Blog RSS
Border Background
  1. Bad Habits That Erode Personal Accountability

    July 15, 2014 by Jenna

    When it comes to taking on responsibility in a team environment, you quickly realise just how important personal accountability is. Each person on the team needs to play a part, it means taking on the tasks, following through and being responsible for the outcome.

    It means that there are certain bad habits that you need to banish, these include:

    Making Excuses/ Blaming Others

    For example:

    • ‘I have a lot to manage at the moment; therefore I won’t attend the team meeting. I’ll catch up next week’
    • ‘I’ll sleep in instead of going to training and I’ll make up for it later’
    • That you are ‘too busy’ to commit to the task and put it on the back burner, falling behind.
    • ‘So-and-so didn’t finish their part of the assignment so we fell behind’

    What could happen as a result of excuses: You will be considered unreliable or the group will not be able to trust that you are capable of delivering outcomes on time. Trust in the team is very important and once it is broken, it can take time to earn back.

    Possible solutions to excuses: We are all guilty of excuse making at times. When you find that you are starting to think or react this way, it is important to reflect on the task at hand and why you were chosen for this role. Reflect on how this task contributes to your team. Understand the implications of what could happen if you do not follow through.

    Do you have someone that you report to on a regular basis? If not, buddy up with someone on your team so that you both collectively can help keep one another on track. Sometimes a simple push is all you need.

    What could happen as a result of blaming others: Blaming others instead of trying to find a solution can create all sorts of unfavorable results. It can create tension in the team, break trust, communication etc. When problems occur, teams should be collectively looking for solutions together, not turning on one another.

    Possible solutions to blaming others:

    • If you have someone sharing a task with you and find that they are not performing then you need to address this issue directly with them. Start off one on one, as often the person may not realise they are doing it. If it still continues then get a manager or third party involved.
    • If you have a problem and choose not to communicate the issue or find a solution then you won’t achieve the desired outcome. Speak up if you are struggling, ask others for advice, after all, that is what your team is there for.
    • If you are being held accountable for a result of a group task that has failed a task, sometimes the simplest thing to do is say you’re sorry and offer to work on a solution for the future. Apologising does not make you weak, it shows courage. It shows responsibility.

    Lack of Motivation

    Examples are running late, being unprepared for meetings, not focusing or listening to what others are sharing, nor contributing thoughts or ideas to the team discussions.

    What could happen as a result of this: You appear distracted or disinterested to the team activity and other members will question your commitment levels. If you are unenthusiastic, others will not feel comfortable approaching you for help or provide you with further responsibilities. They will assume that you don’t care.

    Possible solutions: Organising yourself can be the best way to keep your goals on track and set your path towards success. If you have your tasks written down in front of you, it will remind you every day of what you need to achieve and keep you focused.

    You can start by asking yourself some simple questions:

    • Are you setting daily targets?
    • Are you writing the information down on a checklist?
    • Are you following up on your own progress regularly?

    As part of the team, members also have a right to know your progress, which should in turn keep you motivated knowing that not only does your work impact you but those around you.

    I personally become motivated when I see the time and dedication that my teammates are putting into their tasks. It makes me feel excited that goals are being achieved, and it challenges me to step up my level of commitment.

    Any great leader or manager that you know will tell you that they have to go through stages of being accountable for their team. It requires making decisions for the overall well-being of your team, taking responsibilities for mistakes or set-backs and collectively working together to find solutions.

    Remember these points next time you are in a group situation so that you can let the best part of you shine.


  2. What great team experiences can teach us

    July 8, 2014 by Jenna

    I love putting teams together for adventure races and sporting events. Whether the teams are people I have known for years or complete newcomers, I have found great value in teamwork in this kind of environment. It brings me a great deal of satisfaction to make it happen.

    I have learned a lot about myself – what my limits are as a team leader, the different personality types of others and different skill sets that a group can collectively put together to achieve a goal.  That is how any great team starts, establishing the goal you want to achieve, and working together to accomplish how to get there.

