Revisiting Conscientiousness ….the secret to success

When seeking to employ a staff member for a project or management, or place a candidate within another company, National Talent Partners has come to recognize that conscientiousness is a key attribute & personality trait we look for. We recognize that out of the 5 personality traits psychologists have identified as essential in employee behavior conscientiousness is the one trait attributed to people that most often predicts success, regardless of their role or field of employment. It is worth noting that a great deal of respected research supports this.
A National Institute of Mental Health study found that conscientious men earn higher salaries. A study by The National Institute on Aging also found that conscientiousness is linked to income and job satisfaction. There are also studies that show that conscientiousness in the most important factor for finding and retaining employment.
Conscientiousness is the personality trait that leads to being organized, thorough, hardworking, persevering & wanting to achieve their personal best. Great attributes for employees
The other 4 highly recognized traits being
• agreeableness,
• extroversion,
• neuroticism &
• Openness
Personality traits can predict certain outcomes in the workplace; for example, a person who rates highly in extroversion would be more likely to be a great fit for sales which is generally highly social however, conscientiousness is a trait which leads to success in any role.
What do conscientious people look like?
Conscientious people have been negatively viewed at times in the media, however they are often better organized, tend to be responsible and often plan ahead. This often allows them to deal with challenges in a planned and controlled way that leads to an effective solution. They are known to work hard and can control their impulses which makes them stable and reliable.
From his studies in conscientiousness, Psychologist Brent Roberts says, “Highly conscientious employees do a series of things better than the rest of us.”
To start, they’re better at goals: setting them, working toward them, and persisting amid setbacks. If a super ambitious goal can’t be realized, they’ll switch to a more attainable one rather than getting discouraged and giving up. As a result, they tend to achieve goals that are consistent with what employers want.
Conscientious people also like to follow rules and norms. As a teacher in my past life I could always spot the conscientious student. They would bring the right materials to class, they sat in their chairs, in general they didn’t act rudely or act out, and most of all they completed work – all this combined to ensure that they achieved good grades and this attribute meant that they would continually succeed.
As an employer one of the first things we look for in interview is punctuality. If someone shows up on time, that’s a great clue toward conscientiousness, since a punctual person has to be organized enough — and care enough — to arrive on time.
The bigger, and less visible, indicator is how people deal with setbacks. Do they give up or redouble their efforts?
“The conscientious person is going to have a plan,” Roberts says. “Even if there is a failure, they’re going to have a plan to deal with that failure.” This capacity to plan ahead allows them to
In our business and in recruiting for other businesses conscientiousness is one of the traits that we believe is an essential trait for successful employment. The ability to have a plan, setting achievable goals, being prepared and being on time, allows the conscientious employee to achieve successful outcomes in whatever field they operate and the company who have such staff benefit from improved work performance.

6 Essential Tips for Managers dealing with workplace conflict

By its very nature the workplace can become a place where conflict is inevitable. In any team or organisation we find a variety of different personality types and this can lead to stress and conflict. We have all experienced, or heard of, workplace horror stories such as; “The Narcicist” who does little work,spending most of his day checking out the surf report and pushing everything back onto his subordinates. Or the “The toxic ex sales manager”, who now has a sales role in the same store he once managed, through to the person who dreads coming to work because of the poor work place environment and bullying. The human impact as well as the financial costs to business in terms of days off, productivity loss and the costs of any subsequent unfair dismissal, adverse action or breach of contract claims, to name a few, are very great. Queensland Government research shows that 65% of employee performance problems are as a result of strained relationships, rather than a lack of skill or motivation.

