Tag Archives: people

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you heading in the right direction?

terminating employment

Occasionally, it’s good to know you are on the right path…

This email we received from a consultant using Harrison Assessments Career Navigator System (CNS) demonstrates the power in knowing you are heading in the right direction:

A colleague in her mid-twenties who worked opposite me has for quite a while thought that she would like to be a nurse. All she really knew is that she didn’t enjoy working in this job, behind a computer all day every day because it didn’t give her a sense of doing something meaningful. But she didn’t know what else to do. A few weeks before Christmas she used the Harrison Career Navigator, and surprise, surprise, it listed nursing as something she would be really good at. She moved into high gear, enrolled at university to do a nursing degree, resigned from her job, moved a lot closer to the university, and has already begun preparing for the next three years of study. What’s inspiring is that she was willing to sacrifice her income and live another three years as a poor, struggling student in order to do what she loves.

Another friend suffered a major mental health issue and had to be hospitalised for a month. The crisis was brought on by issues related to work, and on leaving hospital she knew she couldn’t keep working in that area, but had no idea what else she could do. She did the assessment, which amongst other things recommended she work in a post office. It so happens her old job also managed a post office, and so she moved into the new role. She now loves what she does, finds work a lot less stressful and her health has really improved (so much so she’s returned to full time work).

A colleague who is successful in her current career but a little bored has been increasingly wondering, ‘Now what?’ She jumped at the opportunity to do the assessment, which confirmed that she would be well suited to being a doctor, something she had contemplated before. She is now seriously considering whether to give up her current work and pursue a career in the medical field. It would be a very long road for her, but immensely rewarding. I’m betting she’ll go for it!

I guess I can also add my own story to the list. I’ve known for a long while that I really want to work in the areas of counselling, coaching and training, which I love, but have often doubted whether I have what it takes to make it in that area. Doing the Harrison Career Development Assessment gave me a huge boost in confidence, confirming that I would be well suited to all three and that they would give me the sense of doing something meaningful that I’ve lacked in my career so far. And even more than that, it even more specifically identified that I would be particularly suited to career and relationship counselling, and adult education training, which I have really enjoyed in my education. So it was a great confirmation that I am on track and has helped give me the confidence and motivation to push on. Exciting times ahead!

What difference has direction – or lack of direction – made in your life?

Click here to get sample reports.

To find out more about how you can help your clients find their direction with Harrison Assessments’ Career Navigator, click here.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Warning: 13 lies applicants will tell you to get the job

trust

We tell potential employees what we want.  We shouldn’t be surprised if they bend the truth to fit our requirements.

Although slightly ‘tongue in cheek’, the following list is based on actual recruitment experiences in real workplaces.

1. I’m self-motivated

…I applied, didn’t I?

2. I have excellent communication skills

…just don’t read my CV too closely.

3. I have industry experience

…not necessarily in this industry.

4. I love a challenge

…as long as it’s one I choose.

5. I’m very flexible

…so long as I can be out of here by 5.15 every day.

6. I believe in excellent customer service

…if I’m the customer.

7. I’m well organised

…in fact, I can spend all day tidying my desk and sorting my emails.

8. I can juggle priorities

…you’ll notice how I have Facebook and YouTube open at the same time.

9. Money isn’t important to me

…as long you pay me what I think I’m worth.

10. I’m a team player

...oh, you mean at work?

11. I work independently

…as long as I can go around asking everyone else for help.

12. I’m innovative

…just tell me what you want and I’ll Google it for you.

13. I have great interpersonal skills

…but please don’t ask me why I left my last job!

Too cynical? Too harsh?

If you’ve been caught out by any of these statements from a prospective employee, the good news is that there are independent ways to assess every one of  them – if you’d rather get the full picture.

Of course, you may agree or disagree!  I look forward to reading your comments.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three management mistakes you don’t even know you’re making

trust

In our work with business owners, we have observed three beliefs that can hold them back from managing better, often without them being aware of their impact. 

Next time you are feeling frustrated with your staff, it might be time to check your thinking for any of the following…

1. Assuming your team should care as much about your business as you do

Have they taken the risk to build the business, invested their personal funds, time, energy and emotion?  Why would they care like you do?

Their money will be in the bank next pay day, regardless of whether they buy into your dreams.

