Tag Archives: inspiration

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Recruitment’s biggest myth

It amazes me how many people still believe:

The more candidates you have to choose from, the better your chance of finding the right person.

This is a fallacy that gives people comfort – while also ensuring they waste time in reading too many resumes, then sorting, ranking, interviewing and notifying too many applicants.

Imagine an alternative reality:

When you advertise a vacancy every applicant is so switched on by what you say that they are already screened to fit your core values.

And they personally deliver their application to your office!

You would receive far fewer applicants but every one of them has already passed through a filter before you even see their resume.

This is not a fantasy.  It actually happened to our accountant, Accounting and Taxation Advantage, when they advertised with these words:

At Accounting & Taxation Advantage our

philosophy is simple. We want to impact our

client’s lives, their families and their communities.

We are looking for a

FULL-TIME ACCOUNTANT

(experience not necessary) that wants to join our

proactive, innovative, award winning accounting

firm. Beware though – we are not normal

accountants.

So if you dream of a workplace where you are

encouraged to share your ideas to grow the

business, are provided professional and on the

job training, where you want to see your clients

succeed, where everyone is rewarded for their

efforts but importantly where you work hard and

are a committed part of a team then we may be

what you are looking for.

Inspired? Then drop your resume in person to

our Glenbrook office by May 31.

How does this compare with your most recent job ad?

If you want to stop wasting time on inappropriate applicants, you need to know:

1.  Why you do what you do;

2.  What makes your organisation or department special;

3.  Where you’re headed and how you plan to get there.

Once you’re clear on those three points  it will be easy to ignore the biggest recruitment myth!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why are you wasting time?

We all know ‘time is money’ yet we are sometimes willing to throw away time to an extent most of us would never consider throwing away money!

Did you know, that if you spend just half an hour each day dealing with junk email, interruptions and other time-wasting activities, you are essentially throwing away over 3 weeks a year! What would you do with those 3 weeks if you could have them back? I’m guessing you wouldn’t spend them reading junk email…

Here are some reasons why you might not be getting to the important stuff that will really contribute to your success – and what you can do about it:

1. The not-so-important stuff is quicker and easier (and usually more fun).

Solution: Time for you to revisit – and use – the Urgent v Important time management matrix.

2. You are constantly interrupted.

Solution: Whose time is it anyway? There are ways to set clients’ and colleagues’ expectations about when you’re available and how quickly you’ll respond to their requests.

3. That important task is so big it’s overwhelming.

Solution: Work out how you can ‘eat the elephant’ one bite at a time. My favourite way is to just start. I set the timer on my phone for 45 minutes and do nothing but work on that task until the timer goes. Sometimes when it does, I’m so absorbed I just keep working.

4. The important things don’t seem urgent enough.

Solution: Create urgency for yourself by setting milestones and deadlines. It often works to plan to reward yourself when you’ve met the milestone. For example, you might go for a walk and get a coffee after you’ve called five clients.

5. You’re out of synch with your natural productivity cycle.

Solution: Get to know how your energy and focus levels change throughout the day and work with nature, not against it. For example, if you know your best time for concentration is early morning, do your big thinking in the first part of your working day and save routine tasks until later.

You can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself.

These are just a few of the many useful skills you can learn from our latest workshop.  Please contact us for more information.

And please let me know below how you stop yourself from wasting time!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three steps to successful collaborations

succession

This post is part of a series on collaboration. See this previous post for more on how working together can work for you.

A recent article on the dangers of collaboration started me thinking of the proactive steps we can take to avoid the risks inherent in a collaborative effort.

Like many people, my experiences range from significant disaster to sucessful win-win relationships. You can learn from my mistakes.

Here are the ‘success factors’ that I believe can make all the difference:

1. Identify in advance what the pay-offs will be for each party from the relationship

Unless both parties stand to gain equally from a joint venture, there will always be an unequal distribution of effort and interest to make it work. This is one factor you can’t neglect and which needs to be monitored, evaluated and renegotiated as you go along.

2. Know who you’re working with

This seems obvious but how well do you really know the other person? In particular, do you know how they will react to stress?

As we court potential joint venture partners, we are usually at our politest and most agreeable. You also need to know what might happen if it all goes ‘pear-shaped.

Also get to know the personnel of your potential joint venture partner. Who will be responsible for what? Who will you be working with closely?

3. Set clear expectations – for everything!

You need to consider everything – from the time you expect it to take to respond to an email to how profits will be shared.

Business collaboration is a unique relationship. You are both client and supplier to each other. This requires you to observe the same professional standards you follow with your other clients and suppliers.

Collaboration in any venture can add diversity, interest, personal development and contributes to the overall stock and sharing of human knowledge. For me, working with a co-author on a current project has been challenging at times. However I know the result will be of much higher quality and originality than if either of us worked alone.

Could you create successful collaborations using these steps? What benefits could be awaiting you?

As usual, I’d love to hear your story. Please share your experiences (good, bad and ugly) with collaboration, so we can learn from you!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

A lesson in valuing your intuition

Employee on the way out

When you have a decision to make, do you put more emphasis on analysis or intuition?

