Monday, July 14, 2014

Leadership predictability at Google

We often talk about Area Leaders being the most important leadership role in our business. They are the key support system to the people who actually make the money in the business and the ones who can make the biggest difference.

The four elements of equal importance in the role, although this may vary at times given an Areas 'stage-of-life' are:
1/ Discipline Leader - making sure our business systems are being deployed effectively and consistently.
2/ Commercial Manager - developing the 'business sense' of the people in your area.
3/ HR Manager - recruiting the right people, 1:1 with everyone to enhance self-awareness, and identifying leaders.
4/ Marketing/CVP Owner - ensuring that everyone knows who the target client is for your business, (not going after the wrong ones) and why they buy from us.

Overall creating a good rythm in the business is essential. Ensuring our systems, like morning meetings, WBM's, MBM's, SWOT, 1:1 and so on are being done and done well. The basics. Then building momentum on top of that. We're clear that an Area Leader needs to be naturally consistent, predictable and reliable - a bit like Google, see below a recent article from them:

The prototypical leader is a hero: gives the rousing speech, inspires the troops, and shows up at the last minute to save the day. At least that's how leaders are portrayed. but that's not at all what Google discovered as their most important qualities.
At Google, they're obsessive about looking at data to determine what makes employees successful and what they found in the numbers was surprising.
The most important character trait of a leader is one that you're more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability. The more predictable you are, day after day, the better.

Google people operations on leadership

Taking an evidence-based approach rather than a gut-driven one, Google debunks conventional wisdom on how to build an awesome team. Twice a year, anyone who has a manager gets to review their boss in an "upward feedback survey," considering performance across 12 to 18 different factors. So Google has reams of data, tens of thousands of data points of on-the-job success, to understand what they should look for in new hires.
When they crunched the numbers on the question of what makes a successful leader, what they found out was remarkable for its overlooked common sense. Leaders must be predictable and consistent, because then employees grasp "that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want."
In other words, when managers are predictable, they remove a roadblock from employees' path — themselves. Managers have their own tendency to meddle, criticize, and second-guess. Without that roadblock, employees don't have to worry about whether their manager will try to jump in and "save the day" with some new idea. Instead, they have the space necessary to do an amazing job.
On the flip side, "[i]f your manager is all over the place, you're never going to know what you can do, and you're going to experience it as very restrictive."
As Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google put it, "[i]f a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom."

Autonomy is the key to employee happiness and outsized performance

The freedom that a consistent leader provides is a powerful force because having autonomy over one's work is one of the most potent motivators of personal productivity.
In 2004, psychologists, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan conducted a study of hundreds of associates at an investment bank on their job satisfaction. They found that the highest job satisfaction ratings came from employees whose bosses offered "autonomy support" — that is, acknowledgment, encouragement, and structure around getting work done as the employee determines, not the manager.
The kicker is that Deci and Ryan also discovered that the employees with autonomy were not only the happiest, they were also the ones with the highest job performance.
Great leadership is never about being a dramatic hero. It's just not about you. Instead it's about providing support to your team by being willing to be seen as boring and predictable.
Provide information they need, work from their perspective, cultivate their performance by offering them the oxygen to succeed. Then they'll have the breathing room and self-determination to shine.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Construction to replace mining as Australia's boom sector

From Shortlist
The Federal Government expects to create thousands of jobs over the next six years through its new infrastructure growth package.
Treasurer Joe Hockey announced in last night's budget that the package will take the Government's total infrastructure investment to $50 billion by the end of the decade.
"Mining and resources represent about 10% of our economy but 2% of our employment. It has, however, done much of the heavy lifting over the [past] decade. So now we need to fire up the rest of the economy," he said.
"Over the next six years, the Government will help build new roads, rail, ports and airports. Our growth package will stimulate the construction sector and create thousands of jobs as the economy transitions from resource-led growth to broader-based growth."
In NSW, construction on the $11-billion WestConnex project, which will create 10,000 jobs, will start within 18 months, while in Melbourne, work on the $18-billion East West Link will kick off before Christmas and eventually create 6,000 new jobs, said Hockey.
"Billions of dollars of work will soon start on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing; the Perth Freight Link; the Midlands Highway upgrade in Tasmania and the North South Road Corridor project in Adelaide. This will create thousands of new jobs across our nation."
The Government will also provide funding over the next six years to create a $155 million growth fund to offset the withdrawal of vehicle manufacturers from SA and Victoria.
The growth fund will support new jobs, investment and economic growth when the vehicle manufacturers withdraw from those states in 2017.

