It’s a New Year symbolising the opportunity for new beginnings (for a Roadmap to Success click here). 2018 may mean a promotion, or even a change of your employer (read our article titled “Am I Being Paid My Worth” here if you are still undecided about making a career move).
If you do seek greener pastures in the career domain, there is a high probability that you’ll be subject to psychometric assessments.
Role plays are used often as part of an assessment battery. Popularly referred to as a simulation or immersion, role playing offers the assessor a unique perspective that traditional assessments do not. For example, if you complete a personality inventory, and a question asks if you are a resilient individual, you may answer “hell yeah”. The issue is that your perception of yourself, and how you behave in reality, may be two different things. If I put you in a situation where you are put under severe pressure, the assessor will then objectively measure your performance. Not surprisingly a professional’s judgement may be rather different to your own.
The reality is that you will probably need to engage in such an activity at the very least once in your life. Role plays are a vital element of data, although the vast majority of candidates shudder at the very thought of engaging in such.
After assessing thousands upon thousands of candidates (no exaggeration here), I have outlined EIGHT recurrent things individuals seem to get wrong. Take heed of the EIGHT tips below, and cream your next role play.
Tip #1: Dress the Part
There’s little you can do to prepare for an assessment session. Typically candidates are welcome to dress down for their assessment, seeing as the interview process with the prospective or current employer is already out of the way. However, if you are subject to a role play as part of your battery of assessment, dressing professionally will not only make you look the part, but will contribute to you feeling confident too.
In my personal opinion, the unspoken rule for the attire when attending an assessment session is to wear what you wore to the job interview.
And for goodness sake, keep your shoes on. I hear you laugh? One of my most unexpected moments was when a candidate, playing the role of a strategic advisor addressing the mayor (in other words, me), decided to take her flip flops off for the presentation. That’s just… odd. Although a bit funny at the time, this behaviour was not professional in the least.
Tip #2: Begin when it Begins
When I was a Psychology Major, I would get highly annoyed when people – after learning what I was studying – would ask the cliché question “are you analysing me?” Fast forward a decade, and guess what? That’s exactly what I do for a living. As a Psychometrist, my title is interchangeable with ‘Behavioural Specialist.’ I analyse your e.v.e.r.y. move.
(*Disclaimer: I am only analysing you when I am in work role. To all my friends and family – CHILL).
What baffles me is, even though the candidate has been briefed that the encounter begins the second the assessor walks through the door, I have been often asked things like “Can I start?” or a superfluous comment like “Gosh I hate role-playing”.
According to research, human beings naturally assess one another a fraction of a second upon meeting. If this is a natural human reaction, can you imagine the assessment a behaviour specialist is making when met with such a poor introduction? In fact, even after the role play has concluded and I tell you to “take off your role playing hat” – I am STILL assessing you. Heaving a sigh of relief, or dropping your head to your desk, can leave a tainted taste in my mouth even after a successful delivery.
In essence the second the role play begins – begin.
Not sure on how to start your roleplay? Time for our next tip…
Tip #3: Probe
It’s astounding how about the vast majority of candidates dive into the business case study without considering that their assessor is yet another source of information. Whether you’re required to appease an angry customer, sell to a prospective client, solve a businessman’s complex problem or win back the contract of a disappointed client – do not make assumptions about the detail!
Most role players make the fateful mistake of not inviting the customer / client / business partner / manager / journalist to share their own insights. Few candidates see the encounter as a dynamic exchange between two humans. Especially if you are feeling anxious because half your business case study left you with more questions than answers (it was designed that way – just by the way), ask questions.
Tip #4: Look at the clues
If you have been given presentation material (such as a flip chart and markers) you may want to map out your ideas visually – no matter how juvenile your hand drawn presentation may appear. If a calculator was included in your assessment pack, there is a high probability that you may need to consider doing some calculations.
This may sound like fairly obvious tips – but once again, a large number of candidates ignore these really simple cues. Pay attention.
Tip #5: Plan your Time
I can pretty much guarantee you that you WILL run out of time as you prepare for your role play. Role plays are synonymous with the words “pressure test”. Planning and organising, resilience and time management are competencies that are included in most role plays. The trick here is to PLAN. Understand that only a miniscule handful of the population will be able to work through every bit of information. Take a few minutes to page through your entire brief, and then consciously decide where you where you are going to focus your attention on during your preparatory time.
Tip #6: Build rapport
Do not under estimate the benefit of attempting to build rapport by making use of social niceties. This could be anything from offering your counterpart a beverage, asking “how’s the family?” or even a simple ‘how are you’ will go a long way. Even if your efforts are shut down, the fact that you tried to set a warm tone will be to your benefit.
Tip #7: Fake it till you make it
Even the most successful CEO candidates experience a degree of anxiety during an assessment session. A little bit of anxiety is fuel to your capacity to apply razor sharp focus to the task at hand. Too much anxiety, however, can have a negative impact if you become overwhelmed by your nerves.
I have been sometimes surprised by some candidates who, after the role play has ended, admit that they were extremely nervous for the engagement. These candidates carried themselves off so well, that even as a trained professional, their anxiety levels appeared rather low even when internally their heart was racing.
Remember to breath, speak s-l-o-w-l-y, ask questions (if anything to give you a chance to catch your breath), and don’t fidget. Sit or stand up straight, maintain a healthy level of eye contact, and watch your hand gestures; elaborate arm movements, whilst theatrical, can allude to anxiety.
My favourite visualisation before a stressful event is to picture the poise and serenity of a duck gliding through water. What no one can see below the water is how furiously those little paddles are kicking.
You may experience high levels of nervousness internally, but it is absolutely possible to mask it to even the most trained professional.
Tip #8: You can’t dodge a curveball
Every single immersion I conduct (I am trained on ten different simulations) contains a curveball. It’s difficult to know what that curveball may be before the encounter begins, but in few sophisticated cases some of my candidates were able to predict some of the curveballs I threw at them. Although impressive, it’s highly unlikely you may be able to predict such. However, simply knowing you should expect the unexpected may help you to know you’ll need to think quickly on your feet.
