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The top 25 global companies for leaders

March 2, 2010

Hewitt recently released their 2009 list of ‘Global Top Companies for Leaders’ based on research into leadership and talent management practices of 537 companies from around the world.


Image source: Hewitt’s Top Companies for Leaders 2009 (Research Highlights Report).

The list includes companies from a number of industries so it is interesting to learn about the commonalities they share in terms of their approaches to talent management and developing their leaders – something I’ll discuss further in a later post. If you’re interested, you can access region specific report highlights here.

Are there any companies listed that surprise you?

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My friend, the nightmare employee

February 22, 2010

My friend, let’s call him Batman, lives by ethics and a perception of common courtesy understood only by himself. He’s a smart, business savvy guy who gets seriously bored if he’s not intellectually challenged. After spending a year disengaged, in a boring, non-stimulating role (a result of being made redundant earlier in the global financial crisis), he decided to invest some after work hours in getting his business up and running.

A few months in, business was looking good, but needed more attention. Excel spreadsheets weren’t cutting it anymore – he had to move onto using more sophisticated software to track and manage the business’ expenses and activities. All the while, Batman’s 9-5 job was taking up valuable time – time he could spend building relationships with suppliers or getting back to customers.

After Batman spent some time considering whether to leave the security of his job, he made a decision and resigned. When he told me the news, ‘Ok’, I thought ‘Good on him. He’ll be doing something he enjoys, and something that’s mentally stimulating.’ Then…

Friend: “Want to know how I resigned?”

I braced myself, ready for an interesting story.

Friend: “Knock, knock”

Boss: “Who’s there?”

Friend: “My 2 weeks notice”

Since he resigned he’s apparently been causing a bit of a trouble at work – determined to work his last few days in a style he sees fit. That includes strolling around the office in sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt in a strictly corporate environment and purposely getting on the nerves of his manager and co-workers.

I put it to you: How would you deal with this mischief maker if he were one of your employees?

Image source: Super Mega Comics.

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What I learned on holiday

February 18, 2010

The last time I wrote, I was about to go on a holiday and told you I’d be back in late January. I’ve been back one month now (hello, February) with a bit of writer’s block and have been busy enjoying life offline (remember that?). It’s encouraging to see some of you have kept visiting despite the post drought!

So, I got back from my holiday about a month ago feeling refreshed, rested and I am determined to hang onto that feeling. I remembered how important it is to take a mental break – time to clear your head, regain good headspace and just ‘be’. I think this is important, not only for the sake of your mental health, but also to allow yourself time to really think things through, forget about what you need to work on next, and find some inspiration.

On a related note, The Harvard Business Review have a good article on how taking ‘creative sabbaticals’ to give your mind a break helps increase productivity and improve your mental state. They use the example of Stefan Sagmeister, a Designer who takes a creative sabbatical every 7 years, for 1 year at a time. In this year, Sagmeister does not work. Instead, he dedicates time to finding things that inspire him by travelling, talking with people and so on. For the average person, 1 year off work is probably not economically feasible, but I do like the concept of having time dedicated to do the things you normally wouldn’t get time to do. Time to think.

On a smaller scale, I am going to try to dedicate some time each day to relax, clear my head, read, research and think.

What do you do to maintain a good state of mind? If you have any tips or ideas I’d love to hear them.

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See you in the new year!

December 23, 2009

It’s December 23. December 23! I still can’t quite believe it. This year has gone by ridiculously quickly. It has been challenging, stressful, fun and exciting in both a private and professional context. 2010 shows no signs of slowing down.

One of the things I am glad I made time for was getting this blog up and running. I have already had a lot of great conversations, debates and feedback about my posts which encourage me to keep sharing my thoughts here. The dialogue has helped me learn and broaden my perspective and knowledge on things, so thank you.

This time next week I will be on holidays – blissfully checked out and mentally recharging so this is a good bye, I’ll see you next year post :).  I will be completely disconnecting from the virtual world so that means no blog updates until next year.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and a great start to 2010 – I’ll see you back here in late January 2010!

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I have a confession to make…

December 15, 2009

Remember Go Home on Time Day?

I’ll let the pictures start the story:

I was not alone. After Go Home on Time Day on November the 25th, The Australia Institute ran a brief survey of those who signed up with a 12% response rate. According to this post on the HR Magazine’s site, of the ~20,000 people who put their names down for a ‘leave pass’, the survey results indicated that just over half (55%) who signed up kept to their commitment to go home ‘on time’. The remaining 45% (guilty as charged), were not quite as successful.

Of the 45%, the majority cited having “Too much work to do” (68%), and “Colleagues were working late” (11%) as the main reasons they didn’t make it home on time. For me, staying back to get some more work done was a concious decision that I made. The work was not ‘can’t-wait-until-tomorrow’ urgent, but I wanted to spend the extra hours finishing it off before heading home.

