Blog Archives

Why is it even a contest? Roads and Rail vs Tech and Digital.

It makes us feel we’re a nation on the move seeing the worker bees in High Vis vests bringing impressive infrastructure spending to life. Cities and populations are growing and we need improved roads and rail services. Great. But what happens at the end of the line?

Building roads and rail doesn’t, in and of itself, add to our GDP. It creates jobs for now, on the tax payer’s dime, filtered through major construction companies. It’s a centuries old model that makes sense and is understood by the electorate as a necessary and valuable addition to our cities and regional centres.

But all this visible ‘concrete’ activity means we risk a drift into the ‘also-rans’ of world economies if our Federal and State Governments don’t get more critical workforce planning sorted. We’re far from being known as global leaders in technology and digital. Consider the following recent observations:

  • John Durie in The Australian wrote that Israel’s ‘start-up nation’ success is built in part on a model of generous government incentives.
  • What should an accountant say to a successful early stage start-up who asks the question, “Why don’t we move to Singapore, where the tax incentives are very attractive?”
  • At the Rampersand Investor briefing on November 11th, two of the growing tech businesses lamented the lack of government grants and incentives, in spite of the fact that they are the future big employers governments need to realise their ‘jobs jobs jobs’ rhetoric.  
  • In the next three years alone the Robotic Data Automation Services sector is forecast to grow by $2B globally (HFS Research, 2018).  Where is Australia in this growth?
  • Ginnie Rometty, IBM’s CEO says we need to change our approach to hiring, as 100% of jobs will change in the future and AI is coming at us fast.
  • How will Australia attract more global tech players to our shores if our tech and digital talent has to go abroad to build their own stellar careers?

The cry of Jobs jobs jobs has become a hollow call out if we don’t Work work work on being future ready. Industry can’t do it alone, universities can’t do it alone. This requires high level resolve at a government level to create an environment to supercharge the virtual traffic routes of tomorrow. And if that means employer and employee incentives and grants, the short-term costs will be Australia’s gain in the longer term.

Am I the only Jo Public who is alarmed by our collective Federal and State Governments’ lack of vision?

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

An erudite lesson in global politics

On a wet Oaks Day in Melbourne I backed a lunchtime invitation to hear Lord Chris Patten speak at the State Library of Victoria ahead of the races. He reflected a little on Brexit ‘psycho-mania’ (now my new favourite term) and a lot more on Hong Kong and China.

Christopher Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC served as the 28th and last Governor of Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997 and Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1992. He was made a life peer in 2005 and has been Chancellor of the University of Oxford since 2003. 

Self-deprecating one minute and giving Cambridge University some Oxford one-upmanship in the next,  he also spoke at length of China and Hong Kong’s ‘one country – two systems’.   Unexpectedly, what really struck me, and other guests, was how he spoke without fear or favour.  He appealed again for China to stand by the one country – two systems commitment that was made in 1997.  He articulated his own democratic and faith based personal values. It was striking in Australia, where this year we’ve become more and more aware of a real or perceived threat of surveillance, to hear some speak so candidly in a public forum.

How is it that I have become conscious in 2019 of self-censoring, something that has never crossed my mind before? Would Lord Patten be turned around at the Beijing Airport?   In business, judiciousness and confidentiality are part and parcel of our work, but not until this year have I sensed the heightened influence of China across industry, academia and government in Australia.

Lord Patten’s gently-paced, candid and humour speckled delivery was a rare treat. His ability to be in the moment with his audience was captivating.  There were neither weasel words nor vanilla platitudes and the State Library guests enjoyed an unquestionable win on Oaks Day.

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

7 steps to successfully implementing any new technology in the workplace

Implementing a new technology tool can be a huge challenge within an organisation. Slade Group recently upgraded all of our team from PCs to Surface Pros – a 2-in-1 detachable laptop/tablet, which truly allows us to work anywhere, from the desk to the sofa (we have several couches in breakout spaces within our office). While we love our new hardware and are adapting to its new software, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to facilitate a smooth technology transition.

