Managing an employee with mental health issues – what you need to know

Sadly, mental illness affects a high proportion of the Australian population, with BeyondBlue reporting that 45% of the Australian population will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. As employers, how do we deal with mental illness in our workforce? Furthermore, is it any of our business?

Employees do not always disclose a mental illness voluntarily, and nor are they legally obliged to do so. Pre-employment medical assessments will not always disclose them unless the medical condition affects the inherent requirements of the relevant role.

Privacy and anti-discrimination legislation may also prevent employers asking about possible medical conditions. Despite these restrictions, an employee’s mental health condition will be relevant to an employer if it affects safety in the workplace, or the employee’s ability to perform the inherent requirements of their role.

When managers notice employees exhibiting behaviour that would fit the description of misconduct — whether that be uncharacteristic lateness, a general lack of focus resulting in poor work quality or disrespect, the “knee-jerk” reaction can often be to performance manage or discipline the employee. However, the Australian Human Rights Commission, in their helpful guide Workers With Mental Illness: a Practical Guide for Managers, urges employers when noticing changes in behaviour, to show support for employees early on.

While an employer is certainly entitled to apply their standard performance management system to all employees where they have a legitimate concern about their performance, it is important to take into account personal circumstances and whether a mental illness may be contributing to poor performance. Therefore, if an employee does disclose a mental health issue, it is advisable to only move to performance management as a last resort as it is possible performance management may only exacerbate the employee’s stress and anxiety levels.

The key question employers must ask before performance management is whether the underperformance or misconduct is caused by a mental health condition, or is it simply underperformance or misconduct? It is important to identify the reason for performance issues before taking any performance management or disciplinary action.

Various decisions in unfair dismissal matters and adverse action cases highlight the need for an employer to open a dialogue with an employee when mental illness is impacting an employee’s performance.

In Vernham v Jayco Corporation Pty Limited [2015] FWC 8185, Mr Verham had made a workers compensation claim for psychological injury due to work stress, which was declined by the insurer. He sent two emails to the workers compensation insurer in which he threatened harm against his employer and its employees. The insurer notified the employer about the contents of these emails and eventually he was summarily dismissed for serious misconduct. He then filed an unfair dismissal application, and, although the Fair Work Commission (FWC) found the employer had a valid reason to summarily dismiss Mr Verham, it held the dismissal was harsh.

The FWC found that, on the evidence given at hearing, Mr Vernham was suffering from a mental illness at the time he sent the emails and that there was a direct causal link between his mental state and his decision to send the emails. However, when dismissing him for sending the emails, the employer failed to afford him procedural fairness by giving him an opportunity to explain to them what his mental state was.

Additionally, there had been a three month period between the employee sending the emails and the decision to dismiss Mr Vernham. The FWC said the employer should have used that time to make enquiries about Mr Vernham’s actions. The FWC also identified several occasions in their interactions with Mr Vernham where the employer should have been prompted by various signals to ask him about his mental state.

This case confirms that discussion with the employee about their actions is always advisable before making a decision to dismiss.

In State of Victoria (Office of Public Prosecutions) v Grant [2014] FCAFC 184, an employee who worked as a solicitor took time off work for a broken leg injury. However, after returning to work, he kept taking days off work ostensibly to attend medical appointments.

Eventually, due to some operational issues with his cases and the functioning of the department due to his unannounced absences, his supervisor held a meeting with him to discuss his performance. He asked Mr Grant to advise him of the nature of his health problems. Following the meeting, Mr Grant provided a medical certificate certifying that he was unable to work for the next week.

Shortly after the meeting, Mr Grant advised his employer he was suffering from depression but did not provide any medical report confirming this. His employer issued a letter which outlined attendance and performance issues, directed him to take leave with pay and to provide a medical report regarding his fitness for duty.

Mr Grant then provided a report from his doctor which confirmed he suffered from a long-term anxiety condition and a recent lapse into depression but gave him an excellent prognosis as Mr Grant had reduced his alcohol consumption.

The employer notified Mr Grant in writing that an investigation would take place into several allegations of misconduct made against him and Mr Grant was given the opportunity to respond in writing. Eventually, the employer found all allegations were substantiated and notified Mr Grant of intention to terminate his employment.

