Author Archives: Susan Rochester

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM FIML Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. According to her Harrison Assessment, Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you ready for the future of work?

Future of work

Predictions of the future rarely turn out to be accurate. Many of the predictions about the future of work will be no different. It seems clear, however, that we are at the beginning of a substantial change in the way we work. For many people, the most visible change is the growing pace of technological change, but there are many factors driving us towards different types of work, and equally, different ways of working.

From Robyn Moyle, The H Factor, 16 July 2019, used with permission (Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash)

Many people may feel threatened by reports of technological change, particularly in the area of automation. We believe that it is very important to be extremely careful of simplistic predictions. In fact, the World Economic Forum anticipates that artificial intelligence may actually deliver up to 58 million new jobs globally, which is perhaps contrary to the popular view that automation is going to take people’s jobs away.

In any event, technology is only one of the catalysts for workplace change. There are a number of other drivers, including:

  • The generational change taking place in many workplaces as the baby boomer generation edge deeper into retirement, and the increasing diversity of generations that are now of working age;
  • The changing skills required to do different types of work, especially in many of the traditional white-collar industries;
  • The fear of disruption in many economic sectors as a result of changing customer expectations;
  • The greater use of outsourcing and offshoring arrangements; and
  • The changing expectations of the employment relationship.

​It is the combination of these that is leading to changes in the needs of employers, and at the same time changing the desires and expectations of employees.

TECHNOLOGY
Nobody can ignore the impact of technological development on the future of work. The impacts fall into 3 critical areas:

  • The number of tasks that are now being automated, especially through the use of artificial intelligence. Many businesses are seeing the productivity gains from automation and the potential for cost savings that are essential to keep them competitive. 
  • The amount of new technology that now enables different business opportunities. Drones are one such technology through which businesses can now offer services that would have been cost-prohibitive in the past, and provide the job opportunities that go with them.
  • The ability to access vast amounts of data through which business can perform reliable predictive analysis. The access and use of big data is having a big impact on the way businesses go about their activities. For those businesses that can access the analytical skills to make use of it, big data is presenting opportunities that may have otherwise remained unexplored.

Technology is no doubt changing the types of work that we do. For businesses to fully access the opportunities that arise from technological change, they must have access to people with the appropriate skills to develop, deploy, use, and maintain it.

CHANGING SKILLS
Many of the new jobs being created by technological change require different skills. Creative thinking, technological competency, and learning agility are all skills that are now valued more highly by employers. 

As businesses themselves strive for greater agility and adaptability, they look for those same skills in their workforce.  Perhaps a myth to be busted is that these attributes are about attitude; to a very large extent, they are learned skills.

The future workplace will almost certainly require greater collaboration.  A job in the future will more likely require you to use your head more than your hands. The jobs that require creativity, interpersonal skills, organisation, and decision making will be the hardest to automate. This means that what has previously been called soft skills will become more important. These include the skills of communication, empathy and relating to others, collaboration, conflict resolution, and planning. Effective leadership will therefore be especially important.

When we created The H Factor system, our entire approach is based on nurturing these skills. In particular, having outcomes-based position descriptions and instilling an effective conversation about achieving the outcomes is especially important in the transition from measuring performance based on pre-conceived assessment criteria, to inspiring and monitoring performance through a natural conversation based on a shared understanding of the desired result.

THE FEAR OF DISRUPTION
As technology has become more accessible, the expectations of customers have changed. For example, in the past many of us caught a taxi without the need for a mobile phone app, but now Uber has shown a different and better customer experience by ordering on demand to where we are, rather than us having to hail a passing taxi by chance, or go to a defined taxi rank. Similarly, we rarely need to go into a bank for day-to-day transactions, and many of us may not even know what a cheque is.

For businesses, this has created the need to have greater flexibility in how they can manage their workforce and in their working arrangements for their teams. It impacts not just the types of work that people do, but it also impacts how they go about that work.

The bigger changes in customer expectations are based on technologies that have improved the human experience. This is why we believe that the biggest risk for employers is not that their industry will be superseded, it is that their competitors will find a better human experience for their customers. This is not merely a technical risk, although it is likely that some form of technology will be the enabler.