No matter that as consumers we all like to get our hands on something shiny, in a professional environment successfully implementing new tech means you’ll need to prep for the changeover, including organising employee training. Then check-in with your champions or super users, while keeping track of everyone’s progress, and provide additional support for those who are less tech-savvy. Post implementation it makes sense to evaluate the project, such as which aspects of the roll-out worked well and what could be improved next time.

Below are 7 steps to help ease your team through transition when implementing a new technology or process:

  1. Communication – Articulate the benefits of the new technology or process, explain what motivated the change and address what could be at stake if the implementation fails, giving ownership to everyone collectively.
  2. Transparency – From end user to senior management, keeping everyone in the loop is key to maintain support for the change, particularly if you hit a hurdle or the project is delayed.
  3. Keep it simple – Don’t over complicate the process. Start at the most basic level, progress in small steps and be prepared to have lots of patience.
  4. Have a knowledgeable support system – Not everyone learns at the same pace, so try to customise your training to adapt to different learning styles. Run multiple training sessions as well as one-on-one sessions, ensuring all employees know the basics of the technology before moving on to more detailed and complicated features.
  5. Incentivise technology use – Rewarding employees for their uptake and support is a fantastic way to increase productivity. Organise an awards event and establish prize categories to create a buzz about your achievements. Providing certificates or gift vouchers is relatively low cost to the overall success of your project.
  6. Feedback – Value opinions by taking the time to collect and address feedback. Employees who feel that their concerns have been heard and respected will ultimately be happier and more engaged in future.
  7. Evaluation – As with any change management project, adoption and some attrition will be ongoing, so monitoring the use of the new system/technology beyond the implementation phase is extremely important.

No matter what new technology or processes you are planning to implement in your business, following these simple steps will help you set the stage for a successful transition.

Now that I have the option to touch, type or handwrite on my Surface Pro, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the world @work… I’ll respond from my desk, or not!

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Putting your trust in strangers

Trust (noun) firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something; (verb) to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.

Does it ever cross your mind when you are ordering lunch that it may not be made with the freshest ingredients, or that the strictest hygiene may not be observed behind the kitchen doors? I suppose it depends where you buy your lunch, but generally you don’t question these things unless you see a warning sign… is that a cockroach scurrying around to its next hiding place?!

We put trust in people in both our personal and work lives – sometimes without realising that we are doing it.

It may come as no surprise that the following professions were the most trusted in a 2017 Roy Morgan survey: Nurses, Doctors, Pharmacists, Dentists, School Teachers and Engineers. We put trust in these professions because our health, education and city’s infrastructure depend upon them, and all are very important to us.

Individually we may rate them well, but collectively and of concern, the least trusted professionals work in Car Sales, Advertising, Real Estate, Insurance and Politics.

Why should we be concerned? Well, think about what these professions represent – some of the biggest purchases you make – a house, car, insurance, home/personal loans, and our democracy and general amenity. It’s unfortunate that the reputations of some professionals have been tainted by others in their industries, and typically it’s been tough for those who are reputable to change public perception. The big banks and aged care operators will have some tough PR challenges to overcome well after the Royal Commissions are done.  

And where do recruiters sit on the continuum of most to least trusted?

Recruitment is an industry which has no technical barriers to entry. After 12 years in recruitment, working across New Zealand, Japan and Australia, I’ve seen a broad array of styles, commitment to service, due diligence and adherence to process within our industry.

As employees or employers, career moves and hiring new team members are big decisions. You’ll need information about the job market, someone to help you design a robust recruitment process, guide you through the legal requirements, make an independent assessment of your shortlisted candidates, or job offers, and assist with final negotiations and onboarding once you have made, or have been made an offer. HR Business Partners and Recruitment Consultants (whether internal or external) are those trusted advisors.

It’s in our nature to trust each other, but you usually only get one shot at it. At Slade Group we are experienced consultants who have either been working in recruitment for a number of years or we have gained consulting experience from the industries we recruit in, often both. Every day we ask clients and candidates to trust us, and we don’t take that trust lightly. No matter what it is in life, don’t let one person ruin your experience or the reputation of that profession, brand or service.

Who do you most trust?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Not In My Workplace!

With responsibility for three major zoos, 5000 animals, 2.5 million visitors annually and 600 permanent and casual employees, you might think that Jenny Gray, the CEO of Zoos Victoria and the current President of WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums), has enough on her plate.