Mr Grant filed an adverse action application and at first instance, he was successful as the trial judge found Mr Grant’s conduct arose wholly out of his medical condition and therefore for the employer to dismiss him for that conduct was discriminatory (adverse action).

However, the employer appealed that decision and was successful in overturning it. The Full Federal Court found: “[the employer] was aware he made his decision that Mr Grant had been suffering from depression and other ailments at the time at which the misconduct occurred. The medical evidence did not expressly or impliedly link the misconduct and the illness…There was no evidentiary foundation for the conclusion (by the primary judge) that ‘[i]t was [Mr Grant’s] illness on any view that led him to do the things that he did that caused his dismissal…’”.

In the above, it was two key elements that protected the employer:

The fact that the employer had bothered to make the enquiries with the employee about the nature of his illness;
None of the medical evidence provided gave any indication that the medical condition caused the performance issues.
This put the employer in an excellent position to defend the adverse action claim as the dismissal was not carried out because of the illness, but because of the misconduct. Therefore, no adverse action had taken place.

Important points to note when managing employees with mental health conditions:

If the employee discloses a medical condition, ask them about it and seek a medical opinion.
Have strong policies and procedures and follow those procedures fairly and transparently. Ask yourself: would I be treating someone the same way if they did not have this condition but in the same circumstances?
Do not delay in carrying out action. Delay can exacerbate existing mental illnesses.
Ensure the employee always has a support person present. This could be a personal friend, family member or even their own GP or psychologist.
Have a clear paper trail of the action you have taken, that is consistent particularly in terms of the reason you have carried out performance management or disciplinary action.


Top Hiring Trends That Will Propel Rapid Growth This Year

Josh Tolan, Founder, and CEO at Spark Hire discusses new research findings that prove companies don’t need increased budgets to rapidly grow their teams. It just takes a few excellent hiring trends to get them going.

Recruiters can rest assured hiring isn’t slowing down — at least not this year. In fact, for the new 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States report by my team at Spark Hire, rapidly growing companies across the US provided an inside look into this year’s hiring trend secrets.

Companies aren’t waiting for more money
As you know, recruiting costs quickly rack-up and can damage your ability to find, attract, and retain quality talent. However, companies are not relying on increased budgets to tackle those costs and increase their hiring this year.

Even though 77 percent of the respondents in our report plan to increase their staff by 25 percent in the coming year, only 16 percent said it’s because of the lower taxes they expect to pay.

Instead, these significant staff increases are due to companies offering new services, expanding to new geographic locations, and expanding into new industries.

The desire to increase hiring without the expectations of higher budgets points to the new, efficient hiring trends companies are using to acquire talent .

Hiring priorities are shifting
Our report found companies are focused on a variety of important hiring priorities. They want to improve the quality of hires, create more reliable talent pipelines, and shorten their time to hire. This new focus proves companies finally understand that they can’t rely solely on scaling their current hiring processes to grow rapidly.

Even with shifting priorities, major hiring obstacles remain. Our respondents noted a lack of qualified candidates and high turnover remain their biggest challenges.

The future of recruiting is now
Unfortunately, rapid growth doesn’t leave much room for trial and error in solving the issues of lacking qualified candidates and high turnover. So, 62 percent of companies are turning to the latest hiring trends and using modern tools to help them grow.

But rapidly growing companies don’t just find new tools they love and stop looking. They continue searching for ways to improve their process by learning about new and proven technologies. Actually, nearly half of companies (44 percent) said they try out new tools several times a year.

This year, companies are adding ATS (35.6 percent) and video interviews (31.2 percent) to their hiring strategies . However, even older tools, like social media (44 percent), job boards (30.4 percent), and skills tests (29.8 percent), are making a come back.

Processes are speeding up
Plenty of candidates have spoken up about the importance of simple and fast recruiting. So, you’ve likely been focused on speeding up your hiring process to less than two weeks.

Surprisingly, of the companies with a priority hiring of seven to 14 days, 56 percent of respondents still want to shorten their hiring process. Additionally, of the companies that take less than a week, half responded that they can still improve their time to hire.

Attention is on high turnover
High turnover is an ongoing challenge for companies everywhere — rapidly-growing companies are no different. In fact, 25 percent of our respondents named high turnover as a major obstacle when hiring.

