Category Archives: People Management

Career Reality Check: Pilot

Germanwings prompts pilot review but industry must also deal with workplace stress

Geraint Harvey, University of Birmingham and Peter Turnbull, Cardiff University

This article was originally published in The Conversation UK 

Following the tragedy of Germanwings flight 4U9525, the US Federal Aviation Administration has said it is launching a study into how pilots’ mental health is monitored. It follows on from Lufthansa’s announcement of spot checks, much like dope testing in sport.

The deliberate downing of the flight in March 2015 by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz led to 150 deaths and prompted calls for safeguards such as a requirement for two people to be present in the cockpit at all times and greater sophistication in the screening of pilots.

However, this tragedy also highlighted the potential dangers of precarious employment contracts and the anxiety such contracts can cause. Murder-suicide is a rare and extreme act, but there was much speculation about Lubitz’s mental health and what may have led or exacerbated his situation. We know that he was “signed off” work on the day of the disaster but still chose to fly. Also, it would seem that he was under considerable pressure at work – Lubitz’s girlfriend was quoted by the BBC as saying: “He became upset about the conditions we worked under: too little money, fear of losing the contract, too much pressure”.

Setting aside the speculation, this experience of work as described by Lubitz’s girlfriend chimes with the results of studies carried out by us on behalf of the European Cockpit Association and the European Transport Workers’ Federation.

The studies show that precarious work (by that we mean low paid and uncertain work), leading to insecurity is becoming widespread across the European civil aviation industry. For instance, in response to a questionnaire survey completed by more than 2,700 pilot and cabin crew respondents in 2014, barely one half of respondents agreed that their work gave them security. Of the 2,700 respondents around 70% were in permanent full-time employment.

In terms of pay, legacy airlines have used low-cost subsidiaries, such as Germanwings (Lufthansa), Iberia Express (Iberia) and Transavia (AirFrance/KLM), in order to reduce labour costs. Terms and conditions of employment can be as much as 40% lower for employees at the subsidiary compared with counterparts who work for the mainline carrier.

Benefits and zero hours-style contracts

An alternative strategy adopted by British Airways has been to develop BA Mixed Fleet – new staff within the mainline operation employed on inferior (low-cost) terms and conditions. The idea is to grow this fleet of staff to service short-haul and long-haul flights if and when possible. It’s not a case of directly cutting benefits for Worldwide and Euro fleet staff, but gradually reducing the average staff costs.

In response to the 2014 survey, fewer than 10% of respondents employed as cabin crew on Mixed Fleet contracts agreed that the pay and benefits were adequate to support their current lifestyle, while none agreed that these were adequate to support future life plans. Shortly after the survey was completed, the Guardian reported that Mixed Fleet staff were reliant on working tax credit (state benefits) to supplement their income. In effect, the government was subsidising BA’s operations.

As for uncertain work, precarious contracts are perhaps most widespread at what have become known as the “ultra-low cost carriers”. Pilots at Ryanair, for example – whose current business strategy is “not to unnecessarily piss people off” – are predominantly hired on “self-employment” contracts. In 2013, around 70% of pilots were hired via these contracts and agencies such as Brookfield Aviation International (which hires the vast majority of Ryanair pilots), with no obligation on the part of the agency to offer work.

This arrangement is tantamount to a zero-hours contract – one crucial difference between the Brookfield contract and a zero-hours contract, however, is that the former imposes obligations on the pilot to provide three months’ notice of contract termination. In 2013, a Ryanair pilot won a test case that found that the firm could not impose a €5,000 “penalty” fee for not serving a full three-month notice period.

Ryanair is not the only airline to use “atypical” arrangements, a report from the University of Ghent in February 2015, based on a survey of 6,600 European pilots, found that Norwegian also hired many pilots in this way. Easyjet and Germanwings, however, used more traditional contracts.

Current business strategy is to be nice.
Juanedc, CC BY

In the UK, the process of qualifying as a commercial pilot can take around three years and cost up to £100,000. Saddled with such a debt, a newly qualified pilot undoubtedly experiences considerable anxiety about finding and retaining a first officer job at an airline. The combination of precarious work (and the attendant insecurity) and the need to retain one’s job may influence decision-making processes and lead to poor judgement, for example reporting for work when unwell/unfit for duty.

Aside from poor judgement, precarious work also has the potential to impact on safety in other ways. Alarmingly in our 2014 survey, only at two of the eight airlines included in the study did the majority of participants agree with the statement: “Employees feel comfortable reporting safety concerns to management”. One respondent commented of their colleagues that: “they are scared to report safety issues as our employment guide allows crew to be fired very quickly”.

One consequence of the tragedy of flight 4U9525 has been the consideration of factors that may have contributed to the tragedy and possible means of preventing such an incident in the future – the deteriorating conditions of employment faced by flight and cabin crew should not be overlooked.

