10 Simple Techniques to Eliminate Interviewer Bias

04/21/15 0 COMMENTS

People who are honest with themselves recognize they often make judgments about people they’re hiring based on insufficient, flawed or biased data. But few interviewers are honest with themselves. Most let their emotions, biases and flawed thinking dominate who gets hired. Worse, most people don’t even recognize the problem.

I just read an article on Fast Company regarding the negative consequences of this type of decision-making. As the article (indirectly) points out, interviewers make mistakes by overvaluing the quality of the candidate’s first impression, level of assertiveness, affability and communication skills. Mistakes are also made if the interviewer is overly confident in his or her own interviewing skills or uses cloudy judgment like assuming attending a prestigious university or technical brilliance is a prerequisite or predictor of success.

Based on 35 years of interviewing thousands of candidates I’d suggest that more than 50% of hiring errors are attributed to these types of issues. So if you or someone you know is less than honest when it comes to recognizing their own biases, try these ideas out the next time you or they interview a candidate.

10 Ways to Become an Honest and Objective Interviewer

1. Bring your biases to the conscious level. People tend to relax when they meet a candidate they instantly like and get uptight when this instant reaction is negative. Make a note about this the next time you meet a candidate. Controlling your biases starts by recognizing you have them.

2. Do the opposite of your typical first impression reaction. Most people seek out positive confirming facts for people they like and negative facts for people they don’t like. You can neutralize your biases by doing the opposite.

3. Treat candidates as consultants. We initially give someone who is a subject matter expert or a highly regarded consultant the benefit of the doubt. If you give every candidate the same courtesy – whether you like them or not – the truth will be evident by the end of the interview.

4. Measure 1st impression at end of interview. If first impressions are important for job success, assess them at the end of the interview when you’re not seduced by them. Then objectively determine if the person’s first impression will help or hinder on-the-job success.

5. No 2’s. The Performance-based Hiring process I advocate uses a 1-5 scale to rank candidates on the 10 factors that best predict on-the-job performance. A Level 2 is someone who’s competent but not motivated to do the work required. By spending extra time on determining what motivates a candidate to excel, you’ll be able to tell the difference between social energy and true work ethic.

6. Listen to the judge. The judge’s instructions to the jurors are always the same: Hear all of the evidence before reaching a conclusion. Every interviewer should take the same advice.

7. Conduct a phone screen first. The less personal nature of a phone screen naturally reduces bias by eliminating visual clues and focusing on general fit and the person’s track record of growth and performance. By establishing this initial connection with the candidate based on his or her past performance, the candidate’s actual first impression – strong or weak – is less impactful.

8. Use evidence, not emotions, to assess the person. Unless backed up with evidence, words like “feel,” “think,” “gut” and “not sure” are evidence of emotional and biased decision-making. “While the candidate is quiet, the fact that he was assigned to two cross-functional leadership teams reporting to the COO on critical projects indicates strong team skills,” represents how evidence should be collected and used to make decisions.

9. Wait 30 minutes. Force yourself to wait at least 30 minutes before making any yes or no decision. During this time collect the same information from each candidate whether you like the person or not. This waiting will be a lot easier if you do all of the above first. Then don’t be surprised if nervous candidates become less nervous and outgoing candidates become less impressive.

10. Divide and conquer to systematize bias out of the selection process. Don’t let anyone have a full yes or not vote on whom gets hired. Instead assign each person on the interviewing team a subset of the factors in this Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard to “own.” During the debriefing session share everyone’s evidence. This way the team makes the hiring decision neutralizing the emotional bias of each team member.
Be honest with yourself. When it comes to hiring, recognize your biases and force them into the parking lot. This won’t compromise your standards of performance. Instead, it will open your eyes to a broader group of remarkable people who are more diverse, less traditional and more motivated to excel that you never even knew existed.

Lou Adler

Your Job and Your Politics: Keep Them Separate

04/14/15 0 COMMENTS

Presidential election season is already upon us with recent announcements by Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul. There are still 19 months to Election Day, and these three are already seeking our support for their runs to the White House in January 2017.

And if you’re like me, you’ve got an opinion on all of them (and the gaggle of Republicans sure to follow them into the mosh pit). You probably also love or hate the current guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And if you’re even a little bit like me, you may also have a big mouth.

