Monthly Archives

June 2011

Re-igniting the employment spark….or is it time to break up?

By | Recruitment, Retention

Re-igniting the employment spark….or is it time to break up?This week I caught up with a friend and old colleague who is incredibility dedicated, loyal, hard working and keen to contribute to an organisation.  She is a real gem, a selfless employee who always wants the best for others and is always willing to do what is needed to achieve results.  So I was surprised to hear that she is feeling disconnected with her current employer and she is lacking in drive, energy and enthusiasm that she usually exuberates. At a recent strategy meeting one of her efficiency ideas was cut down, she felt a lack of acknowledgement and now feels there is a real mismatch with her personal values and the company values.  She is feeling unsupported, demotivated and is now considering a career move.

As I listened to the story unfold, I found myself in her employers shoes…..I  bet they have no idea that she feels this way and that they are on the verge of losing a highly talented individual (who is on her third promotion with the company). How can these situations be prevented and resolved? I understand they can’t all be saved – but there are better ways to maximise the retention of top talent in the long term.

Consider the stats that 20% of the Australian workforce will change jobs each year and 82% of Aussies are always on the lookout for new opportunities  – it becomes critical that the same effort that goes into sourcing, selecting and recruiting someone, goes into communicating, challenging and retaining them.  But sadly this is not often the case – companies tend to spend mega bucks on their recruitment budgets and very little on their retention strategies.

Of course it got me thinking from her point of view – what can you do when you fall out of love with your job?

In my experience recruiting and placing candidates with clients across a wide range of roles, industries and disciplines, it is quite common for this to happen at various stages in an employment life cycle – especially in the first 12 months.  In this early stage, it is easy to feel that perhaps you made the wrong decision, or the grass isn’t greener on the other side  – you can jump to conclusions, don’t speak up and ‘hope’ that things improve.  Recently a senior marketing executive told me that she had come close several times to throwing it all in during her probation period.   This was due to her frustration over a range of issues.  What solved it was having a conversation with a CEO that opened up communication where both parties were able to clear the air and re-set their expectations. Outcome – happy, engaged and productive employee.

It is becoming harder and harder for organisations to retain their top talent from entry level roles through to executives.  This week’s conversations just highlight what is happening to many top performers in a range of organisations right now – so what can you do as the person in this situation? I see that there are 3 options:

  1. Resign and look for a new role
  2. Change your reactions – if something happens that you don’t like, tell them and move on ie: put up with it
  3. Give the employer the opportunity to discuss, change or explain

Ultimately my friend wants what most people want from their work– to be happy, to feel listened to, to be able to contribute and feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at work.  In my experience, too often employers aren’t given the opportunity to fix problems, clarify communications or explain their position.  Responsibility needs to be taken by employees to discuss their concerns with their direct manager and confront the fear of the reaction and stop worrying about being seen as a troublemaker.  Problems won’t just disappear or get better in time. They don’t.  The longer you leave things, the worse they get, the more frustrated you will become, with the end result being irreparable and likely you will start looking for a new job.  Give yourself and the employer every opportunity to make things work by having a conversation about what’s working and what’s not and seeing what falls out. At the end of the day, we all have choices and the best choice might just be to find another job to fall in love with.

Staff mojo… how to plant the seeds of motivation

By | Empowerment, Results

This week one of my top performers was having a downday….she’d lost her mojo, was feeling ‘flat’ and told me she was struggling with motivation. “How do you keep motivated and inspired?” she asked me. As a leader, my stomach sank.  There is nothing scarier than a top performer who is feeling worn out… Leaders we get scared that if we don’t quickly ‘motivate’ them, they might drop their performance, burn out or dare I say it….leave. The pressure! I wanted to give her an answer, not any answer, a great answer that would make her feel valued, inspired,motivated and happy.  But the fact is there isn’t just ‘an answer’.

