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  1. Talent Pools – Why should I join one?

    March 2, 2017 by scrowe

    In a world where there is growing competition for good staff, talent pools are a great way for companies to develop relationships with potential employees.  They are an important part of an organisation’s employer branding, providing an opportunity for direct two-way communication with potential employees.

    But why should a potential employee sign up?

    A good talent pool is a resource for candidates as well.  A good talent pool will provide information that enables members to get an understanding of what it might be like to work for the company or in the industry supported by the talent pool.  Apart from electronic communication they will often provide networking and educational events.  These opportunities enable members to meet peers as well as potential employers.

    If a candidate is thinking of a change in career direction joining a relevant and active talent pool will put you in touch with people who will be happy to discuss the pros and cons of your proposed new direction.  Through your membership of a talent pool you should be able to determine whether you have the skills and experience necessary to make the change without the pressure of applying for a job.  This also means that you will know where you have to focus your training and development if you want to pursue that change.

    You don’t have to be actively looking for a job to join a talent pool, in fact most members probably aren’t.

    In summary, the benefits of joining a talent pool include:

    • Understanding what skills and experience you need to be eligible for positions you are interested in.
    • Gaining a “feel” for the culture of potential employers
    • Building your network of people who are already working in the industry/job/company that you are interested in.

  2. Why you should take stock of your transferable skills

    October 18, 2016 by Alison Hill

    It was heartbreaking to read about the despair some workers felt when car makers closed down their factories earlier this month. Workers were on average 50 years old, had spent 20 years working for one company, and felt they did not have the skills to find work elsewhere.

    While it is true that manufacturing in Australia is in decline, everybody has transferable skills – those that are developed across the lifespan in both work and non-work settings. Being able to use those skills in a different setting can open up a host of job opportunities, but first you must identify them and value them as much as a prospective employer might.

    You definitely have transferable skills

    Doing any job involves many skills over and above those required to accomplish core tasks, and some skills are useful in almost every job.  Skills are different to attributes, and the good news is that you can learn and develop them. You may have acquired transferable skills by participating in the health and safety committee in your office, or by being a member of a social committee. Putting on a great Christmas party, for example, could help you into a career in events if you are able to connect the skills you learnt to an employer’s requirements.

    Outside of work, you may have played a sport, or belonged to a school or community organisation, or be involved in a hobby. These will have given you transferable skills that you can bring to the workplace in a new role. Anybody who has kids will know that being a parent teaches many skills, such as patience, perseverance, and negotiation, to name just three. A parent returning to the workforce can name these skills to increase their likelihood of success.

    Some things you might have learnt to do, such as fixing a computer or coding your own website, are technical skills, while others are ‘soft’ skills that will always be in demand, like the ability to communicate well, delegate tasks or resolve conflicts. Whether you have learnt these on the job in another workplace or in your non-working life, they are valuable skills that will give you the edge in any job application.

    Why transferable skills matter

    Your set of transferable skills will help you in different ways at different points in your career. When you are starting out, your time as netball captain or bass player in a band can show your prospective employer that you have good team skills and can co-operate with others. Your part-time job in a supermarket demonstrates that you know about customer service, and even the hours spent playing DOTA will have taught you about teamwork and cooperation.

    For those who are looking to change careers, transferable skills are crucial. Being able to research and analyse, for example, transfers well from an academic job to a range of roles in a commercial enterprise.

    Anybody re-entering the workforce after a break will need to call on their transferable skills as many occupation-based skills will have become obsolete. Even if all the organisation’s billing is now automated or outsourced, the ability to work magic with a spreadsheet still has a range of applications.

    What are your transferable skills?

    Take some time to make a list of your transferable skills and how they can be helpful to you in your future career. Do you know a second or a third language? That can be a huge advantage in today’s globalised workplace. Are you a writer in your spare time? Or are you really good at setting goals and motivating people in your running group?

    Once you have listed them, think about how you can use them. It may be to help you write a good resume, or to identify career opportunities you hadn’t considered. Your list might reveal gaps in your skills that you could address with a short course or on-the-job training.

    When you are applying for a job, the position description will contain a list of the skills the employer is looking for. Match your transferable skills to the requirements of the position, with a specific example. If, for instance, you co-ordinated the fete at your child’s school and you are applying for a role involving project management, link the skills you used to run the event with the requirements to be able to lead a team, communicate and manage risk. Use your cover letter to explain how your transferable skills match the requirements of the job description.

