Category Archives: Coaching

Please don’t say “I’m only a ….”

succession

In many conversations I’ve heard people – often women – describe themselves in this way. Every time, I cringe because of all this phrase implies. Even if that’s not what you meant it to mean.

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When you say, for example, ‘I’m just a receptionist’, notice what you are saying to the world – and yourself. It sounds like you believe:

  1. The work of a receptionist is not very important;
  2. You think you could/should be doing a more important job; and
  3. This is not the job you would choose to do if you had a choice.

Whichever way you look at it these are negative messages if you believe them. What if you had some other beliefs instead. Beliefs like these:

  • All work is important;
  • You do have a choice – perhaps not in the short term, but definitely in the long term; and
  • How you feel about your job is affected by how you talk about it to others. You don’t need to do that to yourself!

Everyone has a handful of jobs they are ‘born to do’. If you are lucky enough to have found what that is for you and you’re in that job, no matter how lowly you perceive it to be, please don’t talk it down.

On the other hand, if you really do hate your job and wish you weren’t doing it, you can express that without denigrating the role in general or the industry you work in.

Some industries have trouble attracting younger people. Part of the reason is that people already working in those industries just don’t promote what they do in a positive way – even when they do love their jobs!

No wonder young people, if they do happen to find their way into these jobs, often have no idea of what they’re getting into. They have probably never met anyone with experience in the role who has told them what it’s really like – both good and bad.

Next time someone asks you ‘What do you do?’ please remove the ‘only’ or the ‘just’ from your answer, even if you feel your work is insignificant.

By speaking about your job as if it’s important – because every job is! – you’ll feel better about it. You might even be the catalyst to someone else finding the career of their dreams because you didn’t talk it down.

What do you think?

360 degree feedback surveys can work for you

Here at Balance at Work, we recently managed a 360 degree feedback survey that saw 1360 feedback surveys completed for 157 managers. Along the way, we learnt a few lessons about what can go wrong with a 360 degree feedback project and ways to make the process much smoother in the future.

Here’s a short list of tips to help you get the most out of your next 360 degree feedback exercise.

1. Explain to everyone what a 360 feedback survey is and why they are doing it

Before doing anything, it is important that you tell everybody who is being assessed and everyone providing feedback the basics of what a 360 is and how it works. We had several people confused about why they were asked to provide feedback for their line managers – they are so used to it only going one way. By providing a clear outline of the project and the expected outcomes, it will be more likely that the feedback given will be constructive and useful.

By providing a clear outline of the project and the expected outcomes, the feedback given is more likely to be constructive and useful.

2. Provide step-by-step instructions for every part of the 360 degree feedback process

Regardless of what system you use to conduct your 360 (we use Spidergap), it will take a little time for users to understand how to use it. In order to make sure you get the highest quality feedback, it is vital that all involved know what to expect in the process as well as what is expected of them.

We found it is Important to give instructions around the criteria for choosing feedback providers, relationship titles and hints for providing useful feedback. It is always better to give clear, comprehensive instructions than to leave it to chance.

3. Be careful about who is providing 360 degree feedback

One of the biggest obstacles to getting useful, meaningful feedback is the source of that feedback. Having a balance between all relationships to the person being assessed is vital to making it a real 360. It is also important that those providing feedback feel confident in their ability to assess the person in question.

We had comments that people didn’t know someone well enough to feel comfortable providing feedback, a situation that would be avoided with more care in feedback provider selection.

For example, questions about internal management procedures will be confusing if you are including customers in the survey. Feedback providers can make or break a survey, so consider carefully who you want to involve and what you hope to gain from their perspective.

By following these 3 simple steps, you can ensure your 360 degree feedback survey process runs smoothly.

For our client, our experience contributed to the value of the survey. Here’s the feedback we received at the end of the project from Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia:

Susan and Harriet are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we as an organization 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 worked well and the follow up coaching sessions that we have deployed have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organization is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such great support crew on this key project.

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How to get ROI for workplace training

workplace training

Remember the last time you organised workplace training for your team? If you’re like most businesses, there was probably some tipping point that led you to hire a trainer or send staff to a workshop.

Whether it’s due to client feedback or concerns about staff productivity, a common scenario is a small ‘niggle’ that festers and grows until someone decides they’ve had enough and it’s time to throw some money at it in the hope the situation will improve.

