Skip Navigation LinksThe Working Earth > Blog

Blog

Feb 21
Counter-Offers: Cautionary Tale or Cause for Celebration?


Author: Georgina

Barrick

Working in recruitment means that I’ve handled a lot of counter offers over the years. And yet, this is the first time that I’ve really written about them.

In truth, I write about issues that touch or affect me all of the time and, while counter offers undoubtably touch me and my business, I’ve shied away from sharing my thoughts before.
The reason is simple. It’s mostly because almost every Recruiter seems to have posted about this thorny issue before – which, I think, can create the impression that we’re warning our candidates more for our benefit than theirs.
Which isn’t the case - hence my discomfort.

It’s true that, in a tougher economic climate, candidates are often swayed by money – whether it be from their existing, or a potential new, employer. As Recruiters, our job is to help them to navigate what can be a minefield and make a rational decision, based on all (positive and negative) factors that could influence their career. 
With this in mind, I think that it’s time to look at both sides of the counter offer story…

If you google ‘Counter Offer’, the search results pages are littered with cautionary tales - ‘#SayNo To Counter Offers’; ‘Beware of Counter Offers’; ‘Should You Say No to a Counter Offer?’. 
The consensus, often borne from years of (painful) experience, is that accepting a counter offer is a bad idea.  

Yet, they remain a fact of life. And, while accepting a counter offer can (undoubtedly) be what I call a ‘CLM’ (‘Career Limiting Move’), there are also circumstances where staying where you are can be a good thing. The secret is in being able to tell the difference...

In my experience, you can make accepting a counter-offer work for you if you feel undervalued – but your employer isn’t aware of your issues…
Sometimes, good performers get overlooked. If you’re showing up and doing a good job each day, your contribution may go unmentioned – particularly if you work in an environment where the management team is always busy putting out fires. 

Your resignation could serve to highlight your value to your boss and reopen channels of communication, leading to better opportunities and more responsibility than you currently have. It may also give your company the chance to make changes to the environment, which could improve your overall working conditions and reinvigorate how you feel about your job. Counter offers sometimes include a move into a new role or project that may serve to address some of the reasons you considered leaving in the first place. Accepting a new opportunity with your current employer can mean working on something new, within the security of an environment that you know.
 
However, if your only reason for looking for a new job is because you need to earn more money, agreeing to stay won’t really change the status quo. The reasons that pushed you to start looking at alternatives in the first place won’t magically disappear overnight. If you were unhappy and unfulfilled before, you’re likely to feel the same once the initial glow (and the salary increase) wear off.

Accepting a counter offer from your current employer can lead to diminished trust and questioned loyalty. 80% of the senior executives who took part in a recent Heidrich & Struggles survey cited diminished trust and compromised reputations as major negative repercussions of counter offer acceptance. Many highlighted that the consequences can extend to colleagues, who may view the increased salary or new projects you’ve been offered as special treatment, leading to a change in the dynamics of your team. On the flipside, in close-knit or niche industries (and, let’s face it - in South Africa, that’s almost all of them), you may suffer reputational damage as a result of accepting, and then reneging, on an offer. Recruiters will tell you to look at the statistics.Only 5% - 25% of counter offers that we deal with work out well in the end. 

This leads to what I call ‘counter offer casualties’ – which occur when the counter offer acceptor re-enters the job market within 6 to 12 months of declining a job in favour of staying with his current employer. In these circumstances, a counter offer can be just another version of the long goodbye.

As a Recruiter who has lived through many, many counter offer situations, I can tell you that no two situations are alike. Sadly, the outcome often is.
My advice, therefore, would be to not let your work issues/ discontent get as far as resignation. 
Rather, spend time understanding and mapping out why you’re unhappy in your current job.
Then, use this knowledge to engage with your boss and explore how you can resolve the issues – almost like giving him or her the ‘right of first refusal’. Do this a long time before you start your recruitment process and raise expectations with a potential new employer. 
You’ll get peace of mind and can look at outside opportunities, knowing that you’ve done everything possible to make your current job situation workable.
And, it’ll make the decision around whether to accept or reject any counter offers a no-brainer.
Good luck!

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Jan 23
The Sandwich Generation: Are You the ‘Filling’?

Family Tree 2.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

I’m not a big fan of ‘New Year’s Resolutions’.
I prefer to work with a set of enduring and broad themes – or guiding lights to use as waypoints as each year unfolds. In 2018, my focus was very much on how to live more mindfully – how to manage stress better, get more sleep and live more consciously.
While I didn’t always get it right, exploring ways to live more mindfully has certainly improved my overall quality of life. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘life consists in what we think of all day’.
My mindfulness journey continues in 2019.

As 2019 kicks off, I’ve been thinking about friends and colleagues who are paid-up members of the ‘Sandwich Generation’. Today, thanks to advances in medicine and health, we’re all living longer, while our children are growing up in a world where it’s harder to get (and maintain) financial independence. Actuaries are predicting that people who are now in their 40’s will be the first generation to live to 120 and beyond (a scary thought when retirement age is still 65).

