Empowering MORE Possibilities

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Business is all about changing and adapting to fluctuating markets and the whims of customers. We are no different. Over the years Chorus Executive has changed and adapted when necessary, finding new and innovative ways to empower our clients and candidates. We know that right now, is the right time to mix things up!

As a recruitment business we’ve always endeavoured to empower possibilities for clients and candidates through the hiring process. Creating powerful and profitable connections between great companies and top talent is what we do best. We’re passionate about our work and aren’t going to stop. In fact, we plan to do even more!

Through the recruitment process we have only been able to help the individual and a select group within the hiring organisation. We want to empower more people, help them find roles they love, doing work they’re passionate about and helping them create the career of their dreams. To do this we’re putting our Coaching and Branding services into overdrive, while we continue to connect employers and candidates through our recruitment service.

Coaching and Branding takes us outside of the recruitment process that we’ve been limited to. Allowing us to work with any and all individuals - not just jobseekers or hiring managers. We have the chance to build confidence in individuals before their job interview. We can work to motivate a new team leader or empower the manager taking on a big project. We are not confined by the process any more.

Our Coaching methodology focusses on understanding the key issues that restrict performance or impede career success.

For our Branding service we developed ‘RAISE,’ a methodology to help build the profile of leaders. This in turn drives employer branding, engagement and attracts new opportunities and talent.

Based on 5 key principals 'RAISE' includes:

  1. Research & Reflection – understanding the key attributes that will build your leaders unique profiles.
  2. Amplification – development of tools and processes to build and amplify your brand.
  3. Individual approach – we take a 1:1 approach as everyone’s brand is unique
  4. Strategy – we develop a customised content strategy and personalised content for each individual
  5. Embed - through education we embed behaviours that ensure individuals have the tools to continue building their own brand.

These services aren’t new to Chorus Executive. We know the market is now ready to embrace a company that is more than just a recruitment agency. And our results speak for themselves.

There are exciting times ahead as we grow these areas of the business. And while there may be more changes yet to come, we say bring it on, because can’t you imagine the possibilities?

Ready to be empowered? Contact Chris by email or (03) 9698 8700.

Leadership branding: where marketing meets human resources

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I began my career in marketing more years ago that I care to count. For 15 years I worked with amazing companies such as Hallmark Cards, Kraft Foods (now Mondelēz) and Simplot Australia, owner of brands such as Leggo’s, Edgell and John West.

I loved marketing. I loved building brands and working to develop emotional relationships between these brands and their consumers. I relished the creativity that is integral to the art of marketing. But despite this passion for my work – or perhaps because of it – I continued to nurture a burning desire to start my own business.

They say that the best ideas come from human need and, early on in my career, I noticed a gap in the market. My role at Simplot required me to manage recruitment and, to be frank, I hated it every minute of it! I couldn’t help feeling that the whole process was more difficult than it needed to be. It occurred to me that if sales and marketing people recruited for sales and marketing people, the recruitment process would be more intuitive, more efficient and better informed.

So that’s exactly what I set out to do. I left my job and started my first recruitment agency.

More than 17 years later, I have watched the recruitment industry undergo significant change. There have been many ups and downs over the years but I truly believe that now, more than ever before, I am in my ‘sweet spot’. The last few years have seen the development of the perfect climate in which to combine marketing and human resources. It is a time when leadership and employer branding are more critical to success than ever.

The more things change …

Of course, there are certain fundamental principles that will always underpin success in business. The following will always be true:

  1. Great talent is essential for any business to succeed.
  2. Great talent wants to work for inspiring leaders and strong businesses.
  3. Great talent is hard to find.
  4. A sense of fulfilment at work is not just a ‘nice-to-have’, it is critical to a sense of wellbeing generally.

So what’s new?

While the fundamentals might endure, the changes that have occurred in recruitment have far-reaching consequences. They have altered, and will continue to alter, how marketing and human resources relate to each other. Collaboration between these two disciplines is key to taking today’s organisations on to future success. The opportunity to work together in new ways – and the necessity of it ­– has resulted from the following changes:

  1. Technology now enables companies to have direct access to potential employees via LinkedIn, employment sites and talent communities.
  2. Social media now means that our reputations – including our own personal brands, our organisation’s employer brands and the brands of the product or services we provide – are public. The likes of TripAdvisor, Glassdoor, Google reviews, and LinkedIn endorsements and referrals all communicate to potential employers, suppliers and customers both our strengths and, potentially, our weaknesses. Nothing can remain hidden for long any more.
  3. Talented individuals – in particular, millennials – are more discerning than they used to be. They demand to work for inspiring leaders whose values align with their own.
  4. We are living in a globalised world and talented people are increasingly working across multiple countries and industries. This means that we can no longer afford to think of our profiles solely in terms of a single country or state, or even a single industry. It’s essential that our outlook becomes far broader in order to reach and attract strong talent.
  5. We are changing jobs more often. The most recent research indicates that millennials are now switching jobs roughly every 17 months and that employees today can expect to have six careers in their working life and more than 15 jobs.
  6. We expect more from our work. No longer is a job just a means to a paycheck – we now expect our employment to offer us a sense of purpose and achievement, as well as opportunities for professional development.

Why do you need a personal/leadership brand?

Given all these changes, it’s clear that today’s businesses have no choice but to think carefully about their branding in terms of talent attraction, or risk being left behind. Closer interaction between marketing and human resources enables an organisation to develop a reputation as an employer of choice in several ways:

  1. It’s a busy, noisy world out there. Without a strong profile, your business is apt to get lost among the rest. In order for great talent to find you, you need your branding to stand out from the crowd.
  2. To attract the best, you need to be the best. The strongest talent will naturally gravitate towards those organisations that have excellent reputations for inspiring and nurturing the development of their employees.
  3. Your suppliers and customers are also integral to your success. Your branding has to take into account the need to attract and retain these key players, just as it aims to catch and hold the interest of the best and brightest employees in your industry.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be in recruitment! And it’s a great time for businesses to reassess their branding and their standing to ensure they’re well placed to make their mark in this new landscape of talent attraction and retention.   

We'd love to help you navigate this new landscape. Contact me by email or on (03) 9698 8700 and we can get started!

Christine Khor and the harmony with people

If playing various roles in society is like directing an orchestra, then Chorus Executive Managing Director and Peeplcoach.com Co-Founder Christine Khor is the conductor. She leads two businesses, chairs the Victorian Development Board of The Hunger Project, and takes care of her family. It’s a tough call for a woman like Christine, but she’s dancing to the music that she has created.

Her decision of taking the entrepreneurial path stemmed from her genuine interest in people and in creating harmony with her clients and the candidates, as she matches people with positions in companies, and coaches them in growing their careers.

That desire to know more about the behaviours of people led Christine to take a degree in psychology and criminology. But it wasn’t her first choice. “I am Chinese. And like every good Chinese person, I was supposed to go into either law or medicine. But I didn’t get the marks to do either of those things. I ended up getting an arts degree at Melbourne University. The closest thing to being a doctor I guess was psychology. I’ve always been interested in people, how people think, what excites people, and motivates them. I think that’s the essence of who I am and what interests me.” That interest and her early introduction to business blended well and provided her with a good foundation for her ventures.

Her parents were immigrants and had always been in business. They had restaurants, a nursing agency, and a supermarket, not to mention that they also bought and sold properties. Hence, Christine was exposed to the business world since she was six years old. At a young age, she witnessed first-hand how people make decisions, push themselves out of their comfort zones, make mistakes, and learn from them. After school, she would help her parents in the restaurant and the supermarket. “I saw how hard it was to make money. But I also saw the pleasure of seeing something grow,” Christine recalled.

Before she embarked on entrepreneurship, Christine first worked for a few companies as a marketing person. Finding the right people for the role was a bit of a difficulty, and she realised how much easier it would be if those who understood marketing and sales would be the ones to recruit for those roles. That insight inspired her to leave her job and start her own business of recruiting potential candidates for marketing positions. It grew substantially, and the opportunity to expand the venture through a merger was too good for Christine to pass. Through a collaboration with another business, their staff grew and had offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

However, she found that bigger does not necessarily mean better. Due to misalignment of values, she went on a demerger and worked on her own. “It’s not that anybody else is wrong or that I’m right. It’s just that it was different,” she clarified. It was tough for everyone involved, particularly for Christine. But the good thing out of that situation was that it gave birth to Chorus Executive.

