Oct 23
Work and Life: Is Balance Really the Goal?

331511-P9Y05M-466.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

My maternity leave is coming to an end.

And, even though I’ve (mostly) worked through it, making myself available for key meetings and calls, I admit to being a little daunted at the prospect of juggling full-time work and full-time mothering.

 

Work is a necessity. As a single parent and the only bread winner in our little family, I don’t have the luxury of staying at home. But, like for many of us, work is also one of my happy places, where I feel valued, contribute and make a difference. Work is a large part of my identity, shaping how I view myself and my place in the world. And I really enjoy it.

But, there’s now a tiny human in my life, who has completely taken over my heart. A human who needs time, love and nurturing to unlock his true potential. And I love that too.

So, how do I balance two competing forces that both demand my all? How do I continue to give my best to my work and my family? And, how do I ensure that I don’t fail anyone – my team, my son or myself?

 

Speaking to other working parents, I’m know I’m not alone.

Many have shared their stories, from dealing with tiny, crestfallen faces when they miss dinner/ sports days or the school play (again!) to tales of missed deadlines and Skype calls that go awry when children intervene. Who can forget the sight of Professor Robert Kelly’s wife scrambling to remove their children from the room where his BBC interview was taking place?

The dilemma of how to give your best in both spaces is a challenge that we all face – and, luckily, one that many are willing to share insight on.

As I return to full-time work, I’m trying to incorporate these sage bits of advice into my own life…

 

Imbalance is unavoidable…

I’ve been told that one of the ways to deal with it effectively is to shift your mindset away from ‘all or nothing’. Understand that achieving balance isn’t about keeping all aspects of your life in equal proportion – like a tightrope. It’s more like a see-saw – when one end is up, the other is down. So, rather than trying to balance my life daily, I’m going to try to ensure that, in the longer term, each part of my life gets a turn to be ‘up’ for a bit.

 

Focus on what’s important…

While many things will compete for my time, I should only do those that are important to me. This means that I will have to track my time – and edit, delegate or discard the extraneous.

Get up early. Do more in a lunch hour. Work after the children are in bed. There are many ways to squeeze productive time into a day. Learn to say ‘no’. Don’t volunteer for the PTA or serve on a(nother) work committee. I know that, if I stop doing things out of guilt, I will open up opportunities for activities that bring me joy.

 

Ditch the guilt…

No-one is perfect. I know that I can’t do it all. Something has to give. I will miss soccer games, meetings or deadlines. As long as I’ve chosen to do the most important thing in that moment, I’m going to try to ditch the guilt.

 

Rely on others..

Build teams at home and at work.

At work, lighten your workload by giving others the opportunity to be successful. Delegate – and, if you can’t – collaborate. You’ll still get credit, but won’t have to work as hard.

Build your support structure at home. Find a good nanny, let grandparents help out (if possible) and rope in friends (if you can). I know that it’s important to feel comfortable that my child is well-cared for while I’m working – and good support is the only way to achieve this.

 

Plan (everything)…

Some of my friends set up weekly or monthly meal plans. Many fill ‘gift drawers’ so that they don’t have to rush out to buy last minute party gifts. Most use online shopping for basics. The common thread in all of these life hacks is planning. As a working parent, I know that I need to plan my time like a military operation – so that I can show up and be present to my team, even when I have a sick child at home or have had no sleep.

 

Aim for work/ life satisfaction…

Perhaps the most powerful insight that I’ve received is that, if we really explore what makes us happy, we often realise that it’s not about finding balance. Rather, we’re looking to be satisfied in both our personal and professional lives. Satisfaction comes from finding a way to shift the balance from work to home (and back) seamlessly.

For some, that might mean negotiating flexibility at work to spend more time at home. For others, it could mean setting boundaries and learning to say no. For most, it’s about prioritizing self-care. I’m taking time to find out what work/ life satisfaction means to me – and am hoping that, if I know what it is, I’ll be more likely to spot the red flags and readjust, when necessary.

 

And so, I’m heading back to work. I’m hoping that, with time, I will find my own personal work/ life satisfaction. I wish it for you too.

‘It's not wrong to be passionate about your career. When you love what you do, you bring that stimulation back to your family.’

Allison Pearson

Sep 27
Motherhood… It’s Time for a Little Truth

Baby.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

This year, I became a mother.

Unlike any other life role that I’ve taken on, motherhood is one that I now know I really couldn’t adequately prepare for. Sure, I read a few parenting books, babysat nephews and godchildren and spent loads of time with friends and their children. I even spent a year, post degree, working as an au pair. Yet, nothing could fully prepare me for being 100% responsible for my own tiny human.

A tiny little human who I couldn’t communicate with conventionally - and who definitely had his own ideas about how things would work.