We found the issue could be in what they feel is most important when considering candidates. Over 40 percent of respondents said when hiring during a period of rapid growth, work experience is most important. However, the least amount of respondents are focusing on crucial elements, like the cultural fit (7 percent) and soft skills (11 percent).

While many companies are off looking for qualifications in highly experienced candidates, our survey revealed companies that are more concerned about high turnover are also less likely to prioritize cultural fit.


How can HR recruit and retain top talent?

What strategies should HR leaders take as the competition for talent gets tougher in Asia?

HRD Asia speaks to Manav Batra, general manager at BI Worldwide (Singapore), a global engagement agency about the importance of having a compelling employee value proposition (EVP) to recruit and retain the best talent.

HRD: Why is it important for HR to define and understand their organisation’s employee value proposition (EVP)?

MB: Let’s start by first understanding what EVP really is. We all know about customer value proposition – it’s always centred around the customer.

Similarly, EVP helps define why a talented, in-demand candidate should choose to work for your company.

A well-defined EVP answers the WHYs. “Why should I join?” “Why should I care?” “Why should I stay?”

It is the perception of potential and current employees about the value they gain by working for an organisation. It states why the total work experience of working for an employer brand is a superior fit over that of any other company.

In today’s world, where it is a constant battle to attract and retain top talent, a sincerely defined EVP will help you attract people who share your brand’s passion and values; inspire people to do awesome work; and give your best employees reasons to stay.

A strong authentic EVP is transformative – for both employees and the organisation’s success.

HRD: How can HR execute a successful EVP strategy?

MB: Often, HR will come across two major challenges to ensure holistic execution of an EVP strategy:

1. Understanding the problem and the shortfalls

To develop an effective EVP, every organisation must first understand the emotional factors, often quite unique to their culture, which help attract and retain talented employees.

These emotions should be strong and compelling. They must trigger a reaction that engages current and prospective employees in a way that breaks through the clutter. It should clarify why an employee would willingly choose an organisation as a place to work.

The key is to accurately understand what these emotional factors are. Which factors are making the organisation do exceptionally well? Where are its shortfalls? But most importantly, how is the organisation performing on each of these factors against the best-in-class companies?

2. Crafting an employer brand expression via employees’ lens

Once you identify what employees value most, it needs to be expressed through an employer brand – developing and defining an employer brand is a process.

It is much more than creating a cool logo or a clever tagline. The key is to view everything through the employees’ lens. It’s important to communicate in a way that resonates with employees.

All messaging should speak to the employee versus about them. Whenever possible, inspire and empower instead of informing them. Give employees a reason to care by answering these questions: Why should they care? What’s in it for them?

HRD: Beyond execution, how can HR maintain the long-term success of the strategy?

MB: As your brand grows, your EVP should grow with you. You will need an activation and sustainment plan that is flexible.

Also, recognition is a key enabler to reinforce your EVP and employer brand. EVP expresses how each employee – regardless of his/her role – is expected to live your brand, every day.

We believe all recognition (whether daily, monthly or annually) must reflect and reinforce your specific brand values and behaviours. When you inspire your employees through your brand, and actively recognise those who live it out, your end-customers will be able to benefit from it.


Solving HR’s midlife crisis: Using human skills to lead change

The HR function is at a crossroads. Speedy technological shifts are forcing organizations to behave differently — to be innovative, collaborative and agile. Organizations must change their structures, processes and people management practices to make that happen. And those organizations need HR’s leadership.

But HR itself is in a quandary. As a department, it’s in the midst of incorporating emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and virtual reality to increase efficiency, while also seeking to improve employee engagement and ensure that today’s workforce is prepared for the future of work.

To do that, HR must become a strategic partner of the organization, but too often the department is seen as merely the gate keeper of policies and processes — and the one to avoid when you really want to get something done.

Solving HR’s midlife crisis

The answer may lie in the quest to harness the disruptive technology itself, according to Enrique Rubio, HR and tech evangelist and founder of Hacking HR. “This is the perfect opportunity for HR to use technology as an excuse to change,” Rubio said during a Hacking HR presentation this month.

During disruption, organizations and departments can re-invent themselves to add more value, he said; “changing HR from its core, from its very heart, I think that’s one of the things we need to do today.” The technological changes are just a small part of the changes HR needs to implement. “People in HR tend to think of what system, what tools we need, not how do we need to change the work we do or about the tools do we need to use to make those changes happen,” he said.