So here’s the question: Should your professional career and your political opinions mix?

No. In case you missed that, here it is again: HELL. NO.

Much like your employer is prohibited (legally and by the laws of common-sense) from unduly influencing you or pressuring you to vote for (or support) a particular candidate or party, it’s also smart business for you to keep your political ranting, raging, opinions and campaigning limited to your friends and family, and under wraps when at work.

That means you should leave your “Change ’08” earrings at home – and cover up your Ronald Reagan tattoo when you head to the office.
And when you post your anti-Keystone blog from your couch, maybe limit your audience to your spouse and your mother – and you may want to take down that “Don’t Tread On Me” flag in your office, too.
While I don’t know if anyone from the ACLU or the Tea Party Patriots is among my LinkedIn followers, I can already hear the noise about individual rights, liberty and free speech.

But I’m not writing this from the perspective of your rights or your liberty (and what you’re allowed to do under the law). I’m writing this because it’s your job we’re talking about. Your career. Your livelihood. Your paycheck. Your family’s meal ticket. I’m writing this from the perspective of common sense.

Sharing your Obama rants with co-workers and clients – is a flat-out horrible decision.
Cajoling your fellow-employees to vote for “your” Candidate is a terrible idea. T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.
And wearing your “I LOVE RICK SANATORUM” t-shirt on casual Friday is just bad, bad taste.
And all of it is solidly in the danger zone on the career-damage-o-meter.

Yes, California, Colorado, New York, North Dakota and Washington, DC all have laws in place that make it tough for your employer to discriminate against you professionally because of your political activity or beliefs at (or away from) work (unless your rantings are disrupting business).

But the legality of you being politically active at work is not my point. What we’re talking about here is: Is it SMART to do it? (please see above for that answer)

Being a big-mouth about politics (candidates and elections) at work can be a silent killer. It will quietly (or loudly) frame opinions about you among co-workers, executives and subordinates. It will limit your opportunities. It will label you. It will cost you. I realize many may not agree with that. And even more people might not like it, but it’s true: When it comes to your personal life and opinions at work, less is more.

So, whether you’re in the far left wing of the Liberal Movement – or if you’re in the right’s Conservative Camp (or somewhere between the two), leave it at home. All of it.

And remember, the Inter-web makes an opinion exponentially bigger than it actually is. Which means we must know our entire audience before we post politics or pictures, and before we open up with political rhetoric at work (this is also smart behavior that will be a big benefit in future job hunting as well).

In short, the company water cooler is a great place for catching up on last night’s sports, the Kardashians (I’m sorry. Really.), and talking about actual local/national/global/intergalactic news. Or (novel idea) – even work.

But it’s definitely no place for your political opinions. It’s just not worth it.

Bruce Martin

Recruiter’s Secret #2 – And Just Pull The Trigger

04/07/15 0 COMMENTS

Once upon a time there was a search assignment. Perfect candidate meets perfect client. All should have been well. But then, client puts a hold on proceedings – for no really good reason.

A few months later the client calls me and wants to hire Ms. Perfect after all. But guess what? She’s gone on to greener pastures. And even if she hasn’t, she now has a bad taste in her mouth. The client looks commitment phobic.

This unfortunate circumstance is what I like to call Fear of Pulling the Trigger Syndrome. With some companies, it is downright epidemic. Don’t be that company! Your market reputation is at stake, and being the one who can’t commit is unattractive.

Now I do know how this can occur on the client side. I’ve been a hiring manager myself, and sometimes stuff happens. But here’s what happens on the candidate side. There she is, working away at her job. Not looking for anything else. I call and convince her to look up and around.

Once this happens there is an invisible switch that gets flipped to the “on” position. The candidate realizes that if the job I presented to her is out there (and looks better than her current gig), then maybe there are others.

There are others. Which brings us back to the trigger issue.

Once you find a candidate that you really like and that really likes you back, seal the deal. Hiring is like dating – state your intentions up front or be pushed aside by a company that will. Remember, time kills all deals. Don’t let it kill yours!

So, do your due diligence, and then proceed. Fortune favors the action-oriented. Just pull the trigger!

Happy Hunting.

