We have been lucky enough to interview some of the most amazing business leaders, HR practitioners and experts across Australia on the first season of the HR Think Tank. Each fortnight, we featured a new episode where we interviewed an expert in their field and asked them about their journey and experiences.
Our guests shared practical tips that can be applied to any industry and provide valuable lessons for leaders of all levels. Whether they are leadership gurus, business coaches or CEO’s, their insights and stories will help you take your teams to the next level.
These are lessons that people managers and business leaders should know no matter what industry they are in or what growth stage they are experiencing. Our guests have shared their top insights and advice for starting, managing, growing and leading people.
In this blog post, we will explore one valuable lesson from each podcast guest in season one.
Sarit Vandegraaff On Establishing High-Value Creating Teams
In our first episode of the HR Think Tank podcast, we spoke to Sarit Vandegraaff, a highly experienced organisational coach and facilitator who has worked with leaders from a cross-section of industries here in Australia and abroad.
On the topic of establishing high-value creating teams, Sarit shared that, “If you want your team to be productive, innovative, engaged and creative, you’ll need to trust them to take some risks, experiment and make decisions. But the team can only do that if they feel that there’s psychological safety and trust.”
As a leader, you need to ensure that you build trust with your team so that they can perform to the best of their abilities and as the best version of themselves.
Adopting a Remote-First Approach to Work with Shane Duffy
Like many businesses, Employment Innovations (EI), Australia’s leading HR payroll companies, rapidly moved into the remote (or flexible) approach when the pandemic hit in 2020. But Shane Duffy, the CEO of EI, decided that maybe the remote-first approach could be an arrangement that they could make a permanent move towards.
In coming to the decision, Shane realised that, “I don’t think you can successfully work with a remote-first approach without having a strong, effective team in place to start with.”
Having a strong team in place before you embark on shifting to remote working essentially means, “Hiring people with the right values and behaviours and matching them with roles that are aligned with their strengths.”
Sophia Symeou on The Capability Framework
In a world where jobs are moving so fast, people are succeeding because of the attributes they have, not necessarily the skills they hold.
Sophia Symeou, CEO of INS Career Management, argues that, “Flexibility, problem-solving, analysis skills and the ability to adapt to change are all attributes that make the difference between somebody being able to move easily. And because we don’t know exactly what jobs will be around in the future, building those skills and capabilities means that people can move from one type of job to another far easier.”
And by having a capability framework in place, you can identify core behaviours, attributes, and skills that everyone across an organisation will need. It’s also a really good way to re-skill and redeploy workers.
Paul Dinh Shares How To Create a Great Candidate Experience
The battle for talent is heating up, and employees need to step up their game. It’s no longer as simple as posting a job and expecting to have a high-quality applicant pool. And according to Paul Dinh, CEO of CareerOne, “The number one thing all candidates want is to feel comfortable and confident – they want to feel like they know what the next stage is, what’s going to happen next.”
In order to create a successful candidate experience, you need to, “have a fleshed-out HR process to make sure that it’s not just done on a whim and that you have processes in place.”
Shaping Workplace Culture with Burt Sigsworth
How you show up during the good times and the bad times, the interactions you have with your staff, and the tone you set from your conversations have the greatest impact on company culture. And according to Burt Sigsworth, CEO of Cabin Services Australia, “Culture definitely has to be a priority, and it should be the main focus of your job as a leader.”
“We went through a period where many people weren’t coming to work happy, and we were spending a lot of time at the office, and that’s when I thought about the concept of being deliberate about culture.”
Eventually, after holding a three-day conference with his managers, which Burt led, they had established that everyone was responsible for the workplace culture – not just the CEO. And everyone agreed. And engagement was key in this success. “The managers were on the shop floor and visible, and it made all the difference.”
Ronel Raats on Ways to Attract and Retain High-Value Talent
There is a direct correlation between a company’s ability to attract, retain and nurture high calibre talent and its bottom line. Having the right people is critical to the success of your business and to provide value to your key stakeholders.
Ronel Raats, a Partner at Sales Recruit, shares the importance of shifting your focus to retention-based hiring when approaching recruitment for high-value talent. “You need to give them information about your business, the people in the organisation, how you operate your market, your customers, your challenges, and allow an opportunity for that person to bring in their skills and abilities to overcome that.”
We learnt that having a post onboarding plan along with a well-thought-out talent management plan will help you establish how you can retain the talent in your business.
Omer Molad Shares the Importance of Skills Assessments in Recruitment
Omer Molad, co-founder and CEO of Vervoe, is on a mission to make hiring about merit, not about background.
“The purpose of skills assessments is to avoid hiring solely on background and the contents of a candidate’s resume. Instead, the idea is to use an on-the-job assessment to see how the candidate actually performs in the role.”
But, he cautioned not to put too much pressure on candidates. “It’s unrealistic to expect anyone to answer a series of ten questions, one after the other, within a two-minute limit. Vervoe discourages that kind of pressure and instead encourages employers to think about scenarios that the candidate would actually face on the job.”
