Successful Leadership Tips in 2019 and Why it's Cool to be Quirky!

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Let’s be honest. As leaders we are all too aware of colourful workplace quirks. We all have at least one quirky trait that others might find challenging. It could be a glass-half-empty outlook. A bad habit of backstabbing absent colleagues in the lunchroom. The grunt involuntarily over a sandwich? Or sigh when given a task? An over-achiever with a tendency to brag? Or a know-it-all with whom every conversation is a competition? Heaven forbid – does someone smell?

With a little authentic and sensitively delivered feedback, these are all traits that can be reversed – as long as our clever self is open to changing for the better.

On the flip side are the more personal aspects of our makeup that we can’t do anything about. They’re the characteristics we’re born with, our makeup as a person, or conditions we develop through no fault of our own. The way we look, move or behave.

From behaviours to birth marks, mild obsessions, twitches, even comb-overs, height and weight. These aren’t just foibles – they’re features that can make others seem different to our own perception of what’s normal. But they are that person’s normal. If you’re not careful, these things can play out with awkward moments in the staff room, dead air in the conversation, averted gazes.

But no-one is perfect, and those attributes can mean a person brings something unique and highly valuable to the workplace.

We applaud leaders who look beyond these traits and recruit on merit. You know best practice is to create a culture of diverse minds, where employees engage with each other not because they can cluster together comfortably, but because they see their business being stimulated and enhanced by others who think differently. You know that looking different has little to do with a person’s smarts.

In this digital world, where enlightenment is merely a moment’s Google away, there’s no excuse for uninformed ignorance.

Here are 3 strategies to help you lead your employees to put embarrassment aside and embrace the characteristics that make us unique.

 

1. BE CURIOUS NOT INQUISITIVE

Curiosity leads to understanding. It’s the desire to explore, investigate and draw intelligent conclusions. Inquisitiveness is more about questioning things pointlessly. It can be prying and annoying. It’s also really un-cool.

If having a better understanding of the way in which someone is different will provide real value to your working relationship, then be curious. Ask them. Do it sensitively, and they might just appreciate your authenticity. It could make for a better working relationship and - who knows - all-round productivity.

 

2. SHOW DIPLOMACY

Even if a person’s behaviours seem obvious, it’s possible they are expending untold energy to try and control or mask them. Respect that. Okay, you might be taken by surprise by an outbreak of twitching, but the lunchroom or coffee station might not be the best place to ask about it. This isn’t theatre sports. Don’t make them feel like a performing poodle.

Keep your thoughts to yourself and show tact. People with different behaviours are used to a variety of reactions. Diplomacy is the one they like best.

 

3. BEWARE OF YOUR EGO

Sometimes our ego gets the better of us, leading us to make assumptions or draw conclusions without getting our heart involved. Don’t act on this impetus. It won’t be your best moment.

We all have our own quirks. Whether they’re intrinsic features we can’t help, or character traits and habits we’ve developed over time, it’s easy to forget that we’re all different in some way.

So, if you find yourself having an awkward moment, be mindful of the way you like your own differences to be handled by others. Overhearing about your third nipple, bald spot or portliness on the grapevine is probably not what you would prefer.

Authenticity is important, and candour can deepen a working relationship. But slowly and gently does it. You can change the habits of a lifetime if they really need changing. But only by looking beyond the quirks and foibles will you see a person’s true colours.

Be an awesome leader by role modelling the best leadership qualities and your flock will follow well. 

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Diversity in the Workplace - How to Attract The Right Kind of Talent!

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Whether you favour baby boomers or millennials when it comes to recruiting, most employers feel some pressure to revolutionise their workplace as new generations seep into the workforce. Today, ‘normal’ is at least three generations bundled together and working cooperatively, making for a truly diverse workplace.

The tricky part is not falling back on our perception of stereotypes, when it’s time to recruit again, in how we perceive and subconsciously categorise applicants. Maybe we make judgments without realising it about ear piercing or age, education or lack thereof. Even worse, our shutters come down when we see the ‘wrong’ suburb on a resume, or hear an accent different from our own.

Giving credence to stereotypes and our expectations of them can be damaging, in that it can set unfavourable limits to a small business’s growth capacity.

At #HR, we applaud leaders who look beyond stigmas and don’t mind breaking the mould to recruit on merit. Best practice is to create a culture of diverse minds, where employees engage with each other not because they are all the same, but because they see their business being stimulated and enhanced by others who think differently.

In such a culture, looking different has little to do with a person’s smarts.