Lynnae Miller

The 3 Cardinal Sins of KPIs and Performance Metrics

04/01/15 0 COMMENTS

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are incredibly powerful tools in modern business and most people have heard about them, which means that many businesses have sought to implement KPIs in some form or another. As a result, there is a danger that you could dismiss KPIs thinking, “Oh I’ve tried KPIs they don’t work in my business” or “are not relevant in my business”.

KPIs do work and they are relevant in every business from small family run organisations to global multi-nationals. If you’ve tried to use them or you know someone who’s tried to use them and they didn’t yield their promise then my guess is you or your acquaintance committed one or more of the three cardinal sins of KPIs…

Measuring everything that walks and moves
Collecting the same KPIs as everyone else
Not choosing the relevant KPIs
Measuring everything that walks and moves

One of the biggest errors people make when seeking to implement KPIs is that they decide to measure everything that walks and moves. They ferret out every single metric, data point or information hot spot.

The assumption is that lots of information is better than no information but actually it’s not. Too much information is as useless as too little so seeking to squeeze every drop of data from every corner of the business without any regard for what you actually need and how you will actually use the vast amount of data you plan to collect is just as damaging as doing nothing.

In fact you could argue it’s more damaging because you are wasting time and money collecting data you will never use which is not only pointless but very frustrating to the people who do the collecting! Going from nothing to everything is remarkably common but it never works. Instead it leads to overwhelm and within a matter of months towels are being thrown in all over the business as executives mutter, “see I told you it wouldn’t work” or, “See we tried that before and it was a nightmare then too.”

Forget what you can measure, instead figure out what questions you need answered in order to deliver your strategy and only implement KPIs that will answer those questions.

Collecting the same measures as everyone else

The other big error people make is working out what KPIs to measure by looking at what everyone else is measuring. So a business leader may decide that KPIs are something he really needs to take seriously but rather than work out what information he needs and what critical business questions he needs the data to answer he will look at competitor businesses or discuss KPIs with other senior executives inside or outside the business and gather a list of KPIs that everyone else is measuring.

This can also happen if a particular KPI or metric gains popularity in leadership journals. Just because everyone is talking about customer satisfactions surveys or employee engagement surveys doesn’t automatically mean you need those KPIs. Whether you invest in these types of measure will depend on your strategy and nothing else.

Obviously there are some KPIs that most businesses will measure – especially around the financials of the business but outside those stalwarts consider your business needs only not popularity. Besides you may not even know what your competitors strategy is so copying those KPIs will usually be a waste of time.

Not choosing the relevant KPIs

The final clanger people make when implementing KPIs is they don’t choose the right ones. There are loads of KPIs to choose from. In my book Key performance Indicators I list 75 but there are many more than that. Needless to say, many business people are already completely overwhelmed by KPIs, how many there are and whether or not they should be measuring them!

If you also consider that the amount and type of data we have access to is constantly increasing and therefore the amount and type of KPIs will also increase then it’s easy to see why people panic and just grab the easy, obvious or common KPIs. At least that way they can say, “KPIs – yeah sure I have some of them!”

It really doesn’t need to be that hard. KPIs are only useful if they are meaningful and deliver mission critical information. It follows therefore that once you know what you are trying to achieve that target should drive the KPI selection process and nothing else.

Bernard Marr

12 Habits of Exceptional Leaders

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

One of the most popular Dilbert comic strips in the cartoon’s history begins with Dilbert’s boss relaying senior leadership’s explanation for the company’s low profits. In response to his boss, Dilbert asks incredulously, “So they’re saying that profits went up because of great leadership and down because of a weak economy?” To which Dilbert’s boss replies, “These meetings will go faster if you stop putting things in context.”

Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time explaining the specifics of what they do that makes their leadership so effective. Great leadership is dynamic; it melds a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole.

Below are 12 essential behaviors that exceptional leaders rely on every day. Give them a try and you can become a better leader today.

1. Courage

“Courage is the first virtue that makes all other virtues possible.” —Aristotle

People will wait to see if a leader is courageous before they’re willing to follow his or her lead. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show courage themselves when their leaders do the same.

For the courageous leader adversity is a welcome test. Like a blacksmith’s molding of a red-hot iron, adversity is a trial by fire that refines leaders and sharpens their game. Adversity emboldens courageous leaders and leaves them more committed to their strategic direction.

Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line. They follow the safest path—the path of least resistance—because they’d rather cover their backside than lead.

2. Effective Communication

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” —Joseph Priestley

Communication is the real work of leadership. It’s a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. You simply can’t become a great leader until you are a great communicator.

Great communicators inspire people. They create a connection with their followers that is real, emotional, and personal, regardless of any physical distance between them. Great communicators forge this connection through an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs.

3. Generosity

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” —John Maxwell

Great leaders are generous. They share credit and offer enthusiastic praise. They’re as committed to their followers’ success as they are to their own. They want to inspire all of their employees to achieve their personal best – not just because it will make the team more successful, but because they care about each person as an individual.

4. Humility

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis

Great leaders are humble. They don’t allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they won’t ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.

5. Self-Awareness

“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” —Latin Proverb

Contrary to what Dilbert might have us believe, leaders’ gaps in self-awareness are rarely due to deceitful, Machiavellian motives, or severe character deficits. In most cases, leaders—like everyone else—view themselves in a more favorable light than other people do.

Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, a skill that 90% of top performing leaders possess in abundance. Great leaders’ high self-awareness means they have a clear and accurate image not just of their leadership style, but also of their own strengths and weaknesses. They know where they shine and where they’re weak, and they have effective strategies for leaning into their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses.

6. Adherence to the Golden Rule +1

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” – Jon Wolfgang von Goethe

The Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated – assumes that all people are the same. It assumes that, if you treat your followers the way you would want a leader to treat you, they’ll be happy. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.

Great leaders don’t treat people how they themselves want to be treated. Instead, they take the Golden Rule a step further and treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Great leaders learn what makes people tick, recognize their needs in the moment, and adapt their leadership style accordingly.

7. Passion

“If you just work on stuff that you like and are passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. So are boredom and apathy. No one wants to work for a boss that’s unexcited about his or her job, or even one who’s just going through the motions. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them.

8. Infectiousness

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.

9. Authenticity

“Just be who you are and speak from your guts and heart – it’s all a man has.” – Hubert Humphrey

Authenticity refers to being honest in all things – not just what you say and do, but who you are. When you’re authentic, your words and actions align with who you claim to be. Your followers shouldn’t be compelled to spend time trying to figure out if you have ulterior motives. Any time they spend doing so erodes their confidence in you and in their ability to execute.

Leaders who are authentic are transparent and forthcoming. They aren’t perfect, but they earn people’s respect by walking their talk.

10. Approach-ability

“Management is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.” – Tommy Lasorda

Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insight, and ask good questions is destined for failure. By ensuring that they are approachable, great leaders facilitate the flow of great ideas throughout the organization.

11. Accountability

“The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.” – Michael Armstrong

Great leaders have their followers’ backs. They don’t try to shift blame, and they don’t avoid shame when they fail. They’re never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up.

12. Sense Of Purpose

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

Whereas vision is a clear idea of where you’re going, a sense of purpose refers to an understanding of why you’re going there. People like to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders give people that feeling.

Bringing It All Together

Becoming a great leader doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate all of these traits at once. Focus on one or two at a time; each incremental improvement will make you more effective. It’s okay if you “act” some of these qualities at first. The more you practice, the more instinctive it will become, and the more you’ll internalize your new leadership style.

Dr. Travis Bradberry

Lennar Between The Lines

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

http://www.builderonline.com/newsletter/lennar-between-the-lines_t?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=jump&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BP_032015&day=2015-03-20&he=0e52b82328976db98ee2c03e1c12ba38885505d1

Claire Spence, Equity Partner Congratulates her client Hayden Homes!

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

Claire Spence, Equity Partner would like to say how proud she is of the leadership team at Hayden Homes, LLC.

http://www.hayden-homes.com/pacific-northwests-largest-private-homebuilder-advances-leadership-team/

Hayden Homes LLC Acquires 1200 Residential Lots from Copper Basin Construction

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

http://www.hayden-homes.com/hayden-homes-llc-acquire-1200-residential-lots-copper-basin-construction/

Lennar Earnings Beat Estimates as Peak Buying Time Begins

03/23/15 0 COMMENTS

http://www.builderonline.com/newsletter/lennar-earnings-beat-estimates-as-peak-buying-time-begins_t?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=jump&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BP_032015&day=2015-03-20&he=0e52b82328976db98ee2c03e1c12ba38885505d1

The Career Advice I Wish I Had at 25

03/17/15 0 COMMENTS

In the future, when we turn 50, we will each be given a ticket to a time machine and, just once, we will be able to go back in time and talk to our 25-year-old selves.

