Tag Archives: Values

Interview Question: Do you have any questions for me?

It’s probably pretty reasonable to say that the vast majority, (I’d suggest 99.9%) of candidates know that they are going to be asked at some point in an interview if they have any questions for the interviewer.  And yet candidates often fumble their words and struggle to present themselves in a positive way.

The questions that you ask provide the interviewer with a great insight in to you, and so asking the right sorts of questions can catapult you to the top of the “to be employed” list!  Whilst poorly thought out questions and questions made up on the spot can very quickly highlight some of your deficiencies and push your application down in to the quagmire of mediocrity…….or worse.

Some of the best questions that you can ask tend to be those that have been very carefully planned and learned, but then evolve through information that comes to light during the interview.  What I mean by this is – there is no substitute for doing the research and preparation, but don’t be afraid to “tweak” one or two (or more) of the questions that you have prepared to include facts and information that you have gathered throughout the interview as it shows that you have been listening.  Often, your question can remain exactly the same, it will just be the lead-in that changes.  For example:

(Planned Question):  “What is the organisational structure of the Food & Beverage department? (and maybe something about FT vs Part Time…)“, might become:

(Tweaked Question):  “You mentioned that there are 120 staff in the F&B department.  What is the organisational structure of the department and what sort of breakdown is there between Full Time, Part Time and Casual employees?”

Oh!  And if it helps, don’t be afraid to take a notepad and pen or an iPad/Tablet in to the interview so that you can jot down notes (like the number of staff in the F&B department) as you go.  As a side-note, it is polite to ask the interviewer(s) if they mind if you take some notes during the course of the interview and sometimes, the jotting down of notes can actually buy you that valuable 4 or 5 seconds to contemplate an answer before you open your mouth (as you jot things down, generally people will wait politely for you to answer)…

For questions to really work, it comes down to RESEARCH!  And with the internet at your fingertips, there are no excuses for not being able to gather enough information to ask intelligent and pertinent questions.  To help you with the process, I have listed below a range of the sorts of questions that you could ask in an interview and with a little bit of thought and some manipulation of the details, they’ll provide you with a good foundation for the next time you are sitting across the table from an interviewer:

Ask specific questions about the venue/organisation and what your role would be there:
– What’s their vision for your position?
– In your opinion, what would make me a success in this role?
– Will the role evolve over time?
– What are the top 2 or 3 priorities that you believe would need to be addressed first?  (Let them tell you and finish telling you, then you might like to sum up briefly your ability to address those priorities)
NOTE:  In my experience, candidates often jump the gun in this circumstance.  They do the right thing and ask a good question like this, but rather than stop and wait for the WHOLE answer, they let their nerves get the better of them and jump on in with the “HOW” they can solve the problem or how they have the experience to do the job.  This means that they a) assume the remainder of the answer (it’s never good to assume), b) miss gathering further information (could be useful later on in the interview) and c) don’t show how they can listen (this can send completely the wrong message, when in fact, it’s just because they’re nervous)!
– If legislation has recently affected the industry or if there’s something pertinent in the news, try to tie this knowledge in to a question as it will show that you have done your homework!

What systems do they have in place?
– Are they adequate?  Or do they need updating?
– If they are inadequate, would it be your job to change or develop them?

Who was in this job before?
– Why did they leave?
– Will I be doing the same job as them, or has the role changed/evolved?

What is the company’s management style?

How do you measure performance and how often is it reviewed?

Do you provide any sort of professional development or training?

What is your target market?
– Is this something that you would like to expand?  If so, what are you plans for doing so?

What is the company’s policy on corporate social responsibility?

In what ways is your company involved in the local community?  (In our industry, there is generally plenty of information about this, so you might want to tailor this with something like:  “I see from your Facebook Page that you are connected with the <so-and-so charity>.  It what other ways are you involved in the local community?”).

It’s worth remembering, that to be amazing at an interview, you actually have to GET an interview and this begins with your application!  Make sure you develop a fantastic resume and that you get it in promptly via the means that they request.  And keep in mind that your research should start before you even send your resume in so that you can tailor your resume to the advert, the organisation and the role.  You should then pick up your research once again when you progress to the next stage and expand it so that it is fresh in your memory for when you get to the interview.  Oh.  And if you don’t get offered an interview, try calling to find out why (again, PLAN your questions) and see if you can gather any advice on how to improve your resume for the next time!  (Don’t forget to read my previous blog “To Call or Not To Call, That is the Question”, & if you haven’t already done so – you can click here.

When you do get offered the opportunity to attend an interview, think about the importance of making a GREAT first impression!  The interview starts the moment you step foot through the door in to the organisation and ramps up the moment you walk in to the interview room.  Dress.  Grooming.  Body Language.  Preparation.  Don’t underestimate the value of caring enough to make an effort – it goes an awfully LONG way!

Something that is all too often forgotten or done with no real thought other than because you’d heard it was the right thing to do is to follow up after an interview with a “thank you”.  There are lots of ways that you can do this with modern forms of communication – choosing the right one is the tough part.  In some (rare?) circumstances, an SMS to the interviewer is appropriate, but choose when and what you’re going to say and think carefully about whether an SMS really is the best way to go!  For example, if you know they are about to walk straight in to another interview, wait until later to send your SMS and try to choose a time when you know/think they’ll be able to receive it without the embarrassment of their phone beeping/vibrating in another interview!  Note:  I would only use SMS if the interviewer has been communicating with you via SMS, if they haven’t, then an email, phone call or even a well chosen ‘thank you’ card might be the better option.  Long story-short, don’t let your interview be the last time they hear from you!  Follow up to assist them to remember who you are and try to remind them of one of the positive aspects/events that occurred in the interview.