“My son was very funny. He said to me, ‘Oh, Mum! The chorus! That’s the best part of a song.’ So, there are some reasons why we created that name,” Christine explained as she talked about how she came up with the brand Chorus Executive. Her business keeps the stakeholders in sync with each other.

Still, that interesting journey brought her tons of lessons. Sometimes, she had to hit some wrong notes to find the perfect melody as there were a few bumps she had to go through while starting it out. “I think the first thing that was very difficult was that no one knew me and no one cared,” she quipped. The transition from corporate to entrepreneurship proved to be a huge change of environment that required several adjustments. From a large corporate budget, Christine had to contend with whatever money she has saved up. Nonetheless, she managed to put the proper platform in place at the beginning of her business. From working for a company with a huge staff base to suddenly running her business with only a handful of people was a bit trying as well. As an extrovert, she draws energy from people around her. Finding herself alone in her new environment also took a toll on her at certain times.

“It was a humbling experience. But it was also enriching because it showed me that I have the skills, the drive, and the resilience to do it on my own,” Christine pointed out. While she gets her highs from people, they are as well the reasons for the lows. “If there’s anything I’m going to say about my key learning, it is to be very careful with the people you go into business. Whether it’s a partner, an employee or a supplier, values count. If you are going into partnership, you should take it as seriously as getting married,” the lady entrepreneur shared.

Another mishap she encountered early on her journey was getting embezzled by one of their first employees. Not only was the trust broken, but the incident also impacted their confidence in themselves and the cash flow of the business.

Many people would think how lucky or fun it is to be an entrepreneur. But behind the position, there are loads of work to do to keep a business running. “It’s scary a lot of times. As an entrepreneur, you’re managing cash flow. You’re managing revenue. You’re managing people’s lives. If you’ve got a team, you’re responsible,” Christine remarked. It involved making sure money is there so that her staff can feed their families and children. Although it’s true that she gets to do what she loves to do, she also has to deal with the tax office, IT glitches, and staff problems. Moreover, she may not have any boss above her, but her customers are her bosses. Pleasing the customers entailed more pressure as compared to answering to a boss, who may provide more leeway to an employee, unlike a customer would to an establishment he patronises.

For every hardship, Christine sees an opening to rise above the situation. “The upside of it is that you’re creating what you’re doing. You’re building something, and for me, it’s quite often from scratch. You’re doing it in a way that suits you. It’s the empowerment and autonomy to create your destiny,” she cited.

As she has recently started doing CrossFit, Christine likens the entrepreneurial journey to doing physical exercises. The activities may cause a strain on the body, but the satisfaction is enormous. Along with it are the wonderful results afterwards. “I’m 50 years old, and I’ve started lifting weights. It’s hard to do. You’re sweating, it’s sore, it’s hurting, and you can’t breathe. But you leave there saying, ‘I feel pretty good about this. Look what I did. I squatted 49 kilos or lifted 60 kilos. I’m proud of myself.’ And it doesn’t matter that someone else lifted 100 kilos because for me, every day I’m better. Yesterday, it was 50 kilos. Tomorrow would be 51, and the next would be 52. So, every day I can do it a little bit better. I think about it sometimes like entrepreneurship. It’s hard work,” she said.

Despite the challenges of owning businesses, Christine is fortunate to have friends, staff, a family and a husband that are very supportive of her passion. Although she can’t think of a single person who has guided her on her journey, she has a particular sector in society that has inspired her a great deal. “I take a lot of experience from other people. I think some of the people that I’ve taken a lot from are single moms because those that I’ve worked with are the most amazing, resilient, caring, optimistic people that can juggle to make things happen with very, very little. So, they weren’t only teaching me about business strategy. They were also teaching me about resilience, optimism, creative thinking, seeing things through a different lens, asking for help when needed, those sorts of things.”

She also looks on friends who are entrepreneurs themselves. Two years ago, she joined EO, which has given her tools that she could apply in her endeavours. “What I’ve learned is that entrepreneurs need to show humility and vulnerability and ask for help at that 5% mark. I’ve learned that every business is different, but the essence of the person is the same, such as the drive behind the person. I’ve realised the importance of getting the right team and the right structures in place. Also, as entrepreneurs, we can be the same people that can hold back our businesses because of our behaviours and mindset around what we expect from our teams and employees,” she disclosed. She also picked some functional lessons from the various activities she has attended in EO.

“Entrepreneurs are driven by a cause. They want to be successful. But it’s not about the money. It’s more about wanting to make something, build something, and create something. Entrepreneurs don’t give up. They’re people that get down, get up, get down, get up,” Christine stated.

With the drive and persistence entrepreneurs have, she also injects those qualities in other endeavours she’s involved with like the global organisation, The Hunger Project. Deeming herself blessed with good education and opportunities, which differentiates her from women in Uganda, Christine is bent on a mission of sharing what she has with the world. “It’s just not fair that I have too much food and too much of everything while 25,000 people are dying each day from starvation. That is not okay for me. So, I got involved with the Hunger Project. Our mandate is to end world hunger by 2030.”

Her commitment to helping a charity is rooted in her deep passion and interest in people and the values surrounding them. With all the hardships she has gone through, she hopes to pass along these values and learnings to her children. However, she wants to do things differently from how she grew up taking things too seriously and stressing over the security of her family. “I don’t want my sons to be too driven that they become stressed. Stress is the number one killer. I don’t want my children to be like that. I want my children to have integrity, to try hard, and to do their best. Then when they have done their best, to congratulate themselves on that,” she imparts.

With that in mind, Christine is taking a different tack on how she is approaching life. So as not to put too much pressure on herself, she is excluding her big goals this year. Her thing at the moment is to be better today than yesterday, opening her mind to more opportunities. She still sees herself very much involved in her businesses several years forward, but more in Peeplcoach than in Chorus Executive. She will still be active in The Hunger Project, and still do yoga and CrossFit to keep herself healthy.

Indeed, this dynamic entrepreneur needs all the energy she can get because she is always on the go. As of the time of this interview, Christine was preparing to face 400 people at Telstra to talk about the role of confidence and personal brand. She loves public speaking, and she’s passionate about it. “Everything that I do is about getting to the heart of people, educating and empowering people, and helping people,” Christine remarked. As she found her beat in the business space, she’s happy to give others a voice in the chorale of life through opportunities that can help them blossom and be in harmony with society. Her optimism, resilience and spirit to keep going are the instruments that bring soul to the rhythm of her entrepreneurial journey.

This article was originally published on the EO Melbourne blog http://eomelbourne.com/2018/05/02/christine-khor-and-the-harmony-with-people as part of a larger series sharing EO member stories. This content has been reprinted here with permission.”

"Mum, you are repugnant!"

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Yes, you read that right. On the way to school the other day, my beautiful 10-year-old son innocently says to me, “You are a great mum, you are repugnant.”

What?!

A few weeks earlier I had read an article about parenting. The basic gist of the article was that our job as parents is to make ourselves REDUNDANT, not REPUGNANT. I had told the boys about this and obviously, my youngest remembered the concept, even though he couldn’t quite remember the word.

So, what does being made redundant really mean when it comes to parenting? It means we have taught and coached our children to the point where they don’t need us anymore. They are independent, they are resilient and they feel comfortable making their own decisions and choices. To do this successfully we have to learn patience. We have to accept that they will take longer and make more mess when they make their lunch for the first time.  We have to let them learn the lesson the hard way when they forget to take their sports gear to school or forget to submit that homework. 

As a time poor, working mum, trying to do my best, it is hard to wait for them to get things done when I can do it much better and much faster. But how does this help me, or them in the future? Without teaching and empowering them to be independent, they will never be able to make their own lunch, pack their own bag or do their own washing. 

This has prompted me to think about our roles as leaders and managers. Isn’t our role as leaders also to make ourselves redundant? Even though we might know more and be quicker, our role is to allow our teams to learn. As we develop our careers and skills everyone needs the opportunity to try and learn new things and to make mistakes, after all, don’t we learn more from our mistakes.

