JENNIFER GUTWENGERJennifer Gutwenger is Principal Consultant at #HR and draws upon aseasoned background and credentials in corporate HR, deep workingknowledge of best practice and an inclination to muse. She is the driver of#HR’s game-changing service offerings and the principal generator of itsunique content and thought leadersh...ip.Jennifer is an author at Smallville and writes for the Chamber of Commerceand Industry QLD – platforms where top professionals share their ideas,advice and knowledge with business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere. More

WTF! Is It Ever A-OK?

WTF

What’s the go when it comes to profanities in your workplace?  Is a sprinkle of colourful language okay when you’ve got a point to make? Or do you have a strict policy in place, with swear jars for repeat offenders, even if it’s you?

Author of In Praise of Profanity, Michael Adams suggests that it’s a modern problem brought about by changing moral codes.  In an interview with the ABC, he says there are ‘just some moments in life where you reach a point of existential frustration, everything has gone wrong at once, and you search around for other words, but none will suit the occasion quite as well as a nice profanity’.

There are many moments in business when can happen, and some of us may vent our frustrations by letting rip. If you have a tight group of co-workers, it might be the case that that swearing within reason and context is accepted.  In an open plan workplace, where the audience might extend beyond close colleagues, then this might not be the case. And that could lead to offence taken, and perhaps even distress and disengagement. 

 

A CASE STUDY

A case in point is Mark Baldwin v Scientific Management Associate, which was brought before the Fair Work Commission.  It was alleged that Baldwin had used crude and profane language in a threatening manner towards his manager.  Baldwin’s manager had then become fearful for his own safety.  The Fair Work Commission determined that Baldwin had been fairly dismissed, and the termination was upheld.

This ruling highlights the qualitative difference between swearing in general terms verses swearing when it is specifically directed at someone - becoming highly personalised.

 

SET THE TONE 

Employees look to their leaders for direction, and follow your cues.  So, when you choose your words as a leader, choose them well.  Set the tone and create a culture that is aligned with best practice. And get it right every time.  

Hats off to you if you consider this important and have implemented a code of conduct covering profanities in your workplace.  Enforce it consistently and lead by example – set the tone yourself. 

If you have no policy, it could be time to consider one. Let’s be frank: it’s only worth implementing a policy if you agree that swearing is not condoned. Good policies take time and effort to develop. And they only have value if you have a ‘follow me’ attitude.  Without this, you can expect your employees to be dubious about your intentions - and the Fair Work Commission too.

  


USE DISCRETION

If an employee’s language is offensive and/or has the potential to offend or cause harm to others - it’s your obligation as the employer to step in, policy or no. To ignore it is to condone it, and that could lead to allegations of bullying.

 

CONSIDER THE CONTEXT 

If the proverbial has hit the fan and you’re dealing with an incident, you’re wise to consider all the circumstances. Context is key. If the incident is serious, talk to the employee. Gather all the facts and take time to consider the circumstances, before drawing any conclusions. 

Keep front of mind that modern workplaces are generally robust. The use of profanities - in general terms and in certain industries - is not uncommon. Consideration should always be given to the context of the discussion, as well as industry culture.

As an employer, it’s your job to understand these nuances. Some situations - especially the serious ones - should never be overlooked, while others may be collectively acknowledged as contextual. 

Determine what’s acceptable for your workplace - then go on to create a pleasant environment for all, by leading with the behaviours you want to be contagious. 

 

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Summary Dismissal - Don’t Play That 'Trump’ Card Unless You’re Sure

Summary-Dismissal

Terminating employees is rarely comfortable – and nor should it be. It’s not just the legal ramifications and potential costs of getting it wrong that might make one nervous, but the impact upon the employee and their family can be a burden on the conscience that’s hard to bear. 

Summary dismissal is especially tricky.  This type of termination takes place when an employee is involved in serious misconduct.  It may include a serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of another person or to the reputation or profits of the company’s business, or where an employee deliberately behaves in a way that is inconsistent with continuing their employment.

Theft, fraud, assault or refusing to carry out a lawful and reasonable instruction that is part of their job, are just few examples of serious misconduct. 

Think you’ve got it covered? So did the business owners in these five cases of summary dismissal which were held before the Fair Work Commission. Only two of these five cases were upheld by the Commission, while the other three were deemed unfair. 

Which two do you think the Fair Work Commission upheld on the grounds of serious misconduct? 

  1. An employee performed burnouts in the workplace driveway, went on to intimidate a customer, and made ‘rude and aggressive gestures’ towards the Company’s security cameras. 
  2. An employee was annoyed for being contacted on their rostered day off, and verbally abused their co-worker during the telephone conversation. 
  3. An employee left a voicemail message containing ‘colourful language’ on a co-worker’s telephone. 
  4. An employee who was a competitive rifle shooter in his spare time attended work with a high-powered weapon.  He showed it to other co-workers in the Company car park, which led to the police being called to the workplace. 
  5. An employee engaged as a bouncer at a casino allowed an underage girl to enter, having only briefly inspected her Learner Driver’s Licence.