Similarly to  following up if you don’t get an interview, don’t forget to follow up if you don’t get offered the job and find out why so that you can use this information for your next interview.

And most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Sometimes, you can do everything right and still not be offered the job – so stay positive and upbeat as it’ll show the next time you speak to someone about a job.  And always remember – there is a great job waiting for you out ‘there’!  So keep honing your interview skills (which can be learned & improved) and stay focused.

To Call, Or Not To Call – That Is The Question

Here at White Now! we receive LOTS of calls from candidates about roles that we have advertised and it got me to thinking…

“…Which calls do I remember?”.

The answer was simple.  Not too many!  I’d be the first to admit that my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I’m not quite ready to be shipped off to “a home” quite yet, so it got me to thinking about why I only remember a very select few calls and what is is about those calls that stick out.

Here’s a list of things in no particular order that come to mind about the calls that are worth remembering and those that fade in to the background.

1. The call has purpose and is not just being made for the sake of being made.
– “Hi, I just called to make sure that you received my application” needs to lead somewhere other than “oh and what’s the salary?”.  We all recognise that as much as the message that the world would like us all to hear is “it’s not about the money”, Jerry Maguire had it right when he said, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!”, only that’s probably not quite the message that you want an employer or recruiter to walk away with.  So, rather than making a call to check whether cyberspace has decided to randomly pick your electronic application to be THE one that doesn’t make it through, PLAN your conversation prior to making it and have a number of points that you want to discuss that happens to include (at the right moment), a question about the remuneration.
– Asking the “$$$ question” is always a difficult one, but it’s one that you need to get used to asking.  Try to tie it in to your planned conversation and be prepared for the question to get turned back on to you – “I’m going to turn that question back on to you, what do you feel the role is worth in your opinion and I’ll let you know if you’re in the right ball park”.  Be ready for this as it’s a great way for the person at the other end of the phone to establish if you have any idea at all about the size and importance of the role and where it fits in to the hierarchy of the organisation, not to mention if you are appropriate.  This sounds a bit harsh, but if you’re looking for a job that pays $200,000+ and you’re applying for a middle management role that is paying in the $65-70,000 range, there is a MASSIVE mismatch before we even get to the point of interviewing…

2. Do some research PRIOR to making a call and map out what it is that you want to tell the person on the other end.  Ideally they are going to want to know:
– Your name (state it clearly and if you’ve got an unusual/confusing name, maybe even spell it for them)
– The state of your application:  “I have just applied” / “I applied yesterday/last week” / “I’m about to apply”
– Which role you’re applying for and ideally include a reference number if there is one
– A VERY BRIEF overview of your relevant experience & why you’ve applied for the role.  This is actually a LOT tougher than it sounds, because standing out from the crowd is tough when all you’re doing is reciting your job roles.  Try to make it interesting and more of a conversation than a presentation!  And try to include words and phrases that aren’t cliched, but that show how articulate and capable you are.
– Use intonation as there is nothing worse than a monotone voice at the other end of a phone conversation.  And speak from the heart as passion and drive will shine through over facts and figures during a verbal meeting.

3.  PLAN two or three main points that you want to get across that you want the employer/recruiter to take away with them and if you can subtly recap them towards the end of your conversation, then do so.  But try not to make it sound like it’s ‘revision’.

4.  Ask well thought out questions that show that you have done some research and that you have thought about what you really want to know.  Good questions will tell the employer / recruiter a lot about you – so put your best foot forward by phrasing questions that show that you’ve done some research.
– Some adverts contain a LOT of information and others don’t!  So remember, we live in the age of high-speed internet and ‘Google is your best friend’.  Type in some queries and see what you can find – there might be financials, YouTube videos, news articles, media releases and goodness knows what else out there.  So let your fingers do the typing and start doing some research EARLY as it will all come in useful if and when you get through to the next stage.

5.  Know when to STOP!  Sometime less, is more!  We’ve all heard it said, but often when we’re nervous or don’t have a plan in our heads, we end up prattling on and on and on, only to discover that we’ve lost our way and the whole point of the conversation.  Make your point, move on to the next or shut up!  It really is as simple as that.

6.  Finishing up:  make sure you thank the person for their time and try to finish up with something along the lines of, “Thank you for sharing your thoughts and providing me with all of that information.  This sounds like a great role and one that I am ideally suited for, so you will see an application from me, <Your Name>, in your inbox by close of business today”.

7.  When you send your application through, don’t forget to address the cover letter to whomever it is that you have been told to address it to in the advert (and if you haven’t been given a contact, jump on to the company’s website and find out the name of the President/HR Manager/General Manager/most appropriate person and address it to them) and then address the email to whomever it is that you spoke to.  What I mean by this is that if you addressed your cover letter to John Doe, General Manager of ABC Leagues Club, but you spoke to Sarah Sitizen (intentional type) at the Recruitment Company, then address the EMAIL to her and thank her for her time on the phone earlier today / yesterday / last week and mention that ‘as per your conversation, you are forwarding your application’.

To wrap things up, there’s a time and a place to make a phone call and when done correctly, it can make your application stick out before it has even arrived – you then just need to back up how well you presented over the phone with a solid written application, one that is FULL of achievements and is NOT a long list of tasks…..but I’m now getting on to the subject of another blog, so I’ll leave you with this:  if you’re going to make a phone call about a job, plan it and make it work for you!