“You may take off your role play hat now – we’ve now concluded our session”
The thought of engaging in a role play with a complete stranger trained to analyse every inch of your behaviour and response is enough to rattle the most contained individuals. It’s a misconception to think that you need to be a gifted actor to be competent to perform well in a role play. I am assessing you on a variety of competencies, such as your capacity to problem solve, applying an eye for detail, resilience, confidence, active listening, articulation and about a hundred more (not all for one immersions so RELAX!). Out of all those competencies, I’m certainly not looking at your ability to win a Golden Globe. Promise (unless of course we are hiring an actor – and I have unfortunately never had that opportunity!).
Give it your best shot and remember – the immersion is only one slice of the assessment pie. Even if you feel like you flunked, that’s okay. You’ll do better each subsequent time.
By: Marzenna Almendro
I don’t usually get so personal in our blogs, but seeing as it is the festive season, I guess the festivities have made me somewhat sentimental. Usually as we come to the end of an old year and welcome in the New Year, I write about the future, such as Becoming Your Most Authentic Self, Personal Development and Growth and a Roadmap to Success. However, this year I’ve been inspired to reflect upon the past year with all the lessons I’ve learned. Hey! Last year wrote a book inspired by some of the fundamental f-ups I’ve made in a bid to help other Health Professionals avoid the same pitfalls. So I’m doing it again, this time for a wider audience; perhaps this piece may inspire you to avoid the same mistakes I’ve made – or even appreciate your own lessons.
Lesson #1 - Balance is KEY
Some time ago I wrote about the Fallacy of a Work Life Balance (it’s not as depressing a read as it sounds). The just of it, is that there are always going to be trade-offs in life. It’s a pretty simple equation – there are only 24 hours in a day. And no, there is no such thing as a pause button (however if you do invent such a thing please let me know!). Entrepreneurship can notoriously be a balancing act of executing various functions – whether or not you are a one man show, or you have a team to support you. It’s almost become admirable to be a workaholic (whether you work for someone or yourself).
There’s a phenomenal businessman I got know earlier this year who has his finger in so many pies. Just speaking to him was inspiring, as you listened in awe at all his plans, businesses and ideas. It was only until I saw, on Facebook, his wife publicly thank the restaurant staff where they were dining for their assistance after he had passed out. Okay fine, I thought, he passed out. Could have happened to anyone. However, a few weeks later, I saw him post a video on Facebook about still being at work at 8pm even though it was his birthday, and his wife was at home waiting for him. This was two of a series of posts that alluded to the fact that he actually took pride in the fact that he was working himself half to death.
This is not the life I signed up for.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve put in and still put in some crazy hours to ensure I meet deadlines. However, after an enlightening lunch with my amazing friend Zazel Sale (founder of Zunshine), we chatted about this very topic. After her intense experience this year, she too expressed how, for her, going into business was not supposed to mean having less of a life. Less happiness. Or less anything. Loads of my peers may cringe at what I am saying, but life is more about just working tirelessly to survive. Don’t get me wrong – entrepreneurship (at least in the beginning) requires more hours than employment does. But it shouldn’t (I think) consume you.
Money is a large motivator for most of us. Trust me, if you are ambitious, a hard worker, focused and love (at least like) what you do, you WILL make your targets and bring in an income without having to sacrifice your state of mind.
If you’re not, re-look at your business plan and model. Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. If it’s not working, evolve it, reinvent it or dump it.
Lesson #2 - Boundaries are imperative
Holistan was fortunate in landing some exciting new projects which were not only brand new offerings by us, but pretty unique offerings in South Africa. With any new pilot, however, there will always be teething problems – which forms the springboard for further success IF you learn from your mistakes and plug those gaps.
Oh how many lessons I learned from this project.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll keep it brief, but flesh out what I took away in “school fees” from the university of life. Very expensive school fees, mind you.
I see myself as someone who will always strive to give – it’s a value instilled in me because once upon a time I didn’t have very much; if we are blessed, I believe it’s imperative to pay it forward. Not only do I strive to offer my clients value, but to my friends, peers and family, I invest time, love and a whole lot of energy. Sure I’ve been pretty successful at drawing very firm boundaries with certain family members in my life. But perhaps in some weird way of over-compensating in my friendships, I have given too much.
This year I learned that there comes a point if a friend, peer or even a client becomes an emotional vampire who takes and takes - STOP. If that person pressures you to do things you don’t want to do - STOP. If that person wants you to be okay – not because they genuinely care but because it cramps their style. STOP. Draw a line.
Unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way: boundaries are NOT selfish. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s also okay to say NO. People may come into your life for a reason, a season, or both. Learn from those broken alliances. And for the love of God, learn from those lessons!
Relating this back to business and you, ask yourself if you have a client who is notoriously late with paying you. Perhaps they are difficult to work with. Or they expect far more than is humanly possible. Walk away from those clients who don’t see your value. At the end of the day you teach people how to treat you by how much BS you’re willing to take.
Lesson #3 - Become a Pro-Planner
You may (or may not) know, but 2017 marked the year that I did something pretty… out there. I entered Mrs South Africa and was fortunate enough to be selected as a Semi-Finalist.
If you are familiar with the MBTI Assessment, I adopt the P (Perceiving) preference (over the J or Judging). Flexibility, trying new things, and striking while the iron is hot are some of the sayings I abide by.
Entering this Women Empowerment Project (no, it’s not just a beauty pageant) was a last minute decision – but one I do not regret. It was only once I entered did I realise what a massive opportunity this was; not only for exposure for my business, but a platform to share my own message.
I went into the competition having NO CLUE what was ahead, arrogantly thinking I stood a chance at getting somewhere.
Oh you silly, silly girl.