Therefore to minimise the risk of disruption, employers again need to tap into skills that may not have applied in their industry in the past.  These will include technical skills such as coding, user experience design, and data analytics.

Those business leaders who have clarity about the problem their business exists to solve, and who can communicate why that matters, will reduce their risk of disruption by building organisations that are focused on the human experience. They are more likely to be the disruptors than the disrupted.  

This is why The H Factor system home page is your business story – why your business exists at all. It enables your team to engage with the problem, and contribute their ideas and effort to your business being at the forefront of the solution for your customers.

OUTSOURCING AND OFFSHORING
For some tasks that can’t be automated, employers have found outsourcing or offshoring those tasks to be an effective method for reducing costs.  In some cases, this approach also provides those organisations with access to specialist skillsets.

The use of subcontractors – whether they be in Australia or overseas – has been a growing trend for some time. One of the challenges in transitioning to these arrangements is effectively engaging the external team to work effectively with the workplace culture, deliver the appropriate quality of work, and managing the procedures for transferring work between internal and external parties.

An increasing number of people are employed on a contractual basis. They may even be full-time employees for the period of the contract. This is especially impacting traditional white collar workers, with particular technical skills, where employers see a need for those skills for specific projects.  Again, the challenge is how to engage those contractors effectively with the workplace culture and ensuring that their work is consistent with the desired result.

In The H Factor system, the type of work is separate from the type of employment contract.  Every position exists to achieve an outcome. How a person is employed in that position is then a separate matter, and the outcomes conversation process for managing their performance still applies whether the person is employed permanently, or on a contract, or is located internally, locally, or offshore. Equally, the system enables access to policies, procedures, and training wherever or whenever they’re needed – that have been created for the business by the people who actually do it.

CHANGING EXPECTATIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
Workplaces are more diverse than they have ever been. There are a number of factors driving this:

  • Greater levels of immigration over the last 20 years has seen a greater diversity in the cultural backgrounds of people now engaged the workforce;
  • There are now multi-generations in the workforce at the same time, with Baby Boomers at one end of the spectrum and Gen Z at the other, and the Gen X-ers and Millennials in the middle; and
  • The (possibly false!) perception that full-time permanent employment will be a thing of the past.

Immigration has had a dominant impact on social change in Australia over the last 20 years. For employers, this has enabled access to a larger talent pool for many skills. 

Once in the workplace, people from different backgrounds bring with them their different cultural values around work ethic, the need for perceived status from their employment, and different expectations of the work environment itself.

At the same time, the participation of women in the workforce has also substantially increased. Employers therefore have developed more flexible approaches to work, including actions such as specific policies around acceptance and inclusion, and organisational structures and working arrangements that accommodate such a diversity of needs and expectations.

Every generation brings with it different expectations about the role work will play in their lives. Some people started their working life in an era when their parents had one employer, or even one job, over their whole career, while others are starting their career with a desire to avoid investing in skills that may ultimately be automated.

There is a common perception that full-time permanent employment opportunities will become fewer as technological change becomes more rapid. So far, the statistics don’t support that perception, but that possibly won’t matter. If people don’t believe that they will have a secure full-time job in the future then they will naturally seek greater fulfilment from the job they have right now – or they will seek to find a job that does provide such fulfilment. We hear this in many conversations we have with business leaders around the challenges of managing employees who are Millennials and Gen-Xers for example.

The H Factor system was designed to help leaders manage diverse workplaces by building the positions in their business around the “stuff that needs doing”. This enables people to engage with the needs of the business, and self identify their own approach to fulfilling those needs. This enables a greater potential of fulfilment for people as it enables them to ‘grow into’ their position, and take genuine ownership of it. For managers, it provides confidence that the people in their team see the business priorities the same way that they do.

Research has shown that the desire to be engaged in their work is a common aspiration for people across all generations.  It enables people to achieve a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction from what they do. In an era where we have the greatest diversity of generations working together at the same time, it has never been more important.

We are optimistic about the future of work. It is our belief that, ultimately, all of these changes are leading to more interesting jobs, an increased capacity for businesses to make a positive difference to their customers and in the societies in which they operate, and an increased appreciation for and value of humanity itself.

