Blog RSS
Border Background
  1. Working After Baby: how have childcare issues affected your return to work?

    December 6, 2011 by Jenna

    Now, at the risk of offending stay-at-home dads, this is and will probably remain for some time to come an issue that almost universally affects women. 

    As a woman, and a mother of a three-year old, and expecting another baby soon, I feel very fortunate that: 

    a) I work for a flexible and supportive organisation and boss who enabled me to return to work at a time and pace that suited the changing needs of my small child 

    b) I was, after some effort and waiting and getting in early, able to secure a place two days a week for our son at a local childcare centre we remain delighted with 

    c) I have parents and parents-in-law who are besotted with their grandson and are able to care for him when extra help is needed 

    I was also very pleased to read the comments of two of the respondents to our most recent online pollHow much did childcare issues impact on your return to work? – reproduced below:

    – “Keeping a very organised schedule and ensuring our daughter attends a very good Early Learning Centre, childcare has not impacted on my return to work. I am now back at work 3 days per week. My daughter thoroughly enjoys the Early Learning Centre that she goes to and I thoroughly enjoy being back at work. The childcare centre follows a weekly learning program and my daughter loves all the activities that they do.” 

    – “A combination of a very supportive family, as well as great flexibility as far as my husband’s working hours, meant my return to work (when the baby was only 3 months old) was seamless. It did however mean that I hardly ever saw my husband!” 

    However, the news is not that great for a huge number of women. Another poll respondent recounted her struggles: 

    – “Because child care was too expensive, I relied on my parents and grandmother to look after my children. I also took on casual jobs where I had no super, no regular and secure income and no stability, just so that I could do the hours that suited my family’s needs. I also worked night shift so that I could be home with my children during the day; my husband then took over at night. Again, this was very difficult for me and my family, but financially it helped as the night casual rates were higher.”      

    Even for women with family support and access to care, the decision to leave their child can induce intense feelings of guilt and a deep sense of “missing out” during their child’s early years. A contact I spoke to regarding her experiences said that while she had no return to work issues relating to finding care (her father looks after her baby at home three days per week) or her company’s parenting policies, she finds it extremely challenging to juggle work, home, commuting and caring for her family, not to mention emotionally wrenching every time she departs. She would in fact, if she could afford it financially, remain at home. 

    An extensive poll conducted earlier this year by the online businesswomen’s network group sphinxx “found that children and careers fail to mix. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) said the cost of childcare had negatively hit their careers but not their partners – 71.6% said their partners hadn’t been held back at all. Almost three quarters of respondents (74%) agreed that quality child care is hard to come by.” [Source] 

    The poll also revealed that 92% of respondents cited the rising cost of childcare as a top policy issue in the next election. The founder of sphinx, Jen Dalitz, said “said both political parties should be seeing childcare as a top policy issue if they were ‘fair dinkum’ about helping women stay in the workforce and support more choices in the childcare industry. ‘It’s crazy that you can deduct expenses for laptops, iPads and cars, but receive no tax breaks for family day care or in-home care, especially in emergencies,’ she adds.” [Source] 

    Promoting the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Women Business Owners Poll, Ita Buttrose commented last week that “businesses are mad not to have more women in decision-making roles and has urged them to pay for nannies to ensure their female staff don’t fall off the career ladder. ‘I am a great believer in packages that include some support for the mother, whether it is a nanny or a housekeeper or whatever,’ she said. ‘You might not get the shares, or you might not get the car, but you balance one out against the other. Of course companies can do it. Women who want to continue their careers and have families should ask for that package from their employer and the workplace needs to think about how they are going to offer it.’ [Source]                                                      

    Further illustrating this issue, another respondent to the sphinxx poll commented: “Issues to do with availability and cost of childcare plague our mothers group. So much so that two teachers, a HR professional and an IT Manager have decided they cannot go back to work. That is four highly skilled women now removed from the workforce because childcare in Australia is too complex and cost prohibitive. And this is just one small group – there are many more. If the government is honestly trying to address female participation rates in the Australian workforce and fix the skills shortage, they will look at childcare as a matter of urgency.” [Source]

    What do you think? What has your experience been? Leave your comments below …

    ________________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  2. Does your manager really care what you think, and is their door really ‘open’?

    November 8, 2011 by Jenna

    Personally speaking, having worked four metres away from my manager for the last eleven years has meant that she has little choice but to care about what I think, because I certainly tell her! A lot. About everything. Like recipes, movies, novels … and work-related issues, too. Sometimes. The other day I started to talk to her about a family member and promptly burst into tears. Very professional … 

    Being physically the closest team member to her also means that I am usually, alas, the first to hear uttered those dread words: “I’ve been thinking …” 

    I was really heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response to our latest online poll: Does your manager really care what you think, and is their door really ‘open’? Almost 92% of respondents said “YES”. 

