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

Excuse me, your bias is showing

Do you think you’re good at judging people?  You are, but probably not in the way you think…

We all live complicated lives and nature has given us neurological shortcuts so we don’t have to relearn everything as we go.  For example, when we encounter a closed door, we don’t need to consciously think:  What is this?  What is it for?  Why is it here?  or How does it work? Instead, we grab the handle and walk through (perhaps with a little push/pull confusion on the way!)

Similar shortcuts are in operations when we interact with other people.  We are able to quickly assess a person based on our past experiences and conditioning.  This usually goes on beyond our awareness.  Efficient but not always accurate!

For more than a decade Project Implicit, based at Harvard University, has been tracking a whole range of our hidden prejudicial associations.  Curious about my own, I decided to try one of their Implicit Association Tests (IATs).  Being a feminist, mother of two girls, business woman and teacher, I thought I’d be pretty safe trying a test called ‘Gender-Career’.  Imagine my surprise (horror!) when I found my results showed that I strongly associated men with careers and women with family life.

Implicit biases are shown in the majority of the population.  At least I’m not alone.  And most of us don’t even know we are biased against certain groups.

How is this significant in business?

Our hidden prejudices predict how we respond to others.  They may impact on:

  • deciding on the best applicant for a role
  • evaluating others’ work performance
  • how friendly and inclusive we are towards team members

Tip:  Job interviews are a notoriously inaccurate way to predict workplace behaviour, even when conducted by experts.  Project Implicit shows that without using objective measures of job fit, we are often relying on judgements we aren’t aware of and can’t control.

Curious about your own biases?  You can visit Project Implicit online and take a test of your choice.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The rules of employment have changed…

Use this checklist – provided by Steve Champion of ER Strategies – to update yourself on the Fair Work changes that came into effect on 1 January 2010.  Steve has included links to more information on each item.

Commencement of the operation of NES (National Employment Standards)

Modern Awards commence operation

State System Employers enter Federal System

Need to know more? Call ER Strategies on 1300 55 66 37.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Overcoming ‘interview infatuation’

When I met Matthew Farrell, Principal of Five Pillars Financial Planning, he was in the process of selecting a new financial planner to support the growth of his business.

Matthew was impressed with a candidate but confided that one of the traps he’d fallen into in the past was loving someone at the interview, only to find they didn’t live up to expectations on the job.  This is a familiar scenario, especially when faced with a charming and enthusiastic interviewee.  

To ensure he didn’t make the same mistake this time, Matthew decided to use Harrison Assessments to determine the candidate’s suitability for the role.

1.  After the first meeting, we sent the candidate a ‘questionnaire invitation’ so that he could complete the online assessment overnight.
2.   We sent Matthew a draft job template for him to consider.
3.   Next morning, Matthew and I discussed the template and I made adjustments to the
template online.
4.   The candidate had completed the assessment so we were able to immediately run the
reports, comparing him to the customised template.
5.   Matthew and I discussed the reports and the candidate’s suitability straight away.

We asked Matthew to comment on his experience of using the Harrison Assessments:

“I was looking for an objective assessment tool that took away the temptation of me being swayed by the candidate’s pleasing personality and charm. I wanted to know if the candidate possessed the internal qualities required to perform in the position.

TIP:  Don’t let your heart rule your head!  Get some objective advice before you make decisions on the people in your business.


BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Christmas Party Checklist

It’s that time of year again!  Here is our quick guide to your responsibilities as a manager organising a staff Christmas party.

Just because you’re not at work, it doesn’t mean you’re not at work!
Any function organised by you and attended by your employees is work related and the same rules that apply in the workplace apply to your party.  There are certain steps you can take to ensure risks are minimised and everyone has a good time.

Before the event
Make sure you have implemented policies covering occupational health and safety, harassment, bullying and discrimination.  Remind staff that these policies also apply to work social functions.  Let them know that unacceptable behaviour could result in disciplinary action.

You can be liable for sexual harassment, bullying and unsafe behaviour engaged in by employees or agents at the Christmas party unless you can show that you took all reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful behaviour.

Plan the event to take into account the age range of your staff and their access to transport.   For example, you may have employees who are under 18.  Serving them alcohol is against the law.

If you have staff with food allergies or preferences, these need to be considered in planning your catering.  Also, be aware of the food poisoning risks with buffet-style food service and take steps to avoid them.

Employees who are injured at the Christmas party or on their journey home may lodge workers compensation claims or common law claims for personal injury.

During the event
Provide the option of low alcohol and plenty of alcohol free drinks, accompanied by substantial food.  Don’t rely on venue staff for responsible service of alcohol. Managers also need to keep an eye on drinkers and take action if needed.  This may include sending an intoxicated employee home in a taxi.

As a manager, you can model appropriate behaviour.  A work Christmas party that you have organised is probably not the best situation for you to really let your hair down!

It sounds trivial, but avoid having mistletoe.  That ‘innocent’ kiss could bring problems later.