The Conversation

Geraint Harvey is Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations and HRM at University of Birmingham.
Peter Turnbull is Professor of Human Resource Management Labour Relations at Cardiff University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Recruitment: The Hunt

assessments for recruiting

This post first appeared on Heather Hankinson’s As Good as Her Word blog. When we saw it, we wanted to share it here and Heather kindly agreed. We think you’ll appreciate her down to earth approach to finding the right candidates...

Finding new staff is really, really difficult. It’s difficult for multinational corporations with entire HR departments, it’s difficult for long-standing businesses, it’s difficult for start-ups, it’s difficult for Bill Gates. Everyone knows that people are a key factor in success but it’s easier said than done when that means attracting the right person, realising they are the right person amongst all the candidates, and then managing their expectations to get them off to the right start.

How do you start the hunt? The culture of your organisation that I’ve spent the past five weeks banging on about is a good starting point: is your business somewhere with an attractive personality, GSOH, who likes walks on the beach? Because if you’ve grown an authentic and unique culture then over time I’ll wager you’ll have applicants come to you.

But you already know how important I think culture is and even if you have it, when you do decide that you can’t manage everything in your business yourself and need to take the scary plunge of employing someone, start by brainstorming the places your perfect employee might hang out. Instead of paying Seek or CareerOne for a pretty generic ad, first ask yourself:

  • Where do they shop? Where do they eat out?
  • What do they like to do on their days off?
  • How do they like to portray themselves?
  • What are their habits?

You may think this is all irrelevant and will narrow your field so completely that you’ll miss most of your potential candidates but what you are really doing is increasing your efficiency and sticking to your cultural values. Say you need to hire a new estate agent for your team, for example: are you a ‘family values’ business or are you aiming for a swanky, boutique feel? For the first, you might put up posters in the local park or family-friendly cafe, for the latter you might ask to leave brochures in a fashionable clothing store.

Once you’ve spent at least 20 minutes scribbling ideas on an A4 piece of paper, see if any of these resources might be a way to reach out to that perfect candidate:

  • Ask your employees if they know anyone, or their friends know anyone, or their kids know anyone. If each employee roughly knows a few hundred people in the area and you have more than one employee, then friends’ of their friends would be a circle of thousands of potential referees. Simple but surprisingly underutilized,
  • Gumtree – for trades or uni student roles in particular, usually so cheap that it’s always worthwhile,
  • Local media – not TV, I’m talking school or church newsletters, cafe or gym bulletin boards, even a local market stall,
  • Client email update or your business’ Facebook page – even if you don’t get any referrals, phrased correctly, it’s an advert of your business itself because the traits you are looking for should be why your customers use you,
  • School career advisor – if you need a weekend casual or junior, I strongly recommend contacting the local schools to see if you can spend 5 minutes in one of their assemblies outlining why your business rocks and what type of stella employee you are after. You’ll be surprised how enthusiastic most schools are, especially near the end of a school year.
  • Consider holding a free seminar or open evening and inviting local professionals to network, mingle, have a beer, and obviously at some point in the evening make sure it’s clear (but not tacky) that you have a position to fill. Please make sure the evening reflects your business: there’s no point creating an illusion and attracting the wrong sort of people,
  • Facebook! I highly recommend that you have a play with Facebook ad manager (use the boosted post function) and search for your perfect candidate using their extremely fine-tunable parameters. It’s scary how much information they have on people, you may as well use it to your advantage. And you can set the budget as low as you like.

Above all, be creative. It might take more leg work but an ad online can set you back $300 and won’t show your business’ personality half as well.

Of course, all this goes hand in hand with knowing what type of employee you want, so three guesses what I’m writing about next week?

PS. If you are still tempted by a regular old online ad, remember: businesses generally get the staff they deserve. If you think you deserve brilliant, committed and sincere staff then start by being brilliant, committed and sincere in your hiring process.

Read more of Heather’s thoughts on recruitment, culture and a whole lot of other stuff on her blog!

Let us know what you think below

Have you tried any of these ways of hunting for the right candidate? How did it work for you?

What’s your story? #3: Chris Page

What's your story?

Today’s career interview with Chris Page, National Manager – New Projects at Napier & Blakeley, clearly illustrates there is more than one way to get where you want to be!

One thing that is clear from the discussions I’ve had at recent conferences about the future of work is that many of Australia’s issues with education and employment stem from our relatively recent focus on getting a university education. Aspiring to a degree is not a problem in itself, except that this goal may be at the expense of other forms of equally valuable forms of education for school leavers – both in terms of individual skills and the economy as a whole.

We first ‘met’ Chris in Group Training Australia‘s Network Magazine (March 2015):

Excerpt

Here’s what Chris had to tell us about what he’s learnt on his career journey…

What’s your current position and what do you do?

