Category - Bloggery

The “performance development” part of an HR Directors role

My recent blog: “Death to Performance Appraisals!” certainly sparked a bit of interest –and most likely some level of disagreement. Performance appraisals are supposed to be about developing and improving performance – which is a laudable aim of course.  Certainly most of us value constructive advice with that in mind.  My main point earlier was

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HOORAY – DEATH TO PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS!

Sorry if my heading here sounds a bit like the war cry of a terrorist – but why has the movement to abandon annual performance appraisals taken so long? There probably is no more emotive and laden phrase than:  “Let me give you some feedback..”  Following closely behind this is “ May we discuss your performance

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Some elements of the future world of work are already with us, and the picture is not altogether pretty….

A number of thoughtful observers now write about the future world of work, with Lynda Gratton of the London Business School perhaps at the forefront.  Needless to say, those of us working in career transition services need to keep abreast of what is changing. Here, I just wanted a moment to reflect on the impact

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Networking Schmetworking – Give me a break!

In the world of job-search there is no stronger fear-inducing word than “networking”.  Networking is the holy-grail in job search.   “Most opportunities open up through networking” is the refrain, the key message and the Big Imperative. You can almost see the introverts – and those with the typical Aussie form of self-abasement  –  wither up

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Sometimes conventional wisdom blinds us

Conventional wisdom about job-hunting goes like this: The most productive investment of time in searching out opportunities is to go networking – (and we could say more than a bit about how effective networking is best undertaken) The next most productive investment of time is following up referrals, from those in the first group.  (Preparation

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MISGUIDED ASPIRATIONS, OR SIMPLY A FAILURE OF EXECUTION?

This is a question often asked of themselves by HR leaders.  “Was this last initiative of mine a wrong aspiration, or something I simply did not execute properly?” Many of the objectives HR leaders focus on relate to complex undertakings – for example improving an engagement score – where the outcome rests on a number

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Some thoughts on Wellness

We are all familiar with the concept of wellness in the workplace.  It is a condition increasingly measured and worked upon in organisations. The “wellness movement” began with a focus on physical health – with emphasis on diet, exercise, and work- life balance.   However as it became evident that individual health was also impacted by

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Procuring HR services – the good, the bad and the very ugly

We have recently had a really positive experience with a major company facing the shut-down of a significant operation.  We were invited into their process for securing high quality career transition services. At this point, we don’t know whether we and our joint venture partner will be successful but the selection experience was really good.

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My kingdom for a diverse talent pipeline!

Tony Abbot claimed when questioned as to why, when he formed government last year, only one woman was appointed to a 15 person cabinet, that there simply weren’t enough women in the pipeline ready to step in to a cabinet post. Was he right? Were the appointments merit-based? Were there no women with the experience

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The Rise of Shared Value

There’s a new term in town – shared value.  It’s a little bit edgy, a little bit hip, a little bit short black and a little bit out there. Shared value has been floating homeless about town for a couple of years but is now getting noticed. Shared value is basically the intersection of the

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The Reinvention of HR

The February 2014 issue of “Boss” contained an article which caught my eye.  It was all about the “Reinvention of HR” within Netflix.  The “Boss” piece was based on a Harvard Business Review article by Patty McCord (published in their January-February 2014 issue) There is also a formidable slide-pack put together by the author.  Both

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Career challenges for all of us in professional services

The past two years have been tough ones for many individuals in the professional services area – and this year may not be much easier it seems.  The challenges lie in shifting and contracting markets.  Past and prospective client firms have themselves been contracting, and have become far more “cost-averse” in a difficult economic environment. 

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Is Talent over-rated?

At the prompting of one of my colleagues, I have just read Geoff Colvin’s book: “Talent is overrated”[i]  It is an interesting book, but the title really irritates me.  A better title would be “Real talent is rarely innate – it is built”. This is much more a book about how talent is developed, and

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So how do your “survivors” feel right now?

