Month: April 2021

To check, or not to check references, that is the question?

People often ask me why I bother conducting reference checks when candidates are only going to give names of people who like them, right? Wrong!

Have you ever interviewed someone and have this niggling doubt about their character? Why not ask the question in the reference check? The referee can either confirm or deny how you are feeling.

We had a candidate, say her name was “Julie” who breezed her way through the interview, never admitting to fault or having made any mistakes. I had alarm bells going off in my head. How can a person be so perfect that they have never made an error and how could they not take the opportunity to learn from their mistakes? When I asked Julie’s referee how Julie dealt with negative feedback? Her manager said “she was terrible at taking on feedback and admitting mistakes, she thinks she is perfect”. We didn’t hire Julie!

In fact, reference checks should not be standard, they should be tailored to each role and should also include questions that ensure the candidates aligns with the values of the company.

At Proclaim, we also use a process called “top grading” interviews. Topgrading is a chronological interview that takes candidates through their full career. With candidates motivated to be totally honest, you delve into every job – and every success, failure, key decision, and key relationship including manager relationships.

We find the threat of reference check (or TORC Technique) to be very effective in soliciting honest answers from candidates. At every step in the hiring process, we remind candidates that before receiving an offer from our organisation, we will speak to their manager and confirm their story.

At the end of this process we conduct thorough top grading reference checks to confirm the story of the referee vs the potential new Proclaimer. If the stories match then we know that they have been honest throughout the process.

So when hiring, make sure you have tailored reference check questions. If you don’t, you are missing a great opportunity to confirm if the person really is who they say they are, in the interview.

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What do good leaders do?

In a recent meeting with Jo Burston, CEO of Inspiring Rare Birds, a very successful entrepreneur, I noticed that she rattled off statistics of her business really quickly and easily.

I couldn’t help but wonder do successful business leaders walk around with a few key statistics in their head? Why do so many of us women shy away from numbers ?

Financial literacy is something we aren’t born with, it’s learned and yet it seems when we were younger we were either exposed to it from our families in business or if we weren’t, we had to make a conscious effort at school or uni to study accounting. As adults we often say, I’m not good at Maths or I don’t really understand the numbers in my business, that’s my accountants role!

In a recent education session with Jo Burston, CEO, Inspiring Rare Birds, we discussed the importance of knowing Revenue, Gross Profit (GP) / Operating Expenditure (OPEX) and Net Profit after Tax (NPAT) in your business and comparing these year on year.

When dealing with business facts, Jo says “choose 2- 3 key facts and write down the stats on a post it note on your desk and then when you need them they are there.”

Another thing many of us women were never taught is how to evaluate a business or how to get involved in investment of other companies. I love companies like SHEEO who make it easy to invest $1000 in a growing female led business, it makes it easy to put some skin in the game. You can find out more here https://sheeo.world/activators/

In a world where we need to learn so much to stay ahead in business, I realise that to be an effective leader we can’t shy away from the numbers, we must take time to travel the financial literacy journey and remember to walk around with a few key stats in your head, be ready to sprout them as loudly and as often as possible!

Breaking up with your employees, the right way…

When you get offered a new job or contract you feel amazing, someone is willing to pay you for what you do and it is personal. And yet, when we terminate the employment relationships we are expected not to take things personally? It’s always personal and it always hurts. The only thing we can do is treat people with dignity and empathy when we end an employment relationship.

I have worked for over 20 years in HR and I have had multiple termination conversations. In this trying time, many people are being terminated from their roles and contracts. I wanted to share the best way to terminate employment with diginity.

  1. The initial meeting- The most important part of this conversation is understanding that this is a shock, the employee is now thinking what they have done wrong and how will they put food on the table. Showing empathy is the best thing you can do. I often say “ I understand this is a shock and you must be feeling terrible, go home now and lets talk tomorrow when you have had time to digest and we will make an exit plan and a communication plan. We can talk in the office or on the phone I will call you and you can tell me what is more comfortable for you.”
  2. Have the letter ready for them with all of their benefits listed and when they will be paid, ensure they can take these home with them and digest.
  3. Don’t walk people offsite and cancel their access card and email on the spot. You have trusted this person for a long time so why stop now? Unless they have done something awful or unlawful, you would hope they are mature enough not to cause damage as they would want a reference later.
  4. Involve them in the exit, handover, notice and communication plan. Ask how long they need to handover their tasks, anything longer than a couple of weeks can be hard for all parties involved. If you feel they should handover quickly and pay out the rest of the notice, tell them they will be paid for the remainder of the notice period.
  5. To avoid being sued, you can often add a couple of weeks paid noticeand ask them to sign a legal waiver in order to receive this extra payment. Be generous with your notice payments if you can, this can help with avoiding court cases ( assuming you have followed all the correct procedures).
  6. Try and be honest about references if they want to put you down as a referee and you are not going to be helpful to them, then say “I am not the best person perhaps you could ask someone else?” I know alot of companies dont give references which is difficult for someone when they leave, I am personally not a fan of this type of policy.
  7. Offer someone for them to talk to once they have left, a contact in hr or outsourced counselling is very important.

Remember it always feels personal and we all deserve to leave a place of employment with our dignity intact.