HR’s initial forays into technology

It’s not that HR has ignored emerging technologies. To the contrary, HR is experimenting with new potential solutions, especially in recruiting. For example, companies are using machine learning to create unbiased job descriptions. By eliminating the so-called “brogrammer” masculine superlatives and phrases, more qualified applicants might apply, leading to larger hiring pools.

Likewise, AI is used to sift through a bigger pool of applicants, often coded to ignore details that a human might unconsciously notice that aren’t related to the ability to perform the job, such as gender, age or race. Virtual reality, too, is being used to help with diversity training, allowing employees to immerse themselves in situations that address unconscious bias.

These technologies are paving the way for improvements in other areas of HR, too. New employees can receive additional assistance while onboarding from chatbots that can answer questions and direct employees to resources, for example.

“Post-recruitment is another neglected process, where technologies such as Enboarder try to bridge the gap of personalization and scale in order to deliver a great candidate experience from the onset of a person’s employment while ensuring an organization’s governance processes are observed,” Neil Cains, founder and chief technology officer of Allegis Group’s Innovation Lab, told HR Dive.

Succession planning and attrition management is ripe for tech intervention, too. “The ‘propensity to move’ metric is a big deal in the industry,” Cains said. “So, firms like hiQ scrape publicly available data from social profiles and combine it with internal HR data from client-customers to project employee attrition rates or identify talent likely to be recruited away. Armed with such information, businesses can begin eying the right next step for an employee and are better prepared to backfill a position if that person does decide to leave.”

These tools can help HR provide additional transparency, Cains said. During an applicant screening process, for example, AI can provide applicants with feedback on why they were not selected. “AI can do that at scale…it can help bridge that gap when it is impossible to do that for many large businesses,” he explained, adding that this transparency can lessen applicant frustration and create a better brand for the employer.

But as with any technology, tools must be used in a way that creates space for HR professionals to spend more time on valuable and strategic work, he said.

How can HR lead the disruption?

Rubio suggests four steps for HR leaders to emerge as strong business strategists and, perhaps surprisingly, the use of technology is last on the list:

HR leaders need to create a new value proposition, beginning by looking at how their departments operate within the company and how employees are treated. A people-centric approach is necessary for improving the employee experience. Simple behaviors like listening, coaching and providing leadership opportunities can be a start.
HR should find ways to help align people with their interests and the company’s goals. Helping people find meaning in their jobs will help them bring their best, he said. “If you can find that one thing and connect it to the purpose of your business, that’s the Holy Grail,” he said.
HR should be willing to match their systems and processes with the speed of business, Rubio said. That means taking an agile approach to making small but definite changes, and making improvements as you progress. “Pilot; scale; iterate,” Rubio said.
Embracing technology as a tool is the final way HR can help lead, Rubio said.

Aaron Crews, Chief Data Analytics Officer at Littler Mendelson, agrees. With any technology, you still need people who can check to ensure the technology is doing what it was designed to do, Crews said. “From an HR perspective, understand that technology is part of a greater process,” he said; “it needs to be rolled into a process that is human driven, where you have humans making the decisions.”

Organizational executives understand the benefits of a fully engaged, dedicated employee base that is primed for HR to lead the way, Rubio said. HR leaders often say they want a seat at the table. Rubio has different advice: “Stop waiting for an invitation.”

By taking the first steps in adding value with and without technology, HR leaders can demonstrate they deserve a voice, he said.

For HR professionals who are concerned that the implementation of more technologies means fewer opportunities for humans, consider the top skills needed by 2020: complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others and emotional intelligence. These abilities rely on human experience, not on coded programs. By assigning more repetitive or mundane tasks to technological tools — and focusing on the ability to implement higher level thinking — HR can use human skills to be at the forefront of change.

Worried About Your Mid-Year Evaluation? How To Prepare For A Bad Performance Review

Spring is performance review season — your employer may hold mid-year performance reviews, or if your company is on a July-to-June fiscal year, now would be the time for the annual performance review. These evaluations are not just additional busywork, but can play a role in deciding raises, promotions, lateral moves, or even who stays/ who goes during a restructuring.

What if you recently made a high-profile mistake – e.g., errors in a presentation you made to senior management? What if your results are below average – e.g., you’re in sales and behind your targets? What if a coworker complained about you – e.g., you were picked to manage a project and a potential team member opted not to work for you?

