Yes, we indeed live in unprecedented times – but haven’t there always been unprecedented times in human history?
There is no room for corona complacency during this current medical and economic crisis. Yet, in spite of cancelled travel, cancelled conferences and investment losses, I find myself safely at home, extremely concerned but relatively calm… possibly because of my work to help others be more resilient in times of change; and probably because I’m old enough – and lucky enough – to have survived previous stock market crashes, job losses, airline closures, toilet paper shortages, Ebola outbreaks and being stranded in third world hospitals, war zones and countries with border closures.
Shock disruption also happened with the tragedy of 9/11. On that fateful day, I happened to be the keynote speaker at the World Airline Conference in Brisbane. The topic: ‘Change is inevitable – Learning from change is optional’. You can imagine the mood among the 1600 delegates from around the world…
That same week, Ansett Airlines collapsed which made headlines, but many suppliers and event businesses also went under with horrendous fallout, including unreported suicides. Conferences were cancelled and the gaping hole in my busy schedule (and cash flow) prompted me to write a book, Hope Happens! – words of encouragement for tough times. As the title suggests, it’s the opposite of S%#T happens.
Fear is the
thief of time, kindness and courage. There is no vaccine for the trauma of
life; whether a bushfire, pandemic or loss of a loved one by tragic or natural
causes. Yet knowledge and perspective may sometimes serve as a mild antidote to
admittedly not feeling particularly ‘motivated’ as a ‘motivational’ speaker, I
learned a long time ago to focus on what I can do as an individual; and not
waste excessive energy on what I am unable to change. So, although somewhat
lengthy, here are some thoughts and lessons learned on my own journey that
might help keep your spirits up, as the dollar and share market go down.
It’s 11.30am and you’ve checked your news feed one too many times this morning already. We feel your pain, away from work, under financial duress, trying to work out HR and OHS logistics around #WFH (working from home), realising perhaps there is a limit to how much family time we really want…
This week we’ve had some lighter moments pulling together our Isolationist’s Playlist. The titles alone will give you a smile. ‘All by Myself’ by Celine Dion, ‘School’s Out’ by Alice Cooper, ‘Dancing with Myself’ by Generation X, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ by the Clash… Sure, not every song will be your preferred genre, but from an amazing list of 100 titles, you’re sure to find a few that will have you limbo-ing under the kitchen broom, singing into your mouse, or just sighing nostalgically as you recall your life last month.
For those of us who haven’t been regularly working from home (WFH) until now, the prospect can be a bit daunting. Whilst the nature of my job means I’m fortunate to be able to work effectively in a digital environment, I also like a bit of separation between my living room and the office. I’ve found WFH perfect for intense periods of concentration – planning, creating, writing pitches, proposals and reports. Collaborating on projects, getting feedback on drafts and quick decision-making? It’s often a lot easier in person.
As we move towards WFH in the longer term, I thought I’d share a few tips from my personal experience on how to beat some of the bogeys you encounter when working from home.
Prepare first – Decide which tasks you will be working on and take home any hard copy files you cannot access electronically or material that is easier to work from in print. Test your internet connection and remote access via the company’s Citrix or VPN.
Map out a schedule – Your WFH schedule may not be the same as your office hours. Give yourself a start and finish time, allowing for breaks. This helps manage the temptation to procrastinate or work until you drop.
Present yourself – If you’re not face-timing customers or colleagues, it might be tempting to spend all day in your pyjamas. You will feel more motivated and it’s easier to slot into work zone, if you get up out of bed, have a shower and get dressed – business casual or not.
Go to work in your home office – Whether it’s the kitchen table, a separate room or a study nook, clear a space, follow the WFS OHS protocols and go there to work. Leave it too, when you’re taking a break.
Let others know you’re at work – Partners, flatmates, kids and pets… we love them, but they can be pests at times! Forewarn your household and try to work around their schedules to minimise the impact on each other as far as you can.