The Fair Work Commission determined that the first two cases constituted serious misconduct and the summary dismissal was upheld.

In the last three cases, the Commission found that the employer had overreacted, and that summary dismissal was not justified when the broader circumstances were considered.

Clearly, once the ‘Trump’ card of summary dismissal is on the table, there’s no going back, and if you’ve misjudged, it could work out to be costly. So it pays not to play your Presidential hand too rashly, unless you’re really sure it’s justified. 


Procedural fairness is always best practice in making sure you get things right first time.  There are a number of steps that must be taken before you make any final decisions as an employer. These include meeting with the employee and presenting all the facts and evidence surrounding the alleged misconduct; and allowing the employee to respond to the allegations, providing them with good opportunity to explain their actions. 

Procedural steps give you time to think, and understand, and can benefit all parties. All the evidence can be considered carefully and the right advice can be sought, before you make a final decision concerning the future employment of what might be a valued member of your team.

Terminating employees on any grounds – serious or not, is not to be taken lightly or done rashly.  Although you might have a level of certainty that the dismissal is well grounded, the law may not necessarily be on your side. Get the right advice first and avoid making an on-the-spot decision. You’re doing what’s right for your business - and your employees! 

 

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Get Social - and Be Upfront About It

Social-Media-Policy

A Victorian business owner learned to his cost recently about the harsh realities of social media use in the workplace - and setting rules around it. 

After being with the business for one year, a male employee was summarily dismissed by one of the business’s executives, due to an inappropriate and explicit update he posted on his Facebook feed.  The post alluded to a woman who had just been promoted having provided certain ‘favours’ to her boss in return for the new role. 

The employee in question soon amended the post, clarifying that the female employee was at his mother’s workplace — not his own.  However, not long after that he was contacted by his managing director and his employment was terminated - effective immediately.

The now ex-employee instigated unfair dismissal proceedings. His former employer argued strongly that the employee’s derogatory comments had overstepped boundaries and were not consistent with a safe working environment which is free of harassment, victimisation, or any kind of sexual abuse. 

The employee counter-claimed that he hadn’t been provided with a copy of the social media policy and was unaware of having received any warnings about social media use. Further, he alleged that the post was unrelated to his workplace, and it was posted while he was on a break at work.

The Fair Work Commission found that the employee had in fact been unfairly dismissed, and awarded him over $6,000 as compensation.

WHY

There were three reasons given for this finding. 

  1. The employee had flexible working hours and it was unclear whether he was on a break at the time of making the post;
  2. there was no evidence to show that the employee was provided with a copy of the social media policy, as the policy acknowledgment document was unsigned; and
  3. the employer’s concerns about the language used in the post was ‘tempered by the fact that similar language appears to have been used in the workplace at various times’.

A MESSAGE FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Dealing with social media as an employer can be very difficult. It may only take a few seconds for an employee to grossly misuse social media during work time, but it takes much longer for an employer to properly respond and take appropriate action.  Incidents like this can leave a business owner with a hefty bill - and a heavy heart - when things go wrong. 

PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

It’s vital, astute business practice and good governance for every business owner to get their house in order. 

Every business owner worth their salt wants the peace of mind that comes from knowing they are meeting procedural obligations - with best practice standards in place for when it really counts. 

Meeting your procedural obligations and making your expectations clear to employees from the outset, ensures that your business can handle workplace complexities and disputes as they arise, smartly and professionally – and in line with the law. 

SOCIAL MEDIA & THE INTERNET

With the rise of new media, ways in which employees can communicate with each other, with those outside your business, and about your business, are continually evolving. While this creates new opportunities, it also creates accountabilities.   It’s important for business owners to have a Social Media & Internet policy that applies to all employees and contractors who use social media and the internet - whether in a private or business capacity. 

CODE OF CONDUCT

If a business expects employees to always treat others with the utmost respect and courtesy, both in person and online, it’s good due diligence to set expectations with a Code of Conduct.  Having benchmarks in place, so employees understand that congenial, professional and respectful behaviour is standard workplace practice, is almost certainly going to help your business tackle the bigger issues, if they arise.

TRAINING

Ensure you take the next steps too. All employees must be made aware of these policies with adequate training on the topic of their obligations within your business.  Have them sign off - to acknowledge their understanding. And don’t let the dust settle there.  Lead by example and remind your employees at every opportunity of exactly what your workplace expectations are. 

While we know that every situation is different, and the policies you implement aren’t legal documents nor will they guarantee compliance, they will provide you with assurance - that you’re meeting your procedural obligations, and can best handle workplace complexities as they arise, smartly and professionally – and in line with the law. 

Need help with policy development and implementation?  Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for all your best practice support needs.
 

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Bring It on! Pioneering the Digital Revolution

Screen-Shot-2017-07-30-at-4.40.24-pm

Times have changed.   We’re almost two decades into the new millennium and it’s clear that the labour-intensive, industrial, hands-on work we grew up watching our elders do has morphed into a highly automated, digitally driven activity and a whole new style of business.