We all have hiccups in our careers. Ideally there is time to course-correct before a small setback lands in a bad performance review. However, if performance reviews are just around-the-corner, there may not be enough time to change negative perceptions. If you are worried about your upcoming performance evaluation, here are five strategies to prepare:

Get real about your shortcomings

Of course, it’s better if that coworker didn’t say anything derogatory about you, if your sales numbers were on target, or if you never blundered during a presentation. But if your performance is in any way in need of development, assume that these shortcomings will come up, and be prepared to discuss them. Hang back during the performance review, and wait to see what your manager brings up as the key issues and examples of underperformance. Your manager may have different priorities than you – say, s/he may be more worried about your teammates not wanting to collaborate with you over you falling behind in your sales numbers. Maintain a list of all the areas and specific instances where you might be judged negatively, and be prepared to discuss these, but take your manager’s lead on what comes up.

Identify what you can change

When a negative comment or situation is brought up, take responsibility for your role in it. Even if you believe you are not at fault – e.g., your coworker is oversensitive, or your sales targets are unrealistic, or you are overworked and therefore ran out of time to doublecheck your presentation numbers – identify what role you played in the situation. You haven’t invested the time to build better relationships with coworkers, or you are too overbearing in group discussions. You have been slow to react to the challenging buyers’ market. Or you need to build in more time to triple-check your presentation, maybe even corralling an outside set of eyes. There are always things you can change and ways you can improve as an individual.

Ask for the specific help you need

As you acknowledge what you need to change, this is an opportune time to ask for help and resources from your manager and the company. There might be training available, even 1:1 coaching. If it’s a question of additional staff or time on your schedule to get things done, your manager may agree to delegate to others or shift your workload. Your manager might also offer to be a coach or sounding board for you – perhaps meet with you more frequently to help get your sales numbers back on track.

Confirm the company will support you

When you come to your performance evaluation self-aware of your development needs and prepared to do the work to improve, this should be well-received by your manager. Pay attention to how s/he reacts to your proactive behavior. If s/he dismisses your suggestions outright or is unwilling to help you improve in the areas s/he identified as the problem areas, this is a red flag that s/he might think the situation can’t be rectified. I wouldn’t put your manager on the spot during the review and call out their unwillingness to help. But I would ask for clarity on what the next steps are. If you offer to be more careful for future presentations or double your sales efforts to boost your numbers or to prioritize relations with your coworkers, and your manager dismisses these objectives, then ask for what s/he specifically wants to see from you. If s/he gives a general answer like “improvement” or worse, “I’ll know it when I see it” then ask for how s/he will measure improvement. You need to have a tangible goal to shoot for. If your manager can’t (or won’t) give you one at the performance review, then ask for a meeting in one month to check back on your performance. You want to make sure to start course-correcting after any bad performance review.

Recommit or reconsider

A productive performance review includes candid feedback and specific recommendations on how you can improve (including measurable goals and a timeline for meeting these). If you have a productive evaluation meeting with your manager, even if it doesn’t show your best work, then you can absolutely bounce back from this. Your come-from-behind spirit might actually strengthen your relationship with your manager! Therefore, the final step in overcoming a bad performance review is for you to recommit to make the improvements and to press on at the company. A caveat to this would be in the scenario where your manager appears uncommitted to you and unwilling to specify how you can improve or support you in that process. In that case, you may want to reconsider whether your current role is the best place for you. You might be better served with a different manager and therefore try to move laterally to another group. Or your company may not be good about developing its people, and you may decide to look at competitors.

If you don’t have an employer who gives performance reviews, or you work for yourself, give yourself a mid-year performance review. Are you on track with the new year’s resolutions you set in January? What do you need to change? Where do you need support?


Great Managers Aren’t Born, They’re Trained

More than two million people in the United States will be stepping into leadership roles for the first time over the next few years—and we can only imagine the number of new leaders who will soon accept leadership positions worldwide. That’s why it is more critical than ever for organizations to take management training seriously.

Great managers aren’t born—they’re trained. However, research shows that most first-time managers don’t receive the training necessary to develop a leadership skillset. In fact, leadership training often doesn’t take place until a person has been in the role for about 10 years. That’s just too late! This delayed attention to training management skills can do real damage not only to individual careers, but also to organizational success.