Remove other distractions – Pausing your personal social media and other apps while you’re working is good professional practice whether WFH or in the office.
Multitasking is a myth – It’s ok to put on a load of washing, but don’t get distracted by deep cleaning the house. A few chores while taking a break can help return your focus on work.
Reward yourself – Go for a walk at lunchtime, get a proper coffee or food from a café. There are lots of activities you can fit into 30 minutes to an hour when your close to home.
Check-in – Maintain your usual contact with colleagues via phone, email and other messaging or collaborating apps, and check-in with your team leader or manager on your progress through or at the end of day.
This International Women’s Day, Diversity Council Australia (DCA) is challenging the idea that workplaces no longer need to address gender equality.
Drawing from academic and industry research, DCA has released an infographic highlighting some examples of where gender inequalities limit men and women in the workforce.
“Over 100 years on from the first IWD, we’ve come a long way in creating gender equality – but we still have a long way to go,” DCA CEO Lisa Annese said. “In 2020, gender inequalities continue to limit the ability of both men and women to be respected and to contribute at work and at home.
Lisa said that the research showed there is a link between messages we receive in childhood and the career trajectories we take.
“Research has shown that before they are two years old, children are aware of gender stereotypes. Those gender stereotypes influence everything from what toys children play with, to what subjects they choose at school, having life-long impacts on career choices.
“And gender stereotypes continue to hold us all back throughout our lives, for example with women taking on the bulk of unpaid caring and social pressures on men to be providers and main income earners.
“We know from DCA’s research that workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives benefit men and women. And when both men and women have access to flexible work options, they are more able to share responsibilities at home.
“Ultimately then, gender equality at work means improvements in all of our lives, at work and at home.
“So this International Women’s Day is a good reminder that we do still need workplace gender equality so we can lead more equal lives at work and at home,” concluded Lisa.
We’re going direct! Inspired by initiatives such as Empty Esky and Beers for Bushfire Relief, Slade Group’s bushfire response is to help the businesses and people directly hit by the loss of property and commerce. We’ve made available our two company cars on the weekends so our people can do a road trip with their friends or family and visit a fire affected area throughout 2020. Slade foots the bill for a night’s accommodation and a tank of petrol filled up in the region visited. While we’re spending our hard-earned, we’ll be helping hard-hit businesses recoup some much needed tourist dollars.
We’ve put up a huge map of Bushfire Affected Areas in the office and we’re posting photos of everyone’s trips – in hard copy and on our social media.
Here’s a story fresh from the Grampians, when Debbie Patsiolis hit the road last weekend.
My trip to the Grampians
To get the #SladeBushfireResponse program started, I booked a trip to the Grampians, took the Slade car, and set-off with my boyfriend Jon in tow last weekend.
The first thing we noticed were all the government bushfire
warnings on the highway… Are you ready for fire? It really made us think
about how different life is for communities who are on high alert for bushfires.
Growing up 20 minutes out of the city and living in inner Melbourne for my
whole life, it’s hard for me to imagine my family in a situation where we’d even
have to think about leaving our home.
We arrived in Halls Gap late afternoon on Saturday to wet
weather (no complaints, the rain is much needed). Heading into town, we stopped
at the general store to get breakfast supplies and some snacks. We ordered take
away fish and chips from the local, which we enjoyed in our cute little cottage
for the night, surrounded by kangaroos and emus.
Sunday morning we visited the Grampians National Park and
went for a hike to the beautiful Mackenzie Falls and Fish Falls. While there
were a few burnt trees, the park was still beautiful, with lots of greenery. It
was nice to see so many people out hiking enjoying nature, and a lot of people
too, especially as lunch time approached.
On the way back we stopped in town again and bought pies
from the local bakery. Then the most Australian thing happened to Jon – a
kookaburra swooped as he was taking a bite and stole a chunk of his pie! Ditching
the pie, Jon opted for a less kookaburra-enticing sausage roll. We finished
with delicious locally made ice cream from the ice creamery in Halls Gap, filled
up the car and made our way home.
