Category

Results

Don’t keep your candidate waiting… the only 3 questions to ask before you hire

By | Recruitment, Results

3D person kicking anotherTop talent can be hard to find and enticing them to consider your role may be even harder. Even though our unemployment rate is at 6.3%, A-class super stars are almost always gainfully employed and are rarely actively on the job seeking market. Finding them is tough enough, so this means that when you engage them in a recruitment process, it is critical you move quickly to ensure you ‘close the deal’, don’t miss out and get them on your team as soon as possible.

Easy in theory, yet I see so many employers drag out recruitment processes and hesitate to make employment decisions.  So what makes employers stall? Why do these processes drag out? Why can’t an employment decision be made? It can be one of the most frustrating aspects for an internal or external Recruiter who is facilitating this ‘courting’ process.

Consider this – the candidate’s ego is at an all time high as they have been approached or picked from a large pool of candidates to meet face to face – getting this far is not to be underestimated when you look at the large number of people looking for work. They are excited. They are engaged. They have done their research. They’ve asked around, they’ve googled, they’ve potentially rejected other approaches and they are ready to impress.  The first interview goes well. There is quick follow up, feedback within 24 hours and everyone is on the same page. Well so it seems…then suddenly booking a second interview meeting time gets tricky as there are several decision makers involved and schedules to coordinate, the boss is away, there is a board meeting, there is an internal referral at the last minute or someone on the hiring team starts questioning the role purpose or the candidate’s suitability.  These delays take the ‘shine’ off of things. The candidate goes back to their normal day to day, they take on new projects, their boss might even give them some recognition and you, the new potential employer are at the risk of taking a back seat.

Prolonged or unnecessary process delays are dangerous. You have now entered a zone where your chances of an offer acceptance have started to decrease and you are on slippery slope to achieve hiring success.

Don’t delay! Ensure you ask yourself these 3 questions and then decide!

  1. Can the candidate do the job? That is, do they have skills and competencies to perform the job successfully?
  1. Will they love the job? This refers to their motivation – what is driving them towards your opportunity? In what circumstances do they experience job satisfaction and will your role satisfy this desire?
  1. Can you work with them? Will they fit in to your culture and will your team genuinely enjoy working with them?

That’s it. If you are experiencing hesitation, recruitment delay or decision making avoidance – just ask these three questions to find your answer. If you have positive answers to all three, please don’t delay. Make an offer and fast. Delight the candidate – make them feel special and worthy. The consequence is a return to the drawing board which not only is frustrating for all involved, but costs more time and money and may affect your reputation as an employer of choice in the market.

 

At nicoleunderwood we specialise in sourcing talent where we partner with organisations that value the importance of recruiting and retaining high performing employees. Our up-to-date research and progressive sourcing strategies ensure that we unearth the best talent, giving our clients access to the nicoleunderwood talent community, which reaches beyond the active market. To discuss how we can source talent for your organisation, contact us here.

 

Stress drowning you out? What I learnt in 7 days of silence ……

By | Change, Results, Work Life Balance

449854baad05e50f85d103d6ed02cb3aStress is an epidemic in our 21st century – most of us have experienced it or watched those around us suffer with it. It has become part of our modern lives with expectations of work, family, juggling social commitments and the pursuit of “when I get there…I’ll be happy” philosophy.

I see it working with stressed clients – those that have lost their energy and their desire. They have forgotten why they do what they do and seem a little sad and a little lost in their journey for happiness and fulfillment. I attended a client’s board meeting a few weeks ago and the Chairman admitted that their CEO had lost some of his “mojo”. They want to help him get it back. To see him stop, relax, reflect and refocus on the bigger picture of ‘what’s the point’ in all of this. It was a good reminder, that the leader sets the tone – so this personal clarity and realignment is critical when you are the one steering the ship and setting the example.