Sources:
Mercer Global Talent Trends 2019 Report; #7 Building The Lucky County, Deloitte Insights 2019; and OECD Library – Editorial: A transition agenda for a Future that Works for all.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

It’s just not cricket: how to put the brakes on when culture turns toxic

With the behaviour of sports teams and businesses in the spotlight as a result of their cultures, we were recently asked for our insights for the MYOB blog…

When the behaviour of a few bad eggs goes against your company values, where does personal responsibility come into play? When does it become a cultural responsibility?

Earlier this week, Cricket Australia released a report into its culture as a response to Sandpaper-Gate.

The cricketers involved in cheating were promptly given one-year bans from playing professionally.

Already there are calls for the bans to be lifted – advocators say that those responsible are merely products of a toxic culture.

But how do you define a poor culture and how it feeds into a person’s actions? It’s a fine line that’s hard to see.

That’s why the report is a whopping 145 pages.

In the findings, it’s suggested that Cricket Australia’s poor culture stemmed from the leadership team – but no amount of finger pointing will bring about a positive resolution.

Why culture is bigger than leadership (but direction from the top helps)
“It would be easy to say that bad cultures happen due to a lack of good leadership, but the truth is usually more complex,” director at Balance at Work, Susan Rochester, told The Pulse.

Looking at the leadership as a sign of poor culture is glimpsing at one part of the picture. Invariably poor culture spreads from each person’s questionable actions.

“If there’s an unhealthy culture there, those who don’t fit it will leave and those who remain will adapt to it,” said Rochester.

“If they’re unwilling to take responsibility to change themselves or the culture, then using culture as an excuse for behaviour they know to be wrong can be the most comfortable way to explain what they’ve done and avoid responsibility.”

But simply saying individuals are to blame is skimming the surface.

Rochester said leaders who made it clear that “hitting the numbers” was numero uno for an organisation couldn’t be surprised when employees did all they could to hit those numbers.

TIM REED: Why Culture Day is my favourite day of the year

In the case of the “high-performance” Australian cricket team, where winning is the most important thing, the door was open for good players to do bad things – to achieve it.

“It is the management’s responsibility to create an environment where a healthy culture and high performance can co-exist. There is no need for an either/or relationship between the two – it is possible to have both,” said Rochester.

So, what can leaders do to recognise that a poor culture is brewing before those outside the company pick up on the vibe?

Spot the signs, then turn it around
Seeing something negative creep into your organisational culture is not easy to notice – think about the frog in boiling water.

If you’ve been there since the beginning, you may not notice the water temperature’s on the rise.

But Rochester said there are a few signs when things start going wrong:

  • Employees become defensive and protective of their project
  • They lack a willingness to share information
  • An increase in the formation of cliques and the spread of gossip
  • An increase in staff grievances and customer complaints

Once you’ve identified that a poor culture has developed (or is at risk of developing), there are a few rescue remedies at hand.

Rochester said several models help, but it usually boils down to three key steps.

“Thinking about existing behaviours in your organisation and how these are driven by the cultural levers of policies, procedures, systems and rules is a good first step,” she said.

“Once these have been mapped, then it’s usually quite easy to see how the behaviours are driving the outcomes the company is getting.”

These levers could be what KPIs are in place and how meeting those KPIs are rewarded. Another lever could be whether staff are aware of the core values of the organisation, or how people are held accountable.

READ: Do you have a KPI dashboard in store?

If you have a handle on the current behaviour, define what culture you want to see.

“Once you know the outcomes you want, then ask what are the behaviours and the levers that support those behaviours that will bring us closer to our desired culture?,” said Rochester.

Big or small, every company’s cultural change needs tough conversations.

“Bad cultures often develop because managers with the best intentions are incapable or unwilling to back those intentions with their actions.

“They know what they want the culture to be but have either failed to make that clear or have not been good at holding people accountable to their desired values and culture.

“Making the time to have the tough conversations when they need to can make a big difference.”

This article was written by James McGrath and originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Is your career missing the talent stack?

We can’t all be good at everything, but we’re all good at something. You can build a career on knowing how to combine average levels of ability.