2. Believing you can change people

We’re all only capable of change if we have the will to change. Why would you expect your staff to change their behaviour through the power of your will?

You can inspire and encourage change in others’ behaviour, but you can’t control it.

3. Thinking you are ‘in command’

You can enlist others’ cooperation and collaboration, but there are not many people in civilian life who like to be ordered around.

Business owners tell us consistently that they want staff who are self-starters and take initiative.  Isn’t it a bit unrealistic to then expect the people you’ve recruited – because they have these traits – to suddenly want to follow a directive without question?

Have you noticed how your beliefs affect your management style?  Please share your thoughts below.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three things you should know about every new employee

You’ve read the CV’s, interviewed and done reference checks. Could you have missed something?

Assuming your new employee has the qualifications, experience, skills and attitudes required to do the job, there are three basic things every boss needs to know about their latest hire:

1.  How long are they likely to stick around?

Your needs will vary with the job, but the cost of hiring and training someone new usually means you would like them to stay working for you for a reasonable time.

2.  How well do they respond to feedback?

Some people strive to be the best they can while others are quite happy the way they are. What if you hired someone who sees no reason to change and views feedback as criticism?

3.  Are they motivated to put in effort commensurate with the rewards they expect?

If you are paying someone well, you will be expecting them to work at a certain level. It’s useful to know if they are likely to possess the self-motivation required.

These are just 3 of the 156 work-related traits we measure using Harrison Assessments to help you predict performance. 

We call these traits:

1.  Wants Stable Career

The desire for long-term or permanent employment.

2.  Receives Correction

The tendency to accept guidance intended to improve performance.

3.  Pay Minus Motivation

The tendency to have strong desire for money while lacking the personal drive necessary to earn it.

Would it make a difference to you to know these things before you bring someone on board?  Contact us to find out more.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

More places to find our articles

As well as writing this blog, did you know I also write for other websites, e-zines and blogs?

You will find my writing on the Leading Minds Academy, Dot Com Women, Planner Lounge and HR Daily Community websites, with different and relevant articles.

Here are links to recent articles on those sites:

Are you an expert yet? on leadingmindsacademy.com

Are you a creature of habit?  on dotcomwomen.com.au

Ideal traits of paraplanners and financial advisers on plannerlounge.com.au

Top 5 critical skills in shortfall on community.hrdaily.com.au

It’s possible your clients, managers or members could also use this information.

Please get in touch if you’d like to add this sort of content to your own publications, online or in print.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How’s your balance?

A recent conversation with Thea Foster of Added Value Corporation prompted this article. Thanks for the inspiration, Thea!

We all know that to run a successful business, department or team requires consistent achievement across several disciplines.  Typically we need to perform well across finance, marketing, sales, service delivery, planning, technology and people.  And it’s quite common to see one or more areas get more attention, while others are neglected.  Thea calls this ‘playing favourites’ and most of us do it.

To find out if you play favourites, make a list of the outstanding issues in each aspect of your work (use the list above as headings if you like).  If you have a good balance across your scope of management, you will have roughly the same number of outstanding issues under each heading.

Perhaps you found one or two areas with a longer list of outstanding issues?

My prediction is that those are the areas of management you feel least comfortable handling.  It’s human nature to tackle the easy stuff first.  What comes easily to us will naturally be attended to first.  Unfortunately, that often means a log-jam of other issues that build up and stop us from moving forward.

You are not alone.

‘John’ is just great at finding new prospects (marketing), converting them to clients (sales) and providing them with all they could ever expect (service delivery).  You could say these activities are his favourites.  What John enjoys less is budgeting (finances, planning), dealing with IT (technology) and involving his staff in the business (people).  John knows these things are all important, but for him it’s more fun to be out there talking with clients.

Have I just described someone you know?

Or you might know ‘Jenny’.  Jenny has elegant systems in place to keep track of every action (technology, service delivery, people, planning) and every dollar (finances).  What she doesn’t like to do is tell the world about the amazing services she can offer (marketing, sales).

Both John and Jenny are not realising their full potential because the unaddressed issues are holding them back.

Here are the steps for improving your balance

1. Identify your ‘favourites’ – the tasks that you find easier than others activities.

2. Decide whether you are prepared to spend less time on your favourites so you can spend more time getting on top of issues in other areas.