There may also be more than a little wishful thinking in the mix because the problem’s now shared with a third party who might just have a magical solution.

Unfortunately there is no magic wand! However, here are some ideas you can use next time to ensure you’re spending your learning-and-development dollars wisely.

1. Identify outcomes

You’ve briefed a trainer and organised the venue, catering and participants. Great! Now, before the session, you should spend at least as much time deciding how you will know if the training has been effective.What are your measures of success? What’s the goal you’d like to achieve?

Think about the appropriate targets that you can measure both before and after the session. For a time-management workshop in a professional service business, for example, this may be the number of client calls, completed tasks or new proposals in a given time period. Once you’ve determined your measures, record your starting figures.

2. Have the right people in the room

It may seem obvious to you which staff need to attend the training, but don’t be afraid to think laterally.

In the time-management example above, it makes sense to broaden your scope to other team members who will impact the staff you want to train. Despite all the best information and intentions, your training attendee won’t have a hope of managing their time better if they are continually interrupted by their peers or even by a micromanaging boss (which does happen). Do other staff need to be in the room too?

3. Monitor and measure

Most businesses do a great job of collecting participant feedback at the end of a training session. This is useful information, but nowhere near as important as what happens when the post-workshop enthusiasm wanes and reality hits. Then it’s time to pull out your targets from the first step above and decide on the time frames for measuring performance against the targets. You will then have the data you need for making decisions not only about the return on investment, but also about future training and coaching needs.

Smaller businesses don’t typically assess the effectiveness of training. It’s not because they don’t care about getting value for money — it’s because they haven’t thought through how it could be done. With these ideas for getting ROI on your training dollar, you can make it a priority for your next training program.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visitwww.myob.com/blog.

Are you on the career cycle of doom?

This is a phenomenon I’ve observed recently. Perhaps it applies to you.

If you are good at your job and work hard, you will, hopefully, be recognised and promoted. Then, at some point, your career comes to a grinding halt even though you’re more technically competent and working harder than ever before. Unfortunately, it’s a familiar pattern for many young professionals.

What are the outcomes of this mindset?

1. You take on more and more work to prove that you can handle it

Alternative: Take on more and more responsibility but make sure you have others around you sharing the load.

2. You neglect the obvious

Alternative: Take the time to really listen and observe what’s happening around you, so you’re across what’s really going on.

3. You lose the connection

Alternative: Learn about your team and take an interest in them as people. If they know you care about them, they’ll be more inclined to help you when you need it.

How do you get off the ‘cycle of doom’?

If you keep going this way, there is no way out.

As you work longer hours to get more done, all your energy is focussed on doing the operational and there’s none left for being strategic. On top of that, there’s no time or space allowed for reflection and growth.

With no time to reflect, you’ll stay stuck in your hard-working comfort zone.

That doesn’t sound (or feel) like a comfort zone, but it is! You are doing more of what you know instead of risking doing something different.

Are you ready to take a risk and try a different way? Your career trajectory can and will change – so do it before you burn out!

If you really want to escape the ‘cycle of doom’, we’re here to help. Give us a call!

Three Keys to Job Satisfaction

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here

It seems basic. If you like what you are doing it doesn’t feel so much like work. If you enjoy doing something you are more likely to continue doing it and do it well. So shouldn’t a personality assessment being used to measure job suitability include measuring work satisfaction?

Measuring work satisfaction is essential to determine motivation and forecast whether an individual will prosper, succeed and stay with the organization. Most behavioral and personality assessments fail to measure work satisfaction and are therefore limited to predicting personality.

Harrison Assessment’s twenty five plus years of research prove that employees who enjoy at least 75% or more of their job are almost 4 times more likely to succeed than employees who enjoy less than 75% of their job. Measuring factors related to work satisfaction makes it possible to predict job success and therefore hire, motivate and retain top talent.

Harrison Assessment’s Enjoyment-Performance methodology considers 3 key issues related to work satisfaction and retention, measuring the degree to which a person’s:

  1. Preferred tasks fit the job
  2. Interests fit the job
  3. Work environment preferences fit the job

Enjoyment and Performance are linked because the level of enjoyment that an employee has while performing a particular activity is directly related to the level of their performance relative to that activity.

When people enjoy a task, they tend to do it more, and get better at it. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, good performance creates acknowledgment and/or positive self-regard which then causes people to enjoy the task even more.