Even then, time travel will be expensive and wreak havoc with frequent flyer programs. So there will only be one trip. So what if we could? What would we say? What advice would we give?

I often wish I could do this. Just once. So, just in case the time machine ever comes along, this is the career advice I would give my 25-year-old self.

1. A career is a marathon, not a sprint

Chill. When we are younger we tend to be impatient. As you get older you realize there is no real rush. Life, and the careers we pursue to fill it and pay the bills, needs to be approached on a long-term basis. If you sprint you will wear out or start to resent work that you previously enjoyed. Allow yourself time to breath and grow. Things will come if you work hard and allow yourself time to get good at things. Always rushing only leaves you empty, and tired. It is fine to give yourself permission to take some time in the slow lane with the hat people. You will find yourself seeing things on the journey that you didn’t realize were there.

2. Most success comes from repetition, not new things

I remember hairdressing legend Stefan Ackerie telling me this in 2003. I had never really thought about it before. A few years later Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant book Outliers was published, promoting the idea that you needed to spend 10,000 hours on something to become truly expert at it. This applied to the Beatles and their Hamburg gigs and Bill Gates who, through a series of fortuitous accidents, ended up spending more time than almost anyone else on a computer.

The lesson here is get good at things before you try to move to the next thing. Genuine expertise belongs to an elite few. They seldom have superpowers. They usually have endurance, patience and take a long-term view. They also love what they do. If your find that, don’t let it go.

3. If work was really so great all the rich people would have the jobs

It is well established that almost nobody laments on their death bed that they didn’t spend enough time at the office. This seems obvious. Yet still we let contrived circumstances and fairly trivial issues keep us from important events like school sport days and kids getting badges for picking up rubbish. I wish somebody had schooled me about these priorities at 25. I can remember every sport day and certificate presentation I missed. I can’t remember any of the reasons I missed them.

4. De-prioritize your career when your kids are young

If you have skills, commitment and passion, careers tend to take care of themselves. Over the long haul, it really doesn’t matter if you have a few years when your career is in canter mode while you prioritize young children. This should apply to men and women. I was watching some video of my kids when they were little last week and I realized, again, that the little people in that video don’t exist in that form anymore. They have grown into pride-worthy adults but the tiny people with wonder in their eyes were just passing through. If you miss that time meeting deadlines and finishing reports, you never get it back. Childhood is fleeting. When it is in its formative stages, you get one chance.

You can also miss the chance to learn. Children teach you a lot more than you teach them. They give you a second chance to see the world for the first time through their eyes. And you will be astounded what you miss in the clutter of life. Hold onto those times while you can. As the nun sang in The Sound of Music, you can’t keep a wave upon the sand. And you look kinda ridiculous trying.

5. In the workforce, always act like you are 35

A recruiter gave me this advice some years ago. It is quite inspired. What she meant was, when you are young in the workplace, don’t act as a novice. If you are smart and competent, step up and do whatever you are capable of doing in a mature way. Similarly, when you are an older worker, don’t act like it. Approach your day with youthful energy. To quote a famous Frank Sinatra song: “You’re 35 and it’s a very good year”.

6. Management is about people, not things

It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that all people are equal, behave the same every day and have a generic capacity to perform. Humans are simply not made like that. Business guru Jack Welsh says the workforce consists of 20 per cent of people who are high performers, 10 per cent that you should get rid of and 70 per cent who do okay. The problem is the 70 per cent. Most managers want everyone in the 20 per cent. We need to be careful not to believe that the 70 per cent are under-performers. Sometimes we need to celebrate the competence of the masses not the superpowers of the elite. As managers, we are not managing things, we are empowering people and making the best use of whatever it is they bring to the table.