Motherhood is a job where you have all of the responsibility, but none of the control.

 

It’s completely life-changing – in many ways.

The rush of love – and responsibility – that you feel for your child is indescribable. Watching a little human grow, learn about the world and blossom in your care is truly one of life’s best and most wonderful experiences.

 

And, then there’s the tough stuff…

The broken sleep. The relentless drudgery of bottles, nappies and trying to settle into a routine. Feeling like your old life (with personal free time, interesting conversations and spontaneity) is gone. Trying to balance work deadlines with infant needs. Meeting friends in the brief window between sleeps and feeds. Dealing with the sheer ‘messiness’ of baby stuff all over the house.

Add to this the fact that you’re often so tired and so inexperienced that each mistake feels like you’ve ruined all hope that your child will turn out all right. It’s no wonder so few of us feel like we’re really nailing this motherhood thing (especially in the early days).

There is no doubt that, as rewarding as motherhood is, it’s one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had (especially as a single parent). With the benefit of hindsight (and a bit of distance), I can say that the early months were mind-numbingly boring, emotionally draining and physically exhausting.

 

What strikes me, though, is that it’s often impossible to tell that other mothers are also struggling. No-one really wants to talk about how hard motherhood actually is, making it feel that it’s like ‘Fight Club’ for mothers.

Even my own Instagram is full of beautifully curated ‘Mom and baby’ images, with gorgeous, blow-dried hair and not a baby vomit stain in sight. When I’m out shopping, all of the Moms that I see appear so calm and ‘together’. In baby groups, we seldom talk about how sleep-deprived we are, lest we look like ‘that’ mother who, in the sea of calm, just isn’t coping.

As a group, it seems almost impossible to let down our guard and have a really ‘no-holds barred’ conversation about how ill-prepared we are and just how overwhelming it can feel to swop the boardroom for the baby group.

Because, that would be complaining – or admitting that we aren’t perfect. Which would be unacceptable. Simply put, being truthful about how we feel makes us vulnerable to others thinking that we’re a bad Mum.

 

Let’s be honest.

So much of motherhood is about just winging it. There are parts of it that stink (often literally!).

I’ve gone from being my own boss to being completely at the mercy of the whims and desires of my son. I’ve had to accept that I’ll never come first again. I’ll never have the crispiest piece of chicken skin, eat the last sweet or get to lick the cake icing bowl because he’ll do or get those things now.

 

But, in accepting this, I’ve learned that motherhood is the ultimate lesson in selfless leadership.

As a mother, I simply cannot be selfish or self-centred. As I’ve settled into the role and let go of my old way of life, my focus has shifted towards facilitating the success of my child. I’m starting to understand that I can use my power for the benefit of the little person who now follows my lead. And, this has led me into thinking about how I can model the right behaviour to help him become successful, kind and self-aware – and empower and uplift him.

Yes, at home, I’m now the leader with all of the responsibility and none of the control.

Yet, I’ve realised that this isn’t about me anymore. It’s about my child and how I can give service to the worthy cause of raising him to be a good human being.

And, that’s what motherhood is really about for me now.

 

As Jessica Lange said..

‘The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the centre of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.’ #truestory

 

 

 

 


Aug 16
Let It Go: Emotional (And Physical) Baggage is Bad for Your Health

balloon-3206530_960_720.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

Recently, I (like many of my contemporaries) have helped my elderly parents move out of the home that they inhabited for almost a lifetime. To call the process fraught would underestimate the toll it took on all of us. For nearly 40 years, my parents lived, loved and experienced life in this house, collecting memories – and stuff. 

Sorting through it, this detritus of a lifetime, and watching my parents unable to let it go, was a powerful lesson for me, forcing me to look at how we all carry baggage (both physical and emotional) that weighs us down. Letting go of this baggage can set us free…

We all carry personal baggage.
For some of us, this baggage is physical. Like magpies, we pick up, collect and fill up our spaces with things that bring us joy or that we know we’ll ‘use someday’ and believe we simply can’t do without. And, as it fills up our lives, this stuff brings comfort – a physical safety blanket.
Others carry emotional baggage. The unresolved past emotional traumas, issues and stresses that occupy our minds and spill over, colouring all of our new experiences or encounters – and giving rise to prolonged feelings of guilt, regret, shame, anger, fear or stress. It’s the critical inner voice constantly telling us that we’re not good enough or can’t change the outcome.
While we might not all hoard stuff, we certainly all carry some form of emotional baggage. 

