Monthly Archives: June 2014

Trust: Build it and they will thrive.

Turnover is expensive. Conservatively estimated to be at least one and half times the annual salary attached to the role vacated. When turnover results in reputational damage, the costs can escalate exponentially.

Not all turnover is bad, but when it’s undesirable, it pays to look closely at the reasons.

A recent Maritz Poll, Managing in an Era of Mistrust, reported “Fifty-nine percent of individuals indicated they had left an organization due to trust issues citing lack of communication and dishonesty as key contributing factors”.

Slade Partners hosted a luncheon on Wednesday 11 June 2014 in partnership with Swinburne Leadership Institute (SLI) attended by representatives from industry, education, government and not-for-profits, to lead a conversation on what leaders can do to build trust and better engage staff.

The luncheon was addressed by a panel of highly renowned speakers: Richard Hames, author and corporate philosopher; Janet Matton, previously COO for IBM, 2010 Victorian Business Woman of the Year and named in October 2012 as one of the 100 Women of Influence in Australia today; and Peter Mares, Adjunct Fellow at Swinburne University and moderator of the Cranlana Wisdom in Leadership Program.

Richard believes that much of the issue lies in the fact that organisational operating models and structures are rooted in an outmoded conception of work born of the industrial era. The modern era requires managers to be much more facilitative and collaborative. He challenged the group citing examples of “leaderless” organisations with impressive bottom line results where staff are self-organising and self-managing. Richard expressed a view that trust in organisations arises from demonstrated competence, respectful relational behaviour and belief in a shared vision.

Janet identified four trends that are shaping the work of leaders: The rise of big data, the internet and social media, multiple generations in the workplace, and the increase in deregulation. These changes, she believes, require leaders to be competent in displaying strategic foresight, ethical and cultural awareness, and systems thinking.

Peter referred to the great philosophical thinkers and how they have shaped notions of what leadership is, or rather what it should be at its best. He concluded that leaders, particularly political leaders, are in the business of ensuring “the best for the most”. His challenge to leaders is to think about how they determine what this is, what it looks like and in exercising leadership to be mindful about whose interests are really being served.

The panelist addresses and the ensuing discussion really highlighted that leadership is an “inside out” process requiring those in leadership roles to start with themselves, and to be diligent and rigorous with adopting self-awareness practices.

The discussion as a whole underlined the importance of the work undertaken by SLI and Slade Partners: SLI in shaping the future public discourse and Slade Partners in the critical role that search and recruitment plays in building organisational leadership and capability that will drive the right culture and values. As has been said by many, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”

Posted in Education, The world @work

Excellence on repeat

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation… We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit… Aristotle 322 BC

What makes a business relationship successful? Aristotle was onto something when he identified excellence as a learned behaviour. Attracting and recruiting new talent for your business may be cause for philosophical discussion, but relationships developed with candidates as a result of an approach to market can greatly impact an organisation’s future: Identifying exceptional executives can significantly improve the performance of the company as a whole, while providing opportunity to further the career of the successful candidate.

Last month I presented at the TRANSEARCH International convention in Cape Town, South Africa. No matter the location, it’s always interesting to see what happens when you bring together a diverse group of business people, in this case a global contingent of 70 executive search consultants from 40 different countries in one room. The topic of my presentation, Building Successful Relationships, with candidates in particular, is widely acknowledged as a common concern – one that resonates with hiring managers, human resources and recruitment professionals all over the world. For an issue that transcends geography, culture and industry, and one that everyone acknowledges is important, it may be surprising to learn that few do this consistently well every time. Those textbook examples where candidate expectations are managed to the letter are, as Aristotle says, the books we need to keep rereading and letters we should be rewriting.

I recounted a story about a client I’d known for quite some time. In fact over the years I recruited his whole senior Business Development team. He was at an industry conference, not unlike this one, when his biggest client came to him and said, “Michael, congratulations, you have the best and most professional team in the industry!” My client was so delighted, he called me to let me know. “I’ve just been given the best feedback I could possibly receive and wanted to congratulate you for helping me assemble my team,” he said. Needless to say I felt great – such acknowledgement is one of the reasons I am still in the industry after 20 years.

As is often the case, Michael’s career progressed and our relationship evolved from client to candidate. Unfortunately I was unable to place him in his next position. Nevertheless, I did take time to see him, suggested improvements on his CV and provided career advice. Although I had given Michael some tough love, he appreciated it nonetheless. The executive search consultant who had placed him in his new role could reasonably expect reciprocal business. Sadly Michael felt used and abused throughout the process. He describes his experience with the other firm: “It felt like a one night stand.” Perhaps they lost sight of their candidate relationship while focusing on securing the appointment? We’ll never know – Michael hasn’t used them since. He continues to work with me as client today in his capacity as a hiring manager on search assignments.

I’m sure many of those responsible for talent acquisition in the corporate sector, as well as recruitment industry professionals, have observed good candidate management and been rewarded in the long term. My personal philosophy is simple: Treat candidates fairly and you’ll receive positive engagement and referrals; Candidates treated discourteously (or simply ignored) result in lost opportunities. For an industry that’s in the business of saying no to 99% of its applicants, my motto is regardless of outcome the experience must be positive. Keep reminding yourself of that during every candidate encounter and you’ll achieve it. Business relationships are self-perpetuating. The cycle may begin with someone like Michael.

