Blog Archives

Invitation to the Future: We’re ready.

Last year enough was spoken about my 50 years in business to spur me on for another 50 years.  Thank you to longstanding colleagues, clients, candidates and industry stalwarts who were in touch and recalled our times together. (Eating carnations from the vases on the tables after a big boozy dinner  in the 1980s was one I’d forgotten, but the year we hired over 50 executives for the one organisation was one I still remember – long days and satisfying results.)

Other than to sit and watch some good footy on the weekends, I’m a restless soul; thinking, adapting and staying abreast of sector trends and new ways of working. Celebrating the first 50 years gave me time to reflect, but my mind is clearly focused on the future.

In this blog I thought I’d share the fact that in recent years we’ve restructured the broader business and set ourselves up for future success. In doing so my Advisory Board and I considered a number of points:

  • The future of recruitment and the balance between technology, people, systems and processes
  • National and global trends
  • Shifts in market expectations
  • Shifts in employee trends
  • Future proofing a professional services model for a new economy
  • Succession planning (as none of the four Slade children is likely to come into the business)

We now have four discrete businesses, and whereas I was once the sole proprietor across the group, the future for professional services firms lies in distributed ownership and partnerships. I first stepped carefully into a new way of thinking (for me) and now three of the four businesses have equity partners and we’re seeing the growth and stability that comes from this model.

Yellow Folder was the first partnership I entertained five years ago, with Julian Doherty, Slade Group’s previous Director of Research.  Now working with many in the ASX 200 and across education and also Government, it is a research-based management consultancy that delivers corporate knowledge advantage, providing clients greater agility in business planning and talent acquisition strategy.

The service offerings are:

  • Competitor Profiling & Business Intelligence Analysis
  • Talent Investigations & Capability Search
  • Remuneration Benchmarking
  • Talent Pools & Candidate Pipelining

TRANSEARCH.  Most of us now agree with Peter Drucker’s comment “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. For many years, what I saw missing from the Executive Search landscape was an assessment tool or process that could untangle the knotty issue of culture fit at a senior executive level.  Canadian Organisational Psychologist Dr John Burdett and Orxestra©, developed the tools that TRANSEARCH International uses to provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership, and team ‘fit’.

As the result of a formal partnership agreement between TRANSEARCH International and Slade Partners, four years ago I brought two long standing executive search leaders Bill Sakellaris and Sandra Brown into the TRANSEARCH International Executive Search partnership.  Recently Di Gillett has become a Partner of this global alliance with Grant White leading our Finance Practice. TRANSEARCH International is one of the foremost international Executive Search firms; a Top 10 in the sector by reach and reputation. TRANSEARCH is pivotal in identifying and securing Board members, ‘C’ suite executives and senior functional experts who have led the growth of global organisations.

Slade Group. My name’s still on the door and I hope will be for many more years.  Securing high performing talent at the professional, specialist, middle management and senior levels has been the mainstay of Slade for years.  The development of technology, AI, Boolean searches, job boards and social media have for the most part been a blessing, but sometimes also a curse. There is so much happening in the HRIS space that it’s sometimes hard not to be distracted by the next ‘tech start up offering’.   We decided a few years ago that we would, until Artificial Intelligence finally eats our lunch in 40 years or so, wisely invest in systems, and even more wisely in our people.

This year, for the first time, I’ve also welcomed the first equity partner into the Slade Group business, Chris Cheesman.  Chris, in his mid-30’s, is the future of recruitment and new ways of working.  He has a very different leadership style to mine and his team of mainly Gen Y and Millennials work to a new work order – together with our clients who are also now mainly Gen Y and Millennials in that space.

We’re very focused on knowing particular industry sectors and talent really well. If I could sum up our strengths it would be in the following areas:

  • Consumer, Digital and Entertainment
  • Education
  • HR
  • Industrial
  • Professional and Business Support
  • Superannuation and Fin Services
  • Technical and Property/Construction

The Interchange Bench. The name says it all. For the last few decades the business, then known as Slade Temps, placed mainly short and long term temps in administrative support roles.  Two years ago that changed and a huge up lift in demand for digital, technical, marketing communications, events, accounting and payroll staff,  as well as payrolling teams of casuals, meant we no longer felt the name served the business.