Government targets workforce participation

The Government also unveiled new initiatives to improve workforce participation, including offering employers a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 for hiring full-time mature-age workers.
The scheme announced in last night's budget aims to provide scope for around 32,000 jobseekers to re-enter the workforce each year, and will apply to jobseekers over the age of 50 who have been on unemployment benefits or the Disability Support pension for six months.
Employers will receive $3,000 when they hire a full-time mature-age jobseeker, and an additional $3,000 if they stay at least 12 months, with two additional payments of $2,000 at the 18- and 24-month mark.
The Government also introduced a six-month waiting period for jobseekers under the age of 30 who apply for Newstart or Youth Allowance, in a bid to encourage greater participation in job search and employment service activities.
The six-month period will, however, be reduced for those who have already been working for significant periods. Affected jobseekers are also able to undertake further study and apply for the relevant subsidies.
The Government claims tightening access to unemployment benefits, along with its changes to family tax benefits and the newly-introduced Paid Parental Leave scheme, will encourage higher workforce participation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Funding key to establishing a lucrative temp business

From Short List.
Getting the funding right for a temp recruitment company can make the difference between losing personal assets when a business fails, and getting a larger slice of the $19 billion the local industry is worth annually, while a particular model for calculating charge rates will make rates discussions with clients far easier to manage, experts say.
One of financing specialist David Payne's clients sold a temp business with annual turnover of more than $13 million within five years of starting up with capital of just $15,000 – and there's no reason other recruiters can't achieve the same feat with the right funding and business discipline, he says in industry trainer Sophie Robertson's new book Secrets to Running a Lucrative Temp Desk.
Before approaching a lender, however, recruiters should determine how much funding they need by looking at factors such as how many temps or contractors they'll employ, which will determine the facility limit and whether they use a bank or an alternative lender, says Payne, who is the owner of outsourced financial solutions company, and BRW Fast Starter, Book Builders.
Establishing margins is also important in calculating funding requirements. This can be tricky as competitors are unlikely to share their rates, but recruiters can usually gauge what is appropriate through their own industry experience or by finding a mentor, he says.
"Take into account that as funders generally only fund up to 80% of the invoice value, any difference must be covered by the business owners, so a higher margin will mean finding less funding from personal sources."
Once they have calculated how much funding is required, recruiters should construct a funding requirement proposal to present to potential lenders, says Payne, adding that the facility limit will determine how much work is required on this proposal.
"If the required debt facility is less than $1.5 million you may be able to avoid having to provide detailed forecasts by working with a good account manager who can help you through the process," he says.
"If the facility is more than $1.5 million be prepared to pay an accountant to prepare a 'three-way forecast' (profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flows)."
Identifying funding requirements can be expensive – "expect to pay $20,000 to $30,000 for an expert to help you through the process" – and recruiters should ensure they're working with an accountant who is skilled in this specialist area, he adds.

How to ask a lender for funding

When drafting a funding request, consider what a lender needs to know in order to approve the funding, advises Payne.
"Prepare for any of the lenders' concerns, anticipate their questions and formulate contingency answers before the preliminary meeting. Your accountant can help with this," he says.
"Remember that the bigger the risk you are asking them to take, the more they are exposing themselves to potential fraud or business failure. The higher the risk, the higher the interest."
Recruiters should also speak with their peers and seek connections with sympathetic lenders, says Payne.
"If you are approaching a major bank don't just go to your local branch – they may be hamstrung by restrictive lending criteria. If possible go as high up in the bank as you can, for example to the state lending manager, as he or she may be able to negotiate better terms and rates," he says.
"Compare the offers of various lenders. Never just take the first offer you receive and remember that 'everything is negotiable', no matter what they tell you about bank policy."
In order to set a business up to succeed, recruiters should ideally get a loan that's structured in a "flexible way", says Payne.
"That's why debtor finance (factoring) may be more advantageous than equity finance (where investors contribute finance in return for a share in the business). Equity is limited to the amount of capital that you or other shareholders have available – plus with debtor finance the bank is not going to ask for half your profit when you eventually sell the business."

