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The Psychology Behind Why Every Day In Lockdown Feels Like ‘Groundhog Day’

They say variety is the spice of life, and for those trying to thrive in lockdown, the age-old adage couldn’t be more important. No matter how mentally strong and resilient you usually are, it’s tough to shake a sinking feeling when you’re facing health-mandated restrictions on what you can do, who you can see, and how you usually shape your weekly schedule. It’s tempting to build a routine and churn through it while waiting “it” out, but a recent study suggests you’ll need to do more to fight the lockdown Groundhog Day effect to make sure it doesn’t muddle your focus, impair your memory, and wreak havoc on other cognitive processes.

Working from home might be de rigueur moving forward, even when we’re no longer trapped in a cycle of lockdowns, but if you don’t figure out how to nail the dramatic change in context for the better, you won’t be very effective in, well, anything.

recent study on people in Italy, who were locked down for months last year, suggests that the insidious effects of lockdown are lingering memory problems, which would range from forgetting small things like where you left your smartphone, to trouble with attention when trying to read a book or stream a show. If you find your mind wandering a bit more than usual, it seems you’re far from alone.

Out of 4,000 respondents in the study, 30% had reported some degree of change in their everyday cognition. This is obviously going to be accentuated in people with underlying emotional issues like depression and anxiety, but even for those without any such conditions, these cognitive issues were very common.

The implications for productivity are dire, which is why you should be across the more granular details when it comes to this so-called lockdown memory fog. You can’t fight something effectively if you don’t know how it works.

The Groundhog Day Effect

The above study suggests that the reason our everyday memory is on the fritz is that we are living through a kind of Groundhog Day, and this makes it harder for our brains to properly encode memories, not only make them more difficult to retrieve later on, but messing with our sense of time.

Attempting to explain the results of the study, Professor Brett Hayes from UNSW’s School of Psychology references the recently refined contextual-binding theory of memory. This basically states that memories form by linking experience to context.

“What we know about human memory is that the context is really important”, said Professor Hayes. “You might be doing a job at home, chatting to a friend, or watching a movie…. when we have those experiences, we might be focused on the main part of the experience, but our brain is actually encoding a lot of other things just incidentally, like where that’s happening, the location, where and when it’s taking place”.

Our brain is hyper-sensitive to these contextual cues, and it’s what helps us better lay down memories in a way that’s easily retrieved later on. Lockdown strips away much of the variety in our weekly contexts; we’re no longer having dinner out with friends at different restaurants, trying new outdoor activities, working with spaces that allow for variety, and so on. Sleeping on different sides of the bed each night, or working out in different rooms of the house. doesn’t count.

Most of us have then sunk into a cycle that allows for very little repetition outside of incremental variations on the same ol’ shit. Even Bill Murray had more freedom than this in Groundhog Day, and when we’re limited to very few contexts between days, that’s when time can blur and those memory and attentional issues come to the fore.

Of course, most of this may be obvious to a lot of you. But knowing there’s increasing experimental evidence sitting behind this should at least make you feel a bit more… normal. I know I’ve been making far more spelling mistakes than usual lately, and while having too many tabs (web browser tabs, open) usually overwhelms me, this time it’s straight-up murder to my mind.

Routine, Variety, & Socialising

Having a routine – especially a morning one – is always going to be important. Your personal rituals are crucial for daily structure, and just about every successful person in the world will tell you that. But mixing them up and balancing them with variety should hold equal importance, especially now that your range of contexts is severely limited.

Maintaining a level of social interaction is important, beyond whoever you happen to be locking down with.

Another study on a two-month lockdown in Scotland last year required respondents to test their memory via a number of online tasks across memory, decision making, and selective attention. Results suggest that performance was not only poorer during lockdown, but people who were able to maintain their online interaction during those lockdowns did better at all tasks.

People, particularly blokes, don’t like to admit when they’re feeling lonely, whether it’s due to a fear of being seen as weak and emotionally unstable, or being a burden to others. That should stop, if even for the sake of productivity in other areas of your life.

While keeping up social interactions and changing contexts wherever you can is important, it’s a bit harder to put it into practice. This goes beyond just changing your Zoom background every time your mates host a virtual poker sesh, that need for variety should extend to your exercise as well.