GOOD LUCK…

It’s How We Lose That Shows Who We Are!

Recruiting is a funny business!

Whether being done for a small family business, a large multinational or as a Recruitment Consultant – the “recruitment process” provides an insight in to the human psyche.  And let me just tell you, it’s not always a pretty sight!

As a “glass half-full” kind-a-guy, I’d prefer not to err on the negative, unless there is something to be gained from this insight and so in this blog I thought that there would be significant value in sharing a couple of stories, thoughts and observations about what “we” see as recruiters in a niche market.

First and foremost, let me state from the outset that for the vast majority of roles that are recruited, there is only ever going to be the ONE position available.  Obvious right?  Stick with me here, because whilst this should be obvious, it would seem that there are candidates out there that forget this fact and the other closely associated fact that if there is only ONE position available and say 100 people apply, chances are that NINETY NINE of them are going to be disappointed.  It’s basic maths and yet it doesn’t stop candidates from being rude and at times, even abusive about the fact that they didn’t get the job even though (in their not-so-humble opinion), they were the best person for the job.

This leads me on to my next comment:  how can you know if you are the ‘best person for the job’ when you don’t even know who else has applied OR what the employer is actually looking for?  You’re well within your rights to believe that you’re a strong candidate because you have the necessary skills, experience and traits BUT the point is that  – YOU will NEVER know EXACTLY what an employer is looking for.  So rather than “assume” that you’re the best person for the role,  invest the time in your application to make sure that you have the best possible opportunity of getting the chance for a face-to-face interview.  Then, blow them out of the water at that interview and you might just convince them that you’re what they are looking for !

I mentioned above the competition (other candidates) and this is another point that unsuccessful candidates so often miss.  Faith and confidence in yourself is a much needed trait to be successful in the job market, but a misguided belief that your “Sh#t don’t stink” is likely to leave an impression of arrogance and prima donna tendencies.  Neither of which are an attractive proposition for a potential employer.  Remember, you may well be a great candidate, but there is always someone out there that is “better” than you.  Not a better person or even a better employee, but possibly just a better FIT.  Whilst I’m on the subject of “fit”, just quickly – always remember that a good fit goes both ways.  It has to be right for the employer AND the employee, so sometimes you’re better off missing out on a job if the fit isn’t right – it might just be a blessing in disguise!  To put the concept of competition in perspective, I recently recruited for a senior business leader role that attracted almost 70 applications.  Of the 70, there were 25 that could have done the job (admittedly to varying degrees, but they could still have “done” the job).  That’s over ONE THIRD of the candidates that applied, that by rights, could/should have been in consideration for the role!

This is where process comes in to play.  As a Recruitment Consultant, I am adamant about the fact that it is not my job to decide WHO a business chooses to employ.  Ultimately, my client is the one that will have to work with the successful candidate and not me, so later decisions are completely up to the employer (or their nominated representative(s)).  My (our) job is to make sure that we work closely with the employer (our client) and have open lines of communication (for more info on the importance of the employer-recruiter relationship see previous blog: http://blog.whitenow.com.au/2015/05/01/how-to-recruit-a-recruiter/) so that we are able to clearly identify all aspects of the ideal candidate-type in the hope that we can present our client with a range of candidates for consideration that match their requirements as closely as possible.  Obviously a lot of this is dependent on their ability to articulate what it is that they are looking for and our skills at drawing out this information and sometimes the tough conversations need to be had so that there aren’t any “elephants in the room”.  To achieve this, we run a tried and tested methodology that is linked to years of experience and because it is not an exact science, we then sprinkle all this with the tiniest pinch of fairy dust in the hope that it will bring us that magical candidate that fits in to our client’s organisation like a hand in to an old glove.  Coming back to my point specifically in relation to the role where 70 applied and 25 could do the job – as one of those 70 candidates, “YOU” would have NO IDEA what the level of competition is like both from a ‘cold-hard-facts’ perspective (the other candidates’ credentials) nor the ‘intangibles’ perspective (the competition’s alignment to the spoken [and sometimes unspoken] criteria as set out by the employer).  Surely then it is overly presumptuous to expect that you will automatically be on the short list and probably the preferred candidate for the role.

So, now that we are all a little more aware of some of the obvious, but often unconsidered facts of recruitment, why did I title this blog “It’s How We Lose That Shows Who We Are!”?  Simple:  the candidates that stick in my mind for all of the right reasons are those that are humble in defeat.  Those that thank me for my time and effort and make comment of their understanding of how tough the market it is and how difficult the decision must have been.  Then there are those that remain in my mind for all of the wrong reasons and rather than list some of the negative comments, behaviours and language here, I will simply say that their responses perhaps show their true colours when they’ve been knocked down.

Why?

Well because in business, particularly at a senior management level, it is unlikely that things are always going to be rosie!  There are going to be challenges and adversity and so if it comes to my integrity versus the integrity of someone that cannot be gracious in defeat and I am asked “can you recommend this person”, I am left with the easy decision to tell my client “No.  No I can’t recommend this person because I don’t believe that they would be good for your business or your culture”.

 

“ANYONE CAN BE A GRACIOUS WINNER BUT BEING GRACIOUS AFTER LOSING SHOWS STRENGTH OF CHARACTER” – Donald Lynn Frost

How to Recruit a Recruiter…

How to Recruit a Recruiter…

Engaging a recruiter is meant to take the hard work out of the process of finding the best possible candidate for a role. Pressure should be lifted from Management, the HR Department and for senior roles, the Board of Directors – but this doesn’t mean that you can hand over all accountability and sit down to read the newspaper, whilst crossing your fingers and hoping for the best!