To walk my talk, I checked out last week. I left the country and headed for the mountains of Bali where I embarked on a journey of just that – silence, reflection and time to just stop. To remove all daily activity, stimulation and to rejuvenate. There was no wi-fi, no laptop, no iPhone, no contact with family, friends or clients, no email, no twitter, no Facebook …. there was nothing. I was apprehensive that I wouldn’t cope! But in reality it took less than 24 hours to switch off from the “outside” world and it was blissful. I really didn’t miss my daily ‘crutches’ or distractions!

I gave up my control freak, let go of my to do list and forgot the constant multi-tasking. This was a retreat to focus inwards. It certainly wasn’t what I would call a ‘normal’ holiday. No cocktails by the pool, eating whatever I want and long lazy sleep in’s. Now before you think I ran away to a “happy clappy” cult where we all sat around chanting, it was actually a profound reminder of the benefits of switching off.

In our group of 25, there wasn’t a dreadlock or nose-ring in sight; this certainly wasn’t a hippy commune in Nimbin. There were people from all over the world – successful entrepreneurs, a real estate agent, a builder, an advertising executive, HR manager, board director, retail manager, martial arts guru and even an ex AFL coach. However, it wasn’t about any of these labels or how we define ourselves in our lives back home. First and foremost, we were just individuals having some much-needed time out from our busy lives to give attention to the person we least give it to – ourselves.

A full detox from alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, media, technology and our daily addictions, we found ourselves experiencing the lows and highs of de-stressing our bodies, de-cluttering our minds, re-energising, being creative, feeling free and experiencing the magic of simplicity. I learnt the ability to switch off, I made new friends, I listened to different perspectives and concluded that perfection doesn’t exist – being in the present moment right here and now, is the most important thing of all.

Sometimes life can deliver an opportunity that puts us outside our comfort zone, as this certainly was for me. It is in these moments, when you’re least expecting it – you can learn the most profound lessons, see the most obvious with clarity and generate new and creative ideas that honestly just wouldn’t be possible in our normal day-to-day lives.

I left a lot of stress, stories about the past and worries for the future in those Bali mountains. I’ve returned grounded, refreshed, light and free….ready to paint a blank canvas.

Feeling like you need a re-start button? Visit www.oneliferetreats.net

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My Villa, Bagus Jati, Bali

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New Friends, Fresh Perspectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Offer rejected? 8 ways to increase your acceptance rate

By | Recruitment, Results

 

offer rejectedRecruiting successfully is not easy.  It can be time consuming, expensive, emotional, distracting from core business activities and ultimately hard work.  So imagine after weeks and weeks of searching, screening, calls, correspondence, interviews, follow-ups and difficult decision making, you finally decide to offer your preferred candidate.  You’re excited and relieved.  A decision has finally been made. You ring, make the offer, send out the paperwork and wait. 24 hours, 48 hours – why haven’t you heard? Where is their signed contract?

It is that moment when your candidate – the one that was meant to be starting in 4 weeks, calls (or worse sends an email or text) to say they are declining your offer. What? Where did it go wrong? It is an extremely frustrating situation as suddenly you’re back at the start of the process after months of hard work.  Now it’s time to back track, re-advertise or maybe try to re-engage the rejected short list.  How can you best avoid this situation altogether and increase your chances of an offer acceptance?

1. Employer value proposition – are you easily able to articulate why your company and this opportunity may appeal to potential candidates? Be clear on what the selling points are; describe the culture, career paths and opportunities.  Explain what top performance looks like and give examples of the values that people abide by. Competition for talent is always going to be there, no matter what the market conditions are, so make sure you can articulate your culture in an honest and compelling way.

2. Counter offer investigation – from the very first interview, check reasons for leaving their current employment. Don’t ask only once, try two or three times throughout the interview to ensure you are getting the REAL reason for leaving.  Are they fishing in the market for a higher salary to take to their boss to get their own pay increase? Also look for patterns of behaviour – you will often find that people consistently leave positions for similar reasons, so make sure your opportunity doesn’t fall into this similar category.

3. Salary & benefits – salary may not rate as the number one reason for taking another job these days.  In fact, the decision is usually more about culture, leadership and growth opportunities.  However, if the financial arrangements are too far below a candidate’s current situation, you are at risk of them declining your offer. Make sure this conversation is not left to the last minute and then realising that there is a problem.