The Interchange Bench not only attracts premium talent for short term assignments but works with the 121 Modern Awards that cover the 1000s of roles our temporary and contract talent are asked to do. The team runs all day ensuring clients can secure talent on and off the ‘bench’ and into their workplaces for short and long contract periods.  We’ve invested heavily in systems and processes and also reduced the risk for organisations who want to outsource their payroll as well as trusting us with their FairWork and the Modern Awards compliance.

When I recap where the business is right now, I feel we’re right sized, focused and structured for the immediate future. It will be interesting for me to re-visit this blog in five years and report back on how the business has continued to change and evolve.

What are you doing in your world @work to set yourself up for future success?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Compare the pair indeed!

Q. What’s in the news every day and the first topic of discussion whenever I sit down with clients or candidates?

A. The Hayne Royal Commission and, to a much lesser extent, the recent Productivity Commission report into Superannuation.

Where the draft Productivity Commission report identified areas for improvement within superannuation, namely multiple accounts and insurance premiums eroding those accounts, the Hayne Royal Commission has given us a sorry list of poor systems, poor compliance and behaviors that could be described anywhere from lazy, greedy or criminal.

I don’t need to be more specific, we all read the news and know what and who I’m referring to.

Sadly, in these client and candidate discussions, no-one is surprised. The constant stories from candidates from within these organisations clearly tells me that sales, profits and bonuses are  priorities number 1, 2 & 3, and anything else is a long way behind. As a result, the culture of these organisations are often toxic, and that’s why I’m seeing more candidates from those organisations than from anywhere else.

For political reasons the Industry Superannuation sector was added to the Royal Commission. I wonder if the Minister regrets that now. Not only did the Productivity Commission highlight the superior overall performance generally of the Industry Superannuation Funds as compared to the Retail Superannuation Funds, but so far the Royal Commission has further highlighted the difference in culture from the top down. The $67 million in fees begrudgingly refunded and fees to dead people versus a few million dollars on an advertising campaign (A fox in the henhouse? – I doubt they even knew just how right they were) or $240,000 in client entertainment expenses for a $35 billion fund.

Compare the pair indeed!

Why mention all this as a recruiter? Right now, employee sentiment is strongly in favour of ethical and moral corporate behaviour. Candidates want to work for organisations that genuinely make a difference, and demonstrate their strong cultures in their corporate behaviours. Good candidates want to work for strong organisations that are profitable and dynamic, but who also care about their staff and their customers, not just their profit or share price or bonuses.

Without doubt, one part of the financial services sector is winning ‘the war for talent’ based on values, ethics and behaviour.

What have you seen in your world @work that has shaken your values?

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A case of a Blinding Flash of the Obvious

Only last Saturday, I was settling in to read the weekend paper while sipping a long black at my local cafe, when I was again reminded of the world famous BFO principle… that’s a case of the Blinding Flash of the Obvious!

I was reading Greg Callaghan’s entertaining piece in The Saturday Age #GoodWeekend Magazine where he interviewed Sydney psychologist Dr Tim Sharp, an adjunct professor at both UTS and RMIT University, about “the importance of small, daily face-to-face interactions”.

What a timely reminder. These exchanges contribute to people’s overall wellbeing, longevity, and even improve mental health.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, as we bunker down for what is predicted to be a long  winter with endemic colds and flu, it’s been scientifically proven we can actually draw a lot of energy – and in fact warmth, by reaching out to others. Getting out of your headspace and talking to friends, family, colleagues or even strangers on the street, releases endorphins – your wellness hormone, which can actually be good for you.

Dr Sharp, who is also the founder of the Happiness Institute in Sydney, went on to say that, “Brief, micro interactions on a daily basis can have amazing benefits, leading to even reduced rates of depression.” Who would have thought?

