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The MHC Blog

Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders
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Attracting and retaining Generation Z

When I was 10, I thought 25 was old.  When I was 25, I thought 50 ancient.  Now I am in my 50’s, I believe you are as old as you feel, however, last weekend I felt every year of my age.  Why? A friend shared with us her 14-year-old daughters YouTube channel where she was eloquently and thoughtfully discussing her thoughts and perspectives on gender equality.

Here was this delightful 14-year-old girl confidently speaking on a highly topical subject which she self recorded, edited, then uploaded to her own channel!  When I was 14 I was devoid of this level of confidence, I found it difficult to string a sensible sentence together in a public situation let alone do all this (not that any of it was even invented then!).

Generation Z are making me feel very old as they adapt to new technology naturally, technology that takes me many hours of reading and watching YouTube tutorials to work out how to use.   

This will have an impact on how we, as potential employers, should behave towards them.  Read further to understand why and how.

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Time to get your ducks in a row!

Where did quarter one go? 
It feels like only last week we all headed into the new year with a bright and sparkly 2018 business plan, looking to hit the ground running, but here we are, two weeks into quarter two, in the midst of business plan reviews, planning for the second quarter and then of course, for most of us, it’s now time to forcibly look at the achieved financials of the year to date in order to complete our VAT return.

For many of us this will be the first time we have completed this exercise, its new for us and also for the UAE Government, we are all taking our first steps into the unknown. 

As I start the process of committing numbers onto the FTA online VAT return form and discuss the process with friends and colleagues from other Companies, I am finding the process educational from a business point of view, and I wanted to share this learning with you as you may find them useful;

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I’ve been replaced by an algorithm!

In our blog “Why we need an exit strategy” we wrote about the problems facing the current working population and the issue we face with our pension schemes not predicted to comfortably pay for our planned retirement.

One solution we all have is to stay working longer.  A great idea, however, as recently reported in the national media, traditional jobs of the past are being replaced by automation making it much tougher to find a job to see us financially through to our new extended retirement age.

I remember many years ago this issue being brought to the forefront of my mind whilst I was still at school, with the replacement of humans on car assembly lines. Ford Dagenham opened its doors in 1931, and at its peak in 1953, employed around 40,000 workers, most of whom lived in Dagenham itself.  Slowly, to speed up the accuracy of car manufacturing and to hit high consumer demand, they started introducing robotics to the assembly line, reducing the need for human contact with the car being manufactured.  

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Workforce attrition, good or bad?

The employee attrition at the White House under President trump is the highest ever seen.  Forbes recently reported that during the President’s first year the administration saw a 34% turnover rate – that’s more than one in three Trump administration staffers, and it's not just any sorts of departures, a large number of these were Trump's senior-most staff, some of these senior roles have seen the incumbent replaced multiple times.

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The only constant is innovation

For anyone following the issues facing high street brands, it feels like weekly shock and awe as big names start announcing profit warnings and store closures – Carpet Right, B&Q, Moss Bros, New Look, Toys R Us – the list keeps growing. 

Recently I read the completely shocking news of the brand loved by little girls of all ages, Claire's Accessories has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US as part of a move to reduce its debt by USD1.9billion.  Although Claire's Stores said its shops will remain open as it presses ahead with a financial restructure it remains in danger of closing.

Claire’s is the “go to store” for anything to do with, well, accessories – their products suit all age groups, their price point low, they have diversified their product range to include games, phone covers, ear piercings, make up – the product margin is low, the store footage small, store staffing minimal and yet it finds itself is financial trouble.

Claire’s is not an unknown small brand, they have been trading for many years (Claire’s was founded in 1961) and trades worldwide, so what is happening?  What is effectively taking down huge dinosaur brands resulting in emptying high streets and large losses of jobs? And what can every Company learn from these failings?

