Get On The Right Side Of History

By Justine Eden Director Eden Ritchie RecruitmentJustine Eden

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a couple of friends who work in the legal profession. Faced with huge competition, narrowing panel services arrangements and clients shrinking legal budgets these two professional leaders were under increasing pressure to lead high performing, profitable teams.

I put the issue of market disruption to them – questioning the way they operate, and highlighted just one aspect – the perception of extremely long hours, timesheets and the lack of flexibility that they generally offer to their teams.

I pointed to a new breed of emerging firm that offers just that and appear to be attracting the best and brightest and are highly profitable. I could see their eyes glaze over and that the idea of disrupting anything (apart from a court room) for what is such a traditional industry, was out of the question.

This morning I read a related article and saw this:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-24/richard-branson-marissa-mayer-s-yahoo-work-policy-is-on-the-wrong-side-of-history

It resonated with me – few are the leaders that recognize performance based on results. And it clarified something for me as a leader that I have struggled with for a long time. I spent all of yesterday in performance reviews with my team. I heard A LOT about their great efforts – and don’t get me wrong I am big on putting in your best effort.

But when that doesn’t equate to results or tangible outcomes there is a real problem. Imagine as a business owner going to the ATO and saying, “well I tried really hard, put in my best effort – but I wont be able to pay the BAS this month”. That’s not a result the ATO are going to accept.

So why are so many leaders still so hung up on their people being visible in the office?? Why are so many leaders not having honest and frank discussions with their teams about their tangible results – and letting themselves be sidetracked by conversations about how hard everyone is trying?

Giving people flexibility only works for some people and some roles – don’t get me wrong, we have tried and both succeeded and failed. In our business flexibility is offered to those (where it is applicable to their role) who have demonstrated strong results over a sustained period of time. There has to be trust and mutual respect, you have to all be on the same page and clear (VERY) about what is required.

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Executive Exhaustion

By Justine Eden, Director Eden Ritchie RecruitmentJustine

Recently speaking at a UNSW Australian School of Business event, John Borghetti stated that he gets up at 3am on Sundays to catch up on the 4-500 emails he gets each day….  And that’s after an extremely efficient EA culls the majority.

David Jones CEO Paul Zhara resigned late last year for personal reasons, stating “he is tired”.

Courageous or crazy?  Many would covet Paul’s job, the parties, the fashion, the people – but the relentless pressure to perform 24/7 while staying true to yourself and those important to you – may not be for everyone…

For most operating at the “C level” the pressure to perform is relentless, with pressure on results coming from many angles.  These executives are expected to respond to changing customer preferences, social demographics impacting on demand, exchange and interest rate impacts, political imperatives and rapidly changing technology.  And these are only a few of the challenges.

Authentic leaders need to balance the strategic with the operational – walk the floor and know their people but set the direction to navigate their organisation through future challenges.  They are required to be strong and confrontational when necessary, but both humble and inspirational to capture the hearts and mind of a diverse workforce – one that may comprise multi generations, ethnicities and technical expertise.

Many of us don’t aspire to be the CEO of a large organisation, but throughout our career, most of us will experience the overwhelming feeling of just carrying too much.  How you respond to that both outwardly and inwardly can either be a benefit or a curse.

Some are not prepared to ask for help, thinking they will be seen in a negative light, others are too proud to think that they just can’t do it all themselves.  Many end up exhausted and angry, reacting badly – leaving others around them to judge them by their bad behaviour – rather than seeing the outcomes they’ve delivered.

Whilst tablets and mobile phones allow us to work out of the office, the 24/7 addiction to checking new emails, texts and calls can invade our lives.   Go out to any restaurant on a busy night and notice how many people are on their phones rather than talking to their dinner companions!

Bottom line there is no simple answer.  Whether it’s surrounding yourself with the best people, delegating effectively, using only the latest technology or setting rules as to when and how you handle your inbox; those effective leaders would say it’s a combination of several things.

At the center of it all is discipline.  By that I mean the discipline to purposefully adhere to an efficient working style, consistently and never wavering.  This goes for out of work as well, whether it’s fitness, personal development or networking – all things need to happen on a frequent and consistent basis.

Keeping an active watch on both the present and future and being agile enough to respond is essential regardless of your level.  Being an active participant in your life, setting the course and forward direction, rather than being a passenger and going with the flow……

The Art of Constructive Feedback

Linda ParkerEver had those days when you just really want to tell a staff member the brutal truth about their performance? If you are answering yes you are only human! Let’s face it, we’re not really supposed to tell people we work with that they are worthless and dim-witted!

We all give and receive feedback differently – some get defensive, offended and downright obstinate.  Others seem to listen, agree and take it in, and then promptly carry on doing things exactly the same way. Then there are those who are mortified, hanging their head in shame, and disappearing to a quiet corner to lick their wounds for a while.

Most of the time you aim for somewhere in the middle – for them to take note, demonstrate some accountability for their work and/or behaviour – good or bad, identify their own weaknesses and above all strive to improve.

I recently read an online article that provided some useful tips, and one point in particular resonated with me as a solid and effective approach, and one that I see used a lot in practice.

‘Try giving them a feedback sandwich’…

Basically this means breaking down the feedback process into layers.  Start with praising and complimenting their strong points, thus providing the ‘bread’. Then start to fill it with some areas that need work and improvement – careful not to overfill it and make it difficult to swallow! Then top it off nicely with some encouragement and positivity for better future outcomes.

Leading by example is more often than not the most successful way of driving performance in the right direction.  It doesn’t matter what position we hold, we are always looking for someone to inspire us.

I have two very strong, successful and dynamic leaders who have inspired me for the past 9 years, and who have also allowed me to see their more vulnerable side, which I think keeps it very real and honest, and builds a greater level of trust and respect …

What type of leader has inspired you?