Part of what you pay a recruiter for is that ‘heavy lifting’ aspect of recruitment…..the “grunt work” if you like. A good recruiter should know enough about your business and the savings that you will make by not having your HR function, managers and supervisors tied up throughout the interview and selection process and they ‘should’ quote accordingly. The fee covers the recruiter’s attention to detail throughout the selection process and is not simply a payment for the applicant that is ultimately hired – it is also compensation for the many, many candidates that they sifted through to provide you with a suitably matched and therefore employable applicant(s).

However, there are a couple of details that have to be sorted prior to this equation adding up to the magic number! First and foremost, never take anything for granted… Whilst it would be lovely to believe that all of the candidates referred by recruiters are the best of the best, dropping your guard and not being involved throughout the process based on that assumption may well lead to a poor hire.

In fairness, qualified applicants can sometimes be difficult to find, particularly if the recruiter is being giving a mixed-message about ‘precisely’ what you are looking for, which can be further exacerbated by a fractured Board that cannot agree with one another or a desperate management team that just wants to plug a gap in a roster. However, when you are making the decision to recruit a manager at any level and particularly if that manager is going to lead your business into the future through the strategies that you set, then you need to make sure that you do your homework and hire a reputable, honest and consistently successful recruiter. However it doesn’t stop there! You then need to build a RELATIONSHIP with them so that they learn your business from the inside out and therefore be able to find you the applicants that are going to be the best fit.

If you find that things aren’t quite working as they should and that your recruitment firm is consistently sending you undesirable or unqualified candidates, or you feel that they no longer “get you” or the role, then it is time to re-evaluate the relationship. Here are some suggestions on where to start that process:

Examine Yourself

  • Have you been honest with yourself and each other about what it is that you really need and what you really want?
  • Are you willing to pay the appropriate price to attract the right candidate – both the remuneration package and the recruitment fee? (You tend to get what you pay for on both fronts!)
  • Have you been able to articulate your vision of the perfect candidate – their skills, their academic achievements and most importantly, their cultural fit?
  • And are you satisfied that your recruiter can articulate all of the above back to you in their own words as well as yours?
  • Do you understand your corporate culture and are you able to demonstrate it to the recruiter?
  • Have you been completely honest with the recruiter? Or have you just told them what you think they want to hear?
  • Has the “rhinoceros in the corner” been discussed or have you tried to sweep it under the carpet? In other words, tell the recruiter how it really is, not how it should be and if they’re worth their fee, they’ll find you a candidate that fits (almost regardless of the circumstance) *
  • Are you aware of the name that your organisation has within the industry and are your expectations set accordingly?
  • Are the job descriptions you are providing your recruiting firm completely accurate or are they too general or outdated? More specifically, do they accurately reflect what you want and what you need? More often than not, job descriptions detail skills and qualifications without getting to the core of the person, their values and the job that they will be doing in the environment that they will be doing it in!

* A great recruiter will give perspective candidates a candid summation of the role and the business, knowing full well that painting a rose-coloured picture of the situation will lead to a candidate accepting the job only to resign a month or two down the track. A great recruiter will find a way to wrap up your business, ‘warts and all’, so that perspective candidates are still interested.

If the answer to any of these questions above is a “no”, then you might like to think about addressing the issue before you go out and look for another recruiter. In other words, the problem might be ‘you’ and not your recruiter.

To Become a ‘Great’ Recruiter, You Need Practice………Experience = Practice!

The onus is on you to find the best possible recruitment business for your organisation. This is where we say, “it pays to do your homework” and whilst this is very much the case, it is important to note that you taking a passive approach to your next hire is very different from you having established a relationship with your recruiter resulting in you bring confident in their ability to provide you with the right short list of candidates that meet your specific requirements.

Here are some suggestions on the sorts of things that you can do to make sure that you are choosing the best possible recruitment company to represent your business out there in public. (Remember: candidates, your competition, your shareholders and the general public will be judging your business and its level of candidate care. So ask yourself, “are you comfortable handing over that sort of responsibility to just anyone?”).

  • Speak to your peers: word-of-mouth advertising is one thing, but obtaining a nod of approval from someone that you trust is invaluable. Ask around to see who those that you respect have used and if there is a recruiter that is the obvious leader in your particular industry. Then ask yourself “WHY?”. Don’t fight the facts! If there is an obvious leader out there, find out why and talk to them – there’s probably a very legitimate reason that they’re leading the pack and we can guarantee you, it won’t be because of price!
  • Ask for testimonials: any company worth its weight should be able to quickly and easily provide you with a comprehensive client list, along with reputable references and testimonials. If they can’t you need to ask yourself why they can’t.
  • “Pick up the phone Reg”: once you’ve got a client list and some testimonials, for goodness sake, CALL THEM!!! But prior to doing so, make yourself a list of pertinent questions that you are going to ask so that you get the best value out of the call.
  • Avoid “lapdogs”; you are looking for a recruiting firm, not a manicured poodle that will perform circus tricks at the sound of your voice. If a recruiter doesn’t ask questions, dig deeper into the requirements for the position and challenge your thinking, move on as all they are interested in is their fee. And remember: none of us have ALL of the answers, so sometimes, just sometimes, someone else might just have a better (cheaper/more effective/simpler/etc.) solution than you! And it might not always be the most obvious. A great recruiter will walk away from their fee if they can see a cheaper/free result that will better suit the client and knowing full well that the longer-term result for them will be a relationship that is built on trust, honesty and integrity.
  • Approach a recruiter that is a specialist in your industry. Someone that knows and understands the specific challenges faced and the skill sets and qualifications that are required. Not to mention the personal qualities and traits that make people successful within the arena in which your business performs. They’ll also likely know those candidates that have erred on the side of the law that makes them a threat to your business or those that are not necessarily looking, but would be ideally suited.
  • A quality recruiter will want to know why the position is open or better still, already has a good idea why it is open and they should be able to demonstrate that they have a basic understanding of the requirements for the job and a willingness to learn more.
  • A great recruiting firm will communicate regularly, informing you of progress
    (or lack of progress); they will return your calls and will be available to receive yours. In other words, they will make time for you and your business and be available when it works for you and not just them. In the hospitality industry, weekends and evenings are often a great time to conduct interviews, so ask the recruiter when and how they would usually conduct this part of the process and what hours they are open from and to.
  • BEWARE of recruiters charging a percentage of a salary as their fee ! A great recruiter will charge a flat fee for their recruitment and be confident that the fee charged will cover the full range of work involved for that particular level of recruitment. Be aware that those recruiters charging a percentage of the successful candidate’s salary may attempt to push the candidate’s salary up simply to increase their fee.