    Here are some of the most in-demand transferable skills. How many do you have?

    Interpersonal skills: relate well to others • motivates others • good at resolving conflict • team player

    Organisational skills: setting and meeting goals • time management • following up • meeting deadlines • planning

    Leadership skills: team building • delegating • innovative • motivating • decision-making • strategic thinking

    Communication skills: presentation • simplifying • writing and editing • persuading • teaching

    You can work at the skills you have and learn new ones, either by informal learning in your free time or with a mentor, or by enrolling in short courses, webinars and workplace learning programs.

    Managers can support their teams by encouraging and sponsoring members to take courses in areas that will both add to their transferable skills and make them more effective team members.

    Document what you learn and how it might transfer into a different role than the one you have now. And be ready to use your transferable skills in a new setting when the time is right.

  3. Measuring the quality of a hire: key metrics for hiring managers

    September 27, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Hiring is one of the most important thing team leaders do, yet few are trained and experienced in the hiring process. A good HR department will educate hiring managers about he importance of their role in the process and show them how to work together to recruit and retain the best people.

    Once a new hire is up and running, HR will ask the hiring manger to help assess the success of a new hire. It’s easy to know when you have hired the wrong person, but how to you know when you’ve hired the right one? And overall, how do you measure whether a hire is ‘successful’ or not?

    Clearly, it takes more than answering, ‘Is this position filled?’

    Hiring mangers must use the right recruiting metrics to understand where the process is succeeding and falling short. There are several measurements that can be used. The first step is for the organisation to agree what to measure.  Most often, performance and quality of hire are measured at six months and at 12 months from the time the person starts in the position.

    Here are some of the metrics you might be asked to use.

    Time to hire

    This is a measurement of how long it takes from the time a vacancy is advertised to the time the successful candidate starts – not acceptance of the offer, but until they are installed at their new desk. Companies with strong processes have faster hiring times than those who do not.

    Why it matters:
    As well as negatively impacting your productivity and revenue generation and possibly annoying your customers,  your competition will snap up great candidates if you are not prepared to move fast.

    Cost of hire

    Some costs, such as recruiters’ fees and advertising, are obvious and straightforward, but others are easily overlooked. How much time did the hiring manager take to interview candidates? Did they spend time in negotiation? Did they spend time on social media accounts in relation to the hire? Were there travel costs?

    Why it matters:
    Knowing the cost per hire helps to ensure that the organisation’s recruitment processes are feasible and match those of others in your industry, location and size of business.

    Retention rate

    How long do people stay at your organisation and in your team? The costs are not only those associated with the expenses associated with hiring a new person, but include loss of productivity when a person resigns or a position is open, and the costs of rehiring and retraining.

    Why it matters: The cost of replacing somebody is estimated at anywhere between 30 and 400 per cent of annual salary, so making sure you hire people who stick around is really important to the business and to your team.

    Time to productivity

    How long did it take the new hire to to get up to speed and be fully productive? How did this compare to their peers and to the person who had the role before them? Did they reach their performance targets within a reasonable time?

    Why it matters:
    Clearly there are financial and revenue implications, but this measure matters to the whole team and may reflect on the hiring manager too.

    Offer: acceptance ratio

    How many offers did you have to make before you filled the role? If the candidates you choose are not ultimately coming on board, you may have a problem. They might perceive that the organisation does not meets their expectations, or a competitor may have made a more attractive offer. Track where you lose candidates and find ways to improve those areas.

    Why it matters:
    If a candidate turns down your offer, you will have to begin the process again or choose a less preferred candidate.

    Engagement and satisfaction

    Is the hiring manager satisfied with the new hire at 6 moths and at 12 months? Did the new hire have a good experience of the recruitment process? Are they happy in their role?

    Why it matters:
    Measuring engagement and performance helps not only the new employee, it also lets you make improvements to your processes as needed. None of the other things you measure will be completely effective if your new hires are not satisfied with their experience.

    There are a number of other ways to measure hiring success and all the data that is gathered from them is helpful in different ways. The important thing is to use them to improve processes by translating the measurements into strategies for action to improve the quality of your hires and make the most of your resources.



