Human Capital

People Management Lessons From The Ski Slope

Whilst recovering from my own first nerve-wrecking ski lesson, I was watching a ski instructor expertly guide his nervous new charges to the bottom of the short gentle slope. This scene made me ponder the question whether there are any similarities with leading – and being part of – a team in a business environment. Are there any people management lessons that we can take away from the ski slope?

Competency and Responsibility

Ski instructors have to be assessed on their own ability and undergo extensive training before they are allowed to start teaching. Huge responsibility rests on their shoulders. Once in charge of a group of skiers, their role is one of patient nurture and control. They must keep their group safe at all times. This can be a daunting task. Skiers who are out control can be a danger to themselves and others. Sheer drops, rocks and other skiers are never far away and the trusting group has to rely on their instructors’ expertise and guidance.

Thinking about our own teams, aren’t the best managers those who ensure that they themselves have the necessary skills and knowledge to lead their team with confidence? We rely on their competency. Don’t we also expect our team managers to keep us safe, encourage our personal development and steer us expertly through difficult patches? As team manager you may feel understandably laden down by the responsibility of this task. This surely becomes much easier when you can confidently draw on up-to-date and effective leadership skills and display the necessary competencies. …

Disregard Notions of Millennials: It’s Time to Stop Generalising Generations in the Workforce

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am a Millennial. My views may or may not be representative of those of my peer group. Now we’ve got that out of the way, I would like to discuss the incredibly problematic generalisation of generations in the workplace.

People love to lump other people into easily definable groups; particularly in the working world. As humans are so utterly complex, it is perhaps comforting to think that we can manage large groups of them in the same way, rather than take on the seemingly mammoth task of tuning into individuals, each with their own characteristics and needs.

This is where the problems begin: Once we start to assume certain attributes according to factors such as age, we risk completely misjudging and ultimately alienating members of the workforce.

hire based on instinct

Do you hire based on instinct or impulse?

Hiring new employees is hard. Finding the most suitable employees for an organisation is even harder. The American Management Consultant Peter Drucker famously said that “33% of staffing decisions are bad, 33% are acceptable, and 33% are ok”.

So, why is hiring new employees so difficult?

You may be the type of manager who is simply too impatient to bide your time and wait for a game-changing candidate? Do you hire impulsively with a focus on simply retaining the headcount?

Talent Pipeline

Does Your Talent Pipeline Have a Leak that Needs Fixing?

Like an increasing number of managers or HR professionals, you might be discovering the growing importance of developing a truly watertight talent pipeline, and how this can positively impact on the long-term future of your company and your workforce.

Developing a talent pipeline involves a company creating a flow (usually involving a database and extremely good relationship-building skills) of interesting, relevant and qualified candidates who could be of benefit to the future hiring needs of a firm.

It also means creating a process for attracting, identifying and developing employees and teams, as well as having an effective leadership succession plan in place.

By having a database of potential employees, you’ll always have a bank of candidates to choose from or to contact to should a vacancy arise.

A firm that has to continually start the recruitment process from scratch will find that they waste time, money and talent, often missing out on the best and most suitable candidates for the job.

Organisations often forget one important thing: That their talent pipeline should ideally encompass internal candidates and current employees, too.

This ensures that the talent pipeline supports the retention of your staff, the development of your employees and the creation of more effective managers.

According to Aberdeen Group’s Talent Acquisition Market Report, the top strategic action for HR and recruiting professionals is:

“Building and expanding a talent pipeline regardless of current hiring needs. With the growing reach of social media, recruiters are looking for ways to be more proactive in building talent communities and managing a database of talent sources.”

With this is mind, here are 5 excellent ways to make sure your talent pipeline stays healthy:

Act like a big name firm

You may not have the budget or mass-market appeal of firms like Coca-Cola or Mars, but these companies do not wait for problems to happen before acting.

Be proactive.

They advertise in good and bad times, but they also work hard to ensure that they are continually looking to find talented people who can do a job when required.

There must be a smooth transition between leadership and management roles, which is why the continual search for new and relevant talent is so important for companies.

In these firms, the role of human resource management teams is as vital for sustaining their market position as the production and marketing departments. By “thinking big” you attract candidates who think big too.

Everyone needs to be on the same page

In order for a firm to have a high quality talent pipeline, there is a need to ensure that all levels of management within the company are taking the talent pipeline seriously.

Top level managers need to be aware of the importance of recruiting in this fashion and employees need to know how they can play a role in the future of the organisation.

Employee development is crucial for any company, but the fact that it can play a big role in keeping staff morale and even retention levels high should mean that it is a real focus point.

Know what you have and where it comes from

In order to best evaluate what you have, an inventory needs to be carried out from time to time. This makes sense with your stock, but it also makes sense with respect to your employees.

A company using talent management software should be able to run quick checks on the skill sets and base of their employees.

Using an employee assessment tool or personality profiling system can be incredibly useful in order to understand what motivates the people around you, and how you can provide the best kind of working conditions and development plan for each individual in your business.

HR teams should also be able to pinpoint where employees or potential candidates come from, what their background is, and which employees, hired from where, have been a success in their previous roles.


No matter which process you use, you have to be able to measure the success or failure of it. This can mean choosing a SMART approach to creating a talent pipeline that keeps your business stocked with great employees. That is one which is :

  1. Specific
    2. Measurable
    3. Achievable
    4. Realistic
    5. Timed
    Having these elements contained within a process or aim can make it easier to determine, if you are achieving the type of success you want, or not.