What to charge for your temps

Once a business is up and running, recruiters can calculate an appropriate temp charge rate by adding on-costs and a markup to the temp's hourly pay rate, says author Sophie Robertson in her book, which will launch this week in Perth.
On-costs vary from state to state, but in NSW, for example, they can include 9.25% superannuation, 5.45% payroll tax, 2% workers compensation, and 1% professional indemnity and public insurances.
"You can round this up to 18% on-costs. If you choose to use a 30% markup, then your charge rate [on an hourly pay rate of $21.76]... would be $33.38 per hour," she says.
"It costs you $21.76 + 18% = $25.68 to have this person out working per hour, as this includes the rate paid to the temp plus all relevant on-costs. Your gross margin per hour would be $33.38 - $25.68 = $7.70."
Robertson says it's better to use a formula like this to develop a charge rate, rather than working to a fixed dollar margin regardless of what type of temp is being supplied.
"The higher-skilled temps are scarcer and therefore harder to find, which means the margin the client pays you for sourcing, attracting, and managing those higher-skilled temps isn't aligned with the amount of work you're investing in filling their assignment," she says.
"If you use the formula with a markup as a percentage component then your dollar margin will be proportional to the level of temp skill required."
Recruiters should always be comfortable discussing rates with clients, and the more specific they are in setting expectations, the fewer problems will appear later on, says Robertson.
"I suspect some clients use requesting a discount as a 'test' to see how willing you are to defend your expertise. Sadly I know that many recruiters automatically say 'yes' when asked to drop their rates, which in turn causes them to feel resentment towards the client. In my view this situation is completely of your own choosing and making," she says.
"If your client insists on having a say in the rate charged then let her decide which temp she wants. Most clients will actually choose the more expensive person when they understand the difference in skill set... The conversation always needs to be about value, and not dollars and cents."

Sophie will share her tips for avoiding seven common temp business mistakes in an upcoming webinar that is free for Shortlist subscribers – click here to find out more or register. The 75-minute session will include roughly 20 minutes of Q&A, so don't miss your chance to get expert advice for free.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recruitment bosses planning ahead to avoid a slow start to 2014

This article could have been written for our Area Leaders! Several good points from your industry peers.

