Missing Our Intern

Today I missed our intern. A lot. She began with us twelve weeks ago after a friend of hers put us in touch and she seriously made an impression during her time with myself and the team. The experience made me realise more than ever that the benefits of interns are absolutely mutual.

For years now I have organised, aided, supervised and guided internship programmes in my organisation across all areas of the business, except my own. I have ensured there was goal setting, training, mentoring, coaching and robust outcomes for the intern, working with multiple tertiary training providers depending on the nature of the internship and role or project on offer. I have been working lately on pulling together a nationwide internship programme across all of our departments to set minimum standards for expectations in relation to bringing interns into the business. So it’s been hugely valuable to me to experience the full programme first hand before rolling it out for implementation.

The benefits for the interns are well documented from networking opportunities, learning and development, insights to specific industries, building personal brand from CV through LinkedIn and social platforms, but so to there are the soft skill benefits of communication, organisational behaviour, norms & expectations. It’s important that when students take internships that they know what their goals are, what the expectations of the role are and what the outcomes will be.

Here are a couple of quotes from recent interns in our business:

“Doing an internship does not only allow you to gain more skills and knowledge, but also presents you with a new group of people that are already in the business and are happy to help you in the future.”

“Throughout my internship I was able to gain a good understanding of the 80+ brands under NZME and got a taste of each department’s responsibilities. I also learnt key skills that my current job requires. This allowed me to hit the ground running when I started working fulltime.”

Many of the benefits for employers have also been discussed before such as creating talent pools and being able to attract talented graduates. Gone are the days where the intern did the photocopying, filing and coffee runs. Interns need to have solid and measured goals and outcomes in place during their time in an organisation. Employers should keep in mind that interns will have desires that they hope will be met during the course of their programme ranging from client exposure through inspiring colleagues, mentors and competitive compensation.

On the note of competitive compensation, I’m a huge advocate of paid internships. I realise not all organisations are able to offer this, and that the experience itself is incredibly valuable to the students. But I wager that to keep bias out of the internship equation you need to offer compensation as some students may simply not be able to afford to not be paid, and therefore you miss out on them as potentials for your organisation.

This is something of a brain dump for me given my intern has just left and that she taught me many valuable lessons. We’ve changed a couple of processes as she had a better way of doing them. Her critical thinking and research into a project she was running has potentially changed the way we use some technology in recruitment going forward. Her open, frank and confident composure combined with her knowledge of her subject has left more of our managers open to interns, now they realise the value of them and that it’s not a ‘baby-sitting’ exercise. It’s also timely as I’ve been keenly following the #summerofbiz initiative and I’m keen to explore how that can be expanded in Auckland in conjunction with my journey on our in-house intern programme.

So yes, I’m missing our intern, for her vibrant personality, her ability to take a task and completely nail it, for the way she asks questions and the questions she asks and for the difference she made to our team and workspace.

I’d love to hear the thoughts, experiences and advice of others also working in this space!

(And yes, the pic is some of our team dressed as Where’s Wally :-))

Here’s where you can find out more about the #summerofbiz: https://hrmannz.com/2017/09/24/starting-out-part-2-all-kinds-of-awesomeness/

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Youth Employment and the Future of Work, Part 2 – Collective Mentality

In my last blog Youth, Employment and the Future of Work, I discussed youth today, millennials, their outlook and their readiness for work now and into the future, and what companies, organisations and training institutes can do to steer and better prepare these groups for the workplace and future careers.

In this post I want to explore another phenomenon I came across in my increased and intensive time with youth of late, their collective mentality. On the whole I’ve found they think in terms of we and us instead of the me, I and my that I largely hear in in the Gen X bracket. It’s not just youth and millennials however; there are many indigenous communities the world over who live their lives collectively, communally from a social and work perspective. Here in New Zealand the indigenous Maori people are a prime example. They care about the wellbeing of the group as opposed to the individual and identify more with cooperation over competition, interdependence over independence. I note too, the massive rise and fall of labour unions, from the peak between 1940 – 1960 and the steady decline ever since. So is collective mentality and thinking in the workplace cyclical like so many other things in life or are we about to see a massive shift in the world of work?