It should be no surprise, then, that without proper training, 60 percent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years. Those who do survive often pick up undesirable habits that may be hard to break and could hinder their performance for years to come. If an organization trusts a person enough to put them in a management role, they should be willing to invest in training to help that person be successful in their new position. It is as simple as investing in the future—through people.

New managers face many challenges. Not only are they responsible for their own job performance and for managing the relationship with their boss, they are now also accountable for the work and productivity of their direct reports. These first-time managers need to focus on four critical elements.

1. Great managers begin by setting clear goals and defining accountability and personal responsibility. This provides clarity for their team.

2. They intervene appropriately when things are going well and also when they aren’t going so well. It is important to celebrate successes with direct reports, but also to redirect and coach someone who is having trouble reaching a goal.

3. Great managers adapt their leadership style to the needs of each direct report by identifying the person’s development level on a specific task and then modifying their leadership style to best serve the needs of the direct report at that level of development.

4. Finally, great managers know how to create long-term, long-lasting relationships with their people that are proven through trust and engagement over time. When managers build high levels of trust and create a stimulating work environment, people tend to stay with the organization, talk positively about the organization to others, and perform at a higher level in a collaborative manner.

When new managers are provided with the skills to deliver on these four elements, they are able to help each of their direct reports see how their individual performance impacts the company as a whole. Each person is able to understand the role they play in the overall success of the organization—and this creates a collaborative workplace where people can flourish.

It’s never too late—or too soon—to start leadership training. Organizations need to build a training curriculum to support all levels of management and leadership. Training managers on the importance of holding effective conversations with their staff and showing them how to build trust, make better decisions, manage change, and foster innovation will set those managers up for success.

Successful leaders create successful organizations. Start management training early and make it a continuous process.


Five Ways To Increase Your Power As A Leader

All power has a source. If you are a person of faith like I am, you believe a power exists that is greater than you and me. Since there are various forms of power, in the context of leadership in business, I define power simply as the ability to make things happen. Each of us has been given a measure of that power, but most may not realize that this measure can be intentionally increased. Power is not finite — it can grow, but that growth is not automatic. If you want to learn some practical actions you can take to increase your power, keep reading.

This measure of power that you have in its raw form is called potential, also known as capacity. Potential is what houses your power. Allow me to put on an English teacher’s hat for a moment. The etymology of the word “potential” reveals to us that the word comes from the Latin word “potentia,” which means “power.” As such, power increases as your ability increases. Here are some ways that you can increase your power as a leader:

1. Become an expert by increasing your knowledge.

Knowledge, accompanied by skill, is what helps you solve problems for others, which puts you in an influential position. Knowledge is an investment in yourself that causes you to increase your capacity to make things happen. It is also what allows you to become an expert and an authority in your industry. Experts have authority. Authority gives you influence. Influence gives you power.

2. Maximize your current level of power.

Have you achieved all that you can achieve at your current level? If not, keep being faithful by practicing excellence in your work or your business until you have achieved mastery before moving on to the next challenge. You’ll know when your capacity to handle more power has maxed out when you reach a plateau or what you do no longer challenges you. A potted plant needs a bigger pot when it has outgrown its current one. Similarly, your capacity for power will be pushed to its limit at a certain level when you begin to feel stifled in your growth. You don’t need an increase of something that you are not currently fully utilizing.

3. Require more of yourself.

Stagnancy sets in when you don’t demand more of yourself. You can only increase your power by making room for it. Requiring more of yourself ensures that you’ll expand your capacity to receive the power you need for your next level. Consistently pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone also stretches your capacity to do more. What you once were unable to do, an increase of power enables you to do it.

4. Harness your influence over others positively.

Powerful leaders have the influence to impact, guide, encourage and sway others. How effective you are in doing these things will affect your measure of power. Misusing your power is a great indicator that you are not ready for more of it.

5. Exercise your power.

Remember earlier, when I said that power is the ability to make things happen? Well, you must be intentional in order to make things happen. Powerless people sit around and wait for things to happen; powerful people make things happen. Power only shows up when you make a demand on it. Whatever measure of power you currently have, use it. When that measure is exhausted, more will become available.