Productivity can falter when consultants return to the office after a leisurely summer break, and the crucial time for preventing this "slowdown effect" is in the months and weeks before the Christmas shutdown, say recruitment agency bosses.
Aquent managing director Simon Lusty said pipeline activity is a key focus for the company's consultants in the lead-up to Christmas.
"Fighting the slowdown effect can be challenging when, fundamentally, talent is not applying, and clients are often already into holiday mode," – they are therefore not inclined to be thinking or talking about new hires, he told Shortlist.
But any manager that allows a team to wrap up the year, however strong it may have been, without activity planned in the diary for the first week back, "has failed in my mind", he said.
"People come back from leave, they take another week or two to wind up, and January, which is historically slow anyway in this part of the world, is completely lost."
He said Aquent plans its pre-Christmas strategy a year in advance, and starts putting it into place from August onwards.
The core of that strategy is developing initiatives and talking points to help recruiters keep conversations going with clients "right up until the last day before Christmas", Lusty said.
The team also strives to lock in interviews and meetings for when they get back, confirm placement start dates in January, and prepare to invoice on those dates.
"I also work with people a lot on making sure they have their January mail [ready], from a billing standpoint, before they go on Christmas leave. Otherwise it has a critical impact on their entire quarter's billing."
Roster planning an opportunity to speak to clients
Healthcare Australia CEO Jason Cartwright said healthcare recruitment doesn't have the same kind of summer shutdown as other sectors, as people continue to get sick.
"Having said that, in our business [before the break] there is a drive to get all of our candidates' availability over the Christmas and summer period – so we are [determining] the rostering of the hospital wards currently."
The team also collects information from managers on hiring plans over the next few months, "and then you've got a plan of action when you get back", Cartwright said.
Permanent doctors tend to take holidays at this time, creating a spike in demand for locums, while demand for nurses and allied health staff "rolls on as normal", he said.
HCA recruiters continue to operate in business-as-usual mode, while also undertaking the large-scale campaign to gather availability and hiring forecasts.
"It sanity-checks the tactical plans they've written up because they have to validate those plans by talking to the clients and the temp workers."
Draw a line in the sand between the old and new year
Norwest Recruitment managing director Erica Westbury said one of the best ways to ensure recruiters start 2014 on the front foot is just to ensure they take a break in the first place.
"When they've achieved their targets, or worked towards targets that finish in December, I find it's really important they have that time off... and [they] can then come back refreshed in January," she told Shortlist.
"Unless you have that line in the sand of December [and] a new beginning in January it sort of feels like it's just another day. It is very difficult to start the year totally motivated."
Norwest ensures recruiters have pre-booked client meetings to return to, but finds January is a better time to focus on the candidate side of their business, she said.
"We are always inundated with candidates [in January] and this is the time of year that we can meet with new candidates and start the relationships for the next couple of months with them," said Westbury.
Phone calls create warm leads for January
Australia Wide Personnel managing director Stephen Noble said his company's consultants were on the phone last week booking time with clients in January.
All consultants had to report back to Noble by Friday with a detailed list of clients they had spoken to, and a list of potential roles in the New Year.
"And that is with a view to perhaps even starting on some of those [roles] before the break, or at least getting a good understanding of what the client's recruitment requirements will look like at the start of the year."
He said for the last few years, AWP has sent out a mass email in mid-November, reminding managers that if they want new hires to start in early January, "you need to speak to us now about that".
This campaign gets "mixed results, but it certainly does get some results", and because it goes out to the entire customer base, it's an opportunity to get in touch not just with active hiring managers, but revive conversations with clients that have made few hires recently, or been dormant.
Business development "heartbreaking" in January
Naviro director Daniel Fuller said it's important to get as much work underway before Christmas as possible.
"You'll always find people that are back at work early and what have you, but going out and doing new business development in January can be a bit heartbreaking. There's a lot of voicemails and left messages and unreturned emails," he said.
At Naviro, which placed 69th on this year's BRW Fast 100 list with revenue growth of 51%, consultants are encouraged in early December to categorise clients in two ways: those looking to hire pre-Christmas, and those who want to put jobs off until they return from their break.

"It's a case of getting as much on the go as possible before Christmas, having a lot of conversations with your clients at the beginning of December, and then separating out the business between what we recruit for now in the lead-up to Christmas, and then what we put on hold and we have to work on when we come back," he said.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ONE Thing - a singular focus, disciplined execution

Our growth as an organization from an entrepreneurial start up into a global corporate force continues to evolve. No one is more culpable than the entrepreneurial founder, yours’ truly, in creating the problem in the first place - although I prefer to describe myself as a reformed entrepreneur these days.

Like attracts like”, and many of the first followers and a high percentage of the key staff have been fairly entrepreneurial also.

Preserving this talent, whilst also evolving the business into a disciplined growth machine, with unwavering focus and steady execution is an ongoing challenge.

Some recent reading on the topic has left me with a number of key themes:

From “Execution – Create the vision. Implement the plan. Get the job done.” ~ Tom Gorman 207

·      Success comes from executing the right plans, not the planning process its self.
·      Manage your time well, because it is your most limited and precious resource.
·      Every aspect of your firm should create value by contributing to profits and growth.
·      Your ability (as a leader) to remain positive and energized is essential.

From “The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving your Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) ~ Sean Covey, Chris McChesnet and Jim Huling (all from Franklin Covey)

·      Identifying your businesses goals by determining which changes will exert the greatest impact.
·      Strategy without an effective method of execution is worthless.
·      The greatest challenge is not in developing the plan: its in changing the behavior of the frontline individuals that execute if whilst managing the never-ceasing demands of the whirlwind.
·      The challenge is executing your most important goals in the midst of the urgent.
·      Basically the more you try to do the less you will accomplish.