Brett Davies, a computer design technician from County Durham in the UK, was the victim of just such misconceptions. After being turned down for hundreds of jobs, his hidden genius for all things visual finally landed him a two-week trial at Peacocks Medical Group. Coincidentally, the BBC was filming a documentary series featuring Davies at the time. They recorded his journey, in securing the trial position, and then landing his dream job – by solving a technical problem that had defeated every other employee who’d tried.

Davies, who had been out of work for eight years said, “I have autism. There isn’t anything different about me, I just think differently. Somehow the unwritten rules of social communication have eluded me.”

Stereotypical perceptions are often unfounded, such as those which the phrase ‘Autism’ inspires. To be a progressive business owner in progressive times, it can pay dividends to front up and get some understanding of how best to leverage qualities that are different from our own.

De-stigmatising and challenging stereotypes is proving beneficial for many companies, as their willingness to break ground brings them not only enlightenment, but profitability – and a highly motivated and fulfilled workforce.

Dave Kearon, Director of Adult Services with Autism Speaks, says...

‘This is not about charity or about what businesses can do for people with autism; it’s about what individuals with autism have shown they can do for businesses’

Research by Autism Speaks suggests that companies employing people with autism consistently give reports of extremely dependable and loyal employees, who follow company rules, arrive on time and are absent far less. Other strengths mentioned include intense attention to detail and a desire to get things right – perfectly right. One employer noted that the turnover rate of his employees with Autism was one third of his neuro-typical workers.

Challenging the status quo – although the status quo is fluid these days - takes grit, for sure. But all the research suggests that for those running a small business in today’s market, thinking openly and diversely offers many opportunities.

Employers who are on the hunt for employees with specialised skills are increasingly wise to the benefits of diverse minds. They remember that no-one is perfect and believe that looking beyond a stereotype can bring something truly unique and highly valuable to a workplace.

 

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How to Create Strong Visual Marketing - Online and in the Office!

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We think about office design a lot at #HR. And we’ve noticed that small business owners tend to shy away from innovation and creativity.

What kind of impression are you creating in your space?

Research about visual imagery in content marketing has us all convinced of the power of visuals. An active consumer will be swayed to your brand once they are visually stimulated. If what they see and feel is compelling, they will remember you. Best of all they will share their experience with others.

BAM! Free marketing.

In her article ‘The Power of Imagery in Content Marketing’, commentator Savannah Louie cites the findings that people remember just 10 percent of what we hear.

Yada yada.

What we read is only incrementally better – we remember 20%. There’s a lot of waffle being written, and read.

But of what we see and do we remember a staggering 80 percent.

So doesn’t it pay to design the space your people see daily, where they do a great job for you with this in mind?

Imagine the scene through a new recruit’s eyes. They arrive at your office to find a fit-out dragged into this millennium from the ‘80s. Mix-and- match furniture, clunky partitions and colour schemes far from on-trend. How is this making your recruit feel? Excited to be joining you?

Take the scales from your eyes, we say! And get visual!

Your target recruitment pool – the millennials - will be less than interested in such a space. Depending on your market segment you might be limiting your sales capacity too if the hackneyed feel of your surroundings extends to your branding.

Bye-bye, free marketing.

Sure, the Baby Boomers may still be satisfied with your traditional approach. That’s because it fits them like a tatty old slipper.

But Gen X and the Millennials may not even step through your door, let alone consider a good position you have vacant.

Great news! It doesn’t take a big budget to make simple changes and turn things your way. It’s about planning first and executing smartly.

It takes imagination and creativity. And that one clever individual who knows what they’re doing, to pull it together effectively.

 

 

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Recruitment Strategies - Why you need to Think Differently

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In small business your focus is so often on operations - building, marketing and delivering product. The business grows, time passes and market needs are catered for. All good.

More business means you recruit more staff. And there’s the rub. Because replicating success doesn’t necessarily mean replicating your people.

Unlikely though it sounds, to build on the success you’ve achieved so far, you need people who think differently from you.

There are typically six different ways of solving a problem and they’re all equally valid, says Juliet Bourke, Partner of Consulting at Deloitte, in her Ted Talk on human capital.

It seems we each think in just a couple of those ways. A staggering 93% of those surveyed in Bourke’s research said that Outcomes and Options were the factors most important to consider when making a decision.

That left the four remaining factors of People, Process, Evidence and Risk deliberated by a mere 7%.

