Archive for category Human Resource Mngt

Are you scaring employess away?

Image courtesy of Stock Images from

Image courtesy of Stock Images from

You hire people, you want the best, you are given guidelines to follow, some formal and some informal (e.g pick a woman)…

You find the job description template, write a description and send it off for approval.

The supervisor reads it, sees that it’s comprehensive and approves it, based more on the key selection criteria and the basic job description.

The process continues and you get what you get, a new employee. Hopefully they are a fantastic fit to the team and in a short space of time become a profitable addition to the organisation, however reality tells an all to common different story, at the end of the probation period, the person is ousted and the process begins again. Or worse, the person makes it through the probation period and becomes an anchor weighing things down often for a variety of reasons.

But I have an issue or three with the approach that causes this drama to happen.

Most job descriptions I have seen are too wordy and can actually scare people away from applying, and sometimes those that do apply find the job is not what they thought it would be, or they have the wrong ‘disposition’ (attitude, personality etc) for the job.

I have applied for enough positions to see this first hand and I now believe there should be a more relaxed approach, at least in the first instance.

Okay so there are those who say the idea is to attract more of the right people so you don’t end up getting too many applicants for the role, fair enough, but find another way of doing it rather than trying to bury people in detail and scaring them off.

The ideal employee is probably a fun team player, a person who is interested in more than just the role (it might be seen as an entry role to the organisation). Of course they will have the qualification to do the job, but the right attitude and personality will make them a better fit to the whole system, not just the technical aspects of the role.

Start thinking about how you can get a simpler approach started, then add the details in at another layer if need be.

Simply put, your current processes might just be causing long term headaches for the organisation.


Steve Gray

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Train to Ease the Pain

I like to watch people in their businesses, their staff doing what they do, or don’t do… Case in point a restaurant. Even better when an industry expert with 25+ years of experience is with me.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

I like seeing the little things, the details, the ‘one percenters’ as I call them, the details which can snowball into a drop in efficiency a drop in quality and eventually lead to staff bad attitudes and fast staff turnover.

So there we were watching, table service people arrived and one had an attitude that was abrasive, short tempered, end of the shift type “gnarly-ness”, It was noticed. We had a simple order so things happened in an okay time frame but “with attitude”.

Earlier in the day we had a more positive experience at another establishment that we will cherish and smile about because it was great food, served professionally by pleasant attentive staff.

So here I am pondering the ‘experiences’ we had during the day and my mind flips through many other experiences I have had and my thoughts on how things can improve.

A big example shows up from my memory bank… Watching staff get behind in their service standards  in a fast food joint. Any semblance of a systematic approach seems to fade when they are under any pressure (more than three orders at one time.) The Manager seems flat out at the back frying chips or some such offering no guidance, motivation or positive communication to get and keep the team in line.

Years of experience mean I am on the lookout for things that don’t seem right and my analytic brain goes into overdrive as to how things can improve. The short answer is it’s all in the training, or lack of it.

I go back to my own experience delivering pizzas 25+ years back. Grab the packaged pizza, read the address, head out the door deliver, collect the money. Simple enough.

After doing this for a few nights I start to notice the guys processing the orders as they came out of the oven, slide the pizza onto the cutting board, cut then slide into a box, easy. The challenge is  however getting the practice to be able to do it fast without mistakes.

A few weeks in and box folding became a thing you had to do when things were quiet, a few paper cuts later and  you realised it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Good practice however made it easier. The same with the slice and box routine, after a while you could recognise which pizza was which, put it int eh right box, cut the right way and all was good but heaven help you if any part of the process was slightly out the pizza could end up on the floor!

Any training takes instruction, followed by practice to get it right. Then when things end up getting into pressure cooker mode, it’s easy to do more of the right things, simply because the skill has become automatic, the  you do the right thing.

As I see it most people in business are not natural trainers, they are busy running a business and many see the training side as a cost rather than a thing to get right and save money later on in reduced staff turnover and by keeping customers satisfied with timely service and staff with a positive demeanour.

Learn to train your staff and do it long enough for the staff to really know the skills, if you let them loose on the customers before they are competent problems will arise. It’s up to you to get it right.

A new work year…

Imamge courtesy of cooldesign from

Imamge courtesy of cooldesign from

Another year starts for Teachers in Australia, group photos, planning sessions and no doubt lots of chatter about the holiday break and how quickly it went.

The Graduate Teachers fortunate enough to have a position will have all manner of nerves and are probably excitedly dreading the first day or six…

Spare a thought for those who did not get a position. They studied hard, put in applications, perhaps had an interview or two. Many finding positions are not that easy to come by and are still actively looking annoyed they did not get to start the year with everyone else. A sense of isolation kicks in fast, I know I have been there.