Instead, as a leader with a PhD in ethics, she’s unstitched the silver lining of the Harvey Weinstein disaster and galvanised a group leading Australian CEOs to turn a negative into a positive. Whilst most of us have been appalled and many have shared personal stories of workplace harassment, Jenny Gray is one of the CEOs, Senior Executives, Chairs and Board Directors from across private, not-for-profit and public sectors making a stand to bring about change. The result? notinmyworkplace.org

You can join Not In My Workplace and you can also be part of the conversation and action plan at the first major summit taking place next February.

The Not In My Workplace SUMMIT. What’s it all about?

The plan for this high impact, highly affordable summit on February 21st, 2019 is to move from awareness to action. In one afternoon from 12:00 noon – 5:30pm at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre influential leaders and dynamic thinkers will talk about the extent and impact of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The aim is to have 1000 people together at a point in time, all who want to make a difference. And it’s clear from the stated outcomes for the summit, that the plans for the Summit are real and achievable:

  • A focus on creating actions to generate behaviours that will mobilise change as a business and as employees
  • Producing toolkits that will provide pathways for businesses and victims to seek help in a constructive manner
  • Creating a culture of empowerment
  • Developing behaviours in a business where sexual harassment prevention and support is part of the culture of a business
  • Providing real life examples of change where action plans and walk-away tools are offered

Individual booking

Please share the invitation below with your network. NIMW is very grateful to their early sponsors the Victorian Government and Public Transport Victoria.

Group booking

You can also book for a group. What a great way to start the discussions about sexual harassment in your own organisation! At only $100 per delegate, this is probably the best value Professional Development you will be able to offer your leadership team. (Not in My Workplace is incorporated under the Incorporated Associations Act in September 2018 and you are invited to join and take part in the networking, workshops and events.)

At Slade Group and the Interchange Bench we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment and continually build on our respectful culture for all employees, candidates and clients. But we can do more. By sharing this blog more people can be part of the action oriented major summit taking place next February.

What have you done in your world @work to stamp out sexual harassment?

 

Invitation: Not In My Workplace

 

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Posted in Interchange Bench, Slade Executive, The world @work

Experience – your gift to give.

A couple of times lately, younger professional women have come to seek my advice on some situations they’ve found themselves in in their work life… Anything from discussing appropriate work wear, or how to handle a tough conversation with a client or colleague, correct ways to entertain clients and how to be confident. And believe it or not, just plain feeling comfortable ‘being themselves’ in a business setting rather than ‘being an exemplar businesswoman’.

It got me thinking about the times when I went to my more experienced peers seeking advice (and I still do), and the positive impact of those conversations on me and how they shaped my career decisions.

The truth is, I feel really honoured to be a person that other women trust. Whether it’s to discuss a situation and seek my advice (somewhere along the track I may have experienced something similar or I am familiar with the circumstances) or to see how I would handle a situation. I help them make up their own mind about how to tackle it, and in most instances they just need a sounding board.

Experience in business, and the confidence that you gain as you encounter different situations, comes with time. Dealing with those difficult meetings, standing your ground on a decision, knowing when to negotiate and even knowing when to walk away from a deal, all come with time.

As a recruiter, I see many candidates who are starting out in their career and have aspirations of taking over the world – their enthusiasm for their work is palpable!  It’s something I find quite inspiring and probably something that makes me enjoy working with people daily.

I think those of us with experiences over time have a responsibility to guide and mentor others who are starting their professional life or making a change in their career. When the going gets tough and someone less experienced doesn’t know how to handle a situation, it’s up to us to listen. We should take time out to talk with them about how to handle that situation, so that once resolved, they can add it to their collection of experiences, to one day pass on with their experience gained with time.

Are you part of a mentoring program or have you benefited from being mentored at any stage of your career? What advice would you give to other professionals who are just starting out or are new to the industry in your world @work?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Work ethic and the M word

Over the years as an HR professional I have seen several generations at work. Putting people in boxes goes against the grain with me – most workers defy categorisation, let me tell you!