Returning to the point under the heading above; Examining Yourself, it is important that an organisation that is relying heavily on a recruiter to source, vet and recommend key staff, should also be willing to make an investment in developing the relationship by inviting that recruiter in to their business. Investing your time in your recruiter is like investing your time in your staff – the better they all get to know your business, the more successful they will be.

Thinking this through further: as organisations we invest hours and hours in to developing relationships with suppliers, vendors, financial institutions and of course our customers. Wouldn’t it therefore make sense to invest the same level, or even a greater effort in to developing a relationship with your recruiter whom you rely so heavily upon to provide staff who will lead your business in to the future (eg. a General Manager or CEO)? So why not encourage a sense of partnership with your recruiter and measure the results of your efforts. Make sure that you keep a constant line of communication open with whomever you are working with and discuss successes and failures as no one learns anything in a void.

This guide has been put together based on a combined 50 years’ worth of recruitment experience. The White Now Team between them have recruited for over 2,500 industry clients, most of whom return again and again; whilst having placed in excess of 6,000 managers and team members across the Club Industry. With testimonials available from venues small, medium and large, White Now has established itself as the leading recruiter within licensed Clubs, Hotel Groups and Casinos and this has been achieved through the relationships that have been forged with its valued customers.

If you are considering any sort of recruitment or would simply like to open up the lines of communication to begin building that unique club-recruiter relationship, please contact Toby Kennett, CEO on 02 9807 186 or mobile 0411 777 329 or email info@whitenow.com.au. For more information visit www.whitenow.com.au or follow us on Facebook on www.facebook.com/whitenowwiz

Service with a Smile

In the hectic lead up to Christmas, we missed getting our hands on one of the Aldi “Three Bird Roasts” and so in a mad panic, I called Jenny and asked her if she had any bright ideas.  Her response in an understandably matter-of-fact style was along the lines of “DERRRR, have you called Tanya and Paul at RPT Promotions?”.IMG_0155

“Ummm…..  No”, I replied somewhat flatly as my brain clicked in to gear and asked itself ‘now why didn’t I think of that in the first place, EJIT?’, (followed by a couple of expletives).

Anyhow, a call was placed to Tanya and was met with Tanya’s message bank, where I explained my predicament and went back to work.  Not even 15 minutes later, the lovely Tanya was calling me back with Season’s Greetings and instructions for how to get a hold of Paul.  Two minutes later I was dialing Paul’s number which was answered with Paul’s always happy & bubbly English accent.   Once again I explained my stupidity and with a wry laugh and an eagerness you had to hear to believe, Paul was making arrangements for one of his Turduckens to be delivered to Gladesville RSL (in close proximity to my home) for me to collect.

I thanked Paul profusely and he promised to call me back to confirm when the delivery would occur and off he went.  24 hours later he was back on the phone, as promised, to let me know that the Turducken was en-route to the RSL Club as planned.  He couldn’t have been any more obliging if he had tried.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that Paul and Tanya were in the middle of one of their BIGGEST Christmas’ ever!  They had orders stacked up to the rafters and were right in the thick of the logistical-challenge of getting everything delivered to the right place at the right time before Christmas Day!

The reason that I didn’t know just how crazy things were for P&T was because Paul made me feel like I was the only customer that he had, even though I was only after one item and it was probably (if I’m totally honest) a bit of an inconvenience.  But Paul went out of his way to ensure that I would get my Turducken with a short lead-time, so that my family could enjoy their Christmas Dinner and BOY, OH BOY did we ENJOY IT!!!…

The pictures speak for themselves, so let me just add that we all thoroughly enjoyed the Turducken, so much so that we will be placing our order with Paul and Tanya EARLY next year for Christmas 2015!

IMG_0154 IMG_0156 And let me also add that we are all extremely grateful to them both for being such a pleasure to deal with and for making our Christmas Dinner so very special this year.  Thank you both so, so much…

An Exceptional Man with an Inspirational Story

Here at White Now we are provided with opportunities to work with a range of amazing people and incredible businesses, including a large numberIMG_0835 of RSL Clubs.

After speaking with the exceptional, Geoff Evans (pictured here) who has served as a Commando in East Timor and Afghanistan, we couldn’t help but be moved by his own story and more significantly, what he is personally doing to make a difference.   So we asked Geoff if he would write an article for us as a ‘Guest Blogger’.