In my HR career to date countless times I’ve had individuals (Gen X!) complaining of workloads, managers (also Gen X!) who say to collaborate and share the load – but has this ever really eventuated? In some cases yes, but in most it’s paying lip service to a problem and quietly ignoring it and the individuals struggle on regardless. Certainly more of a collective mentality in the workplace, more we and us, would improve workloads for many individuals especially as these seem to be increasing at an alarming pace of late. So is this a solution? Real collaboration? Caring about the wellbeing of all? A more tribal attitude when it comes to workplaces?

I note that conscious capitalism is on the rise, I wonder if this is being driven by the increased number of millennials and youth in employment. This was a hot topic at the Festival for the Future I attended recently; over 100 youth/millennials whose voice was loud and clear about wanting to make a difference, wanting more equality for all, shifting wealth and changing political policies to benefit the wider community.

I’m wondering what effect this is going to have on the future of work – especially given there are ever increasing examples of collective thinking being demonstrated in organisations and many of these are or have been start up organisations run by millennials, our future leaders and the future of work. I predict more collective working examples of individuals coming together and working across platforms, disciplines and geographical distances on projects and pieces of work. I predict more collaborative working spaces, where individuals and organisations share not only workspaces, but ideas, clients and development opportunities. I predict organisational structures changing as people work more within large corporates, but without the restrictions of specific job descriptions, in areas where they can specialise and utilise their expertise. I predict hearing the terms holocracy and meritocracy with much higher frequency. I predict more contracting and less permanent employment, ever more start-ups and small to medium sized organisations as technology changes and continues to evolve and develop. I predict more mergers of larger corporates as they compete on a global scale and not just in local markets.

I could go on and on with my predictions, but I’d love to hear what you think. Both about collective mentality in organisations, youth employment and the future of work.

Pass the Purple Crayon!

Did you have a favourite crayon in the box back at pre-school or in your early school days? Is there one you secreted away to be able to use it every day? Or was it a favourite marker pen you used to colour everything, ensuring it ran out twice as fast as the others in the box? I’ve watched my daughter from the moment she could hold a pen make a beeline for the pinks and purples in the container. She prefers if they have sparkles or some sort of glitter shine to them as well, and these are always used first.

At work I’ve noticed people do similar things; I had a colleague obsessed with purple pens and highlighters (you know who you are!) who had a drawer full of them – and this extended to purple plastic sleeves as well. There’s another who will only write in red pen and masses of people with favourite notebooks and folders. Many of us have favourite fonts, and sizes and by the same token there’s some incredibly disliked fonts (comic sans anyone?).

Lighthearted as the subject is it got me thinking. Have you got a favourite colour now? And/or does it extend to a little something in your everyday work life that makes you feel happy, makes you smile or makes your day that little bit better? And is that all there is to it?

We recently printed branded notebooks at work and they are seriously cool – edgy, funky and useful with pockets and preprinted info on our brands & products and other useful titbits like calendars. Everybody loves them, regular beige covered notebooks lie unused in stationary cupboards throughout the building while the fancy new models are coveted. I was recently given a bound pink notebook (by a company who shall remain nameless, but I’m sure many of you will guess!), and I really like it. Now I’m not a particularly girly girl – and certainly no six year old girl (who I had to buy a sparkly pink notebook for to stop her sneaking mine) but it stands out. It’s pretty, functional and no one else at work has one so it stands out as mine if I put it down someone.

So is it colour? Is it having an individual thing or another way to express ourselves? Or is it just fluff? Or is there something more to this that could help teams and organisations come together? Is it a personality thing? Can colour affect mood, productivity and inspiration? On a subject such as this I’d love to hear what you all have to say! But to satisfy my own intrigue I googled it and here are some of my findings:

In terms of office space I found screeds of information on colour schemes in the workplace and how they affect (positively and negatively – or otherwise) the environment Entrepreneur had a basic infographic that some may find useful or relate to. Woods Bagot, internationally renowned architects have some amazing examples of pulling together data, technology and people with design to create office spaces of the future, here is an example of this and we’re seeing it a lot more in Auckland especially where Vodafone kicked off new spacial design for offices, and the likes of ASB, NZME and Fonterra have followed suit with more colour, open spaces and collaborative environments than offices of old.