At the semi-finalist convention, I met the incredible Nicole Capper – the reigning Mrs South Africa 2017/8. She was in pristine shape, she had been in mentorship for months prior to the competition, and was dead-sure on exactly what her core message was. This girl had PLANNED. During the weeks of campaigning, I stupidly believed I could organically build up support on social media. I left finding sponsors to the absolute eleventh hour, and I attended one measly public event. Not surprisingly, my journey came to an abrupt end at the Finals held in April 2017.
Nicole taught me that there can be beauty in pain; her beautiful baby girl was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant. Nicole was inspired to create a platform to educate others about this devastating illness, as well as starting a movement creating awareness around #dreadeddiseases. From a business perspective, she taught me how imperative planning is. No matter how cool it is to ‘wing’ that next presentation, or thumb suck a pitch. Putting in the time to plan and dedicating the hours to refine will yield a far greater return. Whether that’s starting a new business, studying toward a new qualification, or even entering Mrs South Africa!
Lesson #4 - Keep your cup empty
Okay… I learned lesson this over a decade ago by my friend and peer, Dr. Sherin Bickrum. However I sometimes forget the lesson and let my cup runneth over. Not in the good way. Sherin taught me that if my ‘cup’ or mind was full, there was never space for more knowledge, deeper insights and greater epiphanies. Learning does not have to be a formal transaction; I’ve learned some of my greatest lessons from people I meet daily. However, my deepest lessons are from the failures I’ve suffered, the money I’ve lost, and the mistakes I’ve made. Who knew losing a lot could mean gaining so much more?
Don’t ever stop learning – it’s what keeps our souls nourished and our minds open.
Lesson #5 – Embrace your individuality
I’ve met so many amazing, interesting characters this year. One of the major benefits of renting office space in a shared office work environment is networking with other businesses and likeminded entrepreneurs. Over a glass (or two) of wine one afternoon, I was chatting to the lovely Giulia Cantarin from SkillsGro. She mentioned that one of the things women try to do time and time again is they try to be a man in business. This statement sat with me, as I realised that I was guilty of such a thing. But what’s so poignant is if we are just ourselves, embracing being a women, we bring a complete unique flavour to the business context.
Whether you are a man or woman, the point I am trying to make here is embrace your uniqueness. Business (I believe) is really all down to cultivating relationships. Some will like you, some won’t – but to be authentically YOU is your greatest selling point.
All the best…
If you’re a regular to this blog, thank you so much for reading. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you to ever client, peer, friend, family and acquaintance I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in 2017. I look forward to a fantastic 2018 and wish you the very same!
#attitudeofgratitude #MrsSA #MrsSouthAfrica #blessed #lifelessons #schoolfees #whatIlearnedin2017 #5lessonsIlearnedin2017 #inspiration
As a small start-up, those in senior positions of an SME, or HR Managers in bigger businesses – Do YOU know who are the high and low performers in your company? Do you recruit and hire very talented people? Is your company committed to keeping top performers, and removing low performers? Does your business know how to develop its people effectively?
Your answers may determine how – and if – your business manages talent. As an astute professional, you don’t need to be reminded about how important competent, capable employees are. Although you may know this, you may still be experiencing typical pain points, such as a high staff turnover, clashes in the team or a general lack of passion and staff morale.
Remember that Talent Management is a comprehensive strategy that brings together different initiatives which includes sourcing and the recruitment of quality staff, retention, learning management, leadership development, and succession planning. When done properly, you'll select the right people for the right jobs, and you'll develop your people so that they can perform at their best.
Where to begin?
When you whittle it down, Talent Management is essentially an issue of corporate culture. It is NOT just about aligning HR systems; it's about recognizing that your organization needs talented, well-trained, highly-motivated people if it's to perform at its best and realize its full potential. Your Talent Management strategy should be aligned to the overall business strategy, as opposed to a function which operates as a silo.
Your HR department can create a talent management system, but for this system to be effective, it must be supported and developed by managers and leaders from all parts of the organization.
You may think that as South Africa experiences a period of high unemployment, you are spoilt for choice. The reality is that quality employees are difficult to find, and so it's critically important to attract and retain high-quality candidates to complement your work force. When competitors are actively trying to recruit your top people away from you, and experienced workers retire, you need to be confident that managers throughout your organization are committed to keeping the talented people they already have.
At Holistan, we don’t like the term “recruitment”. This is because the act of recruitment typically works outside the function of Talent Management. In other words, gathering CV’s and throwing them at a role, in the hopes that something (or someone) sticks. However for the purposes of our discussion, let’s use this term. Recruitment efforts are greatly improved with a Talent Mindset. The organization's talent management practices naturally help to build the business’s reputation as an employer of choice – one that treats its staff well, recognizes and builds talent, and provides advancement opportunities.
Manage their Performance
Poor performance in ANY work environment is toxic. However it is YOUR responsibility to hold your employees accountable for their performance. Do this by developing an effective performance management system , and monitor its use. Make regular feedback sessions mandatory, and communicate performance results consistently. When people understand their strengths and weaknesses, they have the opportunity to grow and develop. Follow up with coaching to improve performance.
Also, be sure to recognize and reward team members for their performance and talent. When people feel good about their performance, and know that their efforts are appreciated, and in turn they work even harder.
Develop your Employees
Not only is this an imperative from government, but it makes business sense. With regular monitoring and feedback, you'll be able to identify your highest-performing people.
What then? Look for new challenges for these people. This helps to keep high performers motivated and interested in their work. It's also a great way to nominate candidates for future strategic and leadership roles.
Finding people with lots of potential will keep you on your toes in terms of developing them. Problems such as “glass ceilings” will no longer be an issue if you adopt a Talent Mindset. People generally want to do what they do best; however if you don’t know what someone is good at, how are you able to build your colleague’s confidence in their capabilities? If they are not growing, their motivation and job satisfaction is sure to dwindle.
Mentor Mentor Mentor
Mentoring is an effective technique used to develop talented people within your organization. It's also a highly effective retention tool, because the people who are being mentored can see that their talents are recognized, and that the organization is committed to helping them grow and develop.
