Monthly Archives: March 2021

Tough. Love. Tough Love or Tough, Love.

Why leading with empathy is so important.

In Slade Group’s Core Strength research about most sought-after employee attributes through COVID-19, empathy took a back seat to ‘here and now survival’ skills.

Make no mistake, empathy has jumped back into the driver’s seat in 2021.

Daniel Goleman in his recent article, speaks to the importance of self-awareness. This includes a highly developed sense of empathy that allows you to see a situation from the other person’s point of view; this enables you to present your position in a way that makes a person feel heard, or that speaks to their own interests.

Post COVID in Australia, organisations need managers and leaders who can respond to the changed work environment with competencies beyond those traditionally sought. It is now recognised that one of those skills is empathy: successful leaders will have the ability to engage and work with people across a broad spectrum of skills, backgrounds and cultures.

It is important to recognise that there are three different kinds of empathy, and each resides in different parts of the brain.

  1. Cognitive: I know how you think
  2. Emotional: I know how you feel
  3. Concern: I care about you

There are managers who are very good at the first two, but not the third, without which they can be easily used to manipulate people. We see this in many overachieving bosses in command-and-control cultures who tend to be pacesetters – often promoted because they have very high personal standards of excellence. They are great at pushing people to make short-term targets; they communicate well because of the cognitive empathy and know their words will carry weight with their employees because of their emotional empathy. However, because they lack empathetic concern, they care little about the human costs of their actions. This can lead to staff suffering emotional exhaustion and burnout.

How can a manager demonstrate empathy in the workplace?

  1. In this post COVID environment, recognise signs of overwork before burnout becomes an issue; many people are finding it difficult to separate work from home life. Spend some time each week checking in.
  2. Take time to understand the needs and goals of staff, who are more likely to be more engaged if their manager is seen as taking a sincere interest in them.
  3. Keep open lines of communication, encourage transparency and demonstrate a willingness to help an employee with personal problems.
  4. Show compassion, genuine connections and friendships at work matter; act empathetically and let your people know they are supported.  

Fortunately, like all Emotional Intelligence competencies, empathy can be learned and managers can develop and enhance their empathy skills through coaching and training and by organisations encouraging a more empathetic workplace.

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Posted in Slade Executive, Technical & Operations, The world @work

The secret to a successful career transition: Five key strategies to guide you towards your new job.

Whether you’ve been job searching for months or you have just started, I encourage you to press reset, sharpen your focus and go through the list of key success factors below. Make sure you are reviewing and addressing them every day during your transition. I hope that by being strategic and building a healthy job search routine, you will – like my clients – have a shorter transition that leads to the best possible outcome for you in 2021.

Regardless of the magnitude of your career goals: be it finding a similar job or making a bolder career change, the strategies below will help make your pitch crystal clear to recruiters and hiring managers:

  1. Understand who you are as a professional and what you offer to employers. Find out what your strengths and transferable skills are. Even though different sectors require different expertise, they need common essential skills, such as communication, analytical skills, people skills, etc. Please write down your transferable skills and include them in your job search materials, not as a jumble of words, but as the most relevant competencies applied to you. Whether it be an interview, your resume, or in your profile, ensure you can speak confidently about the skills you listed and that you have robust examples to back them up.
  2. Ask yourself, what industry, sector, and organisations do you want to work for? If you are unsure where to go next and curious about industries and companies you don’t know, investigate. You can read about them, and most importantly, talk to professionals who work there. Draw on your network, or start building one. For example, you can tap into your university’s Alumni, former colleagues, and friends. Think outside the box, talk to people from different areas and sectors. Then make sure you make these decisions before you start your job search. Yes, you can revisit later. In fact, you should be reviewing your job search strategy constantly. But sharpen your focus on the industries, sectors, and companies before going to market. Otherwise, there’s a great chance you will feel overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions.
  3. Once you identify your preferred industry, find out what knowledge, qualifications, experience, and skills are valued by the hiring managers. Your research will provide you with important clues that you should use to draft your cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profile. It should also guide the way to interact with recruiters and even which recruiters to interact with. A good sector analysis will help you learn the sector’s language so you can better explain in writing and conversations how your strengths and transferable skills can support your new career transition. You will feel more confident about your prospects at this stage.
  4. Find a coach to support your transition or at least a mentor. It is not easy to shift sectors, and having a mentor can help access information to support the transition. And learning how to play the game and win as a job candidate in a sea of highly qualified peers is a steep learning curve. Investing in help at this stage can shave off weeks or months of unemployment, as well as keep you operating at high performance and low-stress levels. It is a competition, and there’s no way around it. The top players usually have top help. Be one of them.
  5. Know your values. What sort of culture and what kind of organization brings out the best in you? For example, do you work better in an organization where there is a lot of autonomy? Or do you work better in an organization where you’re part of a team? Use the interviewing process to learn more about the organisation, the same way they are using it to learn more about you. Values alignment will make a difference in how long you stay in that organization. Don’t just take the first thing that rolls up along the aisle because it could be a disaster. Transitions can be stressful, but you don’t want to regret your move a few months down the track because you took the first offer, and now you’re miserable again. I’m assuming you can have the privilege of making the most out of your transition period. However, if your situation requires you to find a job quickly, then it may have to be first in best dressed. In that case, don’t forget to keep working on your future career steps and don’t take too long to move again.

