Blog Archives

Tough nut or fair, but firm?

I’m often accused of being a ‘tough nut’. I think I’m firm but fair. I’m frustrated by underperformers, people missing targets and sloppy work practices. Sometimes I feel I’m painted as some sort of ogre, and now finally, I know why. Apparently, nearly 50% of Australian organisations feel that ‘close enough is good enough’.

The Study of Australian Leadership by the Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Employment paints a rather grim picture of our workplaces, particularly the rigour we apply to measuring and meeting performance targets. It reads as though the world @work in Australia could do with a rocket up the interior.

With one in three businesses not giving employees any key performance indicators to do their job, is it any surprise that as a nation we’re slipping in performance outcomes?

Let me pose some of the questions that arose from this study.

Do you have Key Performance Indicators for every person in every role in your organisation? Are those KPIs being measured? And are those people in those roles (remember, they’re our most valuable assets), being managed and developed to meet their KPIs?

Are you providing all the leadership and management training your future senior executives need to become brilliant leaders? Or are you hoping that because they’re good in the job they currently fill, they’ll be great a step or two up?

And can we also find better ways to spend the $56 billion a year, the estimated waste in completing non-essential administrative tasks? How often are conventions retained because ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’?

I’m finally having my day in the sun. Close enough is not good enough.

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Still just a country boy

Which recruitment executives have inspired you on a professional level? Recently industry news site Shortlist asked me to nominate them. Recruitment blogger Ross Clennett also devoted several articles this year to the subject, including What You May Not Know About Recruitment’s Top 16 InfluencersThe 5 Most Influential People in the Recruitment Industry in past 60 years (has it been that long?), and a who’s who of the 15 most influential people in the industry.

Common traits amongst those nominated at the top of Clennett’s lists (John Plummer, Greg Savage, Geoff Morgan & Andrew Banks, Julia Ross – and somehow I squeezed in there too) are the ability to build businesses, develop people, contribute to enhancing the industry and a vision for the future. Those same qualities I’ve observed in industry leaders in every sector, which as Clennett says, have all been recognised by their peers as “individuals that have significantly shaped our industry for the better”.

About 50 years ago, I knew nothing about recruitment. I was a country boy who started my career in an HR role at a global construction business at age 19. Then in the late 1960s I was bold (read lucky) enough to start-up a recruitment business, GW Slade and Associates, with some help in the form of a loan from my parents. This later became Slade Consulting Group and was sold in 1988 – with offices in all major cities in Australia and New Zealand. Fast forward a couple of decades, Slade Group began in 1991.

Many of today’s leaders were highly active members of our industry associations. Before the days of the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA), there was the National Association of Personnel Consultants (NACP) and the Institute of Personnel Consultants (IPC), which I was heavily involved with. We later merged the two together with the appointment of Julie Mills (now at ITCRA – the Australian and New Zealand Information Technology Contract & Recruitment Association), who was fundamental in pulling it all together. I was the founding chairman of the RCSA and later its President. It was a fairly interesting time because not everyone was keen on the merger. Julie spent many years as the executive director of the RCSA, and I think without her, the industry wouldn’t be in such a strong position as it is today.

People like the aforementioned were all inspirational in one way or another. Greg Fish was an outstanding young man too who unfortunately never got to 40, but he was also an inspiration.

I’m lucky to have worked with a number of inspirational women, not the least of whom is my wife, Anita Ziemer. Certainly some of these are Louise Craw, who managed Slade Group’s Professional Support business for some 27 years and Nanette Carroll, who actually bought part of the Slade business after Blue Arrow (a UK listed Group who bought my original company) pulled out of Australia. Nanette was awarded Telstra Businesswoman of the Year in 1996. In our current business Maria Cenic, our GM Finance & Shared Services who has been with us for well over 10 years, keeps the ship on course and trims the sails appropriate to the forecast.

Work and accolades aside, I grew up in Bittern on the Western Port side of the Mornington Peninsula and still spend most weekends in the region. I’d say I’m still just a country boy.

Which executives have inspired you on a professional level in your industry?

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Why everyone needs a Geek in the family

It used to be said that ideally every family needs a doctor, lawyer, plumber and chef in their ranks. I can’t say we have any of those, but we do have a particularly handy builder, a couple of digital media and marketing kids and a geek. Hey, who’s not proud of their kids? The Slade gang are on their way, on various rungs of their career ladder or starting out on their own.

Let me cover off Jack the Geek in this blog as he’s related to our world @work. Jack is building Procurious for his enterprising employer, Tania Seary in London.

For those of you who haven’t heard about it, Procurious is the vertical professional network for those working in procurement. There is a growing trend to create specialist verticals, away from the world mass of LinkedIn, towards meaningful, niche sector verticals. Sites like Doximity for physicians and healthcare professionals, Spiceworks for the ICT industry and Rallypoint for the military.

The lad has had a stellar two years taking Tania’s global procurement e-concept to reality and has learned how to build and translate a product strategy through to execution. Take a look at it here: procurious.com.au

In the meantime he runs his own e-passion at night, not in the garage, but on the couch at home; Boss Hunting was an idea he acted on while he was still at University.

What do you mean Boss Hunting, is that about looking for a good boss?” I asked at the time.

No you fossil, Boss means cool. They are hunting for what’s cool.”

This year he’s taken the Facebook page to a full content website at bosshunting.com.au. Its target audience is 16 – 34 year old males, with the odd proud mother thrown in to skew the data. 250,000 followers isn’t bad, and I’m pleased to share one link that talks about how early career professionals can approach job hunting: 12 Tips to Help You Get That Dream Job.  This generation of millennials are doing far more interesting things than I did, and they feel much more inclined to create their own opportunities, either in the way they negotiate their own world @work or create their own working world.

What advice would you give to young twentysomethings about the world @work?

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