    I also found that for great teams to reach success, each individual in the team needs to possess the following qualities:

    • Have a good attitude – Showing up to a team event with an open mind and positive attitude can make a world of difference! It allows new ideas to be shared, it keeps other team members motivated and determined and overall positivity spreads. In sporting events, you can get run down and fatigued and it is so important to stay positive and encourage one another so that you don’t give up.
    • Be determined – To not only be willing to take on the task but to follow through. To stay as focused as you can, knowing that what you achieve in the end is worth the hard work and effort that you are putting into it.
    • Develop courage – To face obstacles, to show your true colours (your opinions, passions and sometimes vulnerability) and most importantly, the courage to ask for help when you need it.
    • Know your limits – Both physically and mentally. We want and most often believe that we can ‘do it all’. But in reality, if one person is trying to take on too many tasks at once without proper delegation, they will end up being more of a hindrance than an advantage to your team. You need to feel your best to be your best. Sleep right, eat right and manage tasks so that you are not continually struggling with stress or anxiety.
    • Know when to listen – As a team leader it is so important for me to know the needs of my team members. If they have a problem I want them to feel like I am approachable to talk to regardless of how ‘busy’ I may look. If they have a problem or something has happened I want to know about it to find a solution. Otherwise problems can go unresolved. It also makes individuals feel valued if you allow them to express their opinions. No one deserves favour over the other and each person deserves respect and time.
    • Be observant – Keeping aware of what is going on in your environment. To address potential threats and weaknesses with your goal, to be aware of the feelings and behaviours of your teammates (is anyone run down or require assistance?) and be alert to any changes that may take place.
    • Be respectful/humble to one another – There is no ‘I’ in team so keep in mind the effort of your teammates to help achieve the overall goal. Enforce gratitude and encouragement when needed to one another. Also be sure to keep in mind that if something does not work according to plan that emotions do not get the better of you and that you do not take out those emotions on your fellow team members. We are all human, we all have feelings, and as the saying goes, ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated.’

    What has teamwork taught you so far? Are there any defining qualities/abilities that you think lead a team towards success? What is your best team experience so far?


  3. Constructing great teams in SME’s requires compromise on all fronts – By Stephen Crowe

    July 1, 2014 by Jenna

    In theory when we choose members for a team we should only select members who have the skills and experience needed to achieve the team goals, and the behavioural traits that fit the required team functions.  But in the real world for small to medium enterprises having all the people with the required skills is often a luxury, and then  having enough of them to be able to filter on behavioural traits is just a dream.

    So what do we do?

    Well the reality is building teams without the ideal members requires us to sharpen the focus across a number of key areas.  Extra effort is required with:

    • Defining the goals vision and goals for the team
    • Defining the roles of each team member
    • Defining the success criteria and critically
    • Communication

    We are asking people to work outside their comfort zones so to maximise the team’s chance of success we have to make sure that all team members are pulling in the same direction and are aware of all the issues that will affect them.

    But there are some traits that cannot be compromised on.  All team members must have these if the team is going to succeed.  They include:

    • Willingness to compromise for the good of the team
    • Willing to learn
    • Willingness to commit to the team goals.

    In small team that is reliant on the input of every team member I believe these traits are more important than technical skill or experience.  A team that is willing to work together will gain synergy from their communal energy and drive that will far outweigh a fragmented but highly skilled group of people.


  4. How do you currently look at feedback?

    June 24, 2014 by Jenna

    When we seek reviews and feedback on our performance and productivity it can feel like we are leaving ourselves open to whatever comes our way. It can make anyone nervous. We work hard and we strive to achieve goals. We want to be recognised for our hard work, but we often forget that feedback isn’t just about praise. We need to remember that feedback is a stepping stone. To lead us towards our future because we need direction, counselling and encouragement to grow.

