Tag Archives: strategy

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three things you should know about yourself

…and anyone you employ!

Talking to a client yesterday about the potential to promote a staff member, I was reminded (again) of the power of awareness of our strengths and limitations.  Whether you’re hiring new staff or developing existing staff, positive change has to start from a point of knowledge and acknowledgement.

Even if you have a strong intention to improve, unless you know what’s holding you back it’s very hard to move forward.  But how do you find out?

One way is by objective assessment.  Here are three examples of  important leadership competencies we can measure for you: 

1. Strategic Judgement = the tendency to have a balance of traits necessary to discern pertinent information and formulate an effective strategy. 

This competency is made up of essential traits: Analytical, Analyses Pitfalls, Research/Learning, Intuitive, Collaborative, Self-Improvement, Systematic; desirable traits: Experimenting, Persistent, Certain, Pressure Tolerance, Optimistic, Planning, Self-Acceptance, Relaxed, Open/Reflective; and traits to avoid: Blindly Optimistic, Impulsive, Skeptical, Defensive, Dogmatic, Easily Influenced, Fast but Imprecise, Precise but Slow.

2. Interpersonal Skills = the tendency to have a balance of traits that relate to effective interaction with others. 

This competency consists of essential traits: Diplomatic, Helpful, Optimistic, Outgoing, Assertive, Frank, Influencing, Self-Acceptance, Self-Improvement, Warmth/Empathy, Tolerance of Bluntness; desirable traits: Flexible, Collaborative, Open/Reflective, Manages Stress Well, Relaxed; and traits to avoid: Defensive, Blunt, Dogmatic, Harsh, Dominating, Authoritarian, Permissive.

3. Provides Direction = the tendency to manifest the traits necessary for a leadership role. 

This is a combination of essential traits: Want to Lead, Influencing, Takes Initiative, Wants Challenge, Enthusiastic, Self-Improvement, Planning, Persistent, Pressure Tolerance, Public Speaking, Self-Acceptance; and desirable traits: Experimenting, Flexible, Frank, Handles Conflict, Helpful, Precise, Organised, Relaxed, Risking, Systematic, Tolerance of Bluntness, Warmth/Empathy.

Do you already know all this about yourself and your team? 

Would it be useful for you to have this information before making recruitment, coaching and promotion decisions?  What else would you like to know?

It’s surprising, but we can get all that information – and much more! – out of one short online test.  If you haven’t tried the assessment for yourself yet, it may be time to click here to register for a free trial.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Can you deliver on your Client Value Proposition?

When you make a promise to a client, are you confident your staff can – and will – keep it?

Many businesses, especially in financial services, struggle to identify and define their client value proposition (CVP).  The AFA 2010 White Paper provides valuable insights from consumer research. 

One area covered in the research was ‘loyalty drivers’.   The responses to the question “Which of the following are important for choosing and staying with a financial adviser?” were:

  • Your adviser takes time to listen/explain things to you – 82.5%
  • Your adviser is available when you call and/or returns calls promptly – 75.7%
  • Your adviser resolves account issues/questions quickly – 66.9%
  • Your adviser proactively manages your account and/or suggests changes – 65.8%
  • Your adviser is affiliated with a reputable organisation – 43.7%
  • Your adviser is calls you on a regular/ongoing basis – 35.7%

(263 respondents, multiple answers allowed)

The first four are clearly the most important to the financial advice clients surveyed.  All four depend on you having the right people in the right roles.  These services are all time-consuming and unless you can rely on your staff, you are bound to under-deliver and disappoint.

Having staff who can deliver on your promises is a combination of your recruitment, selection, induction, training, performance management and coaching practices.  Any weak points in these practices will carry over into how you’re perceived by your prospects and clients.

Some questions for you:

  1. Are you confident you can deliver these loyalty drivers on a consistent and regular basis? 
  2. How much will you achieve if you don’t have skilled and productive staff to back you up? 
  3. How would you cope with client disappointment?

As you reflect on the answers and how they impact your CVP, we are here to help.  Extensive experience in people management, many year’s coaching financial advisers and cutting-edge tools mean we can identify issues quickly and set you on the path to your CVP goals.  Contact us here.