This is true even if you’re not brilliant at any one thing. Take Donald Trump for example…

The talent stack is a concept I first encountered through Scott Adams (the Dilbert cartoonist). In this post from January 2016, he predicts the rise of Donald Trump based on his unique combination of talents.

We all have some talent, skill or characteristic we already possess or can develop if we are willing to put in the time, work and energy.

What makes you special is how you layer your individual talents into a unique and cohesive whole.

This combination will give you the advantage over anyone who believes a unique talent, or passion, in just one area is enough as a base for a successful career. Look at Scott Adams’ talent stack as an example:

1. Artistic talent (mediocre)

2. Writing talent (simple and persuasive, but not Pulitzer-worthy)

3. Business skills (Good, not amazing)

4. Marketing and PR (good, not great)

5. Social media skills (mediocre)

6. Persuasion skills (above average, but not Trump-like)

Any one of those skills alone would be enough for an average career. Recognising that combining them systematically to make him more valuable is what has made Scott Adams above average. It was also the key to building a satisfying and successful career.

What skills and interests do you possess that in combination make you more valuable?

What do you think of this idea? How could you create a talent stack that works for you in your career?

We can help you work out your unique talent stack and how to build on it. Find out more here.

Or you could use Scott Adams’ list above as a guide. What talents have made you successful so far? What talents are you willing to develop further?

How can you stack your talents so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts?

Find out how we can help you. Book a call with us today!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Books every leader should read

 

 

 

 

Here are four books that will help you hone your leadership skills and grow your career.

 

1.To The Top: How extraordinary leaders lead ‘in the zone’ 

Cheri Rainey (Author), Susan Rochester (Author)

To The Top: How extraordinary leaders lead ‘in the zone’

Why It’s Worth Reading:  This book would answer these questions: What do great leaders do differently that makes their leadership so effective?

What makes leadership really work? If leadership — as we traditionally know it — is the answer to these questions, then books like this wouldn’t need to be written. But traditional leadership isn’t working. There are too many examples of leadership failure for anyone to suggest otherwise.

There is an alternative to the traditional model, a way of leading that has worked throughout history and will work today. In this book, Cheri Rainey and Susan Rochester outline the “How to” for replicating outstanding leadership – an approach to leadership that great leaders have unknowingly fallen into for centuries and attempted to replicate intuitively. The greatest leaders from the past, accessed a space and a way to lead that is effective, powerful, and real – and different from the traditional text book form of leadership.

 

 

 

2.  It’s Not Just A Job It’s Your Career: Your Next Career Move 

It's not just a job it's your career! Your next career move Peter Dawson with Susan Rochester

It’s Not Just A Job It’s Your Career: Your Next Career Move by Peter Dawson (Author), Susan Rochester (Author)

Why It’s Worth Reading:  Your career is a journey that should be both professionally and personally fulfilling. But at times it may throw up some curve balls that can challenge your thinking and take you into uncharted territory without a map.

It’s Not Just A Job It’s Your Career: Your Next Career Move‘ provides you with the building blocks to put together a structured career management strategy designed to enable you to get the most from your career. It includes practical advice to help you identify and secure suitable career opportunities and avoid the pitfalls.

This book is based on the experiences of a former executive who has worked over the last 12 years as an executive search consultant with expert input provided by a human resources consultant with extensive experience finding the best possible fit between people and jobs.

You have the benefit of our shared experience in this book and in the bonus ‘Career Strategy Toolkit’.

 

 

 

 

3.   It’s Not Just A Job It’s Your Career: Your Career Starts Here Kindle Edition

 

Successful Recruitment: Transforming Your Business Through Best Practice

Successful Recruitment: Transforming Your Business Through Best Practice by Peter Dawson (Author), Susan Rochester (Author)

Why It’s Worth Reading:  ‘It’s Not Just A Job It’s Your Career: Your Career Starts Here provides you with the building blocks to put together a structured career management strategy designed to enable you to get the most from your career. It includes practical advice to help you identify and secure suitable career opportunities and avoid the pitfalls.
This book is based on the experiences of a former executive who has worked over the last 12 years as an executive search consultant with expert input provided by a human resources consultant with extensive experience finding the best possible fit between people and jobs.
You have the benefit of our shared experience in this book and in the bonus ‘Career Strategy Toolkit’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Successful Recruitment: Transforming Your Business Through Best Practice Kindle Edition

Successful Recruitment by Peter Dawson (Author), Susan Rochester (Author)

Successful Recruitment: Transforming Your Business Through Best Practice by Peter Dawson (Author), Susan Rochester (Author)

Why It’s Worth Reading: Successful Recruitment provides practical advice to help you undertake a successful recruitment campaign and includes a bonus recruitment toolkit designed to help guide you through the process and keep you on track while avoiding the costly pitfalls.