On the way back we stopped at Beaufort in the Pyrenees. Whilst
most things were closed (being Sunday in a country town), the antique store was
open. A vase and a chair later, and a few dollars lighter, we continued our
journey home. Given the vast loss of income these local businesses suffered in
December and January, we were happy to contribute to help the locals get back
on their feet.
Now I’m looking forward to hearing about everyone’s adventures over the
Do you have a good news story to share? We’d love to hear about what
your or your workplace is doing to support bushfire affected regions.
This article was originally published by Sarah Morgan as “The Godfather of Recruitment” in The Brief, the magazine of the RCSA.
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters and when it comes to the biggest influencers in the recruitment industry, there are few better known and respected than Geoff Slade.
In fact, he is so well known and so influential,
there might as well be a saying “all roads lead to Geoff” such is the broad
reach of his connections.
And, when you are affectionately known throughout the industry as “the godfather of recruitment”, it goes without saying that your opinion on the industry as a whole, as well as the mistakes of the past and opportunities and threats for the future, are ones worth listening to – or reading about.
It’s been more than 50 years since Geoff began his
career in recruitment and while an awful lot has changed in that time, his
successes and widespread influence are a testament to his ability to play to
his strengths, adapt and make key decisions based on merits and not just the
Geoff remains grounded about his achievements and
influence during his five decades in the industry – including being the first
president of RCSA – acknowledging the support and guidance he has received as
his career has evolved, as well as the abilities of the people he employed.
“I always liked to think outside the square,” he
says. “I liked to employ not just people who have worked in the industry.
“In fact, some of the most notable people I have
employed had never worked in recruitment before.
“Four standouts were Andrew Banks, Louise Craw,
Peter Tanner and Nanette Carroll, none of whom had a background in recruitment.
“Louise managed our office support business for
over 25 years and was a rock on which the company could rely. She is now on our
board. Peter moved on after six years to found Tanner Menzies.
“Nanette worked for me for 10 years and ended up
being awarded the 1996 Queensland & Australian Telstra Business Woman of
the Year. Andrew’s background is of course well known.
“It’s satisfying to know that not only people who
worked in our industry, but people we have influenced and found jobs for have
gone on to bigger and better things than we could have dreamed.”
Geoff admits he may also be known in the industry
as a “tough and unreasonable” operator, acknowledging there have been many
changes in leadership styles from his formative years in the 1960s.
“I would like to think that I’m regarded as hard
but fair,” he says.
“Recruitment is enormously satisfying, but it’s
bloody hard work.
“It’s not an exact science and demands focus and
self-management and what I call purposeful productivity, strong listening and
comprehension skills. When I talk of comprehension, I’m talking about what is
now tested as verbal and inductive reasoning.
“A good recruiter can probe and follow questions to
the end with both clients and candidates. A good recruiter can dig beneath the
“One of the biggest issues I have with the current
day recruiters is they think they can build relationships by phone or email.
They don’t get out to meet and know their customer.
“I think good recruiters build relationship with a
client – like getting married. You have to be able to talk to them about other
things than where is my next assignment coming from.”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Geoff started out in accounting before moving into
human resources in 1964 and then, finally, recruitment in 1967, but it could
all have been so different if his dream of being a VFL footballer had been
Despite being told by Melbourne Football Club that
he wasn’t quite good enough, three years after he moved to the city from the
country to pursue a football career, Geoff feels he “really lucked out”, albeit
in a slightly unconventional way, after being thrown in at the deep end twice,
and for two very different reasons.
“I returned to the country at a time a major
refinery was being built on the western portside of the Mornington Peninsula
and I applied for a job with the major construction company,” he says.
“I was lucky to be offered a job as assistant to
the HR manager and it provided a very quick learning curve. He turned out to
have a major health project and I was his only offsider, so I was left with a
lot of responsibility.