“From a memory point of view, if you are able to exercise outside the house, vary those exercise paths from day to day to just allow a different context for your brain to encode those different days, if you want to be able to remember what you did from day to day a bit better,” suggests Prof. Hayes.

“Variations on exercises and activities in your house or apartment will also help you avoid the memory fog”.

From nutrition to sex, variety just leads to better overall experiences and performance. You don’t need an article to tell you that (I would hope), so bring a little bit of that thinking into more areas of your locked-down life. You might be limited to the same context each day, but it helps if you play around with the space between those boundaries to try and switch things up. Trust the process and you’ll see results.

Although if you’re worried this lockdown Groundhog Day effect might bring about some permanent changes, you shouldn’t get too stressed. The above studies also found that once restrictions were eased, particularly the social isolation, and people started experiencing different events in different places, the memory fog effect dissipated quickly.

Hang in there, you’ve got this.

This article was originally published by Chris Singh on Boss Hunting


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Posted in The world @work

Have you updated your LinkedIn profile since you set it up?

Or since you got your new job? In the last 12 months? If not, you may be missing out on leveraging from LinkedIn, big time!

In Episode 91 of The Job Hunting Podcast, I share my journey and evolution using LinkedIn and how I updated my profile and activity over time in line with my career plans. I also share the results I got and how they helped my career advancement.

What you will learn in this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast:

  • my personal journey and evolution on LinkedIn: How and why I changed my profile and activity over time.
  • The results I got and how I believe LinkedIn has been instrumental in supporting my career advancement and my transition into business ownership.
  • The importance of being intentional and having a strategy in mind to get the same results (or even better!) on LinkedIn.
  • I’m sharing the top 3 things you should consider doing right now to elevate your executive presence on LinkedIn a few takeaways that I think will help you a lot.

When I say LinkedIn will support your career, I really mean that it will get you new job opportunities! I have plenty of personal and client experiences to back this claim. So if you are a bit sceptical, remember that you are working with a sample of one (i.e., you), whereas my sample is much larger!

How I updated my LinkedIn profile and activity over time.

I believe the following years were the key tipping points of my career, where I either used LinkedIn to propel me forward or adjusted LinkedIn in line with where my career was progressing. In the podcast episode, I explain each milestone in more detail to share with you my personal journey and evolution on LinkedIn when it comes to my presence and messaging, and how and when I update my profile and activity:

  • 2008 – The beginning of LinkedIn
  • 2010 – Moving sectors 
  • 2012 – Senior national role
  • 2014 – CEO role
  • 2016 – Liberation and LinkedIn articles
  • 2018 – Doing a 180 on my profile, articles, and posts to match my business
  • 2021 – Crystalized my business on LinkedIn, resulting in lots of new clients

The results I got by using LinkedIn strategically. 

I believe LinkedIn has been instrumental in supporting my career advancement and my transition into business ownership. These are the key steps I took on LinkedIn:

  1. Being intentional and having a strategy in mind.
  2. Always adjusting my message on LinkedIn in line with my career phase and future plans.
  3. Making great connections over time: headhunters, recruiters, colleagues, and like-minded people. 

The 3 things you should consider doing right now on LinkedIn.

I discuss the following three strategies in more detail in the podcast episode. I believe that activating them can help elevate your executive presence on LinkedIn and help you now and in the future:

  1. Your top banner is your blue-chip LinkedIn real estate: invest in getting it appropriate for you, your industry, and your employer.
  2. Don’t try to imitate others – it won’t work for you.
  3. Your activity is just as important as your profile, if not more!

Conclusion

When I say LinkedIn will support your career, I really mean that it can get you new job opportunities. And it does not require you to be there all day long! I believe one hour per week is enough to activate the LinkedIn muscles to help you achieve your goals!

Sign up for a free Job Hunting Masterclass with Renata Bernarde on Tuesday 3 August at 9am or 6pm.

If you are ready to take a step further and guarantee that the time you spend on LinkedIn pays off and brings you the connections, networks, invitations that will support your career in the short, medium, and long term, then consider attending one of the masterclasses on Tuesday 3 August 2021 at 9AM or 6PM (Melbourne, AEST). Learn more here.

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Posted in Job Hunting Made Simple

Thriving on Chaos – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

As we’re more than half way through 2021 and those of us in Australia enter a new financial year amidst lockdown, the covid chaos of the past 18 months remains a challenge. 