  4. What companies with the best employee retention have in common

    July 19, 2016 by Alison Hill

    With competition for workers in many sectors fierce and the costs of recruiting and replacing good employees growing, it makes sense for organisations to put more effort into retention. Engagement and retention are one of the top concerns for 78% of today’s business leaders, according to Deloitte. Employee engagement solutions company TINYpulse researched what really drives attrition, and recently published their Employee Retention Report.

    The report surveyed 400 full-time employees in the US over two weeks in July 2015 and analysed the data. This is what the top performing organisations do to retain the best employees.

    1. They choose supervisors that respect employees’ work and ideas

    When employees feel managers respect their work and ideas they are 32% less likely to think about looking for a new job – strong support for the adage that employees don’t quit their job; they quit their boss. Additionally, employees reported that they would be 13% more likely to stay if they were satisfied with the organisation’s senior management team.

    TINYpulse reports that micromanagement has a big impact on team satisfaction. Those with freedom to choose how they do their jobs are satisfied and more likely to stay. But those who feel micromanaged will most likely be thinking about leaving – 28% more likely. That’s a lot of disengagement.

    The next biggest factor in the manager relationship is transparency – there is a very high link between setting clear goals for the team and communicating them clearly and retention – 30%, in fact. Showing respect and appreciation has measurable results when it comes to keeping great employees.

    1. They hire candidates who show positivity, innovation and productivity

    ‘Colleagues have a lot of power’, says TINYpulse. High levels of peer respect mean higher levels of retention, so paying attention to the hiring process is critical and hiring people who are great to work with and are a good fit is as important as their skills when deciding whether to make the offer. Those who did not feel respected by their peers were 10% less likely to see a long-term future with the organisation.

    1. They pay serious attention to workplace culture and hire for cultural fit

    TINYpulse’s research showed that workplace culture is not a fluffy issue. Where employees rated the culture of their workplace low, there were 15% more likely to think about leaving. Both the type of culture and how the individual fitted into it mattered, and having a bit of fun on the job, such as at office drinks, sporting events or team volunteering, makes a big difference, as does assigning new employees a mentor or peer buddy who is an ambassador for the workplace culture.

    1. They encourage employees to take their paid time off and don’t overload them with work

    This one was huge – ‘Employees that are tired and burnt out are 31% more likely to think about looking for a new job than their colleagues who feel comfortable with their workload’. The survey points out that burnout is preventable if managers understand its downsides, measure it and take efforts to eliminate it, such as by taking their own paid leave.

    1. They offer professional growth opportunities to everybody, not just young employees

    Those with access to professional development and skills training, either externally or internally, were 10% more likely to stay with their employer. Millennials were almost unanimous that they would consider changing employers if they did not see opportunities for professional growth with their current employer – a whopping 75% of them. The report points out, though, that the desire for opportunities for growth now applies across workforce generations.

    Asking employees where they see themselves in six months’ time, next year, in two years’ time, is not just a good conversation starter; it’s an essential part of a retention strategy. Listen carefully to the answer – and do something about it. If you won’t, a competitor will. Our blog will offer some great ideas about in-house and external skills and development training in the near future.

    No initiative – especially one to improve your retention – should begin without a measurement to see how your team feels about the issues, the TINYpulse research report points out. You need to know where you are now, to pinpoint the most troublesome areas that need your attention, and to know how you will measure your success.

    Challenge Consulting’s Employee Retention Optimiser has been developed to identify key retention issues and priorities for your organisation; guide improvement strategies at all levels and help you to implement them; and track and monitor improvements. Find out more at Challenge People Services




  5. Find the best candidates sooner by creating a winning job brief

    February 23, 2016 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    Last week we looked at how to write a job description that attracts the right candidates. Now we turn our attention to the next step in the recruitment process: creating a really good job brief for a recruiter.

    As a new hiring manager, in all likelihood nobody has ever told you how to brief a recruitment consultant. You call your organisation’s usual recruiter. “We need a new accounts receivable person fast. They should be experienced and good and also fit in with our team. How soon can you send me people to interview?”

    This isn’t going to bring you a stream of talented accounts people who are perfect for your team and who will go on to be valued employees of your organisation for years to come. Finding the perfect person for the role depends on having a detailed conversation with your consultant and using your well-crafted job description as the basis for answering their questions. “A thorough job brief should take anywhere from half an hour to an hour”, says Melissa Lombardo, Senior Consultant at Challenge Consulting. “Giving your time shows the recruiter that you are committed to the recruitment process and will work with them to find the right person”.