(To read Geoff’s personal story, click on the image above, on his name or you can click here).

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Spare a thought for the thousands of Homeless Veterans sleeping rough at this time of year.  The Australian Defence Force has deployed 67,000 troops to various conflicts since the Vietnam War.

Homelessness was a significant issue for Vietnam veterans and their families, and sadly, is endemic among younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the shadow of the centenary of the First World War, up to 3,000 diggers remain homeless on any given night.

What can you do to make a difference?

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In March of 2014, RSL LifeCare established the Contemporary Veterans Homelessness and Assistance Program (CVHAP) in Narrabeen, NSW.  Homelessness itself is a symptom of war caused mental illness, such as PTSD.  To the right of the spectrum is suicide, to the left: alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and other problems.

We currently have 24 veterans and two families enrolled in the program, but we have been reduced to accepting only the most severe cases.  This is not due to lack of accommodation, but rather through lack of funding to provide the necessary wrap around support services that make the program work.  These include everything from providing tooth paste and furniture, to transport, case management and a toy or two for the children.

Since publicising the existence of the program just a few weeks ago I have taken requests for help from right across Australia.  The common and sad refrain is that currently we can only provide housing at Narrabeen.  As younger veterans have children and other commitments they often cannot leave their locality, and so they remain living in cars and on the streets.  We have to do better.

We have also seen growth in our services to veterans and families who are at risk of homelessness.  This can occur when, for instance, a young veteran leaves the military without an illness or injury being accepted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  If they are unable to remain employed, as is often the case with mentally ill veterans, they lose their income.  Homelessness can quickly follow.  We are working to try and keep them in their homes.  Entire families are at risk, and its proving a growth industry for us, as a decade of war collides with an inadequate repatriation system.

For those of us working with these remarkable young veterans it is soul destroying toIMG_0820 watch them suffer for want of funding.  All veterans entering the program suffer from mental illness, most enter with an intense sense of shame as well.  They were our nations finest, help us help them.

If you can help, please visit the RSL Lifecare Page Here… (and scroll down).

Our Most Recent Resident: Case Study
Veteran X is 38 years old, and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple tours.  He entered the program in mid-November 2014 and is our 22nd resident.   Veteran X was still serving in the Australian military when he was admitted to hospital for treatment of PTSD and related alcohol abuse.   Whilst he was in the hospital, the Australian Defence Force medically discharged him from service.  This meant he was no longer entitled to a Defence house, and accordingly, his family was evicted while Veteran X was in hospital.

Tragically Veteran X’s relationship could not withstand the terrible strain of Veteran X’s condition and his circumstances.  Veteran X’s marriage ended and his wife and children moved into their grandmother’s house.  Sadly Veteran X no longer had access to his children.  Veteran X has described to me the sense of utter desolation and helplessness he felt.  “I just couldn’t believe this could happen to me” he said. “I devoted my entire life to serving the Nation, I was good at my job and I had a career”.  A few weeks after his marriage failed he attempted suicide.

Many months later, as Veteran X approached the date of his discharge from hospital, he literally had nowhere to go.  Like most of the young men and woman in our program he would have been living on the streets.  Fortunately he met one of the young veterans we’d previously placed in the PTSD program, who gave Veteran X our details.  Veteran X was initially quite a challenge, but we are a peer led program, and other veterans who have walked the same path took him under their wing.  He has come such a long way; he has joined our AA support group and will shortly start a training course.  A remarkable young man, like the rest, all he needed was a chance.  A testament to his hard work and the program’s success: Veteran X spent Christmas Day 2014 with his children.

Your Image at Work – Does it Matter?

Poor old (or is that young?) Gen Y, they are in trouble again for not understanding the rules and dress codes for the workplace and taking a too casual approach! Isn’t it okay to wear a t-shirt, Havianas and have the band of your undies showing, when you are meeting clients? Does it affect your ability to the job? Doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg (facebook founder) LIVE in a hoodie? And he’s a Billionaire!

Ettiquette and dress codes have definitely relaxed in recent years. Some of us can remember a dress code at work that included skirts, not pants for women, only black or navy suits for men and NO coloured shirts and women required to wear stockings all year round.

While it is great that some of those rules have relaxed, for many there is still the expectation you will present a certain way at work and after all, first impressions DO count. Plus, many bosses (and customers) are either Baby Boomers or Gen X with a different perception of what is the right dress code for work. Some companies have resorted to hiring Image Consultants to advise staff on the appropriate dress code. This was usually spelt out in the past when you were hired. If your workplace has a uniform much of this dilemma is solved, although ‘policing’ the wearing of the uniform, including name badges and appropriate makeup, hairstyles and jewelry/piercings may still be an issue!

So who is right? Well if the person making the decision about your pay rise, hiring or promotion is from the ‘Baby Boomers or Gen X’ generations, then you probably will need to dress to suit their expectations to get the pay rise, job or promotion, rightly or wrongly. One way to look at it is that the Company ‘pays you to present a certain image’ to the community/clients, so at work you dress the way they expect and leave the ‘self expression’ for your spare time. Another school of thought says ‘dress for the job you want, not the one you have’ and that will help you take the next step up.

If image doesn’t matter, why do organisations have uniforms? Qantas and other large corporations even go to the expense of employing Fashion Designers to design their uniforms. Imagine an Airline Steward in hoodie, baggy jeans and thongs giving the safety demonstration, how would you feel – safe, confident, sure they could do their job?