“It ended up providing great experience for me:
there were 1500 men on the site and there was a stop work or strike every day
for three years. I had to deal with unions pretty much every day in a very
volatile and aggressive environment, which taught me to try to use common sense
and to solve problems.
“At the end of the project I was one only of two
people offered a job at head office, and the offer came with a promise for me
to be the HR manager on the next project.”
But, despite the promise, and because the company
won no new tenders Geoff ended up doing everything for the business except HR.
Looking for an alternative, he applied for a job through the biggest executive
recruitment firm in Melbourne at the time.
“I was told I was too young for a job they were
recruiting for, but they wanted to offer me a job as a consultant,” Geoff says.
“The owner gave me his word that the job was mine if I wanted it. I just had to
tell him when he got back from an overseas trip.
“Four days later, he was unfortunately killed in a
As a country boy with “no idea what to do next”,
Geoff took note of the fact that he took the most enjoyment out of the
recruitment side of his HR role. So he approached his parents to ask for a loan
so he could start up his own employment agency.
“Dad said ‘what is an employment agency’?” Geoff
recalls. “I told him what I thought it was, and he said he wouldn’t lend the
money to me even if he had it. Mum was softhearted though – she had $300 in
bank and said she would lend it to me as long as I paid it back.
“So I borrowed the money and rented a space,
knowing I had to make a placement in the first two weeks so I could pay the
So began the 21-year life of Slade Consulting Group
before its sale in 1988 to British multinational Blue Arrow.
For the first seven years, Geoff says he lived “on
the smell of an oily rag” before he turned any meaningful profit, which came
about in 1974 after he took back management of the recruitment agency after a
stint working in London working with executives looking to migrate to Australia
on the £10 Pom scheme.
After a few successful years, around 1981, Geoff
decided to shake up Slade Consulting Group, which saw him focus more on
management and less on day-to-day recruitment.
“I went out and hired three young people all in
their mid-20s: Andrew Banks, Richard Weston and Greg Fish,” Geoff says.
“We sat down and did a SWOT analysis of the
industry – how it would run and how we could grow the business quickly.
“At the time, Chandler McLeod and PA Consulting
were both huge in terms of executive recruitment. We researched and discovered
they were taking 10-12 weeks to fill jobs. That’s a very expensive situation
“For a company, that could be very inefficient and
very expensive, so we went to their clients and said ‘we believe we can do as
good a job as either of those companies; we believe it’s costing you a lot of
money to have jobs vacant for so long. If we can’t do it within four to six
weeks – we’ll do it for free’.”
That approach helped to guide Slade Consulting
Group to a turnover of $10 million by 1984.
By 1987, it was the biggest executive recruitment
company in Australia, with offices in five cities, as well as two in New
Zealand, with a staff of 135.
At the end of that year, Geoff was approached by a
representative of Blue Arrow – at the time the biggest recruitment company in
the UK – who said he was “prepared to make me an offer too good to refuse”.
“He told me to think of a number to see if he would
be prepared to meet it,” Geoff says.
Needless to say, the offer was good and Geoff sold
the business, but it didn’t work out as had been promised.
Geoff felt compromised by what Blue Arrow was
asking him to do and left the company and caught up with his long term client –
Pacific Dunlop – which had made up 40 per cent of Slade Group’s business.
Geoff says that Pacific Dunlop has been “very
influential in my success”, thanks to a long-term relationship spanning 20
years, but without some creative thinking on behalf of its then managing
director, Philip Brass, he might have found himself “watching grass grow on the
farm for the next year or two” as he served the term of a two-year non-compete
“I went to Philip to tell him I could no longer be
a consultant to him, nor could I consult in any way, shape or form,” Geoff
says. “He told me he had a solution and offered me the role of HR Director for Pacific
“I said I would do it, but for two years only and
provided I did a good job asked him if he would offer me a preferred supplier
agreement when I went back to business.