This is actually a complex question. My title is quite vague and for good reason – to not put boundaries on my internal function here at Napier & Blakeley. To describe my role I initially look to my CV and LinkedIn profile and which says

As head of the new projects department in the National Tax Business Unit I am responsible for the growth of the National Property Tax Business throughout Australia.

I’m also concentrating on growing the Napier & Blakeley brand internationally, and increasing recognition throughout the Property Development, Construction and Investment Industry sectors as the leading provider in Transaction, Asset & Development Advisory, Quantity Surveying, Sustainable Property Solutions and Property Depreciation and Insurance Assessment Advice.

Putting what I do into a simple sentence is hard simply because my role here at Napier & Blakeley is really quite diverse. I do a lot of Business Development in varying sectors in the Property Industry, continuously growing the Napier & Blakeley brand.

I’m also responsible for the growth of a new Tax Business Unit within the company which we’ve been working on for nearly a year – it is being launched and goes to market this coming July. All very exciting – and of course keeps me busy.

What other activities are you involved in?

Outside of work – well not as much as I’d like – I’m rather time poor.

I try to keep it simple. I have a strict gym routine, attending the gym religiously regardless where I am travelling, or staying, at a minimum of 6 days a week. This for me is probably the most important part of my day. Not only because there is no better stress relief other than sweating it out on the gym floor but also because entertaining clients often means eating and drinking far too much – all of which would go straight to my waist if it weren’t for gym!

I am an avid rock climber – yet another form of keeping fit, but also mind clearing. Climbing a wall requires constant problem solving – keeps my brain active in an unusual and physically active way.

Let’s not forget my passion for wine and food – this is something I spend a great deal of time enjoying.

Inside work – LOTS.  Too much even.  I tend to take on more than I should. It’s the price of absolute career commitment. 

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

Absolutely not. Nowhere near it.

I finished school quite young – and at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do – apart from the typical high school dreams. Great job, lots of travel, lots of money, all the glory.

Unfortunately something we don’t quite understand as teenagers is the iceberg theory. When it comes to successful careers generally people outside only ever see the top of the iceberg – the success and glory. And as we know with icebergs, the bigger portion is under the ocean hidden from view.  Stress, responsibility, sacrifice, risk, persistence regardless of challenges or failures on the way. Endless hard work.

But it’s all worth it, for that small bit of super white bright ice soaking in the sunshine at the top.

I think I learnt rather quickly – by being thrown in the deep end in the early years of my career that there is more hard work than there is reward.

I had more work than I did have hours in the day. But I fought through it – always taking on more than I could handle. Biting off more than I could ever chew – but I chewed through it all. Perhaps at great personal and social expense. But if you want it bad enough – you will do whatever it costs to get it done. Success is by no means easy – it wouldn’t be rewarding if it were.

When I finished school I thought eventually I’d end up in Construction Management or something related to it. And I have done that, from Contracts Administration on hundred million dollar construction sites, to being project manager and development manager on sites just as big. Then on to acquisition and development management in the global property market – something I never even dreamt of doing, let alone before the age of 30.

And now I’ve jumped fence to the consultancy side – working with a great deal of developers, asset and fund managers across the country as well as Southern Asia. A lot of my work these days is within the Property Tax sector. Tax is definitely something I never ever considered being remotely involved in – however property tax is one of the good taxes – it’s the one of the few taxes that gives back!! It’s nice to work in a business unit that helps property investors make more money!!!

When you remove common boundaries or as I call them, our comfort zones, and you let your career take the wild paths without fear of the ‘what if’ then this is when your career will take you to places and heights you never expected.

What was your first job?

I was 13 – far too young to have a legal job, but I was tall and looked older than 13 so managed to sneak my way into my first ever job.

Living on the Gold Coast – when I wasn’t at school or at home I was mostly likely found on one of the two ice rinks ice skating and playing ice hockey. Naturally I started working at one of the rinks. It was, at the time my ideal dream job – being paid whilst getting to skate. Loved it. I worked at ice rinks on the Gold Coast and then down in Melbourne (after a family move at 15) up until the last possible moment when university and my apprenticeship took all my time.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?

This is a hard question. There are a couple of turning points.

Spending a few weeks in Canberra at the GTA  (Group Training Australia) ‘Today’s Skills, Tomorrow’s Leaders’ program was definitely an eye opening event. It lifted my ideas of what is possible to a whole new level.

I think travel is also something that can help us grow, or act as a turning point. When I moved to London – my entire life was shaken upside down. New job, in a new country, new everything – it challenged me to a new way of thinking. Primarily because it exposed me to a whole new level of success. Success you don’t see too often in Australia. The abundance of successful multi-millionaires and billionaires that I was lucky enough to learn from in the UK really taught me that success is not something you get or are given (well for those lucky to be born into it perhaps this is the case).