Can you really motivate someone? Especially in a 30 minute weekly meeting! Truth is it can’t be done. You can’t physically motivate another person. It is not something I can give to someone else to make them feel good again to conquer the world.  However, I can certainly influence them, share my experiences and ask them questions that may help them find their own internal motivation.

Firstly, what’s not working? What is it specifically that is making them feel disheartened, disinterested or demotivated? Is it just a once-off incident of something going wrong with a client, an internal disagreement or something bigger? Or is it an accumulation of things that have been niggling at them, with something that has made them snap that perhaps in isolation would not have been a big deal but now seems huge. Getting to the crux of their de-motivation is really important because once this is solved; that can often be the end of their bad patch and they return to a positive frame of mind.

In this circumstance, nothing was specifically going wrong with my Consultant. There wasn’t anything in particular that she was unhappy about. So it comes down to desire…..

Whatever job you do, you need to be clear on why you are doing it. What’s in it for you? What are the goals you are aiming for and the benefits you receive from doing what you do? I’ve always been a visual person and it might sound corny, but really having something in front of me to focus on gives me inspiration on days that perhaps aren’t perfect or going 100% my way.  Early in my career, working as a Recruitment Consultant, I had picture of a convertible at my desk – I was determined to have a sports car.  Those days when I didn’t want to pick up the phone and make a cold call or tell a candidate they didn’t get the job or it was 7pm at night and I was screening even more CV’s, I would look at that picture and find my inspiration and that extra mojo I needed to achieve success. As years went on the visuals changed – but there has always been pictures of something (holidays, houses, travel) or someone (family) to inspire me. And it works. I got that silver MG convertible at age 21 – the insurance was a killer! The moment you take your eyes off the goal, you can lose focus, ambition and drive.

So with a demotivated staff member – be clear on what their goals are. What is this person motivated by? Do they have visuals around them? Everybody aspires to something – as the leader we need to show the connection between what they do and how they can go about achieving it in their day to day work.

If this doesn’t work, the flip side is cost. I don’t like to use this method as much – it doesn’t have a nice warm and fuzzy attached to it like the benefit method does.  For example, I have had Consultants tell me in the past they aren’t motivated by money or they don’t aspire to a new house or an overseas holiday. They are happy as they are. Great. Really, that is great.  But you’re telling me you’re de-motivated, you have lost inspiration and are feeling flat – what is the cost to you, your career and your results if you continue this way? Perhaps things won’t be that great anymore.  It is getting them very clear that if they don’t make the calls, see the clients, fill the jobs, generate the results, then actually you won’t be in top performance and then they may not be in such a great place. The ultimate cost here is their job.  This can be the make or break conversation that either gets them back on track or a realisation that change is on the horizon.

Day to day, I have found several things that work as quick “motivation injections”:

  1. Have a conversation with someone who makes you feel good
  2. Read an inspiring article, quote or surf social media for new ideas and excitement
  3. Write down at least 1 new quantifiable goal that you really want to achieve
  4. Take 30 minutes to write a dream list – anything you ever wanted to achieve/have/own and there is no restrictions (dream big!)
  5. Put up a new visual for inspiration – photo/screen saver/picture
  6. Take action – do something that makes you feel uncomfortable (as this often generates big results eg: a new client)
  7. Write a love & loathe list (to re-focus on what you are good at)
  8. Plan a holiday & enjoy the research
  9. Buy a new book on-line
  10. Have a coffee, go shopping or plan a day off to “re-charge”

So for me – how do I keep motivated and inspired? My husband laughs as I’m telling him what I’m writing about – he says it’s the mortgage and my love for shopping that keeps me motivated! There is of course some truth to this – visual goals remember! But I do believe inspiration comes from around us as well as finding inspiration from within ourselves – it is not something someone else can give us or make us feel. I am certainly inspired by other people’s success or by a conversation or a presentation, movie or book.  But real inspiration, the type of inspiration that drives me to succeed and achieve, comes from within.

What tips and tricks do you use to stay motivated and re-focus when feeling flat?