Business is competitive and complex, and we are all time poor, but we cannot allow our need to get the job done to impact our role as great leaders. Making yourself redundant takes time, patience and giving people the right amount of opportunities and sometimes rope to make mistakes and learn from them. 

And it is a great chance for all those time-poor parents out there to get a little time back. Seize the moment and have your kids clean their own room, do their own laundry and make their own lunch. Become a redundant parent and manager… not a repugnant one.

The Power of Failure and the Power of the Pivot

There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” - Elon Musk

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The recruitment world is one driven by high-achievement and competition, much like NASA in the quote above, failure isn’t an option. Those who fail, often don’t survive in the cutthroat environment that is business today. However, this is starting to change. Technology companies, like Elon Musk’s and the plethora of start-ups that thrive on innovation and experimentation, not only accept failure but celebrate it.

As a small business owner, I would have told you that I know all about failing. Anyone is business knows that business is volatile. There are ups and downs, the environment changes, competitors become more aggressive and consumers more discerning and demanding. For small businesses these fluctuations can be even more disruptive and damaging. However, the benefits and power that comes from failing have only truly become apparent as I worked on a startup.

Over the last 2 years, in addition to my role as Managing Director at Chorus Executive, I’ve been working on a startup – www.peeplmatch.com.  My goal in recruitment has always been to help people find their dream jobs and careers so that they can help businesses be successful.   We all know that great businesses are built by great people who are passionate and aligned to what they are doing.

We created www.peeplmatch.com as a recruitment-matching platform that matched candidates based on values, goals and motivations as well as skills.  I have always believed, and research has proved it, that skill without will is useless.  That is, to be successful and productive in a role it takes more than knowing what to do. To be truly successful it takes passionate, motivation and a real commitment to the role.

Well, my passion, my motivation and my commitment didn’t fail me, but my idea did.  We couldn’t get it to work.  All our research groups told us it would. Employers loved the idea and potential candidates loved the process, but it didn’t work in practice.  Nobody bought our service.  (Violin music please)

I then had 3 choices – give up, keep going or pivot. Of course, I pivoted.

My vision has always been clear – to inspire people and help them find the careers and jobs that they will love.  I just had to find another way.

Six months later, with a lot of hard work, a few tears, a lot of soul searching and sleepless nights we have launched www.peeplcoach.com

www.peeplcoach.com – is an online career coaching program that boosts individuals career health and well-being.   Via our interface we coach employees – face to face, via live chat and through interactive and at times, challenging exercises to help individuals understand and then find their dream job.

www.peeplcoach.com is targeted to both organisations who want to provide true career assistance and succession planning to their employees as well as to individuals what want to take control of their own careers. 

Why would organisations want to help employees with their careers you might ask? Because, believe it or not, may individuals actually want to stay in their current organisations but not in their current role. Everyone wants growth and challenge and opportunity, unfortunately too many of us believe that the only way to get this is to get out.  www.peeplcoach.com helps employees see that this is not always the case and that they can build their career within the organisation.  Of course, for some it may be time to go.  This give the employee a chance to shine and the organisation the opportunity to find someone who really wants to be there. Win-win for all.

We have all read the statistics that 95% of all start-ups fail. PLEASE help me be one of the 5% of startups who succeed.  Failure isn’t always failure, sometimes it is just the precursor to amazing success.

By being part of this trial, you will not only be helping me, but also improving the career health and well being of your team as well as your long-term bottom line.

If you are interested in being part of our Beta Trial, please contact me or register online.

Overcoming Bias to Create a Powerful & Happy Team

Today celebrate International Women’s Day, a day we reflect on how far we’ve come and what we need to do to reach equality. Gender bias is still a huge issue in business, even after the all the progress that has been made. However, if you ask most people they would claim they don’t see gender, that it doesn’t affect their decision making. When hiring, promoting, assigning projects… gender plays no role. If only this were true. Welcome to unconscious bias! We all have them, and they are affecting our choices and not just about gender. 

It is a proven fact that diverse teams make for better business. Racially diverse teams out perform others by 35%, companies with more women on their boards see a 42% higher return on sales, diversity reduces employee turnover and the costs related to this and a diverse team breeds innovation and creativity. Being able to overcome biases isn’t just the right thing to do it is also the smart thing to do for your business. 

Affinity, conformity, beauty, gender, race, sexuality, religion biases are informed by your own background, history, experiences, stereotypes and the environment/culture you live in. Do they look like you, have the same ideas as you or the rest of your team, are they attractive… these are the thoughts that are informing your choices and when it comes to building a happy and powerful team it just can’t happen. 

So how do you overcome biases that are affecting your judgement without you even knowing about it? Of course, many organisations are looking These are some tips that you can apply to interview potential candidates, assessing promotion opportunities and even when making decisions about who to give a project to. 

  • Be aware of your own biases 

Learning and understanding what your own unconscious biases are is the first step to overcoming them.  

  • Diversify the interview panel 

Have a mix of ages, genders and opinions on the panel. If everyone thinks the same way then they will look for others who also think that way or look that way. If  

  • Incorporate blind applications into the process 

Remove gender, race and age from the mix by asking for blind applications. This only works for the initial application, but you will find that you get a more diverse shortlist if you can’t see their names and age.  

  • Standardise processes 

Interviews, applications, promotions… Having a standardised approach to questions, tasks and assessment criteria will help keep your biases in check. So often free-wheeling leads to choices bases on who you like more and that is usually determined by those pesky biases that you don’t realise are at work. 

  • Set a task 

Whether it is for a promotion, a project or a job set a task for applicants to perform so that you can make decisions based on the outcome of that task rather than the person completing it. 

Unconscious bias doesn’t just affect businesses and teams. Each of us takes these biases into our lives away from the office… our friendship groups, networking groups, family and can extend to our children’s lives. Obviously, the tips above can’t help you interview new friends… blind applications just aren’t possible… but you can take some time to look at yourself and how your unconscious bias affects your choices. Being aware that you are biased and trying to eliminate these biases from your decision making is a great goal to strive towards.  

So, today as we celebrate International Women’s Day, perhaps it is a chance to not just renew a commitment to gender equality but also to equality and diversity across the board. Opening your organisation, your team, your life to a wider group of people invites change, innovation and creativity that can only strengthen your organisation or team and enrich your life. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover

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What do you think when you see me? What are the first things that pop into your mind? Asian – she’s probably an accountant. Wears glasses so she must be smart. She’s with her kids I bet she’s a tiger mum. She’s married, her husband’s probably Asian too. Whether you are looking at a photo of me on social media, watching me interviewed or just passing me on the street you are forming opinions and impressions, right and wrong about me.

Yes, I am Asian, Chinese Australian actually, and I am married with kids. However, I am not an accountant or even “book” smart, I am business smart and a businesswoman. My husband is as Australian as they get, and I am not a tiger mum, at least I’d like to think I am not.

We all pass judgement based on first impressions and stereotypes. We all judge books by their covers. We all do it, no matter how much we would like to believe we don’t!

The interviewer running late for the interview… is disorganized.

The interviewee dressed too casually… doesn’t care.

The career woman without kids.... is cold and ambitious.

The overweight colleague having another doughnut… should be eating better.

The swearing colleague… is a bogan.

The girl in the short skirt...

The woman in a hijab…

The Asian woman…

The African man… it can go on and on and unfortunately so often does.

We are all guilty, every single one of us. Sometimes we pass these judgements with our knowledge, sometimes without. Sometimes we can fight against them, other times we are not even aware.

So how do we succeed in a world when a first impression is made in 7 seconds, but we have so little control over how people judge us? How to we get beyond the bias and stereotypes?

Stop holding yourself to the stereotypes

I have a friend whose partner is half Japanese; he often refers to himself as a bad Asian and he is only half joking. He ended up with an Australian girl which his mother hates, didn’t become a doctor or lawyer or engineer which are the appropriate Asian professions and even failed as a piano player and violin player at age 8. He holds himself to the stereotypes by which others judge him. He isn’t alone, I do it, and my friends do it and I am sure as you are reading this, you are realising you do it to.

If you don’t want others to judge you the first step is to stop judging yourself.

Be aware of the judgements you make

Practice self-awareness. Stop yourself when your internal monologue passes judgement. Pause and think of something positive about the person in front of you… instead of the interviewer being disorganised for being late… they’re busy and need help, so I can really make a difference here.