Then consider those who have been looking for longer and those who just don’t seem to get past the casual relief teaching, running from school to school when the call comes very early in the morning to ask “can you come in”. Heaven help you if you miss that call because you are in the shower. Another day of no earnings, and the chance to be seen by those who might employ you later on. I know I have been there.

How about those about to start their studies at University, full of hope, some jammed full of enthusiasm, and some just jammed full of themselves… We read of too many graduates in Law and probably a host of other areas, too few positions in key areas. Some started out at University with the notion that this many student positions must mean there are a lot of roles to be filled, alas not so. I have experienced this too.

Then there are those who after having a position in a company, Degree pinned precariously to the wall, want more, so they study more, search more, live the mantra of ‘the clever country’, only to find they are starting back at first base, although now they have more knowledge, experience, wisdom and age on their side.

Too few jobs for too many people. Where are the innovators, the entrepreneurs, the companies willing to take on the older employees with boundless experience, maturity, wisdom and the sense to know when to say stop, or no.

The statistics of people who are unemployed, looking, struggling, ‘going for gold’, shows there are still long term unemployed. What the statistics don’t show are those who are cast offs from a two income family now reduced to one income who don’t show up in the numbers. To many of these people there is a degree of shame, guilt, isolation, and probing questions from well meaning family and friends not sure how to respond when you say ‘still nothing yet’ despite eighty applications over nine months and only four interviews.

Some say “become a consultant”, been there done that, long waits for projects which may materialise somewhere over the horizon, more money out on marketing, no money in… great product and service, no chances yet…

Others say “do other things like volunteer in the community”, I do that already thanks… I give ’til it hurts some days but ‘I’m in there doing it’, my ADHD sees to me being busy on meaningful projects.

My job search auto email shows a range of ‘work from home’ options and few jobs, Delete. My other job search email shows jobs too far away to bother with, and short term fill in roles, that’s hard, get a job, only to find you are searching again six months later, back to square one.

Dear HR person, spare a thought for those who are mature, made redundant once or thrice, changed careers mid stream, chased a dream or three in between. These people can be forgotten and glanced over because, ‘they might get bored in a small role like this…’

Part of my dignity and self worth is deeply ensconced in having an income, being in a role where I can assist others, feel pleased with my achievements, pleased with my contribution to the organisation and society as a whole. Sure I have my downsides, it’s just that I can’t see them most of the time.

A job is one thing, while a career seems to be a fading dream. All I ask is that organisations look beyond the ‘barriers’, of age, gender and a mix of qualifications. Indeed I don’t think the highly specific skill sets and job descriptions which read like you are hiring a person with a PHD help your cause at all. They only seem to aggravate me having to interpret a ton of rhetoric and seemoingly hollow values.

The key to success in this context is to keep on moving forward, not to spend too much time wrapped up in glum outlooks, strained interviews where the persons on the panel are younger than my Nieces and Nephews, not to look at how much earning capacity has been lost. The point is to keep my head up and continuing my search for the holy grail.


Steve Gray

Hire for values

image courtesy of suphakit73 from

image courtesy of suphakit73 from

After writing this article I realised many organisations are possibly getting their hiring process mixed up.

Usually they set up the advert for hiring a person with an outline – skills and qualifications required – get the person to write an application – and then ask behaviourally based questions at the interview.

Following a values based approach from the article I linked to above, it would seem we could ‘weed out’ non performers with a values test first up. Here’s a possible approach.

Advertise the position, list the title, some key points and send them to a webpage dedicated to that role. At the webpage outline some more aspects of the position then pose a range of questions based on the companies values. Assess that before inviting them to continue with a standard application. To do that you send them a link to a page with more details about the role.

This way you get to see them expain the behaviours they have around your businesses values. If they can give strong responses at this point you already have some behavioural starting points and a solid idea if they are willing to or can already match your values.

This avoids having lots of cover letters, lengthy key selection criteria responses, lots of time wasting and reams of resumes to sort through. Only those who make it past step one will get to submit the finer details for the actual role.


Steve Gray

Beyond Values


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Regular readers will know I love talking about values. It came to mind recently that I should provide some more depth on the subject.

For the uninitiated, the values an organisation stands by are the foundation of its culture (the pattern of behaviours it follows).

So take a look at this list I have put together:

Values outline

The aim being to develop a starting point of areas to explore under each heading, in this example Respect and Quality

Your business can readily do a similar thing and build its own set of values and guidelines to ensure each area of the buisness is given suitable scrutiny, over time the details can be added to as issues come to light. In the end the result is a organisational device your people can use to ensure each value has been given due consideration, they feel they have input into it, they can see it as a positive force to live by and should be able to raise concerns at any stage with management to better the company.