The burden of managing this delicate generational balancing act falls on the Sandwich Generation – who sit in the middle and care for aging parents, while bringing up young children. This burden often comes at great personal, physical, emotional and financial cost.
Research by the American Psychological Association found that nearly 40% of adults aged between 35 and 54 feel overextended and suffer extreme levels of (poorly managed) stress as they try to balance the needs and demands of growing children against those of aging parents.
And, this stress is taking a toll, with 83% reporting that relationships with their spouse, children and family are their biggest source of stress, making it difficult to take better care of themselves.
In South Africa, a survey by Old Mutual found that 28% of urban adults take care of their children, while also supporting parents, siblings and other family members – a statistic that is growing by 2% (on average) per year, making the ‘Sandwich Generation’ a reality for many South Africans.

If this is what life looks like for so many of us, how do we find a balance between all of our dependents so that we’re not meeting the needs of one to the detriment of others?
And, how do we make time to take care of, and nurture, ourselves?
 
Identify (and Manage) Your Stressors…
I’ve found that being able to identify what triggers stress allows me to respond more appropriately.
Also, unhealthy behaviours – like drinking or eating too much – aren’t helpful.
Try to explore how you can replace this behaviour with healthier ways of coping and how you can incorporate stress-reducing activities – like exercise, socialising with friends or meditation – into your daily routine.

Practice Self Care...
When you’re running on empty, you can’t properly take care of others.
It’s important to make time to take care of yourself. Get good sleep, schedule time for exercise and do the things that you enjoy and that nourish you.
For me, it’s about taking time to have a massage or catch up over coffee with good friends.
The world won’t fall apart in your absence – and you’ll return refreshed and better able to cope.

Find (and Lean On) the Right Support...
Even if you’re Super(wo)man, it’s not possible to do everything yourself.
Think about what you need and ask for help. Whether it be siblings, older children, friends or professional caregivers, help is available. Share the load. In my experience, people want to help.

Manage Your Finances…
Many older people shy away from talking about money, believing that it’s ‘not the done thing’.
Given that 41% of respondents to the Old Mutual survey rely on their children for financial support, understanding the true state of your parent’s finance is key to being able to put together a financial plan that works for everyone.
Start by getting everyone’s finances out in the open so that you can properly plan.
It’s also a good idea to get your children involved so that they can learn to become financially independent themselves.

Live in the Moment…
Truthfully, being the ‘filling in the sandwich’ is sometimes no fun.
It’s important to live in the moment. Love your loved ones. Prioritise what matters and let the little stuff go. This too shall pass – and you may miss it when it does.

And finally, I believe that there are two gifts that you should strive to give…
First, make your children truly independent. Focus on giving them a good education and ensuring that they understand how to become financially independent.
Then, ensure that you remain financially independent as you age and make all of the big, necessary life decisions around retirement ahead of time so that you don’t burden your children.
Good luck!

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Nov 27
Show Up and Be Present: Just Say No to Multi-Tasking

How often have you found yourself reading emails, while doing homework with your children?
Or, taking important business calls while driving to your next meeting – and looking up to discover that you’re driving in the wrong direction? Perhaps, like me, you switch between tasks while waiting for something to download on your laptop.

The truth is that we’ve all done it. 
When I was younger, like a true Generation X’er, I prided myself on being a ‘Multitasking Master’. 
X’ers were really sold on the belief that performing more than one task simultaneously was key to optimising productivity and efficiency. 
This belief was reinforced when Microsoft launched Windows in the mid-80’s. Suddenly, you could open multiple windows on screen – all dedicated to different tasks – and work on (and switch between) them all seamlessly. Multitasking had become mainstream.
Today, with the help of science, I’ve come to realise that there really is no such thing as multitasking – and (like carbs and sugar) my brain and I are better off without it.

Why does Multitasking have a Bad Rap?

Multitasking really means that we’re ‘switch-tasking’.
Because our brain can’t process similar functions (like reading a book and listening to music lyrics) simultaneously, it unconsciously switches between tasks, rather than trying to work on more than one task at a time. And, when we switch from one task to another, the transition between tasks takes time as our brain needs to shift attention. While this might feel seamless, each switch takes tenths of a second, which adds up when you’re switching back and forth frequently. Studies have shown that multitasking takes as much as 40% more time than focusing on one task only – which is why it’s inefficient, ineffective and impacts productivity.

Multitasking means more mistakes…
Because the brain never really focuses on any one task, multitaskers have more trouble tuning out distractions, make more errors, remember fewer details and take longer to complete tasks than those who work only on a single task at a time.
Most of us generally shift attention every 3 minutes. But, as it takes 15 to 18 minutes of concentrated work to enter what’s called a ‘flow state’ (the state of deep consciousness where we work at optimal levels), we’re unlikely to ever enter ‘flow’ – and perform better.

Multitasking affects brain health…
Evidence has shown that chronic multitasking can impair cognitive function, affect short term memory and increase anxiety.
A 2009 Stanford study into the effect on cognitive function found that multitaskers struggle to filter out irrelevant information, have greater difficulty switching between tasks and are less mentally organised. Even when chronic multitaskers focused only on one task, their brains were less efficient.
And, because switching rapidly between tasks spreads our attention thinly, tasks aren’t given the attention they deserve (or need) in order to be properly bedded down in memory, with the effect becoming more noticeable as we age.
Interrupted work increases anxiety levels. Researchers at UCI found that the heart rates of workers with access to email were consistently higher than those without email access. For me, this is as good reason as any to switch off email and social media alerts!