Some time back we wrote about the “survivors” of downsizing activity – and how there was such a thing as the “survivor syndrome”.  This was a condition said to afflict those who were left after a restructuring, often feeling dispirited, overworked and unloved. In fact one of several costs rarely counted in restructuring initiatives are those

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The very big step up from general management to being a CEO

Recent press coverage of a high profile CEO exit was a further reminder about just how big the step is from general management to being a CEO.  The demands are huge, and come across such a broad spectrum of responsibilities. From time to time in our practice we work with general managers looking to move

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Three ways to turbo-charge your diversity plan

Smart organisations acknowledge that management depth and effective, creative and agile leadership across an organisation requires diversity: including strong representation of women at all levels. The statistics measuring success here are dreadful. Even within firms committed to a better mix of talent this goal is proving hard to achieve. If a CEO and the Board is

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There’s one! There’s another one! Recognising and acting on opportunities

Are successful careers based on luck, or on recognising and seizing opportunities? At Macfarlan Lane we work with individuals to help them seek out and capture opportunities.  It is not a case of hoping to get “lucky”, it is more one of researching areas of need, and building good intelligence and relationships. Here are three

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Upside-down, inside-out and back-to-front: the best bits of Sideways to the Top

The overarching finding from the women profiled in Sideways to The Top is that they all had the self-confidence and courage to take charge of their careers. Digging deeper, there were at least five common characteristics of success across these stories. First, these women were clear about what they wanted in their career, they were

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Are we still unconsciously incompetent? Bias and stereotyping

Lately, the concept of unconscious bias has come into the forefront of diversity advocates in the workplace. Previously we would see conscious bias at work – especially several decades ago when women were clearly being denied opportunities and blatantly discriminated against based on their sex – like the stereotypes in the TV series Mad Men.

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Why this book and why the title Sideways to the Top?

There are millions of books in the market about women, leadership and careers. According to Google and Amazon there are over 300,000,000 books on successful women leaders, and around 30,000 on women and careers. So why would we contribute to this huge collection? The vast majority of books we have identified in this huge collection

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That old chestnut: is there still a glass ceiling?

There is no doubt the workplace has substantially improved for women over the last few decades.  There has bee a lot of progress over a short period of time.  We no longer see the sexism and discrimination that was open and visible several decades ago in many workplaces, highlighted in TV programs such as “Mad

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Two new books on women and leadership

Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg, the current Facebook CEO and former Google executive explores in her book Lean In- Women, Work and the Will to Lead why women’s progress towards leadership positions in government and industry has stalled. Despite women having more opportunities today than

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Is feminism still relevant?

The political landscape has changed quite dramatically over the last few weeks. Julia Gillard, in her farewell speech as Prime Minister, said “I do want to say the reaction to being the first female prime minister does not explain everything about my time in the prime ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my prime

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Through the looking glass of executive search

This blog aims to help you raise your profile in the competitive and candidate-rich world of executive search, so that your name is included in the candidate pool for those jobs you are seeking. We all want to be known by key decision-makers in executive recruitment and search firms, so that when that right role

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Marketing strategies that really work

Many people feel uncomfortable about the word networking, or undertaking networking activity. We often hear from executives we coach who express reservations about networking as being pushy, looking needy or coming across as insincere. So we prefer to describe networking activities as marketing. Marketing is about intelligence gathering and exploration, it is not selling. The

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The increasing diversity of “employment” relationships

In a recent discussion with a group of HR leaders we were exploring the increasing diversity of employment relationships, and the implications of this diversity. If you look around any organisation today, virtually all will have some combination of regular employees, employees working flexible hours – teleworking and hot-desking to varying degrees, contractors, interim project

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Relevance Deprivation Syndrome

I was asked recently by a journalist to comment on a term she had heard:  “relevance deprivation syndrome”.  Was this something one saw much of?  Was there a psychological term associated with this?  How serious was this issue? My main reaction was to say that I thought this was a really unkind term:  a pejorative

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Bad bosses can be good for you

One of the big challenges often faced by men and women in the corporate world is working with a ‘bad boss’. A bad boss can be described in many different ways –as a micro-manager, a control freak, arrogant, defensive, insensitive, a bully, untrustworthy, a poor listener, unwilling to accept others’ ideas – the list goes

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A reprise on the changing nature of employment

In our October blog Matt Gaffney wrote about our approach in supporting self-employment, as one of several career directions someone might consider whilst working with us.  There are a range of reasons why this pathway deserves some consideration, in the context of a career transition – and Matt covers these and a great deal more.