    If you’re a manager reading this, you might like to refer to the article featured in this week’s edition of The Challenge Consulting News, Articulate and Inspiring Managers Motivate Employees, in which the report cited states that “nearly half of Australian employees (48%) rate the ability to motivate and inspire as the single most important attribute of a successful leader … Often executives and managers do not realise the profound effect their words and actions have on their employees … Leaders who are able to effectively communicate their organisation’s strategic direction can have a massive influence on employee engagement levels.” 

    Two poll respondents had some very striking feedback regarding the open style of their management team:

    – “I feel confident speaking on everyone’s behalf by saying that no one team member feels intimidated or out of place by wandering (or Moonwalking) in to her office to discuss anything. Big, small, personal or business.”

    – “Our managers have a ‘Know Your People’ workbook. My manager knows that I love pugs and chocolate. Likewise, I know she hates dirty shoes but loves rom-coms and Max Brenner’s hot chocolates.” 

    Lots of studies have been conducted on why people stay with and leave companies. A quality that organisations who do manage to retain employees seem to share is really caring about the wellbeing of their employees. From the top of the company structure all the way down, there is a genuine sense of caring, listening, involvement. Employee engagement is strong, retention is high, productivity is excellent and people get along. 

    The other quality these organisation seem to share is that they are careful about who they hire to lead employees.

    They understand that the managers have to be compassionate, caring, and nurturing while still having the ability to hold employees responsible for high levels of performance. These managers aren’t afraid of developing relationships with employees. Those relationships sustain employee satisfaction even when difficult issues have to be addressed. 

    Think about it. Are you more likely to give your best to a manager and an organisation who just wants to extract as much out of you as possible in the short-term, or one who invests in your professional development, allows you to grow into your role, and gives you time to learn so you can perform at your best and give your all?

    This week’s online poll is now LIVE and wonders: Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?

    ________________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  3. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Work Uniforms

    October 5, 2011 by Jenna

    I tell you, one of the highlights of my week is reading through the comments left in our weekly online poll. There is always a marvellous range of responses, from the profound to the very silly indeed.

    Our latest poll asked: “If getting your dream job meant wearing a terrible uniform, would you still take it?” 

    One response was the deeply philosophical “we all wear silly costumes”. Makes you think, eh? 

    And of course, another response was “my dream job involves wearing no uniform” and yes I know who you are … honestly … 

    The results were:

    Yes – 79%

    No – 11%

    Other – 10%

    Overall, people were fully prepared to “suck it up” and wear whatever uniform was required (within reason!) for their dream job. One respondent commented that a uniform can be a blessing in disguise, saving you the daily hassle of selecting something to wear. Good point. 

    And of course, a uniform means that everyone else is wearing it, too, so even if it is ghastly, it’s not as though you’ll be the only one looking like that! Ultimately, if it’s your dream job, you’ll wear anything. As another poll respondent said: “as long as I remained credible in terms of the specific job, and the uniform suited the company’s image, I’d wear a clown suit or whatever was required!” 

    So, why do many companies require their employees to wear uniforms? 

    A key reason is that a uniform conveys a standard image of a company. It is a form of advertising, it can create a sense of team solidarity, and makes it easy for customers to identify company employees. 

    Of course, many employees would prefer to have the opportunity to express their sartorial individuality and see the uniform they are required to wear as an infringement upon their individual rights. I think I would feel quite strange and a bit affronted if my workplace suddenly imposed a work uniform policy. 

    However, if you’re starting a new role at a company that has a clearly stated work uniform requirement, then you’re going into it with your eyes wide open and, really, have no recourse to complain. 

    I also asked a few friends, informally, during the week about their workplace dress policies, and everyone said that whilst there was no official “uniform”, there was, at the very least, an unspoken yet clear dress code in place, which was obvious the moment you walked in. Some work in super corporate environments where suits for men and women are the minimum standard. Others work for companies where a slightly less corporate vibe might be in place, but where certain levels of appropriate dress and presentation were expected and upheld. 

    I would say that most of us, starting a new job, would certainly take our workplace dress cues from those around us, no matter where we were employed, and if that meant feathered headdresses and sequins or gumboots and overalls, that’s what we’d be wearing.

    Are you more productive in a noisy or quiet (office) environment? Tell us in our latest online poll and stay tuned for the results in next week’s ChallengeBlog post …________________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  4. Who should pay for the company Christmas function?