While the way we dress may not effect our ability to do the job (other than in the case of PPE and safety clothing) it can effect others’ perception of our ability and therefore whether or not we are hired, promoted or given the pay rise. So maybe image is worth thinking about.

Out with the Old and In with the New!

The end of a year is certainly a time for reflection on what has happened this year and what we would like to do differently or how we would like to be different in the new year.  So, many of us will make New Years’ Resolutions for the year ahead and there will be plenty of articles appearing in newspapers and magazines with advice on ‘how to keep your resolutions,’ such as;  write them down, tell a friend, post them on the fridge or even register them on a website www.newyearsresolutions.com.au

Apparently 69% of Australians make at least one New Years’ resolution yet less than a quarter actually stick to achieving our goals!  One suggestion I saw recently is to only make short term resolutions (say 3 months at a time) rather than for the whole year, then review them regularly and make the next one – could work.

Along with the old year we want to get rid of the old us, our old job, our old habits and bring in new, fresh and exciting ones!  Resolutions tend to be around improving our fitness, health or appearance, becoming better people, giving up smoking and other bad habits, saving money and getting that new job.  Having worked in recruitment for a number of years I have certainly seen an increase in both ads and applications for jobs,  occuring in the ‘New Year’ and this is certianly true here at White Now.  Whether this is due to holidays and festivities finishing, people making New Years’ resolutions to get a new job, or a combination of both, I’m not sure!

For me, I am still deciding on what my New Years’ resolutions will be and how I will ensure I achieve my goals.  I’m sure straight after Christmas I will swear off food and alcohol – but I doubt that will last long!   Then all of a sudden it’s Easter and life is busy and nothing has changed and ‘what were those resolutions again?’

So good luck with any resolutions you make, may you achieve your goals and may 2011 be everything you want it to be!

STOP & THINK. Its all the Action Plan – Make DREAMS a REALITY

Formulating a dynamic Action plan to translate dreams to reality

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today”

The first step in developing an Action plan is to stop and think! Before taking any action, it is vital to understand the purpose for the action, and ensure that the steps you take are aligned with your core values and visions. It sounds like stating the obvious, yet there are many people whose daily actions are actually moving them further away from their deepest desires! The clearer you are about what is important to you, the more dynamic your action plan, and the more likely you are to be energised to take action.

There are countless ways to devise an Action plan, and here is a framework for you to adapt to suit your specific situation. Turn off your phone, put on some relaxing music, take some paper and coloured pens, and answer the following questions:

What is my current reality?

Where am I now? What decisions and habits have brought me to where I am today? What resources do I have available? What are my existing skills and strengths? What gives me energy? Which parts of my day do I truly look forward to? What support do I need right now?

Where do I want to be?

What is the main vision for my Action Plan? What do I want to achieve? What will I see, hear and feel to know that I have been successful in achieving the goal / vision? Is this vision an expression of one or more of my core values?

What perceived constraints do I have, eg time, money, or other resources?

What habits do I have that may get in the way of achieving my goal? What are my limiting beliefs about being / doing / having the desired result?  What if the opposite was true? What support do I need to release these constraints?

What are my gifts, talents and strengths?

When have I been successful at achieving something I desired? What qualities do I have that will benefit me for the future? When was I truly energised and excited about what I was doing? What was present? Is my current vision aligned with my strengths and talents?

Write my desired outcome using the SMART method – old, but good!  Make it Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-framed. Write it in the present tense as if it is happening NOW!

How do I get there?

Think of all the possible things you could do to take you closer to achieving your goal, no matter how small. Write down all actions you may need to take to achieve your goal. At this step, focus on generating and writing as many different options and ideas as possible. Take a sheet of paper and write more and more ideas, just as they come to your mind. While you are doing this, it is important not to judge or analyse. This is a brainstorm, choosing the most appropriate steps will follow!

What is the very next step I must take towards achieving this goal / vision?

Arrange the steps in a logical, chronological order and put a date by which you will start each step. Try to set yourself weekly goals: what research you will do into jobs, what skills you will concentrate on learning etc. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of planning a timetable each evening listing your steps for the next day or two.

Each action step should include the following information:

  • What actions or changes will occur;
  • Who will carry out these changes;
  • By when they will take place, and for how long;
  • What resources (i.e., support, skills) are needed to carry out these changes;
  • Which core value is being expressed by taking this action

Create a collage or metaphor of your vision, and keep it in front of you every day. It is a powerful reminder when the going gets tough.

Celebrate the milestones! Remember to acknowledge yourself and others as you accomplish each step along the way.

 “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant” –Robert Louis Stevenson

This AMAZING piece was written by our AMAZING guest blogger Karynne Courts from Values Connection.  Ph +61 2 9983 0755

It takes HEAPS of Courage to be a Visionary Leader !

With the world in turmoil with the global financial crisis, climate change and environmental disasters, humans wreaking devastating harm on one another in various parts of the world, as a species we are facing some of the biggest challenges in history. Do you have the courage to lead confidently in these uncertain times? If you can see these challenges as opportunity, you will be one of the survivors. As leaders, we must be pioneers in forging new relationships, new ways of doing business, new ways of being in the world. It requires comfort with ambiguity, confidence in uncertainty, and a willingness to celebrate diversity. It takes Visionary leadership.

Visionary leadership is an art. Unlike the managerial tools of policy, procedures, techniques and measures, it comes directly from knowing and understanding Self. A visionary leader is one who serves through being Trustworthy, Inspirational and Passionate. The emphasis on serving through being is the essence of our work with values and energy. There is no recipe; there are no seven steps or ten tips. It requires the courage to abandon what we “know to be so” and embrace the mystery and complexity of what it is to be human.