Whether you are hiring directly or using executive search services, here are my top five tips for building better candidate relationships:

  1. Make time to meet high calibre candidates, not just when you have a need
  2. Be professional with every encounter, make the total experience positive
  3. Communicate frequently, follow-up and provide timely and constructive feedback
  4. Provide career advice and be open to knowledge sharing
  5. Include prospective candidates as part of your social media strategy and invite them to networking events

Featured image: The School of Athens by edlimphoto, Creative Commons licence and copyright

Posted in The world @work

Smart or simple?

Cash for hiring Over 50s. Do you have a point of view?  And importantly what are the facts?

We’ve been unable to ascertain if the $10,000 incentive to hire Over 50s who have been out of work for six months means they must have been registered with Job Services Australia and collecting the dole for six months, or simply not an income earner?

We’ve also been unable to establish whether or not this is a well thought out incentive. What are your thoughts? We got a bit perplexed when we drilled down to look at a couple of scenarios:

  1. Your organisation is paid to hire a top performer (in that case the Government’s a fool – you would have hired them in any case)
  2. You’re paid to hire a second rate performer (now you’re the fool – $10,000 will not make up for a poor performer).

Here is what we do know.

Restart Program
From 1 July 2014, a payment of up to $10,000 will be available to employers who hire a mature age jobseeker (including those on the Disability Support Pension) aged 50 years or over. Payments will commence after the worker has been employed for at least six months and will be paid in the following instalments:

  • $3,000 after six months of employment;
  • $3,000 after 12 months of employment;
  • $2,000 after 18 months of employment; and
  • $2,000 after 24 months of employment.

The Restart Program will build on the Government’s election commitment to introduce a seniors employment incentive payment. The $220.7 million over four years previously announced at the MidYear Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-14 will be redirected to the Restart Program.

Restart — boosting the wage subsidy for mature age job seekers

Expense ($m) 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Department of Employment Related capital ($m) 16.7 79.3 98.1 108.8

Our back-of-the envelope calculations would indicate that the Government expects to have around 5,000 starters in their Restart Program in the first year.

We don’t have all the data for Over 50s, but ABS Statistics tell us that 1.9 million ‘over 55s’ were participating in the labour force in 2010. Also, people aged 55 years and over made up 16% of the total labour force, up from around 10% three decades earlier. If we assume the unemployment rate of 6% can be applied to this number, then there are 114,000 over 55’s unemployed. The unemployment rate for older Australians is also quite low, but this is deceptive as many who can’t find a job drop out of the workforce altogether and so aren’t recorded in unemployment data.

Still, about a third of those aged 55-64 who are unemployed have been unemployed for a year or more.  And 5,000 might be picked up in the first year of the Restart Program, growing to 13,500 in the final year. It’s a start.

What’s your point of view?

Posted in The world @work

I’ve just seen the future. Wire up your jaw.

#1 Jaw dropper
Google has just invested $250M in Uber. It’s not the number that’s interesting, it’s the strategy. Why? Because of the Google Self-Driving Car, that driverless wonder. The Google car team has completed over 1,000,000 accident-free kilometres (minus one rear-ender). Typically they have about a dozen cars on the road at any given time, and are starting to test them with single drivers instead of in pairs. Four US states have passed laws permitting autonomous cars as of December 2013: Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan. Texas is about to join.

Can you picture how this will change our lives?

It’s 7am and you activate your Uber app on your iPhone to take you to work. Five minutes later your Google car arrives at your door. No driver. It’s already programmed with where you’re headed. No driver, no instructions, no cash or credit card.

The next day, with your own Google car in the garage, you head to the airport. It drives you to the airport whilst you catch up with whatever in the back seat, and then drives itself home and parks itself back in your garage…

This is not the Jetsons, it’s just around the corner.

#2 Jaw dropper
Tesla continues to crank their electric cars out at a rate of “more than 600 cars/week”. The company has likely built its 30,000th Model S already (it doesn’t disclose exact numbers). And it’s now delivering 500km from a single SuperCharge battery. Combine the Tesla with a Google car and we’re seeing a very different urban landscape. Petrol stations? Sold off. Electric charging stations in place. You may never stand at a petrol bowser again because your car can drive itself and self-charge at the SuperCharge station.

And this is no start-up dream. Elon Musk is Tesla’s Chairman, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla. He’s already built 3 x $1Billion businesses: President of PayPal; Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX; and Chairman of the Board, SolarCity.

SuperChargers by the numbers (so far)

  • Gallons of gas offset by SuperChargers: 570,921
  • Dollars saved in collective fuel costs: US $2.3 million (double that for the price of petrol in Australia)
  • Miles charged: 14,273,033 – enough to circle the globe 573 times
  • Cumulative total energy delivered to date: 4.9 million kWh
  • Cars charged in the last seven days: 5,196
  • Factor by which a SuperCharger charges a Model S faster than at a public charging station: 16

And as always, isn’t it those who have the most to lose that are the most resistant to change? It’s not all clean motoring. The traditional car industry is lobbying hard to make it illegal for consumers to buy direct from Tesla without a third party dealership. Already three states have passed these laws. And three Uber drivers were booked by Police this last month in Australia on a technicality. I think we’re about to see some major disruption. Cabcharge, auto dealerships, oil industry… Who else?

What’s your point of view?

Posted in The world @work