    Lombardo likes to meet with the client at their office to take a brief. Meeting with the consultant at your premises lets them see and feel the environment and workplace culture.  “This helps find a candidate who will be aligned with the culture and it also helps sell the job to the candidate”, she says. She also likes to meet with the incumbent. “If they’re good at what they do, who better to explain the role and give you on-the-ground information?

    Your job description forms the basis for your brief to the recruitment consultant. Remember that your job description includes:

    • A job title
    • The purpose of the role
    • Duties and responsibilities of the position
    • Skills and competencies needed
    • Reporting lines and critical working relationships
    • Salary and other working conditions

    It is more likely that the consultant can find you the perfect employee if you give them as much information as possible about the role and about your organisation. If you have created a good job description, you will already have the information to hand – or at least have considered it in detail.

    Why does a good job brief matter?

    “We need great information from clients to sell the role to the best candidates. Candidates will be interviewing the company to see if this is the right move for their career, as much as they are being interviewed to see if they are the right person for the team.”

    Jonathan Foxley, Recruitment Manager, Challenge Consulting


    Having a good brief shows us that the client is committed to filling the role and using us to help them do so. When a consultant has a detailed brief, they feel fully engaged by the client and will go the extra mile to find someone for them. A poor brief means a less enthusiastic consultant, and the role inevitably ends up further down the priority list for a busy consultant with a dozen roles to fill.”

    Step-by-step guide to giving a clear job brief

    1. Make sure your internal procedures are in order

    Make sure that all the internal sign-offs have been obtained, including HR, finance, management and anybody else who has to give approval before you move from job description to brief. It is frustrating for both the recruiter and the candidates to begin the process and then have to put it on hold or, worse, cancel it.

    1. Let the recruiter know what you have done already to fill the role

    If you have already advertised the position and not found a suitable candidate, or briefed another recruiter, let the consultant know. This helps them to adjust the search to attract the right people.

    1. Give enough detail

    Include every skill and qualification the candidate must have, and differentiate non-negotiable from nice-to-have skills. Answer all the consultant’s questions thoroughly.  Lombardo advises that you be ready to answer probing questions about the role. “What do you really mean by ‘flexible’? Do you require someone who can work out of normal hours, or do you mean you need a person who can take on a huge variety of duties?  If you ask for ‘advanced Excel skills’, be prepared to describe what you mean in detail. The consultant’s definition of ‘advanced’ may be different to yours”.

    1. Be ready to answer questions

    Know what the ideal candidate is like, their background and experience and their likely career progression in your organisation. Know why a candidate would join your organisation in preference to the one they work for now. If there’s something you can’t answer, ask your line manager. It could turn out to be the reason the person is not a good fit.

    1. Confirm a timeline for the hire and for interviews

    A clear timeline makes it easier for the recruiter to sell the role to the candidate and also makes you appear decisive and ready to hire. Knowing how urgent filling the role is and how quickly you are able to complete the hiring process is hugely helpful to the consultant. Being clear about timelines at the briefing stage will help you achieve a more collaborative working relationship with your recruiter.

    1. Describe what the person should achieve in the first few months of the job

    Briefing the recruiter about your expectations within given timeframes can help them to select candidates who can deliver in line with your team’s goals – perhaps finding candidates who have done so before.

    1. Describe what makes your team and your organisation special

    To attract the best candidates the recruiter needs to understand what differentiates your organisation and your team. If you have an excellent training program or more leave days than normal, tell your recruiter. They should know everything that sets you apart and makes yours a great place to work.


    What makes a good job brief?

    “A good brief allows me to better understand what’s truly required for the role. I can find suitable candidates sooner – a candidate who has relevant experience and/or transferable skills. It also allows me to sell and explain the role in detail to candidates, which will engage them from the start.”

    Melissa Lombardo, Senior Consultant, Challenge Consulting

  6. Manners maketh the meeting (so make sure yours are impeccable)

    December 15, 2015 by Alison Hill

    When I conducted my informal survey about what constitutes bad manners in the workplace, in-house meetings were the number one forum for transgressions. From smartphone use to eating, interrupting to surreptitious texting, the things we bring to the table – literally – in meetings had everybody up in arms.

    It makes sense. Meeting etiquette is an important piece in the productivity puzzle. We’ve all been in a nightmare meeting where people are interrupting, going off topic, texting and losing interest. It’s both annoying and time wasting. Good etiquette ensures not only that meetings run smoothly, but also that participants can share their ideas.