Like an overfull backpack, emotional baggage cannot be contained indefinitely.
It overflows, impacting the carefully crafted new reality that we’ve created for ourselves.
Sometimes, it manifests physically, causing health issues like unexplained back pain, headaches or stomach problems. Prolonged stress is a known trigger for cancer and heart disease.
Emotional baggage can also become a barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes. If we’ve dealt with past trauma by developing bad habits – like smoking, binge drinking or comfort eating – it can be really hard to break the pattern and stop. And, carrying our personal perceptions of past (bad) experiences into our relationships or workplace can negatively impact our connection to others or prejudice our career ambitions.  

So, how do we ‘unload our backpack’ and slip out from under our emotional baggage?

Understanding…
The first step towards letting go of emotional baggage is to understand it – and what caused it.
Think deeply about situations that have upset you, made you feel uncomfortable or stirred up negative emotion. Try to identify what made you upset – be it unexpressed feelings of hurt, unresolved anger, regret or grief. If these feelings haven’t been allowed to run their course, they’ll hang around, repeatedly causing issues in your life. 
You may need to talk to a therapist or trusted friend for help with this process.

Accept…
The ability to understand the reality of a situation, without needing to fight it or change the outcome, is acceptance. If we’re able to look at a negative experience without emotion or expectation and view it pragmatically, we remove our need to be tied to changing the outcome – and can start the process of acceptance.

Forgive…
We’re human – and we make mistakes. We all feel guilt, regret and shame over our actions – but, sometimes, we hang onto these feelings as a way to punish ourselves.
And, while we can neither change the past nor predict the future, we can let these feelings go and forgive ourselves (and others). Accept your choices. Learn from your mistakes. Own your truth. Stop the retroactive self-judgement. Remember that you’ve done good and can be proud of the many positive things that you have done in your life.

Channel Your Anger…
Often, we’re taught that being angry is bad and that, when someone wrongs us or we observe injustice, we should ‘turn the other cheek’. But, hanging onto anger can be deleterious. 
Allow yourself time to rant or cry. If you can, explain your anger to the person who caused it. Understand your role in the situation and determine whether you could have done anything better.
Channelling your anger positively can be very empowering. 

Be Mindful…
Sometimes, we are so caught up in our past experiences that we forget to simply be – to live right now. Practising mindfulness involves accepting your thoughts and feelings, without judgement. To be mindful is to live in the present moment, rather than reliving the past or imagining the future.

Declutter…
If your baggage is more physical, than emotional, it’s important to make time to declutter.
As good place to start is with Marie Kondo, the Japanese organisation expert, who created a system for simplifying and organising your home by getting rid of physical items that do not bring you joy. Kondo believes that, to thrive creatively, your home should be filled only with items that you cherish.

Whether your baggage is physical, emotional or both, letting it go can set you free. 
And, ensuring that you don’t allow emotional baggage to overwhelm your life going forward is a good goal. 

‘Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.’
Marcus Aurelius

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 25 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Jul 23
The Certainty of Uncertainty

question-marks-2215_960_720.jpg

Author: Georgina Barrick

Death and taxes. Life’s only two absolute certainties, according to Benjamin Franklin.
Human beings have lived with uncertainty for millennia – which doesn’t mean that we’ve got anymore used to it. 
Quite the opposite, in fact. But, in uncertain times like these, the only thing that’s certain is that more uncertainty lies ahead. We can’t change, manage or control this. But, we can moderate our response to it…

We live in an age of unprecedented uncertainty, where everything seems unpredictable.
Since 2008, the global economy has been shaky, susceptible to shock and lacking in resilience. 
We’re working harder and longer than before, often for less. Political upheaval is the norm – think Brexit, global trade wars and a world leader who governs by Twitter. The effects of climate change are widespread and frankly scary – flooding, drought, our beleaguered oceans. 
Social media makes us more connected than we’ve ever been. Yet, we’ve never been more disconnected from what really matters. And, as a result, many of us are suffering the effects of stress-induced illness. Mental illness in the workplace seems on the rise.
Most days, merely consuming the news requires a deep breath and a stiff drink. 

Yet, as the world becomes more unpredictable, we’re mostly coping – and many of us are thriving. It’s true that periods of massive change, while alarming, also create opportunity.
Uncertainty induces anxiety, stress and frustration. But, it also brings challenge, which leads to growth, satisfaction and strength. It’s cliched, I know, but challenge helps us understand that our limits aren’t limiting and, out of this understanding, we build resilience and become open to possibility. 
So, how do we get this right?

Acknowledge that uncertainty is a part of life…
Total certainty is an illusion. We’d like to believe that we have total control over what lies ahead. But, the truth is that, while we have some control, it’s far from total. Accepting that uncertainty is a natural part of life – and doesn’t necessarily mean that things are going wrong – can help to ease our anxiety around change.

