Author Archives: Susan Rochester

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM CAHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute) Member CDAA (Career Development Association of Australia) and NAGCAS (National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services). Distributor of Harrison Assessments in Australia.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Giving feedback? Remember the other F-words

Feedback is one area some people struggle with when managing staff.  Remembering some other f-words could make it easier!

Here are some quick tips to giving feedback that will be well received and acted upon:

1. Always give feedback face-to-face.

2. Giving feedback on a frequent basis makes it normal and expected.

3. Be fair and consistent.  Take the time to recognise good performance, not just problems.

4. The feedback conversation requires you to focus on the person with you, without distractions.

5. Stick to the facts and don’t let emotions influence how you deliver feedback.  If you are feeling angry or upset, wait until you’re in a better frame of mind.

6. Have a plan to follow-up on your feedback to see if it’s been effective.  If you were expecting change and it hasn’t happened, try again.

You will have other tips you can add to this list.  Please add your comments below.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three situations when coaching is a waste of time

Have you ever looked at someone you’re coaching – either a team member or a client – and  felt you just weren’t getting anywhere?

What is it that gives us that uncomfortable feeling?  Looking back over my experiences, there seem to be three main factors at play when coaching just isn’t going to work:

1.  They really don’t want to be coached

Even when a client has committed cash to being coached, there is sometimes a resistance to accepting there are things that can change and they have the power to change them.  For employees who have had coaching ‘thrust upon them’ this resisitance is even stronger.

2.  They actually hate what they’re doing

Many managers will try to coach/coax better performance out of staff when it’s clear that no matter what you do there’s one thing only the staff member can change:  How they feel about their job.  If it’s not a good fit, no amount of coaching will improve the situation.

3.  They expect you to tell them what to do

Much as we would like to be, coaches are not knights in shining armour arriving just in time on our white charger!  The ‘Prince Charming’ expectation applies equally with men and women.  Anyone who is waiting to be rescued from their situation by a coach is probably not going to make much progress with coaching.

For all these reasons, getting to know the person you will be coaching before any intervention is essential.

Even with good preparation and planning, the manager/coach can find themselves with the sinking feeling you get when you know you’re wasting your time.  You’re not going to get anywhere so why keep trying?

You have more productive things to do with your time.  The sooner you give up on your lost coaching cause, the sooner you’ll get to do them!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The 2 main reasons you don’t delegate

In my years of coaching and observing managers, one of the main obstacles I see the majority of them face is delegation of their work.

If I was to nominate one characteristic that would make the biggest difference to their chances of success (or stress) it would be the degree to which they are able to enlist the cooperation of others to get things done.

For most, the inability to delegate comes from one or both of these two main core beliefs:

1.  Nobody else can do it as well as I can.

2.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Here are some signs that delegation is not working:

  • Customer calls are not returned because of reliance on one person to know what’s going on;
  • Employees feel uncertain about what to do and keep escalating issues;
  • Important tasks get missed or forgotten because the team’s relying on the manager to make it happen.

The lack of delegation poses the biggest threat to a business in times of stress so pre-emptive action should be taken to avoid it getting to that point.  You can start by taking a closer look at those beliefs above:

1.  Nobody else can do it as well as I can

Is that really true?  If it is, I recommend you review your hiring and training practices.  More than likely, you do have staff who can do the job – so give them the opportunity to show you how well they can do it.

Until the work you do can be done by robots, accept that all humans are fallible (even you).  In most businesses, mistakes aren’t life-threatening and the sooner you learn to live with them the better!

Other people might do things differently from how you’d do them.  Isn’t that exactly what a business needs in order to adapt, grow and thrive?

2.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness

If this was really true, there would be no need for service industries to exist.  We’d all do what needed doing for ourselves, from installing antennas to running our own court cases.

Clearly that’s ridiculous, so why be so selective in getting things done that need to be done?  It doesn’t have to all be up to you!

Of course, you can choose to struggle along doing work to which you’re not really suited but how much better for you, your staff and the ‘Gross National Happiness’ if you’re mostly doing what you love and your team are given opportunities to excel at tasks they enjoy?

If I’ve achieved one thing with this article, I hope it’s that the next time you think “It’ll be quicker/easier if I just do it myself” you take time to challenge your beliefs and think about delegating instead.  Will you?

