podcast interview.
Mike's passion for podcasting has enabled projekt202 to share its stories in another medium. projekt202 Chairman and CEO David Lancashire joined Mike for a recent podcast interview.

Ready for something new? See our opportunities in Seattle, Austin and Dallas.

Career Growth: Making the Move with projekt202

 

"I knew that moving to projekt202 was the right move for my career. What I didn't know at the time, though, was how impactful the job was going to be for me."

projekt202 has been a moving experience for Senior UX Designer Jerehmie Cannon.

projekt202 Senior UX Designer Jerehmie Cannon
projekt202 Senior UX Designer Jerehmie Cannon

Jerehmie headed in a new direction -- northwest, to be exact -- with the opening of projekt202's Seattle office in 2013.

"The relocation was great and everyone in the Seattle office -- four people at the time -- really went out of their way to make sure I was set up with everything I needed on a personal level," he said. "The move to Seattle was seamless and now I'm fortunate enough to learn how to grow a fledgling office."

On the professional level, too, Jerehmie said projekt202 has provided him with exciting new challenges and opportunities:

I've gone from being a Senior Designer with basic delivery responsibilities to completely owning projects from start to finish.

projekt202 is great about figuring out where people fit best. Our leadership has a knack for asking and inferring what each of us really want out of our careers. They foster an environment that is flexible enough to let us figure our own way.

I have been fortunate enough to work with huge clients, but the level of talent at projekt202 is so high that I'm constantly challenged to be a better designer, consultant and professional.

Jerehmie has impressive UX design expertise, but that isn't his only skill. He took center stage with serious musical talents at projekt202's 2016 Employee Appreciation Gala.
Jerehmie has impressive UX design expertise, but that isn't his only skill. He took center stage with serious musical talents at projekt202's 2016 Employee Appreciation Gala.

Ready to make the next move in your career? Find your opportunity to join us in Seattle, Austin or Dallas.

Career Growth: Design Your Opportunities at projekt202

 

"I fully believe leaders aren't chosen -- they're made. projekt202 presents a lot of opportunities and you just have to be willing and persistent enough to go get them."

One of the many perks of working at projekt202 is the ongoing opportunity for advancement. Employees aren't boxed into specific roles; in fact, team members are encouraged to embrace their professional passions and think outside the box when it comes to their career paths and roles.

Senior UX Designer Lan Nguyen shared the career development opportunities she's found at projekt202:

When I started, I was told that I would be given a lot of autonomy, which still holds true today. I've been encouraged to take on more responsibility outside my job title.

projekt202 has been very encouraging for me. I am in two mentorship programs: one with projekt202 leadership and one with (Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer) Peter Eckert, who works specifically with the UX team.

I've been able to grow very fast and far in the 15 months that I've been with the company. It's really all about what you want to do and the impact you'd like to make.

Do you have designs on a new career? See our current opportunities in Seattle, Austin and Dallas.

Career Growth: projekt202's Roadmap for Personal and Professional Success

 

"Engagement. Opportunities. Advancement. Those are three motivational differences that set projekt202 apart."

These significant characteristics have made projekt202 the employer of choice for Solutions Architect Reggie Samuel and our team of talented, dedicated professionals. Reggie shared the ways that projekt202 stands out:

In my nearly three years with projekt202, I have experienced unique opportunities that have grown me professionally and personally. Beginning as a Senior Developer and having since been promoted to Architect, where I now manage a small group of Developers, I have had the opportunity to hone my communication skills and succinctly relate our vision to my team.

projekt202 has a well-laid-out roadmap for its employees to develop their skill sets and build knowledge for career advancement, be engaged in the work they perform, and receive incentives for outstanding employee performance.

With projekt202's Martin Bliss and Karen King, Reggie discussed his work during a recent Career Day in Mesquite.
With projekt202's Martin Bliss and Karen King, Reggie discussed his work during a recent Career Day in Mesquite.

Map out your career as part of the projekt202 team. See our current opportunities in Seattle, Austin and Dallas.

Career Growth: A Natural Effect of Working at projekt202

 

"projekt202’s emphasis on cross-functional teams really gives our employees a breadth of exposure to all of the roles necessary to create amazing software experiences ..."

projekt202 Program Manager Mike Mannis
projekt202 Program Manager Mike Mannis

At projekt202, we support career development among our diverse teams of professionals. Employees are actively encouraged to investigate and take on new responsibilities and roles that allow them to grow in their professions.

