The War for Talent

Today we have a guest post from Susan Popoola. Susan is an HR Specialist at Conning Towers which specializes in HR Transformation and Talent Management.  Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain which explores Disatisfaction, Disengagement and Diversity within Britain is her second published book.

The War for Talent

Are you aware that there is actually a global war going on at the moment? Because of the recession and the high unemployment rates that exist at this point in time, it’s not immediately apparent but there is currently a global war for talent which will become very apparent by the time we truly get to the end of the recession.

But even now if you look closely and talk to a number of different businesses you will see the signs of it. You will constantly hear employers talking about the need for young people coming into the workplace to have employability skills. Whilst the British NHS is still highly run/supported by a significant number of doctors and nurses originating from Africa and Asia, at the same time there are an increasing number of nurses working within the NHS who are, or are thinking of, migrating to places such as Canada and Australia, due to the better pay and working conditions offered in such countries.

Furthermore, I recently had a conversation with the Managing Director of a small but very successful technology firm. Inadvertently we also spoke about the challenges that he was facing in getting people with the skills that he needed for his business. He further explained that he had got where he was because people had seen the potential in him and offered him opportunities that he hadn’t always had the ready skills for, but had supported his development in order to effectively fulfill the role in question. Taking account of this he pointed out that he was more than willing to cross-train individuals, but had been struggling to fill two particular roles for over six months, even though he had done direct searches, recruitment agencies and even the job centre.

This led me to contact a Government Minister and point out my observations and make suggestions on possible solutions. In a nutshell, I would like to see a government skills database in place that highlights skills requirements at a local, regional and national basis, the idea being that employers would enter their key skill requirements into the database.

My dialogue with the Minister is ongoing, but it leads me further to what I see as a blanket argument that currently exists about immigration which does not take a real account of both business and economic needs, together with future implications.

As it stands we’ve lost a lot of manufacturing jobs to overseas countries. Not too long ago we had the HSBC talking about relocating to Hong Kong. Further to this we have recently adopted an immigration policy that will make it increasingly difficult for multinationals to send expatriate managers from other countries to the UK to set up, run or work within offices within the UK. There is a risk with this that such organisations may choose to limit their operations within the UK.

At the same time there are policies being proposed/put in place to minimise the number of foreign students that come to study within the UK. I find this somewhat ironic for two reasons. In the first instance, we recently had the student demonstrations over university fees which have been described as a necessity due to the deficit in university funding. At the same time I recently spoken to a young South African lady who told me that for the course that she really wanted to study, at her university of choice, she had been told that it would cost her up to £50,000 per annum as a foreign student. I would venture to say that a local student wouldn’t pay up to a fifth of this, even with the changes to university fees. Even if you see this as an extreme case, there is still a marked gap between the fees that local and foreign students pay and we are therefore losing out on crucial funding with a knock on impact on local students caused by the narrowness of our thinking on immigration.

It’s possible that some may argue that the advantage gained from overseas students fees may be lost by such students staying within the Britain for a period to work. I on the other hand would argue that there is something positive in helping to develop individuals who then use their essential skills to contribute to the UK economy before returning to their home country. This is specifically true as foreign students are more likely to study courses in core subject areas whereby they come out with qualifications critical to the economy. It also helps to develop and retain a deep connection between Britain and the students home countries.

And before you say it, yes there is a high graduate unemployment rate of 20% at this point in time, but I believe most employers would go for the UK Graduate if he or she had the same to offer as the foreign graduate.

I guess the counter argument to this would be that their home countries have an equal if not greater need for jobs. My point of view would be – what if such people were able to set up a company in the UK as the case may also be and then go on to set up offices within their home country such that everybody wins and obtains the optimal outcome?

Susan Popoola is an HR Specialist at Conning Towers which specializes in HR Transformation and Talent Management.  Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain which explores Disatisfaction, Disengagement and Diversity within Britain is her second published book.

Dealing with a failing employee

Dealing with a failing employee

So you have a failing employee! You have someone in your team that you think is letting you down. You can see that things are not working out as you expected. They’ve been around a while and things used to be fine. Now it is clear to you and other people that all is not well. What do you do?

First establish the facts. What is the evidence that performance really has changed and can you be certain that this team member is at fault?

Talk to the employee. Explain your concerns and any performance information you have gathered. Ask for their perspective.

Be fair, be open and be prepared to listen.

  • Do they accept that performance has fallen?
  • Are there factors inside or outside the organization that are affecting their performance?
  • Is there a health or family problem?
  • Do they understand the standard you expect?
  • Are they prepared to make a change?
  • Are there changes that you or others should and could reasonably make that will mean performance improves?

If the failure is down to the employee and there are no extenuating circumstances, within the bounds of employment law, you have choices to make. Much will depend on the reaction to your intervention.