Ideas are changing and with them our workplaces and roles. As we continue to live and work alongside each other in a collective of many generations, even putting a title on the complex jobs that some of us now do can be a challenge – as well as an indicator of how far the world has come.

Many small businesses are kick started with a simple concept. They’re built on a foundation of entrepreneurialism. Much of the personal time and cash resources sunk into them initially often go into branding – that most mysterious and yet essential requirement.  

Very often those taking the leap do so without the comfort of a salary, at least in the start-up phase. They might work from a home office, conduct virtual meetings and taking extended work calls during what should be family time. Such is the new norm. In these circumstances our work can be all around us and woven through our personal life. The olden days when your parents went off to work and you knew what they did there and then they came home again – are on the wane for many of us.

Instead of a simple job title, many of us now offer a thirty second elevator pitch when asked what we do for a living. Being part of this changing collective isn’t a simple matter! We brace ourselves to weather the judgements made by other people who can’t quite fathom what it is we do. Because there are those who still hold true that real work can only be the laborious industrial type.  

The elephant in the room? This type of venturing into the unknown is not actually new. Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey built their careers on uninformed optimism, weathering opinions and complexity, at a time when their thinking was quite unique and progressive.  Little did they know that their endurance would become a game changer for how our future-selves viewed work and conducted business.


We are moving through this technological revolution with considerable momentum - the horse has well and truly bolted and we must stay in the saddle and hang on.  We must reinvent and digitalise, upgrade and adapt. We must better understand that exploring, trying new things and learning from our mistakes will eventually create a new balance and predictability. But rather than having the stable and linear career of old, we may have a handful of responsibilities we oversee throughout the day.

This cultural transition is a visceral experience for business owners, colleagues, parents and peers alike.  

It’s a good time for the curious, who ask the right questions of those at the forefront of contemporary thinking. Those questions, and their answers, lead to better understanding and our own growth, as people and as leaders.  We must draw intelligent conclusions on how the future economic world will look and how we can progress within it, leveraging all its opportunities and greatness.  

As we morph into this new age, it’s clear that some will continue to be at the forefront taking risks - just like Branson and Winfrey did. They may not have a job title that makes sense – other than ‘Pioneer’ - or have a role that even generates a regular income for a time. Some may lead a subsistence lifestyle to get by while growing their big idea. Others may have to push through negative critiques on their creative endeavours.  

Let’s salute their braveness! Because collectively we can all take direct benefit and make good of their pioneering in the new emerging world they are helping to build.

 

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Patience – a Tangible Tool in Your Management Kit

hashtag-hr---patience-in-the-workplace

Ever found yourself seated at the Board table but reflecting that it felt more like a circus tent?

Or at some point in the throes of day-to-day business, been overwhelmed by the sense that your workplace is actually a child care centre, and not the substantial business run by fully fledged adults that you had in mind?

Patience is a skill that’s tricky to master, and when your mother told you it was a virtue, she was thinking of your management career. Because it’s the number one tool in your leadership kit when it comes to navigating employee contentment, engagement and teamwork. Dealing with chronic under-performers, or misfits and mavericks who just can’t or won’t get along with the rest of the team, or reaching agreement when all points of view differ and won’t budge.

Resisting the impulse to react in the heat of the moment takes grit and determination. Sometimes it’s tempting to send those who are misbehaving back to their desks without supper.

So how to build the resilience – and patience – you need?

For the sake of goodwill, you must try, if only because it’s the right thing to do. You pay their salary, you recruited them, oversee the headcount. You must therefore master the art of patience in order to get the most out of your people.  

Creating an environment that sends clear messages of expectations is an absolute cornerstone. Get expectations in place, so that you don’t end up exploring them in retrospect.

That said, it’s never too late to change course - even when you are in the thick of a workplace tantrum. As the boss, you get to draw a line in the sand. Before it gets to that, try these four simple strategies to make patience a primary principle.

 

BREATHE

It’s a cliché maybe, but feelings of frustration bring about muscle tension everywhere – including in those muscles that engulf your lungs. So breathe! In turning your attention away from the frustration and onto your breathing, you help keep your brain fuelled with oxygen and on track to making calm choices. 

Don’t forget, our feelings influence our thoughts. So when you’re saturation levels are up and you’re good and oxygenated, your neurons at least have a fighting chance of working through the tough situation - with resilience.

 

LEAD

A calm and patient environment is only possible if you lead those around you with good intent and trust.  Show others that you’ve got the ability to be nice without expecting something in return – or calculating the leverage you’re gaining.

“When leaders inspire those they lead, people dream of a better future, invest time and effort in learning more, do more for their organisations and along the way become leaders themselves. A leader who takes care of their people and stays focused on the well-being of the organisation can never fail.” - Lt. Gen. George Flynn



PERSUADE 

Building agreement when points of view differ around the table can be tricky. This is when opinions are aired, tempers can flare and at least one patient influencer is essential. Sure, sometimes an authoritative approach or an executive decision may be required, but simply insisting it’s your way or the highway without bothering to get buy-in from your team can be really unsettling and it’s not necessarily the way forward. 