Power is necessary — without it, no one would ever get anything done in this world. The more you have, the more you can accomplish for the greater good of those you lead. With power comes responsibility, so as it increases, your character should also. What would you do with more power if you had it? Power for self-fulfillment is great, but power for the betterment of those you lead is even greater.

Master These 6 Coaching Skills to Lead Your Team Where They’ve Never Dared Go

I travel all over the world training, speaking and consulting. The majority of my business is facilitating leadership development programs and coaching executives.

Here is a compelling lesson that I have learned from all the great clients and companies I have worked with over the years: Most people in leadership roles do not coach or develop their employees — ever.

I still struggle with why this is the case, and why more leaders don’t do it. Here are six solid skills to help you be a better coach.

1. Explain why you are coaching.
When you commit to coaching your team members, take the time to explain why you are coaching that person. Tell them that you are making a commitment to developing everyone on the team and that you are going to be coaching them on a regular basis. The reason behind this is to help them get where they want to go and to help them grow and achieve their goals.

2. Coaching is for everyone.
Everyone should be given the opportunity to be coached. I have had people say to me in my leadership programs, “Well what about the receptionist? Are you saying I should coach him?” The answer is yes! Everyone on the team should get the chance to grow, to develop, to be better at what they do. They all have potential. They need someone to believe in them.

Related: How to Identify Growth Potential During the Recruiting Process

3. Coaching should be tied to their goals.
The first step in coaching should be to ask people about their goals short-term, mid-term and long-term. Don’t be surprised if people tell you they don’t know what they want to do “when they grow up.” Having a goals discussion and helping a team member define their goals can be a compelling discussion. It also shows you genuinely care about them and not just about their functional role at work, but what their dreams and aspirations are and how you can help them get there.

4. There are two types of coaching — don’t do just one.
Based on my experience, there are two types of coaching, corrective and developmental. Let’s define corrective first. Corrective coaching is usually trying to coach someone on something that needs to change or is a problem. For example, if someone is habitually late, they need coaching on how to correct that problem.

Related: A ‘Culture of Coaching’ Is Your Company’s Most Important Ingredient for Success

Developmental coaching is when you coach someone to achieve their goals, help them grow and develop new skills, knowledge, tools or techniques. Sadly, most leaders never do developmental coaching.

5. Coaching must happen.
I know this sounds a bit odd, but coaching must happen. I once worked with a manager for two years. Every week my manager would say, “I really should work with you and give you some coaching.” Of course I would say, “That would be great.” I was looking forward to it, and I was excited about it. But it never happened! I always say you have to “prioritize and calendar-ize.” It’s a made-up word but means this; if you don’t make it a priority or put it on your calendar, we all know it never happens.

6. Understand the psychology of coaching.
When you are coaching, don’t forget you are coaching a human being, and they come to the table with insecurities, ideas, feelings and history. That history leads them to have certain perceptions about coaching.

Related: 11 Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence

Make sure when you are coaching, particularly when developmental coaching, that you explain to that person that they are not in trouble. At first, you may get a reaction from people when you start coaching them, and they may ask, “Am I in trouble?” when you ask to meet with them. They may be defensive. You have to reassure them. The sad fact is that many people had only met with their boss only when they were in trouble. They never had a coach, just reprimands from their manager, sometimes for their whole career.

Let your team see that you are different. Commit today to coaching consistently to grow all your employees.


Singaporean workers are quitting in pursuit of this incentive

According to popular theory, salary is often the main motivator for employees in Singapore to switch jobs.

However, work-life balance may be overtaking salary in the minds of previously mercenary Singaporean candidates.

According to a survey by recruiter Robert Half, among 500 Singaporean jobseekers, one in four office workers would leave their current organisation to get a better work-life balance, followed closely by 24% who refer to financial rewards and 23% citing career development.

Another 16% refer to management/leadership and 5% to co-workers as being the primary reason why they would leave the organisation.

Even though work-life balance is increasingly becoming a key motivator for Singapore professionals, salary remains a crucial incentive to attract and retain top talent, especially hard-to-find professionals.

In a market characterised by growing skills shortages, the finance and accounting sector is a perfect example of this. All Singaporean CFOs say it is challenging to find qualified finance and accounting professionals, with many planning to award above-average salary increases to their top finance employees this year.