    September 27, 2011 by Jenna

    I broke my toe at a long-ago Christmas function. I would like to immediately emphasise (mainly because my boss will read this) that it was not whilst working here. The thing is, I don’t remember actually doing it, which made it all the more startling when I awoke the next day with a purple toe. 

    The point is: had the company I was working for at the time spent less or even nothing on the Christmas party, and I had been required to pay for my own Christmas cheer, I may not have imbibed it with such abandon, hence no broken toe. 

    However, because I am now a “responsible adult”, I do accept that it is my responsibility to curb my enthusiasm re free drinks and I am one of the 87% who responded with a YES to last week’s online poll question: “Should employers fund the company Christmas function.” 

    Of course, this does mean that 13% thought they shouldn’t. Interesting. “Why?” I hear you asking in disbelief. 

    Well, one response that I thought was perhaps fair enough was “a community-funded organisation should not spend community money on a Christmas party.” There are some things that are more important to spend money on than bad wine and silly hats. 

    And the other respondents in this group basically all said that the cost should be shared between employers and employees. 

    Hmmm … 

    Overwhelmingly, though, the issue of the company paying for the Christmas party boiled down to one thing: staff morale

    Again and again, respondents were adamant that the “return on investment” was something companies could not ignore:

    – “Employers receive massive returns re staff morale for a relatively small outlay.”

    – “This is a gift that doesn’t cost a company much, but is hugely valued by employees. More to the point, if it isn’t funded, the employer loses much more respect from staff than the little monetary saving achieved.”

    – “The Christmas function is a way in which a Company thanks their staff, where titles are dropped and people are people. Staff members look forward to this event all year and as many companies do not give bonuses, a party is a way to reward hard work.”

    – “It is an opportunity for the employer to show openly how much they value their employees. I don’t think any employer wants to be labelled a ‘scrooge’“.  

    So, morale is the moral of the story. Employers take note! Can you afford not to lay on some cheese and bickies and a slab of beer for your cherished workers this Christmas?

    Have you ever been offered a great job with a company which required staff to wear a really bad uniform? Did you still take the job? Tell us in our latest online poll and stay tuned for the results in next week’s ChallengeBlog post …

    _____________________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  5. “It’s all about the people”: Why this is the #1 reason people stay in their jobs

    September 20, 2011 by Jenna

    Rather heart-warmingly, this is how one of our “What’s the #1 reason you stay in your job” online poll respondents succinctly put it. 

    More than a third of respondents chose “I actually like the people I work with” as their #1 reason. Here are the full results: 

    • I actually like the people I work with – 35.2% 
    • I have flexible hours and work arrangements – 17.6% 
    • Other – 17.6% 
    • I actually like the work I do – 11.7% 
    • The money: I am paid above-market rate – 5.8% 
    • My manager inspires me – 5.8% 
    • There are opportunities for learning – 2.9% 
    • I am too lazy to look for another job – 2.9% 
    • There are opportunities for promotion – 0.0% 
    • The bonus and other financial rewards – 0.0% 

    As much as “Hawaiian Fridays” would also tempt me to stay in an otherwise lacklustre role (as another witty respondent volunteered as their #1 reason), I personally agree that it really is the people you work with that ultimately make or break a job. You could get the best job in the world, but if you then discovered that you’ll also be faced with a team of idiots and a psychopathic manager every day, then you’d probably be out the door again quick smart.

    I’m just saying.

    To further support this, here are some more poll responses:

    • I am blessed to be surrounded with very capable and competent staff.
    • I work with a truly amazing and inspiration group of people from the CEO to the Reception staff. The whole team is there to support each other and we are all working towards the goals. The first company I have worked for in quite a few years that I would be really sad if I ever left!
    • I work for family-owned company that treats its people like family. They reward and recognise many things that I know many other employers simply do not.

    It’s a safe bet that most people consider employee compatibility to be an essential requirement for an optimum work experience. Liking one’s co-workers will likely remain the key to overall job satisfaction as long as people are required to spend a lot of time on the job and work with the same people on a regular basis. It has also been shown to increase productivity, job satisfaction, and even life satisfaction. 