While this may have been going on since Moses walked the Earth, I challenge you this week have a chat and reach out to someone new. Whether it’s at your next business meeting, a job interview, the train station, on the street corner or at your local… You can tell them I sent you!

Social media doesn’t count. No Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or texting… You gotta go live.

Experts call it positive wellbeing. Others may say it’s a BFO. Whatever, I think it’s fantastic and those little interactions really work. Everyone’s a winner, if you’re up for it. Just use your judgement when approaching others, keep it safe.

Let me know what happens when you have a ‘small talk’ with someone new.

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Posted in Slade Executive

How to attract ‘in demand’ talent in a candidate short market

Highly capable jobseekers always have options when deciding who they want to work for, but now it’s more important than ever for your organisation to sell its benefits to prospective employees.

If you’re serious about attracting the best talent, the days of the “It’s a privilege to work here” mentality are long gone.

What’s changed?

In Australia’s major cities, professionals are lifestyle conscious and a significant portion of the working population fall into a demographic with an established career who don’t have to take a job out of desperation and can afford to be selective when deciding where to work.

Companies that candidates are currently employed in have adapted, adopting flexible working arrangements and they are expecting their new company will be as progressive as the one they are leaving. The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey showed that 84 percent of millennials reported some degree of flexible working in their organisations.

Here are my five top tips to land the perfect candidate:

  1. Ensure you are familiar with your EVP and leverage it at each stage of the hiring process.
    HR and Recruitment teams have been working hard to implement Employee Value Proposition (EVP) programs to further enhance the brand and jobseeker experience.
    Update yourself on everything on offer that makes your organisation attractive to prospective employees (you never know there might be something that you are unaware of, and can take advantage of yourself).
  1. What are the other benefits of working with you and your team?
    If you are a hiring manager, think about some of the other selling points you can use to attract the best candidate to your company and team… social activities (sports teams, team events), technology, fruit box, interesting projects, etc.
  1. Be a brand ambassador
    Being a brand ambassador for the organisation should be part of your personal branding in your day-to-day business activities anyway, but it is critical to share that vision with a prospective employee when you have the opportunity to do so face-to-face, at interview. Don’t forget the employer branding can have an effect on future perception and sales of the business.
  1. Don’t be surprised if candidates are forthright with their requirements
    Candidates may ask you about flexible working hours, working from home options, career progression, along with learning and development opportunities. Five years ago these questions were less likely to be asked; fast forward to 2018 and these are the commonly asked questions, which you must be prepared to talk about with candidates.
  1. Corporate social responsibility is high on the millennial agenda
    Younger generations are socially aware, so working for an organisation that helps to give something back to the community is appealing and will attract talent to your team.

If you are struggling to find good talent to join your business, maybe it is time to revisit your EVP so you can ‘sell the company’ more effectively. Be more flexible in your thinking on working hours and consider hiring on potential, rather than current skills and experience.

How has your organisation evolved over time to the changing nature of the world @work? What are some of the features of your EVP?

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Nowadays, flattery will get you nowhere

How the pendulum has swung! Just ten years ago when making approaches to potential candidates by phone, I could virtually hear their flattered voices. In 2018 those potential candidates are fielding calls from numerous consultants for multiple roles, and in those voices I now sometimes detect the sound of annoyance.

The market is as tight as ever with organisations needing top technical talent yesterday. The ever-expanding landscape in Victoria and NSW particularly driven by major infrastructure projects, means that technical specialists and executives are constantly in high demand.

As a recruiter, change is something we encourage. One of the reasons I am proud of the brand we have at Slade Group, is that we thrive on our ability to swim upstream in an industry where it can often be easier to go with the flow… We work with our clients and candidates so that even though we’re headhunters, nobody we work with ever feels they have been randomly targeted to end up as ‘professional roadkill’.

How do we break away from the pack?