Understand that uncertainty doesn’t (always) equal a bad outcome…
If you’re a worrier (and many of us are), it’s likely that you mostly equate uncertainty with a bad outcome. However, ‘bad’ is just one of a few possible outcomes – along with ‘neutral’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’.  
You could accept a new job that turns out to be a bad career move. It’s also possible that a new job could energise your career and expose you to new learning. 
Try to steer clear of ‘better the devil you know’ thinking and be open to all outcomes. 

Control what you can…
So much of life is out of our control. 
We can’t single-handedly grow the global economy or rein in the bad behaviour of world leaders. 
However, this doesn’t mean that we have no influence over how life pans out. 

Rather than focusing on what you can’t control (which heightens anxiety), focus on what you can. 
Or, as the Serenity Prayer says, accept the things you can’t change and have courage to change what you can – while hoping for the wisdom to know the difference. 

A good idea is to start by determining whether you have ‘no control’, ‘some control’ or ‘total control’ over what is making you anxious. Then, focus only on what is in your control. 
Another idea is to take action and, in small ways, give yourself options. Learn a new skill, monetise your hobby, save money or network to build new contacts. Small shifts can make a big difference and give you options (and breathing space).  

Take care of yourself…
It should go without saying that, in a stressful world, self-care is vital. 
Make time for exercise. Get good sleep. Meditate. Seek out support. 
If you’re running on empty, it’s very hard to see the wood from the trees.

In a world where uncertainty is the only certainty, it’s still possible to thrive. As Eckhart Tolle said, ‘When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.’
May you be open to possibility.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 25 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Jun 19
Honesty: The Lonely Word

magnifying-glass-1607160_960_720.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

I’ve always been passionate about truth, honesty and transparency.
So, listening to the Zondo Commission findings, watching all of the layers being peeled back and realising just how much we’ve been lied to, is sickening. From outright lies to the avoidance of the truth, we’re seeing the whole spectrum. 
But, I believe that truth is important – and will prevail. And, that it’s better to be honest from the outset…
 
Watching the recent coverage of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, I was struck by the veterans’ stories. Alongside a recounting of what they had done on that fateful day, many spoke, with searing honesty, about the fear that they had felt and the horrors that they had witnessed.
Some mentioned that they were doing so to highlight the brutality of war, in the hope that future generations would learn a lesson and work to avoid conflict.
For me, their heart-breaking honesty was refreshing.

Today, we live in a world of untruths, fake news and hidden agendas. 
We seem to be bogged down in lies and corruption. Honesty is a rare commodity. A ‘lonely word’ as Billy Joel lamented. ‘Truth’ is whatever I (or social media) says it is. Images are photoshopped to hide the ugly truth. Politicians lie to serve their own best interests – and lie some more when the Zondo Commission finds them out. Corporations misstate results or use ‘spin’ to sell you a dream. Steinhoff, Enron, Thanos, Madoff – and, more recently, Tongaat Hulett – come to mind. 
Facts are immaterial, truth is inconvenient and honesty has suffered. 
And, we’re living with the consequences.

Without honesty, we have no trust, no transparency and no accountability.
It’s hard to build lives and companies without it. It’s impossible to deliver on promises made.
The ‘Silent Generation’ D-Day veterans would tell you that honesty is ‘the right thing to do’.
Billy Joel would say that it’s ‘mostly what I need from you’. (I’m showing my age, but he’s currently in concert in London!) 
So, how do we cut through the ‘fake news’ noise and live (and work) with honesty and truth?

Practice (Radical) Honesty
It’s not always easy to be honest. Sometimes, it’s simpler (or it works in our favour) to keep quiet – like when a waitress forgets to charge us for a meal. But, truth matters – and it starts with the small things. 
Honesty builds transparency and trust. Make honesty a personal habit and foster a culture of honesty in your team. Reward transparency and come down hard on untruth. The road to transparency isn’t always straightforward and can be lined with criticism – but if you stay strong and have the courage to tell the truth, trust will follow.

Temper honesty with kindness. The bald truth can hurt, so how you deliver feedback is important. Be mindful of your delivery.

Own Your Mistakes
Tiger Brands learned this lesson the hard way. After CEO Lawrence MacDougall denied responsibility for the 2018 listeriosis outbreak, claiming that there was no direct link between any deaths and Enterprise Food products, the company lost R5.7 billion in value, spent R377 million on a product recall and is now facing a class action suit.
Take accountability for your actions and those of your employees. Remember that you’re accountable to your employees and that they rely on you to be honest – especially when you’ve made a mistake.
If you’ve messed up, get out in front and own the mistake. Apologise and make things right. 
Encourage your staff to own their mistakes by reframing mistakes as learning experiences. 

Also, stand up for what you know is right. If you witness improper behaviour, don’t keep quiet – even if speaking the truth puts you in the firing line. Remember that bad things happen when good people do nothing. 