7. Genuinely listen to others

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have all the answers as individuals. We don’t. As a group we are far more powerful. We need to learn to genuinely collaborate and really listen to the opinions of others. And we need to ask our own people first. So many managers and firms fall into the trap of asking external consultants for answers and then trying to implement the recommendations over the top of tried-and-true employees. In almost every case, our own people already know the answers. We need to avoid letting familiarity blind us to the talent sitting around us.

8. Never work for horrible people

Life is way too short to tolerate really bad bosses. If you find yourself working for one, unless you are desperate or starving, start looking for a new job. Immediately. Then sack the bad boss. By leaving.

9. Recognize that staff are people with finite emotional capacity

This is one I really wish I had known earlier. It is clear to me now that humans have a finite emotional capacity. If there is something challenging happening in their personal lives, they have limited capacity left to deal with issues at work. In nearly 100 per cent of cases I have dealt with of people suddenly under-performing at work, it has nothing to do with work. When good people have problems, managers and companies need to carry them. This should be a personal mission. If we learn to carry people when they most need it, we become a stronger community and we empower people in ways that we probably can’t imagine when we are young. A re-invigorated broken employee is a corporation’s most powerful force. They become a slightly better version of themselves without the need for an energy drink.

10. Don’t just network with people your own age

Beware the whiz kid syndrome. Smart, young people have a habit of forming communities of other smart young people and feeding off each other’s energy. In the older world they are seen as “bright young things” that give confidence that the future is in good hands. Argghhhh. How many times have you heard that? Youth enclaves can actually be restrictive. Smart 20-somethings should make sure they network with older people too. In fact their networking should be about meeting useful mentors and career champions who can open doors and fast track careers. Similarly, older, successful people shouldn’t just sit in musty clubs talking about the 1970’s. They should be proactively seeking out smart, young people who can shake them out of their comfort zone and open their eyes to new ideas.

11. Celebrate cultural differences in the workplace

One of the big mistakes we make in Australia is failing to adequately recognize the value of overseas experience and people from a variety of cultures. Diversity brings a richness to our workplaces that benefits all of us. Overseas experience is real experience. We should take every opportunity to inject new thinking into our workplaces. It is where the magic begins.

12. Take the time to understand what your business does

I love the story of President J F Kennedy’s visit to NASA during which he asked a cleaner what his job was. The cleaner replied that he sent rockets to the moon. All of us should feel part of what our organizations actually do. We should take the time to be part of the big picture and always feel connected with the true objectives of our workplace. Don’t wait for someone to tell you or lament that internal communication is crap. Find out for yourself.

13. Don’t put off working overseas

Geography is becoming less relevant. We are all citizens of the world. President Obama made the point during his University of Queensland speech that the world was becoming smaller and even the Pacific Ocean was now just a lake. If you get the chance to work overseas, and you aspire to do that, take it. There is never a right time. And we always regret the things we don’t do far more than the things we do.

14. Work in an office where you have friends

You will spend a lot of time at work. You should work with people you like. I used to be a bit skeptical about a question in employment engagement surveys asking people if they had a “best friend” at work. I realize now that work is much better if you are among friends. The happiest people are those who do things they are passionate about with people they really like. Further to that, if you find you have taken on a job you hate, ditch it quickly. Your career can survive a few well-intentioned detours and mistaken pathways.

15. Never sacrifice personal ethics for a work reason

Crucial to workplace happiness is value alignment. If you work somewhere that compromises your personal ethics and values, get out of there as quickly as you can. Good people will be unnerved by things that don’t feel right. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Bad things only manifest when good people don’t take a stand.

16. Recognize that failure is learning

As bizarre as it might sound, failing is not failure. Researchers recognize that failure is just part of a process to eliminate unsuccessful options. To misquote Woody from Toy Story, when we make a few mistakes, we are not failing, just falling – with style. Even fairy-tale princesses recognize that you need to kiss a lot of toads before you find a handsome prince. Thomas Edison articulated this best: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” If we fear failure we tend to take a minimalist approach to our jobs and the opportunities around us. Takes some risks. Sometimes failing spectacularly is the best evidence that we are alive, human and serious about aspiring to the extraordinary. There is no value in being ordinary when you have the capacity to be remarkable.

Now, to get started on that time machine…

Shane Rodgers

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