We don’t expect candidates to move quickly. Would you? If someone called you out of the blue asking if you wanted to look at another job, would you blindly give your details? I wouldn’t. We take the time when we reach out to candidates to get to know them, their career aspirations, their likes and dislikes, and what they do for fun. We figure out if the candidate is the right fit for an organisation’s culture, and if a certain company culture is the right fit for the candidate. It goes both ways for the candidate and the client. Success and growth should be attainable for both parties, and it’s the long-term picture that we look at when we’re recruiting for a role.

We retain our work. Slade Group work with a large majority of our clients on a retained assignment basis, which is when we take a part payment from engagement to placement of the candidate. I know, you’re probably wondering why someone would pay up-front for a service they can get from a number of others, but it’s because when we take a retained assignment we see it as a project: If you paid someone to do your homework, you’d expect to receive an A+. This is exactly how we approach our retained assignment projects.

We take a thorough brief from the client, we take the time to understand what they need and don’t just guess what they need. We commit our reputation, time and effort just as much as we ask the client to commit to us, and with that commitment we do it properly. We have the best research team in the business who we engage to map the market to help establish your strategy. We want to get this right for you, as if we worked at your company.

We set realistic expectations. When we engage with our clients, we set expectations and we don’t take an assignment we can’t fill. We work with you and guide you through our shared journey. You receive a detailed schedule on what to expect when, and we leave you to get on with your day job.

If you’ve been headhunted, what was the experience like? What would you look for when considering the best way to recruit for your business?

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Leading with courage

In early February 2018 Dina Pozzo, founder of insium, spoke to the Slade Group team about Organisational Courage. Here is some background to what that term means.

Sustaining organisational performance in an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous[1], is challenging and falls to the leadership within an organisation. This environment has contributed to corporate scandals including that of Enron in 2001 and Lehman Brothers in 2008. Might the collapse of both of these organisations have been averted by a strong expression of courage by senior and executive employees?

Might courage at work – defined as “an intentional constructive or moral action taken by an individual in the presence of perceived personal risk and uncertainty of outcome (personal or organisational) in order to resolve or avert a workplace issue” – avert further global collapses?

Warren Bennis, described as a “renowned leadership scholar”, espouses that “courage is the ‘X’ factor that can make or break corporate America”[2]. The Australian landscape is no different.

My Master of Applied Positive Psychology Capstone paper established the case for courage as an enabler of leadership, providing argument and a framework for the development of a measurable, outcomes-based programme to build courage. This programme, Leading with Courage, was launched at the 5th World Congress of Positive Psychology in Montreal in July 2017. The objective of this programme is to ‘build courage in senior and executive leaders, which will enable leadership behaviour, with an additional positive impact on leader workplace wellbeing’.

The above definition of courage, which I developed, is the foundation for this programme which uses narrative methodology to build courage, with measures of leaders’ workplace courage, leadership and workplace wellbeing taken pre- and post-programme. See more here: leadingwithcourage.com.au

The programme combines academic theory with practitioner evidence – including my own 16 years’ experience as a practitioner in the field of leadership and organisational culture development.

While courage is not the only behaviour required of leaders, it is an essential leadership behaviour for success, and may be the one which provides most support in these challenging times.

I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about Leading with Courage. For now, think about when have you been courageous in the workplace? How do you lead with courage? What stories of courage do you share to inspire courage in others?

 


References

  1. Bennett & Lemoine, 2014
  2. Jablin, 2006, p. 102
  3. Remeikis, 2016
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7 business and life lessons we can draw from Roger Federer’s #20grandslamwin

I’ve done a quick survey around the office and the streets at home, and guess what? I can honestly say I can’t find anyone who doesn’t love Roger Federer (or who isn’t pleased he just won the Australian Open last weekend). Can the Swiss tennis maestro do no wrong?

Federer’s probably the best known sportsman in the world right now. He’s just won three of the five last grand slams aged 36, which contradicts those who assume he should be too old, too slow, or simply past it. No way!

Who knows what has led to the incredible renaissance of this elite superstar? If we wind the (Swiss) clock back a little, Federer had a four year drought up until last January (2017), where he didn’t win one major at all… zero, nada, niente.