4. Real motivation – one of the most important aspects to gain from an interview is someone’s motivation. This covers both emotional (challenge, job security etc) and rational (money, job title etc) motivators.  If your opportunity can’t satisfy both these aspects for a candidate, you are at high risk of them declining an eventual offer of employment or being successfully counter-offered. Don’t forget leaving or staying is primarily an emotional decision.

5. Job pipeline – how active is this candidate in the market? Do they have lots of interviews, have they just commenced or are they close to an offer of employment with someone else? You don’t need intimate details and of course this could be inappropriate to ask, but from where you stand, you need to know.  Don’t be left in the dark about their other activity in the job market to avoid being pipped at the post.

6. Trial close – don’t wait until the end of the process before making the only formal offer of employment. After a second interview, if you feel you are getting close to making an offer, try using a hypothetical.  “Hypothetically, if I offered you the role today, what would you say?” The beauty of this question is it will bring any hesitation or concerns to fore pretty quickly and addressing these before a formal offer, increases your chances of an acceptance.

7.Verbal offer – if possible, don’t send out a full contract or letter of employment until you have verbal acceptance.  Keep control of the process and don’t give the opportunity to played off with a current employer and enter a bidding war.

8. Resignation management – resigning can be a difficult process, especially if the candidate has a good relationship with their direct supervisor.  Talk to the candidate about when they think they might resign. Have they considered how they will approach it? Sharing a war story or giving some friendly advice at this stage can take some pressure off the candidate and give them confidence to deliver the news.  Always make sure the candidate rings you once they have resigned so you can be sure they are on board.

I will never forget the professional services firm who sent out a bottle of champagne with an offer of employment, only for it not to be signed and the candidate joined a competitor organisation!  Never ever celebrate a new hire until the ink is dry on the contract and they have resigned.

Be confident, in control and clear throughout the hiring process.  This will ensure all parties are on the same page before any contracts are drafted and welcome emails sent.  Engaging the right talent from the very start will save embarrassment, frustration and ultimately re-work.

 

Are you struggling to find and hire the right people? At nicoleunderwood we specialise in executive search, recruitment and retention strategies. Contact us here to discuss how we can assist in finding and keeping the right talent for your organisation. 

 

2 years, 10 reflections….what I’ve learnt from striking out on my own

By | Business, Leadership, Results

 

8403f4cd7065ebac2b1e75374500b3e2This month I reached the 2-year milestone of running my own business. The day came and went with a team lunch, congratulatory messages and thoughts of wow that went fast. Other than that, it was a normal day and business as usual.

I was made to reflect on this achievement this week when I interviewed an executive who is at a crossroad.  He is deciding between pursuing a leadership career path to CEO or to continue as a sought after expert in the management consulting space.  I made a suggestion of a third choice “you could build your own business empire” and he laughed and said “I respect people who put their own homes on the line to build a business – but that’s not for me!” It hit me in that moment; I was included in that reference. I made that decision 2 years ago to back myself with a vision of creating something great. That optimism in my DNA kicked in and I never considered that it wouldn’t be a success or the depth of risk, if it went pear-shaped. This is not egotistical. It’s encompassed belief, capitalising on opportunities and a desire to make a difference.

Before you jump and put it “all on the line”, here’s 10 things I’ve learnt from taking the leap 2 years ago:

1. It’s up to you – I find being in control and 100% accountable for direction and results thrilling and motivating, but understand that this sort of risk and accountability might scare the bejesus out of you. There is no regular monthly pay, or leave provisions, if you like being the master of your destiny; you can put a tick here.

2. Do what you love – waking up excited about what the day may hold, who I’ll met and be inspired by is a rare commodity for the majority of the population (I know through many interviews!).  You want to be sure that you are dedicating your energy to something you know you are passionate about. You can’t fake a love for what you do.