    “Anecdotal evidence throughout the culture suggests that liking one’s co-workers is a cherished benefit and even good for business. For example, the U.S. Army for years ran advertisements using the jingle “Be All You Can Be” until market research indicated that to attract the next generation of personnel, a better approach would be to stress the opportunity to “work with people you like”. Recent recruitment posters feature groups of people working together in a variety of occupations.” [Source]

    “Professor John Lounsbury, Trump University faculty (psychometric assessments) and a professor of psychology  at the University of Tennessee, has conducted extensive research in the area of job satisfaction. He has made some striking findings that suggest a positive correlation between employee compatibility and overall levels of personal satisfaction:

    • Based on a diverse sample of more than 1,100 adults in a variety of occupations, I’ve found that liking the people you work with is substantially related (positively) to overall job satisfaction and moderately related to both career satisfaction and life satisfaction.
    • Also, people who rate higher on the following traits tend to like the people they work with more: resilient/emotionally well-adjusted, extraverted-outgoing, agreeable, optimistic.
    • There are no differences in liking coworkers for males versus females, and workers age 20-29 like the people they work with more them those age 30-39. [Source]

    Whilst we’re on the topic of happy teams and staff morale, next week we’ll be looking at whether or not employers should foot the bill for their company’s Christmas party. What do you think? Have your day in this week’s online poll

    ____________________________________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  6. Workplace Conflict: How do you take responsibility?

    August 30, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

    ______________________________

    The Challenge Consulting office is on edge. As we always are at this time of year. The level of competitiveness will soon reach fever pitch. The coveted title of ‘Tipster of the Year’ is up for grabs! It is true that some members of the Challenge Team are more excited than others about the end of the NRL Season approaching. We won’t name the tipster who elatedly declared “It is nearly over!” when made aware that this weekend is the final round of the season. Naturally they were over moon to hear that the tipping continues for four more rounds of finals action – when each correct tip will earn double points!

    So as I sat down to write this week’s Challenge Blog – of course I had to use a sporting analogy. I had planned to use the recent Phil Gould spray on the Sunday Roast about head high tackles being an accepted “part of the game” as the basis of my sporting metaphor. But then Friday night happened. Two of this year’s most successful NRL Teams were involved in a brawl that has since resulted in both clubs being fined $50,000 by the NRL and 11 players facing charges, just a week out from the finals.

    This week the Challenge Poll asked: “Who do you think is most responsible for managing workplace conflict?”

    In the case of the Storm versus Sea Eagles, there have been varying views as to responsibility: Wayne Bennett (Coach for St George Illawarra Dragons) – declared “The players have got to be accountable. We just can’t keep blaming someone else”, whilst Monday morning NRL Chief Executive David Gallop weighed in to say: “This isn’t a time for anyone to be looking for excuses or deflecting blame to others … both clubs need to face up to their responsibility for the overall behaviour of their players.” Whilst pointing out “As much as we are keen to take any lessons that can be taken I stress that anyone who blames the referee for what happened on Friday night is wrong and that they are looking to escape the real issue at hand.” Perhaps the real issue at hand is the question of how did the culture of the NRL get to the point that this year’s two most successful teams participated in such an ugly brawl?

    Our recent Challenge Consulting Poll suggested that mostly the buck needs to stop with Line Managers, with 52% of respondents suggesting that Line Managers were mostly responsible for managing workplace conflict. The remainder of the votes were split pretty evenly amongst: HR, Senior Management, and Co-Workers, with a handful of voters selecting: ‘other’ and confirmed that managing Workplace Conflict is the responsibility of everyone. But what role should everyone play or how can we help Line Managers to ensure that conflict doesn’t become counterproductive?

    ►      “Each and every one of us is responsible. As much as line/senior managers should step in where necessary -it is up to all of us.”

    ►      “While Senior Management should ultimately be held accountable, HR should provide the strategic guidance and tools for management to be effective in the management of conflict.”

    ►      “Everybody should share this responsibility. Effective policies and procedures will empower all staff to recognise conflict appropriately, deal with it in a professional way, and limit the negative effects on the rest of the business.”

    During the recent Challenge Consulting discussion forum we discussed that conflict based on tasks and ideas is not always negative if managed effectively. In fact, a lack of conflict in some teams can be a sign of dysfunction. But we do know that conflict not managed proactively or effectively can have a range of negative consequences*, and can escalate out of control, much like what we saw on Friday night. During the Discussion Forum we explored the different conflict management styles people adopt, and confirmed that some organisations through their procedures, environment, and culture may escalate counter-productive workplace conflict**. Some could say that the examples of players pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour over the last few weeks may have influenced the conflict we saw on Friday night. But does this deny responsibility? No.

    Each one of us, regardless of level in the organisation, has responsibility for creating an environment where we can be our most productive. Senior Management needs to lead the way through their behaviour and actions. HR needs to help in developing the framework so that there are clear boundaries as to what is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and what to do when things have moved beyond what is productive. Line Managers need to develop the skills to build trust in their people through open dialogue and proactive feedback that encourages collaboration and proactive sharing of ideas. Whilst each one of us has responsibility to take the time to understand our peers and work within the frameworks that have been set out for us to manage conflict effectively. When counterproductive conflict does occur, we each have responsibility to manage it immediately, respectively and consistently.