If you approach recruitment as you would any other business decision, making an assessment based on the most effective means of delivering the best fit candidate, then you are positioning yourself for success. However, if you don’t take the time to plan a detailed recruitment strategy then you are setting yourself up to fail.

Whether you choose to DIY or work with a recruitment firm by following the guidelines that are outlined in ‘Successful Recruitment’ you will increase your chance of securing your new employee and escape the many pitfalls that present themselves in every recruitment program.

Successful Recruitment‘ is based on the experiences of a former executive who has worked over the last 11 years as an executive search consultant with input provided by a senior human resources consultant with extensive experience across all areas of people management.

 

 

 

 

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

CLIENT CASE STUDY: Culture Mapping

map organisational culture

You may have heard us eagerly discussing the diagnosis, design and development of better organisational culture.

What we really relish is not just the talk but helping to map the current state and plan what needs to be done to reach a desired future culture.

Susan had the pleasure of working with the CHOICE team on their journey. Check out what they did, as told by Jessica Hill, Director, People & Culture at CHOICE:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” a phrase attributed to management guru Peter Drucker.

Organisational culture is so very important, it’s one of the main reasons that people leave an organisation and why they’re drawn to a new one. Culture is often hard to describe, although when it’s not quite right it becomes clear very quickly.

At CHOICE we’ve spent a number of years focusing on employee engagement. This has been a comprehensive approach with feedback loops and dedicated action that’s led to a highly engaged workforce. But engagement isn’t all-encompassing. There are aspects within an organisation’s culture that don’t typically surface when looking solely at employee engagement. It was this realisation that led us to focus on our culture in 2016.

How do you define culture?

Initially we loosely defined culture as the “way we do things around here”, recognising that this takes into account the values and beliefs that shape our organisation. There are some other good definitions:

“Organisational culture is defined as the shared values, norms and expectations that govern the way people approach their work and interact with each other. In other words it’s “what am I expected to do in order to fit in and get ahead here.” Mike Gourlay, Director, Human Synergistics

“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.” Frances Hesselbein

Mapping culture

To identify and map our culture we found a simple and effective tool in Dave Gray’s culture map.

This map allowed us to take stock of the behaviours we were seeing and the enablers and blockers that were influencing those behaviours. It also highlighted the outcomes that they all contributed to.

Mapping culture while balancing rigour

The CHOICE culture is built on rigour, so these culture workshops with post-it notes did seem a little vague to some of our teams. We looked to validate some of the behaviours that we collectively agreed were present in our culture. We then asked leaders to complete a Harrison Assessment facilitated and debriefed by Susan Rochester from Balance at Work . We analysed the group’s collective Harrison data and compared it with what we identified in the workshops. This gave us a mark-in-time view of our current culture.

Mapping our aspirational or future culture

With a new strategy underway, we wanted to understand what our future or aspirational culture looked like. This is the culture that would allow us to deliver our strategy. We again used a collaborative approach to define our future culture using Dave Gray’s culture map. We came away with an agreed future state, with three key aspirations:

1. A collective understanding of the strategic direction

2. A learning organisation

3. An improving organisation

What does the future hold for culture at CHOICE?

Culture is constantly moving while we’ve mapped our current and future culture, they’ll be forever evolving.

What did this achieve?

  • A common language around culture
  • Culture now measured at points in time
  • Less focus on employee engagement numbers and more focus on qualitative measures
  • We identified gaps in our current culture vs where we want to be (future culture)
  • Taking stock of and leveraging the strengths in our culture (mutual respect, flexible thinking, collaboration, information sharing, motivation to making a difference)

We’ve also worked with fantastic coaches Susan Rochester and Dr Sean Richardson to help us shift to where we need to be. We’ve started with organisational communication and looked at ‘possibility’ conversations. While we have a united organisational purpose, this focus has shown us that individual team purposes haven’t yet been clearly articulated.