This is dangerous stuff, says Bourke. If you’re sketchy on Process, People, Evidence and Risk, you ask fewer questions about different ways to solve problems. You listen less when someone gives you an idea that’s different. And frankly, you may not care.

Even more worryingly, she says, 75% of senior leaders who were surveyed focused entirely on Outcomes and Options, at the expense of the four other vital factors.

Bourke points to leaders and thinkers who actively engage with people whose perspective differs from their own. Obama, President of a world superpower. Warren Buffett – the world’s most successful investor. Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary theory.

We should learn from these guys. Because whatever your politics, none of them are Muppets.

Bourke suggests that for business to be smarter, it’s vital we don’t give in to the ‘bias of sameness’ when recruiting. Don’t clone your point of view. Do something to rebalance the conversation.

When it’s time to recruit, think differently. Think laterally and smartly. Diversify.

Recruiting differently will not cost you any more. It simply requires you to have an open mind. And if your craft is not recruitment, ask for help. Don’t expect to be able to do it as well as a specialist - outsource!

 

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Smarter Employee Recruitment Process in 4 Easy Steps

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Imagine you’re getting married. How did you ‘recruit’ your spouse?

Did you go looking for someone with a Proven Experience in Breadwinning, and a Degree in Neighbourliness with Honours in the Politics of the Bedroom?

Or did you team up organically with someone you liked? Their ideas, life experience and world view was different from your own, but something about them struck you as right. You connected. And they passed the friends test.

Okay we live in dangerous times full of tiger mothers and speed dating and some people go at marriage with a checklist and will answer yes to Option One.

Whatever you do, take a broader view when recruiting for your business.

Recruitment. That word sends shivers down the spine of many a small business owner, and an echo ricocheting through the echelons of big business.

The right recruits create the culture of your workplace, for better or worse.

It’s like a marriage. So get it right!

A survey by online job site Indeed reported that '97% of small business owners have difficulty making the right hire.’

Many employers see recruitment as a deviation from their core business. We say it goes to the heart of your brand and should be given your fullest attention.

'If you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs." - Anonymous

Outsourcing is an attractive option, but daunting once you calculate the agency fees. Although in-house recruiting costs in time, once absorbed it can be preferable to a jaw-dropping invoice.   

Those in the know use a handful of golden strategic moves.

 

RESEARCH

'A clever business thinks first. It’s the only way to get value from your advertising budget.' - Jen Gutwenger, #HR

Become the candidate. Search the internet as if you’re the job seeker. Key in the job title and location, and use the data generated to kick start the process. The top search results give you the best advertising sites to use, similar vacancies, and highlight variances between your job and the rest.

How does your role or company differentiate itself? What will the best candidate be looking for? Are you offering it? And how could your job ad look and read better. 

“Write a creative, pithy, eye catching ad and you’ll get candidates to match. Write a humdrum ad and you’ll get the rest.” Fiona Stocker, Boutique Communications

 

AUTHENTICITY

Be yourself. The standout skill in recruiting is your own ability to create a comfortable environment. It gives the candidate every opportunity to be themselves and talk candidly. 

Prepare the room for a conversation, not a briefing.  Desk and chair placement is paramount - don’t sit behind a desk!

If prescribed questions are your thing, write them down and use them. But do so in a relaxed fashion and be comfortable with moments of silence. These prompt gold nugget moments – when the candidate fills the space by talking unscripted.

“Just write out some questions and ask them." One of the biggest mistakes in conducting an interview.

 

BEST PRACTICE

There are many HR and recruitment agencies offering e-books full of tips and templates for in-house recruiting and best practice principles.  

Government agencies have specific on-line resources, particularly for small businesses.

 In Australia the Fair Work Ombudsman provides many useful templates and guides for the lawful employment of staff.

The challenge is finding appropriate recruitment tools and techniques for you, closing the gap between your offering and best practice principles. Great candidates are attracted to the company which appears most professional. Don’t let them slip through the net due to simple oversights here.

 

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Hire on merit, not technical ability - it’s a classic mistake. Anything technical can be learned – software skills, the nature of your widget manufacturing. What you’re looking for is not a background in widgets. It’s the attributes which will be a great fit with your team and bring something new and wonderful to the table. A great team player; a lateral thinker; and if it’s an executive, someone who genuinely gets on with everyone, from the shop floor to the Boardroom.

Hire on merit. That doesn’t mean someone who thinks like you. It means someone whose thinking you like. Hire the person you’d like to spend time and generate ideas with. Hire the person who speaks from the heart, to yours.

 

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