3. If yes, identify your priorities, allocate the time and start taking some action now.

4. If you prefer to continue working on your favourite activities – which is where you will be happiest and most productive, take the time to identify what you should get someone else to do for you and how.

What are you avoiding right now?  What’s it costing you?

Once you’ve been through the exercise above, change will only happen if you make it happen.  Finding a coach or mentor to guide, support and keep you accountable will certainly help you to reach a better balance – sooner.

Remember to let me know how you intend to improve your balance.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Critical skill shortage 5: Technical skills

Welcome to the final article in this series based on data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, collected in the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles on this topic.

All the skills we looked at previously in this series – communication, problem solving and decision making, strategic thinking and people management – are of limited value to a business if they are not accompanied by the requisite technical knowledge.

There is a growing demand for professionals who possess relevant and transferrable technical skills.

This current skills shortage will become critical due to the following factors:

  • Baby Boomers are retiring, taking critical skills and knowledge with them,
  • Products and services offered to clients are growing in numbers and complexity and
  • Customers are expecting more sophisiticated advice and more individualised services.

The smart organisations in the sector are building their talent base in all the skill areas we’ve examined in this series.

According to the Kelly study, they are attracting and retaining mid to senior level talent with the right skills in the following ways:

  • Attractive and competitive pay and benefits (83% of respondents)
  • Talent and career development training (71%)
  • Internal promotion (62%)
  • Work life balance initiatives (42%)
  • Hiring from other organisations (25%)
  • Attracting younger workers (17%)
  • Attracting older and more experienced workers (17%)
  • Increased reliance on foreign talent (9%)
  • Delayed retirement (8%)
  • Temporary and contract work arrangements (7%)

Most organisations will find that some of these approaches are less sustainable than others.

What’s your talent attraction and retention strategy?  How well is it going to serve you in the longer term?

As always, I’d love to know what you think.  Please add your comments below.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

‘Tis the season to be jolly…

It’s the time of the year for the annual Christmas party ‘do and don’t’ list.  You can find our checklist elsewhere on this blog.  We have the kind permission of leadership expert, Stephen Bell of iHR Australia, to share the following article with our readers.

While conceding that it is “tiresome” for HR to send out the regular ‘do and don’t’ statements regarding party behaviour, he says the break-up party “is actually an opportunity for managers to demonstrate their commitment to workplace culture as leaders”.

“This is about state of mind and how we as managers approach the function. Do we approach it simply as a participant or do we see it as an opportunity to increase staff engagement? An opportunity to recognise, reflect and get to know?

“This is without doubt an opportunity to understand more about patterns of team and staff interaction, morale and satisfaction. On the other hand this opens the door for you to ‘muck up’ badly; to embarrass yourself and allow the lines of communication and authority to be blurred; perhaps inflicting long-term pain on you and the organisation.”

Bell, the managing director of iHR Australia and Asia, says managers intellectually and emotionally “sign up” to leadership, “knowing that every now and again [they] risk breaking the contract”.

And he says the Christmas party provides a high-risk environment in which such a break can occur. “We can find ourselves closing up shutters for the year, forgetting that the organisation’s Christmas party is actually the springboard into the next year, and behaving loosely or without consideration for the state of our future relationships.”

He recommends that managers lower their risk and take a leadership mentality into the party.

“Why? Because it provides you with another great opportunity to demonstrate that you are an effective, open, responsible and caring manager – key attributes for building and reinforcing staff engagement.”

Bell offers seven tips for organisations and managers that want to use the Christmas party to demonstrate quality leadership:

1. Understand the guidelines and have a clear mind – leaders should understand the organisation’s expectations of them, Bell says.”Be clear about what the organisation expects in relation to behaviour at any Christmas event.” He recommends “relaxed, jovial and respectful” behaviour instead of just “fun”.

“Also understand the organisation’s position on matters such as drunkenness, cab fares, start and finish times, attendance at events following the Christmas party, and other practical information.” (Bell advises managers not to attend after-party events.) “This all helps for a clear mind so that managers can make any difficult decisions beforehand that might be required on the night.”