Multitasking inhibits creativity…
Forcing our brains to process multiple tasks in rapid succession rewires the brain, inhibiting creativity. When we spread our attention across too many tasks at once, we use up the brain’s working memory, leaving no space for truly creative ideas and concepts.  
Also, as overload makes us more anxious, we start to rely on the more primitive ‘fight or flight’ area of the brain, instead of using the frontal lobe, which controls creativity and critical thinking.
This all makes us more likely to follow (rather than challenge) conventional thinking. 

Multitasking stands in the way of making connections with others…
Jumping from task to task means that we never really spend enough time building deep connections with others. When we read the news, while talking to our children or respond to emails in meeting, we’re never truly in the moment. Our colleagues, families and friends sense this, which impacts our connection to them. Truly connecting with others is a source of deep human fulfilment – which no task can give.

Just Say No
Having realised the impact that multitasking has on my brain, health and life, I now try to focus on two simple rules that help me to ‘just say no’.

Prioritise only one thing each day.
Each day, try to focus on only one task at a time, for a length of time. This helps to avoid switch-tasking and opens up the possibility of entering a flow state. If you can’t set aside a whole day per task, try to set aside blocks of time (an hour or more is ideal) to work only on one thing. 
Schedule (limited) time in your day for admin tasks – like answering emails – and switch off email and social media alerts. Try to limit unnecessary meetings.
For me, understanding that I don’t need to respond to everything has been life altering.

Do creative tasks in the early morning.
If you need to write a report, design a strategy or conduct an annual goal setting session, set aside time first thing in the morning, when you’re fresh and rested (and before your mind gets cluttered), to get creative tasks done.

Multitasking is the art of doing twice as much as you should, half as well as you could. 
Go forth and focus (on one thing at a time!)
 
Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Nov 09
Stress: Is It All Too Much?


‘Don’t stress over what you can’t control’. ‘Keep Calm and …’

We’ve all heard the trite memes. I even seen t-shirts emblazoned with ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough’. While these sayings are meant to motivate, it’s difficult to live the sentiments when you’re feeling overwhelmed. 
Rather than encouraging and giving us hope, these memes can paralyse us, as we try to rationalise how we’re really feeling against what we believe is expected of us. 
October 10th was World Mental Health Day. Against the backdrop of gender-based violence, crime and an economy that is simply failing to thrive; many South Africans are struggling with anxiety, depression and stress.

Speaking to colleagues and friends, it seems that many around us are overloaded and feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life. Some have to balance the needs of elderly parents, alongside managing a young family. Others cope with ill health – our own or those closest to us. South Africa’s declining economic growth – the latest petrol price hike being just one consequence – affects us all.
As leaders, we have the added stress of always needing to push the envelope. In corporate companies, meeting shareholder expectations means that each year has to be better than the last. 
And, while we sign up for this race when we take on a leadership role, it’s a challenge to constantly be reaching, chasing and improving.

But, is stress necessarily a bad thing? We know that it’s essential for survival. 
The body’s natural defence against danger – the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism – releases cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. This prepares our bodies to respond to dangerous situations by slowing normal bodily functions (like digestion) and increasing heart rate, heightening muscle preparedness and raising alertness. 
However, when the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is triggered too often, too easily or if there are too many stressors at one time, our physical, mental and emotional health suffers.
Too much stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, lowered immunity, issues with sleep and can put us at a greater risk of developing cancer. Emotionally, it makes us more prone to angry outbursts, at greater risk of developing drug or alcohol problems, impacts appetite (either by making us eat more or less) and affects our relationships.
Undoubtedly, too much stress is debilitating and should be avoided.

In the right and appropriate dosage, stress can be a motivator. 
If managed properly, it can make us more resilient. South Africans, who have long lived in a constant state of uncertainty around our political and economic future, have become used to stress and, rather than hindering us, it has propelled us forward, to a certain extent.

The secret is to find a balance - as my 85 year old mother always says ‘everything in moderation’. 
Today, we’re all more focused on our heath and on being mindful and more present in our lives. Most of us try to achieve work/ life balance and know, as I explored in last month’s blog, that sleep is key.  But, how do we guard against these concepts becoming like wallpaper – there, but not seen? How do we manage our stress so that it helps, and doesn’t hurt, us?

Learn to accept where you are right now.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a great fan of Oprah’s SuperSoul Sundays and listen to her podcasts whenever I can. Recently, I heard her speak to spiritual teacher, Eckhardt Tolle, about how to live a stress-free life. Tolle’s message – that stress is about wanting something to be the way it isn’t – really resonated with me. Too often, when we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we immediately jump into worst-case scenarios, using negative mind talk.  
Instead, he believes that, when we find ourselves in a stressful situation, we should accept it – look at the situation without labelling it and understand (and accept) that this is what our life looks like for now. He calls this accepting the ‘is-ness’ of life.
Tolle also believes that even negative situations can have a positive outcome. 
When Arianna Huffington collapsed in her office from lack of sleep and used the experience to turn her life around, she found the positive in the negative. When things don’t look good at first glance, acceptance can turn a negative situation around. If we can learn to ‘lean away’ from the noise that our minds make, we’re more able to relax and go with the moment – or to accept the moment as though we had chosen it for ourselves and let it bring on a new consciousness.

Until we accept our current state and stop fighting it, we remain ‘stuck in the mud’. Or, rather, what we resist, persists.