Reward and Recognition
When managers become aware of how their own behaviour impacts the retention of talented employees, they'll usually make an effort to use reward and recognition more effectively. If their own performance is tied to how well they manage the talent on their team, the "talent mind-set" message can be even more effective. Establish a talent standard within your organization, and make all leaders accountable.
In order to understand the talent that you need within your organisation, one needs to create a "database" of competencies – and establish processes for developing, monitoring, and managing the development of skills, abilities, knowledge, and behaviours within the workforce.
When you discover skill gaps, ask management to identify people who can fill those gaps now – or talented individuals who can be developed to fill these gaps in the future.
This approach helps you to "benchmark" and define your talent, so that you know what top talent looks like. By monitoring and evaluating the skills and competencies of your current staff, you can make better decisions about the skills and competencies that you need over the long term.
Further Training and Development
South African businesses are required to pay a Skills Development Levy to ensure that the employee force is uplifted. It’s no secret that there are benefits from a Tax and BEE perspective when uplifting staff through accredited training courses. But how do you know who to train on what?
Together with competency management, a successful approach to talent management includes ascertaining training needs and the preparation of development plans for your workers, to decide upon which courses you should offer your talent.
Talent management is a critical function for succession planning. Defining, tracking, and developing talent are important parts of developing successors for key positions in the business. The earlier you identify these people, the better. When you commit to talent management, you'll not only start to find out which skills you need for the future, you'll also learn who has those skills – and you'll actively develop their skills even further.
Big businesses understand the critical need for Talent Management, and have the luxury of dedicated departments and professionals to manage this function, in alignment with the overarching company vision. However, a large proportion of businesses – even multinationals based in South Africa – are experiencing the pain points of having a gap in their Talent Management strategy. This may manifest its ugly head in the form of high staff turnover, an apathetic culture climate or the failure in finding talented staff.
Holistan is proud to introduce our Talent Management offering which encompasses the above mentioned processors. We have various packages no offer, ranging from light support right through to the entire Talent Management bouquet. Our processors are seamless, scientific and digitally based, allowing your talent to complete assessments, training and development all online, and to allow us to track relevant metrics in terms of skills gaps, top performing talent, the adopted culture, identified future leaders in the business and so much more.
If you’re interested in a comprehensive demo of our offering, please get in touch with us today:
011 201 2142
I’m not sure about you, but when it gets to this time of year, I personally feel lethargic, and just praying for December to hurry the hell up. Paradoxically, however, this is my busiest time of year I running my own business, and so it’s now when I need my greatest burst of energy, enthusiasm and focus. So why on earth is this evading me? And strangely enough, after asking around, I’ve discovered I am not the only one. I need to get my mojo back. However there’s one thing I manage to do consistently – and that’s putting myself last. So in a bid to trick myself into helping myself, I’ve decided to write this piece for not only me – but YOU. I’ve written this not only from an entrepreneur’s perspective, but from being a young professional, juggling many tasks and responsibilities, and wanting to be the best I can be (but feeling I’m failing hopelessly). If this is you, please read on…
I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I will LITERALLY find ANY excuse to not do something I dread. This is usually my admin, tiding my office, or returning my bookkeeper’s calls and emails. I love writing, so it’s perplexed me that I’ve been putting off writing on this topic for so long. I guess if I dig deep, I realise that things like strategising your future, your business, your career, your family… it’s all a bit overwhelming. I’m haunted by the fact that we are all mortal, which means that in five years I may not even be alive (bleak, much?). Or, the fact that I may be bitterly disappointed that I had not achieved my dreams. I did myself a favour and read my New Years Resolutions from 2016 and the first few goals actually stung. I was going to once again shut down my PC and put this task off when I read on… as many of my goals I did not reach, there were a healthy number of big ones I DID achieve. I wrote my book. I lost 14kgs. I hired my first employee. Sure there were disappointments; but what I’ve learned time and time again is that without the bad, how will you know good? If all you could see was green, how could you appreciate colour? So in the spirit of embracing our mortality and living our life like we only have one (you’d be surprised how shocking this fact is for most), let’s being on some self-reflection.
1. A Reason For Being
Often when I talk to others who seem to have lost their mojo, or their zest for life, is because they have lost their passion; their reason (or perhaps it’s pursuing the elusive “work-life balance” you can read about here). The Japanese have a clever little concept called Ikigai. Whilst there is no direct English translation, Ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for”. Together these definitions create the concept of “a reason to live” or the idea of having a purpose in life.
To find your reason or your purpose, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
If you would like a more in-depth breakdown of the above, read our article on Personal Development and Growth.
The above is more of a way for us Westerners to interpret this ancient concept, but for the Japs, Ikigai is a much slower process and often has nothing to do with work or income. However the latter appears to dictate a large proportion of our focus. However this is reminiscent of the old proverb “it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey.”
What’s important to remember is that Ikigai is not a life-choice, and it’s certainly not something grandiose or extraordinary. In fact, it’s possibly quite the opposite.
2. Scribble those Goals
I have an absolute weakness for Typo stationery; if you’re anything like me, this next nugget of advice will give you the perfect opportunity to splurge on some new notebooks and sexy pens. According to a study done by the Dominican University in Illinois, those who WROTE their goals down accomplished significantly more than those who did not. It’s not enough to simply type them up somewhere; actually physically writing down those goals has a far greater impact. When writing down those goals, get crystal clear on what it is that you want. Where exactly do you want to be this time next year? What do you see? What have you achieved? What have you learned? How does it all make you feel?
#SideTip: Write these goals as if they have already manifested in your life.
To manifest your goals, dreams and aspirations, you need to create an immense and intense emotional connection. Every high performer knows and understands that the event with the highest emotional charge is what will show up in your life. You need to be tapping into an emotional peak state whenever you are thinking about what you desire to manifest. Now connect to these goals every. single. day.
What I like to do every morning as I wake up is to enjoy my first cup of coffee and I scribble down what I would like to achieve for the day. You could keep your goals at the front of your notebook; or you could create a vision board and put it somewhere you see daily. Need some more guidance on attaining those goals? Check out our piece on Becoming Your Most Authentic You here.