Well, this got me thinking… What can we learn from the great man’s rebirth over the past twelve months, and can these learnings have a place in the office and our lives generally?

Working in the ‘people business’ – I am an executive recruitment consultant, and a communications coach, trainer and facilitator – I’m constantly observing behaviours. Here are my observations on Roger Federer:

  1. Federer has a rock solid self-belief system. Experts say sport is played 70% above the neck. Federer’s self-talk must be awesomely positive. What do you say to yourself about yourself at work?
  2. Maintaining fitness (and winning) at 36 years of age in international sport is a massive achievement. Mentally and physically Federer works so hard. I’m told the dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. What do you need to be doing more of in your life?
  3. Federer surrounds himself with family and has a great team to train and support him. We can’t do it all by ourselves. Who have you chosen to be on your team, in your inner circle, both at work and socially?
  4. Even with #20grandslamwins, Federer still has a coach (Ivan Ljubicic). Why? He never stops learning. You could seek out a couple of wise heads to act as your business mentors or engage professional coaches.
  5. Be Smart. Federer won’t be playing every ATP tournament anymore. His body just can’t handle it. Are you making smart choices when prioritising the time you spend with clients, colleagues, family and friends?
  6. Plan B. You must have one. Federer could have crashed out after Cilic steamrolled him in the fourth set. But no, he switched it around with a better serve and a few different shots to win the fifth set. Last year against Nadal he was down a service break. Again he had to switch things around. Have you got a Plan B (or C) for when something important isn’t working for you? Think “change it up”.
  7. In post-match interviews Federer joked with commentator Jim Courier and enjoyed a laugh with comedian Will Ferrell. He said when he’s having fun, he plays better. Allowing yourself some light stress relief can enable you to keep winning – try that in the office. “Keep it classy” though!

Yes, Federer reminded me that the little things done well, done often, can get you there in the final set. As for the other big question, why does everyone love him so much? You will have to help me to explain that one (I bet he stole a block of chocolate when he was ten, but no one’s fessing up back in Switzerland)!

What have you seen when you were watching Roger Federer play? How can you apply your observations to the world @work?

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Can I make it? I should know.

I often get asked by people who are looking for their next challenge, Can I make it?  As an executive recruitment consultant, candidates approach me for all sorts of reasons: seeking career inspiration, to reinforce their self-belief, knowing I’m well networked and as a champion of diversity or, in the likelihood I can provide a fresh job opportunity.

How should I know if you can make it? Well, several years ago I made the decision to alter my own journey by embarking on a new career. In the past I had enjoyed successes as an executive in the Consumer & Retail market, as well as performing at the top of my game in hockey as an elite sportsperson and Olympic athlete. I have coached others, but hadn’t taken time out to reassess my own goals and priorities.

I think we reach a stage in our lives where something is missing – it could be your current vocation, work-life balance or that the culture of the environment you work in is no longer fulfilling. People talk about wanting more… More time to spend doing what we love… More authentic personal connections… More opportunity to make a real difference… More than just the status quo…

Aspiring to more can be challenging, but also leads you on a path to finding internal satisfaction.

Due to my love of making personal connections and coaching, a consulting role had immediate appeal. It’s one of the reasons I began sports coaching, because the relationships you make overseeing an athlete’s daily routine become quite personal. Professional development mixed with my sales achievement orientation in business seemed to resonate.

When the time was right to make my next career move I was still scared, unsure and hesitant, but also excited, curious and focused. The result – well, here I am alive and blogging!

So now a few tips for those looking for more in their careers:

  1. Be adaptable – how can you apply your skills and experience?
  2. Be open-minded – opportunities may come from left field
  3. Learn more about yourself – what drives you, what makes you tick?
  4. Come with something to offer – your unique value to a prospective employer
  5. Take ownership – it’s up to you to be the driver of change

Allowing yourself the space to breath, think, focus and act will bring results. It did for me.

If you’d like to explore more, let me know.

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