Stop ‘multi-tasking’…
Often, we take on too much and then ‘multitask’ to get it all delivered. 
We’ve all done this – checking mail, while meeting with colleagues, or taking important business calls while driving. I call it the ‘myth of multi-tasking’ because the truth is that none of the activities we’re engaged in is getting our full attention – and none are being executed with excellence.  
One of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to focus, as much as possible, on doing only one thing at a time. Pick one thing to work on, remove all distractions and focus on it until it’s done.
You’ll find it liberating – I certainly did.

Simplify your schedule…
Overscheduling is a major source of stress. 
We’re all constantly on the run – to the next meeting, event or situation. Try to schedule only a few essential commitments (or those that are beneficial to you or feed your soul) into each day and learn to say ‘no’ to the rest. If meetings aren’t essential, decline the meeting invite. Schedule time for fun and relaxation.
In time, you’ll get over your FOMO.

Exercise…
Do something that gets you moving every day.
It’s doesn’t have to be formal – walk your dog, dance with your children – as long as it happens.
Get moving – it helps.

Be early – always…
Constantly being late is very stressful. Try to be realistic about how long it really takes to get ready, commute, prepare or run errands so that you can space out your meetings to give you more time.

If you’re able to manage your stress so that it becomes a positive force, you’ll understand – as Bill Phillips said that ‘stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle’.
Go forth and conquer (your stress).

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Oct 04
Sleep – Our Salvation If We’re Going to Live to 200?

Author: Georgina Barrick

I'm a great fan of Oprah Winfrey's 'Super Soul Sundays' and listen to her podcasts avidly while on my 40 minute work commute. I particularly loved her interview with Arianna Huffington – who, after building a successful business on the back of 18 hour days, has seen the light and is now the global champion for sleep and rest.

She is so passionate about sleep that she's made it one of her keystone habits and is encouraging others to do the same. Recently, Arianna wrote an open letter to Elon Musk (whose very public melt downs – and 24 hour days – are becoming almost painful to watch), pointing out that he's 'demonstrating a wildly outdated, anti-scientific and horribly inefficient way of using human energy' and that his behaviour is like 'trying to launch us into our clean energy future… with a coal-fired steam engine' because of a lack of sleep.

Despite being a good sleeper from birth, I have experienced disrupted sleep in times of stress and know how debilitating, and self-perpetuating, the lack of consistent, quality sleep can be. Just ask any new mother or MBA student.

Matthew Walker, renowned Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Berkley (and author of 'Why We Need Sleep') is clear that quality sleep is vital to health, cellular anti-aging, well-being and success. Consistently getting too little sleep decreases productivity, affects memory (sleep 'cleans' the brain by pruning unnecessary memory connections, allowing us to commit new experiences to memory), makes us more accident-prone and can even affect our earning potential.

Too little sleep also severely affects our health. Well-rested people take fewer sick days, are able to control their weight more effectively and have better quality cellular regeneration.

In his book, Walker explains how a lack of sleep leads to increased development of a toxic protein in the brain, called beta amyloid, which has been associated with Alzheimer's. During deep sleep, the brain 'washes' away this protein. If you are not getting enough sleep, beta amyloid builds up, increasing the risk of dementia later in life.

He also describes the physical effects of sleep deprivation (which he classifies as 5-6 hours or less of sleep per night). Men can experience decreased levels of testosterone, showing levels equivalent to men 10 years older, reducing virility and wellness.

Other studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation reduces critical anti-cancer fighting cells (called natural killer cells) by 70%. The link between sleep and cancer is so strong that the World Health Organisation has classified any form of night-time shift work (where sleep patterns are disrupted) as a probable carcinogen.

For leaders, sleep also allows us to make better decisions, to remain more intuitive and aligned with our decisions and to react more quickly, with a slower fuse. Exhaustion can affect our EQ, CQ and IQ.

If you're a sleep-deprived leader, your vibrational energy drops – which is palpable to the people around you. Ask anyone who is currently being led by a low-energy leader.

It's not about being 'energetic'. Our 'vibration' is a fancy way of describing our overall state of being. Everything in the universe is made up of energy vibrating at different frequencies. Even things that look solid have vibrational energy fields at the quantum level, including you. The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel physically, mentally and emotionally – and the more you experience greater personal power, clarity, peace, love and joy.

All of this can be affected by a lack of sleep and exhaustion. As Huffington admits, some of the biggest mistakes she's made in life were when she was exhausted and over-reactive. In this state, she missed opportunities and red flags.

It seems like restorative sleep is the new black (#RSITNB) – and is less about getting 8 - 9 hours of sleep, and more about getting the rest that our bodies need to regenerate and function at an optimal level. During deep sleep, blood pressure and heart rate drops, allowing a 'reboot' of the cardiovascular system. Less than 6 hours of sleep per night increases your risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke by 200%.

Walker's studies have shown that humans can function for approximately 16 hours of wakefulness before we see a significant decline in brain function. After 19 to 20 hours of wakefulness, our mental capacity is so impaired that we function like someone who is legally drunk. To recover, we need at least 8 hours of sleep to return to normal function.

 

While restorative functions occur during all stages of sleep, deep sleep and REM are the 2 stages during which our bodies and minds undergo the most renewal.

For me, it's about getting sustained quality sleep (+6 hours) over quantity – and about getting 'natural', rather than drug-induced, sleep.

 

So, how do we go about getting more sleep?

As research suggests, we should all aim to get at least 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night.