Facts, Facts, Facts
Base your decisions on hard fact – not feelings. 
Decisions based on fact leave no room for misunderstanding and can be tracked and easily reviewed by all. So, stick to the facts – and encourage your staff to do the same.

Being honest isn’t always easy, popular or welcomed. 
But, at the end of the day, it’s all we really have to offer. Work hard to be a wo(man) of your word. You and the world around you will be better for it. 
Speak truth always. Stay strong.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 25 years of recruitment and executive search experience.
 
May 16
Stick to Your Knittting - Or Not!

Facebook post 2 20.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

Have you ever been presented with an opportunity that, on the surface, looks like a really good idea? The concept is fresh. The numbers are solid. It could open up new growth streams. The only issue is that it would require a shift off your company’s core focus. Do you, as Richard Branson would say, ‘screw it, let’s do it’? Or, do you walk away?

Single malt whisky. Single origin coffee and chocolate. Accountants and Recruiters who understand the intricate rules and workings of their specialist niches. Orthopaedic surgeons who only operate on hips or shoulders. Gone are the days when to be a ‘jack of all trades’ was prized. 
Today, we live in the age of hyper-specialisation.

It’s said that the further you venture away from your core focus, the greater the risk. 
Get it right – like Apple or Netflix – and you can create new revenue streams that may, with time, overtake your current core business. Apple did this with the launch of iTunes, shifting focus from hardware to services and spawning the legal music download industry. Today, the company makes more from Services ($10.9 billion last quarter alone) than many of its other business segments. Netflix’s move from streaming to content creation (think ‘Stranger Things’ and the ‘Queer Eye’ revival) reduced the company’s risk exposure by giving it complete control over (some) of the content on its platform.

But, get it wrong and you risk becoming distracted by the new initiative, leading to brand dilution, customer confusion, a drop in management focus and quality of offering, loss of target market share and, ultimately, lost revenue. Richard Branson’s Virgin brand has launched over 400 companies over the past 50 years (including music stores, airlines, alcohol and underwear businesses). Today, the privately-owned brand owns 60 around the world. 
  
So, in a world captivated by novelty, how do you balance your need for growth and innovation with your tolerance for risk? Or, put more simply, how do you identify the ideas that would mean real change for your business from those that are really just shiny new objects?

Explore your core… 
Start by fully understanding the opportunities available in your core business.
Is there potential for further growth in any of your business segments? Are there any ‘adjacencies’ (related business segments) that, if developed, could reinforce the strength of your core? Can you create new needs among your core customer base? Are there any internal functions – like talent acquisition – that you could outsource to free up time to focus on core issues? Make sure that you’ve wrung all that you can out of your core, before you make a move away from it.

Have a good reason…
Is your core business reaching saturation point, with limited growth opportunities? Is there a disruptive technology breaking into your space that’s forcing you to rethink strategy? Would you be ‘early to market’ with a non-core concept and have the chance to snap up market share? 
Whatever is making you consider a break from core, ensure that your reasons are sound – and grounded in fact, not emotion.

Gather data…
‘Screw it, let’s do it’ might work for Richard Branson, but it certainly doesn’t cut the mustard with shareholders. Take time to educate yourself about the new initiative and its impact on your core business. Assess the risks, potential outcomes and competencies you’ll need to manage both.
Before taking the leap, it’s important to ask the hard questions and gather all of the data.

Test the idea to minimise risk…
Is there a way to test the new concept, with minimal risk? Form a new business, with separate branding, resources and office space, to try out the idea. Steer clear of areas where you lack expertise or where the market is flooded with players who have the specialised skills that you’re missing. Do everything that you can to prevent diluting your focus, energy and accountability.
That way, if the idea fails, your core business is protected. 

Set clear goals and accountabilities…
Before you start, set realistic goals (including measures of success) for the new venture. 
Make sure that your staff is clear about what needs to be achieved in your core business – and who is minding the store. Someone needs to be accountable for keeping everyone’s eye on the ball. 

Business growth involves taking calculated risk. 
The choice whether to drive growth from within your core business or stray outside of it sits with you – which is both a burden and blessing. Whatever you decide, choose wisely.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 25 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Apr 15
I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

​ business-3421076_960_720.jpgAuthor: Georgina Barrick

Looking at the news out of the UK, I can’t help wondering if Brexit would be going any more smoothly if Theresa May had been able to build better alliances with key players ahead of time. Or, if the same key players were a little less self-interested and more willing to pull together to deliver a solution for the greater good. This started me thinking about how, as leaders, we can build better, stronger alliances in our working worlds and how we can encourage others in our circle of influence to do the same – to our mutual benefit...