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The BC employee trap

Anyone who has had responsibility for a team will probably have had to deal with a BC player at some time.  A BC player is someone that is performing in their role at the right level, potentially performing over and above your expectations, however, they are a square peg in a round hole.  They just don’t fit for whatever reason and because of this they are rubbing you and the rest of the team up the wrong way. 

 BC players are difficult characters to manage but manage them you must, or you will fall into the trap of showing that results are more important than the culture of your Company.

 Here are 3 traps that show how it’s easier to retain than deal with a BC player:

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Why we need to have an exit strategy

At some point I am sure you, like me, see a lovely healthy and financially comfortable retirement in your future.  Mine sees me living close to a beach with no concerns at all apart from a daily quick look outside the door to make sure the sun is shining and today is indeed a beach day (I don’t trust weather apps!).

My parent’s generation and the generations before were very confident that they had this future planned out financially.  They tended to stay with the same Company from leaving school till retirement, diligently saved into their Company pension scheme and retired somewhere between the ages of 55 and 65 with a good income to see them living comfortably. 

Statistically this was all possible.  In the 1950’s it was reported that for every person over the age of 65, there were 7.2 people between the ages of 20 and 64 that helped pay for older generations retirement plans with their own pension contributions.  

However, it is predicted in 2050 that this number will have decreased to 1.8, the combination of increased life expectancy, a fixed retirement age and a decrease in fertility rates are having a detrimental impact to our Company pensions schemes.

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How to get your CV to POP!

There are currently a huge number of people looking for a new job.  This may be down to their being made redundant or needing a new challenge, but suffice it to say, Companies are being inundated with CVs. 

So just how do you get your CV to POP to the top of their short list?

This blog is written in conjunction with Deborah Appleford, the amazing CV and LinkedIn Guru and Managing Consultant at Vignette Consultancy.  As an ex Recruitment Consultant, Deborah is well versed in sniffing out a good CV and as an ex HR Director, I can assure you that I did not get beyond what I could see on my laptop screen, if you hadn’t given me what I was looking for on approximately 1 third on your front page, then I moved onto the next CV.  I also have to say, I complete agree with Deborah’s comments on photos on a CV!

If you need help updating your CV, here are Deborah’s ideas and suggestions:

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When do you deal with poor performance?

Over my 30+ years of experience within the HR field, I have often been confused by Managers frustrations over their poor performing employees.  In my experience, Managers tend to hold off dealing with poor performance, keeping the issues to themselves in the hope that the employee will miraculously improve saving them the effort to have the tricky conversation to deal with it. 

The first HR tend to hear about a non-performing employee is when their Manager has been pushed to the limited of their patience and wants “them out immediately”, pushing their frustrations onto HR who simply ask about the performance management or disciplinary processes they have followed to help support this request. 

HR don’t tend to write these policies and processes for the good of our health, they are there to help deal with situations like this, protecting the Company from tribunals and the Employee from discrimination.  However, I admit these processes do require some effort from the Manager, I’ll also admit that conversations like these are not easy to have.

Here are 5 ideas on dealing with poor performance as soon as it rears its head:

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Act in haste, repent at leisure

Have you ever put your head in your hands and uttered the words “why does every business mistake cost me money!”.  Its always the way isn’t it, the chances we take or even the most thought out business decision that goes wrong costs you financially.  

Of course, the opposite is also true, the business opportunity you didn’t take but should have done that would have netted you significantly financially.

You are not alone, imagine if you were the top management team at Blockbuster video, who in 2000 laughed out of their office the management team from a newly formed Company called Netflix. 

Netflix proposed that it would handle Blockbuster's online component for it, and Blockbuster could host its in-store component, removing the need for mailed DVDs. According to an interview with former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy, "They just about laughed us out of their office." Blockbuster later closed shop (literally) and Netflix went on to thrive.

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The importance of onboarding part Two

 Onboarding programs are the first touch a new Employee makes with your Company. First impressions count, if a new Employee encounters confusion and chaos during their first week on the job, they probably won’t form the most favourable opinion of you and your Company. 