The first step is to prioritise sleep – or, as Huffington does, make it a keystone habit.

If you're currently sleeping 4 to 5 hours per night, try to increase this to 6 to 7 hours, as a start.

Planning is an important part of getting restorative sleep.

As far as possible, plan to leave your office at a reasonable hour. It can be difficult to do this as last-minute 'emergencies' often keep us chained to our desks. A good first step is to recognise what really constitutes an 'emergency'.

Also, as leaders, it's important that we encourage our staff to prioritise and value rest – and create a culture where it's okay for our staff to leave the office at a reasonable hour, without feeling guilty or like they're slacking off.

Electronic devices are the enemy of sleep.

Because they emit 'blue light', which boosts attention and raises energy levels, device screens stimulate our brains and make us more wakeful.

Huffington suggests that you make a time to 'escort your devices out of your bedroom', making it a completely device-free zone. This removes the temptation to check your mail if you wake up during the night - or, as she says, disconnect from technology to reconnect with yourself.

Keeping a notebook next to your bed where you can jot down things that you might not remember in the morning, frees your mind up to stop thinking and can make you less anxious.

Sleep 'hygiene' is important.

Set a cool room temperature. If you wear pyjamas, wear sleep-friendly clothing. Try not to drink caffeine after 2pm.

Use light stretching, deep breathing or meditation to help your mind and body transition into sleep.

Nap. The benefits of a 'power nap' (20 minutes or less) are well-known. Harpo Studios, The Huffington Post, Google and many other successful companies have nap rooms in the workplace #justsaying. Try to build nap times into the 'low points' in your day.

As leaders, Huffington believes that we need to realise that we're paying people for their judgement and not for their stamina. To focus on what really matters and, to be fully present, we need to celebrate and prioritise rest. If what actuaries are predicting is true and we do start living into our 200's, our future success depends on it.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.


Aug 27
Making Mistakes – How Important is Psychological Safety?

Author: Georgina Barrick

As employees and members of society, we sometimes remain silent when we know that we should speak up.
We see a project, process or person veering towards disaster and know that we should intervene, share our ideas or contribute in some way – yet we stay silent.
Perhaps this is because we fear the consequences or repercussions that might follow if we do speak.  
Perhaps we are concerned that our ideas won’t be taken seriously, without criticism. That speaking up – and getting it wrong – might be held against us. 
Perhaps we know that if we speak up, we’ll be forced to become involved in finding a solution, so staying silent seems to be the path of least resistance.
Whatever the reason, silence often occurs (particularly in the workplace) when speaking up is most necessary.

Research shows that we hold back on contributing when it does not feel safe to do so.
When we feel that the benefits of silence outweigh the benefits of speaking up – or, as Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson believes, when we don’t feel ‘psychologically safe’.
Edmondson defines psychological safety as the ‘belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes’. 
We feel psychologically safe when our team or environment supports risk taking and is a place where we can show ourselves without fear of negative consequence for our self-image, status or career. More simply, where we feel comfortable being – and expressing – ourselves.

Building psychological safety in your team or environment has many benefits.
Feeling safe means that we’re more likely to take risks that lead to market breakthroughs, innovate, implement diverse ideas and drive performance. We’re also more likely to be creative.
If we’re encouraged to express ourselves without fear of failure or retribution, we’re more likely to have a shared purpose and identity and remain open to learning. 
All of this may lead to higher levels of engagement and longer tenure.

As leaders, how can we build psychological safety in our teams?
Edmondson says that it’s as simple as focusing on 3 key areas…

Frame work correctly.
Be clear that you don’t have all of the answers and will need help from the team to solve problems or get work completed along the way. 
Set work up as a learning – and not an execution – problem so that the team is clear that there are areas of uncertainty that require input from everyone.
Or, as Edmondson says, we need everyone’s head in the game.

Acknowledge your own fallibility. 
We all make mistakes. As leaders, acknowledging our mistakes creates a climate of openness, where mistakes are allowed. Encourage the team to speak up by saying straightforward things like ‘I may miss something and need your input’.

Model curiosity.
Questions encourage a learning mind-set – and make speaking up necessary.
As leaders, we need to ask questions – and listen to the answers.

Other ways to build psychological safety include:

Always speak human to human.
Sometimes, we lose sight of the fact that we’re all human – with universal needs like respect, competence, status and autonomy. A simple way to get this right – and to encourage communication – is to remember that we’re all ‘Just Like Me’ – people with beliefs, hopes, anxieties and vulnerabilities ‘just like me’.

Create team rules.
And confront unreasonable behaviour early.

Be accessible.
Autonomy is important - but your team still needs to know that you’re always available to answer questions, provide guidance and help – no matter how trivial. Be the safety net – if they need one.

Finally, model accountability. 
Excellence isn’t achieved purely through psychological safety.
Psychological safety is about letting up on the brakes. Without accountability – or your foot on the gas – everyone is in a comfort zone, where no-one excels.
As leaders, we need to have – and expect – accountability for excellence to blossom.

Focus on creating an environment where your people feel safe making mistakes – and are accountable – and I’ll show you an environment where excellence is possible.

‘Mistakes are the pathway to great ideas and innovation. Mistakes are the stepping stones to moving outside the comfort zone to the growing zone where new discoveries are made and great lessons are learned.’

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Aug 02
Perennials: The Ageless 'Generation'

Author: Georgina Barrick

Generational theory is always evolving.