3. Seek Just Enough… or Lagom
In a Westernised society, seeking just enough sounds like a slap in the face. However, research shows us that we are raising our children to be the most stressed out population of our kind. It’s always good to have goals to work towards to drive our hopes, dreams and wishes. However, it’s also easy to get sucked into a culture of always wanting more, and never just appreciating that our best effort may have been “good enough”.
Lagom, a Swedish term, can be translated to “enough, sufficient, adequate” or “just right”. One of my best friends, Lara, travelled to Scandinavia recently, and what she said was rather poignant. She described the environment as an almost spiritual experience; the surroundings were minimalistic. It didn’t feel so crowded. Massive windows gave one the opportunity to peer out the airport onto the tarmac, with stretches of forest spanning out behind the aircrafts. Even the airport itself smelt of fresh pine needles and wood.
When she described the above to me, I could not have imagined such simplicity could sound so damn appealing. But it did. Perhaps the Scandinavian people are onto something with their concept of Lagom?
4. Improve your Grit
In my personal and professional experience, the best precursor for a person’s success (which I personally define as achieving optimisation and congruency in various facets of life) is GRIT.
Grit can be defined as a positive, non-cognitive skill which transcends talent and intelligence if you want to reach the next level of personal achievement in your life. Although we are all born with more or less of a talent for something, the beauty of a skill is that it can be learned. Grit is It’s the resilience to go on with renewed purpose after you’ve suffered a setback, failure or disappointment. It’s commitment to your goals and a belief in yourself and/or to a greater cause.
Cheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has to be my most inspirational leader currently. This is largely due to the manner in which I’ve observed her re-frame what could have been negative (and at times catastrophic) occurrences into positives.
“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void: the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.” – Cheryl Sandberg
I watched a video of Sandberg on Facebook fairly recently, as she recounted the tragic loss of her husband. To anyone who’s lost anyone – I’m sure you can tell first-hand what a debilitating experience this is. Sandberg said she spoke to a psychologist friend shortly after the death of her life partner, desperate for something in his words to comfort her acute emotional pain. He suggested that she find some gratitude in her harrowing experience. Gratitude?! W.T.F. It was only after he elaborated that she imagined how much more horrific her plight may have been if her husband suffered his heart attack whilst driving their two young children.
Just last night I was doing some light reading (don’t judge me, but the YOU Magazine is a favourite for a chilled night in!); I came across an article of a women, Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted at the age of 14 for 9 horrific months. She was raped, tortured and starved, until she was eventually found and rescued. I wouldn’t blame the woman for wanting to live under a rock for the entirety of her life after what she’d been through. But today Smart is a correspondent on American TV show Crime Watch. She’s published a Memoir of her ordeal (titled My Story) in 2013, she’s an activist in preventing child abductions, she is a motivational speaker, and her most recent achievement is bringing her story to life in the form of a true-story film of what happened to her.
#SideTip: In terms of learning how to reframe negative to positive, and challenging your own personal worldview, I’ve found the book “The Breakthrough Experience” by Dr John Martini pivotal in the strengthening of my own grit.
I wish you inspiration, creativity, energy and bucket loads of grit as we begin to wrap up 2017 (can you flippen believe it?!). I would absolutely LOVE your feedback on how YOU are feeling – whether you are an entrepreneur, employed, a student, stay at home mom - whatever! Please mail me on email@example.com; I promise I will respond to every email.
Lots of love,
by Marzenna Almendro
“As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions” – Harvard Business Review
We’ve all heard the stats – the immediate one which comes to mind is ‘the wrong hire can cost you 1.5 to 3 times that person’s annual income’. Nobody ventures out to make a critical faux pas. Work demands, deadlines looming, volumes of emails to sift through, clients to get back to… the work environment offers a perfect culmination to rush those hiring decisions. You may be inclined to trust your “gut” or instinct when making a decision – but I’m sure you in your personal capacity can think of one instance where someone interviewed superbly. However after working with them for some time, things became unstuck. Perhaps they went awol and just did not come back to work; or they did resign, but thanks to their malice, they deleted critical, sensitive company data.
It’s happened to most of us.
But why are these costs so high when making a wrong hire? There are numerous expenses are incurred, such as travel, hotel, meals, training & orientation, psychometric assessments, termination costs, unemployment as well as potential litigation costs, or what about relocation costs? But mostly, hiring the wrong person can put a dent in your cash flow because you need to repeat the entire hiring process again.
Then there are the hard-to-quantify costs which could be detrimental to your business, such as customer dissatisfaction, lost customers, lost sales, low staff morale, reduced quality of products or services, and low production.
The paradox is that although the recruitment should not be rushed, hot talent is only on the market for a short period of time.
The key to making the right recruit is providing a clear description of the job role, understanding not only the obvious skills required, but the softer skills, personality attributes and appropriate culture fit of the candidate to the business.
For more concrete guidance on making those better hires, take heed of our advice:
1. Know exactly who you want. Don’t simply rely on a spec provided by the HR department, and don’t continue to recycle job descriptions. Visualise the ideal candidate or avatar, along with a list of the desired skills, personality characteristics, abilities and cultural fit.
2. Consider what’s not obvious. Don’t only focus on the candidate’s tangible skills, such as their financial ability or capacity to work with excel spreadsheets. Intangibles are vitally important. If a person is not a team player, or has a lower EQ and can’t take heed of constructive criticism, you may have a ticking time bomb on your hands.
3. Connect. Don’t rely on a strong CV, a recruiter’s recommendation, or even if the desired candidate “passes” their pre-selection tests. Have a face to face as far as possible, and trust your gut. Sure it’s not full proof – but you’re no fool. Apply your judgement and discretion when making that decision.
4. Entice. Sure – we may have high levels of unemployment, and you may imagine you are spoilt for choice. However, top performing talent is in high demand, and can probably become quite picky at their next career advancement. As much as it’s your job to interview the prospective candidate (be sure to ask them purposeful questions like this), let them interview you – and then sell them the organisation’s vision.