    And for those playing along at home – Carmen Mackrill, Della Einfeld and Patricia Hegarty are currently leading the Challenge Tipping Competition – who will take the coveted prize? No doubt the competitive spirit will heat up over the coming weeks, but with Senior Management leading the way, a clear framework for managing disputes, and open and transparent dialogue, our conflicts should be based on the task at hand, rather than counterproductive behaviours, because at the end of the day we have a Tipping Competition to win!

    Want to know how Challenge Consulting helps Line Managers build their Conflict Management Skills – Effective Supervision Workshop or how Challenge Consulting help teams proactively manage conflict – Team Building Workshops.

    How do you help manage counterproductive conflict in your team and organisation?

    Disclaimer: During the discussion forum we discussed that sometimes Workplace Conflict reaches a point that may need external mediation. For more information, please refer to our article on Workplace Bullying and the references listed.


    * When it’s not always black and white, Human Capital Magazine

    ** Hershcovis, Turner, Barling, Arnold, Dupre, Inness, LeBlanc, & Sivanathan (2007). Predicting Workplace Aggression: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Applied Psychology 92, 228–238.


  7. You want the best people to work for you, but why would they want to?

    August 23, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …______________________________

    So, you’re a company. 

    You want the best people to work for you. Really talented people, unique even, with experience and skills and personalities that will bring even greater success to you. 

    But why on earth would they want to work for you? 

    Do you know why? Can you articulate it? Does your company have a strong brand, an attractive brand? Do people perceive you as a leader in your industry? Are your existing teams filled with people who actively share their skills and knowledge and expertise for the betterment of the whole? 

    Understanding a candidate’s expectations of your company and its culture is critical from the very start. If a disconnect exists between a candidate’s expectations and the reality of the situation, it can quickly lead to problems with engagement, performance, and business productivity. The candidate needs to know what is expected of them as well as feel a sense of strong company culture that is not only clear but inviting. 

    So, how do you go about building and leveraging a positive talent brand? 

    Brands are a powerful combination of symbols, messages and beliefs about a product or employer. You need to think about your potential candidates like a marketer would think about their potential customers. Take a look at the current advertising your company conducts. How does it come across? What are the key messages being put out? Who are you trying to attract? 

    The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

    – Delivering the message clearly

    – Confirming your credibility

    – Connecting with your target prospects emotionally

    – Motivating the buyer

    – Concreting loyalty

    In terms of attracting the best performing people to work for your company, your branding is about getting them to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem, ie, working for an exceptional company, and industry leader, that satisfies their professional needs and provides an arena in which they can contribute their skills and talents, make an impact, and continue to learn and grow. 

    To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. As the thrust of this blog entry is about attracting high performing candidates to your company, our most recent online poll asked: “High Performance Employees: what is the #1 thing your organisation offers to attract them that works?” 

    The results were:

    #1 – Providing opportunities for continued learning, both formal and informal – 25.0%

    #2 – Having a confidence-inspiring company “brand” that ensures high-performing people want to work for you – 16.6%

    – Providing a leadership and mentoring program – 16.6%

    – Paying above-market rate salaries – 8.3%

    – Having a defined career progression plan in place – 6.2%

    – Being decisive and quick to make job offers so the high performers don’t go elsewhere – 4.1% 

    It is interesting that money was fourth in our respondents’ list of priorities. Perhaps this reflects the fact that it is a given that high performing people will be appropriately compensated for their contributions and competencies anyway, and that exceptional people are seeking more than just monetary reward? 

    Clearly working somewhere that has a gold-standard reputation as a top employer is very important, but a culture of continued learning is number one in people’s list of priorities when seeking employment opportunities, something for all organisations to bear in mind when formulating brand strategies and during recruitment exercises. 

    This week’s Challenge Consulting News features two articles on this topic – for your free subscription, click here


  8. What is the #1 thing that would make you feel truly welcome on your first day in a new job?

    August 16, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

    ______________________________

    One wit I know maintained that “having songs written and sung in my name” was a perfect introduction. Another suggested “a fruit basket”.  

    Lovely, apt even, if one is beginning work with a fruiterer, but perhaps not #1 on most people’s list of first-day expectations. 

    So, what was #1 in our online poll last week? 

    #1 = In-person introductions to your key colleagues, junior and senior – 32.7%

    #2 = Being assigned to a “buddy” for your first week while you learn the ropes – 24.5% 

    #3 = Feeling expected by your new workplace and colleagues when you arrive – 13.1% 

    =#4 = Having a desk, equipment and a computer ready for you – 9.8% / Immediate involvement in “real” work or a team project – 9.8%

    Nothing makes a new person feel more like part of a company than warm, personal welcomes from the people they’ll be working with and, perhaps more importantly, for. 