This makes things very interesting for a Generation X leader, trying to successfully blend multiple generations in the workplace and in life. If you've been following me, you'll know that I've shared my thoughts on balancing the power and pitfalls of Generation X, Millennials and Centennials in a series of recent pieces.

It appears that there' is now a – not so new – kid on the block.

Recently, I've been introduced to the power of the Perennial.

Coined by US Internet entrepreneur, Gina Pell, Perennials are 'ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages' who share an inclusive, enduring mindset, but not (always) an age.

Defined instead by their shared interests, behaviour and values, they live in the present, stay curious and are plugged into the world, technology and trends.

Perennials are 'passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative and global-minded risk takers' who have friends of all ages, mentor others and know how to hustle.

This immediately resonated with me as I personally don't always feel like I quite fit all of the attributes of a typical Gen X'er.

For them, age isn't limiting.

Pell believes that 'Generation Segregation', where we define people by age and generation, rather than mindset, separates us and creates tension across decades. It also puts the spotlight onto one generation to the exclusion of others, limiting opportunity. Perennials buck the trend to transcend the bounds of age.

I'm excited already.

And, marketers are taking note.

Forward thinking companies – like Amazon and Netflix – target consumers using behavioural data, rather than relying on generational stereotypes. By tracking actual online behaviour - like your browsing history and buying habits – they're able to offer you more targeted, appropriate products.behaviour - like your browsing history and buying habits – they're able to offer you more targeted, appropriate products.

In South Africa, Pick n Pay, Dischem and Woolworths (to name but a few) use information gathered from their card reward schemes to offer targeted discounts on the products that you buy most often.

This shift away from traditional marketing, which uses demographics, towards psychographics, which relies on data gathered on the personality, attitudes, interests, values and aspirations of the customer, creates a more personal experience. 

Because Perennials are a very new addition to generational theory, I believe that more research needs to be done before we can accurately predict how they're likely to influence our leadership approach. However, I think that we can expect that Perennials will change how we lead – and may already be doing so.

Expect to build a culture of continuous learning. Driven by curiosity and the need to stay relevant, 'ever-blooming' Perennials are likely to focus on ongoing development of their skills, abilities and knowledge – and are likely to expect employers to help them keep up.

Expect to create 'tailored' working environments, with flexible working arrangements.

Work from home, compressed hours, job sharing and contracting are likely to become increasingly popular ways to improve productivity and ensure long-term wellbeing.

Expect help with your mentoring programmes. An inclusive mindset, collaborative nature, friends of all ages and a love of mentoring make Perennials ideal mentors in the workplace.

Mark Twain said that 'age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter'. Perennials truly are the ageless and I am excited to consider myself as a part of this.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Jun 20
Be Extraordinary


Author: Georgina Barrick 

Every so often in life, if you are paying attention, you may meet a truly extraordinary person.
These people are rare and, I suspect, if you’re not alive to the possibility, their magnificence may pass you by. Often, they aren’t the loudest or most flamboyant in the room, or the most obvious. 
Mostly, they’re incredibly hard working, humble and selfless people who just vibrate on a different frequency.
Meeting someone extraordinary can be quite unsettling. Being faced with someone who is living their full potential – with no excuses – calls into question your own life, efforts and the excuses you make for not doing more, being more or being better. Professor Carol – Ann Benn is one of these people to me.

I have started to question what separates the ordinary from the extra-ordinary. What drives someone to operate at a level so far beyond their peers that they are immediately set apart, driven forward faster than those around them. More simply, what creates sustained high performance in some of us, but not in others? And, if we can gain insight into what drives the individual, can we use this understanding to drive ourselves and our teams to high performance?

In trying to understand this, one of the interesting books about performance that I’ve come across is ‘High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way’, written by acclaimed coach and speaker, Brendan Burchard. In it, he shares the 6 habits that his research suggests lead to sustained high performance – and happiness. 
Some of these habits may be common sense, but together they create a roadmap to high performance. And, alongside increased consciousness and awareness, they create a vibrational level that moves us from ‘just getting by’ to a state of flow. I’d like to share them with you…

Seek Clarity
High performers constantly seek clarity – about their goals, direction, strategy and intention.
And, while they might not always get the clarity they’re seeking, asking keeps them focused on what is important and helps them to sift out distractions.
Similarly, high performance teams focus on ensuring that members clearly understand interdependencies, have clearly defined roles, support the decision-making process and are committed to shared goals.
A suggestion that really resonated with me is to start each workplace interaction by asking: ‘What is our intention?’, ‘What really matters?’ and ‘What do we need to achieve?’

Generate Energy
In reality, while most of us are exhausted by mid-afternoon, having lost energy throughout the day scrambling to keep up with changing meetings, tasks and events, high performers aren’t.
Instead, they use the time between tasks or meetings – called transitions – to give themselves a short, psychological break. Some get up from their desks, others meditate or spend time in quiet reflection, but all use the time to recharge and shift focus from one activity to another so that they’re primed to perform again.
Burchard’s suggestion that we plan our days in 45 to 60 minutes chunks, with breaks in between, seems within reach for us all.
Energised team environments emphasise team development, continuous learning and motivation. 