If you believe decisions must be based on logic, it could be time to listen to your heart a little more often.  That niggling doubt could be a sign you need to pay more attention to your intuition.

Initially trained as a biologist, I tend to put a high value on rational thought, reasoning and analysis.  These skills were important when I was trying to measure native snails’ eating habits or cotton plant growth.

Not so useful on their own in other areas, like solving problems and making decisions.  In fact, most of the ‘wrong’ choices I’ve made in life were made when I had switched off my intuition!

To give equal weight to intuition as I give to analysing facts is a skill I’m yet to conquer, with an unfortunate choice of holiday accommodation being my most recent lesson.

The best quality decisions are based on a balance of feeling and facts.  Dr Dan Harrison, founder of Harrison Assessments, illustrates this as one of twelve paradoxes.

When both the left and right brain functions are used, we are able to sense what is important at the same time as we analyse the situation.  Good insight is the result.

To find out more about enhancing the quality of your decision making, please get in touch.

To read more about the power of paradox, click here.

Have there been times when your intuition has saved you when analysis alone could not?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The 2 main reasons you don’t delegate

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

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

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

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

2.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Here are some signs that delegation is not working:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness

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

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

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

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

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Critical skill shortage 2: Problem solving and decision making

This is the third of six articles inspired by data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, from the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles, posted on 2 and 9 May 2011.

The Kelly study identified problem solving and decision making together as a critical skill that is in short supply among mid to senior level managers.

In the current environment of uncertainty and rapid change, the ability to solve problems and make appropriate choices are essential for:

  • giving high quality, appropriate and timely advice to clients,
  • having a reputable, sustainable and profitable practice and
  • complying with regulatory requirements.

What do we mean by problem solving and decision making?

The ability to do both these things well depends on the degree to which a person possesses all of the following qualities:

  • A tendency to logically analyse facts and problems, as well as examining the potential difficulties of any plan, balanced by –
  • A willingness to use intuition in decision making (especially important when there are a lot of variables that can’t be analysed objectively);
  • The desire to have the authority to make decisions and to take responsibility for the outcomes while also being –
  • Prepared to collaborate with others who may have valuableinformation that needs to be taken into account.

How can you build on your natural strengths in this area?

  • Uncover your strengths, as well as areas for improvement.
  • Step outside your comfort zone by taking on greater challenges.
  • Practice!  See our free worksheet ‘Are you sitting (too) comfortably?’ to get you started.

Like to know more about your strengths (and your team’s) and how to develop them further?  Contact us to organise an assessment and/or coaching.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Time for some weeding and pruning?

Doing some gardening yesterday afternoon, I was reflecting on the many similarities between creating and growing a garden and how we live our lives.

There are the obvious steps of planning, sowing and harvesting. Once your garden’s established, most of the activity comes down to what to keep and what has to go.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking or lose weight? These are two examples of powerful changes that can occur based on letting something go – assuming you stick to your resolution, of course.

The same potential for positive change exists in your business life when you take a critical look at those practices, people and work habits that don’t serve you by contributing to your ongoing and sustainable success.

What should you be getting rid of in 2011?

Here’s a short list of suggestions.  If you have others, let me know below.

1. Any project or task where the pain of doing it is not well balanced with the ultimate rewards.

2. Clients who don’t like to pay.  Or whose company you don’t enjoy.  Or who take up more than a fair proportion of your time.

3. Unproductive and time-consuming work habits, like constantly checking your emails.  Remember to ask your team to help you identify what’s wasting their time, too.

4. Fixing work that should have been done ‘right’ the first time by someone else.  Either learn to accept their version, or find someone who can and will do it ‘your way’.

5. Lack of clarity about what you should be doing and why.  Take some time to review where you are, where you’re headed and plan how you’ll get there.

Let me know how your garden grows!

Remember our next webinar is on 2 February – ‘Your Flying Start to 2011’ – for tips and tools to keep you on track this year.  Just click here to register.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Top 10 of 2010

We’re ready for a big year in 2011!  Before we get too far into the new year and a new decade, we decided to take a look back and compile this list for you, of the favourite posts from our blog in 2010.

In case you missed any of them, you can read them right now…

  1. 1 in 3 candidates lie.  Will you hire a liar?
  2. One little word you can’t ignore
  3. The most common hiring mistake and how to avoid it
  4. Networking gets personal
  5. When does a group become a team
  6. Looking for some workplace magic?
  7. Banking on your reputation
  8. Wondering what your team’s thinking?
  9. Can you deliver on your Client Value Proposition
  10. Ten top tips from savvy CEOs

We look forward to reading your comments!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why rewards (often) don’t work

Many managers try very hard to find new and more effective ways to motivate their staff through rewards. Are you one of them?

Could seeking to motivate people with monetary rewards ultimately be a waste of time, effort and money?

Take a look at this video animation (just 11 minutes long) of a talk given by Daniel Pink and please share your thoughts below.