“When I returned, it became the first preferred
supplier agreement done in Australia.”
Geoff’s return to consulting came with Lyncroft
Consulting Group, which was named after his country property, but in 1992 it
changed back to Slade Group as Blue Arrow sold out of Australia.
Slade Group quickly moved to the forefront of recruitment
in Australia, where it remains today.
THE BIRTH OF RCSA
In 1998, Geoff and others identified that it was
“industry critical” to create a national industry body for the sector.
“There were a lot of people very unhappy as to how
it was all going, with the NAPC and IPC being run through state bodies, because
they were independent and there was no cohesion to move things forward,” he
“So we got together with senior members of the
industry and agreed this had to change and we formed RCSA to represent
Australia and later New Zealand. I’m really proud of the history and my
involvement in RCSA.
“One of things I really love about the industry is its ability to have positive impact on people’s lives. It’s now very rewarding to see it evolve into the association it is today.”
the next steps to advance your career can be a stressful and lonely experience.
Group is proud to partner with Renata Bernade who has developed ‘Job Hunting
Made Simple’, a 7-week online course and group coaching programme that will
show you how to plan and advance your career that is intentional, inspiring and
Hunting Made Simple was created for people who are:
serious about their future career progression, but unsure how to achieve
in-between jobs and not knowing if they’re putting their time and effort
into the right strategies.
returning to work after an extended break, not knowing how the market
will perceive them; and
ready to look for new job opportunities, but just can’t find the time or
focus to do it!
The program is opening soon and is accepting interest now! Job Hunting Made Simple will start in January 2020 and registrations open on Thursday 19 December. Go to renatabernarde.com/sladegroup or reply to this blog post to request more information.
the end of the programme you’ll be hosted by Slade Group in a networking
session, meet your fellow course participants, catch up with your favourite
recruiters and receive direct ‘word on the ground’ employer feedback.
We’re delighted to finish our year on a high, and wish you a very happy festive season, and a wonderful New Year.
If you or someone you know would like to start 2020 with refreshed career ambitions please let us know and we’ll put you in touch with Renata Bernade.
Slade Group through its sister company TRANSEARCH
International Australia, recently brought Dr John O. Burdett to Melbourne for a
series of seminars on topics such as “How to measure culture”, “Tomorrow will
be different – Will you?”, and “Why hiring the best candidate may be the
biggest recruitment mistake you will ever make”.
On the last topic John says there are 3 undeniable truths
about executive hiring – they are:
The continuing lack of top talent is a major
impediment to business growth.
Far too few of those who make key selection
decisions have been fully trained (or trained at all) in the hiring process.
If you don’t know what you are looking for –
only an optimist standing on stilts would believe that they might actually find
Considering the business risk involved – some recruitment
decisions amount to betting the business – this is no small matter. Even if the
hiring decision doesn’t amount to “betting the business” 20x annual salary is a
good benchmark for the cost of getting it wrong.
Seven statements that (if any are true) strongly suggest
that you need to revisit your approach to talent acquisition.
Although we have a general sense of the culture
we are moving towards, a more disciplined approach, e.g., a systematic
assessment of where we are and where we need to be, is not something we have
Role-specific leadership competencies do not
figure prominently in our hiring process.
We have a job description and develop a
specification for the position, but rarely do we build a robust scorecard.
Few of those who make hiring decisions have been
trained in conducting the evidence-based interview.
We recognise the importance of the team but, for
the most part, lack the tools to unbundle what sort of team we are hiring into.
Rather than validate statements made during the
interview, the reference check simply follows up on referees provided by the
We invest time and effort in executive
integration. What we lack is an integration workbook allowing leaders, who are
new to the business, to take ownership of their own integration.
Who you hire today, determines what is possible tomorrow!
If you would like to discuss any of the above with me –
please give me a call on 03 9235 5100 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.