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Do Women Lead Differently?

Last month our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, made her now famous “misogyny” speech, where she quoted Tony Abbott opining: “What if men are, by physiology and temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue commands (than women)?” Are women really up to the challenge of leadership? And if so, why do women continue to

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Exploring what your “Business of Me”can be

Can self-employment offer some senior people more, rather than less, employment security than a permanent role with a large organisation in these challenging times?  This is a hard question to answer.  Some forms of self-employment are more “secure” than others.  But with the right attention to risk, work-life balance and simply getting much more broad

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Should we be Funny at Work?

According to research conducted by Dr. Allan Reiss of Stanford University, humor seems to activate brain networks that are involved in rewards. In fact, the areas activated by humor have been shown to be the same ones activated by amphetamines and cocaine, for receiving monetary gains (like when you win at the Melbourne Cup) and

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Further comments on the hegemony of the media

At a Committee for Economic Development lunch on August 14, I was privileged to hear Professor Tim Flannery speak.  Tim is of course Chief Commissioner, Climate Commission and a distinguished author and academic. What struck me about his speech was his quiet blend of optimism and concern.  He quietly observed that whilst he was disappointed

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Counting blessings

Every now and then I need to get myself by the scruff of my neck in a stock taking effort.  “What is working right now?” “What does the business have going for it this year? “ “What have been some recent successes?” “Maybe you should count your blessings?” Why do I need to shake myself

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Anger

One of my colleagues (Norah Breekveldt) has just prepared a short paper on anger – taking an interesting line: that anger is an emotion which we ought to express more often.  Anger can be good! It is an interesting approach to the subject because most of us learn and assimilate the virtues of self-control –

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Getting things done in HR – with limited line authority

One of the biggest challenges for HR leaders is getting things done in an organisation, with limited resources and little line authority.  The mandate of the function may be wide – around culture, engagement, talent development, change management – but for the most part HR people are seen as service providers and advisers to the

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The Finkelstein Inquiry

The Finkelstein inquiry report came out recently. For many months I have ben annoyed by facile, superficial and often heavily biased tabloid journalism (both on TV and in the print media). Not to mention a few instances of absolutely egregious conduct in media reports.  I determined to read the report. It runs to several hundred

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Our new baby is born!

Packed with insights – despite being modest in length.  I am referring to a book actually – born out of collaboration with a range of experienced contributors.  The book is titled: “Employer Branding – Case Studies and comments from Industry Professionals” – and is aimed squarely at HR Directors and business leaders generally, where the

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A look at the year just finished…

We have worked with a number of CEOs and partner level individuals in 2011, and our strong focus on quality continues to position us away from the broader “Outplacement market”. Our aim is to be trusted advisors for senior people undertaking career change – rather than a volume driven, high overhead supplier of standardised career

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Shopping for career transition services

It has become a practice in recent years for some organisations to prompt senior people experiencing retrenchment to choose between different suppliers to select a program of support following their exit from the company. The practice is well-intentioned. HR directors have told us that they are at pains to seek to ensure that executives retain

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The impact of an organisation’s transactional culture after a retrenchment

We do, as you might imagine, hear some very interesting stories about the inner workings of a range of organisations.  We pick up and absorb messages about their cultures as we talk with their representatives and the people who leave them. The messages include the way decisions are made, how communication occurs and how people

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To retire or not to retire

This month I have had a crack at writing a short paper about senior partners in law firms and in professional services firms, when the time to consider “retirement” looms. It has not been an easy paper to write, because I think this is one of the more challenging career transitions to contemplate. The journey

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On having a plan B

After dramatic plunges across the developed world in stocks and currencies and a massive rally in bond rates, the question is being asked are we in crisis mode again? Just as the dust was clearing from the pantomime in Washington DC over the US debt ceiling, global financial markets have whipped attention back to the

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Decisions decisions…….