Postscript:  I recently left my financial planner because they provided only one of the above loyalty drivers.  Can you guess which one?  Hint:  Being affiliated with a reputable organisation is not enough on its own!

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

Workplace Flexibility and the Recovery – Risks and Opportunities

By Kerry Fallon Horgan, Keeping Good Companies Journal, Chartered Secretaries Aust

The global financial crisis and the introduction of flexibility requirements in the Australian National Employment Standards have focused renewed attention on workplace flexibility.

Harry Stout, ING Australia CEO, says “As a result of the GFC we have had to find creative ways of best deploying our resources from declining business areas to those who have growing and requiring greater resources needs. INGA has prided itself on retaining employment wherever possible, while our competitors reduced headcount from 5-20%. To achieve this we worked with our employees in finding ways we could reduce our employment costs while maintaining headcount. Through further encouraging flexible work practices, we were able to ride through the markets turbulence and are now positioned to leverage new opportunities.”

A similar response happened at AMP Ltd. “The challenging environment of the financial crisis encouraged us to look at creative ways to retain our employees and increase engagement and productivity in challenging times. Creative workforce planning strategies that continually reinforce flexibility as a work option ensure AMP has the workforce it needs, without compromising our optimistic and positive brand and culture,” explains Katriina Tahka, AMP Head of Talent & Diversity.

Workplaces that have introduced or reinvigorated their flexible work practices over the past year have not only significantly reduced costs but are now in a position to comply with the flexible work provisions of the new National Employment Standards(NES), which came into effect on 1 January 2010. This particular NES will significantly increase employees’ requests for flexibility and yet the majority of organisations do not have the knowledge base to comply.

Organisations such as ING Australia, IBM, AMP, Stockland and Carnival Australia are using the introduction of this National Employment Standard to update existing flexible workplace policies and guidelines and/or provide training on the legislation and how to make flexible work practices work. The legislation is providing an opportunity to reinforce their commitment to flexibility through awareness and education programs.

The full article is available at http://www.flexibility.com.au

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

‘Fresh Ideas for Work and Family’ Grants Start Now

Grants to make your business family friendly

The “Fresh Ideas for Work and Family” Grants Program helps small businesses set up family friendly work practices.

If you have a small business with between 1 and 14 employees then funding of up to $15,000 is available to help you with your work/life balance initiatives. These initiatives may include home-based work programs, flexible work practices such as job sharing and part-time work, flexible workplace policies and guidelines, family rooms and more. The focus of the program is to help employees better balance their work and family obligations by making the workplace more flexible.

The funding round opens on 25 February and closes on 31 March 2010. Eligible small businesses must have a least one employee and can include companies, partnerships, not-for-profit, non-government, sole traders and a consortium of up to three small businesses.

With the workplace flexibility requirements under the new National Employment Standards and the grant being provided by DEEWR to set up flexible work practices, it is important that small businesses take advantage of this opportunity now! Flexible work arrangements also benefit both employees and the business bottom-line.

For more information and help with applying for the grant contact Kerry Fallon Horgan at Flexibility At Work on (02) 9402 4741 or email kerry@flexibility.com.au  Further details are also available at www.flexibility.com.au

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The most common hiring mistake and how to avoid it

assessments for recruiting

Imagine you need to employ a new staff member…

What’s the first thing you do?  Write an ad?  Call HR?  Brief an agency?

You’ve just made the most common mistake of managers who decide to hire:  Missing the first step.

Allow me to explain…

Have you ever found yourself interviewing a job applicant and thinking “This is a total waste of time”?

Usually, you’ve come to this conclusion within a few seconds.  Unfortunately, you’re committed to carry on the interview until a reasonable time has elapsed for the candidate to believe they have had a fair hearing.

Why was this person, so clearly unsuited to the role, even sitting in front of you?

They were there because they had submitted an impressive application in response to an advertisement.

Clearly something was wrong in the process.  Either

1.  the advertisement was not specific enough about the requirements or

2.  the application was not adequately scrutinised for a match to the specific requirements of the role.

Start your recruitment process with one simple question and I guarantee it will be much faster, easier and more productive:

“What would it take for someone to be an outstanding performer in this role?”

(Because you only want to hire outstanding performers, don’t you?)