In addition, an overwhelming majority (99%) of Singaporean CFOs plan to award pay rises to an average of 25% of their finance staff, with the average salary increase expected to be about 7%.

This positive salary sentiment is a wider reflection on increasing national wage growth, with a 4.3% increase in average income in 2017, versus an increase of 2.7% in 2016.

Singaporean finance employers understand the importance of having a well-developed retention policy to achieve business goals.

Almost all (99%) of Singaporean CFOs state they have in place employee retention initiatives within their organisation, with more than half (57%) offering training and professional development programs.

About half offer flexible working arrangements, such as the option to work from home. Just under half are implementing employee appreciation programs and 47% have in place employee wellness programs. Over four in 10 are conducting regular salary reviews.

“Salary remains a significant part of a remuneration package in Singapore and companies realise that they have to offer above-average salary packages to secure high-calibre professionals,” said Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director at Robert Half Singapore.

“However, there’s been a steady shift of preferences from jobseekers who are looking for more work-life balance, and even prioritise non-financial incentives other than just a higher salary.

“Companies looking to attract and retain top performers need to consider other non-financial incentives, such as workplace flexibility and the option to work from home, especially if they are not in a position to award pay increases or above-average salary rates.”


The Yin & Yang of building HR capability

While building HR capability, there are some factors core to the function that must be preserved, and there are others that can be modified to “stimulate progress” in a changing context

In their seminal book, Built to Last, Collins & Porras contend that successful resilient organizations must foster some enduring practices that reinforce their identity while being open to new approaches in going to market or responding to advances in technology. The authors’ Yin of Continuity and Yang of Change is an apt metaphor for “Building HR Capability.” There are some factors core to the function — these must be preserved for all times to come — and there are others that can be modified to “stimulate progress” in a changing context.

Let’s start with the enduring core:
(1) Understanding the Business, and (2) Becoming a Trusted Advisor. Business leaders have always expected these capabilities from good HR professionals. They require us to have our ear to the ground to access the latest business information, be it through books and e-zines, or through the network of leaders in and outside the organization who can enhance our ability to make sense of our changing world. They require us to constantly maintain an inquiring mind, while having the courage to advocate our point of view; in Stephen Covey’s language, “seeking first to understand and then, to be understood”. Business acumen gives credibility to get an invitation to the decision-making table, active listening skills, and an attitude of openness will build the rapport of the trusted advisor, thereby earning that seat for a sustained period.

Business leaders have always expected HR professionals to have their ear to the ground to access the latest business information and to constantly maintain an inquiring mind
Our current context has also spawned some new HR capabilities in which we must invest time and effort. The first of these “yangs” is (3) Understanding Analytics. With the explosion of data in today’s world, the ability to convert data into information has become more important than ever. Predictive people analytics, cognitive data-mining off social media platforms, newer pulse points to measure employee engagement — it’s hard to keep up with the range of new data-points that can be analyzed, deconstructed, interpreted, and demystified. At best, we can develop some familiarity with them. More important for the successful HR professional is to get the data science fundamentals clear. We must have the ability to work with data sufficiently to discern when facts are being manipulated to conform to a point of view. Disraeli’s quote, “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics!” comes to mind. Understanding analytics requires business acumen, technological know-how, and comfort with numbers; and to that must be added courage to ask the difficult, often uncomfortable, questions that keep us faithful to the data.

The fourth HR capability is one that we must shed and unlearn, rather than adopt. HR practitioners must shed the (4) patronizing attitude. For years, an invisible power play has existed between the HR and the employees they serve. At its extreme, it is an attitude of an omniscient HR queen bequeathing the new employee pawn the opportunity to get on the chessboard and take a step forward. If you follow HR rules you will be hired (and how lucky you are to be hired by our great company) and maybe, you will even get a promotion! This is exaggerated but a smell of that attitude still lingers in the approach HR professionals sometimes take not only with employees but also, with their business leaders. If we still harbor mistaken notions about our superiority; if we demonstrate any form of condescension toward our business clients, then all our other HR capabilities are for naught. Shed patronizing and replace it with an attitude of engagement and openness, genuine exploration to aid our staff to solve the problems of our day in a respectful and inclusive environment.

And so we have it – the Yin and Yang of Building HR Capability in our professionals today. I am willing to bet that if you improve in these four areas, then you are guaranteed success as an HR professional!