    The most important piece of good meeting etiquette is to be prepared, which we wrote about in our blog Team meetings that run perfectly: follow the 5 Ps.

    Smartphones: we’d love to banish them from the meeting room, but they are handy when you want to call up that email or refer to the notes from that meeting last month.  Rather than ban them, the rule could be that phones are in flight mode unless actively being used for the meeting. If the meeting runs for less than an hour, ask yourself if you really have to respond to that ‘urgent’ request right now. In longer meetings, wait until a break to check emails and messages.

    If you want to use a phone or tablet to take notes, ask if the chair of the meeting is okay with it. That way, other participants understand that your tapping isn’t you texting a mate or tweeting about the dull meeting you’re in (which of course you will never do).

    Another absolute no-no is scrolling through emails or checking your social media accounts or the sports scores. Don’t think that nobody notices. It’s distracting and disrespectful. The message you are sending is that the people in the room are not important. If you’re meeting with anybody who can influence your job or career, this is foolhardy; if you’re meeting clients, it’s potentially disastrous for your organisation – and ultimately for you.  Nothing will make you look less like team player.

    So what if you really are expecting an urgent call?  The best course of action is to let the meeting organiser know, and take the call outside the room

    Whether you are running the meeting or not, it can be tricky keep others on topic without seeming rude. The key is to make them feel valued. Instead of telling them they are off track, you could say something like: ‘That’s an important point and I’d like to discuss it, but I feel it’s not the topic of this meeting. Can you email me after the meeting?’ This lets the person know that their input is valuable, just not timely. If their input is in fact not valuable, the email conversation will be brief. If it is valuable, another meeting may be required. But this method ensures both meetings are highly focused and productive.

    Another thing that was mentioned was eating in a meeting. Unless it’s something prepared for a lunch meeting or your routine is to get out the office bikkie tin, don’t eat. Having a coffee is okay; tucking into a chilli chicken panini is distracting and off-putting to others. And if you have a coffee or use a plate, clean up after yourself and leave the room the way you found it.

    Finally, respect everybody’s time by sticking to your schedule. Don’t be the person who makes meetings run over time by reserving your questions for the end, just as the meeting is wrapping up. Learn to ask questions and make your contribution at the right time. Meetings that run over time clog up rooms that are needed for other meetings, and tie up people who may be required for other groups’ projects. And good manners are, after all, about considering others.

  7. Time Management 101: Recognise and eliminate your time wasters

    November 3, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    It seems we have never felt as swamped by our responsibilities, at work and at home, as we do now. There’s even a new noun for it: ‘overwhelm’.  We’re constantly being asked to do more, be more and have more. Twenty-first century technology contributes to the feeling that we are expected to be ‘always on’. But how much of this busyness really works for us?

    In November we are focusing on time management and productivity skills. The first step to controlling our time rather than being controlled by it is recognising our time wasters and working out a strategy to overcome them.

    Most of us are aware that we waste time on social media, are caught by the person who chatters too much in the office kitchen, attend multitudes of meetings with no clear purpose, and spend time on tasks that seem urgent or important at the time, but ultimately don’t make much impact.

    Here are some time wasters that may be familiar, and some ideas for managing them.

    1. Being controlled by technology. We could most likely legitimately spend the entire working day responding to emails, instant messaging and texts. Set aside a fixed time when you read and respond to emails – and stick to it. Let colleagues and clients know to contact you by phone if a matter is really urgent. Reciprocate by not copying in anybody who does not absolutely have to receive your emails. And keep them short. If what you have to say runs for more than a couple of paragraphs, edit it down to the essentials and create an attachment that contains the detail.
    2. Failing to prioritise tasks. Many of us spend huge amounts of time on tasks that don’t get us, our team our or company where we are focused on going. Create a to-do list, and rank the tasks with reference to company, team and individual goals. Then work systematically on the tasks with the highest impact. This can be tricky, so it’s worth checking in with your team leader that you are on the same page about goals and how best to align your efforts with them.
    3. Focusing on being busy, rather than being productive. This is related to failing to prioritise. We can answer every single email, attend loads of meetings and take copious notes, and format all our documents beautifully, but if our efforts are not focused on productive tasks they are not good use of our time. Concentrating on high-impact tasks and leaving the rest for a quieter period makes for good time-management. The upcoming holiday season, which in most organisations sees the pace slow down, is a good time for updating the filing system or rearranging the work space.
    4. Not delegating where possible. Many of us – especially those with a perfectionist streak – hang on to tasks that could be done by somebody else. This is particularly difficult for new managers. Empowering team members and trusting them to do the job is in the best interests of all of you. Be clear about what the task is and when it should be accomplished by. It may not be perfect the first time, but by empowering team members you are freeing up time for tasks only you can do.