    “Make sure that the first day’s schedule is full of meeting people and onboarding activities. Schedule a good portion of the morning with the new employee’s boss and mentor. Don’t let the day go to waste and contain nothing but paperwork and HR meetings. The day is for bonding with the boss, the mentor, and coworkers.”* 

    After one week on the job, the employee should begin to feel comfortable with her responsibilities, have met at least one new business contact each day, be familiar with team members (inside her department and outside) and be able to walk into your office with any questions. Arrange an informal session of drinks, cake, or something similar with the other team members at the end of the week so the new hire can assess what she has learned, ask the group questions and hang out in a less formal setting. 

    And what of the notion of being assigned to a “buddy”, which came in at #2 in our online poll? What is a buddy? What do they do? And why can they make such a difference? 

    A buddy is an experienced employee who partners with a new employee to provide guidance and encouragement during a defined period, typically the first two to three months of employment.  A buddy helps reduce new employee uncertainty by being available to answer immediate or routine questions. They relate new employee information to actual situations, and can suggest experiences and provide information to help the new employee become an “insider.” 

    To be a buddy, an employee should know and be committed to their department or work area, understand the company’s culture, have good interpersonal skills, be a respected performer and role model, be a peer of the new employee, and want to help.  A buddy must also be given time to support the new employee. 

    Of course, the flip side of this equation is that it’s not just up to your new company and colleagues to ease you into your new role. You are a professional. You are there to do a job and you are getting paid money for it. So, it’s also up to you to make the best impression you can during your first days in a new job.

    Here are some top tips for all newbies (and, quite frankly, some of them can be applied even if you’ve been in your job for a while!): 

    Your First Days Working at a New Job: 20 Tips to Help You Make a Great Impression**

    1. Have a Positive Attitude: Nothing works better – in all situations – than having and expressing a positive attitude. Let your enthusiasm for being part of the team and the organisation show to everyone you interact with. And always leave non-work problems at home.

    2. Dress Professionally / Blend in With Co-Workers: You should never underestimate the importance of dressing professionally in your new job. And in the beginning, even if your department has casual days, you should dress professionally because you never know when you’ll be called out to meet a top manager or key client. “Dress how you want people to perceive you because it plays a huge role in how you are initially treated,” advises Desiree Devaney, a financial analyst with GE Capital Credit.

    3. Show Your Team Spirit: You are now part of a work team, and teams work together to solve problems and get the job done. Show loyalty to your co-workers and focus more – initially at least – on sharing any recognition you get with the team. Always give credit to the team.

    4. Learn Co-Workers’ Names Quickly: No one expects you to have everyone’s name down pat by the end of the first day or week, but if you are bad with names, now is the time to research some of the neat memory-aid tricks you can try to use. 

    5. Ask Questions/Ask for Help: No one expects you to solve all the organisation’s problems on your first days on the job – nor that you know everything – so, relax a bit, and always ask questions or ask for help when you need it. Remember that it’s better to ask before you’ve completed the task the wrong way and wasted all that time. 

    6. Take Notes / Go to Orientation: Unless you have a photographic memory – and few of us do – consider taking notes on all the various systems and rules of the organisation. And no matter how boring they may sound, attend all orientation sessions. Nothing gets old faster than someone repeatedly asking how something works; such behaviour shows a lack of attention to detail. 

    7. Be a Self-Starter; Take Initiative: In most situations, in your first days on the job, you will be given small doses of work – to let you get your feet wet. As you finish assignments and are ready to handle a bigger workload, take the initiative and ask for more assignments. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there waiting for your next project. 

    8. Discover Everything About Your New Employer: In theory, you should have already done your homework during the interviewing process, but there is always more to learn now that you are on the inside. “Get an employee handbook” exhorts a MBA grad with an information-technology concentration. “Don’t act or think you know more about everything than your peers.” In addition, gather all those reports and company literature and read up and become an expert on your organisation. 

    9. Work Full Days: There’s nothing that can affect your reputation faster than routinely coming into work late or leaving work early. Especially in these first days/weeks on the job, be sure you get to work early and leave no earlier than when the majority of your co-workers leave. 

    10. Establish a Good Attendance Record: Just as with working full days, it’s important to show up to work every day and establish a good attendance record. Yes, there will be emergencies, and yes, you may get sick, but as best you can, try to make it to work every day during those first weeks/months on the job.

    11. Avoid Office Politics and Gossip: As with any social organisation, the workplace is full of rumours and gossip. Your mission is to keep your nose clean of all of it – and be sure not to associate too often with the office gossips or risk having your image associated with them.

