Can we create the workplaces we deserve?

I think it’s a good process to challenge your assumptions about what you believe.

I believe that if we create better workplaces, with more understanding and empathetic people, then we can shape better communities and a better world. People go to work, have a terrible day and come back and redirect that anger at their family, friends or even themselves. That’s the impact right there that a great workplace has on the community.

I believe in a world that has workplaces that allow people to thrive. What that looks like varies from geography to culture. But fundamentally we can change the world..

Or can we?

Is this an unrealistic vision, that exists in direct opposition to a capitalist agenda?

Is the current popularisation of open workplaces simply another fad? It seems like a set meaningful path, but sooner or later we will grow weary of the consistent efforts to “make people happy” that leaders toss in the towel and opt for the command and control?

Big questions, no small answers.

Beliefs do not have answers, sometimes they don’t have proof. Often it’s just heart. A feeling or a calling.

I had an opportunity to hear from a founder of a business that I really believe in this week. He believes as I do in his own way that we can change people’s lives through the opportunities that work provides. So here is what I took away from the experience.

If you want to see something in the world then you have to get the courage to do it and just screw what other people think, everyone wants you to fail. Get over it.

You need to work on your vision, everyday. There are going to be incredible lows, where you will want to quit. But that’s the moment that tests whether its worth fighting for. It’s okay to lose motivation, energy and grow tired. But when you lose the vision, game over.

Opportunity is everywhere, you need to put yourself out there. If you don’t ask the girl to dance you’ll always be a spectator.

Can we create the workplaces we deserve?

Maybe with this thinking, we might just be foolish enough to succeed.

Find the source image here:


You’re complacent and that’s why your engagement sucks

Employee engagement is endlessly chatted about; as a HR professional I find myself in a constant chatter about how we can “move the dial” on employee engagement results. How do we get people to “live the values” and feel connected to their work. Then come the ideas about wellness and team building – activities HR can roll out in the hopes of making people feel better about their work.

But this is only one of the many components and until we get that then we are going to go in circles. Engagement comes in three parts and it’s the third part that for the most part we can all say, we arn’t so great at..


You need to pay people accurately, administer their entitlements and keep them safe. If you don’t do this (or have some focus on improving these areas) then what the hell are you doing.. Seriously, why are you in business?


You need to give people a sense of shared purpose and connection – not because HR said so, but because let’s get real people like to know what the heck they are doing and why

Teams need to get along, understand what they are doing and why it is important. You need to hire the right people, have sound people and task managers (note I mention ‘sound’ you don’t need the worlds best leaders, just people who arn’t evil and want to be good at their job).


Okay, this is where we become unstuck. This is about the one-on-one interactions with team members by managers. These interactions are more that task driven directions, it’s about reverse engineering motivations to get what you need out of that person. This isn’t soft and fluffy. This is legit – if you know what someone wants, what they value you will get more out of them.

If Sally has 5 kids and it means a lot to her to be able to leave at 4.30pm during the holidays and you make that happen for her, then you have won the type of loyalty money can’t buy. You provide her with the benefit and then you engineer to get something in return, maybe it’s discretionary effort on a project.

If Jenny is just motivated to grind away and get a promotion, then early finishes don’t mean anything to her, she wants coaching and stretch assignments – so you get her to help you on a project you are stretched to complete.

You’ve got to know what people actually want. Often it’s not things, it’s an experience. It’s cheap as chips, but it takes time and attention and that’s what we don’t have enough of.

How do we get managers to give it time and attention?

Senior managers, HR whoever it is for you need to engineer a workplace where it is natural for the time and attention to be spent in that way. That’s pretty broad, but an example is roping it into a performance review / management framework. You can’t guarantee  that they are going to execute, but you have created the attention and time for it to take place, so you are halfway there.

How do I get managers to reverse engineer motivation?

Ask you managers to go on a treasure hunt. Over a month or two they need to find what motivates each employee (that directly reports to them) within their team. Then phase two is workshopping how they can use that to their advantage. It’s not overly complicated, but it requires time and attention, the two things we are really short on these days.

What about my corporate wellness program?

Nothing wrong with that, it’s a tool, a branding opportunity, seeing how common it is, it’s almost a hygiene factor these days – we expect it. Discounted health insurance and memberships show you ‘care’ enough to have them, but not all people get a kick out of it, it’s not an individual you get me program. So don’t toss it, you need it, it’s just not going to solve anything overnight.