Here are three simple steps to help you define what you’re looking for in your ideal candidate:

1.  List all your requirements for the role (=success factors).  Include

  • skills
  • qualifications
  • work experience
  • values
  • attitudes
  • motivation
  • interpersonal skills
  • task and work environment preferences
  • interests

2.  Now decide which of these you must have (=essential criteria) and those which would be nice to have (=desirable criteria).

3.  Are there any personal characteristics which you definitely don’t want (= traits to avoid)?  For example, you might wish to avoid employing someone who has a strong desire for money while lacking the personal drive required to earn it.

Now – and not before – you are ready to ‘go to the market’ with your requirements.

Then:

  • Get ready to receive applications that are more relevant and targeted;
  • Stick to your wish list;
  • Evaluate the success of your recruitment campaign by the quality of the candidates, not by the number of applicants; and
  • Avoid wasting time in interviews that should never have been scheduled!

Tip:    Review your job descriptions to include success factors for more efficient and effective recruiting next time round.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

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Download sample reports here:

Recruitment Package Reports

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   How To Attract

Key points that will help convince a top candidate to accept a job offer

•   Interview Guide

Worksheet with behaviorally-based interviewing questions

Development Reports

•   Development For Position

A development plan for each of two traits that would most improve performance for a specific person related to a specified job

•   Manage, Develop, Retain

Key points to effectively manage, develop and retain selected employee

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Main Graph Report

Overview of trait relationships. Requires expert training to interpret (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Paradox Report

Analysis of paradoxical behaviors (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Summary Keywords

A summary and key word descriptions of the individual’s job-related behavior

•   Traits Definitions

An individual’s scores on all the primary traits listed in order of the highest score and optionally highlights the traits related to the job

Team Reports

•   Group Screening

Compares a group of people to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Team Main Graph

A graphical overview of the relationship between traits for a group of people

•   Team Paradox Graph

A graph showing a group of people plotted against each of the twelve paradoxes

•   Trait Export

An export of all the scores from all the traits for a selected group of people (used for analyzing performance factors or organizational culture)

Career Reports

•   Career Comparison

Compares an individual to the specific requirements of a particular career

•   Career Development

Personalized guidance for an individual’s career development

•   Career Options

A list of careers that would provide the greatest job satisfaction for a specified individual

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Using interviews to assess job behaviour

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

handshakeIn the past, interviews have been used as the primary means assess attitude, motivation, and job behaviour. However, even if interviewers are extremely intuitive, there are many reasons why accurately assessing job behaviour with a normal interview process is nearly impossible.

1. Interviewers do not have access to a real behavioural success formula. There are dozens of behavioural factors that either promote success or inhibit success for any one job. Interviewers rarely have access to a job formula that identifies the behavioural success factors, weights the success factors against each other. And formulates how different levels of these success factors impact job performance

2. Even if the interviewer has access to such a formula, the interviewer would need to accurately assess specific levels of each applicant’s behaviour for each of the job success factors.

3. Some people are skillful at being interviewed. However, being skillful at an interview usually does not relate to job success and therefore it often confuses them into thinking that such skillfulness will relate to job success.

4. The interviewee aims to tell the interviewer what he/she thinks will be viewed as the best response. The interviewer aims to determine how much of what the person is saying reflects genuine attitudes and behaviour and how much is related to just trying to get the job. This in itself is extremely difficult to resolve in the short period of the interview.

5. Interviewers are biased. Research clearly shows that interviewers routinely give favorable responses to people who are similar to themselves, and less favorable responses to people who are different from themselves. In the end, the result is very likely to come down to how well the interviewer likes the candidate rather than how well the candidate fits the behavioural requirements of the job.

Many interviewers claim insights into the personality of applicants and certainly some interviewers are quite perceptive. However, predicting job success is an entirely different matter. It is not sufficient to perceive a particular quality of a person. Rather, the interviewer must be able to accurately assess the magnitude of each of dozens of qualities in relationship to a complex formula of behavioural requirements for a particular job. This is nearly an impossible task without the aid of significant research and tools.