Like many, I recently moved to a home office after selling my business premises. It took ages to clear bookshelves as I fell into the trap of glancing over highlighted passages of books that had helped my career; and couldn’t bear to part with copies signed by authors I knew. Since my days as an executive with IBM, I admired the no-nonsense, energetic delivery of former McKinsey management guru, Tom Peters who wrote the New York Times #1 best-seller, In Search of Excellence.  We met at a conference when I started out as an author and speaker. Over 20 years later, I dusted off his lesser-known tome; Thriving on Chaos. Although written after the 1987 stock market crash, the title is equally relevant today.

Catherine DeVrye and Tom Peters
Catherine DeVrye and Tom Peters

The inside jacket flap states:

“Everywhere and every day, managers confront shattering and accelerating change…in a chaotic new world.”

Hmmm, sound familiar? I haven’t had a chance to re-read the entire book but some chapter headings are just as applicable today in what Peters labelled:

Prescriptions for a World Turned Upside Down:

Inset: Thriving on Chaos book by Tom Peters

Not every chapter is as relevant but most sound practices stand the test of time. So too, I’m reminded of Peter Drucker who, in 1954, published The Changing World of the Executive. Although that was decades before I attended Harvard University, his legendary quote was prominent in our leadership curriculum:

  • Achieving flexibility by empowering people
  • Use self-managing teams
  • Learning to love change
  • Reconceive the middle managers role
  • Decentralise information, authority & strategic planning
  • Master paradox

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Yes, change is constant. In my own book, Chapter 14 of Hot Lemon & Honey – Reflections for Success in Times of Change is titled:

“Change is inevitable. Learning from change is optional!”

Peter Drucker passed away in 2005, aged 95 and Tom Peters turns 78 this year and still actively comments on Twitter with his trademark candour. Amidst some of the fads of self-proclaimed ‘thought leaders’ of today, don’t we need sustainable wisdom that stands the test of time?

Timeless! I love my Kindle but sorting through those physical bookshelves left me with a lingering sense of lingering déjà vu—that sometimes the more things change, the more they remain the same.

In this current age of covid chaos, will your decisions be based on a trendy whim or on sustainable wisdom? Will you be a victim or a victor of change? Those choices are entirely yours and I’m sure you’ll choose wisely.

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Posted in The world @work

What it means to be proud at work in 2021

While you may have seen more colours than usual in your social feed over the last month during Pride*, it’s not always all rainbows and unicorns for LGBTQI+ people at work. Our level of acceptance and comfort varies from occupation to industry, geographic location and the size of the organisation.

A lot has been said about the value of bringing your whole self to work. Diversity Council Australia reports LGBTQI+ employees who are out to everyone at work are:

  • 50% more likely to innovate than workers who are not out to everyone
  • 35% more likely to work highly effectively in their team
  • 28% more likely to provide excellent customer/client service

For those of us who were able to and have concealed our identity in the workplace over the course of our careers, the results range from being constantly on edge, to simply longing to share what we did on the weekend.

As a teenager during school holidays and at various times as an adult, I tried my hand as an unskilled labourer on building sites and in factories when my Dad worked in manufacturing. Eating my lunch with the other tradies, I could smoke a cigarette, but I still had to listen to what my all-male coworkers did on holiday in Pattaya. A notch up from the banter that went around at high school, but in a rough industrial environment, it was definitely not ok to be gay.

Venturing into hospitality on a work experience placement, I found discrimination was rife in a restaurant kitchen. Chef’s hurled insults (and saucepans, regardless of your sexuality), so the wait staff kept their heads down anyway. I’ve since mastered the use of plating food with fork and spoon, a skill not required for my next job – flipping burgers at McDonald’s (not an ideal for a vegetarian).

I soon moved to front counter at Maccas, where OTT interactions with the public were actively encouraged as long as you met the service time KPIs, which better suited my outgoing personality at the time. Working for a large global organisation with policies and procedures for literally everything provided a safe environment and was surprisingly one of the most enjoyable jobs I had as an undergrad.

Straight out of university and into a recession equivalent to the GFC, I fell back on hospitality. Relocating from Melbourne to Sydney, working front of house in hotels in the 90s, I was no longer in the minority. The major drawback to working with gay colleagues was they knew what you really got up to on the weekend. In those pre smart phone days, my boyfriend at the time would pick me up from work. He’d casually sit and read the newspaper while he waited for me to finish up, even chat to my boss. So, that’s what acceptance feels like!