Online matters

We so often think that the impressions that matter are those we make in person. In a world that runs on social media and digital it’s the opposite. What people see about you online matters just as much as in person. In the recruitment game it matters more because if your online presence and digital persona (in the form of a CV and LinkedIn profile) doesn’t make an impression, the chance of a face-to-face meeting is slim. Put your best foot forward and invest time in getting your online profile and CV up to scratch, even if you aren’t looking at changing jobs.

Remember first impressions count but shouldn’t count for everything

Yes, first impressions count but holding people to snap impressions and judgements, often based on looks, is incredibly unfair. Not only are you doing them a disservice you are also potentially missing out on a great person. Whether it is for your team, organisation, as a colleague or friend – don’t hold yourself to your first impressions.

Last and by no means least, be kind. Plato said, “Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” It is good to bear this in mind. Judgements and stereotypes always slant towards the negative and can often fall into the category of downright nasty. So, approach your interactions with integrity and kindness because none of us know the story in each of those books we judge.

Need help getting your professional first impression right? Our coaching and personal branding services are here to help you put your best foot forward. Click here for more information.

The Rise & Fall of the Superchicken

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Are you a superchicken? Are you a member of a superflock? Someone recently sent me a link to a 2015 TED Talk by Margaret Heffernan… it was about SUPERCHICKENS! What is a superchicken you ask? Here is the short version:

Like most managers and companies, evolutionary biologist William Muir was interested in productivity. His studies were focused on chickens. In his experiment, he selected an average group of chickens and left them alone for six generations. From this group he selected the highest producing chickens “the superchickens” to create a superflock. Each generation he would choose only the superchickens to breed. After another 6 generations he found that the “average” group, the first group, was flourishing and egg production had increased. The superflock however had diminished to 3, all the others had been pecked to death.

Does this sound familiar? Do you work in an environment like this? Are you a superchicken stepping on top of others to succeed or are you being pecked to death?

Heffernan discusses how the “superchicken model” has been used to build teams, organisations and even societies for the last 50 years. By selecting superstars and putting them into a team together we thought we could succeed because these superstars would encourage, inspire and drive each other to be even greater, to shine brighter. We were wrong.

Look, I’m the first to say, “a little bit of competition is healthy.” I’m a competitive person. In the recruitment world it is not only encouraged it is essential. However, studies have proven that not only does the superchicken theory not work, it provides results counter to those desired. The time of the superchicken has come to an end.

Heffernan sites a MIT study that found that the groups that worked best together exhibited the following three things:

  • Social sensitivity (empathy) towards each other
  • Everyone had and gave equal time and contribution
  • There were more women in the successful groups than in the groups that failed

So, what does this mean in the real world, outside of an experiment? What do we need to encourage, build and implement to create teams that work well together and deliver success for an organisation?

1. Support & Safety

n environment where everyone feels connected will foster a safe and supportive environment. As Heffernan mentions social capital compounds so encouraging a social connectedness within your team will allow a free and open flow of ideas and communication. An environment where people not only ask for help but are encouraged to do so to find the best solution and create a great outcome.

2. Equity and equality

We all want to be heard, contribute and feel valued. It’s part of being human. A team where everyone’s voice is equal where no one is more important than anyone else will not only deliver these things but also deliver great ideas. As Heffernan said, “Companies don’t have ideas, people do.” With no superchickens, pecking everyone else into submission a team can encourage and support each other’s contributions, have great ideas and refine them as a team.

3. Diversity

Yes, more women! Studies have shown time and time again that having a gender balance leads to better results for an organisation. But it isn’t just about gender. It's also diversity of age, race, religion and sexuality. Diversity provides a variety of perspectives, ideas and opinions. Establishing a diversity program that creates teams that are more than just one thing will help build success.

Instead of fueling competition which can lead to conflict, we need to start focusing on teams that will work well together, teams that are connected and empowered. People who work well together and can work as a team will deliver results for an organisation.

The rise of the superchicken has come to an end, long live the average chicken!

Here is Margaret Heffernan's TED Talk. 

Purchasing for purpose

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The 2016 Nielsen Australian Millennials Report revealed that Millennials were worth 7% of the Australian retail market. In the US alone, Millennials will spend close to $200 billion this year. With buying power like this, developing consumer loyalty is essential for success. So how do you do this?

Purchasing for profit... 93% of Millennials prefer to buy brands known for giving back to the community. Purchases are made based on the brands' support of charities and causes - be they social, environmental or political. Millennials put their money where their beliefs are. Brands and organisations need to do the same to ensure they can attract Millennial money.

There are so many ways to give back. Some organisations have their own foundation like the Cotton On Foundation. Brands like Decjuba are creating and selling products for a cause. Decjuba sells t-shirts and clutches to support The Hunger Project Australia. Smaller organisations are also following suit. Florist Miei Fiori donates 100% of their net profits from every bunch of flowers. Giving back is no longer a trend, it is a way of doing business. Retail brands are now seeing the power and the profit that purchasing for a purpose can give them.

The creation of organisations like i=Change make it even easier for retailers to partner with charities. Founder, Jeremy Meltzer created i=Change as a tool to helps online retailers turn their brands into a force for good. “We built i=Change to create a new & sustainable funding stream for extraordinary NGO projects, focused on women & girls’ development. We’ve done this by re-imagining for retail a uniquely simple, powerful & transparent way to give back.”

Online customers for brands like Camilla, Pandora and Esther can choose to donate to a charity during the checkout process. This straightforward process is seeing amazing results for the charities and the retailers alike. There has been a significant reduction in abandoned carts and a 6% increase in the average order value. i=Change has helped change the lives of over 100,000 people in 14 different countries… and this is just the beginning.

At Chorus Executive we know business for good is good business. We have a partnership with The Hunger Project Australia. This developed out of my own experience with the organisation. This organisation is close to my heart and has found a place in the hearts of my team and now our clients. This financial year we committed to donating $20,000 for The Hunger Project Australia.

John Mackey, CEO of Wholefoods said, “Earn a share of a customer’s heart and she will gladly offer you a great share of her wallet.” By 2021 Millennials will have a 17% share of the retail market, companies must get on board. Winning over the hearts of their consumers now, will prove to be incredibly profitable for organisations in the long term. Purchasing for a purpose can also make a difference in the world – proving to be a win-win for everyone.

How amazing would it be if every company moved in this direction. Not only could the business world change the world, profits and the economy would boom. Philanthropy is not just good for the community and your soul it is simply good business.

Are you job fit?

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Happy New Year! 2018 is barely a week old and many of us have already failed to keep our New Year resolutions. How many of you decided you would get fit or lose weight this year? How many of us decided to give up unhealthy habits? This is the time of year that many of us focus on our health and fitness and that’s great! But how many of us ask ourselves… “are we job fit?”

What is “job fit?” Everything that affects our lives can also affect our work, our careers and our relationships within the work place. Being “job fit” means taking control and improving of all of these aspects.

Are you physically fit?

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating right and exercising? I’m willing to bet many of you reading this wanted to commit to improving these things in your life this year. What do they have to do with work? Your physical fitness impacts your mental health, your productivity and engagement in the work place. If you’re tired at work or lethargic or calling in sick regularly, not only are you not going to get your work completed, at least not to the standard one would hope, but you’re also damaging your reputation and your career. Taking control of your eating, sleeping and exercise this year will have an enormous affect across all areas of your life – including your work.

Financial

What state are your finances in? Are you living pay check to pay check?  Money is not the most important thing in the world and it can’t buy happiness but if you don’t have enough for now, or your future, it can cause a lot of stress. When money becomes your main motivator, rather than the actual work, then work becomes hard. And when work becomes hard we aren't as passionate, productive or successful. So, what do you do? Invest in a good financial planner - you may say that you don’t have the time or money for this, but if you don’t you may have a lot of time and no money. If things are tight, work on a budget yourself that can help you set money aside, pay off debts and take the pressure off.