Raise Necessity
For high performers, succeeding isn’t about passion, preference or need.
Performing with excellence is as necessary to them as breathing.
And, raising this necessity is personal. It’s all about having someone to perform excellently for – family, team or peers – and reminding yourself of this reason constantly to focus your intention and mental ability towards the right goal.
For high performance teams, necessity is created by focus on a collective mission and purpose – where members can see beyond individual workload and goals towards the team’s higher purpose.

Increase Productivity
High performers increase outputs that matter – or, simply, they focus unwaveringly on what they have identified as the main event, without being distracted.
They’re also more productive because they have the subconscious ability to think and plan ahead.
Burchard’s research shows that high performers see five steps ahead at all times, identifying the major moves that they’ll need to make to achieve their goal, what to avoid and what skills they’ll need to develop to complete each move.  
One of the ways that high performance teams achieve increased productivity is through clear and constant feedback. Knowing how they’re tracking – and where they’re going wrong – helps teams to take action to correct inefficiencies quickly.

Develop Influence
High performers are influential – by influencing how others think and challenging them to grow.
If you’re lucky, you have an admired mentor who subtly shapes how you think by questioning your approach – ‘What do you think about this? Have you thought about approaching it in this way?’ and, who, in doing so, pushes you to think unconventionally and creatively – and be your best.
If you do, you’re likely to have a high performance mentor.

In high performance teams, creating an environment where members feel secure enough to constructively criticise and challenge processes – the status quo – builds influence.
 
Demonstrate Courage
When confronting risk, hardship, judgement or fear, high performers show courage in many ways.
Firstly, they speak up for themselves – and others – sharing truth that makes them vulnerable.
They also ‘honour the struggle’ – appreciating that true success take blood, sweat and tears and that working through the tough times is a necessary part of the process. They expect hardship to come with achievement, believing it be character-building. South Africans call this ‘vasbyt’.   
Finally, high performers demonstrate courage because they’ve identified someone to fight for – a family member, friend or peer – and their determination to fight through uncertainty or fear comes from wanting to work hard for this person.

Focusing on these habits and constantly challenging yourself in a non-judgmental, but honest and conscious way, can shift old patterns and move you into a more authentic state of being. Like all things that are really worth it, this takes practice and discipline, but is a challenge that can have amazing results.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co, Insource.ICT/ IT Edge and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Oct 30
Seven Swords of RPO by GM of The Working Earth - Wendy Kirstan

Anything that is not core to the organisation's function is likely to be accomplished at less than optimum efficiency. While large conglomerates may justify in-house recruitment operations, the rest of the organisations may realise better efficiencies with an externally managed process. Placing recruitment in the hands of specialists will help an organisation benefit from technology-enabled processes that will increase the quality of the outcome. The RPO model provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to conception and implementation of effective recruitment processes. This is done in a streamlined, consistent manner.

 

What is RPO?

RPO is a process whereby an organisation chooses to outsource part or all of its recruitment needs.

 

Seven Swords of RPO

  1. Qualities of hires ensured

    RPO providers are specialist recruiters and therefore invest heavily in their recruitment staff, recruiter training and technique and recruitment technology and tools as this is their core business. These recruiters focus on only one thing: recruitment. Whereas corporate recruiters are often responsible for other aspects of HR, RPO recruiters have gained deep industry knowledge as well as extensive experience. For these reasons, the hire is guaranteed to be top quality.

     
  2. Cost Reduction

    RPO providers can scale up and scale down their recruitment activity to match the fluctuating hiring needs of the client, therefore, the organisation does not have to hire more permanent staff, and costs change from fixed to variable with this recruiter­on-demand model. In business, to use the old adage, time is money. Every day that a position remains unfilled costs a company.

    Better quality means better retention and opportunity costs reduced.  Filling vacancies fast is better for productivity and reduces a number of HR resources spent on sourcing candidates. RPO providers are ultimately measured on time to hire, cost of hire and quality of hire. There is also no need for the client to incur additional costs such as advertising, job boards, etc, when partnering with an RPO provider as the provider assumes complete responsibility. As Brian Tracey mentioned, "Hiring the wrong person is the most costly mistake you can make". RPO assists you in avoiding this.

     
  3. Scalable Model

    As companies experience peaks and troughs in staffing, an RPO model is regulated to adapt accordingly. If a company is expanding or opening a new department it will need more staff, while it is downsizing or it has to implement a hiring freeze, it will not. RPO providers have structures in place to adapt to any situation. They can scale their recruitment team up and down as needed. At the end of the day the client pays for what they get: successfully filled vacancies, nothing more, nothing less. RPO providers are flexible and can accommodate every situation.

     
  4. Reduced Time to Hire

    Internal RPO resource models scale to overcome the challenge of tight time-to-hire deadlines. Most RPO providers will have established time-to-hire models. Considering their expertise in this field, time to hire is reduced significantly.

     
  5. Talent Pooling

    The RPO provider will present the client with the best people for the job. All strong candidates are pooled and actively engaged with, creating a community for future hiring. Through means such as candidate mapping, social media and other brand-outreach programmes PRO proactively creates a talent database of both  passive and active candidates which cannot be built via traditional recruitment methodology. In addition, RPO incorporates value-added initiatives such as employer branding to ensure candidate-culture fit.  Effectively the RPO model improves hiring manager satisfaction and improves staff retention. An ancillary benefit of RPO is that it assists in delivering diverse candidates.