Do you ever struggle with making decisions? A great book on this subject caught my eye recently: “The Decisive Moment”, by Jonah Lehrer.[i] It is an easy to read, articulate discussion about how best to think about making decisions. The book emphasises the interplay of both cognitive and emotional intelligence in decision making.  Good decisions

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Some surprises for us in the Senior Management Survey

At Macfarlan Lane we continue to be intrigued about what makes careers “work”. What makes work fulfilling. How individuals develop. And how they best navigate pathways through transitions. Our research project this year examined the theme of career satisfaction. I won’t repeat all the findings of this particular research here: they are summarized and dissected

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Working on an employment reputation

What springs to mind for you when you hear the term “employer brand”? As I understand it, a brand is what key constituents think about you and what attracts individuals to want to associate with you.  Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy has said: “Your employer brand isn’t what you say it is. It is

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Hollywood – at it again

You might recall that in my blog of March of 2010 I tackled a George Clooney movie called “Up in the Air”. This was a satirical story based on the life of someone to whom large corporations outsourced the task of sacking people. It bore as much resemblance to the real work of career transition

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Is the information overload damaging our brains and our ability to think?

Do you agree that we are hooked on emails, texts and tweets?  How do you deal with information overload? You might recall that last month I had just read Sennet’s book “The Corrosion of Character” and my blog for that month drew heavily from that source. It seems that a fair bit of my reading

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How much does the work we do define us?

I have been reflecting on the nature of careers and on work more generally, and what this means in terms of making something of ourselves in the lives we have.  I’ve been reading the works of Richard Sennett’s “The Craftsman”[1]and an earlier book of his, “The Corrosion of Character”[2]. In “The Corrosion of Character” Sennett

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OK – I am out of here to go lie on a beach somewhere….

“I am out of here!” is often a response to redundancy. The passionate determination to leave a bad situation and simply chill out for a few months. Losing your job is an enormous psychological blow.  In this spectrum of reactions there is the desire to escape, the desire to go climb a mountain or take

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Don’t just do something….sit there

Often in our work with executives we meet people with the habit of burning the candle at both ends. They experience a sense of great urgency, they’re restless, impatient and competitive. Business leaders who are something like dynamos. They are used to being task oriented, supremely focused, and working hard – and these are the

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The best organisations

The best organisations are places where people really enjoy their work and their careers.  Enjoyment is infectious. It causes people to look out for each other. People who are positively rewarded by the work they do – tend to do it well.  Customers notice. People who find their work fulfilling tend not to leave. They

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A brilliant career

Every now and then you see someone who appears to have glided inexorably upwards, in one or more organisations, to an influential, admired and well remunerated role.  The individual rests comfortably on their accomplishments, seems poised and displays personal mastery. You say to yourself “I wish I could do that. Reach the top and operate

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CAREER RE-INVENTION: A USEFUL MIND-SET

A recent article in the “Australian Financial review’ got me thinking more about the transience of employment generally.  We are reminded of this during down-turns. We are reminded as well when new CEO’s are appointed and then act to quickly bring in their own team ( usually at some cost to those already in senior

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BUILDING A ROAD MAP IN A NEW ROLE

A new job is like a fresh start for many people: a significant new investment of time and enthusiasm.  You may not be sure yet of the challenges or how you will meet them, but you know that first impressions – especially in the first 3 months – are critical to your success – or

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TIME OUT

One of the “costs” of corporate life is that in the pressures of work it is difficult for individuals to find time to develop their careers.  This is true at many levels.  Many partners in professional services firms – taking one example of successful people in conventional terms – feel totally caught up in their

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in Career Transition

Navigating a path through a career transition can be both an emotional and practical challenge. The challenge increases if the career change is sudden and imposed, if a new direction is contemplated after years in one profession, and if there are financial and family pressures.  It is terrific if a peer level coach is provided.

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