    12. Keep Personal Business on Company Time to a Minimum: Studies show that just about everyone conducts some amount of personal business on company time – checking email, making dinner reservations, buying stuff online. Your goal is to keep your personal business to a minimum and stay focused on work. 

    13. Take Advantage of After-Hours Activities: Many organisations have formal or informal after-hour activities, such as sports leagues. Get involved – even if only as a cheerleader – because these types of activities are great ways to bond with your co-workers. Do be on your best behaviour during these outside-work activities, though.

    14. Show Appreciation: Nothing works like kindness and genuine appreciation. So, show your appreciation to everyone who helps you learn the ropes during your first days on the job – from your co-workers to receptionists to the human resources folks. 

    15. Find a Mentor: You don’t need to jump on this task your first day, but as you get introduced to senior staff, begin thinking about developing a mentoring relationship with a member of management above you – and outside your department – in the organisation. Mentoring has numerous benefits, from a simple sounding board to someone who helps direct and advance your career within the organisation. 

    16. Get and Stay Organised / Set Goals: If you’re one of those super-organised people, this tip will be easy for you. The rest of us, however, need to develop a system for keeping track of meetings, appointments, assignments, and projects. Get an organiser or planner and keep on top of all your work. You certainly don’t want to miss an early key deadline or meeting. And as you look ahead, set goals for yourself s- and then strive to achieve them.

    17. Keep Your Boss Informed – of Everything: Your boss is not a mind-reader, so keep him/her informed of how you are doing. Especially in those early days, meet with your boss to further establish a rapport and relationship. 

    18. Meet and Network with Key People in Organisation & Profession: Join an organisation outside of work. Take additional classes to stay ahead in your field. Take advantage of every opportunity to network with key people in your organization and profession – attend staff meetings, professional organisation conferences, trade shows – every opportunity to meet colleagues in your field. Just because you have a new job does not mean you suspend your network; constantly manage and grow your network of contacts because you never know when a problem or opportunity will arise. And networking with key people can also help you in finding one or more mentors. 

    ______________________________

    * How to Welcome a New Employee 

    ** Your First Days Working at a New Job: 20 Tips to Help You Make a Great Impression


  9. Why Hiring a Temp Can Be the Best Business Decision

    July 19, 2011 by Jenna

    Last week’s blog post focused on the qualities and characteristics of top temps.

    This week, we continue with our temp theme, but from the perspective of companies and the various reasons the choice to use temporary staff makes good business sense for them. 

    “The number of temporary employees in Australia has grown dramatically over the last 20 years with just over 400,000 people currently employed on a temporary basis.” *

    Whilst a business may and should have a stable core team, there are many instances where additional staff members may be needed. A temporary employee can fulfil many objectives within a business. They can provide cover for absent employees, expertise and skills where there are gaps, project or leadership expertise if/when required and general flexibility for employers, who are cautious about making a permanent hire.

    We polled our client readership last week and asked: “What is happening in your business now that makes hiring a temp the best solution?”

    Results:

    #1 = Ad-hoc needs, eg: special projects, tenders, etc – 36%

    #2 = Seasonal workload increases – 27%

    Head-count constraints – 18%

    Inability to source suitable permanent staff – 9%

    Supporting flexible workplace planning practices – 9%

    As Jeff Doyle, Adecco Group CEO says, using temporary staff fosters great flexibility, and “enables companies to adjust their labour supply to meet the peaks and troughs of their business needs and it helps them access a range of specialist skills as and when required. In addition, companies use temporary labour to save costs”. **

    Hiring a temporary candidate can enable businesses to afford someone that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford to hire permanently. Temporary candidates are often highly qualified and experienced and they can add enormous value to a business in the short term.

     “Temporary employment is a strong favourite at the big end of town with all Top 200 ASX listed companies supplementing their workforce with temporary employees.” *** 

    Another major reason, though not one of the questions asked in our poll, that companies hire temps is the ‘risk reduction factor’ of a ‘temp-to-perm’ arrangement.

    This employment is very common, especially of those employers ‘cautious about making a permanent hire’ cited above, whether this caution stems from head-count or budgetary constraints, or a previous disappointing permanent hiring experience.

    Our Temporary Recruitment Consultant, Melissa Lombardo, asked Karli Scully, Macquarie Leasing’s Customer Service Supervisor, why hiring temporary staff works for her team’s needs: “So we can try before we buy … plus we don’t know what the volume of work will be in the future.” Risk-reduction and flexibility are both part of the equation here!