Karen is a freelance HR Manager with a focus on medium size businesses and emerging tech companies. For more HR advice on how to manage terminations contact karen@kayceehr.com.au

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Why We Need Women On The Block

Karen Cohen, CEO Blockconsulting Group

Blockchain technology is revolutionising the IT industry with its trusted and permissioned approach to data verification and storage. However, the industry is still perceived not to be attractive for women.

Perhaps the answer comes from the industry’s origins, Bitcoin. Ten years ago, when Bitcoin was created, it was put forward as a solution to remove intermediaries such as banks and government from financial transactions.

Bitcoin is famed for ‘banking the unbanked’, by allowing people to download an app to their smart phones enabling instant crypto trading

By 2017 there were over 11.5 million active crypto wallets[i]. However,the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, while brilliant, is still not user-friendly and until it becomes safer and simpler, we’re not going to see mainstream adoption.

Last year female cryptocurrency buyers accounted for only 8% of the total market. Although this was an increase 5% the year before, it is an indication that women will continue to shy away from things that are hard-to-use. We’re a minority at Crypto Meetups as the movement is still dominated by male techno geeks that love to talk about buying, selling and using cryptocurrency.

Rosa Thompson, co-founder of Women in Blockchain Melbourne talks about why the movement started “Walking into a Cryptocurrency Meetup can be daunting, for both men and women, it’s like speaking a whole new language, which is why we created Women in Blockchain (WIB) meetups. A place for women to learn about the technology and not feel afraid to ask questions.”

Blockchain start-ups create new opportunities for more traditional jobs such as finance, operations, and marketing. But in general, the start up community is still male dominated, with male founders currently representing 77% of Australian Start ups.

As Blockchain is one of the fastest growing emerging technologies it is imperative to even the playing field for women. We must focus on including women advisors at all levels from the Board, right throughout the organisation.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen the rise of some prominent female founders in Blockchain technology here in Australia such as Dr Jemma Green from Powerledger, Katrina Donaghy from Civic Ledger, Ruth Hatherley from Moneycatcha, Emma Weston from Agridigital and Leanne Kemp from Everledger. Sophie Gilder from CBA has also led the charge on some largescale global blockchain projects.

Women in Blockchain meetings give us an opportunity to speak with some of these leaders and to demystify technology for women who would otherwise not hear about these projects.

In her Forbes Magazine article, Dr Jemma Green stated “In crypto and blockchain less than nine percent of the current community are female and the number of female programmers in this space is even less.

Having more women in leadership positions in technology companies gives other women something more relatable to strive for. When women feel supported, and are willing to help one another, incredible things can happen.”

For women to get involved in a Blockchain Career, a quick search on SEEK.com shows that there are currently opportunities in technical development and programming, legal, project management and account management.

To upgrade your skills the Blockchain Collective have recently started the first Advanced Diploma in Applied Blockchain which can help you gain formal business qualifications. You can enrol at http://bccollective.io

If you want to volunteer your time, there are some great start ups looking for female talent and advisors. You can go along to a start up pitch night or Women in Blockchain event and offer your services, it is a warm and welcoming community.

Women in Blockchain operates in Australia in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane however we’re part of a global network of “Women on the Block”. Created in NYC by Alexandra Levin and Cissy Ma to promote empowerment of women to ensure diversity and inclusion in blockchain technology.

“Globally events like Women on the Block (WOB) continue to lead the way. Women are elevated, educated and encouraged to be involved in the emerging and disruptive blockchain industry.” Katrina Donaghy, Co- Founder and Co-CEO of Civic Ledger .

“It’s vitally important that women, and by communication default, their children, families and networks, are included in learning conversations around Blockchain technology, as its implications in and impact on our planet’s future, are phenomenal.’ Abheeti Kathryn Pass, Women in Blockchain Perth organiser and co-founder of Crypto Clothesline Podcast.https://www.cryptoclothesline.com

[i]https://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/research/centres/alternative-finance/downloads/2017-global-cryptocurrency-benchmarking-study.pdf

[i]https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemmagreen/2018/10/10/we-need-more-female-programmers-in-blockchain/#6c977dba7215

[i] https://www.finder.com.au/startup-muster-report-2018

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What will you be doing in 2019?

The last few weeks I have been speaking to people about their focus and hoe they want to spend their time.

Will you be effective in 2019?

The people I hang with are smart. Smart and passionate. They care about personal identity, about the government’s new encryption rights. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/12/encryption-laws-will-allow-targeting-of-those-suspected-of-minor-crimes-experts-warn

They are advocates for privacy and decentralisation of data. This is a noble cause and I can’t help but get caught up in the passion.

If you have one cause in 2019 what will it be? How much time will you spend on it?

If you have 4 key focuses what will they be? Do a quick whiteboard session about how you are spending your time. Does it look effective or are you spending 90 percent of your time on non revenue building activities? If you are you need to fix this fast.

In 2019, I will be focussing on things that matter to me: women in technology, education, helping my clients retain and helping them to fine-tune their teams. i.e. Helping my clients to be successful.

Take a moment at the end of the 2018, pre-Christmas frenzy to re-allign your focus for Q1 2019, you will be very happy you did! Learn to say no to the things that you don’t have time for in your top 4.

Build an effective time management strategy, I use calendal (https://calendly.com) for meetings and block out the times when no one can book meetings at the time when I am most effective.

Say no to pointless meetings and coffees that just don’t make sense. Delegate to trusted parties the things you don’t have time to do yourself.

Make 2019 your most effective year!