Harrison Assessment solutions predict performance, work satisfaction and retention. They enable companies to motivate people and increase their performance by assigning the roles and responsibilities that give them the highest degree of work satisfaction. Harrison Assessments also enables companies to show their employees that they care about their work satisfaction. This genuine concern in itself evokes a positive response from employees. The mutually beneficial outcome is that both employees and employers win!

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to measure and encourage work satisfaction contact us here

Avoiding the ‘Horror Hire’

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here

If you think when you go for a job interview it is a nail-bitingly painful affair, imagine what it’s like for a manager who has to screen through all the job applications, narrow down the best and then conduct each and every interview while other tasks keep piling up!

Once the interview is over, all the job applicant has to do is wait patiently for the call that may or may not eventually come.

The manager on the other hand, has the task of deciding who is the best among the many hopefuls to fill the vacancy. If not using a job fit assessment there’s not much to go on. The stakes are high. If the right candidate is chosen, the company profits. The wrong one it can be a very expensive horror hire.

So how does one pick the person that is exactly the right fit for the job? And how sure are you that the person who ‘aced’ the test will actually pass with flying colors in the workplace, now and in the future?

Some might choose to go purely by gut instinct; others will base their decision on the recommendations of colleagues and friends. The results can be so very right or disastrously wrong as one small local engineering firm discovered to its dismay.

The firm had hired a manager who was highly recommended and who supposedly had chalked up quite an impressive resume working with multinational companies. The new manager was hired to help streamline the company’s operations but in the first three months, he behaved so arrogantly towards other staff, they refused to work with him and chaos ensued. The company was forced to terminate him only to discover that he had obtained the e-mail contacts of all their clients and associates which he then used to exact revenge.

He emailed allegations against the company to their clients and threatened to cause even more malicious damage to the company’s reputation, unless they paid for his silence! The enraged company was forced to hire outside expertise to investigate his background, counter his claim and fend off his allegations. They paid for a due diligence report to be conducted and forwarded the report to their clients. Then they hired a lawyer to block further action by the ex-employee.

With so much at stake today, it’s time for employers to ramp up the assessment process and cull those who misrepresent themselves. Using the Harrison Assessment can help you avoid the very expensive horror hire and keep your organisation profitable.

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to make sure you don’t make a horror hire contact us here

Jump start employee engagement

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here

According to a study by the Quantum Work Place “Employee Engagement” has declined to the lowest point it has been in eight years. Despite the improving economy, employee engagement declined in 2014 across organisations of all sizes and in more than 75 percent of the markets measured through the Best Places to Work program.

Employee engagement among Best Places to Work was on a slow, steady incline, as organisations recovered from the 2008 recession. However, this past year, engagement dipped to only 65.9 percent of employees engaged. Prior to 2014, employee engagement was lowest in 2010 with 66.7 percent of employees engaged.

Although the majority of employees were engaged, these trends indicate a slight shift toward uncertainty and suggest that organisations have more areas for improvement than in previous years.

A number of themes emerged when examining employee uncertainty about the workplace:

Commitment to Valuing Employees
Almost half of the items with the highest uncertainty were related to how employers value their employees, whether through compensation, recognition, or growth opportunities. Employees should not be treated as a means to an end. Engaged workplaces exhibit a commitment to employees in how they are supported, recognized, and developed.

Global Information
One-third of the items with the highest uncertainty were related to global information, or how information is shared throughout an organisation. Whether it’s understanding their personal future or getting feedback regularly from managers, employees lack confidence in their managers’ ability to communicate.

These areas of uncertainty represent areas of opportunity for employers. By offering clarity and improving in these areas, employers can improve employee perceptions and engagement.

One of the easiest ways to improve employee relations and engagement is through the use of a job-specific assessments such as Harrison Assessments. Now you can measure intrinsic behavioral factors that drive individual engagement — employee motivators and attitudes!

  • Identify gaps between employee and employer expectations and motivators
  • Facilitate the essential dialogue between employee and manager
  • Foster a shared responsibility for engagement
  • Create a culture of engagement

Take the next step in engagement initiatives! Align employee intrinsic factors with organisational extrinsic factors to maximise engagement.

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to improve your employee engagement contact us here

Ego Almighty

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here

There are typically all sorts of personalities working in an organisation. Do you have a few “ego almighty’s” working in your company?