    Personally I am not one who likes to be told what I can improve on. I find it hard emotionally and I don’t think that I am the only one. When constructive feedback is given it can lead to any of the following reactions:

    • Self-defeat
    • Lack of motivation
    • Defensive/Argumentative Behaviour – ‘It isn’t my fault, these other factors got in the way…
    • Low Morale
    • Stress or Anxiety

    Luckily, as I have gained more experience at receiving feedback, I am now more aware that the initial feeling is only temporary. In the long term I gain so much more from valuable feedback. This is what I have learned from my experience:

    The value in seeing another perspective

    Sometimes I can be so focused on a task that it can be hard for me to broaden my mindset and approach it in a different way. I find it valuable to seek feedback, if I am struggling to reach my desired outcome I can gain alternate ways to find a solution. Asking for feedback is NOT a weakness!

    We all have different talents and areas of expertise, so if you are asked to approach a task in a different way don’t take it to mean ‘your way isn’t good enough’. Take it as an opportunity to challenge yourself to try something new.  In turn, you can provide feedback on whether or not it worked for you.

    Setbacks don’t mean you have failed, it just means you’re not there yet

    For example, you may have been in a role for a while and want the opportunity for a promotion. You go through the whole process of presenting it to management feeling 100% confident to only find the feedback to be ‘We don’t have anything suitable for you to step up into at this time.’ You may also be told that you require more training before moving ahead into a role of greater responsibility.

    Remember, this does not mean that you have failed. Be aware of your workplace environment. If your manager turns down the opportunity at that time, ask for some specific feedback on why and then ask if you can approach the conversation at a later time. There could be structural changes, budget cuts and a variety of other issues that you are not aware of that could be influencing that decision. It doesn’t mean another door will not open later on.

    Don’t dwell on what you can’t control and focus on what you can 

    As addressed previously I can find it difficult to accept constructive feedback. I can take it personally. Based on experience I can only recommend that you do not dwell on the feedback as a negative and have it replay in your head again and again as a sense of defeat. This will only increase stress levels and anxiety and further distract your productivity levels.

    It is important to ask the person providing feedback for specific examples, show accountability for any issues (after all, any role of leadership requires someone to take responsibility), and brainstorm solutions for the future.

    Any great leader will have a story about something they didn’t succeed at. It’s human nature to make mistakes. But it is what we do once we are made aware of this that will define our future endeavors.

    Lastly, make sure you request feedback on a regular basis. It shouldn’t be a one off request. We are constantly learning new skills, approaches to work and experience. Not to mention the more experience we gain through feedback, the more confident we will become to pass on our feedback and experience to others.

    What feedback have you received that has lead you to where you are today? What did you learn from the experience?


  5. Personal Development – The Importance Of Keeping Up To Date

    June 17, 2014 by Jenna

    While looking after the promotion and social media side of the business, I am constantly online reading. I am reading up on social trends, latest apps, industry related articles, you name it. The more technology is advancing, the quicker information can be available and more I need to be on the ball with what is going on so that I can market our business the right way.

    At the same time, I still need to maintain my duties in administration with telephone enquiries, skills testing enquiries, event organising and printing/filing/data entry tasks. I am very privileged to have a varied role because there is always something to do, and most of the time tasks need to be done within a short time frame.

    How do I keep up to date with what is required within my role? Without overloading myself I look at different mediums:

    Following companies online that share industry news – This allows me to receive industry updates as well as invitations to events.

    • Sharing information through LinkedIn groups – Again this involves following online networks that appeal to your role or industry. You can direct questions to the group and share information or blogs from your website.

    Networking Events – Meet like-minded individuals on a more relaxed, social scale. Find out about latest trends, software applications, what duties are required of individuals etc. Not to mention finding out contacts that can provide further training and development through word of mouth.

    Attend training workshops – This helps me keep up to date with my skill sets and also find out about latest tips and tactics on how to market to my industry.

    • Setting personal goals for progression – what do I want to learn over the upcoming weeks, months or year? Am I keeping myself accountable and keeping an up to date checklist?

    I meet with a mentor every few months – Someone who is in a more senior and experienced position who can guide me with expert advice, but still allows me the authority to make my own choices and go in the direction I feel is best.