A visionary leader is clear about who he or she is, and exudes genuine SELF-confidence. Visionary Leaders have a confidence in who they are and what they stand for which is accompanied by trust that they can face whatever situations come their way. A visionary leader knows and trusts in their ability to be infinitely creative, and also trusts that capacity in those he or she leads.

Why Visionary Leadership?
The prevailing model of the authoritarian leader is under-performing and failing, and in too many cases failing in spectacular yet sad circumstances. We only have to look at the Business section of daily press for numerous examples of this. If I was to ask you “who is the source of your greatest frustration in your current business climate” and you find yourself pointing the accusatory finger of blame, then there are also the three fingers pointing back to YOU, giving you the answer to the question! Your profitability and success is a direct result of the quality of your leadership. No exceptions! The good news is that you are also the solution. The question is: Do you have the courage to liberate the visionary leader within?

What are the characteristics and skills of the visionary leader?
Authoritarian leaders focus on protecting what they’ve been in the past while Visionary leaders focus on what they are becoming in the present and future.

Key differences are illustrated in the table below:

Authoritarian            Visionary
Is very competitive. Is very cooperative.
Is focused on the shareholder.            Is focused on the stakeholders.
Is risk averse.  Encourages innovation.
Is uncomfortable with uncertainty. Revels in uncertainty.
Is a creator of teams that ‘follow’. Creates leaders at all levels.
Operates within a tangible framework. Operates intuitively.
Seeks to control the enterprise. Realises the enterprise is ‘self-organising’.
Tells people what to do.          Listens by asking questions.
Talks of what the problem is. Talks about possible solutions.
Is reactive Is Creative
Is focused on “What’s in it for me?” Is focused on “What will benefit US?”
Debates Dialogues and values storytelling
Strong masculine energy Strong feminine energy

 

How are these visionary behaviours developed?
It is important to note that these behaviours are not mutually exclusive. Today’s leaders will benefit from being able to consciously operate along a continuum encompassing both styles as varying circumstances require.

The guidelines for learning the visionary behaviours above are rarely found in any current management texts, courses or training programs, let alone when you were at school.

Your choices to develop these behaviours are to:
• Engage a mentor or coach to assist you to unfold and develop these behaviours
• Read quality books and publications in this field
• Take regular time out for reflection – to listen to your inner voice and practice recognizing your intuition.
• Understand your values, and write your purpose, visions and strategies to reflect the most important priorities in your life.

The Language of Values
There is also a new language to be learnt, to understand the nature and role of values. Values, defined as our unconscious motivators, underpin every action we take. Everyone has values. Visionary leaders are people who have revisited and clarified their core values to consciously choose which values will be expressed in their lives. Visionary leaders pay attention to honouring and dissolving those values that are no longer useful to their future as a visionary leader and releasing the energy from values that keep them“stuck in the past” to values that energise them to create a compelling future.

Examples of this skill include:
• dissolving a lack of ‘self worth*’ and relocate the energy into ‘being self*’
• dissolving the value of ‘independence*’ and relocating the energy into ‘interdependence*’
• dissolving the need to be ‘competitive*’ and relocate the energy to being ‘cooperative*’
* from an Australian model of 128 universally researched values ( New Wisdom 11 by Colins and Chippendale)

Now ask yourself, when did you last reflect on and review your:
• Personal work practices, e.g. reading, time management, paper management?
• Management skills, e.g. communications, project management, technical competencies?
• Leadership abilities, e.g. visioning, creating, listening, mentoring, thinking/concentrating?

May I suggest that the reality is that these skills and abilities continue to be essential and need to be under continuing formal review if you seek to be a leader of change and innovation?

The quantum leap forward for you as a Visionary leader, way beyond the above, is to become aware of your inner levels of consciousness, offering access to abilities that are infinite.

This inner level of consciousness within each of us is often experienced as a ‘flash of insight’, an instant solution to a complex situation, an entirely new idea, and in each instant you will express amazement and wonder ‘how did I do that?” and ‘where do they come from?’

The process of accessing the visionary leader within engages a wide range of innate abilities and will include:
• Being present with oneself.
• Being present with another
• Dissolving negative judgment of oneself and others
• Listening empathetically
• Detaching and transcending the senses
• Detaching and transcending the human constructs of time.
• Listening to your feelings
• Looking for patterns in the complexity of the issue at hand.

Now as you can see, to engage these deeper levels of consciousness calls for changes to your traditional work practices and the emphasis on rushing around getting things done to being at-one-within, thinking and concentrating.

Key questions for courageous leaders
1. Who is your mentor and your protégé?
2. What is your next formal learning project?
3. When will you formally refresh your purpose – for your Self, for your business and for the people you lead?
4. What must you, as a leader, be willing to give up or let go of in order for your business to be more flexible and responsive to change?
5. Reflect on three core principles which determine how your business currently operates. How are these helping or harming the business’s ability to achieve its Vision?
6. What barriers will have to be removed in order for your business to be stronger, more profitable and exist 5 years from now?
7. What are your top 9 values that you orient your life around?

Our planet needs visionary leaders, your country, your organisations and communities need visionary leaders. Our children need new role models for leadership in the 21st century. I urge you to rise to the challenges and be courageous enough to discover the visionary leader that resides within every one of you.

This AMAZING piece was written by our AMAZING guest blogger Karynne Courts from Values Connection.  Ph +61 2 9983 0755