To get others to buy into the way you see things and reach agreement around the table, you’ll need to ask the right questions and point respectfully to the different viewpoints present. Asking your colleagues to think about things from other perspectives often allows them to arrive at the same conclusion – for themselves. This is the art of persuasion.  

 

CONNECT

The cornerstone of any leadership style is building great relationships and trust within a team. It motivates people to take on tasks that they may not otherwise want to do, and fosters a ‘follow-me’ philosophy. Be friendly, smile, give encouragement, converse and laugh.  These are all qualities that are appreciated, respected and often admired by those around you. 

By connecting, especially with those that you lead, you gain the leverage to handle those tough moments with the patience and grace required to defuse most situations.

 

Keep things meaningful and lead by example. Simple changes can really bring about big impact - so use these four strategies to get you out of the circus tent and getting the most out of your team.  

 

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Get the Best Content and Industry Thinking on the Go

Content-on-the-go

Did you know #HR Blog is on SoundCloud? If you’re always on-the-go or just prefer to listen to articles, you can subscribe to our SoundCloud channel and get our audio articles delivered right to your device. Whether you’re in the car, on a walk, or just taking a break, audio is a great way to get some valuable #HR content when it best suits you.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our SoundCloud channel and never miss another audio article.

Below are a few of our most recent audio articles for you to enjoy.

 

THREE WAYS TO KEEP YOUR WORKPLACE ECOSYSTEM FLOURISHING

 

FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE – AND THE INDUSTRIOUS

 

KEEP ACHIEVING! ONE THING AT A TIME - HERE’S THREE WAYS HOW

 

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Trying to Balance on a Tightrope of Complexity

Trying to Balance on a Tightrope of Complexity

Complexity in the workplace is brought about by just one element: us. If you’ve got people, you’ve got complexity. Employees, customers, peers, colleagues, leaders. Our unpredictable and occasionally thorny nature and dynamics between us can test our leadership in a different way from other operational challenges.

There’s no denying it’s a tightrope walk!

And if your own personal talents don’t extend naturally to managing the complexities of your people, well it can feel like a highwire act with a troupe of monkeys.

What’s worse, the dynamics we enjoy with family and friends differ enormously to those we have in the workplace, so you can’t fall back on natural intuition. It’s best to understand the distinction between interactions inside the workplace and out - and then develop meaningful strategies to deal with them. That way you encourage productivity, a healthy culture and a love for your brand.

People issues can nosedive really quickly, but these three simple strategies are guaranteed to help you stay aloft.

 

KNOW YOUR STAFF – BUT KEEP YOUR DISTANCE

Keep your interactions professional from the onset and set reasonable workplace boundaries. This helps eliminate distraction and keeps everyone focused on completing tasks. It’s true that some workplace relationships develop into personal ones over time. But as a rule of thumb, interaction between co-workers, supervisors, clients and customers should stop at the end of the working day.

Having different boundaries for different individuals or within the hierarchy creates ambiguity and misunderstandings too, so stay the line. Keep it clear for everyone at all times and don’t go swaying in the wind.

Knowing your staff means knowing how they stay on track and perform their best. Getting through the working day is a balancing act for them too. Notice the small things about their performance. Generally, people perform their best at specific times of the day; they get distracted by the same things; and they get back on task by consistent means every time. Know these things. What makes them teeter and what restores them?

In understanding these nuances, you’re able to plan and benchmark expectations. By being upfront and showing you understand how they best keep their heads up and their gaze frontwards, you’ll both be clear about the end-goal and relaxed about the journey.

 

GET TO GRIPS WITH NATURAL DIFFERENCE

Value the differences between individuals. We don’t all think the same way nor perform at the same level. (See a previous blog post on why this is a strength in your team!) Why is it you can email one employee with a list of tasks which they immediately jump to, but another needs more direction, dialogue and input from you?  For one the journey is a swift trot along a tight zipline. For the other it’s a wobbly affair requiring a safety net.

In Debra Worthington and Margaret Fitch-Hauser’s book ‘Listening: Processes, Functions and Competency’ (page 78-79), they discuss Cognitive Complex.  This is the means by which we perceive incoming messages, organize them and use them to interpret what is being said.  One individual may require information that is detailed, specific and complex. Another may need only high-level facts for the same task. This cognitive complexity is not related to smarts, say the authors, but rather our mental agility in organizing elements and making sense of tasks.

By adapting your leadership style to suit individuals, you create enormous opportunity to minimize performance based issues and variances in productivity. Some just need a longer balancing pole than others.


 

PERSUASION 

Building agreement when points of view differ around the table can be tricky. Sure, sometimes an authoritative approach or executive decision may be required, but simply insisting it’s your way or the highway without bothering to get buy-in from your team can be really unsettling.

To get others to buy into the way you see things, you’ll need to ask the right questions. Asking your colleagues to think about things - by asking the right questions - allows them to arrive at the same conclusion themselves. This is the art of persuasion. 

Management consultant Dan Pink says, 'The key here is that we tend to think that persuasion or motivation is something that one person does to another.' In fact, he says, the trick is to get the person to persuade themselves.