 The statistics cannot be argued with:

  • 91% of employees stay for at least a year when Companies have efficient onboarding processes
  • 69% of them stick around for at least three years when companies have well-structured onboarding programs

 
To make a great impression and set new Employees up for success, you must be deliberate in creating a plan that ensures they'll be engrossed in the culture and their responsibilities in no time......

How much attention are you giving to your Company’s own onboarding program? Is it as effective as you want it to be? 

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The importance of Onboarding Part One

Imagine the picture, you have spent many months recruiting for a key vacancy, reviewing multiple CVs, interviewing questionable candidates, narrowing it down to the chosen few, arranging final interviews with key team members, conducting psychometrics, finally agreeing on the right candidate for the role and Company and preparing the formal offer of employment.

Then begins the hard work, potentially negotiating on salary and benefits, gathering all their required document, including now the need for an attested certificate of good conduct, a new requirement here in the UAE - waiting for candidate’s old visa cancelation, obtaining the new work permit, and confirming the start date once it’s through.

Phew! 

A lot of work and of course time – and as we all know, time equals money.  So, all done, time to step back, pat yourself on the back and mark this down as a job completed on your to do list! Unfortunately, not.

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In pursuit of perfection

Companies looking to fill their vacancies will already know this, currently there are a lot of potential candidates looking for a new role, it’s an Employers “buyers’ market!”

Given the luxury of a large pile of CVs arriving for each vacancy posted, I have recently noticed that Companies are becoming increasingly fussy, looking for a 150% fit to an advertised role, rejecting candidates because they don’t tick all the boxes of the job description. 

They seem happy to delay filing a role, leaving it vacant (probably doing the role themselves) until they have found the ideal candidate, taking the risk that not filling the role with the perfect employee is better than having someone in place that can do most of the tasks but needs your time and effort to settle them in.

Part of me completely understands this thought process.  In an ideal world, having someone join the Company with their running shoes on allowing them to hit the ground sprinting is utopia - however the reality does come with many challenges, perfection is hard, if not impossible, to find, meaning that the role could stay vacant delaying your Company growth while you work yourself into the ground doing 2 or 3 roles yourself.

So how do you fill key roles in todays market?  Here are a few ideas and observations:

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Please look up!

Am I the only one who struggles walking nowadays?  Trying to avoid the smombies (smartphone zombies) leads me to screaming internally “please look where you’re going!” whilst zigzagging from side to side to avoid people walking towards me with their noses buried deep into their phones.

The problem is so prolific someone has invented the “The Type while Walk” app which takes over your phone’s camera so that you can see the ground beneath your feet, with an included font colour-changing tool means that whether you’re walking over pavement or grass you can change the colour to contrast for visibility.  In Salzburg, Austria, lampposts are being covered in airbags to stop people bumping into them as they walk around staring at their screens.  Phone handsets seem to be glued to people’s hands, there is even a recognised new anxiety “rinxiety" or "phantom pocket vibration syndrome”, these conditions refer to anxiety surrounding missed messages and phone calls and the more often you check your device, the worse the anxiety will get.

But how does the phenonium affect business?  Here are my 5 thoughts on the matter:

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Are you Keeping your brand promise?

Over the festive period I was a back-seat passenger on a longish journey.  A talk radio show was keeping me company, the topic of heated discussion, the Apple iPhone battery. 

A high school student had recently discovered an issue with his phone and decided to post on Reddit.com giving details of what he had found.  He had discovered the decreased performance in his iPhone 6s handset had to do with the phones lithium-ion batteries. He decided to research into why that might be, and found a suggestion online that he replace his battery. When he did, his phone sped up instantly.

His post went viral, eventually leading to Apple to make a public statement, a confession that is said could end up costing the company billions of dollars in class action lawsuits. Apple had issued a statement that made it clear that changes it had made a year ago were indeed slowing down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries.

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