Program Manager Mike Mannis shares his perspective on his career path at projekt202:

I originally joined projekt202 as a Solutions Architect and led the development effort on multiple projects. Yet, over time, I was becoming disenchanted with the day-to-day intricacies of actual development. However, I was still interested in the software development process, especially the focus on research and design at projekt202.

When I spoke to my manager, he was very understanding and helped set me on a new career path, first in information architecture and analysis, and then in project management, expanding on my project experience from my architect role.

projekt202’s emphasis on cross-functional teams really gives our employees a breadth of exposure to all of the roles necessary to create amazing software experiences, which, in turn, makes career growth -- even in a totally different direction -- a natural effect of working here.

Ready to take your career to the next level? See current opportunities to join our team in Seattle, Austin or Dallas.

projekt202 Announces Executive Promotions in Austin

Peter Eckert, Michael Blakesley, Dennis Van Huffel and Paul Tidwell
Peter Eckert, Michael Blakesley, Dennis Van Huffel and Paul Tidwell


Fast-growing projekt202 has announced senior leadership promotions on its Austin team.

Michael Blakesley has been named Vice President of User Experience (UX), Dennis Van Huffel is Austin's new Director of UX and Paul Tidwell steps up as Vice President of Technology.

Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer Peter Eckert will take on added responsibilities as projekt202 Ambassador, increasing his industry outreach to actively promote the company's programmatic, observation-based methodology. Peter will drive strategic guidance for clients and present his renowned, industry-defining insights on national and international tech stages.

A Night of StartUp Stand-Up at Digital Dallas Comedy Roast

projekt202 sponsored a standout night of stand-up comedy on April 20.

The Dallas Comedy House in Deep Ellum was the site for the Digital Dallas StartUp Comedy Roast. Digital Dallas teamed with Launch DFW to host -- and then roast -- five new North Texas companies.

Each of the five Dallas startups had two minutes to impress the crowd. The DCH improv troupe then piped in with its comedic take for a truly unique type of user experience.

Are Ethics and Creativity in Conflict?

Are ethics and creativity in conflict? What tensions exist between them and what responsibilities do they hold to one another?

By Kelly Moran
projekt202

A set of studies recently came out concerning the ethical behavior of creative people. Coverage by The Harvard Business Review included the headline “Why Creative People Are More Likely to be Dishonest” and offered an unflattering assessment. Aside from granting creative personalities the asset of thinking outside the box, the article noted that such people “see creativity as rare and believe that they deserve a bigger box.”

What lies behind this issue? Is creative thinking with its inherent lack of boundaries always at risk of leading a person into unstable ethical ground?

Think about what it means to be creative.

A Google search of “signs you are a creative person” brings up enough questionable, occasionally insulting content to reinforce the notion that no one is quite sure what creativity actually is (Lifehack.com currently has two different lists and they include things like being “irresponsibly responsible” and an “inability to relate to others”). Dictionary.com plays it safe on creativity with “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.” Way to live your truth, Dictionary.com, with the “etc.” – as if one must be creative in order to complete the definition. Most can at least agree that at its heart creativity results in bringing new into being.

Think about what it means to be ethical.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that ethics involves “recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.” These “concepts” tend to be agreed upon by a group, as opposed to being personally-held morals. They’re guidelines.

Ethics uphold traditional beliefs.

Creativity, however, tends to eschew the traditional in favor of the new. Creativity supports the innovative and celebrates disruption. Ethics leans toward the more established. Synonyms for ethics include convention and imperative. Synonyms for creative include visionary and inspired. Are they in perpetual conflict? Is there any meeting in the middle?

Rather than limit ourselves to what these terms mean I suggest we look at what they do: the intentions behind their appearance.

We are ethical not to lay down a lot of rules.

We are ethical to make the place we inhabit gentler, more considered or more thoughtful. An ethical standard makes our shared existence more beautiful. Kinder. In short, it makes the world a more tolerable place to live. A better place.

We are creative not to make a lot of stuff.

We are creative to create meaning. Create change. Create a difference. Create an impact. To make the world gentler, more considered or more thoughtful. More beautiful. Easier perhaps. Joyful even. Or we might just create to make the world a more tolerable place to live. But it will be better.

Ah-ha.

A meeting in the middle.

With this in mind, how now will you ensure an ethical application of creativity? There are numerous professional codes of conduct available for almost any craft you can name (yes, even for comic book writers. There are myriad codes, creeds, canons, guidelines, rules, principles and standards.

So I will leave you with just one piece of advice for dealing with the tension between creativity and ethics:

Do better.

What do you think? Have you ever run into ethical quandaries while performing creative work?

Recently, I spoke on this topic with the Dallas chapter of CreativeMornings. You can watch the video here.