Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Slade POV

My parents were self-employed. If you also grew up in a family business you’ve probably been immersed in the world of work since you could sit up at the dinner table. I was put to work once I could serve customers across the counter at our General Store.  That was an early Point of View: as a school child learning about small business.

In my position as Founder and Executive Chairman of Slade Group, I have at least four Points of View about the World at Work. These POVs are: (i) as a business owner and employer; (ii) as a professional recruiter; (iii) as an advisor to employers and; (iv) as a headhunter working with high performing senior executives.

(i) As a business owner and employer

I’ve been busy un-learning all the Command and Control hits I sang in the 1970’s. Fundamentally I was off tune to the song of the day ‘I’m the boss and you’re the worker’. Employees in those days appeared to accept the world weary working life they signed up to as the Servant in a Master Servant relationship. Now we’re equals. The POV shot has equal actors playing out their parts. It’s understood that we have a fair commercial exchange going on: I stump up the salary half of the equation and my colleagues trade me their ‘work power’. I’ve got the swing of it and together we’ve got the harmonies about right.

(ii) As a professional recruiter

POV: A slightly chaotic landscape amidst the necessary interruptions and potential distractions. I’m constantly looking at technological and digital transformation whilst tracking how much Artificial Intelligence is creeping in on what I’ve always termed ‘the third eye’. The third eye is that eye for talent that comes with years of experience, sophisticated profiling and scanning for capabilities and competencies. This coupled with plain old IQ and EQ seems to be the profile of top candidates.

(iii) As an advisor to employers

My POV is shared with sophisticated employers. You might also have worked out that the best new hire is often not the candidate who has done similar roles in a similar organisation. Rather many of our highly rated appointments have come from shortlisted candidates who have never worked in the same industry sector. Great talent is quick to pick up new challenges, brings fresh experience to a new role and can transform old school ways of doing business. They arrive unencumbered by the history and legacy of a particular industry status quo. I know the recruitment industry is no different, we all suffer from one or more unhelpful conventions. I’d like to challenge more employers to see through this lens.

(iv) As a headhunter working with high performing senior executives

Some of the best conversations I have each week are the headhunter calls I make to senior talent. This is how the scene plays out. They answer the phone, there’s a short silence, a quick recovery and 99 times out of 100 they’ll explore the discussion or make a time to speak later.  Who wouldn’t want to be identified as talented and in demand.  Very rarely am I cut off.  Even if the time’s not right, most professionals like to keep an open mind about potential opportunities and who’s tracking their performance and professional reputation.

So, they’re my Points of View. What are yours ?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Geoff Slade

Posted in The world @work

Why I learned to love a Liberal Arts degree

Ok, so two of my four kids do have a Liberal Arts degree as their undergraduate degrees. That’s one reason I promise you, that they can hold a conversation with anyone of any age and they have enough general knowledge to ask intelligent questions and join the dots on some big issues.

And when Michelle Obama gave the Commencement Address for her graduating class mates in 2012 at Virginia Tech in Virginia USA, my daughter couldn’t have been happier for pursuing a broad and interesting degree.

But prepare her for a particular career?  No.  And who cares.  Unless you have a single focus, technical dream such as to be a metallurgist, a knee surgeon or a tax lawyer, a broad and general higher education is just the ticket for growing up, building up an ability for critical thinking, speaking and writing  and understanding yourself  in the bigger world.

Compare that with the investment some of our top tier Law firms make in their graduate intake. One firm puts their articled clerks on a 6 month socio/cultural learning programme – the learning they missed out on at university while they were so intent on achieving High Distinctions and applied learning – which got them into their Firm of choice, but rendered them useless when it comes to engaging with clients and colleagues.

And, when you figure that 70% of what we do at work we learn from our experience at work, maybe that Liberal Arts degree sets up the kids better than ‘Basket Weaving’ or Arts in the pejorative as I remember it was once referred to.

What’s your perspective? Where did your Arts Degree take you?

Posted in The world @work

Podcast interview: The evolution of the Social Media Marketer

Elizabeth Ebeli, Practice Manger of Digital Media at Slade Partners Executive Search, talks with Tim Martin from NET:101 about the evolving Australian digital and social media landscape. Particular focus on social media marketing and social media management roles including remuneration bench-marking from what was once considered a graduate only role to executive positions driving social commercial outcomes.