A handy approach for the talent pipeline may be to aim for having a number of applications coming in from sources such as social networking pages, employee forums or message boards and even career sites.

Even having a clear organisational chart with each key position and the required attributes and characteristics for success will help you keep your mind on your talent pipeline.

Having goals for each stage of the talent management process can help you determine what works and what doesn’t. Online talent management software can support you immensely in keeping track too.

Always Engage

With social networking and the company website, there is no excuse for not staying in touch with people. It is not enough to just create a soulless database of potential candidates.

A talent pipeline must be healthy and kept flowing, and the candidates within your talent pool must feel as though you have remained in contact with them.

You should aim to keep all of the candidates and potential employees that you have connected with (either internally or externally) excited about your business and informed about new positions, potential opportunities and company news.

Hopefully, these five ways should help your business to retain the flow of good candidates and employees through your front door and keep your HR department on their toes at the same time.

What do you think?

Should all HR professionals focus on keeping a healthy flow of suitable talent into their company?

Unhappy employees - it could be you

Unhappy Employees? 3 Questions To Ask Yourself

Are you wondering what you can do about disengaged and unhappy employees? Good news! You’re not alone: 87 percent of organisations across the world cite company culture and employee engagement as their top challenges. The bad news is, with more than 71% of employees across the world not fully engaged, it can feel like something of an uphill battle when you’re trying to make a difference.

5 Ways That The Unhappy Worker Destroys Your Bottom Line

A month or so ago I wrote about some of the results of keeping your employees happy and motivated.

In this post I want to explore why it’s just as important for you as a boss to do everything in your power to keep your people from slipping into the abyss of workplace disengagement and demotivation.

The fact that the unhappy worker can have a profoundly negative effect on the bottom-line factors in your business – especially when this might be caused by your inability to understand the personalities and potential of your people – makes this an important message.

The unhappy worker…

  1. Wastes time (theirs and yours)

To the unhappy worker procrastination comes easily and the mind wanders gladly. Can you really afford a team of time wasters (and have no choice but to pay the required overtime) when your next deadline is looming?

Procrastination is often the result of having too much to do or not knowing where to start, so think carefully about your employee’s ability to act on information, their learning pace and how quickly they’re able to use their initiative.

You might also want to consider how your employees will respond to pressure. Knowing this could help you set achievable targets, plan realistic deadlines and motivate successful outcomes.

  1. Doesn’t care about customer service (or customers for that matter)

If your employees don’t care about your clients, do your clients really care about your next contract renewal offer?

Some personalities naturally thrive on building relationships working with and for others; others are naturally task focused and introspective.

You might automatically think that socially driven customer-facing employees would suit the role better, but other factors do come into play. Consider things like formality, preference to working with structure, attention to detail and capability to develop expertise in your products or services, especially when hiring your next customer service workers who are required to do the “right thing” for your clients.

  1. Loses focus (and motivation) fast

It’s very easy to lose focus on tasks that you don’t find interesting or which you might be overqualified (or indeed underqualified) to do. Once focus is lost, mistakes can be made and the quality and safety of the end-product can be compromised. With your tech-savvy customers now able to reach huge audiences in seconds via social media, a single complaint caused by a careless mistake can now have serious consequences for your brand.

Could it be the time for you as a manager to look at job roles in terms of their behavioural demands, as well as the skills, experience and training that are required for success?

This might help you shed light on why people react in different ways when tackling the demands of the same job, and contribute towards you getting a better job-fit the next time you’re hiring.

  1. Breeds discontent and mutiny

Dissatisfaction seldom remains isolated; don’t expect your employees to keep their feelings to themselves. A queue of people with grievances waiting at HR’s door is going to do very little for productivity in the workplace.

A recent report from HBR found that among unhappy employees and their managers, both groups shared a mutual distrust of one another. Even the smallest gripe can kick-start a chain reaction of complaints.

Managers can strengthen the trust of their employees through consistency, authenticity, honesty, openness and a visible show of interest in meeting the motivating needs of ALL members of their staff. It’s also worth noting that some personalities, especially introverts, can be naturally suspicious of friendly gestures, so tailor your communication styles according to the recipient and his/her preferences.

  1. Does the bare minimum

Would you work harder for a company that doesn’t value your satisfaction or help you reach your potential? Or would you be looking elsewhere for a company that does…

We’ve already seen that happy workers really will go the extra mile for their boss. If you have proactive members on your team, give them the freedom they’d prefer and let their creativity run – it might well be that they’re being underutilised and you’re holding them back by not knowing how to delegate. Reactive? Brilliant – give them the support, security and information they need and watch them flourish under your leadership…

Your next breakthrough product design might be just around the corner, so keep its creator engaged, motivated and happy and shield them from the tempting grasp of your competitors. If you need a reminder why this is in your best interest, why not read the first 3 excellent paragraphs from this Forbes article!

 Have you come across any of these 5 tell-tale signs of employee unhappiness in your office? Noticing them is a good start! How are you remedying them?

If the problems persist try to look past the actions and observable behaviours of your underperforming staff and ask yourself what has actually motivated the people to behave the way they do.

Spend time getting to really know your staff and their individual motivating drives, personalities and potential…you might just save yourself some hassle, and some money in the long run!

Share your opinions in the comment box below!

Do you think business leaders should take a more proactive role in motivating their employees to feel happy and productive?