Before we had the alphabet acronym, student politics led me to joining the ‘gay and lesbian’ community group. Years of marching and fighting for equal rights got me interested in industrial relations (acknowledging trade unions in Australia have been instrumental in helping us achieve equality), which became human resources when I tired of shift work and moved into business administration. Back in Melbourne, working for an SME in the South Eastern suburbs, I could do payroll for 100 people, but I didn’t have the guts to bring my boyfriend to the work Christmas Party.

Moving to Sydney was liberating. Moving to London ten years later was an eye opener. On a working holiday, I landed a job in HR at Transport for London – a huge, diverse organisation with proud D&I objectives. One of my colleagues at TfL was awarded an MBE for Services to Equality.

A stint within one of TfL’s project recruitment teams led to working in volume and graduate recruitment on my return to Australia. Working with one of the country’s largest recruitment firms provided a pathway back into Marketing & Communications, putting to use all those unused qualifications that had been collecting dust in storage.

Since I commenced at Slade Group, I’ve had the confidence to bring my whole self to work. I have been actively involved with LGBTQIA+ (‘A’ is for ally) professional associations including the GLOBE network, and Out for Australia, which facilitates a mentoring program for students and recent graduates. I’ve seen friends and contacts start networks in their own industries, such as Queers in Property and Building Pride.

Growing up there weren’t many professional role models, like Penny Wong, Michael Kirby or Tim Cook. Corporate partnerships – much more than a float in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade – have been instrumental in driving change within their own organisations, business and the wider community. Companies we now partner with, such as SEEK, have been champions of Diversity & Inclusion, and it’s been gratifying to be part of a culture where I have seen others bring their whole selves to work.

Coming out is an ongoing process that never really stops. Each time you change jobs, are introduced to a new colleague, a new client, a new supplier… deciding how much of yourself you will share is part of building that relationship. Being proud at work has meant being supported through tough times, from the marriage equality debate to relationship break-ups and COVID-19 (frighteningly evocative of the HIV/AIDS pandemic for many of my generation). I’ve been able have the watercooler chat about what I did on the weekend and once even managed to drag a partner along to the Christmas party.


*June is officially Pride month in the USA, in recognition of the Stonewall Riots, a landmark event in the history of LGBTQI+ rights that took place on 28 June 1969. In Australia we celebrate Pride at different times of the year in various cities and regions (generally when the weather is better suited to outdoor festivals and parades). Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (now held annually in March) originally took place as protest march in commemoration of Stonewall on 24 June 1978. Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival traditionally takes place during in the summer months January-February (disrupted by Covid this year) along with Tas Pride in February. Brisbane’s Pride Festival will be in September this year, along with NT’s Top End Pride. Adelaide Pride, WA Pride Fest and Spring OUT in the ACT all take place in November. Along with Pride events in many regional centres, it’s fair to say there’s something to celebrate throughout the year.

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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion, The world @work

How to maintain a positive professional reputation to achieve career success

In managing the trajectory of your career, one of the most important assets you have is your reputation. What other people think of…

  • you as a colleague, leader, or team member,
  • your workplace performance, and
  • your behaviour around others, including clients and stakeholders.

…will impact their ability to consider you for promotions internally, as well as job opportunities in other organisations.

I am sure you have heard the saying ‘your reputation precedes you’. That was true before social media and the internet, and it’s even more acute now since there are so many ways we can learn about each other online.

I encourage you to take an active role in protecting and managing your reputation. And in this podcast episode, I discuss a few ideas that I believe you can use to help you showcase your competence, likeability, and credibility as a professional.

For example, these days, you probably wouldn’t visit a restaurant or book an Airbnb without consulting their online reviews, am I right? And if you don’t check, you know you’re taking a risk, which is exciting for a small investment, such as a meal. But when you are buying something expensive, let’s say a car or a house, you will do your due diligence and research and make sure you are making the best possible investment for your money, right?

Well, recruiting and promoting a professional happens in the same way. It’s unlikely that anyone will hire, promote, accept an introduction, or invite you for a conversation without first checking your credentials either with a reference or by doing an online search.