So when people start talking about Boomers and Xers, Ys and Zs (or broadly Millennials, if you’re trying to capture those at the end of the alphabet) as clearly defined cohorts, I’m naturally suspicious. We’ve been battling the unfair assumption that those new to the workforce expect the world or don’t seem to be aware they have to earn their stripes for millennia. I have always been someone to give credit where credit is due, so I wanted to share a couple of feel-good stories to counter those stereotypes.

The chicken or the egg

Life for graduates is certainly not easy. With the number of students in higher education in Australia on the up and up, more and more are graduating, and those with similar qualifications are often finding themselves vying for the same positions. Many companies prefer to hire someone with experience, but how do you get experience if no one is willing to give you a job to get it? Sometimes it takes a little bit of creative thinking, so I’m always happy when I see graduates really taking ownership of their careers by thinking about different ways they can gain experience.

Recently I was speaking to a graduate who was desperately trying to find work to get started in their career. Like many others, they were having trouble getting a foot in the door. What about volunteering? they asked me. What a great idea! I said. Because I work with a number of Not-for-Profit organisations, I was even able to find them volunteer work in their field of expertise (IT). This graduate is now gaining valuable on-the-job experience in their field while giving back to the community. And who knows, in recruitment we often see candidates in temporary roles offered a permanent position.

Going the extra mile, or the long commute

A former colleague of mine asked me if they could introduce me to a talented HR graduate, even if it was just for a coffee and a chat. I was more than willing to do this, as you never know who you could meet. I found her to be a bright and ambitious candidate, willing to try anything to get a break. While she was impressive, I didn’t have any suitable positions I could help her with at the time.

As is often the case, a few weeks later I was speaking to a client who needed HR administration support. I arranged an interview for the candidate. The outcome – she was offered a job with the company. It sounds easy and perhaps a bit too good to be true, but when I informed the candidate that one of the details about the role was that it would be over an hour drive each way, she did not flinch. I admire that dedication. She has stuck with the company despite a long commute, which has obviously paid off – she loves her new job!

A positive work ethic means different things to different people. The next time you hear someone go off on a negative my generation vs your generation rant, don’t be afraid to challenge their perception. I’d love to hear about some of the creative approaches you have seen from jobseekers and employers to meeting current challenges in the world @work.

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

References – pathways to gold

What’s been debated, outsourced, digitalised and recorded… but in the end come full circle?

Yes, the answer is those essential in depth candidate Reference Checks that have stood the test of time.

Talking with my colleagues and clients, we all agree they form part of the recruitment process that demands more than a nod and a tick for due diligence. Thorough reference checking is due diligence and meets some tick the box compliance needs, but more than that, it’s a gold plated step on the path to finding out more about a candidate, such as areas for development once on-boarded with your organisation.

Here are my 3 ‘Insider Tips’ as a seasoned ‘Referencer’:

  1. Asking for references from your candidate
    Do it at the start of the recruitment process – it will give you an indication of how serious the candidate is about the position. At interview I cross-check to verify the referee names and ensure that those provided are direct managers – if not, I’ll ask why.  If a candidate is hesitant to provide referee details, it could be a red flag. Without referees there’s also a high possibility the candidate will withdraw from the process.
  2. Ask for the referees you want, not the friendliest manager/colleague they want to give
    Don’t settle just for first named referees as candidates tend to provide referees who they know will say good things about them. Obtaining in-depth information is important and can be challenging so make sure you ask to reference them with their last manager, not their last ‘friend’ at work.

  3.  Conducting the reference check
    Ideally I conduct reference checks over the phone or even face-to-face. At Slade we give referees the opportunity to provide detailed information, as opposed to collecting graded responses (yes, no, good, ok etc. don’t tell us very much). It’s important the referee isn’t rushed and is able to talk about the candidate at length. This conversation often takes 15 – 30minutes and you’ll be looking to confirm and complement the information gleaned from earlier candidate interviews.

References are an ideal time to get clarification on any question marks about a candidate. In addition to standard reference questions about past performance, we gather insight into how best to induct the new employee into the organisation, as well as key areas of focus when managing the new hire.

I’ll ask follow-up and probing questions to uncover the full story, counter any bias, and provide all the information to make the best hiring decision possible.

References are a gift, not a bore!

What have you learned from reference checking? Have you changed your approach to references recently?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work