So pre-plan. Arm yourself with the right questions to build dialogue - and employee engagement.  Keep the conversation on track but be flexible in your approach. You may be surprised at the outcome, and perhaps even find a new way to complete the journey which you hadn’t even considered.    

Despite our complexities, there’s one thing we all share. We like to feel valued! Thank your staff often.  It’s an easy and cost neutral habit that genuinely encourages engagement and builds your reputation as a leader.

These simple strategies help avoid complexities in the workplace. Take the trouble to measure your leadership style against them and tweak it accordingly. It takes time, skill and effort to manage the skywalk that is running a business. So balance your complexities, stay smart, fleet of foot, and don’t take a tumble! 

 

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No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, Is Ever Wasted

No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, Is Ever Wasted

Okay, so Aesop was an ancient Greek story teller rather than leader of a multi-national conglomerate. Even so, his words resonate with us in the business world today.

That’s because we know, in the deepest darkest corner of our corporate hearts, that they’re true.

The tricky part of management is the capacity to inspire, engage and teach resilience.  Leadership doesn’t spring from one single quality.  It needs a bucket full of authentic attributes for a standout leader to, well, stand out.

But one or two things are key.

In a previous blog, Virgin says get friendly. So let’s get friendly!, we looked at a very simple but effective leadership attribute.  Friendliness.  Let’s keep things amiable, and look at the power of kindness as well.   

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval made it to the top of the advertising industry by means of a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice.  They believed, contrary to current wisdom, that nice people finish first. They wrote about it in their book, ‘The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness’ and continue to campaign on the enormous impact of small gestures.

They cite six powerful principles for engaging employees and stakeholders with niceness. Here are the two which stand out to us.

 

YOU NEVER KNOW

Strangers are important, and niceness shouldn’t be reserved for those you know. ‘You have to treat everyone you meet as if they are the most important person in the world - because they are. If not to you, then to someone; and if not today, then perhaps tomorrow.’

Thaler shares a personal story of a deal she secured - $40million worth of new business. The source? An act of kindness to a junior colleague 25 years before.  Just a simple act, in a single moment, created a significant and lasting memory for this person. Over two decades later with their careers having moved in different directions, they sought Thaler out. Ultimately because they knew no better person to trust their brand too. 


 

YOU WILL KNOW

Kindness has to be authentic, and you will know when you mean it, and when you don’t. What’s more, so will the person you’re dealing with.

Our clever selves already know that engagement isn’t about a single moment.  It’s a collection of moments that dictates your style. That’s why authentic and consistent kindness is a truly powerful thing. Your people know they can depend on you.  

Grow the ability to be nice without expecting something in return, or calculating the leverage you’re gaining. Kindness has to be habitual - authentic and firmly felt.

Nowhere will this pay off more for you, and all those around you, than when the pressure is on.

Mark Horstman author of The Effective Manager says, ‘You can deliver tough messages with kindness.  You don’t have to be mean, short, or disrespectful to challenge people.  You don’t have to be brusque, or rude.  You don’t have to act like the boss.  Nor do you have to sugar-coat hard messages.  Be direct and be kind doing it.  That takes love.’

Deborah Khoshaba, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Training and Development for the Hardiness Institute, is of the same mind. ‘Authentic kindness is a decision to respond to the needs of others, rather than a compulsion to act good.’ 

Delivering outcomes with kindness takes mindful, authentic leaders. Khoshaba believes that those with the capacity to feel compassion and appreciate suffering have a much greater footing for a favourable reputation – which translates to their brand.

Here at #HR, we agree that kindness is a strength, often underestimated and easily undervalued. The effects may not be obvious or immediate. It requires biases to be put aside and a code of behaviour which is less about leverage and more about nourishing relationships.

But we’ll let Branson have the last word. He’s used a few key philosophies in building his eight billion-dollar businesses, but one of them is running a large business the same way as a small one – by being responsive and friendly.

‘If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business – it’s that simple,’ he says.

The difference to make is a kind one – at every stage of the game.

 

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How to Keep Your New Recruits Dancing Your Brand

How to Keep Your New Recruits Dancing Your Brand

If you hired someone to be a senior executive in your retail business, you wouldn’t have them stacking shelves on their first day, would you?

One national high street retailer did just that to a newly appointed senior manager, who spoke to us recently about his strangest on-boarding experience ever. The company was trialling a new initiative, he was told. Although his first day would be spent at head office meeting and greeting, the rest of the week was an ‘in-store experience’. 

For ‘in-store’, read ‘supermarket’. And for ‘experience’, read ‘shelf stacker’.

Never mind the impressive resume which was a roll-call of well-respected retailers, and forget about the six figure salary he was on. This gentleman spent his first few days juggling the pet mince, shining the Granny Smiths and donning freezer gloves to replenish the frozen berries. His most fervent hope was that he didn’t have to follow the other newbies onto the check-outs.

Each day he worked a respectable eight-hour shift, taking regulation tea breaks and wearing all the appropriate personal protective gear that came with the task – including the hairnet.