Success is something you sacrifice for, something you dedicate your whole life to earning. It’s the reward that we are lucky to earn after a life time of effort, hard work but most of all smart business decision making.

But let’s not forget success is not only wealth – it’s family, and life in general. I think it was a turning point meeting people who had obtained great wealth and success at the sacrifice of much else. Family, friends – time.

Learning that success is more than just wealth and power – this teaches us that we need to work hard towards a happy balance. And that will be something different for everyone.

 Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?

I admire a great many people. Kerry Packer is someone I grew up admiring, he was born into wealth, but he grew up in an era where you worked for it. He lived life to its fullest – made good and bad decisions, but regardless of outcome continuously fought to better himself and his businesses.

Aurelio Peccei, an Italian scholar and industrialist of the 20th century is probably one of my all-time most admired individuals to read about and more importantly learn from. He is perhaps best known as the founder of ‘The Club of Rome’ but for me, he was a man who survived imprisonment, torture and very nearly execution during WWII, he is the one man who turned post war Fiat Corporation into the mighty international beast of a company that it became in the late 20th century.

When Aurelio founded The Club of Rome, he introduced the world to the idea of an international think tank. A forum for scholars of all nations to come and think aloud – to present the world with ideas of how to better humanity for the greater good.

 

If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?

Limitations? What limitations? By simply thinking ‘if there were no limitations’ you’re already placing them upon yourself. There are no limitations!

As I’ve always said, people who tell you to pull your head out of the clouds simply say it because they themselves are too scared to see what’s above them.

Limitations are something that generations before us were guided by. People were born poor and were to stay poor, or they were born into wealth and it was their ‘birth right’ to remain wealthy throughout life.

Thank god for the industrial revolution.

Today people can be born anywhere in the world, from any family, any race, any religion, any anything and become wealthy, successful and powerful. The only limitation we have are those which we lock ourselves into.

If you truly want it – you will do whatever it takes to get it – or die trying. If you want it that bad that is.

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

This question makes me laugh. Because the only thing I would say is “slow the F**k down Chris”. (Excuse my French!)

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a career. We’re placed under so much pressure these days that we forget to stop and smell the roses.

So simply put, the only think I would advise myself on is time. Slow down, the one thing we learn with age is that the journey is where the fun happens. The destination is death so why limit our journey?

Take risks, have fun, work hard and enjoy where life takes you without worrying about ‘what if’!

Your future workforce

Predicting the future is always a risky business, but it is also a fascinating exercise!

Here’s some data from McCrindle Research that gives us a taste of who you will be dealing with in your workplace soon, if not already. To read the original article, click here.

Gen Z infographic

 

What have you noticed about the generation entering the workforce now?

We’d love to read your observations, so please share them below.

Hiring? Data beats intuition

workplace training

This article comes via Harrison Assessments International. You can read more articles about Harrison Assessments here.

Can an algorithm beat the experts at hiring?

The Scientific American Article: How Data Beats Intuition says,

“When we make selection decisions – whether it is choosing a date, a potential business partner or a job candidate – we try our best to make accurate judgments about the potential of the people we are considering. These decisions, after all, have long-term consequences. A first date could turn into a long-lasting romantic relationship; a potential business partner could be a lifelong colleague; a job candidate could be someone we work with for years to come.

Yet, too often, we find ourselves asking, ‘What went wrong?’ We may have spent a lot of time with the person and conducted multiple interviews and assessments to then realize, a few months later, that the person we chose is just not right. This is no rare event. For instance, data shows that traditional hiring methods produce candidates that meet or exceed the expectations of the hiring manager only 56 percent of the time — about the same result one would get tossing a coin.”

This is a very good article and true according to Harrison Assessment International’s experience and research. The biggest reason that data works better is that there are many factors that relate to job success.

Each of these factors should be systematically weighted and scored. Job interviewers don’t tend to systematically analyze the job and formulate the key factors. In addition, interviewers don’t have a strategic and effective means to measure the factors. Consequently, their subjective judgments will be less effective.

You can see the importance of job analysis by looking at the difference between structured interviews and unstructured interviews. Structured interviews have been proven in nearly every study to be far more effective. The difference is that someone took the time to consider what was important related to the job and base the interview around those factors. This greatly improves the results.

Assessments are a systematic means of weighting and measuring the qualifications and behavioral competencies that relate to job success. However, to be effective, an assessment must be tailored to the job and not simply measuring general factors.

Another important factor is the degree to which an assessment is comprehensive. An effective assessment must weigh and assess all the factors related to job success including education, experience, technical or business skills, interpersonal skills, leadership tendencies, and motivation. There must be a sufficient number of factors measured. Unrelated factors should not be included in the analysis to avoid confusing the recruiter. An effective assessment should also measure engagement and retention issues by assessing employment preferences, task preferences, and interests. Otherwise, the assessment will not be comprehensive. To the degree that the assessment includes all the factors related to job success and only the factors related to success for the specific job is the degree to which it will be effective.