In the corporate world, I’ve seen, first-hand, the benefit of having allies, particularly those outside of my normal chain of influence. A good ally will work with you to achieve your goals, support your views or causes and become a sounding board (offering a different perspective on issues), when you need it. In hand with performance, a strong ally can be a real career differentiator.
The secret is in being able to identify the right partners (both up- and downstream in your chain) and, being able to build simpatico with these people over time so that, when you need help, you’re not out in the cold.
 
No matter how good your performance, or how important your mission, you’re unlikely to achieve what you set out to without help from others. Like any good relationship, building an alliance requires an investment of time and effort. But, if you’ve chosen your ally wisely, it’s likely that the more you put into building your connection, the more reward you will reap, with time. 
It’s also important to have more than one ally, perhaps across different disciplines. That way, if your ally leaves or falls from grace, you’re not sent back to square one.  
So, what key areas should you focus on to cement your relationship? 
 
Effective communication…
Is the foundation of any positive work alliances. 
Talk openly, listen deeply and share important information with your allies.
When opinions differ (and they will and should), respect your allies’ points of view and work to resolve any potential conflict quickly.
Keep the lines of communication open always.   

Always do your best…
Be willing to go above and beyond to produce work that others are proud to support.
Foster a culture of helping others (a ‘we’re in this together’ attitude) by being generous with your time and attention. 
Become a resource to others. Helping your allies with their needs long before you need help yourself is a great way to stimulate collaboration, build trust and strengthen connection.

Spend time…
Strong relationships are built on shared experiences.
Be available when your ally needs you. Meet often – and, if you can’t, try to stay in touch with emails and messages.

Keep your promises…
Do what you say you’ll do – always. Never over-promise and under-deliver. Rather, be honest and turn down assignments that you know you can’t deliver on. Each time you make and keep a promise, you build on your reputation for reliability and dependability – which builds trust.
The opposite is also true. 

Pick your battles…
Sometimes, you have to lose the battle to win the war. If you give in on smaller decisions (or those that mean more to your ally), you’re more likely to win support for decisions that are important to you.
Also, never blindside or betray an ally. Rather, discuss any issues with him or her directly because, if you go outside of your little circle of trust, it’s possible that you will damage your alliance irreparably.

Express support and appreciation
Humans respond positively to being made to feel valued and appreciated.
Publicly express your support for your ally. Demonstrate professional courage by speaking out early, before you know which way the wind is blowing on his idea or cause.
Recognise good work. Give praise. Say thank you. Give credit, where due. 
Doing so builds reciprocal goodwill.

As Napolean Hill said ‘It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed’. As leaders, fostering a culture of collaboration and trust starts with encouraging alliances across teams. May we all find strength in our allies.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 25 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Mar 18
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Author: Georgina Barrick

Recent high profile – and very different – leadership changes (think Maria Ramos, Stephen Koseff and Karl Lagerfeld) have got me thinking about how, and when, leaders should grapple with the idea of letting go of the reins to make way for a leadership refresh…

Very few leaders (beyond presidents and others in public office) serve for a fixed term.

For many of us, knowing when we've served our time and need to move on is entirely our own decision – there is no blueprint. But, the time comes (and it's different for every company and individual) when making way for fresh blood is both inevitable and necessary.

It's up to us to be alert to the signs. It could be that we've achieved all that we set out to achieve, or that we've seen the organisation through a difficult transition, or (even) that we've run out of ideas.

Regardless of the reason, as leaders, we're expected to know when to bow out gracefully.

The truth is that, even good leaders, who have achieved a lot during their tenure, can outstay their welcome.

Some – like Maria Ramos – believe that leaders should be 'systematically replaced to allow for a regular refresh' – meaning that the best leaders don't stay too long. Others believe in long term continuity and stability – being able to stabilise, evolve and grow a business, while seeing medium to long term projects through.  Although, this train of thought can sometimes backfire if the leader becomes the company and any indication that he or she might step down leads to volatility.

So, how do we recognise the signs that we've served for long enough and that the time is right (both personally and for the companies that we run) to step aside? For that matter, how do we time any organisational change correctly so that it's good for all?

You've become complacent…

You've always been bursting with new ideas, but start to feel that the well has run dry.

You realise that you haven't done anything new – or encouraged any new ideas from your staff – in a long time. And, while you might not yet be in 'we've always done it this way' territory, you've certainly become way too comfortable with the status quo, and perhaps even feel a little stuck.

If you're feeling this way, you can bet that your team do too – which means that an organisational shake up is probably needed and that you might need to step aside to make way for new thinking.

You no longer feel valued…

Where once you were a vital part of the leadership team, you're now feeling like an outsider.

Decisions that you would once have been a big part of are made without your input, meetings that couldn't happen without you now take place in your absence or senior leadership/ the board fails to support you on important issues.

The signs are there that your opinion no longer carries the weight that it used to – which means that it's time to move on.