Initially he felt quite up-beat about the initiative. By the second day he was questioning his career move.  It was clear the rest of the intake was struggling too. Each day brought one less face at the morning briefing.

With complete candour, he told me that it wasn’t about feeling demeaned or unstimulated. On the contrary, he met some great people and still pops into the store for casual visits.

But the experience fell far short of adding value to his role within the company. ‘One size does not fit all’, he said. 

The value gap between what he gained from the experience and the cost of using a senior management resource in this way, signalled particularly poor thinking, he said. As an initiation, it was meaningless. ‘When I finally got to my own desk in the office, I felt like I was having my first day all over again.’

Maybe the company had its own agenda for leading their new corporate recruits such a merry dance in their on-boarding practice. Possibly the initiative was the result of an impressive thought-shower or blue sky session. Way cool.

In the real world, it poses the question: how far do we need to go to get the most out of our new starters?  

In her white paper on on-boarding, Professor of Management at Portland University Talya N Bauer asserts that an alarming fifty percent of all senior outside hires fail within eighteen months on the job. The on-boarding experience you offer a new executive or worker are critical in making transitions smoother – and resulting in better retention rates.

While it’s less wacky, a natural blend of professionalism, compliance and branding is a pretty good place to start, for a healthy transition from a previous employer to a new one – and a longer turn round the corporate dance floor for all concerned.

No one really expects fireworks on their first day. And you shouldn’t be looking to light up the skies. Following these few simple best practice principles helps promote new employee engagement, and adds value during this period where their productivity is inevitably a lot lower than it will be, once they’re in the swing of things.

 

1. BUDGET

Set one! Think about when you need the new starter to be up to speed and on the job.  This will help you plan the induction schedule and prioritise tasks. 

 

2. EASE THEM IN

Locking a newbie in for back-to-back meet-and-greets might seem like a great starting point, but over-whelming them with a day full of names, technical detail and data really takes the shine off things.

A start date should always be assigned to an empty calendar day in the line manager’s diary.  That manager doesn’t have to be devoted to this employee for the entire day, but it’s always best to offer complete availability to the new starter.  Things like hosting them at lunch and checking in with them regularly, go a long way. Play this by ear though: maybe they’d like a breather and some downtime over lunch.

 

3. MAP OUT THE DANCE FLOOR

Give the new starter a floorplan - a candid sketch of all the important office stuff. Like who sits where, the closest printer and where the stationary cupboard is, the fire exits, and most importantly the facilities! Meaningful information gives the new starter their independence, to move around the office with confidence, and takes away the awkwardness of waiting around to ask simple questions.

 

4. GET THE DETAIL DOWN

Provide an information sheet with payday details, IT passcodes and important email addresses like payroll and administration. You could even go the extra mile and add local eateries and coffee houses.  Detail like this creates a big impact – it’s professional, it’s welcoming and it’s free!

 

5. PRIORITISE THE DANCE CARD  

Think about the key players this person will need contact with.  Who will they benefit from meeting on their first day, and who could wait until they have more time to settle in?  Be strategic - less is sometimes more with these situations. Consider the benefit of scheduling meetings with key contacts when they have specific tasks to work on together.  Of course, casual banter is just as important in these early days. But it’s more constructive and value adding if it follows a morning briefing. Let them eat cake and talk strategy!

 

6. COMPLIANCE

There is a very boring part to on-boarding, which should not be ignored or delayed.  It’s the most formal part of the induction, the first few all-important steps of the employment journey. The new starter must be familiarised with your company policies, safety regulations, confidentiality requirements, harassment prevention and departmental procedures.

It goes without saying that asking an employee to sign off on their understanding and acknowledgement of this is paramount best practice. It’s also the time for you to answer any questions they have arising from compliance documentation.

Later down the employment track you might be called upon to answer questions on how well this was executed, so best be thorough and concise, without cutting a single corner. This might just save you a buck or two in litigation or mediation costs - which are rarely budgeted for.

 

7. GET YOUR BRAND STORY RIGHT

You can bet your new starter has made some assumptions about you and your company before walking through the door. More than likely they have stalked your social media accounts, googled their new colleagues and possibly even driven past the office to check for parking, dress codes and true hours of operation. They might well arrive with a head full of pre-conceived ideas!

Be transparent and candid from the onset. The way you interact personally makes all the difference.  If you project well, they are more than likely to love your brand.

Set the tone for open engagement. There’s no harm in chatting through company information they might already know, or their feelings about joining your team. Why not ask how they felt on their last day with their previous employer? Their answers could reveal the knowledge and energy they bring to the table and how seamless the transition might be into your workplace. Enjoy their company! As Samuel Beckett puts it: ‘Dance first, think later. It’s the natural order.’ Although we recommend you’ve done all your thinking in advance.

 

8. KISS!

Finally, the on-boarding process should not be complicated.  Keep it simple, but meaningful.  Sure, there are many cool induction initiatives happening in larger organisations, but they have the revenue to cover this process, where a small business typically does not.  The lack of fireworks will be forgiven, if you can offset that with a nice balance of professionalism, compliance and branding!