3. Conservative growth – I read an article in the first month of being on my own that said entrepreneurs should not hire any staff in the first 12 months – only when you are desperate for more hands. I was tempted many times – but only hired my first team member 6 months ago.  The benefit was getting my hands dirty in every aspect of the business, defining the business strategy, knowing the pipeline was full and having clarity about who I wanted to work with day in and day out.

4. Vision – I didn’t take the plunge of starting my own business for a long time because I could not get crystal clear on the vision of what I wanted the business to look like. Let a vision evolve, just start doing because being in action allows the cream to come to the top. Sometimes it’s okay to not know all the details (take note control freaks!).

5. Culture – in my experience, culture drives everything in a business. The type of people who work with you, the type of clients you attract, the business decisions you make and the behaviours you demonstrate.  Know your own values – do a personality profile and don’t try and be something you’re not.

6. Clients – without them, I don’t have a business.  I make developing my connections and relationships a priority. I know at the core, these relationships are everything.  If you don’t have the discipline to “walk the walk” as well as converse with people, building a business is going to be incredibly difficult. In 2 years, it gives me a buzz to be working with some exciting, innovative and generous business people who are like-minded in the quest for finding and keeping executive talent.

7. External support – I was able to identify fairly early on that I wasn’t able to do everything on my own.  Outsourcing, asking for help and paying for expertise has been a great investment.  I have learnt many business lessons from listening to others – ongoing learning is an essential success ingredient.

8. Brand – you don’t have to spend a fortune, but you do need to stand out from the crowd. I met a brand expert recently who told me that your brand could only be world-class in one of three areas – excellence, reliability or innovation. Having this focus means your brand brings something others don’t and then you have to leverage that. The past 2 years I have consistently been told our brand is authentic, relationship focused and progressive.

9. Be healthy! When you run your own business, there is no calling in sick and asking someone else to cover for you. Being top of your game and staying healthy across all aspects of life – physically, mentally, emotionally is critical to staying optimistic in the tough moments!

10. Reward & enjoyment – no point waiting for a rainy day to enjoy the business success – whether that’s an indulgent purchase, time out or just doing the things you love most.  A very clever friend of mine said “pleasure is an absolute necessity for long-term success and it is essential to do things that make you feel delighted, delicious or just plain good.” I’m slowly learning to embrace this!

Since leaving my corporate role 2 years ago, I have consistently been told “you’ll build an empire again”, “it’s who you are”, “it’s in your blood”. I wasn’t so sure, but I can say it’s been a ride and the best is yet to come. I feel like I’m only half way up the mountain and I’m keen to see the view from the top.

 

STOP! Why you shouldn’t make a counter offer

By | Recruitment, Results, Retention

downloadIn the current economic climate – just about every candidate we make an offer of employment to is being counter-offered by their current employer.  This enticement to stay takes many forms including more money, job title change, better projects, company cars, larger offices, bonus offers and extended leave.  The list goes on and on. But stop right there. Don’t do it. Let me tell you why.

They don’t work. They never have. They never will.

An employee who hands you their resignation has already emotionally left the building. They made a decision some time ago that the role, position, company, culture or leadership was not for them. Whatever those reasons may be. Let them go.

Your reasons for making a counter-offer probably feel valid including:

(a)  It is easier to get them to stay than to even think about the time, cost and effort in trying to recruit and replace them.

(b)  You don’t want to deal with the unpleasantness of telling the rest of the team. It will hurt the morale.

(c)  They are a top performer and you can’t possibly continue without them. (Rubbish! Everyone is replaceable).

(d)  It’s a quick fix – you need time to plan how you are going to deal with this

(e)  It’s cheaper to pay them $10K more vs. time lost in productivity, clients, training and replacement costs

All valid. I get it. I’ve been there.  The first time one of my staff resigned, I was in my early 20’s and invincible….ha! I had to go to the coffee shop to pull myself together and work out my ‘strategy’ on how I was going to keep her.  I tried more money, I tried a change of duties, a change of title…anything, please don’t go.  My attempts were clearly unsuccessful.  It wasn’t about me. It was about her – her career ambition and her desire that we were unable to fulfill at the time.