You can't do what needs to be done…

You've put your heart and soul into your start up and it now needs to grow to reach the next level – but you don't have the skills needed to take it there. Or, it's time for your company to make a significant (but much needed) change in direction – and you know that you may not be the right person to lead the charge. You could also come to realise that the vision that has sustained you no longer aligns with that of your organisation. Often, the skills required to turn a business around or get a new project off the ground are not the same skills required for the day-to-day running of a business.

It can be difficult for leaders, who feel irreplaceable, to acknowledge that the best course of action is to make way for a new generation of talent with fresh perspectives and skills.

You know that it's time to play to your strengths…

Microsoft's Bill Gates was 45 years old when he shocked the business world by stepping down as CEO to resume a tech role. And, while he'd made his fortune and could afford to take a back seat, Gates also understood that the skillset that had helped him to found Microsoft could be put to better use in another role, allowing him to stay in touch with what really excited him and devote time to building his foundation (another passion) - all while being in the best interests of Microsoft.

As leaders, we spend the first years of our careers honing skills that we lose touch with once the day-to-day intricacies of management take over. And, sometimes it's best – for us and the teams that we run – to step down and return to what excites us.

You know it's time…

Leadership is a high-pressure job. Few people can handle the long hours, stress and responsibility needed. Managing competing stakeholder demands is a delicate balancing act that requires sustained energy, innovation and stamina.

Sometimes, leaders just come to realise that it's time. Perhaps it's because their health starts to suffer or because the talent that they've developed has more energy or fresher ideas.

Regardless, sometimes they just know.

As Eckhart Tolle said 'sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on'. As leaders, we need to be alert and open to the need for organisational change – even if it means that we leave a job or company that we have sweated blood to build, to make way for fresh ideas, new directions and growth.

May we all recognise the signs in our own lives, when they come…

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 25 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

Feb 21
Highlights: SA National Budget

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Finance minister Tito Mboweni tabled the National Budget in parliament today in which he announced a financial rescue package for Eskom, conditional on the restructuring of the power utility, and reported a deterioration in the public finances that has the potential to trigger downgrades to South Africa’s sovereign credit rating.
The budget speech reiterated the commitments by President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift economic growth and job creation and to partner with the private sector, as well as emphasising government’s commitment to improve the functioning of the state itself including supporting enquiries into State Capture. Some key points:

1. Eskom
  • Following Ramaphosa’s announcement that government would support Eskom’s balance sheet, government is to provide Eskom with R23bn a year over the next three years to help it service its debt but this is conditional on the delivery of a credible plan to restructure Eskom and cut its cost base. This would include breaking up Eskom into its three arms - Transmission, Generation and Distribution – as announced in the State of the Nation speech as well as reforming the electricity market as a whole. 
  • A “Chief Reorganisation Officer” will be appointed to oversee the Eskom restructuring – similar to the curator that would be appointed in the case of a bank failure. 
  • Though Eskom sought to get government to take R100bn of debt off the power utility’s balance sheet, Minister Mboweni said he wanted to make it clear that government was not shouldering Eskom’s debt and that the utility must ultimately repay it. However, Treasury officials said talks on a possible debt swap continue. 
  • Though Ramaphosa has denied there is any intention to privatise Eskom, Minister Mboweni spoke of bringing in a “strategic equity partner” into Eskom’s transmission arm – possibly through a debt to equity swap by the Public Investment Corporation, which is Eskom’s largest bond holder.
  • There were no further bailouts for other State-Owned Enterprises that have requested support but government is reviewing its framework for SOEs, and Mboweni made it clear that financial support would in future not be automatic but would be conditional on restructuring.

2. The state of the public finances
  • The budget documents show the fiscal deficit and the public debt ratios have deteriorated further, over and above the downside revisions in October’s mid-term budget. 
  • On the revenue side of the budget, tax revenue has performed worse than October’s downwardly revised estimates, reflecting continued efforts to sort out the South African Revenue Service as well as a weak economy in which corporate income tax collections from various sectors (mining is one) are running well behind budget figures.
  • Expenditure will be greater than revenue, mainly because of the cost of the Eskom rescue package. Significantly, government is, for the first time, taking action to cut the public sector payroll, through natural attrition and an early retirement package, which could see the departure of about 30 000 civil servants in the age group 55-59. These and other cuts are, however, not enough to offset the cost of the support to Eskom, with the result that the deficit (at 4.2% this year, falling to 4% only in three years’ time) will now be higher than previously estimated and public debt will continue to rise, to 60% of gross domestic product by 2023/24 before stabilising. 
  • The deterioration in the fiscal numbers is likely to prompt hard questions from rating agencies, particularly from Moody’s, which is the last of the three big rating agencies that still has South Africa’s rating on investment grade. (A downgrade by Moody’s would see South Africa ejected from the key Citi World Government Bond Index (WGBI), raising the cost of capital and triggering capital outflows that could weaken the rand exchange rate.  