    So what are the advantages of keeping up to date in your industry of work? While researching the topic I found the following three benefits outlined by MindTools.com:

    First, you’ll make better decisions, and you’ll spot threats and opportunities early on, which can give you a competitive edge. This is especially important if you contribute to shaping your organization’s strategy. It’s also important if you’re involved in sales and marketing, where it helps you identify and take advantage of the sales opportunities that come your way.

    Secondly, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power. By developing expertise in your job and your industry, you’ll earn the trust and respect of the people around you. From a leadership perspective, this is invaluable!

    Finally, it will alert you to changes that you need to think about.

    As change is a common theme in business, it is important that you keep yourself up-to-date so that you are prepared to take the next steps in your career and assess any unexpected situations that may arise. It is important that we continue to drive ourselves to be our best and continue to prove ourselves as valuable assets within our organisations and further drive the business and ourselves towards success.


  6. Employer Brand – A Cornerstone To Successful Recruiting

    June 10, 2014 by Jenna

    After a long period of uncertainty our economy is finally showing early signs of recovery. As a consequence the optimist inside every business person starts thinking about growth and that often means more staff. So what does the recruitment scene look like in 2014?

    Well it is different to what your might have experienced previously. While we have rising unemployment we also have skills shortages in a number of important sectors. Due the uncertainty of the last five years good candidates are reluctant to change jobs unless they are really confident about the strengths of their new employer.

    What does this mean if you’re trying to attract good people? It is a new world out there and one of the keystones of recruitment success in this new world is your employment brand.

    Just as your business brand defines you to your potential customers, your employment brand defines you to your potential employees. It answers these questions (amongst others):

    • Why should I want to work for you?
    • Why are you different from your competitors?
    • What sort of work culture do you have?
    • What can you do for my career?

    Candidates get to understand your employer brand through a range of sources. One of the most important and influential is a trusted third party (usually an employment agency). If you work with a good employment agency one of the value added benefits is that they sell your employer brand to every candidate they talk to.

    Challenge Consulting is a recruitment services company that works with organisations in the Banking and Finance, ICT and Not for Profit Industries to attract, select and on board great talent. Please call to discuss any of your recruiting questions.

    Stephen Crowe
    Challenge Consulting Australia
    Managing Director


  7. How to make the most out of your working day

    June 2, 2014 by Jenna

    We can all create long term plans when it comes to personal growth and career progression. But how you approach your day-to-day routine also impacts your future path. So how are you making the most of your working day?

    Here are some suggestions that can get you back on track from an article that I found in the Sydney Morning Herald:

    Daily warm-up: Assess the important tasks that need to be accomplished for the day. Who do you need to speak to? What proposals/client requests do you need action? By doing this each day it will save you on letting yourself get carried away by distractions. Write down the points if you need to and keep them at your desk like a checklist.

    Tame Technology: Email pop-ups can be really distracting while you are on the phone or are in the middle of typing up a document. But you do not need to be checking your emails every time a new one pops up. If you have an urgent task to work on, limit your time to check those emails until you are done or at least in the right frame of mind to respond. If the emails do not require an immediate response, you can certainly put them on the back-burner until you have free time to address them.

    Compress meetings: This is important especially if you are the instigator of the meeting, to keep within the allocated time frame and to cover main points/outcomes and not get sided tracked. The longer you spend running the meeting, the more you will have to catch up on when you return to your current workload.

    Pick up the phone: If there is something that you need further clarification on, instead of discussing it over 4-5 emails, why not just pick up the phone and get a direct response? While it may be nice to have information in writing, don’t forget that emails can sometimes be misunderstood, and as they are not direct conversations, sometimes it can be hard to read tone etc. If you are also liaising with someone directly within your office, try to avoid emailing them when you can walk up to them and approach them directly. That will help you keep stronger working relationships.

    Forced isolation: Whether it’s once a day or week, turn off electronic devices, avoid distractions and even find a quite space if need be to work on those high-end tasks that need to be completed. It can also be an important way to clear your mind and establish fresh ideas if you are overwhelmed or just need a quiet space to think.

    Work in waves: Allow yourself times to cover urgent tasks at times of the day when you are reaching peak performance and make sure that you allow breaks and rest periods throughout the day. The body and mind need time to rest and repair otherwise you can become stressed and exhausted which can be bad for your health long term.

