Continuous competition, vulnerability, drought, constant change… Like the African bushveld, our marketplace is constantly transforming and because of these ever-present factors, we need to adopt unique approaches that equip us to deal with what’s coming.
We at DAV attended an eye-opening talk this month by international speaker Lorne Sulcas, The Big Cat Guy, who related adaptability, synergy and efficiency to our business environment. Lorne likens the challenges animals experience in the wild to those we experience in today’s marketplace, and then shares in his unique presentations the powerful success lessons we can learn specifically from Africa’s Big Cats.
Challenges in any environment are unavoidable but it’s how we tackle these challenges that will determine our success. Like the leopard, the lion and the cheetah, each have a different strategy… Each functions differently when it comes to hunting, protecting themselves and surviving. It’s important to not do what everyone else is doing but do what suits your business, your industry and your end goal to prevail over competition.
Lorne’s presentation of animals being in a ‘feast or famine’ type of environment emphasises the need for us to be agile enough to adapt to a constantly changing business landscape. This ability is what will make us game changers……industry leaders! Understanding our market – pulling together the correct resources and implementing the right structures can increase our agility and therefore better prepare us heading into any business terrain. Versatility is what businesses need in this modern economy.
Synergy within the workplace is undeniably one of the most powerful resources an organisation can hold. Lorne looks at the synergy within a pride of lions – their collaboration and teamwork get results that no individual can do on their own. A synergistic team has more power to defend a larger, more prominent territory which provides access to more resources and thus, increased dominance in the market. Synergy is created by one team member offering something that the other team member might not have and together they can accomplish greatness. It’s about encouraging each other to be fully immersed in team collaboration so that we can create a shared level of understanding and therefore, 100% commitment. Synergy can help us overcome any obstacle; just like it helps a pride of lions defeat a hugely aggressive and tough male buffalo.
Time is money! Efficiency makes things happen. The cheetah does not waste time focusing on trying to build on his other strengths, he uses his speed, the one inimitable attribute that will get him his desired result. Eliminate your competition by focusing on your niche area, your area of strength. This way you will be 100% focused on what you know you can execute perfectly. We need to make our time really count to ensure that we meet the demands of the industry by maximising our time but also the resources accessible to us.
“The oldest, most enduring marketplace: Nature’s African bushveld,” says Lorne Sulcas. What a concept: to be able to apply million-year old survival traits from the wild into our workplace?
Get in touch if you’d like to find out more!
Today, running a business involves dealing with many kinds of people and age groups. There have always been multiple generations in the workplace, but currently we’re experiencing four generations working together – the largest diversity of generations represented than any other time in history!
The differing generational values, work ethics, and financial perspectives can make our jobs in management quite challenging but how we manage these differences is most important. Roles are being redefined and rules are being rewritten daily. Change is inevitable and we need to recognise the positive impact a multi-generational workforce can have on our company’s success.
Day-to-day I witness how the youth feed off the experienced – their knowledge, their wise ways of the world and their years of experience gained. I see this being reciprocated, as the experienced feed off the youth’s enthusiasm, their energy and their technically advanced and innovative minds. It’s a good balance but it’s up to us as leaders and managers to create an environment that stimulates and nurtures these relationships to increase the synergy within our teams.
The roles of older and younger workers are continually being modified and increasingly we are seeing older, experienced generations being led and mentored by the youth… It’s reality. I read that the US Marine Corps routinely put 22-year old lieutenants in charge of 45 year-old sergeants. The mind-set behind this is apparently to encourage ‘partnership’ as opposed to one leading and the other following. It’s a more collaborative approach that uses discussion and engagement. Studies have shown that colleagues learn more from each other than they do from formal training.
I think we need to understand that in order to create a happy and productive multi-generational work environment we need to realise that what has worked in the past might not work anymore.These four generations share some traditional work values but differ in opinion on the role of the manager, issues of loyalty, technical competence, and how much time must be spent on the job to define a good day’s work. Right now, we need to focus on how we can reshape our thinking and collectively find the right way.