BuzzFeed has this quiz to take about what your choice in colour says about your personality; and for me it was largely accurate. This article on Bustle I found interesting if only because I’ve always struggled to decide if my favourite colour is blue or yellow…and only 5% of adults claim yellow as their favourite colour! Psychology Today offered this simple exercise to assess the personality types of team members based on favourite colours. StopPress think trendier is happier – what say you?

All in all, I think Fast Company summed it up pretty well in this article, concluding whilst studies may be able to give us generalities, it’s an individual thing, humans visualise 10 million different colours; given “green” can mean or be visualised in many forms by many different people. Love to hear your thoughts…

 

What’s the Point? Finding Your Purpose.

I’ve stolen the first half of the title for this blog from Jonathon Hagger, after reading his post “What’s the Point?” directly after I read David Cullen’s #NZLead tweet chat recap “Why do we work? Meaning in the Workplace”. Both struck a chord.

It’s no secret that work’s been pretty busy for me of late (always if I’m honest!), but the coming together of three of NZ’s biggest media players has definitely been a game changer and one that’s been incredibly exciting to be a part of. The values and purpose of the three individual organisations have changed somewhat, but also remain largely intact within the new, larger group company. We have a new shared sense of direction in our vision and mission as a group. But how has this worked for individuals? Sure, there have been changes and therefore the why has changed for some people and in the course of this I’ve had some very frank conversations with numerous talent within our organisations and asking them similar questions to those posed in the posted linked above has yielded some interesting outcomes, situations and realisations.

For some people their drive and their purpose is to affect greater change. They may not align and be in utmost harmony with the wider group at this point, but they see an opportunity to make a difference and are striving towards that – these are the people who think big, the disruptors, those that will change the face of workplaces in the world. Then there are those who do buy in to the company “way we do things round here” and are if not 100% behind the purpose of the company then they’re close to it. This is something of a seamless alignment in thinking and an ideal, most people would be striving to find in life.

The opposite end of the scale from the descriptions above are the actively disengaged, or aligned and those who are indifferent. A complete disharmony between employee and organisation is a dangerous situation to have in play as these people may be actively working against the organisational purpose and/or attempting to persuade others’ away from it. Those who are indifferent will do less damage internally and externally to the employer brand and culture, but from a productivity perspective are equally bad for business. Hopefully there aren’t too many of these in a business, but if so it’s in these instances that organisations should be able and brave enough to have upfront conversations with people to help them find their point, purpose, why – whatever you choose to call it. Help them recognise where their strengths lie, where their skill sets are better suited, where they will feel happier and more fulfilled in their work. It may be that these people were once “on the bus” – but as technology, business, and the world around us changed they may be surprised to find that they no longer “fit” with the organisation they’re in. They may need help in recognising this, and in finding alternatives and seeking out their point or finding a new environment where their point aligns with company purpose.

If done well people will thank you for these difficult conversations. It may not be straight away, and it may take some considerable time before they’re ready to make a move or to try something new. But in the end it benefits both them, the original and the new organisation.

I’ve found through these processes too, that sometimes people may be unsure of their purpose, but realise in having a conversation with another that they do share the vision or direction of the organisation; so managers, HR and the like need to ensure they take the time to have open dialogue with talent within the organisation. Many times I’ve had people walk into my office feeling uncertain, or unclear, worried about change and the like, but having vented and received feedback, or a different perspective on the situation they’ve left feeling happy and clear in their future direction.

And to answer the questions???

My purpose is people. Communities within workplaces. Open conversations with real feedback. Finding meaning in work. Creating thriving workspaces. Showcasing, developing and attracting talent. Working smarter, utilising technology. Successful change. Growth & future. My purpose is people.

The Bully Show

Bullying in the workplace has been a hot topic of conversation in the workplace and in the news in NZ this week following this incident. Thousands of people around the world including some seriously high profile celebrities (the likes of Ed Sheeran and Lorde) watched and have offered everything from opinions to condolences for both parties.

