Category Archives: People Management

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!

How to make the most of your 360 degree feedback reviews

feedback

In the process of assisting clients with 360 degree feedback surveys, we are often asked ‘What comes next?’. The three videos below explain simply how to get real results from any feedback survey.

The Real Goal of the Feedback Review

Using the ‘5 Whys’

Make Sure Employees Take Action

Have your say…

What has worked well for you? Do you have any other suggestions for making feedback more effective? Let us know in the comments below.

Australia’s vocational training system continues to deliver jobs

NCVER media release  ·  3 December 2014

The results are in for Australia’s major survey of students for rating the nation’s vocational education and training (VET) system. It shows 77.6% of graduates are employed after training, with those employed full-time earning on average $57 400 per year. Those who train as part of a trade apprenticeship or traineeship fare particularly well with 91.4% employed after completion.

Published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Student outcomes 2014 provides information on VET students’ employment outcomes, and satisfaction with their training.

The survey also identifies the benefits for VET graduates:

  • 72.5% of those employed after training gained at least one job-related benefit resulting from their training.
  • 59.7% improved their employment status after training.
  • 44.4% of those that weren’t employed before training are employed after.
  • 14.8% of those who already had a job are employed at a higher level after training.

The results are positive for student satisfaction. 87.6% of graduates are satisfied with the overall quality of their training, and 90.2% would recommend their training provider.  While 77.9% of graduates find their training relevant to their current job.

All data in Student outcomes 2014 is derived from the Student Outcomes Survey which is conducted in the first half of each year on behalf of Australian, state and territory governments.

Over 42 000 students who completed their training with government funding or with a government supported VET provider in 2013 participated in the survey.

Copies of Australian vocational education and training statistics: Student outcomes 2014 are available from www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2755.html

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.

 

Have you missed the secret to career satisfaction?

accountability

If we’ve done our research, we know well what a certain career will require of us but what we require from our careers is not always so obvious.

Whether it’s your own career, your team members’ or your clients’, hidden engagement factors make all the difference.

The engagement analytics embedded in the Harrison Assessments questionnaire reveal the hidden inner dynamics of career engagement. The new Engagement and Retention Analysis report focuses on these factors to provide valuable insights into a person’s career expectations in eight key areas:

  • Development
  • Remuneration
  • Authority
  • Social
  • Appreciation
  • Communication
  • Personal
  • Work life balance

All of these factors will have an impact on the level of enjoyment and satisfaction we get from our careers.

Engagement analytics mean you don’t need to ‘mind read’ to know what’s important. Imagine the time and stress not having to guess could save you!

Understanding the value a client (or employee) places on each of their requirements is the hidden key to ensuring they will know what they are looking for when they compare careers.

You can view a sample Engagement and Retention Analysis here. To read more on the theory behind the report, download Dr Dan Harrison’s whitepaper ‘Engagement is a Shared Responsibility’. If you use Harrison Assessments, you already have access to this report for yourself, your staff and your clients. We can help you explore putting engagement analytics into action – contact us to find out more.

In October, November and December, we are giving away one Engagement and Retention Analysis per month…

For your chance to receive your own ERA report, speak to us at the conferences listed below, post a comment or subscribe to our newsletter.

This is where we’ll be:

We look forward to meeting you – and possibly sharing your hidden engagement dynamics!

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!

Avoiding Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can occur in any work environment, from offices to shops, community organisations and government departments. Employers have a legal responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination law to provide a safe workplace and one which is free from verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse. Bullying can have serious effects on the health and safety of individuals, which in turn can result in a loss in productivity with legal ramifications for the employer.

So how do we avoid bullying in the workplace?

Every organisation should have policies which outline how people are to treat each other at work. Commonly called a ‘Code of Conduct’, the policy should be easily accessible to all staff and outline what is (and is not) appropriate behaviour. In addition, the actions that will be taken to deal with unacceptable behaviour should also be detailed in workplace policies, as well as internal grievance procedures.

Is there a better way to address bullying?

At the recent 22nd Labour Law Conference in Sydney, Jonathan Hamberger (Senior Deputy President of Fair Work Australia) told the audience he believes “the key to tackling bullying in the workplace lies with line managers”. This will only be effective if the manager has an appropriate level of authority to resolve these issues, combined with superior people management skills and interpersonal skills.

An effective line manager should have the following people management skills:

  • great communication skills
  • the ability to build relationships
  • willingness to take responsibility
  • being open and transparent in their actions

Through the use of external assessment tools in the hiring and/or promotion process, these skills can be identified and assist the decision making procedure. Being able to identify the behaviours you are after, is the first step to ensuring you have the right candidate for the role and who will suit your organisation. There are also many training opportunities for managers to develop anti-bullying strategies to cover obligations, responsibilities and leadership skills.