Where to next?

We’re moving into another strategic planning process. As part of this process, we’ve embedded a focus on culture as a key determinant in the success of the new strategy.

CEB/Gartner research from 2017 found organisations with strong cultures do two things really well:

  1. They know where they want their culture to go and;
  2. they measure it at regular intervals.

Have you thought about mapping or measuring your culture?

Balance at Work can help you, too! Find out more here or ask us how.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What you see is not always what you get

 

One thing we all have in common is unconscious bias or implicit association.

A simpler way to describe it is that we have ‘blind spots’ in our attitudes to other people that lead us to assume certain things about them.

It can be a mental shorthand we use when making decisions and it can lead to the wrong decisions.

If you don’t think this applies to you, I strongly encourage you to try this quick quiz!

On this White Ribbon Day, drawing attention to domestic violence in Australia, let’s take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Domestic violence exists, be it against women, children or men, because of a belief held by some people that in our society some people are less worthy than others.

This happens because of the assumptions we make about other people, often based on nothing more than what we’ve been told about them.

Here’s an excellent illustration of implicit association at work:

 

What are the beliefs you are projecting onto other people?

And how is that impacting your interactions not only with strangers but with your family, your friends and colleagues?

Being aware of our own biases and consciously making an effort to change will simply make us more compassionate.

I might be biased, but I think our homes, workplaces, communities and planet could use more compassion right now. It starts with us.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

3 reasons your clients lose trust in you

All professionals depend on the trust of their clients, and unfortunately when clients lose trust it takes a long time to get it back. So how do you avoid losing the faith of your clients in the first place?

Trust is the thing which makes a client want your advice, pay for it and follow it.

It’s a fundamental bedrock of a business relationship, but much like termites eating a structure from within you may not know you’re losing trust with your clients until it’s too late.

Many of the things we do to lose trust with clients, we do unwittingly. We’re only human, after all.

But there are things you can do to recognise and, more importantly, rectify faltering trust before it’s too late.

Here are some warning signs to look for in your business if you want to avoid losing clients or gaining a bad reputation.

READ: Building a business on trust

1. Your own house is not in order

You’re probably familiar with the expression ‘the plumber with a leaky tap’. It’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t apply to your business – even if you aren’t a plumber.

Is there anything your clients pay you to do for them that you don’t get right in your own business?

If you’re an accountant, are the invoices and statements you send your clients 100 percent accurate?

If you’re a graphic designer, is your branding constantly updated and appealing? If you’re an HR consultant are your internal staff management processes best practice?

None of us is perfect, and mistakes happen, but your attitude to your core business activities will reflect the quality your clients expect in the work you do for them.

Would you be happy to put your accounts in the hands of the accountant who sends you inaccurate bills?

2. Your clients see style over substance

A recent survey found the following occupations were rated as ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for ethics and honesty by just 25 percent or less of the Australian population: Car Sales; Advertising; Real Estate; Insurance Broking; Stockbroking; Politics; Journalism; Financial Planning.

They’re all seen as jobs that can be lacking in substance – where style and profile is put ahead of providing value to clients.

Are you someone who puts a lot of effort into presentation, branding and profile?

On their own, there’s nothing wrong with putting effort into those areas – but if it’s not matched by a commitment to deliver value for clients then you risk eroding the trust of your clients.

How you present yourself and your business will have less impact than how you behave when it comes to clients’ trust levels.

READ: Forget sales. Focus on trust.

3. You’ve forgotten who number one is

Without clients, your business doesn’t exist.

There’s no value in what you sell – products or services – unless you have a paying customer.

That’s why the customer is always the most important part of your business.

You may believe this, but do you and all your team act according to your belief?

Look at your business from a client’s perspective.

If you were a client of your business, would you know you were more important than anyone else? Or, would you feel the business has other priorities more important than your own?

Some banks, telcos and retailers are notorious for ignoring the importance of customers and putting their own interests first. You can no doubt think of your own examples.