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Hazard reduction, backburning or putting out spot fires?

As we experience our first bushfires of the season in the Blue Mountains, I think there’s a good analogy between the practices above and how managers behave.

Hazard reduction is the practice of burning, clearing and other practices done in advance of the fire season with the aim of reducing the impact of any future fires.  Back burning is when a fire is lit deliberately in the path of a bushfire with the aim of reducing the fuel load and slowing or stopping the progress of the fire.  Spot fires happen when a fire is underway and embers get carried into unburnt areas.

“I’m always putting out fires!” is a common complaint from managers.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

What if we use the bushfire analogy to avoid those management ‘fires’?

1.  Hazard reduction

  • skilled staff with the right attitude doing work they enjoy
  • adequate infrastructure, training and resources are available to do a job well
  • appropriate remuneration and benefits
  • clear and consistent policies and procedures
  • performance management systems in place
  • adequate insurance

2.  Backburning

  • disciplinary procedures
  • defined exit process
  • many team/morale building exercises, because there’s already a ‘fire’ when they’re implemented

3.  Putting out spot fires

  • immediate, on the spot decision making to avoid, contain or reduce damage
  • dealing with unplanned absences
  • summary dismissal
  • resolving client issues

Of course, just as with bushfires there are no guarantees but perhaps it’s time to ask:

What would you rather be doing?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Writing an effective job advertisement

The development of a job advertisement is a crucial part of the recruitment and selection process to enhance the employer’s capability to attract the right pool of applicants for their role.  

This extends to where you advertise and under which category you post the advertisement.  This article will step you through writing your advertisement and will provide you with some sample wording in key areas.

Recruitment Strategy

The first decision you need to make is where you advertise.     Factors will include the:

  •  Seniority of the role
  • Type of role – example IT role or HR role
  •  Location of the business
  •  Employment category – full time or part time (there are now web sites for part time jobs, job share).
  • Advertising budget
  • Time frame to fill the role
  • Main components of the role – this will determine the category and sub categories.

Requirements of an effective advertisement:

The advertisement should:

  • Attract attention from a sufficient number of potential candidates
  • Provide an honest picture of your company
  • Display the image of your company
  • Create an impression of credibility
  • Contain accurate information
  • Provide information for follow up by the perspective candidates – example contact details, your web site.
  • Closing date – this is a personal choice however I always prefer to have a closing date.
  • Salary range – again this is a company decision.  Some companies have a policy that they will not advertise the actual range.  Others simply select the range in the tools for searches by candidates who can select jobs within their range.

Content and Layout of your advertisement:

Write your advertisement in the following flow of information:

Headings –  job title and a few key bullet points to attract candidates’ attention; such as:

Administration Manager

  •  Fabulous Leichhardt location, close to coffee shops, delis etc.
  • Varied role managing a small team
  • Flexible Work Arrangements possible

The Company – a brief description of your business

Limit to one paragraph, enough for the prospective applicant to know what your main purpose is.

The Job – describe what the job entails – this is critical.  You do not want the whole job but avoid vague descriptions, be specific.  Use wording such as:

  • Manage a team of two – an accounts clerk and receptionist
  • Process a weekly payroll of 20

Person SpecificationWhat knowledge, experience, skills and personal attributes must candidates possess – be specific and avoid vague descriptions.  Be careful not to stipulate criteria that you do not need for the role which may be a concern in discrimination issues.

Don’t use               –                               Good computer skills (you wouldn’t want bad!)

Use phrases such as            –               Must be able to demonstrate advanced skills in Excel

Package informationinsert information about package, benefits etc.

Closing information –  closing date for your advertisement, contact details.

Equal Employment Opportunity:

 Due care is required to avoid discrimination against potential candidates.  For example avoid wording such as:

  • 3 years experience  –  use “candidates must be able to demonstrate …” or “candidates must have a demonstrated track record in …”
  • Office Junior – can become Office Assistant
  • Foreman – can convert to Supervisor

For more information on equal employment opportunity in advertising or elaboration on any other aspect of this article please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Sciacca on 0408 602 240 or info@hrcsolutions.com.au or visit hrcsolutions.com.au

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

More places to find our articles

As well as writing this blog, did you know I also write for other websites, e-zines and blogs?

