Monthly Archives: March 2009

Pie Night Clarity

Wow… what a night.

A night of mayhem, madness, excitement, order and anarchy, and let’s not forget, pride and fun and smiles.

That was my night tonight. I attended my son’s first football club meeting, in the form of a jumper presentation and pie night (A great Aussie tradition). It was Zach’s first involvement in a footy club, and his excitement all week in the lead up, seemed justified with his facial expressions as he took the whole thing in. The highlight for him (and his apparently very proud Dad) obviously being presented with his first “real” football playing jumper, and a great kit bag full of stuff from the AFL and its sponsors nab. (I’m not endorsing nab, however the amount of money they must pour into this astounds me. If every junior club and every junior player got the same stuff, well, let’s just say WOW!)

Another thing struck me, being in attendance tonight. How many people, freely give up their time for others. This is a volunteer/honorary organisation, run by people who just believe in it, and who want to contribute. Amazing!

I have always been pretty protective with my time. I find it hard to give more to anyone, as I save what I don’t use for work for my immediate family. My parents were always there for me, I saw my Dad every night, he was always home for dinner, Mum was there every afternoon after school, and Dad attended every single sporting event I had as a kid (which I think was every weekend, summer and winter). I want to provide the same for my kids. But there are some amazing people out there, who, I think can do all this and more.

I have been learning about so many people giving of late, it is just great for the soul, and has me questioning myself and feeling a little guilty.

From those who have given for those horrific bushfires in Victoria recently, to people in my own recruiting circles, who have been putting their own special talents to assist those who are suffering in this recession. People like the Susan Kang Nam, (the PinkOlive woman) who heads up a Career Club called SaltyLegs (really have to find out the origin of that name), to the RecruiterGuy Chris Hoyt, who apart from being the Talent Acquisition Guru at AT&T is actively involved in raising funds, well at the moment the Big Brother, Big Sister programmes with “bowling for kids” and more recently the people from JobCamp (#JobCamp), Luke Havey Palmer from Buzzle, and Stephen Collins, AKA @Trib Honestly, what a great concept. Putting together Employers, Unemployed and Specialist Recriuters who really can do something about making jobs for people in a room for 2 days to see if they can make a difference. These are all inspirational people, who’ve had inspirational ideas, and more important is the fact that they ACTED on them.

Well what can I say, whilst not in their league, it did make me put my hand up, much to the surprise to those who know me. For what? may you ask…. Just remember, you heard it here first I am going to be a brand new Auskick coach for the 5-6 year olds at our local club. Maybe I was inspired, or maybe they just put something in the pies?

What is this Twitter thing anyways

You cannot seem to turn around, look at a website, or even have a coffee without Twitter being mentioned.

What is it?

Here is the best explanation I have found.
Twitter in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

Learnings from an evil boss

Working in the HR arena is tough! Especially in bad times. Who likes sitting across the desk from someone explaining to them that as of now your livelihood has been taken away. (I have only met person ((and catbert)) in my career who actually enjoyed it)

We are hearing lots of stories about redundancies at the moment, I was talking with one of my colleagues today about this and how we (the collective “we”) handle it. We must remember there is almost a whole generation in the workforce who have never seen a downturn. Sales people who have never seen an environment where budgets just weren’t to be found, HR people who have never had the “I’m sorry, there is just no job for you here anymore… through no fault of yours”, or candidates who have never had to find a job in a candidate rich market.. phew.

Thus the people delivering the bad news, may have never experienced the bad news before (or had to deliver it before) and may find it difficult to engender sufficient empathy to perform such a task adequately.

Poor handling of such events actually pushed me into this industry! Originally I wanted to be an HR professional. Why? because of the way a company handled my father and his redundancy. My father had worked for a company for 34 years (give or take), until in the early 90’s it was time to rationalise etc (during what one prime minister of Australia called the “Recession we had to have”) and his job was deemed redundant. How was it handled? Poorly from what I remember. Now what I remember may be a little inaccurate as it is seen through an emotional teenagers eyes. However, there was little council, little warning, little payout, little explanation, and less support. It was one of the rare times I saw my father in a very emotional state. The sole bread winner, having spent his entire working life at this establishment, only to get discarded like yesterday’s newspaper. His identity had been taken from him in my view.