    Over the next couple of weeks, try these strategies.
    Keep a note of the time you save and let us know
    how much more productive you are able to be.

  8. Work–life balance? I’ve forgotten what that is

    October 20, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    The average working Australian spends 50 hours a week at work – excluding the time we spend on our phones and laptops after hours.

    We’ve all heard about work-life balance, and we all think it’s a good idea. But very few of us report having struck the perfect balance between the time and attention we pay to work and to other aspects of our lives.

    Technology and the ‘always on’ world we live in make separating work and the rest of our lives increasingly difficult. We want to be connected, but perhaps not so much when we’re out to dinner, it’s 9 pm and those messages are from the project manager. But this is the reality for globalised enterprise.

    So what can we do to achieve better work-life balance?

    First, policies for mobile phones and other devices need to be clear and understood by all.  Employers and employees share a real concern that too much work will eventually be negative for even the most dedicated workaholic. The workplace needs a strategy for dealing with the intrusion of work into personal time via electronic devices. Agreeing times when employees are available and when they are not is an important first step.

    Other useful ways to keep the balance are:

    Take proper lunch breaks, at least a few days a week. Get out of the office and take a walk, go for a run or organise a team game with colleagues. The benefits of both exercise and sunshine on our mental health are well known.

    Set times away from work when you do not think or talk about it. If you find your mind drifting towards last week’s meeting or the latest targets, gently take your thoughts elsewhere. Engage in an activity that demands your full attention so that you don’t have the mind space for thoughts of work. Engaging a different aspect of your brain is an excellent de-stressor.

    Take holidays. Get away if you can, and if not, spend time at home with friends and family who have no connection to work. A week away can make an enormous difference to your energy levels and help you reconnect with what matters to you.

    Eat well and exercise. It seems obvious, but most of us don’t do enough of it. Regular meals, enough fruit and vegetables and less coffee, alcohol and fatty, sugary mid-afternoon pick-me-ups make us more resistant to stress.

    Do nothing. As well as working long hours, you may be trying to cram too much into your free time. Remember what it feels like to lie on the grass and look at the clouds, or to go for a walk to nowhere in particular.

    Say no. When you are already too busy, the urge to take on more seems irresistible. Recognise when you are becoming stressed, and skip the next thing. Identify people who can help you get things done, and ask them to help out.

    Negotiate time off to reward performance. When a team has put in many extra hours or has achieved a significant goal, an afternoon off tells employees their time is valued and their efforts are worthwhile.

    Try these strategies and see if you feel more balanced. Then let us know.

  9. Four simple ways to work better with attention deficit disorder

    October 13, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Dan Hartman

    ADHD/ADD is an attention deficit disorder characterised by impulsiveness, poor attention span, distractibility, restlessness and overactivity. It affects somewhere between five and 10 per cent of children, and symptoms usually become milder in adulthood. You almost definitely work with somebody with the disorder. I’ve developed strategies to manage my ADHD. In fact, I believe this ‘disorder’ has certain advantages, such as enhanced energy and creativity.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD relatively late, at the age of 17, although I displayed symptoms for many years. While I never had major behavioural issues, I’ve struggled with my attention in both the academic and professional areas. Although it manifests itself in the form of personality quirks and behavioural traits, it does not negatively affect my work.

    So what can you do to manage this condition at work? Here are four things that work for me.

    First, play to your strengths. I know that I am not well suited to detail-oriented work, so I stopped studying accounting at university. I work in sales, where I am constantly exposed to dynamic, novel scenarios. I talk to clients about unique challenges and learning new things every day. And for a person with ADD, these types of tasks are much easier to focus the attention on.