Social

Feeling part of a community is important.  On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs a sense of belonging comes in third.  Friends, family, colleagues and our community are all a part of our support network when we need them. Like everything else of value in our lives, we must nurture these relationships to make sure they are sustainable into the future. Feeling part of the community, having a social life are both important for living a balanced life. Plan how you are going to nurture your networks in 2018. Commit to a catch up a month or attending a network event every quarter. It may be as simple as participating in Friday afternoon drinks with your workmates.

Emotional

Research indicates that feeling loved and giving love are the key contributors to a happy life. Financial wealth or physical health is great, but it will be lonely if you have no-one to share it with or go for a walk with.  Too many of us, me included, sacrifice time with our families and loved ones because we have to work. Even when we are home we aren’t always present or listening because we are distracted by emails or phone calls. Taking time out to be with the ones you love will help you find balance, relaxation and renewed energy. Stepping away from work allows you to come back with a fresh perspective and commitment.

Career

Are you in the right role?  Have you got the skills you need to be the best you can be or do you need some extra training? If you have you outgrown your role it may be time to push yourself and talk to your boss about new challenges. Take some time to examine how you feel about going into the office every day. Do you feel complacent? Are you just going through the motions? Or are you happy and excited about what each day might hold?

Career goals are just as important as the financial and health goals you set. Perhaps you need a career resolution for 2018.

So, are you job fit? This is the perfect time, as you head back to work to assess the areas where you need to work on your job fitness.

Recruitment - What to expect in the year ahead

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The year is coming to end in just a few short weeks. As we all celebrate with Christmas and end of year functions few of us are really considering the year ahead. However, in preparation for 2018 we thought we would share some trends you can expect in the new year in recruitment.

Employees, what can you expect next year?

1. The New Norm

Talent with digital, social, data analytics and data-mining skills will still to be in high demand. This won’t slow down anytime soon as automated and data driven marketing continue to grow and become the norm across the industry.

2. Taking Control

Employees will take more control over their own careers and pathways as ambitious talent realise that it isn’t the employers responsibility to build their careers, but their own. Education, mentoring programs and career coaching will become popular as they investigate ways to drive their own careers and fulfill their potential.

3. Changing Focus

Millennials have come to terms with the harsh reality that they will never have the long-term career stability and wealth creation that their parents had. Instead they will focus more on finding happiness, challenge and purpose in their work. They will seek roles and organisations that support this new focus.

For employers 2018 will see…

1. Lower Spend

Employers will continue to decrease the cost of recruiting talent, moving away from traditional means to technology based outsourced models. The implementation of AI, scanning and automated CRM systems will be high on the agenda for many organisations, as they choose to invest in technology that will both streamline and lower costs.

2. Soft Skills in Demand

There has been a growing acceptance that there is a need for soft, intangible skills in employees and potential hires in addition to functional or technical skills. Companies will investigate and struggle with how they can identify and assess these skills. They will also start investing in coaching and training programs that will help build and grow communication, team work, problem solving, emotional intelligence and other soft skills with in their team.  

3. Health & Wellbeing Trending

Employee retention has always been integral to the success of an organisation. This isn’t going to change. Leading organisations will invest in programs that improve overall staff wellbeing and health. Career Planning and coaching, Mental health days, gym memberships, mindfulness rooms are just a few of the things employers will turn to. Increased focus and investment in the health and wellbeing of employees will become key to sustained business success.

2017 has been a year of changes and 2018 will prove to be no different. Technology will continue to disrupt recruitment; top talent will still be in high demand and the world of business will continue to move and change at a rapid pace.

We look forward to working with you all in 2018 and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

What Do Employers Really Want?

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Every recruiter you speak to, every manager you come across, every leader writing on this topic will tell you something different. How can you possibly navigate the job market when no one can give you an answer on what employers are looking for in talent?

So, what do employers really want?!?

There are some things that all employers want and they should be both obvious and self-explanatory. Everyone wants their employees to be productive, reliable and loyal. Who wouldn’t want these things? There is also an x-factor that many employers seek and for each of them it can look a little different. Here are some things our experience with our clients has shown us are valuable:

1. Willingness to learn and learning agility

Studies have shown that the highest performing employees are those who demonstrate both the willingness to learn but also learning agility. With the fast paced, changing world in which we live, employees can no longer afford to follow traditional and inflexible rules and processes. Thinking and learning on your feet is essential and a willingness to do so is integral to career longevity. Our advice - Stay up to date and ahead of trends in your function and industry, seek out learning opportunities and professional development, never say ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’ – find out!

2. Positivity, Honesty & Integrity

These are qualities we all want in the people around us. In the workplace they play a huge part in the culture and morale within the organisation. No one wants to be around negative, dishonest people. Of course, it is impossible to be positive 100% of the time – but if you make a concerted effort to approach each day and interaction with positivity, honesty and integrity it won’t go unnoticed. Leaders will promote employees they see as trustworthy and who represent the company in the best possible light. 

3. Leadership

Recent research conducted by Forrester and the Business Marketing Association found that 88% of employees look to their peers for information and insights. This is why leadership skills are essential, no matter what your role or position within the company. Having the ability to step up and take the lead in a project, advise your colleagues, or share knowledge and skills are all going to help make you a valuable employee and a great leader in your organisation. In reviews or interviews (internal or external), be prepared with examples of your leadership.

4. Creativity

“I’m not really creative…” “I don’t have a creative bone in my body…” Have you ever made one of these statements? Creativity comes in many forms from design and art to creative thinking, strategy and process. Many of us define it simply by the creative arts but this is not the case.  Creativity is seeing things differently, finding another way, finding alternative solutions. Creative thinking is an integral part to the success of any organisation. Whether you are in IT, administration, graphic design or accounts you will have utilised creativity in some way… How have you expressed your creativity lately?

5. Flexibility          

The same Forrester and Business Marketing Association research showed that 34% of employees feel overwhelmed by change. This is alarming considering the rapid pace that business changes in the modern world. Being flexible and open during times of change means that as a company changes you can adapt quickly.

Flexibility also covers a willingness to try something new or different. Many organisations are looking for people who can develop and grow with the company. Whether it is interest in different roles, functions or even geographies – there are still global organisations who are happy to move people around the world - hiring and training someone new comes at a high cost so flexibility, and agility is a valued commodity in an employee.  

6. Loyalty & Tenure

Employers are spending a lot of time and effort trying to understand what employees want.  The average cost of a new employee is estimated at 3 x their annual salary, so it makes sense for employers to want to keep their current employees longer.  Not only is it costly and time consuming to bring new people into an organisation, but there is also a loss of intellectual property when staff leave. Ideally employers are looking for employees who fit their culture and who are able and willing to progress within the organisation.

These are just a few on the requirements we hear from our clients. As the world and technology changes so too will the expectations and desires of employers. 

How to Build a Mentally Healthy Workplace

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Mental health is no longer an issue that organisations can afford to ignore. A report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) puts the cost of mental health issues in the workplace at a whopping $10.9 billion per year for Australian businesses.

By taking steps to actively promote workplace wellbeing, employers and managers can help safeguard employees, and bring long term benefits to the business. The advantages of a mentally healthy workplace include increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, fewer workers’ compensation claims and a happier, more motivated workforce.

Like the sound of that? Here are six things you can do to help create a mentally healthy workplace.

1.    Increase general awareness around common mental health issues.

Many businesses have started offering training to managers and employees to help them identify those in their teams who may be dealing with mental health issues, so they can support them in a positive manner.

2.    Create a culture where everyone is encouraged to speak up about mental health issues.

Take away the stigma around mental health problems, and your employees will feel more comfortable in seeking help if they are struggling. This will help them overcome their challenges faster, and reduce the level of lost productivity or absenteeism that often results from untreated mental health issues.

3.    Provide support for employees who may be struggling with mental health challenges.

This could come in the form of free telephone or in-person counselling, access to resources, and paid time off. While there is a cost associated with providing support, the PwC report points out that for every dollar spent on taking action, there is $2.30 to be gained in benefits.

4.    Be a role model for positive self-care.

Take regular breaks, demonstrate a healthy work-life balance and encourage your employees to do the same. Avoid creating a culture where employees feel they need to work all hours of day and night and burn themselves out, as this is a significant cause of mental health issues in the workplace.

5.    Encourage respectful communication and interaction between employees.

Bullying is a huge cause of mental health issues in the workplace. By creating a culture of respect and encouraging positive interactions between people, you can help reduce the potential for stress-related mental health issues as a result of harassment or bullying.