 

For more on Performance + Rewards, please click here to register for our next webinar on Wednesday 10 November.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

3 simple ways to get more done

Did you know you can be more effective, for longer periods, if you pay more attention to what you’re doing? 

(We covered the possibility of doing less to achieve more in an earlier post on multi-tasking.)

Driving a manual car recently after many years of driving automatics – and the extra concentration that required to get anywhere – started me thinking about the things we do on auto-pilot, without really being ‘present’.  At work, this can mean we repeatedly act – or react – out of habit in ways that may be counterproductive, even causing stress for ourselves in the process.

We all know we have a choice about our reactions to everyday situations, so how do we switch off the default mode and become more mindful in the everyday?

1.  Change your routine

Just as driving a manual car required me to concentrate more on what I was doing, anything you do different from your normal routine will engage your brain more in whatever it is you’re doing.  For example, you could take a different route, or mode of transport, to get to the office.  Or try out a new response when you answer the phone.

2.  Minimise distractions

It is possible to get through a day without checking your emails every 2 minutes!  (I have tried it…)  Instead, the experts recommend a set time to check your emails, twice a day, say 10am and 4pm.  By starting your day on your most important project, instead of being driven by what’s in your inbox, you’ll feel more in control of your work with a greater sense  of achievement.

As an internet addict myself, I’ve found the use of a program the shuts of internet access for a predetermined period is very effective for increasing focus!

3. Take some action

If you find yourself reacting with annoyance or frustration when confronted by certain people or situations, it’s time to do something about it!  Instead of putting off confronting the issue and causing yourself ongoing tension, focus on how much better (and more effective) you’ll feel once you don’t have to worry about it anymore. 

Of course, one solution may be for you to consciously change your reaction so that you no longer waste time on an unproductive emotion!

Please let me know if these tips – or any others – have helped you to be more effective by posting your comment below.  As always, I look forward to hearing from you!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Looking for some workplace magic?

On my way back from Melbourne last week, I sat near a girl who was reading a book called ‘Workplace Magick’.  This started me thinking about a lot of things, mostly about how bad things must be at work for someone to hope a book like that might help.  
 
 Have you ever felt that desperate?  I know I have!  And I’m also fairly sure no magic was going to fix it!
 
The Gallup organisation recently studied work satisfaction. They found that feeling that you have friends at work was one of the top predictors of job satisfaction.  You can achieve a friendly and productive workplace by creating a positive work environment that motivates people.  

 

How can you bring back the magic for your team? 

1.  Think of yourself as a facilitator and supporter of greatness, for both your team and individual members.  When you know their strengths, you can help them harness and contribute their best efforts.
 
2.  Be willling to share the credit when things go well and avoid playing the blame game when they go wrong. 
 
3.  Be aware of how you talk to – and about – members of your team.  How you communicate, verbally and nonverbally, is being constantly monitored and judged by those around you.
 
4.  Listen to and respect the opinions of team members.  Show them that their suggestions are valued by being prepared to try something new when they offer solutions to problems they’ve identified.
 
5.  Keep your commitments.  If you promised the team that something would happen, it’s up to you to make sure it happens, or have a reasonable explanation when it doesn’t.

Would you like to know what your team’s thinking?

Click here to find out the easy way!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Top Business Ideas in the Aftermath of the GFC

This is a guest post from The Quinn Group:

The Global Finance Crisis was a trying time in the lifecycle of any business.

The good news is that we are seeing some softening effects from the GFC and there are certainly things that you are able to do to help your business run smoothly:

Turn negatives in to positives:

  • If your business suffers a lack of profitability, increase prices, shop around for cheaper suppliers, increase value-adds to your customers, develop loyalty programs and encourage referrals
  • Meet with your staff and assess whether they are being managed correctly, ask for their opinions and act accordingly
  • Review the gross profit margin of each product or service separately and eliminate underperforming offerings and replace with higher performing, higher turnover offerings.
  • Review the sources and reasons behind any customer complaints and alter your processes accordingly e.g. service, manufacturing, supply, quality control etc
  • As a manager you need to learn how to stop working and start managing. It is impossible to do everything yourself so ensure that you delegate tasks to the right people and free up some of your time for more important things
  • Plan your capital purchases to capitalise on any tax breaks before the end of the financial year

Capitalise on your assets:

  • Increase marketing to raise awareness for your business
  • Create systems to ensure that your quality is consistent
  • If you have great staff, review incentive packages to ensure you retain them and decrease your staff turnover rate
  • Plan for growth – if there is room for expansion find out the amount of funding needed to fund this growth and secure appropriate finance if necessary. Perhaps you may be able to franchise?
  • You may have a great product or service – protect it by attending to patenting or trademarking.
  • Outsource anything you do not have the expertise to do yourself. There can be great benefits in drawing upon the training and experience of others

The team of accountants, lawyers and financial planners at The Quinn Group are able to assist you in all your business planning needs and provide advice on the best strategies to undertake in the wake of the GFC. Click here to make an online enquiry or contact us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.

"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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