And so why is this incident so different from the likes of Simon Cowell who was also renowned for his harsh tongue at times? Or is it different? In this instance I think the incident is more of a personal attack, which I think is more what you could describe Simons’ incidences as.

So what constitutes bullying? The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment attempts to describe it here, along with case studies from employment law; concluding that it is unwanted and unwarranted behaviour that a person finds offensive, intimidating or humiliating and is repeated so as to have a detrimental effect upon a person’s dignity, safety, and well-being. It could also be something that someone repeatedly does or says to gain power and dominance over another, including any action or implied action, such as threats, intended to cause fear and distress.

What does this mean for employers?

  • Treat all matters seriously and act promptly when a bullying issue is brought to your attention.
  • Ensure there is no victimisation and that both parties are made aware of the support available to them.
  • Remain neutral throughout the process and ensure all parties are treated equally and courteously, free of any bias.
  • Communicate & Document. Ensure all facts, dates, meetings and outcomes are accurately documented and communicated to both parties, maintaining confidentiality at all times.

 
Employees, how can you deal with the situation?

  • Document the facts; keep records of incidences noting time, place, circumstances, witnesses, actions and effects.
  • Have a conversation; ensure you speak up, tell the right person, detail the facts and be careful about the language used (remembering a one off incident is not considered bullying)
  • Consequences; get a commitment from the organisation/bully that the behaviour will change and what the consequences will be of this not happening. Stay optimistic that things will change.
  • Seek professional help; if you are still struggling with the effects of the bullying be sure to talk to a professional counsellor or similar to ensure you properly work through the situation personally.

For both Employers and Employees it’s important to address the situation to ensure the safety and continued productivity of all affected, and to ensure proper help and advice is sought for a satisfactory resolution. The far reaching effects of bullying can be huge – don’t let it become a show stopper!

#NZLead – Twitter Chat Preview

Career mapping for HR, Recruitment, OD, L&D & ER

As you may or may not be aware #NZLead has some pretty big things planned for 2015 and into the future, all aimed at the professional and personal development of our community. You can check out the planned calendar of events here.

To help folk navigate through the various twitter chats, google+ hangouts, events, unconference and resourses available and to aid in each persons’ professional development in the ‘people sphere’ we’re creating a career mapping / planning tool to categorise the #NZLead offerings.

Starting with the basics as per the table (link here), we’re aiming to develop this into a useable graphic based tool aligned with everything #NZLead does – more on how it will work later!

For now we’re asking for your help in terms of experience, career path and insight.

1.      Can you see any obvious gaps, ommissions or irregularities in the table below? And / or do you have any suggestions for alteration?
2.      What path has your career taken to date?
3.      Have you jumped between, skipped past or across HR specialisations?
4.      What other areas of business do you most frequently collaborate with and why? Eg: Marketing
5.      Are there instances where roles would work above or below current experience levels?
6.      How do you see these career paths evolving in the future?

>>> #NZLead Twitter Chat Thursday 12 March, 2015 @ 7pm NZT <<<

***Thanks to Angela Atkins and her best-selling book Employment Bites (http://www.elephanttraining.co.nz/EmpBites.html) which was a useful start to putting together the table.

Get On Your Bike!

I’ve never been one for cycling, more of a walker / runner type myself. Even as a kid – I learnt to ride and even obtained a badge for it from school aged 11, but growing up where I did on Auckland’s North Shore there’s very few if any even mildly flat areas anywhere near where our house was. Not living far from there now I still have a serious uphill battle to get anywhere.

But these summer holidays I decided it was time to take the training wheels off Miss Four’s bike. And in doing so bought bikes for the other half and I to ride along with her. My reasoning for this was threefold; a fun form of exercise for the three of us as Miss Four can ride a lot further than she can walk, a way for us to spend more time together as a family unit and thirdly so Miss Four could watch and learn from us once the training wheels came off.

It struck me as we were riding around Auckland’s waterfront together recently the analogy between this and running a team. Teams run best when they are in alignment, working together cohesively, pushing each other to go harder, faster, further than ever before.   Teams with a culture of collaboration and innovation, riding in sync will achieve much greater productivity through increased intrinsic motivation.