5. Lastly… utilise all your resources. Time is something that can’t be bought, but remains infinitely priceless. If you don’t have the capacity, resources or TIME to source talent, connect with a professional you trust. Recruiters have earned a rather dodgy reputation of being the ‘tow truck drivers’ of the industry. Recruitment has become a saturated business, where it’s a rush against time. Recruitment consultants may gain a job spec (which they are sharing with multiple other recruiters) and it becomes a race of throwing as many CVs at the client as possible in the hopes that something fits. When working with a Placement Specialist, ensure you have an exact idea of their process, where they source their talent, and their integrity. Are they looking out for your business’s best interests? Or is it just a case of making that placement fee?
The most important asset any business or any organization has is its people. That holds true whether you have a small company or manage a department within a business employing hundreds or even thousands. Taking short-cuts to build your team may ease immediate growing pains but create regrets in the long-term.
The key is to understand that hiring the right candidate takes time, so be patient, develop a comprehensive hiring plan and execute it flawlessly. Remember, no hire is better than a bad hire.
Want more information about our truly unique approach to matching talent to a role? Find out more about Filtred – a first in South Africa – here.
By Sasha Valente
We live in a very competitive world where the wrong decisions could hinder us a great deal. Influx of people means an influx of poverty and the creation of a vicious circle that becomes so difficult to avoid, and although every human is beautifully unique with their own talents and skills it becomes even more difficult to pursue our dreams and talents due to the demands and pressures of today.
As parents, how does one guide their child in the correct career direction, allowing their child to reach their full potential and knock the boundaries of the path that would create a flourishing future for them?
It all starts in Grade 9, by picking the right subjects; this will create a path for the future. Therefore let’s look at tips on how to choose the best suited subjects.
Speak to the teachers. They are the ones who spend most of the time with your child and generally know your child’s strengths and their potential. Look at your child’s previous marks, down to class tests and exams. This will give you an overall idea on what your child enjoys, understands and has a skill for. Most schools these days have a school counsellor on site who is someone who had a wealth of experience when assisting your child make the best possible decision.
Your child needs to be happy. Remember that if a subject is too easy they can get lazy and if a subject is to demanding they may become despondent. There needs to be a happy medium. Ask them what they see themselves doing in the future. Let’s have open conversations with our teens. One can answer questions like if their child will be an astrophysicist or a teacher. This isn’t the time for hard choices; this is the time of happy path creation. One will know that realistically their child won’t need to be doing core maths if they aren’t going to be an astrophysicist.
There are extraordinary tools now and professionals that are able to assist your child. Career counsellors are there to provide career counselling utilising a scientific method, otherwise known as psychometric assessments. This form of testing is able to tap into the most incredible aspects of a human being. Like, what motivates them, what they truly enjoy, and then their skills and cognitive functioning.
If you are unsure, rather get an opinion from a trained professional such as an Educational Psychologist or Psychometrist. You want to offer your children options with direction. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, they don’t have to know what career path they want to embark on for certain – but at least after choosing suitable subjects, they will have the basis of pursuing a career which is the best fit for them after Matric.
For more information on the career counselling Holistan offers, click here.
By: Sasha Valente
Raising kids today is challenging. Times have changed, and the pressures are on our kids more than ever before. Children are bombarded with a highly competitive environment; they are expected to excel in the classroom, on the sports field and at extra-curricular activities.
As a parent, one would look at all this pressure and think “What happens to my child when he/she leaves school?” If there is pressure in the classroom then many could agree that it is no easier in the real world. Parents want to afford their children the opportunities to do well out of school, add value to their careers and still be allowed to make mistakes and change their minds. However, there is no longer the ‘luxury’ of being lost anymore given our current economic climate, and parents are under pressure to guide their children in the right direction to realise their best future – sooner rather than later.
The question then is, how do we alleviate the stress so that our children can still be children and make mistakes and learn? Our children are striving for recognition and approval to build their sense of self-worth - whether that means hours practicing gymnastics, or getting to bed at 22:00 every night after studying to get those top marks. We need to raise our kids teaching them that they possess intrinsic value - not because they are good at something. It’s important to remember to praise your child for who they are – even before recognising their achievements.
Saying that, we all want to achieve. We all want to flourish. In order to do so in the schooling environment, it’s important to make sure there is synergy between the child’s subject choice and their individual capabilities, skills and natural talent.
What is a Career Assessment?
A career assessment maps outwhat your child’s core competencies are from a cognitive perspective, and how they view themselves from a personality perspective. They also complete an interest survey, and using all this data, a recommendation can be made to your child predicting the course they are most likely to excel in. Selecting the right subjects, the right course of study and the right career will go a long way in helping your child lead a life that’s congruent and truly happy. Making ill choices early in life can have devastating effects on the child’s self-worth, well-being, motivation, attitude and overall confidence.
At the end of the day, we as parents are responsible to ensure our children have a good self-esteem, because a healthy self-esteem is the best precursor for success throughout life. Being able to optimise in the classroom, and the work environment, will evidently contribute to a healthy self-esteem.
Please feel free to get in contact with us for a description and in-depth understanding of what our assessments bring forward about your child, and any further questions you may have.
ATTENTION TEACHERS & PRINCIPALS:
Holistan would like schools in the Johannesburg area to consider having Career Assessments available on site. Holistan is willing to send a consultant to your school premises once a week OR once a month to host assessment sessions. This is valuable for parents, learners and the school because:
Our contact details are:
011 201 2142
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French Writer)
Dreams, ambitions, hopes for a better future… we all have them. Correction; most of us have them (yes – there are those who are simply focused on survival; we aren’t talking about them. We’re talking about YOU). Some of us define this as meaning; success perhaps? What is meaning to you? What is success to you? If you could strip away all the superfluous stuff that life convinces us we need, what does living MEANINGFULLY mean to you? And how do you get there?