As we saw at the start, the kind of high kicks those larger corporations engage in might do you an injury anyway!

 

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Keep Achieving! One Thing at a Time - Here’s Three Ways How

Keep Achieving! One Thing at a Time - Here’s Three Ways How

Cast your mind back to 1991, when Billy Crystal and Jack Palance went head to head in the blockbuster movie City Slickers.

Not many of us are mustering cattle in the wild west twenty-five years later, and our behinds probably still hurt just watching the movie, but its central drama still has huge resonance. And raises a chuckle.

Gary Keller, author, entrepreneur and cofounder of one of the world’s largest real estate agencies, recalls a pivotal scene from the movie in his bestselling book, The One Thing.   

Curly: Do you know the secret of life?

 Mitch: No. What?

Curly: This. [He holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing.  Just one thing …

Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?

Curly: That’s what you have to figure out.

Keller reflects on why this struck a chord with him. ‘Where I had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.’  Concentrating on just thing at a time, even those itty bitty ordinary things, can make extraordinary things happen.

Best-selling author, global presenter and Smallville founder Andrew Griffiths and co-presenter Bree James ran a podcast recently on ‘Becoming More Productive in Business’.  In it, Griffiths observes that we are all time poor. The trick is to slough off all the things that are a distraction – and identify the one thing you can do right now at any given moment which will lead you on to success.

Keller and Griffiths both believe that good business is about investing your time and energy wisely and precisely – keep things moving, but don’t create a stampede.



Distractions can be hard to ignore – they’re made that way! Some of the biggest names have achieved success by designing the digital space to be deliberately inviting. No wonder we get distracted.

According to Keller, when we stay focused on exactly what matters the most at any given moment, that’s when real success becomes obtainable. If all your energy is channelled in one direction, things are achieved sequentially – one thing at a time.

So saddle up and let’s keep achieving with 3 key strategies:

 

1. BLOCK TIME

Schedule a regular appointment with yourself in which you prioritise and tackle the most important task on your list.

‘Think of it like going to movies. You’re there for ONE Thing—to see the film. Because you’re really clear about that, you turn off your cell phone, you grab snacks in case you get hungry, and you probably even make a pit stop before you go in. All this so you can have an uninterrupte experience.’

 

2. USE FIVE MINUTE WINDOWS

"Over the course of the day, I can get literally a hundred or more little tasks done in those five-minute windows," says Andrew Griffiths. Develop two lists - tasks which require a block of time, and tasks which need just a few minutes – before a meeting, between phone calls, before the teleconference, or when you’ve got a spare quarter hour.

 

3. SIMPLIFY

Make sure things get done efficiently.  If your computer takes 15 minutes to load, consider an upgrade.  If your interruptions are always for the same reason – approvals, social media management – think about automation.   What can be can be delegated? Is your five-minute list so long that a new resource is needed? 

Let’s finish on a high, by looking at one company that has done ‘One Thing’ really well.  Keller writes, ‘From 1998 to 2012, Apple’s ONE Thing moved from Macs to iMacs to iTunes, to iPods to iPhones, with the iPad already jockeying for the pole position at the head of the production line.’ Apple stand out. Their drive to deliver just one outstanding product at a time has changed the game. Sure, they brought out other popular gadgets, but those hummed along in the shadows.

 

Or as Curly would have said, ‘This cow’s having a baby. Now reach in and pull out the calf!’

 

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Get the Best Content on the Go with our Audio Articles

Get-the-Best-Content-on-the-Go-with-our-Audio-Articles-

Did you know #HR Blog is on SoundCloud? If you’re always on-the-go or just prefer to listen to articles, you can subscribe to our SoundCloud channel and get our audio articles delivered right to your device. Whether you’re in the car, on a walk, or just taking a break, audio is a great way to get some valuable #HR content when it best suits you.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our SoundCloud channel and never miss another audio article.

Below are a few of our most recent audio articles for you to enjoy.

 

THE EVOLUTION OF LEADERSHIP – AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

 

KEEPING CAREER SAVVY WHEN PARENTAL LEAVE TAKES YOU ‘OUT OF THE OFFICE’

 

THE SOBERING FACTS AND FACING THEM AS AN EMPLOYER

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Keeping Career Savvy When Parental Leave Takes You ‘Out of the Office’

Keeping-Career-Savvy-When-Parental-Leave-Takes-You-out-of-the-Office

Many years ago in my BC days (Before Children), I had a gold nugget moment with a good friend. We were discussing the inevitable shift that comes with being a stay-at-home parent. Flying around were phrases like ‘career suicide’ and ‘bottom of the ladder’.  How we laughed at the folly of those who stopped scaling the corporate heights and went off-piste into the nursery.

Ultimately, we decided that you don’t actually deliver your brain with your baby. But years later, as one moves back into the workforce after an extended period ‘out of the office’, it seems that your potential new colleagues appear to believe you did just that!