6.    Clarify employees’ job descriptions and KPIs.

Uncertainty around roles and responsibilities can be a major source of workplace stress, which can affect mental health. Make sure job descriptions, the scope of work and KPIs are clear and unambiguous.              

Any organisation that wants a productive workforce needs to take steps towards creating a mentally healthy workplace. These tips can help you promote positive mental health in your organisation, and enjoy the long-term benefits of happier and more motivated employees. 

What Do Employees Really Want?

Building and retaining talented and engaged teams is a challenge that every employer faces. Finding your dream team is only the beginning. Juggling the ever-changing expectations and demands of what makes an employer of choice can be impossible. So, what do employees really want?

Overall employees want to feel a sense of well-being. They also want to feel connected to and part of something big and good.  No-one wants to just turn up to feel undervalued even if they are getting paid.

Employee wellbeing is essential for productivity and engagement in the workplace –  and it must extend beyond the office. Well-being covers every facet of our lives and work has an impact (negative and positive) on every single area. So, how do employers contribute to overall employee wellbeing?

1. Financial health

Yes, money is always going to be part of the equation. Everyone has bills to pay, mortgage payments, not to mention family commitments. Money is a necessity but not necessarily the primary driver. Ensure your team is paid for the contribution they make and that they feel rewarded and valued by the organisation.  

It is not just what they get paid now, but how they are planning for their future. The future is increasingly uncertain. Redundancy through innovation or restructure is more and more real for all of us every day.  How can employers help their team manage this? How can we ensure financial health? 

2.  Physical & Emotional health

What does this have to do with work? Besides the obvious mental health issues caused by stress, our general health can be affected by our work environment. Everyone wants to feel healthy, many of us want to be able to exercise and eat well – when we have the time. How can you as employer help your team with this?

More organisations are developing wellness and fitness plans for their employees – whether it is gym memberships, mental health days, wellbeing days or massages. There are lots of ways that organisations are trying to support their team with their general health and fitness. 

3. Social health

Having time with your family, friends and feeling part of the community is something everyone wants. Work/life balance hasn’t been the focus of HR for the last 10 years for no reason. This also extends to belonging within the workplace. Employees want to feel that they fit, that they are part of the community that is their team, department or company.  Many organisations are including community involvement as part of their wellness programs. These include volunteering days as well as becoming involved in charities or other community minded organisations.

4. Career health

Employees want the opportunity to learn, grow and develop in their career. They want a company that will help them build a career. Career progression or lack thereof is the second highest reason people leave their job. If your organisation isn’t offering pathways for your team to do this, then why should they stay?

Employers need to understand that the new generation of employees are ambitious, need constant communication and want to feel that they are moving forward, if not upwards. If you do have great staff than make sure you have a plan for them and share it. Don't hide your plans.

Employees want education, continuous learning opportunities and the support within the organisation to do this.  Completing a new qualification is still popular but there is a growing trend towards customised development. This can take on many forms - from attending special interest seminars, participating in webcasts and podcasts to executive coaching. Establishing a development and learning program will position your organisation for increased attraction and retention of talent.

In the past many employers have had the view – “this is not my problem?” especially to “non-career” issues.  Shouldn’t it be up to individuals to look after their own fitness regime or get their own financial planner to help them with their retirement? Leading employers are now taking a holistic approach to employee wellbeing.  The thinking is that with a “healthier” workforce, not only will employers get greater productivity, but they will also get increased loyalty and tenure, and therefore business success.

Creating a Healthy & Happy Workplace

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A recent analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has found that businesses that invest in creating a mentally healthy workplace will see a positive return on their investment of $2.30 for every $1 invested. Not only is providing a safe and healthy environment a legal requirement it is just good business! When your employees feel supported, safe, and valued they are more engaged, productive and will stay with your organisation longer… making your team more successful and the business more profitable.

Heads Up released 10 priorities for businesses to help them build a mentally healthy environment, you can read the complete document here. We wanted to highlight 3 of their recommendations that, when implemented, make not only for a better workplace but also make great business sense:

1.    Monitor work load and work hours

Everyone needs to take a break and walk away! At Chorus Executive, we have a no eating at your desk rule. Even if you’re flat out, taking 10 minutes away from your desk to eat lunch can give your brain a break and help you get through the rest of your day!

Ensuring your team are balancing their work load with time to rest and refresh will increase productivity and engagement.

2.    Create a discrimination free workplace

Diversity in the workplace is an amazing thing. Cultures, religion, age, gender and sexual diversity makes for a variety of perspectives, opinions and experience. Ensure everyone feels welcomed, respected and valued. Provide training for your leaders to ensure an inclusive, welcome and discrimination free culture.  

3.    Provide clarity on job roles and responsibilities

A lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities can lead to confusion, disorganisation and things slipping through the cracks. Every company can benefit from a clear structure and defined responsibilities, and ensuring your team knows theirs means they will feel secure and supported.

A healthy, happy and positive workplace is good for your team, and for your business. For more information on how to create a psychologically healthy culture for you team, click here.

If this hasn’t convinced you as to why a healthy workplace will benefit your organisation, here are some more statistics!

Unhealthy, unhappy workplaces are costing:

  • $34 billion a year on Presenteeism (Presenteeism = employees turning up to work when they are unwell (physically or mentally) which leads to a decrease in productivity and often exhaustion and workplace epidemics.)
  • 70% of performance management that could be avoided
  • 2.5 x yearly salary in turnover costs
  • $480 million is paid in workers’ compensation for work-related mental disorders

What happens if you run out of excuses?

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Do you always find reasons not to invest in yourself or your career? Are you an excuse maker? It's easy to talk yourself out of taking the time, investing money or finding the courage to do the things you need to do. What would happen if you ran out of excuses?

Excuse number 1 – I don’t have enough time!

This is a familiar tune. “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” “I don’t know where I could find the time.” However, there are 24 hours in a day! This doesn’t change, no matter who you are, what you do or where you are in your career. Isn't this just an excuse for poor time management, procrastination or confused priorities?

Our response

Finding the time to do something is always a matter of how badly you want to do it. You must place the same level of importance on your career and personal goals as you do on other things in your life. Do this and you will find the time in your schedule. Prioritise and make the time to invest in your career, your education or yourself… There are always things you can happily let go of to make the time.


Excuse number 2 – I can’t afford it!

“I can’t afford to study." “I can’t afford to work on my personal brand.” “I can’t afford to go to that seminar.” “I can’t afford to get coaching.” Recognise these excuses? Most people believe a lack of money is the number one reason they haven’t achieved their goals. They believe that if they had more money than they would be successful. But it’s rarely a money problem.

Our response

You can't always control what you get paid, but you can control what you choose to do with your money. Making small sacrifices can lead to savings that you can invest in your career and personal development. This investment can than lead to promotions, pay rises and the like. What are you willing to sacrifice? Give up buying those coffees on the way to work. Eat at home more than you eat out. Take your lunch to work rather than buying it. Don’t buy that pair of boots. If you want something badly enough you will find a way. You need to make it a priority. Successful people don’t let the lack of any resource stop them.  Spending money to improve yourself is not an expense, it is an investment and it will deliver a return.


Excuse number 3 – My family needs me!

51% of working women find it hard to advance in their career because of their family commitments. Similarly, both men and women, feel that success in your professional life, will result in your personal life suffering. You must have one or the other, you can’t have both. Is this true?

Our response

Families demand a lot of time and energy. Being a great partner, parent or provider doesn't mean you must give up your own ambitions and a fulfilling career. Juggling a successful career and a family can seem like an impossible combination, but with the right support, planning and strategies it can be accomplished. You can have balance and success in all areas of your life.  Are you using your family as an excuse to not push yourself out your comfort zone?  If so, is this fair on your family? Surely, they don’t want to be the reason why you aren’t happy at work or you don’t have a fulfilling career.


Excuse number 4 – I don’t have the motivation!

What does this mean? Aren't you really saying, “I’m too lazy!” Committing effort and money towards study, coaching, personal branding, or career development requires motivation. The easier option is to sit back and continue along the same path. Laziness is the worst excuse for not investing in yourself. Getting up and doing, takes motivation, ambition and determination, but it takes work to invest in not only your career but also your future.