We’ve reached February and if you have kept a handful of your New Year’s Resolutions, give yourself a pat on the back. If you think coming up with resolutions is a Machiavellian exercise, think again; businesses strategize for the future. The board of directors get together where the vision of where to take the business is penned, goals are set, and timelines allocated. However we do little in terms of strategising our lives. In fact, some say that we take more time to plan a trip than we do to plan our life and career. We may want to travel more, learn a new skill, find a life-partner, feel fulfilled in our careers, buy a house – but if we don’t have a clear roadmap on how to get there, how do we expect to realise are dreams?
Creating a Life plan may simply sound like a draconian activity. Bear with me. A Lifeplan is about organising yourself, turning your wildest ambitions into bite-size goals, and improving your life from a work, personal and romantic perspective.
Can you think of anyone who has expressed they feel unfilled in their lives; like something feels like it’s “missing”? Perhaps that person has vocalised it, but you can see in their behaviour – they are apathetic, the lack motivation, they are grumpy as hell? Perhaps YOU are this person?
Well – it doesn’t have to be you. You are the single most powerful agent in your very own life which can change your entire destiny. With a little bit of preparation and a bucket load effort and motivation (and perhaps some good luck) you can live a gratifying, full, meaningful, congruent life.
Start of by exploring you. Who you are? What are your values? What gives you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your life? After brainstorming this, identify the activities which make you really happy? What past instances have made you really satisfied?
Thereafter, start examining your dreams. Essentially, you’ll be brainstorming everything you might want to do – professionally and otherwise. Even if it sounds completely wild – pen it down.
The next part of this exercise we’ll call Choices. Narrow as many of these dreams down to a core list that you’d really like to experience. Remember – if you try to make ALL your dreams a reality at once, you are likely fail.
Finally – turn those chosen dreams into a vision of your future which is rich and satisfying. The trick is to set goals that inspire and motivate you to achieve the things that really matter. Remember – you need to plan HOW to reach these goals, and the trick here is to ensure that these BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) are broken down into smaller nuggets, and breaking those into even smaller achievable goals. Celebrate the small victories every time you reach one of those – no matter how big or small.
Need some more clarity on how to ACTION the above? Consider getting in touch with us; we have a team of expert coaches who are ready to assist you in actualising and becoming your most authentic you.
Hiring the candidate who seems to have all the "right" answers may not be best, especially if you don't ask the right questions in the first place (check out our article on The Three Essential Questions You Should Ask Prospective Employees). Choosing the candidate with the best reference isn't a guarantee either – what if the person giving the reference will say anything just to be nice? And hiring someone because you "feel good" about them certainly has its place – but what if your “gut” feeling in this particular instance lets you down?
To recruit effectively, it's best to take the guesswork out of the process. The more reliable information you can gather about a person, the better. You want as complete a picture as possible of the candidate's skills, experience, competencies, personality, and aptitudes.
Given the costs, the pain and the lost opportunity that comes from a poor hiring decision, would you like to remove as much guesswork as possible when you hire? One method that companies use to do this is pre-employment assessments. These assessments are designed to give you reliable and valid information about a candidate – information that a CV, interview, and references may not provide.
Psychometric Assessments can improve hiring practices. When you combine information from these tests with properly thought-through structured interviews, you add considerable predictive power to your selection process.
Why Use Psychometric Assessment When Recruiting?
Ask yourself the following questions:
In essence, managers use psychometric assessments to address rigorously the most significant situations where recruitment has failed in the past, or the highest risk areas where it could fail in the future.
However, as with all business activities, use of assessments takes time and has a cost, so they should only be used where the benefits gained more than compensate for these costs.
Types of Assessments
The key to using the right assessment – and making best use of everyone's time and resources – is to know what problems you're trying to address with the assessment. Here are some common types of assessments, and the typical reasons for using them.
Ability and Aptitude Assessments
These are used to predict success across a wide variety of occupations, typically in people who have not yet received much training in the skills needed for that occupation. In essence, what you're trying to do is identify "natural talent" for the work, which you can then develop.
Mental ability assessments generally measure a person's ability to learn and perform particular job responsibilities; they focus on things such as verbal and spatial abilities.
Skills Assessments and Assessment Centres
These assessments are used when you're looking for skilled people, and you want to ensure that the people you hire are sufficiently skilled to do a good job. These tests are typically used to measure knowledge and skills that are relevant to a specific position. There are two basic types:
These types of assessments are generally used where attitude and fit within a team are of major importance; these are designed to evaluate characteristics such as motivation, conscientiousness, self-confidence, or how well a person might get along with co-workers.
There are usually no right or wrong answers to questions, so you may look for "desirable" responses (or in psychometric terms, “critical competencies”). A weakness of these assessments is that people may be able to "cheat", by guessing what these desirable responses are. However, sophisticated personality assessments typically build in deception scales, which can detect if the test taker is trying to respond in a certain pattern. Another vulnerable area of these types of assessments is the fact that they are self-perceptive; in other words, if John believes he has a high attention toward detail, his scores will similarly be high. This does not mean that he IS attuned towards the detail in reality, however. Only an ability assessment would be able to accurately demonstrate his true attention to detail.
Honesty, Integrity, and Values Assessments
Useful across almost any business setting and particularly where you have a strong business need for especially high ethical standards, these assessments look at honesty characteristics as well as integrity, truthfulness, and personal values. They're used to assess company security as well as cultural fit. Some of these assessments ask very obvious questions, and others use "disguised purpose" questions to identify undesirable traits such as insubordination and theft.
Considerations for Recruitment Assessments
When used for the right purpose, professionally developed assessments registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) that are part of a planned assessment program should help you select and hire more qualified and productive workers. However, you must understand that all evaluation tools are subject to errors – both in measuring a characteristic, such as verbal ability, and in predicting performance criteria, such as success on the job. This is true for all tests, regardless of how objective or standardized they might be.