My fear is that the marriage of these two points, could mean that, in these most difficult times, the handling of redundancies may not have improved.

In one of my first jobs, as a console operator at a petrol station, my boss decided to teach me a lesson. Why? I still don’t know, but the lesson was learned.

My boss at this time treated me like he was going to fire me. ALL day.. the entire 6 hour shift I had anyway. At the end of the day, he started the you’re fired conversation… I was really scared, stammering and stumbling over my words, really struggling through the conversation.

He then stopped, and grinned. “Have you ever been fired before?” he asked
“Nope” I responded nervously. “Well now you know what it feels like!” “so now before you decide to take this option with someone you know how it feels and how to respect the people you will be doing it too.” Powerful huh! This was almost 20 years ago. You know what, although harsh, and bordering on harassment, I’ve never forgotten it or the feeling.

For those of us who may have to sit in on discussions around redundancies, have the actual conversations, as well as those of us who now are charged with finding them new work, please keep a few things in mind.

Ensure you have thought of everything to prevent having to do this. Just because everyone else is, is not a good enough excuse.

Bring your empathy
. Be human, and be aware that these business decisions will have real personal effects on the people hearing the news. It may not be personal to you, it will be for them… guaranteed!

Bring your respect, and give them dignity.
Take your time in telling them, spell it out clearly and concisely (Don’t get in an argument though).

Expect to feel bad.
That’s OK. The conversations are about them, not you. If people cry, allow them to. Give them space and time, silence is OK. Do not feel the need to fill a silent void with words.

Bring some options for them.
Outplacement, agency names, something. Think about the people and what they may need before the discussion.

Be prepared for criticism and finger pointing, but again, there is no need to buy into arguments, the decision has been made.

And of course have everything organised, current and covered off BEFORE the meeting.. triple check it.

Bottom line… REMEMBER you are dealing with people (with lives, responsibilities, and dreams), not employees, not numbers, not inventory.

I read an article a little while ago which stated that

“More than 40 per cent of the Australian workforce has been made redundant at least once in their careers and for most (70 per cent) it was extremely stressful….”

The stress mentioned will be for a number of reasons, the loss of income, the loss of identity, the loss of self confidence due to the stigma attached to a redundancy.

Redundancies are not just a clear out of dead wood anymore. Good/Great people are being laid off too. IT IS A REALITY. We have a responsibility to ensure that people being made redundant know this, and as Employers, we need not to look at people who have been made redundant, actively challenge the idea that only the “Dead wood”, would be culled first. Hard business decisions are needing to be made everywhere.

OK, these are tough conversations to have, you have every right to feel uncomfortable and nervous about having them. If you are the person delivering the message…. Please remember these discussions aren’t about you, they are about the person you are talking to. Give them the respect and dignity they deserve by present for them and not just a messenger.

I am not a religious person, however the term “Do unto others…” rings true to me.

Sunshine from the rain

I was getting depressed earlier this week. Things were getting tough at work, the recession was knocking on the door, I had a proper look at my taxes coming due, I was tired and I read a few disturbing articles.

One, I must say I was pretty late on. It was an article from November which reported on the fact that an employee in Sydney for global giant EDS attempted suicide after finding out he was being made redundant. See more of article here. This if nothing else made the stark reality of our current times hit home for me.

Then as if on cue an article appeared in our local news paper about one of Australia’s leading banks, spending half a million dollars on an Executive getaway, just before laying off 500 people. (More here). I must say, this made me question a few things too…. Maybe it was well deserved? If nothing else it smacks of an arrogance in an unsure market, and something that has to put a poor taste in the mouths of those who were let go, and perhaps the public in general. In truth, I read and re-read a few times to ensure I got it.