Their research also shows that 30% of a typical managers time is spent dealing with disputes. In most workplaces there will be a range of different personality types.There seems to be a variety of ways of classifying these personality types but they usually include the following generic types; ”The leader, the nurturer, the wise owl who everybody goes to for advice, the joker, the enthusiast, the connector who knows ‘everyone’, the cynic (realist), the knit picker who is into detail, the creative and the innovator. Other personality types can include the baby who continually wines, the bully, who loves it when others are afraid, the passive aggressive, the princess, the pessimist whose glass is always half empty, the ‘yes’ man or woman, desperate to please and the non player who is totally disengaged”. With these different personalities interacting and working in close proximity, there is always fertile ground for conflict in any workplace..

As a manager there are a number of things that you can do to deescalate conflict in your teams.

1. Act early Your action or inaction has a huge influence on the outcome of this situation. Don’t assume things will improve of their own accord nor wait till the conflict has escalated to the stage where you automatically have to bring in specialists. As soon as you are aware of any potential issue act quickly and then continually monitor the situation. Find out what people are feeling and needing in nonthreatening conversations with them. Remember that when conflict arises, people can feel very strong emotions; fear, sadness, anger, or shame. Just acknowledging these feelings with your staff,can lessen their impact. Underlying these feelings may be the need for trust, respect, or recognition. Your active listening may help determine what these needs are.

2. Be empathetic and listen to both sides with an open mind. Reflective listening, restating what the speaker has said, is a great tool and allows the person speaking to feel listened to. In any conflict situation it is important that everyone understands what has been said . This will often require clarifying questions. It may be important at this point to remember to be empathetic. This doesn’t mean that you agree with everything that is said but it does require active listening. It is important to take even what you might consider minor concerns seriously. Remember people in conflict can often be very sensitive to perceived rejection. This might include someone not saying good morning or people making comments about the person’s appearance. As long as these are handled sensitively, these can be addressed in your team.

3. Adopt a future focused attitude. People in conflict can often have a negative view of the way their grievance has been handled. By asking them what they would like to see happen and encouraging them to express what they think should happen moving forward,offers them hope. In your conversations try to direct your staff to look at the future possibilities for resolution.

4. Correctly diagnose the main issues before deciding on your strategic plan. When you become aware that you have got a conflict going on in your team it is advisable to get as much background on it as possible This will allow you to assess the situation as a whole. It may be that there are team function issues or it may highlight weaknesses in management style. If there are no diagnosed mental health issues involved, no formal claim has been lodged and the parties are open to conflict resolution then your role can facilitate a resolution. Diagnosing the issue will allow you to determine the sort of dispute resolution process or combination of processes that is most appropriate. This may include mediation, team facilitation or individual coaching or training.

If you decide to hold a conflict resolution meeting make sure everyone involved knows exactly what the issue is and why they’re arguing. Allow each person to clarify their perspectives and opinions, giving equal time for them to express their thoughts. Sometimes it will be necessary to put some sort of time limit on the participants of the conflict resolution session. It’s your responsibility to make sure everyone feels safe and supported, and that no one feels ganged up on. Talk things through until you reach your first level of consensus: Everyone agrees that there’s a problem and is clear on the nature of the problem. Don’t force solutions before the situation is clear. If there are potential mental health issues and any party is unwilling to take responsibility to resolve the conflict or a formal complaint has been lodged, then you will need to protect your organisation by bringing in outside experts.

5. Build trust in your team through confidentiality and impartiality. In conflict situation,s it is vital to build trust with your team. In any meetings you have it is really important for you as a manager to be impartial with your team and don’t just support the more successful member of the team. If staff feel you prefer another team member, this can lead to that member feeling justified to continue the conflict and that can turn out badly. Some aspects of the negotiation or conversation can be very sensitive and it is really important that all parties adhere to a policy of confidentiality. Rumors and innuendo can really destroy team morale. It is also important to deal with any triangulation of communication in the conflict resolution. There is no substitute for clear and direct communication.

6. Transparency. The whole purpose of the dispute resolution process is to achieve a win win solution where everyone is satisfied and the company is the winner. Keep each of the people involved in the conflict updated about the progress in resolution. This can make staff feel that they have been listened to and that the company is concerned with their well being. This also means that you as a manager need to take accurate and effective notes on the meetings held and these need to be distributed to the affected parties. This then helps to protect all parties.