If the employee accepts the failure and makes a commitment to improving their performance , apart from monitoring, there may be nothing further you need to do at this stage.

If performance does not improve, you will need to intervene again. You may need to coach the employee for a while and arrange some further training.

If that fails, you may need to impose closer supervision and move into disciplinary procedure and possible dismissal.

What matters most is that you intervene early – don’t let a bad situation just get worse.

  • Act early
  • Act always in good faith
  • Be willing to be open minded.
  • Collect evidence and be objective
  • Be clear about the standard you expect
  • Check that the employee understands your expectations
  • Reward progress with praise.
  • Keep records through-out
  • If you do have to dismiss, make sure it  comes as no surprise

But it is in your and their interests to give them a fair opportunity to make an improvement. Bringing an employee back on track is good for them, it is good for you and it is certainly good for the organization in terms of morale and use of resources, provided your intervention is in proportion.

Dealing with failing employees is never easy and the more prepared you are the better.  If you are a manager struggling with failing employees, a management training course or advice from a coach or mentor can help you learn the skills you need to really excel in the workplace and deal with all kinds of challenging situations.

If you need to the support of a coach in dealing with a failing employee, please get in touch

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach. She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

Team Work – bringing in a new team leader.

A picture from 2006 before becoming president ...Team Work – bringing in a new team leader.

Sometimes when you have a project or a piece of work being carried out for you, you need to bring in a new team leader.

Perhaps your existing team leader left suddenly on promotion or for a better opportunity elsewhere. Perhaps things have not been going too well and, as sponsor, you decide you have done as much as you can to support the old team leader – it is time to make a change. Sometimes, sadly, the team leader has been taken ill or in an accident.

Whatever the reason, you have to bring in someone new to lead the project team.

Now, you need to explain what is happening to the team. You don’t want to paint the old leader in a negative light – you know there are loyalties. But you do want them to accept the change and the new leader. What can you do?

Here are some tips.

  1. Give the team a clear and honest explanation for the change. Where things have not been going well, you need to be quite careful about attributing any failure specifically to the old team leader. But you can be clear about why a new approach is needed and then emphasise the background and experience of the new team leader.
  2. Honour the past. If good progress has been made and the old team leader left on good terms, there is something to celebrate. This should be done as part of the change to the new team leader. Again, if the old team leader has been taken ill it is important to recognise the contribution that they and the team have made so far.
  3. Tell the team about the new team leader. Before the new team leader arrives, give the team as much information as you can about the new team leader and why they have been chosen. Show that that both the team and the new team leader have your confidence and make sure the team are clear about the role and your expectations.
  4. Make introductions. When the new team leader arrives introduce them to the team yourself. It is great if this can be over coffee or lunch so that there is an opportunity for some informal chat as well as formal introductions.
  5. Have an induction program. Make sure someone takes responsibility for showing the new team leader round. If you want to minimise any glitch in performance make sure that there is an induction program and that the new leader meets key people and knows who they are.
  6. Follow-up. Remember to check back. Don’t wait for the next formal board or project meeting to find out how the new leader is settling in. A short phone call from you asking how the new team leader is settling in will make them feel them feel appreciated and give you early warning if all is not going well. Touch base with the team themselves sometimes to show you haven’t abandoned them but be careful not to undermine the new team leader when you do it.

If you need support transitioning between team leaders, get in touch. Working with a coach can help a team make the change without disruption.

Wendy Mason is a Career Coach with Life Coaching skills and expertise in helping people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

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Leading Change: High Levels Of Engagement Could Actually Put Your Change At Risk

Leading change: high levels of engagement could actually put your change at risk

New research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Kingston University Business School’s Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS) has emphasized the distinction between people whose man engagement at work is with doing their immediate job to earn a living and others whose emotional attachment is much wider and extends to the organization itself – colleagues, line managers and customers.

Those engaged primarily with their jobs might enjoy and take pride in their individual work but they just want to do it and get on with rest of their lives. It is interesting that the study found that these people who are transactionally engaged (their interest is mainly in the technicalities of own work) report higher levels of stress and difficulties in achieving a work-life balance than those who are emotionally engaged with the organization.

It can become more complicated when, for example. someone is emotionally engaged mainly with their profession and perhaps even their clients, but only transactionally engaged with their current role and the current organisation.

Now ,this presents some interesting challenges for those leading change, particularly in how they communicate about the change.

A change that is being made for the perceivable good of the organization is more likely to be supported by someone emotionally engaged with that organization. That is, if the well being of colleagues is seen to be a priority and there is a clear commitment to managing the change well.

However, a change that threatens the work of an individual who is transactionally engaged may present a much greater risk. Most change managers have encountered the committed and brilliant technical specialist who decides they have no alternative but to subvert a change for the good of their work.

So how can you respond?