Ego Almighty Characteristics:

  • Tends to focus on self-justification and excuses for certain actions or inaction.
  • Does not embrace change in routine and styles willingly.
  • Works well and clicks with those who are like-minded.
  • They are also prone to making decisions or choices according to those who fan their ego and dance to their tune.

Traits to look out for:

  • Egotistical, overly self-confident with a very high opinion of their own views and decisions.
  • Low intent and desire for self-improvement.
  • Lacks progressiveness and is inward looking.

Negative impacts:

  • Difficult to convince and can be rebellious towards change and new initiatives.
  • Draws a lot of energy from direct supervisors in their constant efforts of trying to get alignment and engagement for these Ego Almighty individuals.

How to manage:

  • Needs to be given specific performance criteria.
  • Coaching discussions to identify personal values and direction to establish gaps between company direction and the employee’s own interest.
  • If the behaviour becomes too intense to handle, the final option may be to manage the person out of the organisation.

You may have invested a significant amount of time, energy and training dollars in this person. If you choose to manage them, give them a work fit  assessment such as the Harrison. This will guide you to a developmental plan that may harness some of the ego and motivate them to work in the company’s interests and not just their own.

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to find the right people and keep them motivated in your business contact us here

Back to basics: Work environment matters

Visits to several different workplaces during ‘Sydney Open‘ started me thinking about how the place we work – the physical surroundings – can have a big impact on our enjoyment and therefore our performance.

I know you’ve thought about this before and you know how you’re affected by where you are.

But when you’re advising people on their future careers, do you always give the potential work environment the attention it deserves?

Of course, it’s easy to assume certain environments for certain professions, industries or jobs. We know that usually a finance worker will be working indoors, for example. But as workplaces change, so do the factors that impact job fit.

Banking and related roles are a good example. The photo below was taken inside 50 Martin Place, once the Commonwealth Bank (yes, the money box building) and now the global headquarters of Macquarie Bank. In the past, we might have safely assumed that this type of work would be carried out in a relatively quiet, calm and contained environment.

I wonder what it’s like to work on one of these open floors?

2014-11-02 14.42.55

(The ‘industrial chic’ trend has me wondering if in 150 years’ time people will be pondering our primitive ‘workhouses’ of the information age. What do you think?)

How has the work environment changed for you since you started your career?

Has it changed in ways that enhance your enjoyment of the tasks you need to complete, or the opposite?

Could you have predicted the changes when you started in this career?

To get the full picture of how a person will ‘fit’ a particular type of work, we need to know exactly how the work environment will be. And we also need to know what will suit them.

There is no point in matching a person to a job or career on the basis of all the great stuff like values, personality, motivation and skills, if we are putting them into an environment they will ultimately find intolerable because of basic physical factors that can’t or won’t be adjusted to suit them.

How thoroughly do you check on environmental factors before you start a new job or advise others on their careers?

Can we assume too much about the potential workplace – and about the preferences of the individual?

We have all met people who – through just not knowing – aim for a role that is completely unsuitable because of the work environment. Finding this out early on can save a lot of heartache. I recently met a man with a young family who had decided he wanted to be a train driver – and was prepared to give up a job in an IT company – but hadn’t considered the reality of shiftwork, commuting and being alone on the job. (He also wanted to get out of IT because he thought his workplace was too political. I recommended he do some more research before joining the railways!)

My guess is that most people reading this will know their work will be mostly indoors, but even there the variations can be immense. Consider things such as noise levels, standing or sitting all day, the need to travel for work.

Knowing what you and your clients or staff prefer is a key factor in career engagement that may be easily overlooked due to the assumptions we make. Unlike other assessments, Harrison Assessments do not assume, they measure. Here’ are some of the work environment factors included in the questionnaire and reports:

  • Noise
  • Driving
  • Sitting
  • Outdoors
  • Travel

Contact us if you’d like us to send you a full list of the traits we can measure.

As usual, I’d love to hear your feedback on this post. Please share your stories below how you’ve notices work environment having an impact on engagement and performance.

 

Empathy – Soft Skill of the Courageous

succession

One of the traits we measure with Harrison Assessments is empathy. It’s a major contributor to success in life, at work and elsewhere.

In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown explains empathy and reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own vulnerability.

Would you like to know if others think you are empathetic?

We can show you with Harrison Assessments and 360 degree feedback. Get in touch!

 

"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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