The Harrison Assessment can include strategic mechanisms that identify deception that are far more effective that an interviewer attempting to determine the degree to which a person is telling the truth related to each factor.

If the data is tailored for success in the specific job the results are likely to be more relevant. For example measuring a few general personality factors and allowing the interview to guess at which factors are important for a job is not more effective than a structured interview. The factors measured and the weightings given should be based on performance research rather than guesswork. In that case there is real data and a much greater chance of predicting job success.

Future of Work Conference 2015

At the end of April 2015, I was fortunate enough to attend two days of inspiring sessions at the Future of Work conference

There was so many ideas shared, which I’m sure you will see reflected in future posts on this blog. For now, a summary provided by the organisers, the Centre for Workplace Leadership.

If you’d like to know more, please ask!

In total, there were 367 attendees at the conference, plus 35 speakers, and around 30 staff and volunteers. In the two days of the conference, we managed to fit in 17 sessions, consume 1000 cups of coffee, write thousands of tweets, and the hashtag (#2015FOW) was trending on Twitter.

The conference taught us to get ready for Uber working, identified the key issues facing business, highlighted the need to promote innovation (and throw out our management textbooks), explored what was holding us back as entrepreneurs, and much, much more.

A new way to recruit

You sense the new person you need for your business is ‘out there, somewhere’.  But how do you find them?

While researching an article on new recruitment tools for SMEs, I was talking to our client and friend, Jo Muirhead. Coincidentally, Jo had just posted a new vacancy on Facebook. Instead of a traditional Facebook advertisement, this was a normal post with a link to a page on her website containing a video of Jo talking about the job plus details of how to apply.

This innovative approach has some key benefits

  • Jo started by being crystal clear about what she wanted – and equally clear about what she didn’t want.
  • Facebook is the perfect medium for reaching her target candidates: anyone looking for a part-time PA role in their local area.
  • Using video allows the potential candidates to see Jo and get a real sense of what it might be like working with her, giving them the chance to screen themselves out if they don’t think they’re a good fit.
  • Applicants were asked to include a video of themselves explaining why they think they’re suited to the role. This would require a level of confidence that matches what’s needed to perform well in the role.
  • The post and video leave little room for doubt, saving time on both sides of the recruitment equation.
  • Promoting the role via Facebook is free and Jo’s Facebook friends and followers were able to easily share the job with their connections.

Did it work?

Jo kindly gave me an update this week (4 May):

I had two applicants only, which meant I didn’t need to wade through 100’s of resumes and pay someone to review all that wrong and poor job application information. The video was certainly the test of courage that kept people away.

That being said, both applicants were incredible and if only 1 had applied I would have been more than happy. Having to choose between the two was tough but it came down to skills and teachability.

What do you think?

Would you be willing to give something like this a try?

You can find more tips on using social media in our e-book ‘Successful Recruitment: Transforming Your Business Through Best Practice’.

Perhaps you already have experience using social media in your recruitment process. How has it work for you?

 

What’s your story? #2: Libby Bleakley

What's your story?

Libby Bleakley is the co-founder and project manager of the Sentru Formasaun Ba Juventude (Centre of Learning for Youth) in Timor-Leste.

Libby recently agreed to share her career story here. Read on to find out how a girl who didn’t like the Police came to build a career as a police officer – and where that career has taken her.

Libby BleakleyWhat’s your current position and what do you do?

I am a Federal Police Officer currently working in Crime Prevention. I had spent 19 years as a NSW Police Officer working in general duties and then specializing in working in child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, victim support, youth issues, indigenous issues and crime prevention.

I then joined the Australian Federal Police and spent 6 years in the International Deployment Group – I was posted to the Northern Territoty for 7 months to live and work in a remote Indigenous Coommunity, then to Sudan to work as a peace keeper with the United Nations for 8 months and then to Timor-Leste for 1 year with the United Nations living in the jungle and a further 2 years on the AFP mission teaching in the Timorese Police Academy.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

No – I didn’t even like Police! I had no real idea what I wanted at school.

What was your first job?

I studied a 2 year Child Care Certificate course at TAFE and taught in pre-schools and early childhood centres for 8 years.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?

I was a victim of a violent assault and was lucky to survive. I wanted to join the Police to make a difference in other victim’s lives and I successfully implemented and co-ordinated the first Victim Support Unit for the NSW Police Service.

Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?

Many people in my life and many people I have crossed paths with all over the world. People with strength of human spirit that survive no matter the adversity. People who genuinely love others and care for them no matter what walks of life they are from.

If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?