Assessment research shows that interviewing has a moderate ability to predict job success. However, this doesn’t mean that interviewers can predict job behaviour. The moderate ability to predict job success comes as a result of exploring the candidate’s resume, previous experience, education, and job knowledge rather than the interviewer’s ability to predict job behaviour. If you doubt my assertion, I suggest you try the following experiment. Have your interviewers conduct the interview without ever seeing the resume and without discussing past experience, education or skills. Then have them write down their job success prediction. Later, you can compare this prediction to the actual job success. In fact, conducting interviews in this way would be so difficult that I doubt anyone would even attempt it.

Next in this series:  Job behaviour assessments compared to personality assessments

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

An Introduction to Best Practices in Talent Assessment

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International. For a copy of the full report, please email us.

Assessing people for jobs is the most important task of any organisation. The quality of assessment ultimately determines the performance of new hires as well as the ability of the organisation to effectively develop employees. It affects every important aspect of the organisation’s success including management effectiveness, sales volume, customer retention and productivity. Assessment is not merely one of the functions of the Human Resource Department. It is the essential foundation for effective talent acquisition and talent management.

High quality assessment used at the point of hire enables you to have the greatest impact on performance and productivity in your organisation. High quality assessment of applicants during the recruitment process results in less time and money spent on training and developing employees. This enables management to focus on important strategic issues. Good assessment reduces training costs, minimises losses due to poor decisions, increases employee retention and can even provide a foundation for better teamwork.

Effective assessment also provides huge benefits for employee development. Assessing existing employees makes employee development much more efficient and effective. Good assessment can enable employees to clearly understand their performance in relationship to the job requirements. This can be a great boost to employee motivation. It can also provide managers with a means of pinpointing the development areas that will provide the greatest impact on performance. Harrison Assessments™ Talent Assessment System even goes a step further by providing managers and coaches with effective tools for encouraging and enlisting top performance as well as providing guidelines for developing specific job success behaviours. In addition, reports also help employees to better understand how to apply their strengths for their career development. These are key areas that promote talent retention and motivation.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How will recent federal government changes affect you?

There have been a number of recent changes at the federal government level in Australia that affect employers.  We recommend you take the time to find out more about them.parliament

1.  Fair Work Bill

Significant changes to industrial relations are on the way and they will affect your business.  The Fair Work Bill 2008 will come into operation on 1 July 2009, with full changes to be in place by 1 January 2010.  At the same time, an award modernisation process is underway.  You’ll find detailed fact sheets at workplace.gov.au

New unfair dismissal laws (from 1 July) are likely to have the most immediate impact on our readers.  More information on fair dismissal can be found in the fact sheet provided on our website for your convenience.

In preparation for the changes:

  • Check all your documentation (policies, procedures and contracts) is compliant with the National Employment Standards
  • Find out which new award(s) will apply to your employees, including award coverage where it may not have applied before
  • Review your recruitment process for non-award employees
  • Understand the new fair dismissal code and review your performance management and discipline policies for consistency with the code
  • Ensure you clearly communicate any policy changes to your staff

2.  Fresh Ideas for Work and Family Program

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, announced the launch of the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family program on 1 March 2009.

This national initiative provides grants of $5000 to $15000 to successful small businesses to implement practices that help employees balance their work and family obligations and improve employee retention and productivity.  Information on how to use the grant is available from experts in workplace flexibility, Flexibility at Work.

The program aims to assist small businesses across regional and metropolitan areas. It is designed to support projects that benefit both the employer and employees, demonstrate long-term sustainable outcomes for the business and have the potential for wider application to other businesses. Applications will be accepted from:

  • Small businesses in Australia with fewer than 15 employees.
  • Not-for-profit and non-government organisations.
  • Consortia of small businesses.
  • Sole traders and incorporated sole traders that employ between 1 and 14 employees.

Further information on family friendly work arrangements, work-life balance and the program is available at http://www.deewr.gov.au/WorkplaceRelations/FreshIdeas/Pages/default.aspx or call  the Workplace Infoline from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday on 1300 363 264 or email FIWF@deewr.gov.au.

3.  Federal Budget 2009

The Budget has a number of consequences for employers that you should discuss with your advisers:

  • Changes to employee superannuation contributions and salary sacrifice concessions
  • Employee share schemes
  • Paid parental leave
  • Increased deduction for capital expenditure (to 50%) before 30 June 2009

It’s important that you’re aware of these issues in case you need to take action.  We can then point you in the right direction to get assistance to make any necessary changes.