As a company, we are always growing and as we go through the different stages of growth, the make-up of our workforce changes too. The more we understand the unique work ethic, goals and perspectives of each generation, the more effective we can be as managers. Business is challenging enough but understanding the context in which each generation was created provides vital information for understanding how to recruit, train, and retain employees. Let’s recognise what an asset we have!
Get in touch if you have any questions.
In the face of growing competition from job boards, internal recruiters and social networking, some have forecast the decline of recruitment firms. However, our industry continues to grow and offers many important benefits to corporates looking to secure top talent. Our ongoing success and client relationships depend upon our ability to offer advice and insight, to reduce risks associated with any recruiting exercise and to ultimately provide you with a shortlist of talented candidates you would not otherwise have known about. There are several important benefits to clients when they engage the services of a reputable recruitment firm:
Recruiters define and describe the position best. Professional recruiters can help you define what you are looking for – they know what is out there and can understand the requirements of the role you are recruiting for as well as the availability and market value of the talent you need. They understand real job needs, as well as hiring manager needs, so you’ll hire people who can hit the ground running.
Expertise. Professional recruiters have a deep level of expertise related to job knowledge, employment trends and recruitment practices, as well as industry expertise. A professional recruitment consultant understands the full end-to-end recruitment process and the nuances along the way. They follow a proven methodology overlaid by their accumulated experience.
Exceptional networks – of both active and passive candidates. This gives a sourcing and speed advantage and allows recruiters to find top people quickly. They know exactly how to reach out to this talent, along with salary industry standards, career expectations, available skill-sets and hiring complexities.
Knowledge of the market. The best recruiters will have an intimate knowledge of the state of the market and be able to advise their clients on realistic outcomes including timeframes, remuneration and other ‘success’ issues. The best will act as collaborative partners, and be your eyes and ears in the market.
Recruiters know where to find talent. Some candidates are hard to find. They may be passive or they may be selective. If they aren’t responding to job advertisements, don’t see themselves as part of your ‘talent pool’ and are too busy to search full time, there’s a strong chance a good recruiter will know who they are and how to reach them.
Recruiters attract the best people. Top passive candidates, especially those with three or more years of experience, seek out the best recruiters to keep them aware of opportunities.
Employer Branding. We are, by extension, your face and voice in the highly competitive war for talent. We give potential candidates a real insight into your business – what it’s like to work there, benefits and career openings available, and a feel for the culture. This is often the difference between obtaining the interest of the better candidates versus competing roles they may be considering.
Raise the overall quality level of every new hire. The best external recruiters source from both active and passive candidates to narrow the selection down to a few high-quality candidates and by managing the process from beginning to end, don’t need to present more than three to four candidates – who are genuinely suited to the role – in order for one to get hired.
Reduced time to hire. The real costs or opportunity costs of an open position can be enormous. We are rewarded upon our success, so have a vested interest in achieving the best outcome in a timely manner. Our ability to identify, source, attract and validate candidates takes a fraction of the time it would take a client.
Recruiters save staff time and cost. Considering what their time is worth, the distraction of an employee search to managers and leaders will cost the company more money than a search turned over to an independent recruiter. And because recruitment firms manage the entire employment process, they also relieve employers of costs related to pre-employment testing and background checks.
Recruiters guarantee results. It is standard practice for recruitment firms to offer a 3 month guarantee on a permanent placement. If for some reason the placed candidate does not live up to expectation, it is then beholden on the recruiter to undertake the recruitment exercise again.
Using an external recruitment firm can be seen as both an exercise in risk management as well as a cost effective investment in finding the best people.
If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.
I’m sure you agree: we’ve all worked for a boss at some point that was less than nice. I bet some of them have been downright awful. I know as well as you do that job satisfaction often hinges on the quality of the relationship with one’s boss and yet it’s not always clear what managers should do to create the happiest and most productive employees. Great leadership can be a difficult thing to pin down even though we all know an amazing boss when we are lucky enough to work for one.
Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and author of “Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent” has unearthed some common practices that can make work much more meaningful and enjoyable for your employees. If you’re a boss, make sure you do the following:
Manage individuals, not teams. When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to forget that employees are unique individuals, with varying interests, abilities, goals and learning styles. But it’s important to customise your interactions with them. Ensure you understand what makes them tick. Be available and accessible for one-on-one conversations. And deliver lessons cued to individual needs.