The Australia Institute has taken down the Go Home on Time Day site, and I haven’t seen anything to indicate whether they are planning to run the Day next year, or whether they feel the day was a success. Personally I hope this is something they continue to run annually. I found the results from their initial research really informative and it definitely gave me more insight into working hours and patterns in the Australian context.

‘Fess up. If you put your name down to go home on time, did you do it?

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Australia at Work 2009 research findings

December 13, 2009

Last month, the third Australia at Work (A@W) research paper ‘Australia at Work: In a Changing World’ was released by the University of Sydney’s Workplace Research Centre. A@W is a five year research project that started in 2007 to keep tabs on how changes in Australian labour law impact working life.

The paper’s results are based largely on interviews conducted with ~6,801 workers during February-June 2009. As A@W is a longitudinal study, it is worth remembering that the results are limited to the opinions and experiences of the original sample group (i.e. 2006 workforce participants); the results therefore do not take the experiences of new workforce entrants into account. Read more about the survey methodology here or take a look at pages 6 and 7 of the survey.

Things I found interesting:

  • The average number of working hours for full-time employees is 44 hours per week – the same level reported in the A@W 2007 and 2008 papers. This data is also consistent with the Australia Institute’s figures on overtime in Australia which reported that full-time workers were working 70 minutes per day worth of overtime
  • One in four full-time employees want to reduce their hours of work, whilst one in five part-time employees want to increase their hours of work
  • On the whole, the total number of Australians in work has remained stable in spite of the Global Financial Crisis, fear of a recession hitting our shores and an increase in our unemployment rate to 5.7
  • Despite job stability, the number of employees who regard themselves as “dispensable” increased by 3% (to 51% total) stating that they felt if they left their current job, they could easily be replaced
  • Despite the downturn in the economy, the study found considerable evidence that a large portion of workers were unaffected by the downturn with the survey results identifying a 6% decrease in the number of people who reported a lower standard of living in comparison to the 2008 research (21% vs 27%)
  • While a large portion of the workforce reported no affects from the downturn, employees who changed jobs during this time reported a drop in working conditions including a decrease in the number of paid hours of work, a decrease in annual salary and a loss of, or reduction to their paid leave entitlements
  • More workers reported an increase in their managers sharing information with them by consulting about workplace issues. (I wonder if this has anything to do with the increasing popularity of using social media in workplaces?)
  • The number of women employed has increased, although they are quick to caution that this increase should not be misinterpreted as gender equity within Australia
  • What are your thoughts? Are these research findings reflective of your own employment experiences over 2009? I know the information delcaring a large portion of the workforce were unaffected by the downturn came as unexpected news to me (and I still do not buy it).

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    Not using social media in recruitment? You’d better start

    December 6, 2009

    Last week I attended the ATC Social Media Conference that focused on the use of social media in recruitment. There were ~130 people present:  in-house corporate recruiters (the majority), ~15% were agency recruiters and a handful of HR and other professionals.

    Mark Pesce kicked off the day with a talk called “Everything old is new again” and put forth that using social media in recruitment is about using different tools to get the same thing done. Just like with using email, phone and face-to-face meetings, tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and FaceBook (and the list goes on!) can be used to communicate with and attract your candidates.

    Lesson 1: Social media does not need to be approached with the raised eyebrows and fear that many recruiters (and HR professionals) have. It really is not that scary.

    Mark did a quick poll of the room – of the ~130 attendees a mere 15-20% used Twitter and 70% used FaceBook. I think the stat for FaceBook was artificially high as I would hazard a guess that most people use it exclusively for personal purposes. But that’s not to say that it can’t be used as a recruitment tool, and a successful one at that. Margie Kwan from Ernst and Young spoke about how they use FaceBook to interact with and attract graduates. Their FaceBook page has since become the top referrer to their careers site and has helped them communicate the many graduate opportunities available inside the company, outside of accounting.

    When I heard Mark comment on the timeframe over which recruiters have to become adept with social media tools (below) I was confused. Did I hear right? Recruiters have a few years to catch up with social media tools. What?

    You have at least a few years to become adept with the tools, and a few more to build out those nationwide networks. But I can promise this: at the close of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, recruiting will look entirely different — Mark Pesce.

    Full transcript of Mark’s presentation, here.

    I really think this is the wrong message. If you are a recruiter who is not using social media, you are already falling behind. Quickly. Particularly in industries where social media is being used by employers and candidates alike to create their own social networks or by using recruitment agencies who have already cottoned-on.

    Social media means increased accessibility to information and people – boundaries are fast becoming a thing of the past. Smart companies and candidates are already one step ahead and are actively using social media to their benefit. In an unconference session on LinkedIn later in the day, Riges Younan, the facilitator asked the room “Are you guys scared about what’s being talked about today?”

    Lesson 2: If you are not using social media in recruitment, start getting involved now.