I would open thousands of community centres all over the world – especially in war torn and traumatised countries. I am currently building a youth and community centre in Timor-Leste . This project has been developed to establish a facility for the Timorese youth and community that will develop skills, character and leadership through educational workshops; crime prevention workshops; language courses and fitness training – to build strong social foundations and to prevent crime within the community.

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

Always have respect – but be able to push the boundaries in what you dream and believe in. Be creative and adventurous – surround yourself with positive like minded people and move on from the negative ones. Always have time to look after others on this planet – not matter how small your action may appear to you, it may be life changing to the recipient. Be honest and fair and open minded.

Life is what YOU make it, no matter what you are presented with in your life you have the choice to be a victim or to take control of your own destiny.

But most of all, remember  – “There is no such thing as a bad day. There are only rainy days, sunny days, wet days, cold days but never a bad day” (as told to me by a wonderful old Indigenous Elder).

If you feel inspired by Libby’s story and would like to help her build the first youth and community centre, please email susanr@balanceatwork.com.au and I’ll be happy to send you more information.

UPDATE FROM LIBBY – FEBRUARY 2017

• My 14 months leave from the AFP has come to an end and I return to work on 2 March and I am happy to say that I have achieved everything I set out to do and more during this year in Timor-Leste. I feel confident the Centre will continue to run well under the management and supervision of our staff, Dede and Atisis Da Costa.

• Dede and I spent several days at SOFPOPE and the Ministry of Justice registering our Centre as a Private Centre. We should receive our Certificate within the next 2 months.

H.E Xanana Gusmao and H.E Ilidio Ximenes with Manager Dede and Libby Bleakley
PLUS FITNESS GYM:

Our Plus Fitness gym was opened on 10 October and we now have 300 members with more than 200 members on a waiting list. We are happy to have several females now attending as well as many rival gang members (Kork, Kerasakti and PSHT), who are working happily together training and forming positive relationships.

Each member of the gym is required to donate 1 hour a week to work as volunteer security on the front gate. All members are responsible for cleaning the gym and gardens at the end of the day. At this stage cleaning is going well but security needs more work, although it has improved with members taking initiative to encourage volunteers.

SEWING CENTRE:
Our Manager for our Sewing Centre, Silvia has been training Tina and Domingas for the past 4 months and we now have a new member from our English class joining them 2 days a week – they are making DFG kits, gym bags and towels. We do not sell our DFG Kits but we do sell gym items – 50% of money made goes to the individual who made it and 50% to the Centre for ongoing running costs.
I submitted a funding proposal to the Department of Foreign Affairs (Australian Embassy) in relation to funding for our new project on “sustainable kitchen gardens”. Our Manager Dede and I met with Johannah Leay in January, who is looking into funding us $15,000 (yet to be confirmed) to commence the program.
We shall employ the 3 women in our sewing Centre to produce the heavy felt bags – make the organic coffee ground compost on site and grow vegetable seedlings to fill the bags prior to selling them.
We are in the process of extending our front fence of the property giving us an extra 3 metres of land to set up our composting bins.

ENGLISH CLASSES:
This past month we were fortunate to have Tammy Chu and Anna Barletta from the Rotary Club of Nth Sydney and the World Computer Exchange (WCE) attend our Centre. The women have been working for the past 12 months on raising funds and putting together 12 laptop computers incorporating English and maths educational modules along with “Jolly Phonics”, used in our English curriculum. They identified our Centre as an ideal recipient that WCE can add significant value to.
WCE is a 15-year global education non-profit organization whose aim is to connect youths in under-privileged communities to the skills, opportunities and understanding of computers that have various education modules, including English and math.
Tammy and Anna worked hard for the week they were in our Centre and we have now successfully started our computer English courses. We will have 3 x 10 week semesters in a 12 month period – Basic English 1,2 and 3. We have a total of 120 students in our English classes that commenced on 6 February, 2017.

Tammy and Anna from WCE (Rotary Nth Sydney)our teachers and Manager
We have continued working with Simon Krieg from the “Centre of Human Development”, who has kindly donated the TESOL courses to us as well as assisting us with the English curriculum and Jolly Phonics modules.
Dede and I attended INDMO this week, which is a National Institute for Labour Force Development – it is the national regulator body who regulates the development of national qualification or national certificates and accreditations. We are seeking to have our English course accredited this year.
We interviewed several applicants for the head English teacher position and decided to employ Gido Feliz for the 24 hrs a week teaching students and supervising our 5 volunteer teachers. We are very happy with his professionalism and teaching skills.