As a society we talk a lot about gender equality and support for working parents. We have many services for outsourcing the kiddies, as well as in-house employment programs such as part-time roles, job sharing and flexible hours. This is a good thing – for those who want to get back into the swing promptly. 

However, there is a cohort that just doesn’t fit this profile – those who decide that sacrificing one income indefinitely is actually manageable. They want to enjoy being at home for longer - wearing clothes crusted over with banana, watching Playschool, going to baby yoga at the community centre.

They leave their blossoming career for that other kind of labour, the kind that’s paid only in love. They do it because they want to. And they have no regrets.

What happens to this cohort when they are ready to re-enter the workplace? Do they risk their professional credibility by taking a longer gap in service? Is there a fallout in their capacity to keep up with industry trends and technical developments? Has their career been sucked up the tubes like so much stray Lego?

Unfortunately, being proficient at domestic duties isn’t a skill most employers are looking for.  What happens time and again is a return to a junior role, and having to prove one’s worth on the job – all over again.

So here are a few strategies to fit in between Kinder Gym and Kids’ Cooking Class – things you can do while ‘off the job’ which can look really favourable when you want to jump back in. 

 

#1 - PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP

When you’re in the thick of a career, you may not have the need or the inclination to join an industry body. Or maybe you do because it’s subsidised by your employer?  Don’t hesitate to join an institute when you’re ‘out of the office’ and if you’re already a member, don’t even think about letting your membership lapse! Most Institutions offer discounted training seminars, events and regular magazines.  Keep an eye out for the occasional course that you can fit into your schedule, or an article that takes you on a nice journey.  Stay open to professional development during this time. 

 

#2 - SOCIAL MEDIA

I don’t mean posting images of your deliciously creamy latte or status updates from the park - these are important but best left for your personal account.  Be smart, choose a platform and open a professional account.  There you can follow chosen intellectuals, read interesting updates and re-post them to gain followers and fellowship.  Set aside 5 minutes a day to check in or 1 hour a week to focus on your profile. It’s manageable, intellectually stimulating and best of all, free!

 

#3 - LINKEDIN

The platform for staying connected.  Keep abreast of any movements and changes in your industry.  Congratulate your connections when they are promoted or make a move.  Make a point of reading posted articles. Take the time to perfect your profile and keep it updated with any of those industry courses you’ve fitted in.  Years down the track you will thank your clever self for staying current in this way. 

 

#4 - NETWORKING GROUPS

Yes, you can forge new connections outside of playgroup. Networking is a great way to do this and keep your skills relevant.  If you can’t find a network specific to your industry in your local area, join a general business group that meets quarterly or biannually. That’s not hard to fit into a busy parenting schedule – and it will pay dividends. Sure, you won’t be representing an actual business, but keeping in touch and even offering valuable advice and recommendations to new business contacts keeps your mind engaged, and can be just as rewarding!

In short, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and don’t throw the brains or the career out with the baby either!

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Get the Best #HR Content and Industry Thinking on the Go

Get-the-Best-HR-Content-and-Industry-Thinking-on-the-Go

Did you know #HR Blog is on SoundCloud? If you’re always on-the-go or just prefer to listen to articles, you can subscribe to our SoundCloud channel and get our audio articles delivered right to your device. Whether you’re in the car, on a walk, or just taking a break, audio is a great way to get some valuable #HR content when it best suits you.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our SoundCloud channel and never miss another audio article.

Below are a few of our most recent audio articles for you to enjoy.

 

WHY COLOURFUL QUIRKS MAKE THE WORKPLACE A BETTER PLACE

 

4 WAYS TO LIFT YOUR MANAGEMENT GAME - THAT WILL COST YOU NOTHING

 

A WHOLE NEW SPECTRUM – BRINGING DIFFERENT SMARTS INTO THE WORKPLACE

 

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Here's 4 Simple Tips to Help You Become a Knockout in the Office

Tips

As the old saying goes: the squeaky wheel gets the oil. This is also true when it comes to identifying leaders in the workplace. Don’t sit back and let others surpass you. Instead, step up and stand out—in a positive way! It’s fine to get a little “squeaky” in your office in order to show others that you take your job seriously and that you are 100% committed. Here are four simple tips to stand out and become a knock out in your office.

1. USE YOUR MAGIC WORDS

 

2. PUT A SMILE ON YOUR DIAL

 

3. ROCK UP SOBER

 

4. GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR NEXT TEAM MEETING

 

And there you have it, four simple ideas to help you stand out in a positive way and become a knock out in your office. Do you have any tips? Share them with us in the comments section below.  

 

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Are You Ready to Make Your Business Boom in 2017? Tips for Good to Great!

Are You Ready to Make Your Business Boom in 2017? Tips for Good to Great!

Have you ever wondered why it looks so easy for some Small Business owners to achieve their business goals year after year? They get ahead faster and accomplish more than you, even though you work harder, longer and seemingly smarter. It’s frustrating, right?

Let’s make sure you take your Small Business from good to great by sharing these top strategies to make 2017 your best year yet.

Click here for your free e-book download, courtesy of the Founding Smallville Contributors.

 

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