These tips below will show you not only how you might be sabotaging your career progression without knowing you’re doing it but also how to take corrective action.

Your reputation will enhance or decrease your gravitas

In The Job Hunting Podcast episodes 82 and 83, we have discussed executive presence and gravitas. However, no matter how good your gravitas is as you walk into a job interview or an important meeting, your reputation precedes you.

The people in the room already have an opinion of you. So the interview will either help you reinforce their positive opinion (if they already like and trust you) or have the opposite effect. And this is why executive presence, gravitas, and reputation go hand in hand. And this is why I recorded the three episodes of The Job Hunting Podcast as a series, 82, 83, and 84.

Your reputation is not on show so much in your cover letter or resume. Here are some examples of what you need to manage:

  • Your social media activity on LinkedIn and other platforms.
  • Your performance at your current job.
  • How you relate to your work colleague.

Walking into an important meeting with a good idea of what people’s opinions are and how you can enhance your strengths and mitigate any issues is a learned skill. I can attest that it is possible to turn up as the dark horse and win the race.

People’s opinion of you

If people can form an opinion of you before they meet you, you need to manage your reputation as much as possible. But reputation management is not just thinking you are doing a good job and that others like you. Instead, reputation management is you seeking out and proactively asking others for feedback about your work and your management style, listening to the feedback, and improving upon it.

Think about your reputation in the same way the company you work for protects theirs. After all, as a professional, you bring in revenue for your household, and you need to protect that revenue generation for years to come, yes? As a coach, I am always surprised that corporate professionals are very strategic when helping the organizations they work for but neglect to work on their careers strategically.

Here is an exercise you can do:

  1. contact 10 connections: childhood friends, former and existing work colleagues, etc.
  2. Ask them how they would describe your qualities and your weaknesses to others.
  3. I know it’s awkward for you, and they might feel uncomfortable too. But explain to them that this is an important exercise to support your career development, and you need to hear the good and the bad so you can learn and prepare for upcoming opportunities.

Your online presence

It’s essential to manage your online presence if you are serious about managing your reputation. This applies not only to your LinkedIn profile and activity but also to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and what shows up when you google your name.

  • The easiest exercise you can do is open a new incognito window on your browser and review what shows up.
  • Decide what on LinkedIn should be public and what should be private. 
  • Decide if your Facebook and Instagram accounts should be public or private. 
  • Review and manage your Twitter account with your professional reputation in mind.

How you manage and explain success and failure

I want you to consider – and manage to the best of your ability – how you’re describing your successes and your failures.

It’s okay to fail. We all fail a lot throughout our careers. But how do you communicate and overcome failure? This is really important, especially if you have been let go from your previous job. You can continue to have an amazing career despite setbacks. However, your confidence in your skills and experience need to take the front seat when you’re going to be interrogated about why you left the organization and what your plans are.

If there is something in your career that you think needs to be addressed or could be brought up in an interview, it’s better that you bring it up in the interview. Don’t let it be the elephant in the room. If you feel confident about your answer, that’s your truth and will resonate well with the listener.

Conclusion

The truth is that this social proof holds weight, whether you’re deciding where to eat in a new city or tracking down the references of a potential hire. What other people think about you and how they speak of you matters to your career. Your reputation will always precede you. And these days, with everything searchable in just a click of a button, managing that is really important.

I hope that the ideas I shared in this post and on the podcast episode will help you start paying attention to your reputation and that it helps you achieve your career goals. Also, don’t forget to listen to Episode 84 of The Job Hunting Podcast: there’s way more information in there, so listen to it now!

If you would like to learn more from me:

This article was originally published on the The Job Hunting Podcast blog.

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Posted in Job Hunting Made Simple, The world @work

Building trust to achieve maximum potential: A 6-point framework for high performance at work

I see trust as a currency. Each one of us starts with a certain amount when we initiate a professional relationship. Whether it be with colleagues or customers, you either build on it or lose it. And building trust requires consistent effort. Any gains in efficiency can be decimated if you lose trust. Focusing on the dynamic between employer and employee, building the relationship is a two-way activity, but the onus falls on the employer if they want to achieve the high levels of engagement, productivity and retention that are characteristics of successful organisations.