Posted in The world @work

Why the gift of adversity is to be treasured

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”
– Victor Hugo.

Bill McCartney, serial entrepreneur, journalist, broadcaster and film maker has interviewed over 300 Australian high achievers in work and life more generally.  Through his business Cahoots, he creates video records for both public companies and private families.

The stories he records are inspiring, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking.    The story tellers are as diverse as our country’s population coming from vastly mixed backgrounds, education, career achievements and family circumstances.
Most of them would never have met each other, and yet they all share one common perspective.

They see Adversity as a gift.    It’s been their making.

So let’s not feel sorry for ourselves or our colleague and staff.  Rather encourage their ability to overcome obstacles and dig deep for true character to shine.

The gift of adversity was recognised by some famous philosophers well before Bill and I struck up this conversation.

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”
– William Shakespeare.

Character is being formed, people are being called to account and additional effort is required.  The local and global economy is witnessing many of us working twice as hard for less reward.   Less reward now, but it will shape future return and a more resilient and capable workforce.

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”
– Malcolm X.

Posted in The world @work

Conceptual thinking at the sandwich bar

When did you last have a breakthrough idea about talent? One hit me last week, standing at the sandwich bar pondering the mean offerings left on display at 1.55pm. The hungry had ordered and eaten. It was just me and a couple of younger guys making time for a quick feed in our heavy duty day.

My headhunter’s third eye for talent started flickering. I wanted to interview those guys standing with me at the sandwich bar at 1.55pm. In my mind I’d just tapped into another talent identifier. Big appetite for work, getting the job done, not clock watching, only remembering to break from work day because of a rumbling stomach.

Some people just love the mental challenges and opportunities of work. Work feeds the sense of self while self-esteem is built through achievement. I love big appetites for work.

And most employers want more of those people on their teams.

So for all the significance that psychometric and capability assessments provide, I love some fundamental insights too.

We assess and profile all our own hires for Slade and recommend it for employers. They’re invaluable and support decision making and future development.

But I also still value some ‘gut instinct’ which is really nothing more than the wealth of knowledge accrued over years.

What’s your perspective? What are your assumptions about people, their behaviours and how that translates into highly valued employees.

Posted in The world @work

Underemployed and overqualified

On any given night, step outside into the night sky and watch the explosion of the higher education Supernova in slow motion.

The shards and fragments spewing into the atmosphere are the 26% of university graduates who can’t find work in the year following their studies and the one third of VET graduates who can’t find work in the area they’ve trained in.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has released How Young People are Faring 2013, the annual series that provides point-in-time and trend information on the education, employment and transitions of young Australians.

It’s tough even for educated kids to get onto that first rung, and it would appear that Tertiary institutions keep selling a dream that’s often far from reality.

Perhaps that exploding supernova will clear a way for a better perspective.

My point of view is this:  given that over half of what we learn we learn ‘on the job’, maybe it’s time for a more intertwined learning and working model.  Regardless of whether it’s tax audit, law, insurance or banking, science or engineering, there is huge scope to have yet –to-be-qualified, lower-paid bright young  things ‘learning by doing’ alongside experienced professionals.  And then, once they’ve found an appetite for a profession or an industry sector, they can feed that hunger through tertiary studies.

Remember the many CEOs who started on the proverbial shop floor and went on to gain qualifications at night school.

Now with flexible study arrangements, this might be full-time, part-time or online.  We still seem to be feeding a message to school-leavers that University and further education is the Winning Ticket.   It may be for some, but it dilutes the ‘learning through work now -study later’ that also suits many bright young people.

Peter Thiel the US entrepreneur who actively sponsors young people out of education says that part of the reason people freak out about not going to University is that it’s seen as an insurance policy.  Thiel has argued that people put in the time and money not ‘to learn’ per se, but for the security that a better life and good job awaits. Increasingly, as costs have risen and the economy has faltered, the security of that has been called into question, and higher education has come under assault.

That’s my Point of View,  what’s yours?

Geoff Slade

Posted in The world @work