    In a temp-to-perm arrangement, a temporary contract is awarded as a trial to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role before hiring them permanently. On the whole, there is less risk involved in hiring a temporary worker. If they choose to hire an individual on an hourly or daily rate, they won’t lose out financially if the candidate suddenly decides to leave the business.

    So, how do businesses source their temporary workforce? Well, the “number one method of finding suitable staff for organisations of all sizes is through recruitment agencies”. **** If your business requires temporary staff members for any of the reasons discussed here, our 20+ years of temporary recruitment expertise is here to fulfil your needs. Learn more about our temporary staff services here. 

    [Sources: *, **, ***, **** from www.hcamag.com article “Demand for Temp Labour in Australia Explodes”]


  10. Performance Reviews: How Do You Make Them Work for You?

    June 21, 2011 by Jenna

    Our Guest Blogger this week is Challenge Consulting’s Organisational Psychologist Narelle Hess

    Challenge Consulting recently facilitated a discussion forum to explore the purpose, value, and practice of performance reviews with a group of Division Managers, Human Resources Managers, Executive Managers, and Business Owners. Our participants began with a view of performance reviews that was decidedly beige, consistent with our recent poll result (68% of respondents rated their performance appraisal as a waste of time), and Samuel Cuthbert’s famous slamming of the performance appraisal.

    So why are organisations implementing performance reviews? Our participants described many strategic aims of their annual process, including:

    • motivating employees and to help them grow professionally

    • developing individual goals to support organisational strategy

    • creating an organisational culture of high performance

    • helping employees understand their role

    • calculating bonuses

    • developing training and development plans

    • informing succession planning, and

    • predicting salary growth. 

    With such strategic aims of performance reviews, why are they still seen as a waste of time? Or as Fetzer (2008) put it so nicely – “a review is looked upon as onerous and bureaucratic procedure that wastes time because little, if any, productiveness is achieved during one. It is performed solely as a requirement of the organisation to have a box checked as ‘completed’ and then forgotten for another year.” *

    Can the performance review be resurrected to produce the strategic organisational aims it aspires to OR will it remain to be seen as a bureaucratic procedure that wastes time and causes demotivation and low productivity? The consensus across our group was that there was a place for a performance review, but it had to have a clear, measurable purpose, part of a larger performance management process (and not just a once a year check box), and add value at all levels. (Challenge Consulting can help with the implementation of strategic performance review process through our in-house professional development Performance Management Workshops.)

    But what about you? As you are about to enter performance review season and sit down with your manager – how can you ensure this process is not a waste of your time? Tiffany Whitby, Challenge Consulting Consultant, recently attended a seminar with Lois Frankel (author of “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” and associated publications) – where she recommended 6 weeks before your performance review to write a summary of your key achievements since your last review and email your manager saying something along the lines of “I know how busy you are and, since I have a performance review coming up, I have put together a list of my achievements since our last review”. (Tiffany will be sharing more of her insights from this seminar in next week’s blog post …)

    Last year, I had the opportunity to present at the “Reinvent Your Career Expo” on how to use your performance review to help your career. The performance review can be used as an opportunity to help you manage your career, when you actively participate in the performance review process:

    • there is higher consistency between your manager’s and your appraisal of your performance.**

    • you are more likely to feel like you have had an active voice and more satisfied with the outcome of your performance appraisal.***

    To be an active participant in the appraisal process, prepare for your meeting by considering:

    • your key achievements (i.e. feedback you received, KPIs you achieved, new processes that you developed / implemented, or awards you received etc.)

    • aspects of your role that you have performed best (i.e. tasks people always ask you for help with, tasks you finish fastest, or that you do without thinking about) – what projects would you like to be involved in the next period of time?

    • aspects of your role that you would like to do better (i.e. tasks you need help completing or tasks you tend to put off) – what could help you perform these aspects of your task better – tools / training / change in role?

    • What feedback do you want to give your manager to help you to be able to better perform your role?

    • Be involved in the goal setting / developmental plan process – what skills do you want to develop in your career?

    • Between reviews, bring out your record of your review to review your success towards the plan you made for yourself.

    _____________________ 

    * Fetzer, J. (2008). Building a professional career: Improving the performance review. Biological and Environmental Reference Materials (BERM 11).

    ** Williams, J. R. & Johnson, M. A. (2000), Self-Supervisor Agreement: The Influence of Feedback Seeking on the Relationship Between Self and Supervisor Ratings of Performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30: 275–292. 

    *** Cawley, B.D., Keeping, L. M. & Levy, P. E. (1998). Participation in the performance appraisal process and employee reactions: A meta-analytic review of field investigations. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 83(4), Aug 1998, 615-633.




SUBSCRIBE Join Our Mail List
Border Background