Our response

The easiest thing is to stay where you are.  As humans, we are wired to avoid change.  But to build the life you want you need to ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in five years?” This can be an overwhelming question. Breaking down the process and starting with baby steps will make it seem that much more achievable. If you struggle to find the motivation start by writing a list to set yourself a few small - medium sized tasks to complete over the next X number of months. Get started by contacting people in your network for advice and help. Make a list of things you would like to change and then rate them as easy, medium or hard.  If you can’t get clarity then perhaps you may need a professional to help you.

Of course, these are only a few of the excuses. We have a great knack for coming up with new and inventive reasons to procrastinate. There are some that we don’t like to admit to ourselves, such as - "I’m afraid" or "I’m not good enough." These too are just stories we tell ourselves to avoid truly striving towards our goals and reaching our potential.

Now imagine, what could your career – and life – really look like if you stopped making excuses? Isn’t it time to invest in you?

Don’t know where to start? Talk with us about taking the first step.

Time is the New Currency

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How many times a day, a week do you hear or say, “I just don’t have enough time,” or “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” or “If only I had the time to …” The world is getting progressively faster and everyone is busy. There was even a period where “busy-ness” was the measurement of success or importance. People wore their lack of time with a sense of pride… “Look at how busy I am, I have no time… I must be very busy and important!” 

Increasingly, more so as millennials influence the work place, we are seeing a swing in the other direction. Time, or more importantly time to do the things you want, need or have a passion for, is a sign of success. Time has become a commodity.

In the world of recruitment, we are seeing more people willing to trade time for less money, no promotion or lack of a bonus. Employers are offering time as part of the negotiation when money isn’t possible or in some cases money isn’t the answer.

What does time as currency look like to an employer or employee?

  • Flexible Working Hours

Whether this is flexible working hours or location, flexibility can be worth far more than a few extra thousand dollars a year. Flexible working hours will help people avoid peak hour traffic, do school drop off or make it to that school play. Companies are even considering 9 day fortnights and 4 day weeks to make them more attractive to top talent.

  • Time to Learn and to Develop

This can be a win-win situation for employers and employees alike. Time to complete study, attend professional development or networking courses or have access to a career coach, benefits everyone. Giving employees the opportunity to attend networking events is advantageous to both the organization and employee, growing business opportunities and your employer brand. Further study and professional development increases expertise within an organisation and career coaching can build your team into future leaders. Win-win for everyone.

  • Flexible Location

According to Ford’s new commuter calculator, the average Australian’s commute, spread out over their working life equates to 1.1 years of travelling… that’s 417 days spent traveling to and from work! How much would getting some of this time back be worth? The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place, there is no longer need to all be in the same office all the time to still be a productive and unified team. Options for working from home or remotely some days – or even all the time – offers employees flexibility, but also opens up a much wider talent pool for employers. Why limit yourself by location!?

  • Time to Give Back

With the growing trend of ‘wanting to give back’, volunteering brings a “feel good” factor and a sense of purpose, both of which can alleviate stress. A day each month or quarter volunteering with a cause staff are passionate about, or a charity with which the company is affiliated, helps align company and staff values, as well as doing good for the world.

  • Time for Mindfulness

Over the years, corporate wellness programs have flourished – and with a greater emphasis on total wellbeing, organisations are pressured to be creative in their offerings and encourage employees to take the time out to practice mindfulness. Ten minutes out of the work day is said to depreciate stress and anxiety, along with increasing productivity.

For employers who are unable to use bonuses, promotions or other traditional (money based) incentives to attract or retain staff, time can be the new carrot! Offering your team time can keep them engaged and happy in the work place, which in turn leads to greater productivity and success.

As an employee considering a new role, or even your current role, think carefully about how much time is worth to you. That extra day at home, or the opportunity to study or volunteer may be worth far more than money.

So think about it… what is time worth to you?

 

Don’t judge, just because you wouldn’t…

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What is the purpose of a reference check? There may seem to be an obvious answer but some events in the Chorus Executive office over the last few weeks has made me question whether it is obvious to everyone.

As recruiters, we do hundreds of these checks a year. We’re good at them, so it is unusual when a client insists on doing these checks themselves. Recently an organisation we were recruiting for insisted on performing the reference checks themselves. Why? Because they didn’t believe the reason the candidate gave for leaving their last role. The reason given, to paraphrase, was for inspiration.

This hiring manager couldn’t believe, couldn’t fathom why someone would leave their job for another that offered less money but let them do what they were passionate about. They insisted there had to be another reason, a bigger reason, a better reason and perhaps a more sinister reason. They wanted to perform the reference checks to find out the “REAL” reason.

Now, the reason doesn’t really matter in this story. What matters is the lens through which this hiring manager was assessing the candidate. In their head, they wouldn’t leave a job for less money, no matter how much inspiration and passion they found in the role. So, if they wouldn’t no one else would either.  Were they just looking for a reason to say no?  Was there another reason why they didn’t want to press the buy button on the candidate even though everything else was right?  It felt like they were going to use the reference checks to find a reason to reject the candidate.

Judgements made based on a person’s own lens, experiences and beliefs is common and a great reason why using external parties like a recruiter to do the reference checks is a great idea. Recruiters are removed from the situation, have great contacts and networks to help get insight and insider information and most importantly they are practiced and experts at getting the answers needed to ensure a great placement.

If you can’t or won’t use a recruiter to do your reference checks than here is our advice to ensure you are getting the best result:

Avoid the informal reference check…

Talking to someone who knows someone who knows the candidate can land you in trouble. You don’t know their relationship or their interactions and a negative informal reference can land you and the reference in hot water.

Best practice - only talk to people you have permission to talk to…

Without going into the intricacies of the 1988 Privacy Act it is difficult to cover the complexities of privacy law. Instead, what we offer is what we see as best practice. Talk to referees that you have written permission from the candidate to talk to. Most candidates will have these readily available upon request. Keep all questions focused on the employment relationship. What their tasks were, results, length of tenure, skills and their conduct at work are all appropriate areas to discuss. Age, sexuality, gender, ethnicity or religion are not! Stick with best practice. (Links with further information about the Privacy Act and how it relates to references can be found below.)

Ask about the candidate’s areas of development…

Knowing what areas the candidate needs to work on will help you assess them for the role. Ask yourself if this weakness means they can’t do the job? Is it critical to role that they have that skill? Maybe it is something that would be nice to have and you can look at training them. Don’t write someone off because they aren’t great at everything – no one is and you will never hire anyone!

Raise any concerns…

If you have concerns about the skills, experience or any area of the candidate’s fit for you team raise these during the reference check process. A simple question formed around these doubts can go a long way to easing your mind. For example, if you are concerned about their work ethic then perhaps ask if the candidate has ever had issues meeting deadlines.   Asking “did they work hard” is subjective as for some people 8 hours is a fair day’s work whereas others might think this is a short day.  What is important is not the hours worked but whether they ever missed a deadline.   Whether they work 7.5 hours or 14 hours is irrelevant, what is important is if they got the job done.

Practice self-awareness…

Be aware if you are making judgements based on your own lens. Ask yourself “Does it make a difference to how they would perform the job?” Be self-aware enough to know whether you are just looking for reasons to reject someone. And remember, not everyone is like you nor do they need to be to be good at their job.

There is never going to be a 100% guarantee with a new hire, if you want that, don’t hire anyone. Be open during the process and try not to make judgements that don’t impact how a person can perform in their job. And remember just because you might not, doesn’t mean others won’t! Some people do leave a job to find inspiration!! If you are struggling to get by your own judgements, maybe it’s time to consider third party assistance which might be someone else either internal or external to your organisation.

If you are looking to recruit a new team member and the reference check process seems overwhelming and intimidating let us take the pressure off you. Partnering with Chorus Executive to grow your team will put the process in the hands of experts, who know how to find the right person for the job. To learn more about our recruitment services contact Christine Khor at chris@chorus-executive.com.au or (03) 9698 8700.

For more information:

http://www.theworkplacelawyers.com.au/blog/2015/8/5/reference-checks-and-privacy-what-to-say-and-how-to-say-it

http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/5086/are-referees-required-to-provide-positive-job-refe.aspx

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/best-practice-guides/workplace-privacy

What Kind of Person Do You Want to Be?