Keep in mind: success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. Next month, I will be discussing the importance of the first ninety days into a role and how you need to start preparing and planning for it before you start your new job.

If you would like to learn more from me:

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Posted in Job Hunting Made Simple, The world @work

When things went viral: One year on from the 2020 Australian Grand Prix

Exactly one year ago to the day, Covid got real for me. I was attending a Formula 1 Grand Prix breakfast at Albert Park when the shock announcement was made: the race had been cancelled. We filed dumbstruck out of the function, directed into busses that were waiting to remove us from the venue. It was a surreal experience as we made our way back past angry fans who were being turned away at the gates. No doubt they (like myself) hadn’t fully grasped the enormity of worldwide events that were unfolding beyond the boundaries of Melbourne and the F1 GP.

I sympathise with everyone who has suffered through the pandemic, especially those who have lost loved ones. Now I find myself reflecting on the craziest twelve months of my life (so far, and hopefully for the rest of it).

We all remember talk of a new virus in Wuhan, but some of the more naïve of us (i.e., me) didn’t believe for a second that it could, and would, affect everything about life as we knew it.

There is so much of the last year that has caused copious suffering and pain, but through it all there have been things that I have been very grateful for. So, without further ado, here is my silver lining to the year that was cancelled.

Although many of us haven’t been able to visit or see family or friend’s interstate or abroad, I am reminded of how much I depend on those relationships, and how many special people I have in my life. I live in a fantastic country filled with resilience, tolerance and a real ‘can do’ attitude. Through hard work and a tough response to the outbreak, we have largely been spared what many of our loved ones outside of Australia have had to endure. I have been very fortunate to work for an outstanding organisation that has been supportive throughout (and we all know that we remember how we are treated during tough times). I have also learnt that it is critical to work with people whose values you align with. Those relationships with clients, candidates and colleagues have been so encouraging, and even though many of them have been hurt, we have still been there for each other and look forward to better times ahead.

There is also a lot to be said for the recruitment market during this time, and what we envisage ahead. From my perspective, it has been highly segmented with many parts of the economy flourishing. Innovation has been impressive, as has our ability to adapt to changing market conditions. Recovery seems to be trending much faster than expected, and we are seeing a lot of positive sentiment. Hiring certainly has increased, with Medical Technology/Advanced Manufacturing, FMCG, and anything to do with home improvement and maintenance leading the field.

What are the big issues for the year ahead? Firstly, workplace flexibility, and whether employers need (or can get) their people back into offices full-time. We are certainly seeing a large number of employers starting to request staff back in the office full-time. Secondly, stronger loyalty to current employers has developed in Covid times, so it may be a while longer before we see a growing trend in people seeking new opportunities. Finally, in the discussions I’m having with candidates, many feel that they’ve been poorly treated by employers. Those who remained in roles due to the uncertainty of changing jobs during a recession are certain to become a flight risk as the market warms up.

Without a doubt, the war for talent will be back. Now is absolutely the time to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to talent attraction. We are already seeing a significant number of counteroffers as organisations try to retain their best people. However, as you know, by the time it gets to that, it is often too late.

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Posted in Accounting & Finance, The world @work

This International Women’s Day, Australian businesses can lead on domestic violence crisis

Domestic violence is a critical issue for the workplace, especially as COVID-19 continues to blur the line between home and office, whilst also driving a documented spike in violence against women.

But what are workplaces doing to address the issue? And is it really an issue for workplaces at all?

The questions come on the back of a new myth-buster from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and Our Watch.

The resource – released in the lead up to International Women’s Day – challenges the myth that domestic, family and intimate partner violence is not a workplace issue, despite Australian business losing a staggering $1.9 billion a year due to this ‘shadow pandemic’.

Without a change of perspective, Australia’s economy may lag – when COVID-19 dictates it can least afford to – and many more women will be seriously harmed. Some will ultimately lose their lives.

Diversity Council Australia’s CEO Lisa Annese said: “It’s a myth that domestic and family violence doesn’t have anything to do with the workplace. In reality, domestic and family violence is the workplace issue of our challenging times. If an employee is living with, or using, domestic or family violence, it will have an impact on the workplace through absenteeism, presenteeism and the costs of replacement hiring.

“While workplaces may have concerns about implementing policies like paid leave for domestic violence, research shows that they have a hugely positive impact for employees and business alike, for a relatively small cost.

“But we must remember the most important statistics of all: almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner, and, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. Supporting women who experience this kind of violence is the right – the only – thing for workplaces to do.”

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly, whose organisation collaborated on the myth-buster, said: “There has been a huge shift in the community conversation about this issue in recent times.  Violence against women is recognised as the serious and highly prevalent crime that it is, and most people understand that addressing this crisis is the entire community’s responsibility.

“We know from the evidence that violence against women is driven by gender inequality, which is deeply entrenched in society through our policies, laws, systems, workplaces, attitudes and behaviours. It’s evident in language and practices that still too often ‘blame the victim’ or minimise or excuse men’s violence.

“Given workplaces are where we spend so much of our time and have such a huge influence over our lives, it’s critical they take an active role in promoting gender equality and addressing the drivers of violence against women.

“As we’ve so often heard during this pandemic: women’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

Continue reading on the DCA website: Myth Busting Domestic & Family Violence at Work

This article was originally published by Diversity Council Australia and Our Watch.

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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion, Interchange Bench