Then this morning happened. Nothing unusual really, woke up late… train on time (things looking up), got a free up sized coffee (things looking really up!) then as I cross the road to my office I see something pro-active and positive happening.

I see the good people of camped outside a major ANZ bank building (and I must note a Telstra building, 2 of the major employers in Australia, who have announced lay offs recently) offering pamphlets and career advice for people who want it. They took the mountain to Mohammed. Awesome stuff guys. A great idea, not sure what the results will be or even what you wanted to get out of it, but it inspired me, and took a bit of the gloom and doom of the preceding days away to see companies out there doing something. Congratulations! Read more about this here and here. It’s kind of funny… an online job board, burgeoning on Recruitment 2.0, here in downtown Melbourne going old school, hitting the bricks and making a big impression. And put some sunshine in my day

The Thumper Principle morphed into The Gambler edict

For those of us technically challenged, this will blow you mind

This was presented to a group of Sony executives last year.

Very thought provoking!

When is THE time? Building your career

I remember growing up wanting to be like my heroes on the sporting field, I wanted to play AFL footy for Carlton, and of course play cricket for Australia, unfortunately I learned quite early I lacked one important ingredient to be successful in these fields.. Talent.

There was always hope though of course growing up, if I could practice that little bit more, do something more like the my heroes did, I’d copy all the techniques in a desperate attempt to glean the gold which will give me that talent… nothing worked..

But there was still hope. Even when I got a little older and things became a little more real for me, people my age were getting drafted into teams, even those great ones, starting to play for these teams. I was really amazed when someone my age got chosen for one of these teams… any moment, they’ll recognise my (well) hidden talent and I’ll be on my way for a great sporting career. It never happened.

Now I find myself in the bizarre situation where people my age are being labelled as too old to play, have started retiring from these competitions,way past their prime from a sporting sense. That’s confronting…. too old? seriously? me? My chances of getting drafted to Carlton or being called up to the Australian Cricket team are officially over. No need to keep the mobile phone fully charged, I’m starting to realise the call just won’t come.

I have finally come to terms with this, however something else hit me (apart from my wife for having such silly thoughts) When is my prime? These guys are apparently past it in their chosen fields, when do you hit your prime in a professional sense? Am I already passed it? If not when will I be there? How will I know it when I am there? or is it something you look back on fondly, saying “I remember when I knew everything”

I heard someone say once I’m tool old to know everything like I did when I was 20.

Is the timing, that in your 20s your learning your craft, in your 30s your really establishing yourself, in your 40s you can start milking it, in you 50s are set, 60s you can retire and play more golf!

From that, by your 40s you should be in your professional prime. In this time of Baby Boomers moving on, and Gen Y’s getting a bigger part of the professional pie, do these numbers hold. Or in reality are they just numbers? Totally irrelevent in real life.

Gee I hope I haven’t passed my prime, I’m still learning so much and having so much fun learning it (and I still have half my house to pay off). However, I’m also at the stage where I am starting to impart my “knowledge” on other people (whether they want it or not) and some grey is coming in, more visible when no product in my hair apparently. I’m still mimicing my heroes, but from my chosen profession now (see my JD (Jason Davis) wannabe hat photo, no I’m not telling you where it is)

I’d love some input from people…

If you are passed your prime, when was it?

If you haven’t hit it yet, when do you think it will be?

If you are in your prime, how do you know?

Back to the #HRFutures 2 – Post Morning Tea

This is part II of a series dedicated to the #HRFutures conference held in Melbourne recently. It has been a busy time of late in the office, so unfortunately it has taken me a little while to get to the next part in my series.

Just to recap for those just joining me here.

While Sean Lew introduced us to the ideas of WIKI’s and how applied to a business, next up were a couple of guys from Atlassian, namely Joris Luijke and Matt Hodges, to talk about the provision of HR solutions through the use of WIKIs.

