Tag Archives: management

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Top 5 critical skills in shortfall

The Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study uncovered a serious skills  shortage in the Banking and Finance Sector in the Asia Pacific region.

The five skills most in demand are also those considered most critical for mid to senior level managers across all industries.

Of all organisations surveyed,  88% said the shortage of staff with the right skills had a negative impact on their ability to serve clients.

As the FOFA reforms come into play for those readers giving financial advice, we will begin to see the real impact of this skill shortfall in terms of client attraction and retention.

If you’re an employer, you will find it increasingly difficult to identify and hire people with these critical skills.

The top 5 critical skills in shortage are:

1.  Communication including the critical abilities to

  • build long-term, successful, professional relationships with clients, in addition to selling a product or service and
  • communicate complex financial concepts to a non-finance audience in a simple and tactful way.

2.  Problem solving and decision making required for

  • complying with high levels of regulation and
  • dealing with environmental uncertainties.

3.  Strategic thinking to

  • assess multiple external factors and
  • develop and evaluate options.

4.  People Management with the ability to

  • lead, motivate and inspire and
  • ensure teams have the right balance of skills.

5.  Technical skills

  • relevant, up to date and transferrable knowledge and
  • an ability to deal with more sophisticated products and markets.

What has been your experience?  Have you suffered a skills shortage crisis?  Have you found effective ways of dealing with the skills shortage?  What are your plans for the future?  Please share your thoughts below.

 

 

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

Your easy performance management checklist

Viewers of last Wednesday’s webinar were suprised to learn that most performance management processes are a big waste of time.

How do you assess the value of your process?

Here’s an easy checklist:

1. Do you have all the information you need to set meaningful goals ?

2. Do all your employees get to have a high-quality conversation about their performance at least twice a year ?

3. Does your employee survey show that your performance management process is effective ? (If you don’t currently survey staff, consider using our Team Health Check.)

4. Does it take you more that twenty minutes to comlete the performance appraisal form ?

5. Do you have a maximum of 3-5 goals for each review ?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all five questions, congratulations!

If you didn’t, it might be time to view the webinar recording and/or get some help.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

‘Performance + Rewards’ webinar recording

Conducting performance appraisals and rewarding performance effectively can be two of the biggest challenges you face when managing staff.

Are performance reviews something you – and your team – dread having to go through, even to the point of serious procrastination?

Ever wondered how to select rewards that will really excite and motivate your staff?  Have you ever succeeded in this sensitive area of management?

Does the whole idea of measuring and rewarding staff performance give you headaches?

What if you had a straightforward strategy that met the needs of both you and your team?

Watch this webinar to find out more!

Performance + Rewards Webinar from Susan Rochester on Vimeo.

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

Taken any shortcuts lately?

Preparing for the ‘Recruitment and Selection Essentials’ workshop later this week started me thinking about the shortcuts we sometimes take when recruiting new staff. 

Often this is because we’re in such a desperate hurry to get somebody (anybody?) onboard that we are willing to take a risk or two.  

Here are some suggestions for minimising the risks: 

Do have a systematic way to compare candidates in terms of the essential and desirable criteria for the role.  This will save you having to plough through each resume to find vital information in the early stages and make it easier to pick your top candidate(s).

Don’t brief a recruitment agency or write an advertisement until you know exactly what you’re looking for.  Clarity on this one point will save you time and money – every time.

Do conduct phone interviews in the first instance.  This is becoming more common and can save both you and your candidates a lot of time.  By having a few ‘make or break’ questions, you may find you have reduced the number of people to be interviewed face-to-face.

Don’t employ anyone without first checking their credentials.  You may be aware of a case before the NSW Supreme Court.  The investment manager for Astarra Funds Management, Shawn Richards, claimed to have both a degree and experience when he had neither.  If you don’t check, will your reputation survive a fraudulent employee?

Do always check the references given to you by candidates, even if it takes some time and trouble.

Don’t feel you have to stick to checking just the referees you have been given.  Recent supervisors and peers may be able to provide you with more information.  

Do spread your net to other people in the industry who might know the candidate and ask them for their feedback.  Your industry contacts can also save you time in identifying likely candidates.

Do find out as much as you can about the potential employee through pre-employment assessments and checks.

Taking shortcuts can result in getting lost! 

Implementing these simple guidelines will save you time (and money) in the long run.  More importantly, they will reduce the substantial risks to your business and reputation of employing an unsuitable, unqualified or unreliable staff member.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you getting the full picture?

Sometimes we make employment decisions without access to all the facts.

When our daughter asked to start piano lessons recently, I didn’t ask to see the teacher’s qualifications before agreeing for her to learn from him.

Qualifications are important!  So why didn’t I even think to ask?  Probably because I’ve had the opportunity to observe not only his musical prowess, but also how he interacts with other students and teachers.  This gave me confidence in his ability as a teacher.

At work, you may know a person’s qualifications but you rarely have the chance for long-term observation before making staffing decisions.  Or do you?

Here are 3 ways you could get more of this important information, by tapping in to what others have observed:

1. Always reference check when hiring and make sure the check is meaningful.  You can do this by having prepared questions, probing when you sense there’s more information and asking a candidate for more referees if you’re not getting the answers you need to make your decision.  If you work in financial services, Standards Australia’s handbook ‘Reference Checking in the Financial Services Industry’ provides an essential guide.

2. If you’re looking for a new staff member, consider people you already know from your business or social networks who might be able to fill the role.  If there’s no-one suitable, ask them if they can recommend anyone.  Remember the last time you hired a painter or plumber?  Did you pick a name from the phone book or ask your friends first?

3. When reviewing staff performance, seek feedback from the employee’s colleagues, team, clients and suppliers.  They will be able to provide you with insights from a different perspective.

You’re unlikely to have the full picture yourself so why not ask for the opinions of people you trust?

With Money Management reporting today that jobs in the Australian financial services sector have jumped by more than 5 per cent since last month, we are likely to see many more staff choosing to make a move.

Under these labour market conditions, it’s critical that you have the right people in the right roles if you want them to stay.

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.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Excuse me, your bias is showing

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

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

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

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

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

How is this significant in business?

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

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

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

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

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The rules of employment have changed…

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

Commencement of the operation of NES (National Employment Standards)

Modern Awards commence operation

State System Employers enter Federal System

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

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Christmas Party Checklist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

"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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