    Spend the time understanding where your candidates spend time in the online (and offline) world. An online presence on Twitter, FaceBook or LinkedIn may work for one company, but fail for another if their candidates are not using the same tools. Dan Nuroo, who also attended the conference wrote a good post on this. Social media shouldn’t replace traditional means of recruitment, but that’s another story!

    There were a lot of other great talks and sessions at the conference. A big thank you to the organisers, speakers, and to all the Tweeters I got to meet and catch up with in person – proof of social media in action!

    The 2010 conference is already in the works. If you’re an agency recruiter,  make sure you’re there or feel the wrath of Riges Younan and Ross Clennett. You’ve been warned.

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    Mentoring: Put in the time to make it work

    November 25, 2009

    I was reading somewhere that mentor-mentee relationships usually only provide value once they pass the 6 month stage. Three months into my mentor-mentee relationship (with me being the mentee), I have already learned a lot and gotten a lot of value out of our discussions. It has been great to have someone to explore and field ideas with and it has definitely helped me to develop, even in such a brief amount of time.

    To ensure we got the most out of the relationship, my mentor asked me to think about what my expectations were and exactly what I wanted to achieve. I wrote up some goals then used them to map out topics to set the tone of what I wanted to cover. After some initial discussion, we set up a regular, fortnightly meeting. We usually let what is going on in either of our roles dictate what we talk about, unless it is a topic one of us needs to prepare for. In our catch ups, I try to ask as many questions as I can. My favourite question is “why?” – simple, to the point and it always guarantees different answers. After each catch up, I spend time writing about what I have learnt – a ‘mentoring diary’ of sorts so I have some notes to refer back to when thinking about our discussions.

    Although the primary point of a mentoring relationship is the development of the less experienced person (in this case, me), I would like to think that our relationship is, to an extent, based on reciprocal knowledge sharing, and that we both benefit from the discussions we have. It was great to hear that after one of our catch ups and a question of “What are you doing about it?” from me, my mentor had spent some time thinking about the problem, annoyed that they hadn’t had any examples, then thought up an action and set things in motion to get it resolved. Likewise, I always leave our meetings feeling really inspired and with a head full of ideas that I try to work into actions. I learn a lot.

    A few of the things I feel have helped this become valuable are the goals and my ‘mentoring diary’. The diary has helped to capture what I have learnt and helps me prepare before our catch ups. In our first meeting we also agreed to be honest with each other and maintaining confidentiality which helped set the boundaries.

    There is huge value in having a mentor and I strongly suggest that if you don’t have one, you ask someone now and really invest time into making it work. If you need some encouragement, there is a great blog post written by Melissa Prusher on Steve Boese’s experiences with mentoring relationships suitably titled “Need a mentor? Just ask!”

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    A tired relationship? Australia and overtime

    November 19, 2009

    The results are in. Earlier this week, The Australia Institute published the full results of their nation-wide survey on unpaid overtime in Australia (mentioned in my post ‘Is there such a thing as ‘work/life balance’?’).

    Things I found particularly interesting:

  • 45% of Australian workers work more hours than they are paid for per day
  • Unpaid overtime is more common than paid overtime
  • The amount of unpaid overtime increases, the higher the income
  • Across the Australian workforce (full-time and otherwise), Australians put in overtime equivalent to 1.16 million full-time jobs
  • Full-time employees work 70 minutes per day of unpaid overtime. Interesting then that if you total the annual overtime figure, it amounts to 6.5 standard working weeks – a significant chunk more than a full-time employee’s annual leave entitlement of 4 weeks per year. Perhaps doubly concerning then that Australians do not take their annual leave, with 1 in 4 accruing 5+ weeks of annual leave per year
  • When the survey respondents were asked “If you didn’t work extra hours without pay, which of these do you think would happen?” (question 7, for those playing at home), 63.4% responded “The work wouldn’t get done.” The second most common response was that they felt their career opportunities would be impaired at 12.7%Most of these figures blew me away – these are big numbers. People spending this much time at work, and away from family and friends collectively has huge societal, cultural and economic impacts on our country, and not to mention on an individual’s personal non-work life. The survey results go into much greater detail on this, so it is definitely worth a read.

    So, looking at these results, what’s an employee to do? Volunteer to be a guinea pig for human cloning? Chat to your boss about resourcing? Or think twice about how much time you spend inside and outside the office? A small step might be to sign up for the Go Home On Time Day on next Wednesday, 25 November. I have my leave pass, do you?

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    Jump on the ferris wheel at the HR Carnival

    November 14, 2009

    HR Carnival Logo
    Wondering what others in the HR blog space are yapping about? Hop on over to the latest HR Carnival being hosted by ringleader, Ben Eubanks of Upstart HR. Ben’s selected a bunch of 25 great posts to showcase on topics such as talent management (Diddy-style), coaching, recruitment and a major recruitment hiccup. Talentary’s first post even gets a mention (thanks Ben!).