AFTERNOON TEA WITH XANANA AND 7 MINISTERS:
H.E Xanana Gusmao has attended our Centre a few times in the last 2 months. He brought his 3 son’s from Australia to train at our Plus Fitness gym and visited on other occasions. He is so impressed by our members and the fact that rival gangs are making peace and friendships at our facility that he asked us to run an afternoon tea for our members which he assisted in catering for.
Libby Bleakley and Dede Da Costa greet H.E Xanana Gusmao
On Friday afternoon 10 February, we had 250 members attend our afternoon tea catered for by Mana Nina catering. I conducted a fitness and bodybuilding/weight lifting seminar.
The following Ministers were also in attendance –
Minister of Social Solidarity – H.E Isabel Amaral Guterres
Minister of Tourism – H.E Francisco Calbuadi Lay
Minister of Defence – H.E Sirilio Cristavao
Minister of interior – H.E Longinos Monteiro
Secretary State SOFPOPE – H.E Ilidio Ximenes
Vice Minister Administration and Statal – H.E Tomas Cabral
National TV and Educational TV (National) also came to film the event – airing it on both channels as news headlines.
H.E Xanana Gusmao and H.E Ilidio Ximenes spoke at length to Dede and I in relation to us building 2 more Centres in Timor-Leste as ours is so successful.

MEDIA – Timor Learning Centre FB page
In January we were so fortunate to have a film production company from New York attend our Centre. 3 wonderful film producers were touring the world making humanitarian films about “the gift of giving” and chose our Centre to make a promotional film to assist us in raising funds. His Excellencies Xanana Gusmao and Ilidio Ximenes were also in attendance. The film will be in virtual reality and people all over the world can view it on their smart phones when they download the free apt. This will be available sometime later this year.

FINANCES – The WCE women, Tammy and Anna raised enough funds to not only install our 12 laptops and systems but to also pay for a permanent teacher for our English class for 1 year, with extra funds for stationery etc.

Although we have now paid our lease until January 2018, we still require more funds for the ongoing running costs each year (approx. $30,000 AUD)

We are currently in the process of designing our small traditional house that shall be our library room (Dede our Centre Manager is also an architect). We shall then source some quotes and concentrate on fundraising early next year.

CONCLUSION –

It is evident that we have the total support of H.E Xanana Gusmao, H.E Ilidio Ximenes and many other Government Ministers that support our Centre. They have been impressed that this was created by 2 off duty AFP women with the help of Rotary, family, friends and other companies and groups. They have stated that it is definitely the first of its kind in Timor-leste and has already proved to be a success – changing communities and decreasing violence.

I am proud to say that in the next 2 years we should see 2 more Centres emerge within this Nation and I would like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of those people who have made our dream for Timor-Leste come true. Please don’t forget us as we continue our quest to support the beautiful communities in this country.

Although I return to the AFP to continue my work on 1 March, 2017 my intention is to continue to travel to Timor-Leste and work at our Centre for a month every few months. I liaise most days with our Centre Manager and receive weekly reports from him, allowing me to be informed of our Centre activities.

I have been personally invited by H.E Xanana Gusmao to assist him in showing our virtual reality film in Timor Plaza on 20 May and shall return around this time.

Libby Bleakley
Rotary Club of Blackheath
District 9685 Australia
Director
Sentru Formasaun Ba Juventude no Comunidade
Centre of Learning for Youth & Community
Timor-Leste
RAWCS Project: 33-2014-15
Phone: +61411032961
Email: ebleakley@live.com

The one question you should be asking your staff

“At work, do you have an opportunity to do what you do best, every day?”

Gallup has asked this question of more than 1.7 million employees in 100 companies from 65 countries. Rather disappointingly, only 20% felt that their unique strengths were being used every day at work. Even more shockingly, the longer an employee stays in an organisation, the less likely they are to feel they get to apply their strengths. 

What does this mean for you?

Top performers in any organisation are those who get to do more of the things they enjoy and less of the things they don’t. This is so obvious, we sometimes miss the need to be more proactive in making sure all employees have the opportunity to experience more of the joy of using their natural talents at work.

If we are serious about improving productivity and performance, we need to be asking how we can be improving the number of people who can answer ‘yes’ to the question above.

enjoyment-performance

The link between enjoyment and performance

Enjoyment and performance are linked because the level of enjoyment an employee has while performing a particular activity is directly related to the level of their performance in 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 positive self-regard which then causes people to enjoy the task even more. And so on…

This elegantly simple concept underlies everything we do with Harrison Assessments. Most behavioural and personality assessments fail to measure work satisfaction and are therefore limited to predicting personality, whereas Harrison Assessments go beyond personality to identify a wide range of traits linked to job fit and performance.

The link between enjoyment and engagement

Engagement survey after engagement survey tell us that employees in many workplaces are feeling they are lacking a connection with their jobs and their organisations. If this is happening in your organisation, go back to this single, simple question:

“At work, do you have an opportunity to do what you do best, every day?”

When you take the time to listen to the answers and understand how you can change your results, you’ve taken a big step to realising the full potential of your business.