Managers can be held liable for acts of unlawful discrimination, harassment or bullying even if they were not directly involved in the actual incident. Managers not only need to protect their employees, but also themselves against future lawsuits!

When line managers have the opportunity to deal with bullying issues at a workplace level, the social and psychological costs (to both the victim and organisation) are reduced. Not to mention the financial costs. The formal channels will always exist, supported by the Fair Work Commission, as well as legal processes.

With more effective and skilled line managers, staff making claims of bullying and harassment can be a very rarely used last resort.

What are you doing in your organisation to avoid workplace bullying?

Latest SLICE Survey results

Our latest survey of financial planning practices was published this week…

The aim of the SLICE survey, which runs 3 times a year (each time on a different theme) is to provide financial planning practices with an opportunity to share their views and insights with their peers and build an understanding of the most effective approaches to a broad range of hot button topics that challenge practices’ efficiency, profitability and viability. The latest SLICE survey focuses on financial planners marketing strategies.

Survey authors, Peter Dawson of The Dawson Partnership and Susan Rochester of Balance at Work, say the latest survey provides data to confirm what they have observed among financial planning practices.

The vast majority of financial planners surveyed have a marketing plan (83%) with 73% of those with a plan saying they put the plan together either on their own or with their business partner(s) and 47% drawing on the resources of a practice development manager. 33% had input from a business coach.

SLICE-3-SURVEY-RESULTS-figure-1

‘Up until a few years ago our marketing plan was pretty rudimentary but as time has gone by we have adopted a more structured approach with regular marketing planning and review meetings that we hold each quarter. This has helped us keep a focus on our marketing campaign making sure it remains relevant to our business and helps us achieve our goals.’
Principal SME financial planning practice

Of those businesses with a marketing plan 53% said that having a plan in place has opened up new opportunities with 40% saying that they were unsure if having a marketing plan was responsible for new opportunities that arose for their businesses.

While most respondents don’t use an external source to assist them put together their marketing plan 50% said that they would be open to doing so as they felt that someone with the knowledge and experience could add value to their marketing planning.

‘I suppose it’s too easy to get bogged down in the day to day work in a one man practice and my approach to marketing is a bit hit and miss but I do recognize the value of having a marketing plan and would be willing to hire a marketing consultant.’
Sole practitioner

The main marketing strategy used by the most respondents was utilising formal business partnerships (33%) followed by direct referrals from existing clients (28%), while 11% use networking as their primary strategy.

‘We have traditionally gained most of our business from our clients but it got to the stage where we realised that to grow to where we wanted to be we would need to look at other means of growing the business. We had some relationships with local accounting firms and worked towards developing these. This strategy has led to an increase in revenue of 22% each year over the last three years.’
CEO SME Financial Planning group.

SLICE-3-SURVEY-RESULTS-figure-2

‘Although the majority of respondents say they track the effectiveness of their marketing via a range of means, there was a surprisingly wide variation in the sophistication of their processes. While some follow a process where all leads are tracked, monitored and the source identified, then report on results regularly to see what is working and what is a waste of time, others have very little in place.’
Susan Rochester

According to our respondents social media is not a major strategy in their current marketing plans and a number of respondents made comments including ‘Social media is just a lot of noise,’ ‘Social media maybe ok for an on line business but our firm is a people to people business and nothing can replace that’ and ‘My kids use Facebook and I just don’t get it’.

‘We expected to find one or two respondents reporting social media as their main marketing strategy. This was not the case in this sample, although comments indicated that practices are using social media to support other strategies, for example by sharing newsletter articles via social platforms.’
Peter Dawson

However social media wasn’t without some support with one respondent stating that she was open to using social media as ‘it’s all about connectivity and if I can interact with people at a professional level on social media that can only be good for my business’.

SLICE-3-SURVEY-RESULTS-figure-3

The practices that responded to this survey were mostly more than 10 years old (78%), with 17% who had been in business 6-10 years and only 6% for 5 years or less. The majority had fewer than 10 staff (72%) although 28% of respondents were from firms with 21 or more staff.

Concluding remarks

The Slice 3 survey has revealed a strong focus on financial planners developing structured marketing plans and that these are far from static documents as most reviewed their marketing plans on a regular basis. Respondents were focused on building their business by drawing on their relationships with their clients and through formal business relationships. Many are yet to embrace social media as a major part of their marketing plan, although this may change in time as attitudes shift.

For more information about the SLICE survey, contact Peter Dawson directly on 0418 601 245 or emailpeter@dawsonpartnership.com.au

 

"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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