Go big on meaning. Most employees value jobs that let them contribute and make a difference, and many organisations now emphasise meaning and purpose in the hopes of fostering engagement. But this is also the manager’s responsibility. You can’t rely on incentives like bonuses, stock options, or raises. You’ve got to inspire them with a vision, set challenging goals and pump up their confidence so they believe they can actually win. Articulate a clear purpose that fires your team up, set expectations high, and convey to the group that you think they’re capable of virtually anything.
Focus on feedback. Even if your organisation sticks with traditional performance reviews, supplement them with continuous, personalised feedback. Use regular — at least weekly — one-on-one conversations to give lots of coaching. Make the feedback clear, honest and constructive, and frame it so that it promotes independence and initiative.
Don’t just talk, listen. The best leaders spend a great deal of time listening. They pose problems and challenges, then ask questions to enlist the entire team in generating solutions. They reward innovation and initiative, and encourage everyone in the group to do the same.
Be consistent. Who could be happy with a boss who does one thing one day and another thing the next? Be consistent in your management style, and in the way you set expectations, give feedback and are open to new ideas. If change becomes necessary, acknowledge it openly and quickly.
Here are some additional guidelines I find particularly meaningful:
Praise in public, reprimand in private. People thrive on recognition: the extraordinary boss will praise often and publically but will reprimand you in private to allow you to save face.
Allow employees a good deal of autonomy. Ask any person who has worked for a micro-manager how much having autonomy contributes to workplace happiness.
Get in the trenches. A great boss leads by example. They are not afraid to get their hands dirty and do the same work they ask their people to do.
Set clear expectations/objectives. Research suggests that employees experience increased stress levels when they don’t have a good understanding of what is expected of them.
Don’t be afraid of failing. A great boss understands failure is inevitable and should be viewed as a learning experience. Be wary of the boss that lets you think they don’t make mistakes.
Excel at communication. Just as in any relationship, communication is key.
Know how and when to delegate. An extraordinary boss will delegate responsibilities and not just tasks.
Have a sense of humour. Being in a management position is serious business, but being able to take the daily stresses with a grain of salt is invaluable..
Stay positive, but remain realistic. I found the following analogy in an article on Forbes.com: Think of a sailboat with three people aboard: a pessimist, an optimist, and a great leader. Everything is going smoothly until the wind suddenly sours. The pessimist throws his hands up and complains about the wind; the optimist sits back, saying that things will improve; but the great leaders says, “We can do this!” and he adjusts the sails and keeps the ship moving forward. The right combination of positivity and realism is what keeps things moving forward.
Remember, not all bosses are created equal. Becoming a great one may be hard work, but it’s worth it.
As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.
I’m of the opinion that offboarding is every bit as important as onboarding in the employee lifecycle. In fact, I think we all – as employers – now recognise that excellence at every stage of the lifecycle is imperative if we are to win in the war for talent and this doesn’t end at attraction and engagement. Whether as a result of resignation or termination, the impact of our offboarding strategy on our talent brand is massive:
One of our biggest concerns surrounding the departure of an employee, most especially a valued one, is knowledge transfer. How can a company manage the transition in such a way as to retain valuable institutional experience, expertise and product knowledge? Typically, departure is a flurry of paperwork and a quick ‘handover’ when what we need to be doing is finding ways to transfer business critical, experience based knowledge and behaviours – all the aspects that made this person a valued employee. Here’s how, with thanks to Rebecca Knight of Harvard Business Review:
This, of course, is in addition to the practical: managing payments, health insurance, exit interviews, non-competes, referees and intellectual and physical property handover. As you can see, handling the offboarding process effectively can increase your ability to attract and retain talent.
As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.
I’m a huge fan of Millennials: they are bright, tech savvy, connected and energetic and care a lot about being part of something bigger than the bottom line. They don’t necessarily respond to the same things our older generations do but they are not as complicated as they are sometimes perceived. Considering that come 2020, according to some estimates, they will make up the majority of the workforce, I think it’s time we tweaked our tried and trusted methods of talent attraction if we want to become millennial magnets.