You will find my writing on the Leading Minds Academy, Dot Com Women, Planner Lounge and HR Daily Community websites, with different and relevant articles.

Here are links to recent articles on those sites:

Are you an expert yet? on leadingmindsacademy.com

Are you a creature of habit?  on dotcomwomen.com.au

Ideal traits of paraplanners and financial advisers on plannerlounge.com.au

Top 5 critical skills in shortfall on community.hrdaily.com.au

It’s possible your clients, managers or members could also use this information.

Please get in touch if you’d like to add this sort of content to your own publications, online or in print.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you compliant with employment standards?

Recent conversations with employers made me realise many are flying blind when it comes to current employment legislation.  Although there’s a lot of information available online, it’s not always easy to find.

Now there’s an easier way…

To make it easy for you to find the information you need to comply with employment law I’ve gathered the basics together in this blog post.  When you click on each item, you will find the relevant downloadable fact sheets.

You’ll have all the information at your fingertips if you bookmark this post for future reference.  

In Australia, the National Employment Standards are set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 and comprise 10 minimum standards of employment. In summary, the NES cover the following minimum entitlements:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements – allows parents or carers of a child under school age or of a child under 18 with a disability, to request a change in working arrangements to assist with the child’s care.
  3. Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, and other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave.
  4. Annual leave – 4 weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers.
  5. Personal / carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal / carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.
  6. Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.
  7. Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for employees who had certain LSL entitlements before 1/1/10 pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.
  8. Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to 4 weeks notice of termination (5 weeks if the employee is over 45 and has at least 2 years of continuous service) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service.
  10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement – employers must provide this statement to all new employees. It contains information about the NES, modern awards, agreement-making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, right of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
If you need further assistance, we are happy to put you in touch with consultants who specialise in this area.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you ‘success-oriented’?

What does it take to be successful in business?

Research published by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute surveyed the attitudes of 1100 small business owners (2-99 employs) in the US in May 2009.

What they found, according to the Institute’s director, Mark D. Wolf, was that “Success-oriented small business owners are a special breed of highly motivated, caring and curious individuals.  They effectively balance their personal and business goals, take advantage of others’ expertise and continually see to learn the best practices exhibited by peer companies.”

Here’s a summary, from the report, of the six dimensions that characterise success-oriented small businesses (emphasis added):

1. Collaborative

Success-oriented small business owners understand how to delegate effectively to
others within their business as well as build strong personal relationships with their
management team, employees, consultants, vendors and customers. They are more
committed “to creating opportunities for others.”

2. Self-fulfilled

Success-oriented small business owners place a high value on the personal fulfillment
and gratification that their companies provide them, relishing the self-determination and
respect that comes from being their own boss and being in control of their personal
income and long-term net worth. They are more desirous of “doing something for a
living that I love to do,” “being able to decide how much money I make” and “being able
to have the satisfaction of creating something of value.”

3. Future-focused

Planning for both the short- and long-term future are key traits that characterize
success-oriented small business owners. They are more focused on cash flow and more
likely to have “a well thought out plan to run our business for years into the future” as
well as “a well thought out plan to run our business day to day.”

4. Curious

Success-oriented small business owners are more open to learning how others run
their businesses. They actively seek best practice insights regarding management, business
innovation, prospecting and finding/motivating/retaining employees.

5. Tech-savvy

Technology is a key point of leverage for success-oriented small business owners. They
more intensely value their company’s website and are significantly more likely to “rely a
great deal on technology to help make our business more effective and more efficient.”

6. Action oriented

Finally, success-oriented small business owners are more proactive in taking initiative
to build their businesses. They are more committed to “taking the business to the next
level,” “differentiating ourselves from our competitors” and “having something to sell
when I’m ready to retire.” They also see adversity as “a kick in the rear to help move
you forward.” Not surprisingly, they are less concerned than other small business
owners about the overall state of the economy.

Success Tips:

1.  Most of these factors can be quantified using an objective measurement (eg.  Harrison Assessments), allowing you to clearly see your own – or a team member’s or successor’s – success orientation.

2.  Coaching is the most effective way for business owners to gain best practice insights through tapping into others’ expertise and experience.

3.  We have a copy of the full report for you to download here:  SME Success Orientation

Tell us what you think!

