Saturday, August 24, 2013

The fun has started!

Over the past six weeks I have had the crucial task of recruiting "stars" for my new team who start in September. 

I thought finding a fresh team for an exciting new part of our business would be daunting, yet sitting in front of the interviewees and asking our questions, listening to their experiences and then picturing them all together into the team and company "fit" has been one of the highlights of my year. I have a vision of us already at our launch party! 

The process has also been an insight into what drives people, what motivates them in todays employment climate. Funnily enough, it reassures me that I'm on the right track with my own thinking. 

I'm fortunate to have the help of a lovely and professional HR manager who has had the thankless task of filtering the hundred of resumes that have come through her inbox to send me candidates she thinks would be suitable for my team. 

And so far, I feel like I've won the lotto. I've interviewed close to 30 great people for 11 roles and even though I would love to take them all, I'm fortunate to have the pick of a very fine bunch! It's made me feel energised and back-in-the game and reassured me that "I can do this" - as long as I have the right people doing this with me! 

But back to the team. 

It's interesting to see what motivated many people to apply for the roles we're offering. 

What makes one person jump from one role to another (both internally and externally) and more importantly, what are the drivers I can identify that will make them want to stay? 

Ironically, for most of the candidates, they are not coming for the money. 

Being a start up business unit in an established company is exciting in itself. It means we have an opportunity to build and mould our own values, team culture, roles and impact. 

Being in travel emergency assistance, it also means we get to make a difference to someone's life. 

And aside from that, the major motivator for people applying is the company culture. In todays market - good candidates can afford to be picky. They want to work in an organisation that is flexible and fun because lets face it, spending a long shift in a sterile environment with people you don't like is soul destroying!

I've had people do tours of the office and ask me about the "buzz" and the "energy" of the company and why is our company so different to all the others? I can't really put my finger on it. I felt it when I first went for an interview, there was energy and noise and smiles - I think it's just the fresh mindset of the people who work there. And that resonates from top down. 

When I ask candidates what their ideal work environment is, I'm not surprised when they give me an answer that is already aligned with our current company culture. 

We're not corporate and we don't want to be. 

So for my new team who join me in a months time, I can't wait to start working with you all. 

We can do this!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What would Melissa Do?

I've had some pretty fantastic mentors in my career. My current manager is collaborative and throws me in the deep end enough to challenge me without putting too much pressure on me. He's also a really nice guy, similar to another manager I had a few years ago. They were great managers and mentors because they believed in me and led me to positive career growth. 

Apart from these managers, I've been fortunate enough to have some wonderful "invisible" mentors showing me the way. 

A few years ago I worked with a truly professional lady who held herself with grace and dignity in every situation. Her senior position in a male dominated industry meant that she had to win people over with a first impression but then hold their respect through knowledge of the product/industry without being too "ballsy" or "soft". 

She made it look easy. 

Melissa was pleasantly approachable, and seemed genuinely interested in other people. She remembered the names of her colleagues children. She remembered birthdays and special events. She knew the right questions to ask, and when to ask them. 

The way she dressed was impeccable without the superficial polish. 

But what I most admired about Melissa was that she didn't partake in office politics. She somehow floated above the gossip, the nastiness and the backstabbing; without saying anything she turned it around and rose above it. 

I'd love to be in a position to say that I followed her lead back then, but I didn't. Thats not to say I was instrumental in gossip, rumours, nastiness or politics. I wasn't. But whenever I was presented with negativity, I didn't have the skills or emotional maturity to deal with it. Until recently....

I started a new position in a great organisation much smaller than the one I was in with Melissa. My role is extremely rewarding and I am key to a major project which is about to launch and I am very excited about it. With this comes a great deal of politics which means it also comes with an opportunity to deal with it professionally. 

My mantra of the past few months is: "what would Melissa do?"

There are some key players who are very passionate about my project in very different ways. I've found it difficult dealing with different viewpoints without buying into either, and to hold my ground on what I know is right. Confrontation does not come naturally to me and I don't want it to, yet I know these conversations are crucial to making my project a success. 

I have found the way to deal with being caught in the middle of opposing viewpoints is to do what Melissa would do. She would not buy into gossip. She would not raise her voice or be confrontational. Melissa would motivate with positivity and an energy that confirmed her belief in the project. And she would be respected for it. 

Most of all, I know Melissa would believe in the project and my skills and would influence the others in the team and lead them to success. 

I really cant wait to launch this exciting new project with a very expensive bottle of champagne. I might even invite Melissa to share in the success with me!