Covey breaks it down into the following:

Discipline 1: teaches you to set a target. To achieve a WIG, define a measurable, specific goal based on getting from one place to another by a set deadline. “Focus on the Wildly important”.
Discipline 2: Identify the activities that provide the greatest leverage for achieving the WIG.
Discipline 3: calls for visible scoreboards that show how teams and team members are performing and offers the results as benchmarks.
Discipline 4: Instills accountability through weekly meetings called “WIG sessions”. ‘Create a cadence of accountability’

From “Making Strategy Work – Leading effective Execution and Change”. ~ by Lawerence Hrebniak 2005

·      Making strategy work is more difficult than strategy making.
·      The problem with poor performance typically is not with planning, but with doing. That is Strategies often aren’t implemented successfully.
·      Execution is critical to success. Execution represents a disciplined process or a logical set of connected activities that enable an organization to take a strategy and make it work.

From “The One Thing – The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” ~ By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

·      Multi-taking’ is often the biggest obstacle to achieving your goals.
·      Superior success comes from extraordinary focus on your “ONE Thing”.
·      Developing a singular focus on what’s necessary puts many larger forces in motion. And guides you as to how to spend your time.
·      Trade your “to-do” list for a short “success List” and use it to chart your course – block out time for the things that are truly important.
·      Learn to say no and accept the chaos that accompanies any pursuit of greatness.
·      Take care of your health and energy with good food, exercise, stress relief family time and sleep in order that you can be a consistent force driving your ONE thing.

In the early 1990’s, a grumpy old cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance, revealed the secret to life in a popular movie called, “City Slickers”.
“One thing, just one thing. You stick to that.”
He told a city slicker named Mitch, played by Billy Crystal. (

Success builds on its self; it is “sequential, not simultaneous.”

Frequently, in a work context, people take on more and more projects in an effort to increase their value and contribution – for some being “intertwined” gives a feeling of job security. In reality, the opposite is usually true. Being a jack-of-all and a master-of-none is an easy role to dispense with. Equally the way to be valued and get promoted is to stick to one business, whether a team, an area or a nation and do it really well. It is the individuals who visibly grow: profit, revenue and head count that are the most promotable. ~ TMH

Very successful brands reached the top by focusing on ONE thing. KFC for example.

One-shot prioritizing –  “going small” with a focus on a singular goal – enables people to get more done in a day.

You want your achievements to add up, but that actually takes subtraction, not addition. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.

From “The Other Side of Innovation” – Solving the Execution Challenge. ~ by Vijay Govindaranjan and Chris Trimble.

Once companies achieve success, they tend to act like “performance Engines” They strive to make day-to-day operations repeatable, predictable, disciplined and efficient.
Unfortunately, “innovation and ongoing operations are inevitable in conflict”
Beyond small or routine projects, every innovation initiative requires a “Dedicated team” Build is as if you are building a new company from the ground up.

Ongoing operations is a world of 90% data, 10% unknowns. A bold innovation initiative, on the other hand, might be just the reverse: 10% data and 90% unknowns.

Closing the Execution Gap – How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results” ~By Richard Lepsinger

·      Effectively executing your organizations vision and goals requires an Action Plan.
·      Action plans explicitly details what will happen, when and who is responsible.
·      Define your firms visions in terms of specific goals. Then create an action plan that meets those goals through a series of specific, discrete tasks.
·      Employees perform at their best when their leaders demand excellence.
·      Hold workers accountable to clearly stated performance and time standards.
·      Businesses that cannot handle change execute poorly.

“Establishing priorities is the essence of execution – Action Plans are the corner stone of execution.”

Skillful execution – not visionary leaders or elaborate company strategies is what produces results.

1/ Translate strategy into action – an Action Plan
2/ Expect Top performance from staff – focus on what they do well and make the unconscious conscious.
3/ Hold people accountable.