How far would you trust them to look after you? Be careful you’re not going down the same path.

Is it time to do a ‘trust audit’ of your business?

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Boosting the impact of career planning

Boosting the impact of career planning: Strategies for getting the most out of your programs.

Executive summary

(Click here to view research highlights and download the full 16-page report.)

Today’s HR professionals know how crucial career planning is but their organisations often fail to act on this knowledge, according to new research conducted by HR.com in partnership with Harrison Assessments.

Our survey analysis also revealed a number of critical findings that relate career planning to issues such as employee retention, engagement, recruitment, assessment and leadership development. Below are some of the key findings from the research:

1. Career planning has grown more important in the last three years, suggests the data. About nine out of ten respondents said employee career planning is either more important (48%) or as important (43%) compared to three years ago.

2. Few organisations approach employee career planning systematically, despite its rising importance. Just 11% of participants say employee career planning is a serious initiative in their organisations.

3. Employee career planning has a large impact on other critical talent management areas, according to many of our respondents. Participants believe career planning has a very high or high impact on employee retention (60% of respondents), employee engagement (58%), and recruitment of high-quality talent (45%).

4. Few organisations make data-driven decisions related to employee career management: About 60% of the participants use competency models for leadership development, but less than
one-in-four participants use behaviour assessments in career planning.

5. Most participants report they are either already facing or will face soon talent gaps in leadership: More than one-third (35%) of the participants say they already face a leadership talent gap. Another 20% say they will face a leadership talent gap within two years.

Download the full report.

Find out how Balance at Work and Harrison Assessments can help your organisation meet career planning challenges.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Tolerating structure v ‘You don’t own me’

career help

The video below really puts a smile on my face. Could it be because I know – from my Harrison Assessments results, at least – that I have a very low tolerance for structure? I’ve learnt from experience that not everyone thinks like this and that there are benefits to having rules and regulations. For one, you wouldn’t want to go out on the road if you weren’t confident that most people follow most of the rules most of the time!

If you’re like me and want to do things your own way, read on for the tips I share below for living in a world full of structure. But first, enjoy the video! Apologies to those who think work comes before fun – you probably don’t need to read any further.

Tips for when structure matters more to others than it does to you

Firstly, I can’t claim to do all these things all of the time. They are just ideas designed to make us feel better about structure.

  • Realise that just because it doesn’t make sense to you, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. It’s fine to question the status quo but at some point in the past what you are questioning was important to someone.
  • Ask questions. As Stephen Covey famously said: “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” Practice empathy.
  • Listen – don’t interrupt. When you think you know a better way, your enthusiasm drives you to share it at the earliest opportunity. Keep your ideas to yourself for now.
  • Influence gently. Once you’ve fully listened that is! Show don’t tell. You can demonstrate what needs to change and why.
  • Don’t kerb your enthusiasm. Any change – especially to the ‘tried and true’ – takes time. It’s your desire to make things better for everyone and the persistence that breeds will make the difference.
  • Be patient. Not everyone will want the speed of change and variety you seek, even after you have convinced them that the change is a good thing.
  • Pick your battles. You might not like doing things a certain way, but if it helps to make it easier for others to work with you then sometimes it’s best to keep your ideas to yourself. On the other hand, as the video shows, sometimes it can be harmless to break a few rules when no-one’s looking. But choose them very carefully!

[Tweet “Tolerating structure – it’s all about respect and empathy

You might not follow all these tips all of the time either. The first step is awareness and the second step is practice. Remember, if no-one questioned the way things are done, we’d all still be sitting in caves chewing raw meat. One change in the way things are done that definitely relied on demonstrating a newer, better structure.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

We’re all in this together

succession

Some new business owners struggle with how to treat their ‘competition’.  Do you research what they’re doing? Do you try to beat them on price? Do you even try to undermine their integrity?

What if collaboration is a better option?

It can be difficult when you’re in start-up mode not to have a negative view of your competitors. They are already established, they already have the clients you would like to have and they may the staff and infrastructure you can only dream of at this stage.

A much more constructive approach to competitors is to see them as potential collaborators and partners.