Being a consistent performer at work not only achieves great outcomes for your employer. It’s deeply satisfying when we know we’re on top of our game. However, working to your full potential relies on your ability to perform at a level that results in a feeling of achievement. It is self-driven and allows us to move faster across our ‘to-do’ list, and attain quantifiable and positive outcomes for the organisation. Since it is self-driven, everyone has different motivators specific to their needs. An overarching critical factor that precedes all others is trust. The more I talk about it, the more I think people relate to it. Every possible factor of influence on performance spans from a level of trust. 

Now that we know trust is a key variable and a direct relationship exists with performance levels, I have developed a 6-point high-level framework that employers and employees can use together to build trust, increase performance and achieve positive outcomes.

  1. Financial – An employer needs to provide an opportunity for a stable future and advancement, without causing unwarranted economic stress to the employee; an employee needs to be trusted to look for the best financial outcomes and revenue opportunities for the business.
  2. Emotional and mental wellbeing – A feeling of positivity is extremely important amongst the people in a company. This helps foster camaraderie with all of the teams and individuals that interact with them at work.
  3. Physical – A positive mental and emotional state supports good physical health. Additional perks such as end of trip facilities for cyclists, discounted gym memberships, etc materially help to maintain a state of wellbeing.
  4. Social – A positive mental state supplements a sense of belonging, inclusion and an ability to build relationships beyond work. All of which play a key role in building trust.
  5. A sense of purpose – Making a positive difference is beyond just making profits or fulfilling the needs of oneself. Emotional fulfilment derived from purposefulness increases trust in the organisation and drives the people to be better.
  6. Employable – Enabling and assisting employees to build in-demand capabilities and skills to advance in their careers also builds trust. Professional development rewards employers by upskilling their workforce and nurturing innovation.  

Here some practical ideas for employers and employees to help implement this framework:

  • Policies and processes – support workforce well-being, foster equality and diversity & inclusion.
  • Openness and transparency – be accountable, take part in intentional conversations, adopt an open and transparent approach by default, use a merit-based decision-making process, involve everyone in the business.
  • Technology and innovation – flexible working, enabling technology, nurture creativity, bring together hybrid and dispersed workforces. This usually unleashes the best performance from people.
  • Information sharing – real-time data where it matters, empower employees at the frontline, thinking not from top to bottom, but from grassroots up.
  • Open and continuous learning – access to the citadels of industries and specialisations, ongoing professional development, a future-ready workforce that can shift at scale.

While all the 6 points are critical, finding the right balance depends on the nature of the people within the organisation. Identifying distinct groups, understanding their motivations and required trust level, then building standard policies with tangible benefits is key to building trust. These work wonders on performance.

Which business practices would you establish using my 6-point framework?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Introversion v. Extroversion in leadership. Seems the jury’s still out.

Is it a hidden advantage to be an introverted boss, or as an extrovert do you have additional horsepower in the table stakes of leadership? Prompted by The Hustle’s weekend newsletter, Why Introverts Make Great Leaders, it’s interesting to discover the parrying continues. I continue to be confused by the debate, although often counsel interview panels not be swayed by the confidence-as-capability armoury of extroverted candidates. (The Hustle report cites a project where researchers analysed a database of 17K executives and found that, while a charismatic person was more than 2x as likely to be hired as a CEO, this didn’t correlate with a better performance once they were hired.)

For the affirmative: “Extroverts DO makes better leaders”

University of Toronto Scarborough has found that extroverts do have an edge that boosts their chances of success. The study reviewed existing scientific literature relating to extroversion in the workplace from multiple countries. If found that extroverts enjoy a distinct advantage in four categories: emotional; interpersonal; motivational and performance-related.

“These four appear to really capture the strongest positive effects of extroversion at work,” says Michael Wilmot, the academic who led the study. Wilmot argues that extroversion is linked with a greater motivation to achieve positive goals – for example, a desired reward through work. It is also closely associated with experiencing positive emotions more regularly.

  • They’re more motivated by rewards
  • They stay positive
  • They’re good schmoozers
  • They perform better on the job

(Source: Extroverts enjoy four key advantages according to a new UTSC study. Here they are)

For the negative: “Extroverts DON’T make better leaders”

A Harvard Study by Carmel Nobel a decade ago, found that  extroverts excel at leading passive teams (employees who simply follow commands), but are actually far less effective at leading “proactiveteams where everyone contributes ideas. Introverts are often more effective than extroverts at leading proactive teams because they don’t feel threatened by collaborative input, are more receptive to suggestions, and are more attentive to micro expressions.