Four weeks ago, I travelled to Malawi to attend a Leadership and Immersion program in support of The Hunger Project.   I travelled with a group of entrepreneurs and business owners.  This is the second time I have been to Africa with The Hunger Project. This trip could not have been more different from the first.  During my first trip, to Uganda, I was faced with utter despair and the depths of poverty and hunger. I saw children dying of hunger and the everyday occurrence of infant death.   My trip to Malawi was completely different. Whereas the first was an emotional journey this trip brought to light the intricacies and complexities of poverty and the way different communities are fighting against it. 

I visited 3 villages on this trip and experienced 3 very different communities. Each struggling to overcome poverty and hunger, with various levels of success. Each community was dealing differently with adversity, the challenges, the setbacks and successes they faced. 

At Chorus Executive, I meet a diverse range of people every day and the different ways the Malawians dealt with their situations reminded me of the different types of people I meet in my role.  During times of adversity and even of joy, how do you approach situations?  Are you one who sees opportunities, who takes charge and action?  Are you one who thinks that it will all be fine “later”? Life will be great after the next promotion, pay increase, finding the one you love, buying your new car… etc. Are you one who worries and dwells in the past and ponders why this has happened to you? Are you one who looks for others to blame?   Are you the one who never gives up, who picks themselves up, time and time again, no matter what happens. The one who never stops trying?

I saw the impact of each of these mindsets at work in villagers we met Malawi.

The first epicentre we visited was called Ligowe. Built over 10 years ago, they had become self-reliant. This is no small feat - they had solved the issue of hunger in their region.  The school was operational, the food bank was full enough to cover any shortfalls and the micro-lending bank was helping villagers build businesses to support themselves.  This community was radiant, they were empowered and nothing could stop them. They had solved hunger and poverty in their region and they wanted to know what they could do to help the next village, the village after that and the village after that one. Simply, they were unstoppable.  This is not to say that they didn’t have difficult times, or at times felt tired or hopeless but when these times occurred they weren’t defeated, they joined together, gained clarity and then took action.

Next, we visited the Machete epicentre situated next to a game park. Over the years, the game park had been ravaged by poachers and capitalism.  With money comes enterprise – there were bars, brothels and an undercurrent that was very intimidating.  We were escorted by armed guards and still, or perhaps because of this, there was a sense of unease.

As we moved through the epicentre and met with the villagers, we found that whilst some parts of the epicentre were thriving with brick buildings, electricity and alcohol, many were still struggling. It was still a daily battle to feed and educate their children.  There was a cynicism and hopelessness in the community. They were scared. The money was there, they could see it and so could we. The available money wasn’t being used to help the entire community, it was being used to help a few. The struggles and complexity of the fight against hunger was clearest in Machete. Where there was no shortage of money yet the community was still fighting a losing battle.  Many of the villagers here had given up hope.

The final village we visited was Nchalo. The Hunger Project had worked with Nchalo for several years but due to lack of funds they had to stop support. It was like a community in a time warp. A house 75% built. The slab was laid, the foundations strong and the builders there ready to go but the materials for the roof had not arrived.  Instead of being able to complete their dream home, the rain was getting in and slowly but surely everything was rotting. Everything was half finished and the community was losing hope.  All the villagers we met asked for our help.  They weren’t looking for handouts. They were looking for support that would allow them to help themselves. They were proud, they were driven, they just didn’t have the resources to finish the job. As a group, we walked away from Nchalo with the desire to do something.  But what could we do? We were only 14 people from Australia on a 10-day Leadership Trip. What could we do to help these 37,000 people who had lived a lifetime of hunger and poverty?

We were not overwhelmed by the size of the problem, we were inspired.  It was hard not to be. We met with villagers who were passionate and focused. Their purpose was clear and our role was simply to enable them. We had spoken to women who proudly claimed their equality in this man’s world. How many women in Australia see themselves as equal?  Village men educated us on the use of the female condom for health and reproductive reasons and community representatives spoke to us about the health and nutrition education they had received. How could we not help? The 14 of us joined together to find a solution that would help this village finish what they started… and I am looking forward to returning to Nchalo in 2020 to celebrate their self-reliance.

As I have reflected on what I saw in Malawi, I had to consider the type of person I am in different situations, the type of person I am during adversity.  Most of the time I am very optimistic, resilient and action orientated. But there are times when I have felt angry and frustrated, when I have blamed others for my situation and even my behaviour. The classic “he made me do it” has come out of my mouth. There are a few times I have even felt sorry for myself. These have been my reactions to adversity here in Australia where my problems have been “first world problems”. No one was going to die, my children were still clothed, fed and educated. What kind of person would I be if I had been born in Malawi?

We all get caught up in our own problems. It’s an easy and understandable thing to do. The true test for each of us is how we handle ourselves during these times. No matter the size of the challenge. Do we blame others? Do we dwell on the past and lament “why me?” Do we take a breath and pick ourselves back up again? How we face these challenges can change everything.

Since coming back to Australia I am seeing things in a very different light. I know and have seen with my own two eyes the impact of mindset, self-awareness, strong leadership, commitment, vision and action can have on people and on communities. How these things can change the lives of thousands. Can bring a village out of poverty to sustainability and from a place hopelessness to one of hope.

How much could a new mindset change your life here in Australia? What sort of person are you?  Or, should I ask, what sort of person do you want to be?

Great leaders are needed more than ever

I am not a political person. When the team in the Chorus Executive office start talking about politics I tend to tune out. I have never been overly involved in politics, it has never been my passion. However, in the last few months – since January 21 of this year, to be exact – I have found myself reacting to the actions of politicians both here and overseas.

We don’t need to look too far to see that many people are unhappy. It is reflected in decisions like Brexit, in Trump’s election and in the resurrection of Pauline Hanson in Australian politics. We see it every day in our conversations with candidates and clients. People feel disconnected and disenfranchised, and there is a general feeling of distrust for governments and corporations. It is quickly becoming the era of ‘dis’.

There is a great deal of negativity in the world and it is easy to get swept along in the negativity and anger.  

However, as leaders, we need to rise above the noise. Now, more than ever, great leadership is needed. Not just from our politicians or our CEOs. All of us need to be leaders, in business and in the community, within our families and amongst our friends. We need to lead by example when those around us are failing to lead. We need to focus on building connections, trust and community. 

So, what do I believe makes a great leader?

Integrity

People can be duplicitous, particularly in business. We all hate flip-flopping politicians who say whatever they think their audience wants to hear. Strong leaders act with honesty and authenticity. Live your values, whether these are the values your organisation stands for, the values you are teaching your children or your own personal values. Even if people disagree with you, they will respect that you have the courage of your convictions.

Reliability

Clear communication is fundamental to being reliable. Do what you say you will do. Mean what you say. Being someone others can depend upon is a great quality for anyone to possess, but it is especially important for leaders. Everyone wants reliable people in their lives – investors, employers, leaders, friends, family, children. 

Empathy

Empathetic leaders are good listeners who don’t judge and who are emotionally intelligent. Empathy builds trust. Your team will feel they can trust you when you listen without judgement and acknowledge their feelings, an approach that also works well with children, as it opens the lines of communication and inspires confidence.  

Inclusiveness

We all want feel a sense of belonging. Fostering a workplace, home or community that embraces diversity and inclusiveness can help to provide that sense of belonging to people. From an economic perspective, diversity and inclusiveness have been proven to increase productivity and improve outcomes. Welcome diversity: diversity of cultures, ages, ideas, of all kinds. Challenge conscious and unconscious biases, both your own and those of others around you. Be open to new and different ideas – none of us has all the answers, and a great leader knows this.        

When the problems of the world seem insurmountable, it is easy to sit back and say, ‘What can I do? I am just one person.’ I say, be positive when you’re enveloped by negativity. Step up and be a leader! If more of us choose to lead with integrity, passion and empathy, if more of us welcome diversity and encourage an open exchange of ideas, even when they are different from our own, if more of us lead by example with our families, friends, communities, teams and companies, and if more of us lead in the same way we want the country and the world to be led, then maybe, just maybe, we will affect the change we want to see.