Be sure to consider the following:
Sometimes assessment scores may predict that people will be good workers – when, in fact, they are not. It's also possible for candidates to be rejected due to low scores – when, in fact, they would be very capable and loyal workers. Because of these selection errors (which can stem from the incorrect critical competencies selected, to the wrong type of assessment used in a particular battery of assessments).
Remember that psychometric assessments are only one of numerous ways used to evaluate a candidate's abilities.
Use good judgement when you interpret and analyse test results, and review their use periodically to make sure that they're actually giving you the results you want, in terms of improved recruitment outcomes.
Business owners and Recruiters – Do you want to make sure that you are getting the best service and recommendation of assessments from your current supplier? Contact Holistan today for a no obligation meeting, where we will analyse your assessment battery per role, and provide you with a comprehensive summary of the critical competencies tapped.
Employees – Have you completed psychometric assessments, but never received feedback on the results you have? Have you received feedback, but felt incongruent with what they revealed? Get in touch with us; we’d be happy to interpret your results, and draw up a Personal Development Plan to help you actualise in your current role – or develop the necessary competencies you need to move into a role you aspire towards.
Most people can relate to the challenge of working with an employee who is not performing; the problem becomes even more challenging if that person directly reports to you, or if you manage a business and struggling with someone who just doesn’t share the same passion and drive as you do. To figure out what's causing the performance issue, you have to get to the root of the problem.
But because employee performance affects your business’s performance, we tend to want to look for a quick fix. Would a training course perhaps help? Or should you move him or her into a different role?
These types of solutions focus largely on the ability of the person performing the job. Performance, though, is a function of both ability and motivation.
Performance = Ability x Motivation
Where ability is the person's aptitude or skills related to that role, as well as the training and resources supplied by the organization and motivation is the product of desire and commitment on the person’s part.
To illustrate: someone with 100 percent motivation and 75 performance ability can often achieve above-average performance. But a worker with only 25 percent ability won't be able to achieve the type of performance you expect, regardless of his or her level of motivation. This is why job matching using quantitative tools such as psychometric assessments are such critical parts of performance management. It’s imperative that you assess ability properly during the selection process. Minor deficiencies can certainly be improved through training – however, most organizations don't have the time or resources needed to remedy significant gaps.
Before you can fix poor performance, you have to understand its cause. Does it come from lack of ability or low motivation?
Incorrect diagnoses can lead to lots of problems later on. If you believe an employee is not making enough of an effort, you'll likely put increased pressure on him or her to perform. But if the real issue is ability, then increased pressure may only make the problem worse.
Low ability may be associated with:
People with low ability may have been poorly matched with jobs in the first place. They may have been promoted to a position that's too demanding for them. Or maybe they no longer have the support that previously helped them to perform well.
So how do we enhance ability? There are five main ways to overcome performance problems associated with a lack of ability. Consider using them in this sequence, which starts with the least intrusive:
Be sure to address each of these interventions in one-on-one performance interviews with employees.
Focus on the resources provided to do the job. Do employees have what they need to perform well and meet expectations?
This is a very effective first step in addressing performance. It signals to members of your team that you're interested in their perspective and are willing to make the required changes.
Provide additional training to team members. Explore with them whether they have the actual skills required to do what's expected. Given the pace of change of technology, it's easy for people's skills to become outdated.
This option recognizes the need to retain employees and keep their skills current. There are various types of retraining you can provide:
Resupplying and retraining will often cure poor performance. People and organizations may get into ruts, and fail to recognize these issues until poor performance finally highlights them.
When these first two measures aren't sufficient, consider refitting the job to the person. Are there parts of the job that can be reassigned?
Analyze the individual components of the work, and try out different combinations of tasks and abilities. This may involve rearranging the jobs of other people as well. Your goal is to retain the employee, meet operational needs, and provide meaningful and rewarding work to everyone involved.
When revising or refitting the job doesn't work, look at reassigning the poor performer. Typical job reassignments may decrease the demands of the role by reducing the need for the following:
If you use this option, make sure that the reassigned job is still challenging and stimulating. To ensure that this strategy is successful, never use demotion as a punishment tactic within your organization. Remember, the employee's performance is not intentionally poor – he or she simply lacked the skills for the position.
As a final option for lack of ability, you may need to let the employee go. Sometimes there are no opportunities for reassignment, and refitting isn't appropriate for the organization. In these cases, the best solution for everyone involved is for the employee to find other work. You may need to consider contractual terms and restrictions; however, in the long run, this may be the best decision for your whole team. Always act in compliance with the guidelines as provided by the Department of Labour (www.labour.gov.za).
Remember, there are potential negative consequences of retaining a poor performer after you've exhausted all the options available:
Sometimes poor performance has its roots in low motivation. When this is the case, you need to work closely with the employee to create environment which motivates them to work. There are three key interventions that may improve people's motivation:
1. Performance Goals
Goal setting is a well-recognized aspect of performance improvement. Employees must understand what's expected of them and agree on what they need to do to improve.
2. Performance Assistance
Once you've set appropriate goals, help your team member succeed by doing the following:
3. Performance Feedback
People need feedback on their efforts. They have to know where they stand in terms of current performance and long-term expectations. When providing feedback, keep in mind the importance of the following:
Supporting this, ensure that you meet regularly with the employee, so that you can review progress and provide regular feedback.
So how do you do this in practice? This is where you need to develop a performance improvement plan. Armed with the strategies we've looked at, you first need to evaluate the performance issue that you're facing:
From there, it's important that you and the employee discuss and agree upon a plan for improving performance. Write down what you've agreed, along with dates by which goals should be achieved. Then monitor progress with the team member, and use the techniques we've discussed above for increasing motivation and dealing with ability-related issues.
Recognize that the actions needed to close ability gaps need high motivation on the employee's part to be successful. The two causes of poor performance – lack of ability and low motivation – are inextricably intertwined, and goal setting, feedback, and a supportive work environment are necessary conditions for improving both.
by: Marzenna Almendro
"Developing Management Skills" (8th Edition) p.27, by David A. Whetten and Kim S. Cameron. 2011.
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!