Here’s why:

  1. They already know the market and they’re talking to your potential clients;
  2. They’ve made mistakes you can avoid if you know about them; and
  3. Most people want to help you because it makes them feel good.

Learning from what your competitors do well, and tapping into what and who they know, can be a real short-cut to getting your business off the ground.

Getting to know your competitors (and I don’t mean spying on them!) will be one of the best steps you can take towards having a successful business.

Ask yourself: How can I help them? What expertise, tools and experience can I offer that will support their success?

A friend of mine calls this ‘coopetition’. I’ve built my business on close relationships with other businesses that outsiders would see as my competition.

Opportunities for collaboration are everywhere – if you’re open to seeing them.

If you are still hesitating about picking up the phone and having that first conversation, give us a call first. We are always open to opportunities for collaboration and happy to help with tips to start you on your ‘coopetition’ journey.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Career Reality Check: Fashion Editor

We love sharing career stories!  What could be more inspiring or educational than hearing about other people’s experiences in a wide range of careers?

There are 2 ‘occasional’ series of career stories running on this blog:

  1. What’s your story? (Here’s one of the early stories, just updated.)
  2. Career reality check (So far we’ve touched on pilots and TV presenters.)

Today’s career reality check is ideal for you to share with anyone who might be considering a career in fashion publishing.

We became aware of the 60 Minutes segment below because one of the subjects, Laura Brown, is my cousin. From growing up in Sydney and studying at Charles Sturt University, Laura has worked incredibly hard to pursue her dream of working in fashion in New York. Laura is now Editor-in-chief of InStyle magazine. The other Australian subject of the story, Jo Levin, built her own path to Editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine in London.

Their stories are inspiring. Both women epitomise the power of creativity and persistence. That, and a love for their work. They also have in common an ability to be true to themselves and their own vision.

Incredibly, Jo just happens to be the cousin of one of my friends and neighbours. How’s that for a ‘small world’ story?

Do you know someone with a career story that should be shared? Let us know!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why are you here?

(This was my first ever post on LinkedIn and what I said seems to have struck a chord. That’s why I’m also sharing it here. Hope you like it!)

This question is not a huge, existential angst-filled, deep philosophical question. Instead, I mean “why are you HERE – on social media?”.

This is my first article on LinkedIn, even though I’ve been blogging here forever. It’s also a post that’s been rumbling around in me for over a year.

Back when I first thought of writing this post, at the start of 2016, I had just learnt that someone I had known and cared about for over 30 years was gone from this world. It was a big shock to me.

In the preceding few years, I had reconnected with this old acquaintance through our business interests, on LinkedIn and via our weekly email ‘Feel Good Friday’. With those links, even though I hadn’t seen him for many months, I thought we were ‘connected’.

But that was an illusion. We weren’t connected enough for me to know that he had become seriously ill and would die before I got around to seeing him again.

This sad event led me to reflect on the meaning of connection…

I love social media and the relationships, knowledge, sharing and thousands of ‘connections’ it has brought me since I started using LinkedIn over 10 years ago.

Social media platforms make it easy for us to stay in touch with more people than ever before. But if we believe that being here is keeping us connected with people who are important to us, then we are kidding ourselves.

We are not communicating, we are broadcasting. We may have some interesting interactions with others – whom we may or may not know in the ‘real world’ – but they are usually simple and ephemeral. Who knows, we may even prefer it to be that way because we have so many other demands on our time and attention.

Sometimes I may even choose to use social media because it feels quicker, cleaner and more efficient than having to deal with real people in real life situations. And most small business owners I know are in the same boat. We feel compelled to do our marketing here because it feels like we’re doing something. Perhaps we are using it to help us avoid what we really should be doing!

At worst, all this is a distraction from the connections we could be making.

I continue to use social media but I understand the relationships that matter can’t be sustained this way. They need time, attention and real conversations.

[Tweet “You will never know the connections you missed if you keep looking at this screen.”]

Go for a walk. Pick up the phone. Send a card. Have a conversation. Connect!

And so I publish this first article hoping something I’ve said will connect with how you’re thinking and feeling. Yes, I do see the irony here!

Please let me know what you think below… or give me a call, or drop me a line, or go talk to someone close to you.

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