    Change expectations: Make sure communicate effectively your workload and what you are capable of doing so that you do not become a ‘yes’ man. By taking on too much and not having enough time to complete it all yourself, you will not be meeting your expectations or theirs. Manage your time and workload effectively so that you can bring the best results to the table.

    Have you applied any of the above options into your daily routine? What other methods do you follow to get the most out of each day?


  8. The Future of the Credit Industry following the introduction of Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR)

    by Jenna

    By Lauren Eardley

    As a Specialist Recruitment Consultant in the Finance and Credit space, I am always looking for opportunities to become more immersed in the industry. Recently I attended the AB+F Retail Credit Panel Discussion which was held in light of the changes to Credit Reporting introduced in Australia in March 2014.

    If you are unaware, this legislative change means that more credit information can now be shared by lenders for the purpose of assessing credit. Before now the information that could be shared was limited to credit applications and defaults (i.e. negative credit reporting), however the change in legislation means additional information will be available on accounts that customers currently have and how well they meet their repayments (i.e. positive/ comprehensive credit reporting). This brings Australia in line with the majority of other OECD countries including the US, UK and New Zealand.

    The AB&F Discussion Panel was made up of 4 key players in the Global Credit Space: David Grafton (Credit Risk & Advisory Services, Veda), Bart Hellemans (Chief Risk Officer, ING Direct), Adam McAnalen (Head of Retail Credit, BOQ) and Cln Murthy (Country Risk Director – Consumer, Citi). Questions came from Andrew Stabback, Publisher & Managing Director of AB+F and the audience.

    There was undeniable agreement that this is a busy time for Credit and Risk Managers and this period of transition is an opportunity for organisations to really switch on to data sharing and make the best of it.

    The Credit Industry is buoyant and is growing for both secured and unsecured products however it still remains a relatively flat portion of Australian GDP. The panellists analysed the contribution of the buoyant housing market on (secured) credit growth. It was concluded that the current housing market is making the mortgage space highly competitive; lenders are having to differentiate themselves in the market place whilst not impacting their risk appetite. This means below average interest rates therefore people are paying off their mortgages much faster. Murthy of Citi confirmed that this translated into unsecured products as well; credit cards and personal loans are being snapped up, however consumers are paying them off quicker which means the growth is not being reflected on the balance sheet.

    Hellemans and Murthy representing banks with global coverage agreed that we are not quite clear of the GFC yet but we are certainly in a stronger position now than in 2007. The regulations which instigated in the last 2 years have subdued credit growth. The increase in data available due to CCR means that institutions can delve into more niche markets and develop new products to differentiate themselves in the market place.

    One example from the UK was raised; a Credit/Debit combination card with which you deposit a small amount of cash then the credit portion increases in line with how well you make repayments.

    Sitting in a room full of Senior Credit and Risk Managers, they were all pretty much on the ball with the changes and how it affected their organisations. However, to really see the positive effects of CCR implementation, consumers (i.e. the general public) also need to understand what information is available on them, how it will be used and how it affects them. David Grafton, Executive General Manager, Credit Risk and Advisory Services at Veda, said it was frustrating to see consumers left largely unaware of their important new rights in the credit reporting system, that will ultimately help them take better control of their credit history.

    “I think the government has really abdicated an important responsibility in that this is the most important change in privacy law in 25 years and it affects each and every one of us, it really does,” Grafton said.

    This could potentially ensue a shift in purchasing power to consumers within 3-5 years. If customers have a positive credit file and are aware of it, it allows them greater negotiation power when obtaining credit. It will also allow consumers who have a made a genuine mistake in their payment history to accumulate a positive credit score more quickly and borrow successfully again in the future.

    The changes following the implementation are in their very early days and we are not likely to see major changes for several years. The credit industry is encouraged to embrace data sharing sooner rather than later to avoid risk of irresponsible lending. While experience in application of CCR overseas can be drawn upon, Australia has different dynamics and is untested so beyond speculation the future of the Credit Industry has a long way to go and remains to be seen.