Take a look, explore it and make sure your team get into the process of making it happen. Trust me… you will love the results.

Impressive creative NOT required thanks…


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic from

I used to get excited by things like this… “YOUL’LL IMPRESS US: You’re an innovator, a collaborator, a creative thinker. You are driven by the energy of a fast-paced environment, and you embrace change because you know it’s an opportunity for you to lead and do what you do best. Find out more about the things we look for in our people”.

The problem is I have either become more cynical or more astute to what’s really happening in the world of business. Hopefully a fair mix of both to put a realistic spin on things.

Let’s pull it apart.

  • “You’ll impress us” – Lot’s, but when push comes to shove we don’t want to be impressed if it makes your job harder… So we use this stance to let people do lot’s of things to make us look good, solved.
  • “You’re an Innovator” – You can write it and judging by your response to the ‘impress us’ question you can do it too, hmm, more work for you, less for me… As long as I can control you. Have an idea, share it with me, If I understand it you get to go ahead, if not it gets shelved, simple.
  • “A collaborator” – Yep you can work well with others, that’s nice because I don’t want to work with the people in Marketing, you can do that, just make sure you keep me in the loop, I like to collaborate too and I promise not to steal all of your ideas and call them mine, however some I will ‘tweak’ and backdate to prior to your version to cover my tracks.
  • “A creative thinker” – Not sure if that’s different from an innovator but what the hey… as long as there are ‘buzz words’ let’s use them. Do I look good yet? Perhaps the Beret is a bit too creative do you think? Ooh I see a creativity conference/workshop coming!
  • “You are driven by the energy of a fast paced environment” – While you are busy doing my work, I will get busy looking like I am doing other work, running off to ‘meetings’, collaborating with “cross cultural task forces”, learning to dodge the firing line and manipulating the nasty trolls in HR who want to make me redundant. What was the question again?
  • “Embrace change and lead” – Words to that effect… anywho… change happens (I see to that if  you treat me badly) and lead, yep I let you lead some projects so you feel some power and then VOOM off to another department you go looking for the next challenge while I line up the next new recruit to Mentor. I’m getting good at it now, the HR team have sent me on courses to get good at it you know.

Power and control typology, coupled with a solid addiction to dopamine makes a nice combination as you set up the department to have a easy time of things, while you do your best to look busy. What’s that another leadership course, ok if you insist. Now who can you get to spy on things while you are out of the office?

If you have worked in an office with a person or three who are like this, you will quickly understand there is little hope of an organisation ever working with these types of values. While on the one hand they make things look good and seem to model ‘best practice’ principles the core value gets lost when the wrong people get control… power and control.

You as the head of the organisation are left looking at the underlying mess wondering why this was never mentioned in your Leadership course, or was the facilitator simply manipulating things to make themselves look good while the participants did their work? A case of who led whom?

The answer –  Recognise that the above scenario can happen, then work through the list and make up positive opposites and find ways to measure if the great outcomes you seek by this sort of heroic thinking are actually happening. Oh and if you don’t like politics, don’t get into business!

Let’s go to hell and back

You wanted to go to somewhere else but for today only we’re off to hell. You will run out of money, the staff will revolt in stupidly spectacular ways, the customers will stink (literally) and there seems to be nothing you can do about it. Perhaps you have a different version of events…

You don’t know it yet but you will just have to ride out this ‘tough time’ and write it all off to experience.

Perhaps you might start to wonder if the planets are aligned incorrectly, or the moon phases are out of kilter… Or maybe someone has put a curse on you!

Whatever the alternative theory you have about how this all came about the fact is it happened, seemingly it happens to you more than you might want to admit, but there you are roasting in the pits of hell.

Image courtesy of [image creator name] /

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

Experience suggests you ride through it and hope you ‘toughen up’ after all is said and done. Then one day you see a quote, one of those inspirational ones that says “Stupidity – Doing the same thing and expecting different results” It dawns on  you, the same thing has been happening, you end up in hell and let it wash over you. Not any more.

Take a look at the past 12 months, has this type of ‘trip to hell’ happened often? Are the challenges you face the same when it occurs? Are specific people showing up each time this happens?

I hope you can see where I am going with this, if you can target a connection to the problem then it’s time to retrain, re group, rethink, strategize, explore otherwise the same thing will happen at some stage.

Now it’s up to you as the organisations leader to take action and achieve positive outcomes.

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