The below diagram sums up my feelings on the topic at midnight last night. 


4 tips to being the worst manager you can be

Why be a great manager, when you can literally be the worst. In fact, some places make it hard for you to be a good manager. So, I’m here to do you a solid favour, here are my top tips to be straight up terrible. 

  • Tell your team how important their ideas are to you and how much you want to talk more about it, then ghost the absolute heck out of them.
  • Check your emails and answer calls when they are in the middle of telling you something they consider important. Bonus points for answering mid sentence and giving them the ‘talk to the hand’ gesture.
  • When your team member tells you a great idea, tell them to get back in their box and shush. Take their great idea and sell it as your own.
  • Cancel their annual leave just before their holiday because “something urgent” came up. Then go on leave yourself.

writers note: don’t do these things, if you laughed, smirked or even had a twinge of “oh yeah I know that one” then do the world a favour and either quit it or tell that evil manager where they can stick it!

You can’t sit with us anymore – giving people the boot. 

Sometimes people turn into sour grapes. They start shiny, they are amazing but it goes to sh%*. Maybe it was you, maybe it was them. 

Whatever the case the fit is all wrong and it’s time for them to move on.They are miserable, you are grumpy – but they aren’t a terrible performer. What do you do? You can’t fire someone for having a “bad attitude” that’s not really substantial.

You start to see the writing on the wall, the manager is getting more hands on, said grumpy employee gets the point and eventually, one way or another the employee departs or sabotages their own opportunities.
Everyone is left with a bad taste in their mouth.

What if we helped people to leave, what if that was the norm. What if we had services internally which allowed people to confidentially access career coaching in a broader sense.

They could get reasonable flexibility to go to interviews, free resume feedback, interview coaching and LinkedIn advice.

What if we were honest and said “yknow what, you hate it here, I can see it in everything you do, so let us help you leave before it goes down a path that neither of us want to be a part of”.

This isn’t revolutionary, I believe company’s who are a bit more forward thinking have similar programs. I want to know why it isn’t the norm.

Nobody wants to work with people who don’t want to be there. So why not give them the option to leave, help them do so. It might even turn around people who realise the grass isn’t greener.

Managers spend a lot of time “managing out poor performers” – why don’t we just call a spade a spade?

4 truths every new networker needs to know

I remember walking into my first networking event – Ahhhhhhh! I remember wanting to stand against the wall and eat my free pre event snacks until the session started. Totally normal response by the way, after all these people in the room are actually out to get you and want you to leave (sarcasm).

So these are my top 4 truths about networking. Remember them next time you encounter a bout of omfg-strangers-are-scary anxiety.

Truth 1 – Striking up a conversation (or joining in) is easier than you think

It’s a networking event, 99% of people are there to talk to new people. Keep it simple, I find introducing yourself and saying “Hi I’m Cherish, nice to meet you” and asking a basic question such as “have you been to one of these events before” a good way to kick off the conversation. But what if you walk in and everyone is already in groups chatting away? Then what? Firstly if there is a snack station, go get yourself a drink, you always want to keep one hand free so you can shake hands and interact. Approach a smaller group (1-3 people) and introduce yourself. Admitting you don’t know anyone at the event is a cool ice breaker, we all know those feels and chances are the group chat you have joined.. well they met each other about 2 minutes ago as well.

There will always be the 1% of people who are just not very nice to socialise with. I’ve met them, the type of people who will give you one word answers and show very little interest in your kind attempts to get to know them. They are the exception not the rule. If you find a sunshine hater just excuse yourself and move on (more about that later).

Truth 2 – You do have something to offer 

If you have listening ears then you have something to offer. Networking is not actually about fanning people with business cards and moving on. It’s not about pitching your product, well at least not directly. It’s about getting to know people and that means a bit of active listening. Being in the moment and asking questions. There is nothing worse than talking to someone who is constantly looking away from you, looking for god knows what. It just sucks.

Be there in the moment and treat that person well. You don’t have to have all the experience to be interesting to talk to, ask questions, be interested. Stop worrying about your story and focus on understanding the experience of someone else. Naturally you will end up sharing a bit about yourself, without the stress of needing to say or be something you are not. You don’t remember people because they are experienced, you remember them because they were interesting and fun to talk to. You do have something to offer, always.