It is that immediate, but, band-aid attempt to keep someone. We’ve all done it.

Once someone has resigned, there are genuine reasons and needs that are going to be met elsewhere. You are prolonging the inevitable pain that will be felt by both of you over the next 6 months if you do go down the counter-offer path and they accept.

To the company last month that tried offering more money; to the company the month before who offered a bonus plan on the largest account and to the company who said they would finally come through with the company car they had promised a year ago.  It’s too late. Let them go. Counter-offers don’t work.

Next time someone hands you his or her resignation, accept it with grace. This is business – don’t use guilt or persuasion. Stay professional and listen to their feedback – is there anything you could have done differently? Yes? Great – learn it for next time.  Instead, implemented “stay strategies” that will retain your remaining performers.

Salli Tanner who works with me now is a great example of this strategy working effectively.  Early in 2010, Salli worked for me in another organisation, when she resigned. I was sad to be losing her as a valuable member of my team, but I accepted the move being the right one for her and her career at the time. As much as I didn’t want her to leave, I genuinely wished her well and joked, “You never know where we might work together again in the future!” The strategy does work.

Sure, you can be disappointed that someone is leaving, but acknowledging their contribution and wishing them well will go a long way in a market where people talk and employer brand awareness is critical for future hiring. See the opportunity to improve your retention plans, gain some constructive feedback and always leave the employment relationship on a positive note.

 

Can you give up worry, fill your glass & become an Optimist?

By | Results, Success

Last week I decided to complete a psychological personality profile.  It had been about 10 years and I had asked a leadership team to complete them for a workshop, so thought it was only fair that I participate too.

You know the drill, 190 questions that you must answer truthfully and there is not right or wrong answer, don’t sit on the fence and pick what you are likely to do in the majority of situations. Okay – got it. Then I came across questions like “I feel a bit nervous of wild animals even when they are in strong cages” and “I admire the beauty of a poem more than that of a well-made gun”. Hmmmmm okay, I’ll give it a go and hope for the best! The little voice in my head said ‘yeh right, as if this is going to be an accurate assessment!”

Well, it turned out that I have high extraversion, an independent streak, a strong inner belief, assertiveness, transparency, honesty and confidence. The org psychologist said, “you’re a true optimist by nature”.  Am I? Glass half full? Yes, perhaps I am. I haven’t ever described myself that way. It got me thinking….how did this happen? When did I decide to see the best and not worry about the worst?

In my business career, one of the biggest moments was setting up a new business from scratch in October 2001 after September 11, the Ansett collapse and business confidence was extremely low.  I had people around me saying I was crazy to risk setting up a business in an already saturated market in such a climate. Honestly, I didn’t think about those external factors, they didn’t worry me, I was excited by the prospect of creating something great and I had an inner belief that it would be a success.

It’s this theme of ‘worry’ and ‘what if’; I see a lot of clients struggle with. The constant fear, the sleepless nights, worrying, the inability to take action because “ what if…” Then there’s the negative self-talk “of course this won’t work, it was a fluke, I won’t get that promotion and they’ll soon figure out I’m a fraud”. It goes on in the heads of some very senior and successful people.  It is this worry and perception of situations and what others think, that can cause a glass half empty approach to life. Being able to let go of this, change your thinking and work out that in the scheme of things – it really doesn’t matter what other’s think.

The moment I gave up worrying about what others might think and focused on what I thought and what I wanted to do – is the moment I become a true optimist.  Acting without the worry of what others think. A defining moment for me was creating a culture of flexibility in an industry renowned for long hours and high expectations.  I took on the attitude that said “I don’t care what other’s think”.  I knew it was what the business needed to attract and retain talented high performers long term.  For me to get to this point of feeling okay about flexibility I learnt what was holding me back.  I felt others would judge my work ethic. I had to let go of my belief that if I wasn’t working a traditional 60 + hour week, then I wasn’t demonstrating a strong work ethic. It took me a long time to be okay with that – but as an optimist, I knew it would deliver the right outcome. (My blog “winning respect – 10 ways to give up wanting to be liked” talks about strategies to let go of this worry as a leader).

Wikipedia describes optimism as an attitude that interprets situations as being best and extends to include that of hope. I am often heard saying in recruitment terms “hope is not a strategy”. If you are hoping that you are picking the right candidate or you are hoping that they will perform in the role, you have a real problem – as hope is not strategy. However, hope gives situations attraction, meaning and belief because sometimes no matter how great a strategy, you need positive belief in a situation. This optimism attracts, inspires and ultimately delivers success.

Try being an optimist – act without worry, believe the best outcome will surface and give things a go because as Henry Ford said, “whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right”.

 

7 Tips to Write a Cracker Cover Letter

By | Recruitment, Results

There is lots of competition for jobs right now. On average, we receive 150 applications per vacancy. There are fewer opportunities available and people are still looking to progress their careers. There is great talent in the market; it’s a good time to hire.

With such a high volume of applications and less than 5% being chosen for interview, it is absolutely critical that your cover letter stands out from the crowd.

It is surprisingly rare to read a cover letter that gets straight to the point, engages me or gives me a wow.  Why is that? I believe that the majority of applicants are over-thinking it, making it too formal and are talking more about themselves rather than about the company, role and opportunity.

What I’m looking for:

  1. Brief & Succinct – one page is sufficient.  You should be able to address the main points in a concise manner that gets straight to the point. When competition is strong, you had better get to the good stuff and quick!
  2. Skills & Experience – this makes it easy for the reader to make an immediate link and match as to why you are suitable for the role and they will keep reading. For example, I have a management degree and 10 years work experience in this particular industry. I’m looking for quick facts.
  3. Motivation – be clear on why you are applying for this job and not every other job advertised.  This motivation for applying can be the make or break reason for getting into the yes or no pile! It is the most essential piece of information I am looking for in a cover letter or when I ring someone to discuss their application – why were you motivated to apply for this job?
  4. Wow – state something upfront that will give the reader a WOW feeling about why you have applied. If there is a common interest, link or value match, it can be an instant rapport winner to get you in front. A letter I received last week, stated that they had applied for the role because this organisation had inspired them 10 years earlier to kick start their career in the health sector and major in health management with their MBA. It gave me an instant wow.
  5. Get Creative – don’t send me a tea bag and tell me to grab a cup of tea while I read your CV (a very old and cheesy gimmick in my opinion), but think about how your letter can stand out. Colour, a relevant graphic, a quote you live by, mention something about the organisation or industry that inspires you.
  6. Why them – the story you should tell is why you’re interested in this company and this particular role (it’s all about them).  Phrase your letter in terms of how you can help them and what you can bring to the role rather than just what’s in it for you and your career.
  7. Why you – in a letter you can reveal more about your personality, values and motivation (not so easy to do in a resume, which is more factual). Be clear on how you can contribute and potentially solve the organisation’s problems or challenges.

Remember 95% of applicants are being rejected due to poor cover letters and resumes including incorrect spelling, generic “to whom it may concern”, long winded, lengthy and irrelevant information that doesn’t demonstrate any motivation for the role. Never use a standard cover letter that lacks specific detail related to this company and this role – we can spot them a mile away and it is an automatic indication of laziness and a genuine lack of interest.

If you really want to get to the front of the line – simple, honest and genuine communication that represents motivation, careful thought and a unique proposition. A cracker cover letters involves being real, telling a story and demonstrating desire. Come on …. give me a WOW!

 

 

 

Giddy up …. it’s appraisal time! 3 questions to avoid the annual whipping

By | Performance, Results

Performance reviews….is it that time of year again…..already? Why is it that something that should be an effective tool to motivate your team often turns into that annoying form that you have to fill out once a year?

Last week I conducted a workshop with a leadership team of a global pharmaceutical company on how to conduct an effective performance review.  Everyone in that room had been on the receiving end of an appraisal and all of them had also found themselves in the position of delivering one.  They all agreed that at different times, both sides of the table was terrifying.  Why? It seems that tackling the tough stuff is one of the most feared things to confront – whether you are delivering it or hearing it.

Herein lies the problem…why are you waiting for the annual performance review to address the things that need to be stopped, changed or improved? How is it that you haven’t spoken about these issues prior to today? I know I would get my knickers in a knot if you waited six months to tell me that the way I was formatting a report was not company standard or the way I presented at a management meeting was ineffective. You can appreciate that I may get a little defensive, I might also get a little angry, I’ll probably throw in some excuses and then depending on the words you use, I might even need the Kleenex!

This tends to be where performance discussions go pear-shaped.

Storing up examples of behaviour, then rolling them out for the annual review thinking that this is going to be helpful or justify the “not met” expectations rating is not only unfair, but completely ineffective.  A person is not going to sail out of the meeting room with a spring in their step ready to conquer their revised KPI’s with that little pep talk.

And that’s the question really…..what is the aim of the review? What message do you want your staff member to hear? How do you want them to feel after their review?

Knowing the answers to these questions BEFORE the review are critical to ensuring the meeting is effective and you both leave with a clear understanding of 3 things:

1. What’s working (so they can keep doing it)

2. What’s not working (so they can stop doing it)

3. What they aren’t doing (so they can start doing it)

A performance review is an opportunity to praise and motivate (what’s working) as well as an opportunity to increase effectiveness (stop & start behaviours).

So before you start making a list of all the things that Matt, Mandy or Mark has done “wrong” or they haven’t achieved, ask yourself – have I spoken to them about this before? Have I given them an opportunity to improve?

To be truly effective, performance management needs to be a continuing day-to-day conversation, where people are receiving regular feedback on their performance and behaviours.  When feedback is immediate, you increase the chances of the behaviour being repeated (in the case of praise) or being modified (in the case of constructive criticism).

Forget the once a year review and remember that the number one motivator for people is feedback – it’s what keep us all going. 

“People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”

Winning respect – 10 ways to give up wanting to be liked

By | Leadership, Results

I recently read about the upcoming release of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. As the COO of Facebook, she talks about Mark Zuckerberg (her boss) and the advice he gave re her desire to be liked by everyone and his belief that it would hold her back in her career.

This is the second time I have heard about a leaders’ desire to be liked in a matter of weeks.  One of my female coaching clients said to me “I want to be respected, but I still want to be liked a little bit too”.

Is it possible to have respect and be liked as a leader? Will this goal hold you back from being an effective leader long-term?

My first opportunity to lead a team early in my career, presented me with the immediate challenge of winning the respect of a group all older than me.  How was I going to win them over? I started with showing them my results – facts and figures and methodologies that were black and white – I figured they couldn’t argue with achievements! It was the first step in establishing respect.

Since then, I’ve learnt other strategies leaders can use in the race to win respect, while losing the notion of being everyone’s friend:

1.You’ve already got friends– I have challenged leaders in the past who have struggled with this concept that you already have friends and work is not necessarily the place to gather more. Sure you might make friends, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus – avoid blurring the lines.

2. Relationships – I’m not saying don’t be friendly or don’t have social interaction with people. Certainly there is a human element to leadership and part of building relationships is getting to know the personal side of your staff.  BUT leaders need to show consistency, professionalism and not play favourites.

3. Deal with non-performance – a leader who gains respect, will have the courage to deal with non-performance quickly and without fuss.  Focus on the behaviour, not the person.

4. Lead by example – a leader who sits in their office, is always busy and unavailable in meetings, will not gain the respect of their team. Walk the talk, get on the phone where people can hear you, go on client visits, sit in open plan – showing you can do the job wins respect.

5. Hold people to account – being clear on what people are responsible for, give them the knowledge and tools to perform their role and then get out of the way.

6. Be clear on what you stand for – a respectful leader knows their values, is clear on what is expected and consistently inspires through communicating the vision.

7. Intuition –  go with your gut and call behaviours as you see them.  If you have a ‘feeling’ someone is going to resign, or something is up with the person who had his or her arms crossed in the meeting – don’t ignore it. Trust your gut and have a conversation – nip issues in the bud and encourage an open dialogue, don’t let unspoken issues fester.

8. Recognise & reward – catching people doing the right thing and being very specific about what they have done well goes a long way to building respect.

9. Open communication – what’s happening in the company, good, bad or indifferent shouldn’t be a secret.  If you don’t talk, people will make up their own ideas and assume – sure fire way to kill respect.

10. High standards – a respectful leader will push you outside your comfort zone and show belief in you to go further to achieve more than you think possible.  Not many leaders are willing to push hard for fear of losing approval.

During my leadership career, it has been a learning journey to earn respect, some people probably liked me and others probably didn’t. The difference is that it didn’t actually bother me. Great if you do and it doesn’t matter if you don’t. My role as an effective leader is to believe in you, coach you to top performance and support you in that journey.   There is no easy path. That journey will require moments of being uncomfortable and challenged – a respected leader doesn’t apologise for that or seek approval.

The goal as a leader should certainly be more about behaving in ways that create respect and if people to like you too – it’s a bonus, but it definitely shouldn’t be the aim. 

“Popularity is temporary, Respect is timeless”


Too busy to be the tooth fairy….a lesson in prioritisation

By | Productivity, Results

Today I got a reality check when my daughter came into the bedroom crying that the tooth fairy hadn’t visited her in the night. This was a BIG deal and I felt terrible.  I had forgotten. No excuses.

How do important things get lost in the haze of busyness? How is it that there was something more important than delivering a gold coin under her pillow? Well the truth is, there wasn’t anything more important and I can list 100 reasons why I forgot, but I’m not into excuses, only solutions.

Have you ever missed a deadline? Forgotten to return a call? Let it slip your mind that something had to be done by a certain time? We all have.  We all make mistakes.  Just this week I was speaking to a client who was given an opportunity by the Managing Director of her company to deliver a report on a special project.  2 days after it was due, she remembered. Gulp! We discussed how to avoid this in future:

  1. Daily ‘to do list’ – yes I have spoken about this before here. I can’t emphasize this tool enough. Now, I must tell you at this point she argued with me that she does in fact use a ‘to do list’. On further investigation it was a random set of notes on a page that were in no logical order and did not provide any direction or motivation.
  2. Be specific – tasks on a page need to be very specific.  Ring Henry Jones re: credit card payment or email Heather the ABC report by 5pm.  Anything that says, “do reports” or “make calls” is not going to happen or if it does, you will still miss tasks due to its generic nature.
  3. Projects – this is where it goes pear-shaped for most people in my experience.  You have things you would like to do or a project in the distance that you have to start at some point.  So on the to do list goes “Project XYZ”. And then it gets re-written and moved to the next day and the next day….and so on.  The idea is to break it down so the only thing that goes on the do list is something specific to do with the project eg: “Research competitor products”. Once this is done, part 2 of the project can go on the list. Before you know it, your project is well under way and there is no chance of missing the deadline.
  4. One location – it turns out my client was using her task book, in-tray, outlook calendar and inbox to keep and track her workload.  When I asked her how she missed this important deadline, it turned out that she had printed the email, highlighted it and then put it in her in-tray. It had been lost in the pile. One location and one list is the key.
  5. Human contact first – so when your list is 2 pages long and it is 2 o’clock in the afternoon, how do you decide what to do and what gets moved to the next day? People first! Anything that involves human contact gets done before close of business.  Verbal contact is the most important thing! This is where you build relationships and your own reputation as someone who does what they say they will do.

On reflection, this high achiever sees that she missed a moment to shine and deliver – but just as importantly she has learnt a valuable lesson in responsibility and prioritisation. I feel quietly confident that she won’t let a deadline slide again – with a new system in place and a big picture view of her own reputation and values.

By the way, the Tooth Fairy did deliver and there was some guilt money involved! She delivered her first bank-note, instead of the standard gold coin! I’m quite sure she has learnt her lesson too of important vs urgent.