Leave a comment below or contact us .

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Online coaching now available for small business owners

Have you noticed what I’ve noticed about small business owners?

In coaching small business owners since 2003, two things stand out for me…

1)  The most challenging issue they face is balancing their work with the other things they want to do in their lives

and

2)  They nearly all recognise the benefits of having a business coach but are often reluctant to commit resources to engaging one.

My desire to help as many people as possible achieve ‘balance at work’ led me to create a new way of delivering the benefits of coaching to anyone willing to commit some time each week to achieving their goals.

Click here to review our NEW ONLINE COACHING PROGRAM.

As always, I value your feedback.

And I also appreciate your help in letting others know about the program!

PS. IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

The program runs for 10 weeks and can be started at any time.

Online small business coaching is just $220 for the full program.

Most of us will probably spend that much on coffee in the next 10 weeks – I promise this is much better value for money!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why job fit matters for business

Career guru Kate Southam, wrote on her Cube Farmer blog last week  “Whether it is a pair of shoes or a job role, wrong fit hurts”.

The wrong fit hurts employees and the companies they work for, their colleagues and their customers.  The discomfort they are feeling radiates in all directions and can have substantial negative impacts on your business.  Discomfort degenerates into real pain when you have to deal with a resignation or dismissal.

Why choose to go through the pain when there’s a much easier way?

Kate says:  …with shoes, you are more likely to know your size.  With jobs, people don’t often sit down and work out their ‘size’ before they go shopping for a new role.

We say:   Far too often, managers don’t sit down and work out what they’re really looking for before they go shopping for people to fill roles.

We see the results of this ‘mutual mystification’ around us daily with disinterested and unmotivated staff. 

The most common manifestation is in poor customer service.  Other symptoms are bullying, absenteeism and even outright sabotage.

If you’re serious about avoiding pain, this article is a good starting point.

If you need more convincing that the upfront work will be worth the effort, see this article about customer service (SMH, 28 July 2011).

And if you really don’t think you have a problem because your staff aren’t complaining, it might be time to revisit this blog post.

We would love to help you ease the discomfort.  Better still, we can show you how to avoid it.  Contact us for more information.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How to swim with sharks

This article is reproduced in full  from http://www.apor.org/html/how_to_swim_with_sharks.htm with thanks.

HOW TO SWIM WITH SHARKS: A PRIMER
Voltaire Cousteau


Forward

Actually, nobody wants to swim with sharks. It is not an acknowledged sport and it is neither enjoyable nor exhilarating. These instructions are written primarily for the benefit of those, who, by virtue of their occupation, find they must swim and find that the water is infested with sharks.

It is of obvious importance to learn that the waters are shark infested before commencing to swim. It is safe to say that this initial determination has already been made. If the waters were infested, the naïve swimmer is by now probably beyond help; at the very least, he has doubtless lost any interest in learning how to swim with sharks.

Finally, swimming with sharks is like any other skill: It cannot be learned from books alone; the novice must practice in order to develop the skill. The following rules simply set forth the fundamental principles which, if followed will make it possible to survive while becoming expert through practice.

Rules

1. Assume all unidentified fish are sharks.

Not all sharks look like sharks, and some fish that are not sharks sometimes act like sharks. Unless you have witnessed docile behavior in the presence of shed blood on more than one occasion, it is best to assume an unknown species is a shark. Inexperienced swimmers have been badly mangled by assuming that docile behavior in the absence of blood indicates that the fish is not a shark.

2. Do not bleed.

It is a cardinal principle that if you are injured, either by accident or by intent, you must not bleed. Experience shows that bleeding prompts an even more aggressive attack and will often provoke the participation of sharks that are uninvolved or, as noted above, are usually docile.

Admittedly, it is difficult not to bleed when injured. Indeed, at first this may seem impossible. Diligent practice, however, will permit the experienced swimmer to sustain a serious laceration without bleeding and without even exhibiting any loss of composure. This hemostatic reflect can, in part, be conditioned, but there may be constitutional aspects as well.

Those who cannot learn to control their bleeding should not attempt to swim with sharks, for the peril is too great. The control of bleeding has a positive protective element for the swimmer. The shark will be confused as to whether or not his attack has injured you and confusion is to the swimmer’s advantage. On the other hand, the shark may know he has injured you and be puzzled as to why you do not bleed or show distress. This also has a profound effect on sharks. They begin to question their own potency or, alternatively, believe the swimmer to have supernatural powers.

