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I get knocked down, I get up again…

1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Organisations want people who aren’t afraid to tackle difficult tasks – problem solvers who learn from a challenge, not folk who say “that’s too hard” and pack it in.

It has been one of those weeks for me. Everything that could go wrong… did!  What appeared disastrous, was of course, in a life or death context, no more than a hiccup. Supported and sorted, and I’m up again for the next challenge.

This made me think: How do we gauge resilience without having actually worked alongside a person?

I actively screen for resilience in candidates. During the recruitment process, we need to find out if a candidate has been tested in tough times and how they manage through tricky situations.  Psychometric testing is also useful to get a good grasp on work style and character attributes.

Two of my favourite behavioural questions that I think give me the most insight are:

How have you dealt with failure? How did it make you feel, and what did you learn?  

We are all familiar with the old adage ‘sink or swim’ and there is a reason for this. Work can be tough; and each role has its own pressure points. You will make mistakes, you may miss a deadline and sometimes you could flat out fail. Listening to candidates answer this question gives me some insight into how reflective they are about their fallibilities, if they can learn from mistakes and bounce back.

Describe a time when you kept your eye on the big picture, through a challenging situation?

Why do I like this question? It allows me to see where a person’s focus lies. It is so easy to get side-tracked with a current disaster/issue/problem and assume that it’s all too hard. I know sometimes it may feel that the end of the road is nigh, but let me tell you, after 20 years in the workforce, it’s not. Maintaining perspective provides a way forward, so I want to find candidates who can keep their eye on the ball, get knocked down… get up again, to win the prize at the end of the race.

Our fast-paced contingent workforce at The Interchange Bench regularly attend jobs in new environments. Once we’re briefed on an assignment we match the role with our ‘bench of talent ensuring capability and culture fit are closely aligned. For our candidates going out on assignment, it’s a case of getting on with the show. That is why resilience is key whether it’s a months’ long assignment or just for a day.

Often in our working lives we get knocked down. Sometimes it’s not a little stumble, but a great big fall. We get up, we dust ourselves off and we get on with it. If we are lucky, we are able to learn from the experience and we become hardier in preparation for similar situations in the future.

It certainly helps to have a supportive team to get you through tough times at work

How do you measure resilience in your world @work?

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Posted in The Interchange Bench

We’re all just contractors, really.

Seen any long-term employees lately? Workers with over ten years tenure are becoming a rare breed. Many will never qualify for long service leave. Jobs for life? Unlikely for aspirational professionals in today’s workforce.

Traditional employment paradigms are slowly disappearing from the vernacular. They’re being replaced by concepts such as the agile work environment, activity based workplaces and a contingent workforce, which better describe the current landscape. Employee tenure is also decreasing over the years, with McCrindle Research finding that employees are changing their jobs as many as 17 times, with five career changes now the average.

What’s causing this shift? A challenge to the long held perception that retaining an employee in a permanent full-time role is imperative to protect the IP of an organisation.

So why wouldn’t workforce flexibility be attractive to employers? Engaging contractors provides many benefits: The ability to ‘right size’ your team, engage technical experts for specific projects, or inject fresh ideas from people with broader industry experience. Less can also bring more: Short-term specialist staff can help to refine best practice methodology in a company.

Despite performing well locally, some Australian multinationals faced a headcount freeze during the GFC. Contracting executives proved an effective solution. Mitigating long-term risk, while ensuring the required outputs were achieved, contractors gave these organisations the ability to engage mission critical staff, without the need to negotiate with their overseas parent for appointment approval.

Whilst the ratio of contractors to permanent employees varies across sectors and companies, generally we are seeing an increased willingness from organisations to consider a contractor as a worthwhile alternative to the traditional permanent employee, which is backed-up by an overall increase in contractor ratios.

What does this mean for employees? To succeed within this new paradigm, the ability to continuously improve, develop your skills and experience, while adapting to different working environments in all types of organisations will be the challenge. An attitudinal shift is already in play, with more recent entrants into the workforce already adopting a flexible, agile perspective to their career. For these individuals, a long-term role is not even a consideration and may not even be a preference.

Accompanying this agile workforce will be a greater emphasis on performance based management and key performance indicators (KPIs). Employees will need to collaborate and engage with an ever-changing team who may increasingly be based remotely and not be accessible within traditional office hours or a corporate environment. Similarly, employers will need to adjust their thinking and recognise that traditional ‘line of sight’ management is also a thing of the past.

For executives, cultural fit is always imperative. With contractors progressively performing roles that were previously held by staff under permanent employment arrangements, it’s more important now than ever before. Executive contractors are also being assessed for their contribution to the organisational culture, not just their skills and expertise, even for short term contracts.

When you’re recruiting, don’t place limitations on the talent available to you by thinking only in terms of engagement. A contemporary shift in workplace attitudes, ongoing technological advances that allow for flexible working practices and the reduced need for staff to be present in traditional workplaces means better options for employers and employees too. In the meantime it will be interesting to review workplace statistics in 2020 to see whether this trend continues on its current trajectory.

What workforce trends have you observed in your industry? How have contractors positively contributed to your organisation?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work