Once the conflict has been resolved it is important not to assume that it has gone away. Rather check in on your team members .Initially, depending on the situation this may be daily, weekly once a fortnight or once a month. This will help staff feel that their concerns are important to you and that they are being supported. One of the greatest ways to avoid conflict escalating is to spend some time on training in effective communication and listening skills. Team building, mentoring and other strategies can also be used to build your teams cohesian. I believe that if you act in a timely and sensitive way, resolution can be found where there is a sincere desire to do so.

Within every conflict in the work place there is a tremendous opportunity for teaching and learning. Where there is disagreement view this as a potential for growth. Divergent positions addressed properly can stimulate your team to greater innovation and creativity. It can also strengthen the relationships in your team and this leads to greater productivity affecting your companies bottom line profit.

By David Bromilow
MD National Talent Partners
Securing and developing talented people for sucessful businesses.

‘A Cup of Concentration’

Being a long term coffee addict, I have been interested to see the brain science research that is coming out about the benefits of coffee. Not only am I less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease, but the antioxidants that coffee contains, are going to make me happier and my powers of concentration are improved.

A US study conducted by the National Institute of Health, found that those who drink four or more cups of coffee, were about 10 percent less likely to be depressed than those who had never indulged. According to their study it was not the caffeine, but rather the antioxidants that produced this affect.

Researchers at the Seoul National University examined the brains of rats who were stressed with sleep deprivation and discovered that those who were exposed to coffee aromas experienced changes in the brain proteins tied to sleep deprivation stress. This caused them to be less stressed. No wonder I love the smell of that freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

For me the most important effect of my favourite addiction, is that it improves my memory. If you are like me this needs all the improvement it can get. In 2012 the Daily Mirror reported on a study conducted by Lead researcher and assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Dr Michael Yassa, who said: “We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail, in humans”. After conducting experiments on 100 volunteers they discovered that this research provides the first clear evidence that drinking 200mg of caffeine may help drinkers retain information for over 24 hours.

Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist at the Military Nutrition Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, after researching the effects of caffeine, suggests that it tends to energize people and help them focus on boring and repetitive tasks, even if when they are well rested.

Scientists at the Medical University in Innsbruck, Austria, found that men performed significantly better in short-term memory tests after being given a dose of caffeine equivalent to about two cups of coffee.

So what are the implications for the modern work force? Maybe good quality coffee should be mandatory in every work place. This information certainly has implications for training, and that is for all who want it, a good strong cup of coffee before a training session, is a great way to get your employees to retain more of the information provided.

Looking forward to having a coffee with you soon.


David Bromilow MD
NationalTalent Partners

Reflections on leadership…..what a difference a song makes.

 Thinking about leadership….what a difference a song makes.

What are the characteristics of real leadership in business?

Recently I was invited to attend a business forum put on by Sharrock Pitman Legal services, where I had the privilege of hearing Tim Costello talk about leadership.

Tim told us a true story he had been told by his friend that  went something like this.

His friend was travelling in a bus in remote Africa on an isolated bone jarring road. He was about 2 hours out from the city in thick jungle when the bus came to a halt in front of a huge fallen tree blocking the road.

After several attempts to move the log by vehicle, it was obvious that the only hope to move the tree was through people power.

By this stage a number of local tribe’s people had wandered into the scene from villages nearby. The people from the bus and the African villagers, all put their shoulders together and pushed. The tree barely moved at all. Tim’s friend had noticed an old frail man who was next to him and he thought to himself  “What use could this old man be?”

The old man began to sing as the group pushed together and soon all the other Africans joined in singing too. At a particular moment their song reached a high point and as they pushed in unison together the log moved a tiny bit. His friend and the others travelling on the bus cottoned on and next time the song reached its peak they were ready and centimetre by centimetre and time and time again they all managed to push the huge fallen  log aside. The old man’s song gave the people focus and unity and together they finally succeeded.

The thing that struck me about that story, like so much that Tim talked about that morning, is that people can do remarkable things when lead with vision, humility, and a clear understanding of purpose.

Even though the log moved incrementally each time, in the end they got the job done.

We have a favourite saying at National Talent Partners that picks up this theme. ‘’The windmill wins in the end.” Life is often more about perseverance than about genius.

This story led me to think about what characteristics do I want to have as a leader?

There is no doubt that passion, enthusiasm and optimism are important.

I will always remember my Sales Director who said to the assembled trainees early in my career.“I get out of bed every morning looking forward to the day. What am I going to achieve today? I can’t wait to get to work!’’He might have been hamming it up a little, but the message stuck. He loved what he did and  he was happy to let everyone know.

As a leader I need to guard a healthy team culture, where trust is valued and each member is treated with respect and dignity. I need to help create a culture where ideas are listened to in a climate of encouragement and innovation is acknowledged.

I need to build a healthy relationship with each team member in order that they can feel engaged and supported. John Maxwell in his book  talks about doing something caring each day for each member of your team. He calls this” Value adding”.

Developing and driving the company vision forward is one of the key roles of a leader.

Having the ability to have a helicopter view, to see the larger picture, is a vital attribute here as is the ability to set clear attainable goals for the future and bring people with you to attain them.

As a leader in our business I have to be prepared to make the sacrifices and ensure that the attributes I want in others I display. If I want a work ethic then I have to display this consistently and clearly. If I want innovation I have to be prepared to innovate myself and resist the comfort of the familiar.

I need to surround myself with people who are more capable than I am in order to keep growing and developing.

In our workplaces it is a certainty that we will face road blocks but it is effective leadership that can harness the team to unified action that can move us forward.

By David Bromilow
MD National Talent Partners.
Securing and developing talented people for successful businesses.

Did I hear you say, ‘Customer Service?’

WatchAs a young graduate I worked for Myer Department Stores as one of their graduate trainees. As graduate Trainees, we had the privilege of excellent training and talking with and listening to, some outstanding retailers. The one thing that was drilled into us was that, “The customer is always right”. This philosophy informed so much of what we did and the policies and standards that Myer maintained on the sales floor. If a customer wanted a refund for goods recently sold, we would give it. If a customer wanted to change an item for a different one we would oblige. Most importantly we focused on ensuring that our customers had a pleasant experience and would become repeat customers.

Just recently I had a completely different experience with a local franchise. The clasp on my watch band broke and as the watch was a good one and had sentimental value for me I wanted the clasp repaired. I duely dropped my watch off for repair at a franchise outlet who advertised that they did watch band repairs and was assured that it would be fixed promptly. I was told this would take a day or so because their repairer was in another suburb. A few days later I came back expecting it to be fixed. I was then told that they would have to get a new watch band and if I wanted the brand it may be a week or so before they could get one in.

A week later I went back to the franchise to collect my new watch band. I was told “It’s not in, you will have to wait”. Weeks went by and there was no progress. I went back a number of times and began to wonder if my watch was lost.  Each time I went back the staff member serving me became more surley and dismissive. By this time I had enough and rang the head office to make a complaint. They followed up and the regional sales manager rang me and assured me that he would investigate. A few days later he rang to say that there had been a mix up and they had managed to fix the clasp. To my amazement when I went back to the franchise to pick up my watch the same sales person I had previously dealt with, said that they had been unable to locate my watch and I would have to come back the following day. I was absolutely amazed by the level of incompetence here. I finally got my watch back the next day after a two and a half month time line to fix a clasp.  Although they didn’t charge me for the repair, I was very unhappy with their level of service.

As I reflected on this experience a number of things come to mind;

Firstly; the critical importance of having the right people in your business.
People who have a great attitude, who value clients and treat their customers well.
People who display initiative and look for proactive solutions to specific problems
People who can be great brand ambasadors for your company.
These sort of people can impact your bottom line. Infact, studies conducted in the USA have indicated that they can increase company profit by 20% or more.

Secondly; the importance of communicating regularly with your clients about the progress of the sale/candidate/project.
I had recieved no corespondence until I had rung head office of the franchise I was dealing with.
It will be regular, timely and thorough communication that will differentiate you from the crowd.

Thirdly; this experience ensured that I will never deal with this branch of the franchise again.
Repeat business is the key factor for many businesses survival.
You only get repeat business by delivering excellent service in an efficient, timely manner.
When you give an undertaking, it has to be followed through. If there is a problem don’t ignore it, fix it.

Remember for every disattisfied customer there will be 26 others who have not complained but are unhappy. Market research also indicates that an unhappy customer will tell between 9 and 15 others, social networking has multiplied this exponentially. They will also defect to your rivals.

Even if your business is not in a retail setting these lessons hold true for your client relationships.

David Bromilow
M.D. National Talent Partners
Securing and developing talented people for successful businesses.

Five Vital Body Language Tips For Interviews

What does this mean for you when you walk into the interview room? Clearly that your entrance and immediate presentation are of critical importance.

In order to feel confident you need to be wearing appropriate professional clothing and have prepared yourself by looking at the company website, reading up on any recent company news and being aware of the sorts of interview questions you might be asked. Your body language will either confirm or undermine the image you seek to present to your future employer.

The following five body language tips will help you succeed in interview

Eye Contact: In western culture this is very important. When you first walk into the room deliberately make eye contact. This shows your interviewer  confidence and sincerity. If you have more than one person interviewing you at once, make eye contact as you shake the hand of each member of the panel. During the interview try to maintain eye contact with the interviewer asking the question. If you look away while listening, it can show a lack of interest and a short attention span. If you fail to maintain eye contact while speaking, it may be interpreted as a lack of confidence in what you are saying and at worst may send the subtle message that you are lying. One way to assess your eye contact is to practice interview questions with a friend and ask them to assess your eye contact. If this is something you don’t naturally do then practice.

Facial Expressions: Some people really struggle with this. I have been in interview situations where the applicant looks like they are going to their own funeral. It is a great idea to smile every so often and it tends to ease the mood. Don’t be like the applicant who confessed to using too much valium and who complained that the interview didn’t represent her personality. Try to look interested and enthusiastic.

Posture: When you are confident you will stand up straight and it is good practice to stand up straight before the beginning of the interview. When you are seated, make sure you sit at the front edge of the chair, it’s a good idea to leaning slightly forward. This indicates that you are interested and concentrating. Don’t make the mistake of lounging around this can make you look arrogant or disinterested. Try to avoid fidgetting or tapping your fingers on the desk. This can be really distracting and shift the focus onto your behaviour rather than what you are saying.

Gestures: Have you observed or seen a video clip where extravagant hand gestures were used? This can look theatrical and artificial and can really work against you. Also avoid pointing or chopping one hand into the palm of the other. This can make you look aggressive or defensive. Try not to bite your fingernails or keep your arms crossed as this will make you look nervous or defensive. Rather keep your gestures limited to what is natural and meaningful.

When you shake hands with the panel, make sure you give a firm hand shake not a dead fish limp effort or an aggressive hand crush. A firm hand shake and smile indicates confidence.

Personal space. Be aware that if you crowd someone they may be intimidated. The average personal space for Americans is about 90 cm and it is probably similar for Australians. Take note if someone is backing away.

When all is said and done your attitude will be reflected in your body language. So go into your next interview with confidence, making sure that you have prepared yourself thoroughly. Try to relax and let the interview panel see your better self.

By David Bromilow.
MD National Talent Partners.
Securing and developing talented people for sucessful businesses.