3. Counter any aggression promptly.

Sharks rarely attack a swimmer without warning. Usually there is some tentative, exploratory aggressive action. It is important that the swimmer recognize that this behavior is a prelude to an attack and takes prompt and vigorous remedial action. The appropriate countermove is a sharp blow to the nose. Almost invariably this will prevent a full-scale attack, for it makes it clear that you understand the shark’s intention and are prepared to use whatever force is necessary to repel aggressive actions.

Some swimmers mistakenly believe that an ingratiating attitude will dispel an attack under these circumstances. This is not correct; such a response provokes a shark attack. Those who hold this erroneous view can usually be identified by their missing limb.

4. Get out of the water if someone is bleeding.

If a swimmer (or shark) has been injured and is bleeding, get out of the water promptly. The presence of blood and the thrashing of water will elicit aggressive behavior even in the most docile of sharks. This latter group, poorly skilled in attacking, often behaves irrationally and may attack uninvolved swimmers and sharks. Some are so inept that, in the confusion, they injure themselves.

No useful purpose is served in attempting to rescue the injured swimmer. He either will or will not survive the attack, and your intervention cannot protect him once blood has been shed. Those who survive such an attack rarely venture to swim with sharks again, an attitude which is readily understandable.  The lack of effective countermeasures to a fully developed shark attack emphasizes the importance of the earlier rules.

5. Use anticipatory retaliation.

A constant danger to the skilled swimmer is that the sharks will forget that he is skilled and may attack in error. Some sharks have notoriously poor memories in this regard. This memory loss can be prevented by a program of anticipatory retaliation. The skilled swimmer should engage in these activities periodically and the periods should be less than the memory span of the shark. Thus, it is not possible to state fixed intervals. The procedure may need to be repeated frequently with forgetful sharks and need be done only once for sharks with total recall. The procedure is essentially the same as described under rule 3: a sharp blow to the nose. Here, however, the blow is unexpected and serves to remind the shark that you are both alert and unafraid.

Swimmers should care not to injure the shark and draw blood during this exercise for two reasons: First, sharks often bleed profusely, and this leads to the chaotic situation described under rule 4. Second, if swimmers act in this fashion, it may not be possible to distinguish swimmers from sharks. Indeed, renegade swimmers are far worse than sharks, for none of the rules or measures described here is effective in controlling their aggressive behavior.

6. Disorganized and organized attack.

Usually sharks are sufficiently self-centered that they do not act in concert against a swimmer. This lack of organization greatly reduces the risk of swimming among sharks. However, upon occasion the sharks may launch a coordinated attack upon a swimmer or even upon one of their number. While the latter event is of no particular concern to swimmer, it is essential that one know how to handle an organized shark attack directed against a swimmer.

The proper strategy is diversion. Sharks can be diverted from their organized attack in one of two ways. First, sharks as a group, are prone to internal dissension. An experienced swimmer can divert an organized attack by introducing something, often minor or trivial, which sets the sharks to fighting among themselves. Usually by the time the internal conflict is settled the sharks cannot even recall what they were setting about to do, much less get organized to do it.

A second mechanism of diversion is to introduce something that so enrages the members of the group that they begin to lash out in all directions, even attacking inanimate objects in their fury.

What should be introduced? Unfortunately, different things prompt internal dissension of blind fury in different groups of sharks. Here one must be experienced in dealing with a given group of sharks, for what enrages one group will pass unnoted by another.

It is scarcely necessary to state that it is unethical for a swimmer under attack by a group of sharks to counter the attack by diverting them to another swimmer. It is, however, common to see this done by novice swimmers and by sharks when under concerted attack.

*Little is known about the author, who died in Paris in 1812. He may have been a descendant of Francois Voltaire and an ancestor of Jacques Cousteau. Apparently this essay was written for sponge divers. Because it may have broader implications, it was translated from the French by Richard J. Johns, an obscure French scholar and Massey Professor and director of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, 720 Rutland Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21203.

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 1987; 30: 486-489.

We thank University of Chicago Press for permission to reprint this article.

 

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead, employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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