2. Set expectations for staff – leaders should set or communicate expectations, and deliver on them.”It’s great to have a relaxed, two-way team discussion before the event about ‘what’s OK and what’s not OK’,” Bell says. “You may well be surprised, if you ask your staff about their own expectations regarding behaviour, how naturally aligned it might be to those of the organisation.

“Furthermore, set expectations in relation to responsible drinking, (if in fact you allow it), cab charges and starting and finishing times. Have a ‘Party Rules’ memo circulated prior to the event.”

3. Turn up – leaders demonstrate interest and commitment to their employees, Bell says.”Many managers tell me they don’t turn up to the annual break-up party because they ‘don’t enjoy being in a room full of drunks’, or ‘it’s too dangerous given modern-day legal risks’. In my view no one should be that drunk at a Christmas party and leaders should understand risk but not be paralysed by it.

“Not turning up out of fear lacks courage and is an abdication of your responsibility as a leader to build a more engaging workplace.”

4. Role model behaviours – leaders should model the behaviours required by the organisation that they commit to.”The capacity and willingness to role model is a key leader attribute. At the Christmas party, the fact that you drink too much, take part in humiliating or belittling behaviours or discussions puts you and the organisation at risk.

“On the other hand if you drink moderately (if indeed you want to drink alcohol), be happy, congenial and respectful you are likely to help set a positive, responsible tone. Self control is a great leadership attribute and a lot easier said than done. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses (especially in social situations) and the triggers that might lead you to behaving in a way that might be regarded as unacceptable by your organisation. For example, if you have a tendency to enjoy drinking with a particular group of males or females with whom you’ve had a long association, ensure that you make a concerted effort to move around the room rather than restricting yourself to this particular group.”

5. Be aware – leaders have awareness of what is happening around them.”Managers need to be aware and coherent. You are ultimately responsible for the safety and welfare of the attendees. Prepare to be an individual respondent in a court case should you fail to observe and act on behaviours that are potentially litigious. For example when ‘tipsy’ Megan and Phil are making publically disparaging comments about Alan because he works ‘too slow’ or Sandra and Kent’s dancing is becoming very ‘dirty’, recognise that this may potentially lead to a harassment claim.”

5. Be prepared to act on bad behaviours and say goodnight – leaders demonstrate courage and are prepared to change the course of events when required.”You should be prepared to respectfully take people aside when you feel their behaviour is a risk to themselves or others. Don’t do it in front of the crowd. Having difficult discussions in front of a team could cause a confrontation that ruins the night or give a ‘smartie’ the opportunity they want to attempt to embarrass you in front of others.

“If people are drunk or behave badly you need to be prepared to say goodnight. Generally a friendly handshake, consoling words about having to leave early and a cab-charge will do the job. If, however, an attendee is obviously at risk to themselves or the community you may need to organise a more ‘door-to-door’ arrangement in relation to getting them home (for example, two managers driving that individual home). If an injury occurs to the individual on the way home and it is deemed that the organisation has contributed to their condition and failed to take reasonable action to ensure the employees safe return home, then the organisation is potentially liable.”

6. Implement the boundaries of the function – leaders do what they say and manage their environment to attain the outcomes they want.”Finally, implement the start and finish times and ensure those attending the party know the boundaries of the party area. You should have agreed these up front. If it’s at a venue where there are a multitude of rooms and parties remember to remind those that constantly leave the designated party area that they are contravening your ‘party rules’ and if they keep leaving your area without good reason they may not be allowed to return.”

For more information on iHR, click here.

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

Overcoming deception

We are often asked by recruitment consultants and employers if it is easy to ‘cheat’ on the Harrison Assessment. The short answer is “no”!  The following article, from Dr Dan Harrison’s ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’, explains why HA is different.

One of the biggest challenges of any behavioural assessment is to determine how truthfully the person has answered the questions. How can an assessment determine if the person has given truthful answers?

There are several important interconnected ways to overcome the problem of untruthful answers.

1. Forced ranking

Many personality assessments attempt to determine this by offering to answer seemingly opposite options along with an additional answer option called “in between.” If there are too many answers of “in between,” the results are considered invalid. While this may provide a slight indication of answer reliability, it is an extremely weak method. In many cases the most truthful answer may in fact be “in between.” Therefore, this method is not reliable.

It is best to provide answer options that need to be ranked rather than rated or scored. Forced ranking requires the person to designate their priorities.