     
  6. End-to-end Recruitment Process

    RPO providers may re-engineer a company's entire recruiting process so that it is consistent across all departments within the organisation. This makes it easier for management to follow progress and understand how the procedure is developing at any given time. By adopting a holistic approach from design to implementation, the RPO model centralises recruitment processes and ensures consistency by standardising best practices, managing compliance, issues, and minimising risk by getting involved in the entire recruitment cycle.

     
  7. Analytics and Reporting

    RPO providers track and trace every stage of the recruitment process allowing for real-time reporting and detailed insights for prompt decision-making. This also makes it a lot easier for future audits of recruitment activity. RPO providers are entirely accountable for filling positions whereas contingency searches are not guaranteed. They undertake to deliver more value at optimal cost and management is provided with hiring metrics including candidate satisfaction, cost efficiencies and talent pipeline. RPO firms are experts on labour laws and standards. Detailed records are kept, mapping every stage of the recruitment process. They are guaranteed to implement fully compliant, auditable processes and methods.

Aug 24
The Working Earth Woman’s Month Campaign - Part Two

Name & Surname: Felicity Coughlan

Job title, Company: Group Academic Director/  Director of The Independent Institute of Education

Qualifications – D Phil (Also have B Soc Sc (SW), B Soc Sc (Hons) (SW), B Soc Sc (Hons) (Psych), M Sc)

1. What does Woman’s Day mean to you?

In South Africa, it commemorates women who stood up against injustice.  They did not succeed then.  The democracy they wanted was decades away.  I believe though that the fact that they took the stand they did and were public about their anger started to change the course of history and added a little impetus to a swelling resistance.  For me that is what women at their best are.  Strong, brave and infinitely patient without ever being passive.  Women seem to be future directed and to understand that things do not always pay off now and they do not always pay off for the people who did the work.  Therefore, the day means that one thing to me.  The other is more challenging – the world is a dangerous place for women, but it is women who raise boys to be men and provide at least half the examples of what is OK in terms of the way men treat women. For me it should be a day to focus on the next generation of men and to recommit as women (and men) who are teachers and employers and lecturers and leaders to raising a different kind of man.   AdvTech has a sphere of influence far wider than most work places as we have access to the youth and I think we need to make better use of this opportunity  – Woman’s Day for me is about imagining a world in which a Woman’s Day is only needed for historical reasons and so that we never go back.  

 

What I want most right now from Woman’s Day is to mobilise conversations and action against what I consider being one of our key current injustices and that is that poor girls have lower access to schooling because they menstruate.  I care about the fact that more than two decades in to our democracy the lack of sanitary pads keeps people out of school.  The original march was about how documentation, control, and abuse of power kept people, families divided, and women in particular subjugated.  For me the level of inequity that feeds violence against women is wrapped up in a society that does not have its act together to make sure girls can go to school when they are menstruating.  Therefore, Woman’s Day to me is also, about what we still need to do.

2. What are your thoughts on women in the work place?

The world remains a dangerous place for women and my vision is that AdvTech will be a place from which change spreads.  Therefore, when I think about women in the work place I am hypersensitive to anything that mirrors the misogyny of broader society.  Given the profile of people we reach every day, I truly believe that if we all conducted our working lives with a deep respect for the development of a non-racist, non-sexist, prejudice free society we could make a meaningful and sustained difference to the world that women have to navigate every day, and this impact would be way beyond the scope of influence of most other work places.  That motivates me.

3. How do you manage to balance your work life with your family/social life?

I don’t.  Every day is a series of compromises and in hindsight I am embarrassed and regretful of as many decisions as I am proud.  I am hoping that one day I will figure out the formula.  In the meantime I love as deeply as I can and work as hard as I can at home and at work and I hope that on balance the impact on me and on those I care about (at home and at work) will be merciful, forgiving and maybe even a bit appreciative.  I have no clue how to achieve what others call balance and I have made a decision to stop seeking balance but rather focusing on doing the right thing by weighing up the impact of the choices I make.  I sometimes get this very wrong.

4. What is your favourite quote, by whom and why?

“Curiouser and curiouser”.  This is something that Alice in Wonderland (by Lewis Carrol) says when she is not just talking about all the strange things around her but also when she is trying to  understand if all the things she believed about herself are true.  I use this phrase all the time to remind myself to accept change and embrace the bizarreness of life.  If that fails then I draw on this one from Dr Seuss “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you than you.”

5. What advice do you have for young women in the work place?

I tell women to walk a path that leaves their conscience clear, their reputation for dignity and effort intact and others a little uncertain about what is coming next.  Mostly I try to share strategies for managing unfairness so I say, “Sometimes things don’t work out because things are just not fair.  Sometimes though they do not work out because I did not handle the situation correctly or did not put in enough thought and effort.  If you treat each challenge as being something done to you and never as something you have done to yourself you will burn out as the opportunities for rage and frustration are enough when you are a women in today’s working world without doubling them by blaming others for things you could have avoided. Just like me, no one likes losing so I always try to remember to go in to a negotiation or discussion knowing how to allow the other person to leave with something they wanted.  They are then much more likely to give me something I need. This is reasonably good advice for men too I guess.  In addition, it sometimes does not work because sometimes things just cannot be fixed.  Then I have needed to learn to let things go as I don’t have enough strength to take on new challenges where I can succeed while still investing time and energy in situations in which I will continue to fail”.


Visit https://www.theworkingearth.co.za/ for more information on our offerings
1 - 10Next