Putting time and effort into relationships within teams, working to build trust and open forums for communication where individuals are working towards a common goal are essential elements for success in teams.  Much like us on our bike rides, taking stock now and then and checking to ensure all are on the same path – or at least that their paths are in alignment, and that all are free to express their thoughts.

Creating a coaching culture within teams whereby members feel empowered to remove their training wheels, watching and learning – developing themselves through growth in others will further develop trust among group members. This in turn ensures individuals carry their own weight as well as supporting that of others when required.

Working as a team also ensures you can support each other when the likes of Miss Four has a spill, or the other half gets speed wobbles, and doing it together keeps it light hearted, relaxed and fun.

I can’t wait for my next ride. Get on your bike!

CHANGE…EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITY

How do you feel about change? How do you view it? Is it scary to you or anticipated? Are you a person who instantly pooh pooh’s the unknown? Or someone who looks forward to the new and unexpected?

Time and again over the past few years I’ve heard the phrase change is the only constant. It’s become something of mantra for me and as a result I’ve made a major shift in my thinking in the past few years. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts I viewed HR as a career / team / business entity /service etc – as unlikely to change. That HR had developed processes and procedures that were tried and true and to be followed to the letter. Always. And I’ve also openly admitted how wrong I was! Particularly in the areas of social media, best practice and the like – and probably now if I’m really honest in every aspect of HR; we need to change! The rest of the world is changing around us and if we don’t change and adapt we’ll become extinct as all things do that are resistant to change.

But back to me personally. I love change. I’m someone who’s easily bored if I feel I’m standing still or repeating same old same old too often. So change is in my nature to a degree – interesting then that I once held the perspective that HR didn’t or wouldn’t need to change! I regularly view around me both personally and professionally people who resist change and people who openly seek it out. I believe the later to be in a better position. For those who openly seek or are at least agreeable to change will have an easier road ahead than those resisting it in my opinion., They will be afforded more opportunities in every aspect of life and will therefore be more likely to take those opportunities than those adverse to change.

Again taking a personal view of both angles. In the past five years I’ve undergone a lot of personal and professional change; had and am raising the most beautiful child; bought, sold and moved house three times; studied for and been awarded a double degree with an admission into a high achieving alumni; have sought and received promotions at work; meet the man of my dreams; embraced and developed the use of social media; traveled extensively both locally and overseas; taken up running including my first half marathon and all that on top of my usual life of family, friends, work, sailing and the like. Change, I love it.

But at the same time I’m regularly faced with those adverse to change. Prime example, my parents. On a weekend away at their reasonably remote bach (holiday home) recently I attempted to explain blogs, blogging, social media, meeting people IRL (in real life) and a conference I’d recently been on (HR Game Changer). Over a couple of whiskey’s (Dad’s Scottish after all), I almost had my Dad convinced to blog as he’s undoubtedly an expert in his field and people would seek out his expertise. This is a man who’s never sent a text or even an email before in his life and still uses a cheque book. He’s still not sure why or who would read his blogs and most importantly how he would do it (we concluded I would have to do it as his alias), but it was a big step that he even thought about it. I don’t believe however, that he’ll do anything to change what he does now and has always done. My Mum however has surprised me. A month later she’s phoned me to ask about facebook, twitter and “Linking In”. And wants to know could this relate to her business? Short answer yes. The long answer is along the lines of I have a marketing background and have been trying to tell you this for years as you run a sports and function venue... But something must have resonated – today she asked me if I could help the lady next door to her at work with social media marketing! She’s starting to put it all together after hearing it from different angles and situations (FYI the lady next door is 70 – considerably older than my Mum, go her for getting into it I reckon!). And my best friends grandfather, now aged 93 regularly skypes, texts, emails and is currently investigating snapchat – how’s that for change and progression?!

My point in all of this is where could you find yourself if you were more open to change? What could you achieve? Where could your organisation be if you were to advocate, rather than work against change? In turn how could you affect engagement and culture if you were a change advocate in the organisation? How could you inspire others to change, grow and develop? How bad would it be to do things differently and try something new? After all you, and they just might find that you like it.