Download ‘Engagement is a Shared Responsibility’ Whitepaper

Career Reality check: TV Presenter

Do you know someone who thinks they’ve got what it takes to make it on television?

If you think they haven’t quite grasped what it would really be like to do that job, perhaps you could try showing them these tweets:

Traps for young (and old) players

Killing the business you love

At the moment I’m helping a small business with a recruitment campaign. (This is another way we use Harrison Assessments.)

In the process, I’ve been reminded of some of the dumb things people do that make it much harder for them to get a job. Here are just a few I’ve noticed this week. Please feel free to add to my list by commenting below.

1. Not selling yourself in your cover letter or resume

It’s astounding how many CVs come through where the employment history is simply a list of duties in each role. A potential employer doesn’t want to know what you were supposed to do, they want to know what you actually achieved. So tell them!  And if you don’t have a long work history, tell us about other things you’ve done that are relevant and demonstrate why we should interview you.

2. Applying for jobs for which you’re clearly not qualified

If you don’t think you’re a perfect fit, then don’t waste your time, or anyone else’s, by applying. Do you expect an employer or recruiter to see some hidden quality or potential you haven’t been able to identify yourself? Of course they won’t! That’s not their job, it’s yours.

3. Making life hard for the person reading your CV

Employer have lots to read and they don’t want to work to find the information they need. If you think your story is worth 9 pages, you’re probably wrong. Would you read more than 5 pages about someone you don’t know, just because that’s what they sent you? Probably not! Keep it concise and clear if you want it to be read.

4. Using a novelty email address

There is no excuse for having an email address like pinkpussycat@hotmail.com. You will not look professional (or cute). You will look like someone who doesn’t think it’s worth getting a proper email address for job applications. You may think you shouldn’t be judged on something so trivial but I guarantee you will be.

5. Being rude or condescending to staff

Yesterday we were about to let a candidate know he’d been short-listed. Being proactive, he called us first, to follow up on his application lodged late last week. On the face of it, this was a good thing.

Unfortunately, he spoke in such a condescending tone to the person taking his message that we decided to remove him from the short list. This probably sounds harsh, but if he had been successful in getting the job he would be managing staff and dealing directly with clients so we weren’t prepared to take the risk. Mind your manners, even when you think it doesn’t matter.

Are you being your own worst enemy?

It’s not easy being unemployed (I’ve been there) and it’s not easy applying for job after job. So it really disappoints me when applicants make it even harder for themselves. What unnecessary hurdles are you creating?

For more tips on job applications, get a copy of ‘It’s Not Just a Job It’s Your Career’ and download our free ‘Career Strategy Toolkit’.

And if you’re currently sitting on the other side of the table ‘Successful Recruitment’ can definitely help!

What’s your story? #1: Dr Howard Bell

What's your story?

The first volunteer in our interview chair is Dr Howard Bell OAM, Principal Solicitor at WorkCover NSW.

When I first met Howard Bell, he was my boss and we were working in the chemistry department at the University of Sydney. That was 35 years ago and a lot has happened since then! We hope you enjoy reading his story.

Howard BellWhat’s your current position and what do you do?

Principal Lawyer at WorkCover. It’s the best job in the world. I love it because it helps to build a safer and healthier New South Wales. WorkCover, as a regulator administers the State’s work health and safety laws. We provide legal services to WorkCover and also other agencies within Safety, Return to Work and Support. I am also an elected Health and Safety Representative.

What other activities are you involved in?

I am also a part-time officer in the Australian Army Reserve where I have been an instructor, project officer, company commander, the Executive Officer of  University Regiment and had lots of interesting and rewarding roles in the Reserves, including having deployed overseas peace keeping in East Timor. I have, addition  been a part time teacher at TAFE NSW and taught at various universities – most recently at Charles Sturt supervising post graduate doctoral students. I have also enjoyed an active volunteering life with community organisations including Amnesty International, the St Vincent de Paul Society, Cana Communities, music and folk festivals, the trade union movement and other great organisations that strive to make the world a better place especially for battlers,  the homeless community and people who need help with their struggles.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

No. When I was at school I wanted to go out and become the world’s greatest chemist – but a later interest in Law and social justice led me towards my current career choices.

What was your first job?

Laboratory assistant and landscape gardener.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?

Becoming a dad. And becoming a grandad. These events have inspired me especially.

Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?

My children and grand-children. And people who follow their hearts and pursue their dreams. And people who live to love, to be happy, to build peace and kindness in the world.

If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?

I would build 105,000 homes across Australia so that all our homeless Australians would have a safe, loving and happy home in which to live.

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt). And the world is your oyster.

Do you know someone whose career story belongs in our ‘What’s your story?’ series? Please let us know!

 

"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

SUBSCRIBE