I hope the people at Atlassian don’t mind me posting this, if so, let me know and it’ll be gone πŸ™‚

I had not (embarrassingly enough) heard of this product before, and it did seem like I was the only one in the room. (FYI to further add a tinge of redness to my face, I later found out my company uses this product, just no-one had told me, or the rest of the Recruitment HR team. It seems it was implemented in a cunningly quiet way for some interesting strategic reasons I’d best not go into).

Now these guys, whilst skilled presenters were the best ambassadors for a company I have seen in a while, I really hope when I speak about my company I can speak as passionately. Surprisingly it didn’t seem too salesy, which I must admit was a concern at the start for me. Again this presentation raised lots of questions and brought out lots of ideas for me which were quickly scribbled on my note pad as I didn’t want to miss anything. My eyes were really starting to be opened to the possibilities of deploying anything 2.0 into an organisation. Also, some pride etched its way into me, hearing about the success of such a great “little” Australian company, how hadn’t I heard of this earlier. Note to self, get your head out of the sand!

Thomas Shaw was next up, with a presentation around the idea of Recruitment in the Web2.0 world. I was prepared for this, a) I’d met Thomas the previous week at another briefing, b) we’d been Twittering and blogging over a number of sites and c) I’d had a quick look at the presentation the previous night after he’d twittered it was up on slideshare already. Sorry Thomas πŸ™‚ It didn’t spoil the ending though. Thomas is a deep thinker about this area, and is very serious in its application, some of the things he finds on the web on a daily basis astound me.

Thomas spoke gave me more things to think about (again a great sign in a conference for me, I don’t go for answers, I go to help open me up mentally). He spoke of things like the growing amount of Aggregators in the Australian job market space and that the time of job boards is coming to an end. I learned however about a number of tools and uses for Twitter, I had no idea about some of the secret Twitter language, ie #HAJ (signifies that you have a job for someone) and #NAJ (signifies that you need a job) and the ability to add an RSS feed into Twitter (OK I am technically challenged, I only learned about the old RSS feed about a year ago), using FlickR for recruitment purposes, and of course the importance of having your companies website, the landing website if you push traffic somewhere, needing to be top notch and tailoring to the job seeker. (using tech like Buzznumbers to find it as to ensure it is working you need to be able to measure and manage the data coming in). You can see the slides from Thomas’ presentation here.

I hope Thomas doesn’t mind me doing this… Thomas? OK?

He also had a pretty tough time to present as he was the last cab off the rank before lunch, a notoriously tough time to present, just under the presentation at the end of the day which could be keeping people from their beverage of choice. I’ve consistently enjoyed watching Thomas’ thoughts via blog and his passion about the industry via Twitter, he didn’t disappoint when presenting live!

I definitely went to lunch, wrapped at what I had heard in the morning, aching to see what post lunch dished up!

So much to do…. so little time

Hands up all those who feel this…. go on… I know you want to, or have wanted to in the past.

I have a problem…. which I am a little embarrassed to write about. For goodness sake I am a grown man, I should be able to work this stuff out.

My TO DO List has stretched amazingly, I swear when I left it the other day it was fine, quite happy swimming along, not a care in the world. Now, sitting here very late Friday night, I find I have a presentation to prepare for Wednesday, 5 performance reviews to write, A case study to prepare, a blog or 2 to write, further reviews and an idea I need to develop to present to our CEO next week. And here i am thinking I am a Recruitment Manager, where can I fit actual Recruitment into the day.

The scariest thing… there are things that should be on the TO DO list, which are yet to make it…..


Shouts my mirror as I was having a good hard look at myself. Lots of people are currently without work, my CEO so loving told me today that the Market Analysts asked him why he still had a Recruitment Team? So, you’re a little busy? embrace it, own it, achieve it and move on!

Interview Advice from Pepsi Max

Saw this on TV… Made me laugh, thought I’d share. Please note, this is not product endoresment in anyway… I am a Coke man πŸ™‚