Customer Service or Customer Experience?

There is no doubt that consumer directed care has placed our service standards under the spotlight.  In a market place that is becoming more crowded and noisy, finding that special ‘something’ to attract and retain our customers has become a necessity for survival rather than a ‘nice to have’.  With so much focus on packaging effective and efficient products and services, the disability sector has come to the harsh realisation that ‘commercialisation’ and ‘bottom line’ results are now standard items on the strategic agenda.  The attraction and retention of our customers has become a vital part of our organisation’s success.

To keep our doors open we need customers that are satisfied to the point where they are happy to re-engage with us, time and time again.  Providing great customer service, it now seems, is not enough.  Customers have developed and now demand sophisticated service levels.  As providers, we need to respond by changing the game plan if we are going to be in with a sporting chance.  Due to this raising of the bar, great customer service is now an expected minimum.  For our customers to become loyal, they are looking for something extra on the table to lure them back at least one more time.  For loyalty to develop, customers need to have a positive experience with positive emotions.  It is these positive emotions that underpin customer experiences that then lead to customer loyalty.  There is a continuum that exists between the two outlined below.  Have a quick check of your service standards and see where you lie on the continuum.

So customer service and customer experience are both the same sort of thing right? Yes, in a nutshell that is right, however here are some things to think about:

  • having great service doesn’t guarantee a great experience
  • great customer service is a precursor to great customer experience
  • you can have great customer service without customer experience
  • you can’t have customer experience without great customer service to start with
  • it’s a fair assumption that most customers want great service
  • it’s an unfair assumption that all customers want customer experience

So where does this leave us?  Quite simply we need to provide great service AND experience. As providers, the ultimate service platform is for our customers to determine their level of engagement with us. If they prefer to engage quickly with us and then get out, then we need to accommodate that. If they want all the bells and whistles to have a great experience, we need to accommodate that too. It is this customer choice which leads us to developing the flexibility of providing great customer service AND great customer experiences.

If you would like to know more about customer experience for your organisation, please contact our Senior HR Consultant,
Andrea Collett on 0422 437 153 or

Using carrots to focus on customers first

focus on customers first

Employee engagement principles are easy to understand, at least on a theoretical level.  Employees that feel valued for their inputs (knowledge, skills, experience, work ethic, ideas, feedback, performance etc.) are more likely to have higher engagement levels.  They go beyond the basic service deliverables and as a consequence they deliver positive customer experiences that add value to their customers’ everyday lives.  From a practical point of view, how can we encourage our employees to feel valued?  Here’s a few ‘carrots’ to consider. Continue reading…

Five tips to bring your customer service charter to life

Customer service charters can often be bland documents full of big hairy promises that sound more like a fairy tale than real life.  We often mistake these charters as vision statements and promise the world. Delivering on these promises becomes a stretch goal rather than the minimum standard required.  Consumers have more information available to them than ever before and are usually well prepared for their purchases.  So if we are to stand out in a crowded market place we need to manage the consumers’ expectations and be truthful about what we can deliver.

The reasons for having a charter in the first place is to sell our organisation and differentiate ourselves from our competitors.  To do this we have to identify what we do better than anyone else.  Creating a service promise is just the first step.  Once all the elevator speeches and tag lines are done and dusted we then have to deliver on that promise, and that is where the hard work begins!

  1. Can you deliver on the promise?

Continue reading…

Power – it’s not a dirty word: it’s all about how you use it

As 2017 comes to a close and we head off to enjoy the holiday season, it is often a time of reflection and planning for the new year ahead.  One of the underlying themes in the consulting work that I have been involved in this year has been the effect that ‘perceived personal power’ has when we communicate, work and grow together.

There seems to be a concerted effort by leaders to tackle engagement levels by opening more channels of communication.  In response to this, some employees show caution, fence sitting and even sceptism.  The reasons for these ‘red light’ reactions are many and varied, however when you speak to these employees, the common underlying theme comes back to a perceived power imbalance between themselves and their managers and leaders.  Whether this is real or not is immaterial.  So how do we get over this hurdle?

Firstly, we need to understand how power manifests itself in our culture and our everyday interactions.  Secondly, we could stop seeing power in our working relationships as a finite resource.  What if we regarded power as an infinite resource?  No longer one cup of power to be disbursed in a boss employee relationship.  Instead we could have an infinite amount of power to share between us.

So what do we do with all of this new found power?  It will all depend on your intentions.  What do you want to do with it?  Whatever your intentions, you will need to get a grip on what types of power you can draw from.

Power can essentially be separated into two categories:

1.    Position Power

Is based on the formal authority a person holds and the resources they are officially able to control. In the past, supervisors relied heavily on their formal power, but this reliance has diminished in recent years.

Characteristics in our culture include inducing compliance and having power over others.