    Next, when I have to complete more static tasks like writing a business case, I use the Pomodoro Technique. This involves breaking work up into blocks of time – typically 25 minutes – and taking timed breaks of three to five minutes in between. Turn off notifications on computers or smartphones. The breaks can be used to check notifications, get a drink, have a chat, or perform any of the other activities the ADHD impulses are screaming out for. After four blocks, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. It is worth experimenting with different intervals of working time and break time in order to find what works best for you.

    Over the last year I’ve noticed significant improvement in the management of my ADHD by becoming more aware of my thoughts and when I am distracted. I developed this awareness through mindfulness meditation. Though initially I found the idea of meditation strange (I’m not some new-age hippie!), I discovered that mindfulness meditation is essentially a mind exercise and doesn’t involve any incense, humming or wearing of robes. Mindfulness meditation allows you to become a spectator to your thoughts, which is very important to someone whose mind is constantly racing and jumping from idea to idea. I found the Headspace app to be a great starting point for learning mindfulness.

    And finally, it helps to be in a supportive environment. What can managers do to help staff with ADHD? First, be compassionate. If someone on your team mentions their ADHD to you, it’s not just casual conversation. They have thought hard about whether to mention it at all, and most likely they want you to help manage it. They will be sensitive about the issue – traditional systems of education and employment may have put this person in some very challenging situations. At the same time, don’t be afraid to delve deeper and ask what you can do to help. It may be as simple as allowing them to use non-traditional working methods (like the Pomodoro Technique), or enabling a low-distraction workspace. Ask whether they’re comfortable sharing their diagnosis with others, then help facilitate whatever choice they make.

    Living with ADHD does not need to be difficult. In fact, it can be a welcome quirk on the path to a fulfilling life and a productive career. All it takes is to ‘know thyself’ and strategise accordingly.

    Dan Hartman is a salesperson working in the technology area who loves to write. You can read his story about coping with ADD here.

  10. How to reframe your purpose and create more satisfaction with job crafting

    September 29, 2015 by Alison Hill

    In our last post, we looked at how true job satisfaction may be more within your control than you think. We’re going to introduce you to a great practical tool to help anybody turn the job they have into one that offers more job satisfaction, and increased commitment to both the job and the employer.

    The term ‘job crafting’ was coined by Professor Jane Dutton and Dr Amy Wrzesniewski after a study they did with hospital workers, in which she found that janitors who saw their jobs as making a difference, and themselves as part of the healthcare team, were able to add something to their job that benefited the patients, the hospital and themselves. You can read about the background to job crafting here and here.

    Job crafting involves examining the tasks you do and where your energy at work is spent, and then rearranging them. Start by looking at three aspects of your self:

    Motives – what drives you?

    Strength – what do you do well?

    Passion – what do you really want to do?

    Then look at your job and the tasks you do now.  How much of your time does each task consume? How does that align with your motives, strengths and passions?

    Now see how you can rearrange to suit your motives, strengths and passions, in these three ways:

    By tasks. Can you change the tasks you do? This could be as simple as starting the day with a task you enjoy, or finding a faster way to do something you find boring. Can you realistically add extra tasks to your workload? Job crafting doesn’t mean not doing what you were hired to do!

    By relationships. Can you change your relationships with colleagues in a way that improves your work day?  This may involve collaborating more closely with existing colleagues or reaching out to others in the workplace, either socially or on work tasks.            

    By perception. This usually means seeing your job as a whole rather than a series of tasks. Like the hospital janitors in the study, see the larger purpose of your work; how your job or your product makes a difference.

    In reality, you will find that these are not entirely separate, and one form of job crafting can set off another form. For example, you may identify that your passion is social media, and your strength is building great user interfaces. You find three extra hours in your week to work on an app that allows staff to share success stories by means of captioned photos. To build it, you work with somebody from another team and an external developer, with whom you become friendly. Your satisfaction score soars, because you can see your job as connecting people and sharing exciting, motivating moments, rather than updating sales spreadsheets and reporting data. Task, relationship and perception have all changed to suit your perceptions. (And of course you first persuaded your manager that the three hours a week were aligned with her goal of implementing innovations in team communication.)

    The first and possibly the most important step in job crafting, though, is to make the time to step back and consider your motives, strengths and passions and how you can craft your job to suit them better.  After noting that over half of employees are not happy with what they do, Dutton and Wrzesniewski noted that, ‘Emphasizing enjoyment can boost efficiency by lowering turnover rates and jacking up productivity. Job crafting gives you the chance to turn this situation around.’

    Really, everybody wins.

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