Angela Kwan & Aivee Robinson On Corporate Social Responsibility
There’s no question that the role of corporate social responsibility has affected investor mindsets. It’s become an important factor in their decision to invest in companies. According to Angela Kwan, co-founder of Catalyser, companies who are connected with corporate social responsibility (CSR) are influencing recruitment decisions of the younger workforce.
“We have found that there’s a tremendous sense of pride, inclusiveness, and purpose that leads to a more productive and engaged workforce – which can help with attracting and retaining top talent.”
But for a company to drive tangible business benefits, the CSR program has to be aligned with the company’s commercial strategies. If a company can do that, the benefits are endless, including brand building, investor persuasion and increasing the employee experience.
Helping Leaders Unleash Their Potential with Julie Birtles
In a time of disruption and continuous change, it’s vital to equip existing and future leaders with the skills, thought processes and techniques to ensure that the organisation not only survives but thrives.
And according to Julie Birtles, the founder of BEyond Excellence and the First100, it’s become more frequent that leaders, who are coming through the ranks, aren’t getting the foundational skills that they require to move into more complex roles.
“If our leaders can’t open themselves up to different ways of taking in information and making sense of the world, they can’t unlock value.”
Julie’s First100 programme focuses on developing leaders to unlock this value by creating stretched experiences that pull people beyond their current way of thinking. She says, “It’s almost like learning new languages. So, once they hear it and it opens their mind to another possibility, it opens them to curiosity and to seeing and hearing different perspectives they couldn’t see before.”
Campbell Jackson On Fraud in the Workplace
Fraud is an inescapable reality of any modern workplace, and it’s definitely been amplified by remote working. Yet, half the time, organisations don’t even realise they have been defrauded, and it’s happening right under their noses.
When it comes to identifying fraud in your workforce, Campbell Jackson emphasises the fact that you need to be proactive and remain vigilant about what could happen and how you respond.
For example, “Learn lessons from your peers. Whether you’re a charity or a listed company, if fraud is happening over there, it’s probably happening here too.” And, “It’s important to allow your employees to engage in the process of identifying fraudulent activity.”
The Recruitment Process with Zahra Nathwani
The recruitment process can be a daunting task for any business. There are many steps that need to be taken to recruit the right candidates. But, according to Zahra Nathwani, Talent Business Partner at VerifyNow, the first and probably one of the most important steps is identifying why you are recruiting.
“It’s important to understand what you’re looking for. Are you recruiting for a newly created role? Is it a replacement role? Are you recruiting because you’re expanding? Because that’s going to help shape the recruitment process that you’re undertaking.”
Tackling Disability Employment with Professor Simon Darcy
There are significant barriers for people with disabilities to obtain employment. However, despite facing many challenges when attempting to enter the workplace as someone with a disability, these individuals can be successful once given the right opportunities and support.
While there is a list of things employers can implement to make their company more inclusive, Professor Simon Darcy mentions that the list isn’t necessarily static. Instead, employers need to consistently adapt and accommodate, so the list of things is dynamic and ongoing.
We learnt that it’s the small things that make all the difference. “Good employers do really straightforward things.”
Cat-Thao Nguyen On Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are more than just a buzzword. It’s an ongoing conversation that we all organisations need to be having.
And according to Cat-Thao Nguyen, CEO and Managing Director of Global Ready, “Research shows that a sense of belonging engenders greater productivity, and inclusion engenders more return on cash flow per employee in the traditional metrics of an organisation’s success.”
Thanks to Cat-Thao’s insights, we learnt that there are many different aspects to diversity, equity and inclusion, which means there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, if you start by recognising that all people have value, then it should lead to a healthier and more inclusive workplace environment.
Your Unique Journey to Leadership with Ajay Bhatia
There are some who find themselves at a standstill in their career development because they have not been able to successfully transition from being a junior member on an executive team into becoming an actual leader.
Ajay Bhatia, Managing Director of Carsales Australia, gave us insight into how he was able to make this transition, and a few things stood out. For starters, when the opportunity arises, take it. And make it a no-brainer that you’re the right person for this opportunity – make it easy for your manager or leader to accept the offer that you’re making.
Secondly, don’t focus on the short-term. In Ajay’s experience, a lot of the opportunities that he put his hand up for were more about the experience, rather than jumping to the next wage bracket. But focusing on what he was able to gain from a new experience, Ajay was able to wear a lot of different hats, which essentially led him to the role that he is in currently.
The guests on Season 1 of the HR Think Tank have shared invaluable lessons on how they overcame challenges during different stages in their growth trajectory and how they are better leaders because of it.
We want to thank each and every guest that joined us this season for taking the time to help shape our future leaders and business owners.
If you missed an episode, make sure to tune into HR Think Tank Season 1. We look forward to welcoming new guests and insights in the seasons to come.
And, if you would like to know more about our VerifyNow’s recruitment services, get in touch with us today!