Well, for a start you need to understand your group and have a care with the results of engagement surveys which may not distinguish between different kinds of engagement.

What kind of people are in your group and what kind of work do they do? Walk the talk – get out there and meet them. Have conversations and be prepared to listen and to deal with feelings and anxiety.

When you communicate the change be aware that the impact will be different for different kinds of people. Take those different needs into account when you are planning the message. Then recognize the risk that different kinds of engagement might present. If your change threatens the organization itself then you need to manage the risk that presents for those committed to it. But handled the right way they will come with you on the journey.

Those committed mainly just to the job may well simply remove themselves, together with their precious technical skills if they can see nothing in the change for them. If their skills are critical to the organization you may need to consider incentives to stay – these could range from money to opportunities for professional development or even enhanced technical facilities.

As with all change programs, success lies with inspiring people to follow the vision but that inspiration may come with different strokes for very different kinds of folks

If you need the support of a coach in developing your career as change leader or change manager, then get in touch – I’ve been there before you.

Wendy Mason is a Career Coach with Life Coaching skills and expertise in helping people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

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Thursday Quotes – Acing the Job Interview

Thursday Quotes – Acing the Job Interview

Job Interview

  1. Remember why you are going! “You go to a job interview to discover whether your talents, abilities, interests and direction are a good fit for the job, the company, and the company’s mission.” Susan M Heathfield
  2. Research the company ahead of time. The more you know about the company, the easier it will be to respond to questions. Alison Doyle
  3. Use Your Contacts! “Who you know at the company really does matter. ….use your contacts and connections to get an insider advantage so you can ace the interview and impress the interviewer.” Alison Doyle
  4. Check the Job Requirements. Before you go to an interview, check the job requirements listed in the job posting you responded to. Make a list of the skills you have that match those requirements. Review the list prior to the interview and if you need a “cheat sheet” jot down the list on the notepad that you bring to the interview with you. Alison Doyle
  5. Dress for success! “Before job interviews, I think: What colour tie best represents me as a person this company would be interested in?
” Jarod Kintz,
  6. Walk in confidently. It’s important you look as professional as possible from the outset. As soon as you walk into the building you’ll begin to be judged on your behaviour. There are even instances where recruiters watch from their office as candidates arrive, to see how their body language changes.
  7. Watch your Body Language “Remember: recruiters will only see how you behave; they won’t see how you’re feeling. By getting an interview, the prospective employer already thinks you can do the job on paper. Now it’s up to you to show your confidence and use body language to your advantage.” 
  8. Keep your pitch simple and direct: This is what I can do for you. Scott Reeves
  9. The interviewer’s stock question “Tell me about yourself” isn’t a request for childhood memories or a run-down of academic prizes won, but a call for a brief overview of what you bring to the table. Scott Reeves
  10. If they ask “Why were you fired?” try this! “Being cut loose was a blessing in disguise. Now I have an opportunity to explore jobs that better suit my qualifications and interests. My research suggests that such an opportunity may be the one on your table. Would you like to hear more about my skills in working with new technology?” Joyce Lain Kennedy.
  11. Think before you speak! “Sometimes I start a sentence and I don’t even know where it is going. I just hope I find it a long the way” Unnamed unsuccessful candidate.
  12.  Good Luck. You dreamed, you believed and you worked. Now, go and achieve!

Wendy Mason is a Career Coach with Life Coaching skills and expertise in helping people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason



Starting a New Job – What You Can Do Before Your First Day?

Starting a New Job – What You Can

Do Before Your First Day?

By Dawn Rosenberg McKay, a career planning professional with two decades of experience.

Shortly before my daughter started kindergarten a few years ago we visited the school she was going to attend. She and the other children who were to be starting school with her visited the kindergarten classrooms, met each teacher, and participated in activities. This was my daughter’s first “first,” or at least her first significant one. Many more will follow, like someday in the distant future, her first day on a new job.

It’s really not much different actually, except there probably won’t be a formal orientation like the one my daughter had. And when you start a new job you’re generally not in the company of others who are also new. Oh no. You’re the new kid on the block coming into a situation where relationships have already been formed. You’re the only one who can’t find the restroom, doesn’t know where the supply room and mail room are located, doesn’t yet realize that the custodian wields all the real power, and doesn’t know not to talk to the boss until she’s had her first cup of coffee. There’s so much to learn in addition to the duties related to the job you were hired for. It’s quite overwhelming for most of us.

You can read the rest of this post with some great advice at this link

Starting a new project – are you a good team leader? Take my test and find out.

Horse-race at Auteuil hippodrome Français : Co...

Starting a new project – are you a good team leader? Take my test and find out.

Starting a new project? See how well you are doing in the leadership stakes. If you are serious about being a good leader, then you should be able to provide serious answers to all these questions.