Understanding what motivates them is essential to formulating a plan for attracting millennials to our organisations. Their biggest priority is rapid advancement and so I read with interest that some companies are now developing advancement roadmaps that offer ‘smaller’ promotions at shorter intervals. Promotions from roles A1, A2 and A3 to B1 etc., versus a bigger jump from role A to role B. I think this is very clever allowing a company to recognise good performance whilst giving their millennials a sense of career progression.
Millennials are known to consider job-hopping as perfectly acceptable; this is because they consider jobs as opportunities to gain an education in specific technical or communication skills. I believe they stay for longer when we keep them interested and so in attracting them we need to highlight educational opportunities in tangible, technological and communication skills that will feed millennial interest, ambition, and entrepreneurial spirit. This is a marker of the most successful firms and is what the best young people are looking for. Assign mentors to millennials: they want to learn from people with expertise. I even go so far as to recommend giving them co-leadership opportunities. They will embrace the challenge and reward the opportunity to learn and develop with hard work and commitment.
Millennials are just as interested in how a company contributes to society as they are in how it develops its people. They want to work for companies that have a clear sense of purpose and they want to personally have an impact within the organisation. Identify why the world is a better place because your company exists and incorporate this into your attraction message. 81% of the Best Places to Work for Millennials offer paid time off for volunteer work, compared to just 53% of companies that did not make the list. Stress how their role will impact the company’s vision.
Many companies are relooking the type of leaders they have in place, as millennials seek and respond to a very specific style of leadership. According to a Deloitte study, today’s Millennials define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%). They respond very negatively to micro-management.
Other factors that millennials consider important are:
What millennials are looking for is actually pretty basic and straight-forward. You may already be getting some of what they want right, you just might need to adapt and revamp a few things.
If you have any questions or if we can help in any way, please get in touch.
For many of the candidates I see here at DAV, the prospect of psychometric testing is a daunting one. I’d like to reassure you: there’s very little to be worried about. Recruiters and employers use these to give a more rounded and objective understanding of a candidate’s behavioural and cognitive suitability for the job.
They give you another opportunity, beyond the interview and your CV, to demonstrate your skills. Certain skills, such as problem-solving or spatial ability, are in fact better demonstrated through testing.
Psychometric tests are divided into roughly 3 categories:
Aptitude/ability tests. These will be timed and will measure your ability in a specific area such as numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, logical reasoning or abstract reasoning. Employers use these to test your ability in a job-relevant area in order to assess your potential for that job.
Personality types. These have no right or wrong answers and are not strictly timed. They assess aspects of personality such as typical behaviour, preferences, interests and motivations. They are used to gain additional information about your suitability and ‘fit’ for a job. They can also be used in career planning and career development to help you understand more about yourself.
Learning styles. Everyone learns in a different way and questionnaires can help a potential employer assess your preferred learning style.
My best advice for anyone when taking a psychometric test is to relax and be yourself. Good tests are set up to pick up on any inconsistencies so don’t try and ‘put on an act’ for the personality sections of psychometric tests.
Beyond that, here’s my take on how to be prepared:
Practice makes perfect. Unfamiliarity with this kind of test, along with nerves, can sometimes lead to underperformance. Avoid this by taking practice tests before hand – http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/psychotests.htm is just one of many websites out there where you can do so.
Find out the type of psychometric test questions you need to practice. Not all jobs get the same test questions. The level of difficulty and complexity will vary based on the job you are applying for. A test for a management position is likely to have more difficult questions than that for an entry role. Ask the potential employer what type of tests you will be taking and whether they have any sample questions to help you practice.
Know what to expect. The tests may be given in the potential workplace, or at a testing facility. Read the attendance instructions carefully and be sure you know where to go. Also, read any instructions about the test itself to learn what you can about the types of questions, the timing permitted, and the sequences the testing will be provided in.