Truth 3 – It’s okay to excuse yourself from the conversation to talk to someone new

Sometimes you might spend an entire event talking to one person. But most of the time that’s not really what you are there for. It’s okay to excuse yourself from the conversation to talk to someone new. This is BY FAR the hardest part of networking because you want to leave on a positive note. This article, this one and this one all have a number of strategies you can use. You will need to build some courage, particularly if you experience a bit of social anxiety. But it is okay to detach yourself and speak to other people, that’s what you are there for.

Truth 4 – It get’s easier

With every event you attend it will get easier. You may have the urge to drag someone along that you know to every event. If so have a game plan, otherwise you will end up standing in the corner talking about your weekend and internet memes instead of getting out there and experiencing all the fun of meeting new people.

Go on, you rock – get out there!

Image credit – click here | Quote credit: click here 

The robots are coming for your job!

You walk into your favorite department store and you put on your futuristic face wear, I’m thinking something along the lines of Google Glass. Let’s imagine you are in the market for a new TV. As you put on your techwear it automatically recognises you by your unique eye features and accesses a database of your personal spending and purchasing information. In the glass you see the best route come to life to take you around the store, based on what your personal data agrees you are interested in.

dreams don't workunless you doAs you look at all the shiny TV’s, the key information that is most useful to you, pops up before your eyes. You make a nod motion and it is added to your shortlist. You continue the journey around the store, looking at items. Before your eyes are digitally created images of the item in your home and info on how it will sync to your other devices – wow!

You make a decision on what you want to purchase and with the motion of your eyes add it to your basket and pay online; cashless, easy, personal, simple. The item is ready then for pick up at the back of the store. You punch in your personal access code and along a conveyer belt comes your new TV!

Where are the sales people, the cashier, the friendly despatch team? What happened to their jobs? What are they doing now?

The following is one of my FAVORITE videos about robots taking over the earth. Well, not quite but it certainly will make you think. Let’s get thinking, the world is a changing…

AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals Wrap Up

The AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals is a subgroup of AHRI, supporting the ongoing education to early career HR professionals.

Last Tuesday (23rd July) we had another successful event for the Brisbane Young Professionals Group where we looked investigations. We were lucky enough to have Mills Oakley Lawyers sponsor the event and facilitate the event too! Employment law related events are always popular. People are always eager to learn more about this area, and we attract people from all levels of their career.Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 2.49.28 am

Despite most the YP’s in that room having Bachelor Degrees in HR / Business / Law or a related field, employment relations is still the area that generates a lot of conversation. Maybe it’s because whichever way you look at it there is always something you haven’t considered. Just when you think you know it all, something changes in the legislation and you get a weird question.

Having studied at a post-graduate level I can tell you nothing I learned about conducting workplace investigations came from my university studies. Maybe my ability to write reports in my sleep does, but that about it. Yet, it’s one of the areas that people really get stumped on, or a the very least lack confidence in! Even though it’s mostly following a process and having a sense of enquiry, determining an outcome at the end can be nerve-wracking –  what if I haven’t considered everything? Even more challenging if you are a solo practitioner.

I have been lucky enough to work in large HR teams where I wasn’t the sole HR person. That means I could learn from those more experienced than me. But sometimes people don’t have that luxury, so who do you learn from? Who do you seek support from when you need it, even if it’s just an idea to bounce off? There are an alarming amount of cases where unfair dismissal has been ruled due to an investigation being inadequate, whether it be on a technicality or because it blatantly disregarding procedural fairness.

I was particularly interested in this case summarised here which talked about a bullying complaint which was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. As a result the employee made a complaint that the employer had not done it’s due diligence to resolve the matter. Particularly interesting in those cases of he /  said, she / said. Further curious was the point that if you do decide that you don’t have the evidence to rule either way on an investigation you need to consider the support you will offer as a result. If the employee rejects this support make a note, notes, notes notes! (your can check it all out in the linkedin article).

Even if you are the worlds best investigator at the end of the day you still need to make a decision. So with that in mind how up to date are you on your case law? Where do you get your case law information from? Are you reading the FW judgements? Do you have a subscription? Before you make a decision I would recommend asking yourself how clued in you are into what’s happening at the moment. Which is why these sessions are so good! Everything you need, explained to you, free to ask questions.

I’ve had a couple of requests for some strategy HR sessions which will be a nice change of pace. I am always on the hunt for great speakers in Brisbane, particularly an experienced Talent Management Specialist, Change Manager or HR Business Partner. If you know anyone be sure to send them my way!


AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute)