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  1. Keeping motivated when you are a Leader

    May 19, 2015 by Jenna

    Leadership takes on many responsibilities; it can be very busy and even tiring at times and therefore motivation levels can fluctuate. However, in this role you need to be able to keep yourself motivated because in turn it keeps the rest of your team motivated and thriving in the business.

    It starts with keeping in check your own personal motivation – your passions, continuing to challenge yourself with various projects and remembering why you committed to these goals in the first place. What you are trying to achieve?

    Sometimes the quickest way to lose motivation or even exhaust your level of motivation is to spend all of your time and energy trying to motivate and please the needs of your team. The truth is motivation is personal and you cannot force it upon others. Instead, leading by example through your own motivations, you can inspire others to motivate themselves and drive them to perform better. It’s showing the way towards success.

    Methods for self-motivation can include:

    • Learning new skills – What is needed for your current role? Where can you obtain these skills? Is there anyone who you can consult with for direction or advice?

    • Taking appropriate leave breaks to relax & rejuvenate – Clearing your mind of distractions (and resting), taking the time to find out more about yourself or pursuing a personal goal or hobby.

    • Spending time developing a self-improvement plan and setting goals – Where do you see your role developing in line with your business goals? Where do you see your team going and what do you need to do to help guide them there?

    • Investing in courses and training that can lead to growth and development – Are there any conferences within your local area that are providing information on areas of development? Have you looked into local educational institutions and what courses they provide? Are there any online resources that you could review outside of business hours?

    Building your own motivation by developing our skills and abilities also provides the knowledge and insight to pass on to others. If others within your team are seeking your advice or direction, you can provide recommendations and information on what you have looked into previously, helping direct others toward their future success.

    Make sure to also keep following up on your personal progress and what motivates you, whether it is every month or six months. That way you can help keep your motivation levels consistent and on track.

    If you are currently in a leadership role, what motivates you? More importantly, in what ways do you keep your drive and motivation consistent?

  2. What to avoid during the job interview

    March 4, 2015 by Jenna

    When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

    1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

    To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

    2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

    3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

    4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

    If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

    5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

    6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

     7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

    8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

    What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?

  3. Feedback – It’s not a dirty word

    October 22, 2013 by Jenna

    Constructive feedback for most can be one of the hardest things to accept, I still struggle with it. Who wants to be told what we need to improve on? In an ideal world it would be great if we could be lavished with praise and be told what we want to hear, but how do we ever grow or gain further skills to accomplish what we want to achieve?

    Whether you are an individual or running a business you are going to receive some form of constructive feedback, and receiving it for the first time can be painful depending on how you perceive it.

    When I was younger I had this aspiration that I would work on cruise ships as a bartender. I had this image in my head of a job filled with fun, travel and luxury. So with very limited experience under my belt I applied for every cruise ship company I could find. No response. So I decided to complete a Cert IV in Hospitality, gain all of my qualifications and then try again. I started off working in ‘family’ restaurants and I soon realised I lacked any talent when it came to bartending.

    I was also made aware of the fact that my style of service was a bit more formal and suited a ‘fine dining’ atmosphere. When my manager would say that to me I didn’t know how to take it. Was I not good enough in my current role? Did I not fit the criteria that they needed? I was trying my hardest so why wasn’t I suitable?

    So what became of this?

    My teacher at TAFE had a connection to the HR Manager at the Hilton Hotel, I went for an interview with them twice and before I knew it I was working for their Event Operations team looking after a more ‘fine dining’ approach for their gala dinners and conferences. And I really enjoyed it. So in a sense, the feedback provided was correct, I just didn’t see it at the time.

    Constructive feedback can trigger a number of reactions, and you may be familiar with some of the ones below:

    • Hostility/Resistance/Denial—Employees attack your credibility and the facts in the review. Employees do not acknowledge the issue, deny that the incidents took place, or downplay the impact of their actions.
    • Indifference—Employees react to the feedback in an apathetic manner and do not fully commit to doing things differently.
    • Lack of Confidence/Self Pity—Employees are uncertain in their abilities to succeed or are risk-averse.
    • Responsibility Skirting—Employees may acknowledge the negative feedback but may play the ‘blame game,’ indirectly implying that they will not change.S
    • hock/Anger—Employees become angry and say things impulsively or react in an emotional way

    Now that I work at a recruitment company I get to experience first-hand how difficult it can be for consultants to relay constructive feedback to applicants that may not have made it to the second round of the interview process. It can be devastating to deliver that news to someone but it is also important that we provide this constructive feedback so that individuals can better prepare themselves in the future.

    When it comes to receiving constructive feedback there are some important steps you can take to fully understand what is being delivered to you so that you can get the best out of that experience:

    Listen carefully to what is being said to you.

    • Be sure that you understand the feedback. Summarise or restate the feedback for the other person to be sure there are no misunderstandings.
    • Take notes so you can review everything that was said at a later time.
    • Control your feelings and try not be defensive.
    • Ask for examples to clarify the feedback and put it into context.
    • Decide what to do with the feedback: listen and change; listen and gather more information; listen and ignore.
    • Consider your other experiences – have you been given similar feedback before? Does it fit a pattern? Is it time to change?
    • Check with others – did other people involved in the incident or project have the same feelings about your efforts?

    Listening was the first point as it can often be hard to do once your emotions set in or if you go into ‘defence mode’. This however, can save many misunderstandings and even teach you things about yourself that you didn’t even realise. You also need to show that you are open to receiving feedback as well. The includes body language and your attitude at the time, if you appear ‘closed’ then it will be harder for your manager or the person delivering the feedback to be open and honest with you. Trust me, it is really important to have people in your life that can deliver feedback openly and honestly to you, even if you find it difficult to accept at the time.

    And just remember, all of the managers and individuals that you look up to have at some stage received constructive feedback too. The important thing is what you make of it and where you let it take you.

  4. Do you choose a career for love or money?

    February 5, 2013 by Jenna

    This is the question that everyone stumbles at one time or another in their career. Do you take the risks associated with following your dream or settle for the job that pays the bills?

    What we often forget is that this is generally not a dichotomy – although we often want to start a dream career now – often moving into a new career can take time to achieve. And most of the time we need to start from the bottom of a new career before moving our way up to what we consider our dream.

    In their blog post, when is it OK to settle for less than your dream job? Beacon Coaching & Consulting outline:

    The Pays-the-Bills Job. We all need to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and many of us support families as well. This takes money, and unless you have an independent source of income, you may need to take a job that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy your career yearnings. There is no shame in this — in fact, it is quite honourable. And it need not derail your dreams permanently. You may be able to pursue your passion outside of working hours as a volunteer (which may lead eventually to being able to earn a living at it). Even if you never earn a living doing what you love, staying engaged in your passion allows you to continue to grow and develop personally. Continuing to work toward your dream can also help you to keep the ups and downs of a humdrum job in perspective. What you do for a living need not define you; instead, choose to define yourself in terms of your passion. One famous example is Wallace Stevens, who had a day job in the insurance business and wrote some of the 20th century’s most beautiful, challenging, and influential poetry.

    The Stepping-Stone or Bridge Job. If you don’t yet have the skills, experience, or contacts to get your dream job, you may need to take one or more intermediate steps to get from here to there. The classic example of the stepping stone job is working your way up from the mailroom. In this scenario an inexperienced but ambitious youth takes an entry-level job in order to learn and grow and move up the ranks to his or her dream job. However, and increasingly common tactic is the bridge job: when someone who is established in a career wishes to change careers and may need to build a bridge from one industry to another or from one role to another, or both. If the career transition is a big leap, you may be better off making changes incrementally, thus building the resume and contacts you need to move into the new industry or new role. (For example, a corporate lawyer who wants to be a literary agent may take a transitional job working as in-house counsel at a publishing house.) In either case, whether you are starting out at entry level or transitioning later in your career, you may find yourself in a job that doesn’t thrill you in order to build the resume that will get you the job you really want. Focus on how to make the most of the job you have: learn everything you can, develop a strong resume, and actively build your network.  And keep your eyes on the prize — the job you really want.

    The other thing to remember is that the job market is constantly changing. You may invest time in developing the skills, knowledge and experience to move into a new career only to realise that there is a low hiring period or an increased competitive landscape in that dream career area.

    But that of course does not mean you need to give up on your dream. Each of us throughout our career needs to use flexibility and creativity. Because it is through these chance experiences that we learn about ourselves, what we hate, what we love, and makes that dream career move all the more exciting when you make it happen. Of course life is not always set out in stone. It has moments of complete chaos and also spontaneity. And by making new decisions we can often find possibilities that make us happy that may not have been possible if we didn’t take that path when we reached that fork in the road.

    So what’s the answer? Love or money? Well it all depends on you. But you do need to pay the bills, you may need to take longer to get to the dream, but don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. And if you make a decision to go with a job you later regret, it’s only temporary; we all have the chance to make a better, different choice for our next career move. What will yours be?

  5. Happy New Year – Celebrating the successes of 2012 and look forward to what is to come in 2013!

    December 18, 2012 by Jenna

    Well another year has flown by and already it is the festive season once again. And as we move closer to the countdown to bring in another year, we can’t help but reflect on the past year and look forward to what is to come in the future.

    My year has been one of many changes, both professionally and personally.

    I started a career in a new industry, and I have since grown to become so fondly attached to the great group of colleagues in our office. I have learned a lot in this role and about the industry, not to mention the trends of social media. Our team has really evolved over that period of time and I am excited to see how our company will grow and progress in the future.

    I have personally achieved a number of physical goals this year. I traveled to New Zealand and completed a 100km walk for charity in just under 28 hours. And tomorrow I am heading off to take on a new walking challenge in Nepal. What seemed like a pipe dream only a year ago, the reality is now here, and with months of training, hiring gear and learning as much as I can about the destination, it is now time to take on the next challenge that will lead into an exhilarating start to 2013.

    So what has stood out for you this year?

    Did you achieve all that you had wanted to accomplish? Did you set realistic goals for the year?

    Well for those of you that didn’t get close enough to achieving your goals this year, the good news is a new year is fast approaching, so why not make the most of it!

    This month, we asked what you want most from 2013 and this is what you said:

    • 50% are looking for career advancement within your organisation
    • 30% are looking for a more successful work / life balance
    • 20% are looking for career advancement with another organisation

    So how are you going to make your goals a reality in 2013?

    For me, it is most important to set the goal and then work out the steps I need to reach that goal. But more importantly I needed to choose the right attitude to keep motivated. ‘Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.’

    If I did not choose to take the steps to follow a new career path, I would most likely be in the same place today as I was last year, without the knowledge and experience I have gained. Sometimes getting outside of that comfort zone is the best way to test how courageous and determined you really are.

    I can’t say I can look back on some of the challenges that I have conquered with any regrets. Can you? What are you looking forward to in 2013?

  6. How much does positive thinking influence your outcomes?

    October 25, 2011 by Jenna

    One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

    “The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

    Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 


    To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

    This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

    Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

    I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

    The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

    As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

    As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

    Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …


    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 …

  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

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