Be in good physical and mental shape. You need to be at your best to produce good results in psychometric testing. Tiredness is likely to severely harm your scores so make sure you are well rested and try to take decent breaks in between aptitude tests to ensure you regain your energy. Have a good attitude towards the tests themselves: they are not there to discriminate or put you down in any way.
Practice working against the clock. All aptitude sections in psychometric tests are timed. Practicing against the clock will get you used to answering a lot of questions in a short space of time and to learn to balance speed and accuracy.
Review basic maths. Think of possible mathematical operations that could be required and practise them. Brush up on reading tables and graphs as well.
Improve your vocabulary and comprehension by reading. Look up the meaning of words you are unsure of. Practise reasoning through what is clearly true or untrue from passages of information. Review your understanding of grammar and practise spotting associations between words or types of words.
Be familiar with any tools you’ll be allowed to use during the test. Most numeric tests will let you use a calculator, and many of us haven’t used one in a while! Familiarise yourself with the different types of calculator operations and functions ahead of the test.
Get the best answer down and move on. Don’t spend too much time on a single question. Doing that would waste the opportunity of another 6 questions at 20 seconds each (easy questions score the same as hard ones)! Just keep working through and if you have time left, come back to the harder questions and skipped ones. These tests are designed in a way that only 1 – 2% of people who take such a test can actually finish it. However, you don’t have to complete all the test questions to get a perfect score.
As daunting as psychometric tests seem, the key to success and achieving a top score is practice and preparation. See them realistically: if you’re not the best fit, you’re better off not working in this work environment. It doesn’t reflect on your worth as a person.
As always if we can help in any way, please get in touch.
I’ve long seen the return in commitment, lowered absenteeism and productivity from my team that comes from offering flextime. I am also seeing an increased number of desirable candidates who won’t even consider working for a company that doesn’t have a flextime policy.
Most companies that I work with have had a casual flextime approach: staff can leave early for a doctor’s appointment or to fetch children, work from home for the morning when the geyser bursts etc. But can formalised flextime work for your company, as well as for your employees? I think yes.
No doubt, as I have, you’ve been getting more and more requests for flexible or non-traditional work schedules, which include:
To deal with these requests fairly, you’ll need to introduce official guidelines as to what is and isn’t permissible so that all managers can respond consistently. Inconsistency will lead to lowered morale. Having a formal policy will also minimise abuse of the system by staff and help employers track the impact of such arrangements, improve the benefits and reduce the pitfalls.
I think the best way to begin formalising your policy is to ask yourself what your motivations are. Do you want to attract candidates, engage/reward existing staff or reduce operating costs? Knowing what your goals are will help you bring structure to the programme.
Next be very clear about what types of flexibility will be available for which departments and roles. Not all roles are suitable for the same flexible work arrangements (for example reception probably couldn’t work from home but could adopt flexible hours or a shift approach) and decide who is eligible. Base this decision on business needs not on employee requests. Some employees will also prefer not to work from home so perhaps survey your staff first.
Get management buy-in (demonstrate productivity benefits) and give them adequate training to transition. It’s very different managing people in-office to managing them remotely. Their support for the programme and their consistent, knowledgeable implementation are crucial to its success.
Design a request and review process including steps for both employees and managers. Be sure to test your policy, building in a 3 month reassessment, before making it permanent. Establish a clear way to measure performance so it can be unambiguously evaluated – did productivity increase? How was the rest of the team affected? Top performers, who are typically self-motivated and need relatively little management, should be measured on their value to the organisation and their output rather than where they work from.
Of course it’s important to equip your flextime staff with ways to connect. Remote access to your network, smartphones, VPN, laptops, Skype, video conferencing – whatever works best for your environment.
With careful planning and a clear policy and procedures for supervisors and employees to follow, flexible working initiatives can make your workforce more productive than you might think.
As always, if we can be of any assistance please get in touch.
If there is one challenge all our clients’ face it’s the attraction and retention of scarce skills, despite unemployment in SA hovering at around 25%. My experience is that companies (and recruiters, for that matter) all too often use the same approach when recruiting for scarce skills, as they do for roles for which there is a talent surplus. However, the two need very different approaches.