2. Cross-referencing

HA uses computer cross-referencing to reduce the time required to complete the assessment. HA uses the same cross-referencing to determine if the person’s answers are consistent with themselves. If a person answers untruthfully when ranking a large number of statements, it is extremely difficult to maintain a high level of consistency. Even if the person were to remember all the rankings exactly, it would still be difficult to meet or exceed the consistency requirement.

Each statement appears two times and each time it appears it is ranked against other statements that are completely different. To maintain consistency, the person would have to mentally perform thousands of cross-references. If the answers are more than 10% inconsistent, HA considers that either the person has not paid sufficient attention to the answers or has deliberately attempted to deceive the assessment. In either case, the results are not considered valid.

3. Positive options only

Harrison Assessments has further mechanisms that prevent and detect deception. The questionnaire only includes statements relating to positive behaviours. Therefore, all of the statements are generally perceived as desirable. In addition, even if the person attempts to give the desirable answer, their own behaviour patterns dictate which answers they consider desirable. For example, if a person tends to be very frank and direct, they will consider this tendency to be their virtue as well as a desirable answer.

4. Paradox

The HA system includes a further layer of lie detection by analysing the paradoxical relationships between the behavioural tendencies. Through such analysis, negative behaviour patterns can be determined without asking any negative questions and without the person having the slightest awareness that they have revealed their negative behaviour. If the person attempts to deceive the assessment, the negative behavioural patterns will become more exaggerated making them appear as poor candidates.

Would you like to experience the assessment for yourself?  Please click here or call us to request a free trial.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Should you be asking THAT question?

When interviewing job candidates, we all have favourite questions we always like to ask.  The effectiveness of some of these questions is questionable, to say the least.  

As candidates, I’m sure we’ve all heard some screamers. I thought asking a person what car they drive was pretty poor, until someone told me they’d been asked “If you were a car, what sort of car would you be?”.  This question would give a good indication of the person’s imaginative powers, but little or no information about their ability to do the job.  

Another favourite is “Where do you want to be in five years’ time?”.  If you have heard that one before (who hasn’t?) you can imagine how common it is and how easy for a candidate to prepare an impressive answer for when you ask them!  

The ability to do the job, along with attitude, are the key things you’re looking for in your intervew questions. Any question that does not give you more information on ability or attitude is a distraction from the main game and may even land you in hot water.  

Here are some examples of interview questions which may be asked with the best of intentions but may be inappropriate:  

1. Where did you grow up?

2. How old are your children?

3. When did you finish high school?

4. What does your wife/husband do for a living?

5. How long do you plan to work before you retire?

If you have asked any of these, or similar, questions in the past, my advice is to consider a new approach to how you interview. We will be talking about the traps to avoid in our next webinar on 25 August. Register here to learn more: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/917745616

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Banking on your reputation

If your chances of being hired or promoted – or winning a new client – depended 20% on your qualifications and 80% on your reputation, would you need to change your behaviour?

I’m sure for most readers, the answer is ‘no’ because you are already aware of how important your reputation is to your success.

In this post we’re going to look at some of the things, beyond honesty, that contribute to a good reputation.  If you’d like to know more about how to get more insights into a person’s reputation, read this post.

These are our top five factors contributing to a high personal approval rating:

1.  Valuing others for the relationships you have with them, not just for what you think they can do for you.

2.  Positive interactions and communication with peers, managers, suppliers, clients and competitors. 

3.  Congruence or acting in ways that are consistent with your values and the values of your organisation.  This is ‘walking the talk’.

4.  Delivery – doing what you said you’d do, even if it will cost you.  Corollary:  Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

5.  Consistency in how you act in the full range of situations you encouner in life and business.  People like to extrapolate from how they’ve seen you behave in one instance to how you will approach other situations and if you’re not consistent you’ll cause confusion, which can be damaging for you.

As an employee, consultant or adviser, be aware of how all these factors contribute to your reputation and the reputation of your organisation.

As a manager, you could use these five factors as a checklist when assessing candidates for employment or promotion, as you go through your interviews, reference checking and staff development processes.  Lack of clarity on any one of these factors is a signal that you may need to do some more research before making your decision.

Remember “You can’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do.”  (Henry Ford)