3. Other items:

  • The carbon tax will be implemented on 1 June 2019. SARS will publish draft rules for consultation by March 2019 to complement regulations already in place. 
  • The fuel levy has again been increased.
  • Action is being taken to turn around the performance of the SA Revenue Service, with a new permanent commissioner due to be appointed soon and the Large Business Centre re-established.
  • Minister Mboweni aligned his budget speech with the commitments to higher growth and job creation in the president’s State of the Nation speech.

Feb 21
Counter-Offers: Cautionary Tale or Cause for Celebration?

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Author: Georgina Barrick

Working in recruitment means that I’ve handled a lot of counter offers over the years. And yet, this is the first time that I’ve really written about them.

In truth, I write about issues that touch or affect me all of the time and, while counter offers undoubtably touch me and my business, I’ve shied away from sharing my thoughts before.
The reason is simple. It’s mostly because almost every Recruiter seems to have posted about this thorny issue before – which, I think, can create the impression that we’re warning our candidates more for our benefit than theirs.
Which isn’t the case - hence my discomfort.

It’s true that, in a tougher economic climate, candidates are often swayed by money – whether it be from their existing, or a potential new, employer. As Recruiters, our job is to help them to navigate what can be a minefield and make a rational decision, based on all (positive and negative) factors that could influence their career. 
With this in mind, I think that it’s time to look at both sides of the counter offer story…

If you google ‘Counter Offer’, the search results pages are littered with cautionary tales - ‘#SayNo To Counter Offers’; ‘Beware of Counter Offers’; ‘Should You Say No to a Counter Offer?’. 
The consensus, often borne from years of (painful) experience, is that accepting a counter offer is a bad idea.  

Yet, they remain a fact of life. And, while accepting a counter offer can (undoubtedly) be what I call a ‘CLM’ (‘Career Limiting Move’), there are also circumstances where staying where you are can be a good thing. The secret is in being able to tell the difference...

In my experience, you can make accepting a counter-offer work for you if you feel undervalued – but your employer isn’t aware of your issues…
Sometimes, good performers get overlooked. If you’re showing up and doing a good job each day, your contribution may go unmentioned – particularly if you work in an environment where the management team is always busy putting out fires. 

Your resignation could serve to highlight your value to your boss and reopen channels of communication, leading to better opportunities and more responsibility than you currently have. It may also give your company the chance to make changes to the environment, which could improve your overall working conditions and reinvigorate how you feel about your job. Counter offers sometimes include a move into a new role or project that may serve to address some of the reasons you considered leaving in the first place. Accepting a new opportunity with your current employer can mean working on something new, within the security of an environment that you know.
 
However, if your only reason for looking for a new job is because you need to earn more money, agreeing to stay won’t really change the status quo. The reasons that pushed you to start looking at alternatives in the first place won’t magically disappear overnight. If you were unhappy and unfulfilled before, you’re likely to feel the same once the initial glow (and the salary increase) wear off.

Accepting a counter offer from your current employer can lead to diminished trust and questioned loyalty. 80% of the senior executives who took part in a recent Heidrich & Struggles survey cited diminished trust and compromised reputations as major negative repercussions of counter offer acceptance. Many highlighted that the consequences can extend to colleagues, who may view the increased salary or new projects you’ve been offered as special treatment, leading to a change in the dynamics of your team. On the flipside, in close-knit or niche industries (and, let’s face it - in South Africa, that’s almost all of them), you may suffer reputational damage as a result of accepting, and then reneging, on an offer. 
Recruiters will tell you to look at the statistics.
Only 5% - 25% of counter offers that we deal with work out well in the end. 

This leads to what I call ‘counter offer casualties’ – which occur when the counter offer acceptor re-enters the job market within 6 to 12 months of declining a job in favour of staying with his current employer. In these circumstances, a counter offer can be just another version of the long goodbye.

As a Recruiter who has lived through many, many counter offer situations, I can tell you that no two situations are alike. Sadly, the outcome often is.
My advice, therefore, would be to not let your work issues/ discontent get as far as resignation. 
Rather, spend time understanding and mapping out why you’re unhappy in your current job.
Then, use this knowledge to engage with your boss and explore how you can resolve the issues – almost like giving him or her the ‘right of first refusal’. Do this a long time before you start your recruitment process and raise expectations with a potential new employer. 
You’ll get peace of mind and can look at outside opportunities, knowing that you’ve done everything possible to make your current job situation workable.
And, it’ll make the decision around whether to accept or reject any counter offers a no-brainer.
Good luck!

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and The Working Earth, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

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