After the event
Ensure staff have appropriate travel arrangements in place to get home safely.  Consider arranging a mini-bus or cabcharge vouchers for your staff, particularly those who have been drinking.

In the event that a staff member has had too much to drink, or too late a night, and needs to drive or operate machinery the next day, give them time off or alternative work until they are fit to resume their normal tasks.

And a good time was had by all!
Follow these guidelines for a work Christmas party that’s memorable for the right reasons.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

‘SMART’ Resumes and CVs

Killing the business you love

Most people in business are familiar with SMART goals.  This simple acronym can also be applied to resumes and CVs – both your own and those of job candidates.

SMART becomes an easy checklist that will save you a lot of time.  Ask yourself  if the resume is:

Specific – detailing achievements of the individual, not just their team or department and not too vague or generalised;

Measurable – there should be facts and figures to back up the achievements.  For example, ‘increased client base by 20% in 2 years’;

Accurate – provides information that can be substantiated.  For example, academic transcripts, references;

Relevant – the information supplied links directly to the role;

Timeframed – dates are given for different jobs, study, etc, and all time periods are taken into account.

For help with recruitment and careers, get in touch!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Reports that are job specific, quantified and easy to understand

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International. For a copy of the full report, please email us.

If a behavioural assessment report simply describes the person’s behaviour or personality, each interviewer or interpreter will assign their own meaning to the behaviour or personality trait, usually based on their own bias rather than a formula of job success factors.

This seriously detracts from the benefits of job assessment. The report must be focused on the specific job requirements and provide an overall score related to the suitability of the person’s overall behavioural patterns in relationship to the specific job. This must be such that it is easy to understand and not left to the interpretation of the person reading the report.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Download sample reports here:

Recruitment Package Reports

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   How To Attract

Key points that will help convince a top candidate to accept a job offer

•   Interview Guide

Worksheet with behaviorally-based interviewing questions

Development Reports

•   Development For Position

A development plan for each of two traits that would most improve performance for a specific person related to a specified job

•   Manage, Develop, Retain

Key points to effectively manage, develop and retain selected employee

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Main Graph Report

Overview of trait relationships. Requires expert training to interpret (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Paradox Report

Analysis of paradoxical behaviors (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Summary Keywords

A summary and key word descriptions of the individual’s job-related behavior

•   Traits Definitions

An individual’s scores on all the primary traits listed in order of the highest score and optionally highlights the traits related to the job

Team Reports

•   Group Screening

Compares a group of people to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Team Main Graph

A graphical overview of the relationship between traits for a group of people

•   Team Paradox Graph

A graph showing a group of people plotted against each of the twelve paradoxes

•   Trait Export

An export of all the scores from all the traits for a selected group of people (used for analyzing performance factors or organizational culture)

Career Reports

•   Career Comparison

Compares an individual to the specific requirements of a particular career

•   Career Development

Personalized guidance for an individual’s career development

•   Career Options

A list of careers that would provide the greatest job satisfaction for a specified individual

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Measuring a sufficient number traits in behavioural assessment

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

It is not practical to develop a separate behavioural assessment for each job or even each job type. Therefore, nearly all job behaviour assessments assess people using one questionnaire and then try to evaluate the answers for different jobs. However, our research has shown that less than 25% of the traits measured in a behavioural questionnaire relate to job success for any one job. Therefore, to be effective, a job behaviour assessment needs to measure many different traits in order to have a sufficient number of traits that relate to job success for any one given job. Most behavioural assessments measure only 10 to 30 traits. They try to overcome this problem by measuring norms of different types of jobs. For example, they do research that identifies managers as having certain traits, like “energy” for example. This is merely a distraction from the real purpose, which is to identify the traits that relate to performance. 

There is no benefit to hiring people who fit the profile of an average manager, especially when more than 75% of the traits are completely irrelevant to job performance. I have helped thousands of companies assess employees and I have never had a single customer that aims to hire average employees. They would be very unhappy if they knew that an assessment at best would them to hire average managers and three quarters of what was being considered in the assessment was completely unrelated to job success.

In order to effectively measure job success, job behaviour assessments must measure at least 100 different traits and each job needs to have a formula or template of at least 20 traits that relate to performance. In addition, each trait must have its own formula regarding how different amounts of that trait impact performance. Finally, each trait must be weighted against the other traits according to its impact on performance. That is why the Harrison Assessments system measures 156 traits and is built on a body of research that relates to job performance.

The need to measure more than 100 traits creates a great challenge for job behaviour assessments. Measuring more than 100 traits would normally require more than a full day of testing. However, in this age of talent competition, few qualified applicants are willing to spend a full day for one job application. Harrison Assessments has overcome this problem by creating a high tech questionnaire in which there are 16 groups of 8 statements. In each group, the 8 statements are ranked against each other. In addition, each statement appears in 2 different groups, enabling the computer to cross-reference all of the answers against each other.

By comparing each statement to every other statement on the questionnaire, a total of 8103 comparisons are obtained. This is equivalent to 2,701 multiple choice questions and more than a full day of multiple choice testing!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

"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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