  9. What can we learn from great leaders? By Stephen Crowe

    May 27, 2014 by Jenna

    The world is full of books and articles on leadership. They are written by the leaders themselves, biographers, academics and hacks like you and me. They extol a variety of approaches to the issue of convincing other people to follow a path.

    But the books and articles I’ve read appear to have some common themes that form the foundations of leadership. These themes include:

    Leadership is a fusion of both the heart and the head – great leaders have learnt that although leadership involves analysis, logic and reason, at its heart it is a humanitarian pursuit. So without passion and empathy in combination with logic and reason you will not succeed in the long run.

    Leadership is a learned skill, not a genetic gift – great leaders are not born they earn their stripes through effort and anxiety just like the rest of us.

    Leadership takes discipline – great leadership in any pursuit is not easy, it takes strength and discipline and it’s not necessarily the big decisions that require the discipline (they usually present themselves once you have done your homework). It is the myriad of small turns and forks in the road that are encountered each day that test the resolve; those are the decisions that set the example for others to follow.

    Leadership is different for every leader – there is no one formula for leadership success –how can there be? If leadership is about people and each one of us is different how can there be one correct pattern for success.

    All Leaders make mistakes – as Michael Jordan (maybe not a great leader but a fantastic basketball player) said – “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

    So am I saying that the multi-billion dollar “leadership industry” is a sham? Not at all. Just because our paths are not identical does not mean that we can’t learn from those who have excelled. To the contrary great leaders are always learning from others and applying the lessons to their own unique circumstances.


  10. Leadership – Be Prepared To Make The Tough Decisions

    May 20, 2014 by Jenna

    We can all be quite opinionated when it comes to leaders making decisions on behalf of their organisation, state or country. We are privileged to have people who are prepared to make those big decisions for us. But sometimes we can be skeptical and even cynical to those choices made for us. However, what would you do if you were in that situation? What if you were the one who had to make the tough decisions?

    A tough decision may be reacting to something that you are not exactly comfortable with for the sake of your business continuity. At times costs have to be cut, an employee may have to be let go and you will have to deal with a customer complaint.

    As a leader, you have the authority to make these decisions and to do what is best. However, if you are the type of person who spends their time dwelling over the situation for too long or putting off the difficult task until the result becomes worse, you may need to reconsider taking on this position of authority.

    How do great leaders make tough decisions? While researching this topic I found an interesting article from an American blogger Michael Hyatt, who watched an interview series on President George W Bush. He put together 5 important points on leadership lessons and decision making:

    1. You will make mistakes—it’s inevitable. To think that you are going to lead without making mistakes results in procrastination—something no leader can afford, especially in a crisis. This simply comes with the territory.
    2. You must surround yourself with trusted advisors. You can’t research every aspect of important decisions yourself. At some point you have to depend on the expertise of others. Ultimately, your leadership will stand or fall based on the quality of the advice you receive.
    3. You must make decisions with the information available. For leaders, the point of absolute certainty never comes. You will inevitably have to make the call based on the information you have. While you may be unsure, you must act. Pundits may criticise you later, but they have the benefit of hindsight. Leaders don’t have this luxury and must do the best they can with what they have available.
    4. You must take personal responsibility for the outcomes. If you make a mistake, you must own it—even if your advisors gave you bad information. And even if you were acting with the most noble of intentions. If you make a good decision leading to a good outcome, you must give your advisors and others the credit. If you make a bad decision leading to a bad outcome, you alone must take the blame.
    5. You must ignore public opinion when it gets in the way of principle. Chasing popularity is like chasing a vapour. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, you have to make decisions based on principle and let the chips fall where they may.

    Leadership isn’t easy, but difficult decisions are necessary and leaders are required to act. Even if you are not in a leadership role, it is important that you keep an open mind, respect the decisions of management and team leader for both you as an employee and for your organisation. After all, would you really do things differently if you were in that situation?

    What difficult decisions have you had to make for your organisation? What did you learn from these choices?


Border Background