Introverts are also…

  • Motivated by productivity, not ambition.

One of the most common misconceptions about introverts is that they aren’t as motivated to succeed as more socially driven people. The truth, though, is that they’re simply motivated by different factors, and they measure success by different metrics.

  • Able to build more meaningful connections.

While they may not be openly conversational in large groups, introverts are great at developing deeper, more meaningful connections with employees and clients in a one-on-one setting. This genuine relationship-building makes an introverted leader more in tune with each member of the team than an extroverted leader might be.

  • Less easily distracted.

Introverts aren’t exactly disconnected from other people and their environment, but they are better able to tune out the noise and concentrate. They draw their energy from within, and therefore they can easily focus on the task at hand without being distracted by loud conversations or other office noise.

  • Likely to solve problems with thoroughness rather than in haste.

Problem-solving is the crux of all good leadership, and according to research, introverts typically have thicker grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain where abstract thinking and decision making happen. This leads introverts to make a decision after giving it great thought and reflecting on creative ways to solve problems. Research has also found that introverts are less likely to make snap decisions.

And because quality work is always the goal for introverts, they don’t settle for mediocrity.

For more reading, we recommend these two articles:

Why Introverts Make Great Leaders

Do Extroverts Make Better Leaders?

And just to continue the confusion, Ros Cardinal, managing director of Shaping Change, says “Studies have shown that most organisations favour logical and decisive behaviours in leadership, which are not correlated to extroversion or introversion,” she said. “As a general rule though, extroverts tend to have a higher capacity for sociability and social presence, which are traits often sought after in leaders.”

What are your thoughts about the extrovert v introvert leader debate in your world @work?

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Posted in The world @work

Unravelling the Spaghetti Matriciana (aka the crazy labour market)

Three steps to hiring the best talent and at the right price.

Confused? It’s not just you. Right now the whole labour market is like a bowl of starchy spaghetti and you need to be super dextrous to unravel the threads to sate your appetite. You want the talent, but you and countless others can’t afford the premium. In this blog, we’re setting out the three fundamental steps to beating the competition in order to hire the talent you need. We suggest you don’t even try and make sense of the macro data – we’ve been listening to the economists too and none of them has nutted out the strange equation of the current Australian labour market.

Step 1.

Understand the value of high performing and high potential talent.

These two categories of employees are gold. Make sure you identify what you are looking for in a new hire – do you want this person to perform in the same capacity for ever after, or step up in the future? High performers are shown to deliver up to 4x the productivity of your lower average performers, but will your organisation be able to create the culture for a repeat of that high performance, or to bring out the high potential in an almost there candidate? Sort this out so you know what gap you’re filling.

  Low Potential High Potential
High Performers Regularly exceed benchmarks
Lack skills to perform at a higher level
Set standard of behavioural excellence
Model leadership and cultural values
Low Performers Little-to-no aptitude
Repeatedly fail to deliver
Have above-average aptitude
Show inconsistent performance

Step 2.

As we’re back in the war for talent, have a co-ordinated hiring (attack) strategy agreed and set.

Take it from the troops on the ground – too many hiring organisations are losing out on good talent because of one simple fact – disorganised, muddled hiring processes. Hope and winging it will not land you high performing talent. Time delays, poorly prepared interviewers, managers who don’t understand the current labour market, and poor engagement will set you back in the bunker time and time again while the good talent is signed up to your competition. Take extra time up front to prepare your approach and timeline. If you’re the Commander, bring your internal Officers in on your approach early, and then make military-style moves.

Step 3.

The salary package you have on offer is important but for some organisations, top quartile compensation isn’t an option. What to do? Our advice is have the remuneration and benefits conversations early on – it saves time, money and heart-ache when late on in a negotiation it’s a deal breaker. And again, salary is only one part of the equation – make sure you’ve identified all the attractive benefits of working with your organisation – some of which you may take for granted, but which are great attractors. What else do you offer? Extra paid leave days, a good workplace and amenities, tailored professional development, culture and values alignment, wellness benefits, clear career paths, flexibly work schedule, recognition and rewards etc. Write them down and share with enthusiasm.

Bring them in and they will build!

What is your world @work?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work