  1. There is no “best” style of leadership. How prepared are you to be flexible? What do you think this means?
  2. The most successful leaders adapt their leadership style to the capability of the people they lead and the needs of the task. Do you know what those are? How will you find out?
  3. At the start of a task, good leaders explain what, how, why, when, where and what to do to start the task. Do you have that information ready for your team? How will you get it?
  4. Good Leaders recognize that competence and confidence can wax and wane over a project. How will you monitor those variations? How will you be prepared to intervene?
  5. Good leaders share leadership when the group is mature. This helps to keep morale and energy up. How strong is your ego feeling today? How will you share leadership?
  6. Enthusiasm and confidence can take a knock when the group realizes just how complicated the challenge is going to be. How are you preparing to monitor this, then step in and support?
  7. A good leader develops the competence and commitment of the team so that they become self-motivated. Have you got the resources available to do this?
  8. Good leaders share the vision-making, as well as the vision. Do you have a process in place to do this?
  9. A good leader refreshes the vision on the journey. Have you made plans for this?
  10. A good leader communicates clearly and listens well. Are you prepared to ask your team how well you are communicating?

A good leader should come up with good answers to all these questions. But lots of us would like to be better leaders. If you want somewhere to start, the books at this link come very well recommended.

Wendy Mason is a Career Coach with Life Coaching skills and expertise in helping people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

For Your BookShelf – Project Management Demystified By Geoff Reiss

Project Management Demystified By Geoff Reiss

Project Management Lifecycle

‘If you are new or relatively new to project management and you plan to have one book … this is the one you should have.’ Martin Barnes, President of the Association of Project Management

If you are new to project management, this book should be on your bookshelf. In clear and concise writing Reiss presents the concepts of project management.

He introduces you to the jargon and then goes though nine steps you need to reach a successful project.

A series of paragraphs introduce project management in many different areas; from publishing to space exploration, charity events to defence, construction to business change. They describe the nature of projects in each of these areas. The principles and techniques for the project manager are the same in each of these areas, just as the principles and techniques used by an accountant are constant across industries.

The chapter on “People” issues provides a useful reminder to the project manager that their projects are performed by teams of people, and that people are all different. The principles of good team management apply equally to projects as they do anywhere else.

The descriptions of personality types that will be familiar to anyone who knows the Meyers-Briggs or Belbin tests.

Project Management Demystified is concise, an easy read and provides a good over-view of the whole project management process.

This third edition contains expanded sections on program management, portfolio management, and the public sector. An entirely new chapter covers the evaluation, analysis and management of risks and issues. A much expanded section explores the rise and use of methodologies like Prince2.

This book ‘Provides an interesting perspective on the profession of project management that will amuse and prepare people embarking on their careers. Project Management Tipoffs

Wendy Mason is a Career Coach with Life Coaching skills and expertise in helping people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason

(Please Note I am an Amazon affiliate)

Help Me Get A Job – Providing A Reference

Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife

Help Me Get A Job – Providing A Reference

If you are applying for a job, you can expect the recruiter to ask for, and check out, at least two and probably three of your references. So you need to be prepared.

It is a good idea to have a number of potential referees for you to choose from. But the recruiter is likely to expect to see the details of your most recent employer. This is one reason why it is always a good idea to leave on good terms, even if you have been made redundant. But you can include other people too, if they know your work and your capabilities.

For example, if you volunteer you could ask a senior manager from within the voluntary organization if they would be prepared to give you a personal reference. If you have recently left college, you should certainly include your course tutor. Business acquaintances, suppliers and former clients can also make good referees.

But you do need to ask the referee’s permission, before you give out their details. Even if they have agreed in principle, you should ask them whether they would be happy to provide a reference on this occasion. I know someone who lost an opportunity when they quoted the name of a referee who had past history with the recruiter. If the candidate had checked he would have had forewarning that this was a possibility

You need to know that your referees will respond quickly and that what they say will be positive. Some people don’t like to say no, when asked for a reference. But then the reference they provide is either vague or lukewarm. This usually works to your disadvantage,particularly if the recruiters follows up the letter they receive with a telephone call.

Only ask people to be referees if they really do know you well enough to provide a reference that means something.

It is important to have a good idea of what they are going to say about your background and your performance. Keep them briefed on what you have been doing and it is a good idea to offer them an up to date copy of your CV. If they need further guidance on what to write there are examples of reference letters at this link.

When you leave a position always ask for a recommendation letter for your future use from your manager. Over time, people move on and others lose track. But if you have that letter you have a record you can share.

And when in due course you are asked to provide a reference, play fair.

Never, never say yes, if you don’t feel you can write a sincere recommendation. “Damning with faint praise” is still damning and in this job climate, I believe it is unforgivable!

If you have tips for others, please pass them on.

Working with a coach can make all the difference in your job search – my email address is below.

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at

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