In a talent surplus situation we have a quantity vs. quality of hire scenario. Our goal is to separate out the weakest candidates through incredibly specific, detailed, non-negotiable and targeted job descriptions and hence advertising, so that only the strongest candidates respond. The skill here, I’ve found, is in creating job ads that attract top talent while dissuading underqualified candidates from applying.
When it comes to scarce skills, there may only be a handful of qualified candidates out there. Many of them not even on the job market. Even the most skilfully written job ad may not find them. You need to know where to look (and be prepared to look in unexpected places) for the few that may be actively open to a new opportunity, as well as those passive candidates who may be ideal but aren’t scouring job portals. You need to understand what conversation to have to entice them.
In a surplus environment we fit candidates to required qualifications and compensation range, in a scarcity scenario I recommend emphasising the work itself, the employee value proposition and the impact the candidate can have on organisational strategy, mission or project/initiative. Fit the job to the candidate rather than the other way around, convince them this is their best career move.
At DAV, we recommend to our clients, that they be a little flexible when reviewing CVs for scarce skills. Even the best CV from the most confident candidate could result in a wrong hire when the pool of talent is this small. Sometimes it’s the candidate with the right soft skills and a demonstrable potential to adapt and grow that will succeed in the role. Their CV may fail against a checklist but their drive and ingenuity makes them a good fit. Look for potential, the right attitude and the ability to learn. Sometimes it’s even the people who have seemingly failed, or dropped out or changed their career paths that are the best choice. Traditional measures such as past experience, academic accomplishment and test scores are not always the best predictors. I say be willing to embrace an unconventional view of what skills are truly needed for the role. Don’t be blinded by achievements alone.
When it comes to hiring these scare skills, we recommend:
Speeding up time to hire. These candidates will be in demand. Streamline the interview process. If at all possible, get all the decision makers together in one interview. Once you have identified the right candidate be decisive and make them an offer.
Making an offer that is fair and collaborative. A good candidate will not move for less money than what they are earning. Regardless of where the job is located or who the company is. Top candidates need to know what the bottom line on their payslip is going to be. Reflect this in the offer which will, to some extent, negate the threat of a counter offer.
To safeguard against losing these difficult to find gems, I find the following to be useful strategies:
Lastly, you’ll probably lean on these employees to take on the most difficult and important assignments. Monitor their workload and make sure they do not ‘burn out’.
In a world where demand often exceeds supply, we are in an ongoing war for talent. It’s time to get both strategic and creative in order to win.
As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.
Nowadays companies understand that attracting and retaining high performance individuals (and keeping them engaged) requires a mix of factors including environmental, relationship, support, growth and, of course, compensation. When considering your compensation strategy it pays to realise that money alone will not retain most employees, hence organisations need to consider a mix of hard (monetary) and soft (non-monetary) employee compensation approaches:
You could also consider:
To be successful, a company’s compensation strategy should:
Keep the following in mind when developing and documenting your corporate compensation strategy:
Budget Allocation. How much of total compensation budget will be spent on salary and what percentage will be spent on benefits and other incentives?
Salary Ranges. Benchmark like jobs within the same industry and create a pay structure, establishing salary ranges that match all job descriptions. This is critical to ensuring employee pay is competitive with other organisations.
Salary Audits. Markets change therefore it is important to perform routine salary audits to ensure salary ranges reflect current compensation trends in a particular industry.
Benefits Package. Being competitive with health, retirement, tuition reimbursement and other benefits can be the determining factor for a candidate deciding whether to accept a position with an organisation or an employee deciding to stay with an organisation.
Legal Compliance. A well defined compensation strategy will incorporate legal requirements to eliminate natural biases made in hiring decisions and to ensure the organisation is in compliance.
Structured Administration. As with any other business process, structure is important. Develop an annual review process, salary audit, raise process timeline and make sure someone is responsible for ensuring all areas are completed.
A comprehensive compensation strategy can be the foundation for creating an environment that attracts, retains, recognises and rewards employee performance and helps to establish a strong culture of employee engagement.
If you have any questions or if we can help in any way, please get in touch.