  • Coercive Power is based on fear. A leader high in coercive power is seen as inducing compliance because failure to comply will lead to punishments such as undesirable work assignments, reprimands, or dismissals.
  • Legitimate Power is based on the position held by the leader. The higher the position, the higher the legitimate power tends to be. A leader high in legitimate power induces compliance from or influences others because they feel that this person has the right, by virtue of position in the organisation, to expect that suggestions be followed.
  • Reward Power is based on the leader’s ability to provide rewards for other people. They believe that their compliance will lead to gaining positive incentives such as pay, promotion, or recognition.
2.    Personal Power

Describes a person’s informal influence. Influence is the more important and reliable power base. It rests on personal qualities attributes and knowledge that people respect them for possessing. Qualities such as self-respect and respect for others, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness and strength of personal vision and values are particularly important in building personal power.

Characteristics in our culture include gaining influence and power through others.

Specifically includes Expert, Information, Referent and Connection power

  • Expert Power is based on the possession of expertise, skills and knowledge, which gain the respect of others. An employee high in expert power is seen as possessing the expertise to facilitate the work behaviour of others. This respect enables them to influence the behaviour of others.
  • Information Power is based on the possession of, or access to, information that is perceived as valuable to others. This power base influences others because they need this information or want to be “in on things”.
  • Referent power is based on the ability to influence others because of their loyalty, respect, friendship, admiration, affection or a desire to gain approval. In other words, it’s about leading by example.
  • Connection Power is based on “connections” with influential or important persons inside or outside the organisation. An employee high in connection power induces compliance because others aim at gaining the favour or avoiding the disfavour of the powerful connection.

The changes that are occurring in our organisations and in society are increasing the importance of personal power.  This means that leaders and employees alike need to know practical ways of building their own personal power.  Here is a list of ways to build and maintain your personal power levels regardless of where you appear on the organisation chart:

  • Ask rather than tell
  • Walk your talk – practice what you preach
  • Be informed and share information when you can
  • Be approachable, honest and sincere in your feedback
  • Acknowledge good effort and praise good work of your colleagues
  • Demonstrate trust in your colleagues
  • Remember the social side of work
  • Know your own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes
  • Respect yourself and others


Andrea Collett is CBB’s Senior HR Consultant.  If you have any queries about how to communicate, work and grow together with your team, she can be contacted via email or by mobile on 0422 437 153.

Don’t forget to subscribe here to CBB’s Foreword to receive next month’s article direct to your inbox.

Get used to it – change is here to stay (Part 4): A final word

Organisations are in the business of providing products and services to consumers, who in turn, provide organisations with currency to continue their work.  Most products and services have a lifespan.  It is this lifespan that triggers our need to change what we do and the way we do things to remain relevant by satisfying emerging needs.  We do this so organisations can survive and continue to serve the customers that sustain us.  Consequently, organisations must change to survive.

In a logical sense, most employees understand this cycle and would nod their heads in agreement – we’ve all been on this merry-go-round before and have seen many changes to our professions during our careers.

So why is ‘change’ so difficult to manage, especially when we know at a cognitive level that it is a necessity for our economic future?

Well, it’s got nothing to do with logic, it’s all about how we feel during change.  Essentially, most of us are creatures of habit and we like to create a sense of security and certainty.  It is our job, therefore, to instil a sense of personal empowerment amongst our workforce that helps build a culture of positive engagement.  Our capacity to become change leaders is front and centre and whether we like it or not, all eyes are on us.

So if managing change is awkward due to our emotional reactions, the need to have those difficult conversations becomes even more important.  Once we emerge from our offices with our completed project plans and communication strategies, it is time to focus on the day to day interactions to breathe life into your change efforts.

Let us first understand the reasons why people resist change – here are a few to choose from:

  • Uncertain of the results that the change will bring
  • Confusion about the difference between change and innovation
  • Disruption to our routines as adjustments are made
  • Loss of existing positions, salary or other benefits
  • Threat to our (formal and informal) position power, expertise, skills and possibly knowledge
  • Break down of social networks, teams and relationships
  • Challenge to existing culture and group norms
  • Experiencing change fatigue and chipping away of tolerance of ambiguity
  • Fear of failure
  • Paradigm shifts
  • Learning something new can be uncomfortable and frustrating

Once we have identified the layers of underlying concerns specific to the change, here are some tips to guide us through our conversations:

  • Use multiple methods of communication
  • Communicate the same message again and again
  • Tackle difficult conversations head-on
  • Let people express their argument against the change
  • Check your assumptions and attitude towards resistors
  • Say “us” and “we”
  • Keep your own emotions in check (even positive ones)
  • Ask open questions to uncover rationale and open dialogue – remember to listen to the end of the pause
  • Remember that you cannot read others’ minds – assumptions can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings
  • Be open to other perceptions

It won’t be easy nor comfortable.  We will make mistakes, others will make mistakes and the constant upheaval may be too much for some.  We should start celebrating our mistakes, after all, they are ours to own…and to solve…and to learn from.

If you would like to know more about managing your employees through your change, please contact our Senior HR Consultant, Andrea Collett on 0422 437 153 or


To resist or not to resist – that is the question…

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

(Charles Darwin)

Think about the last time you resisted a change that was either thrust upon you or took you by surprise.  How did you react?  What range of emotions did you experience?  How strong were these emotions?  How long did it take for you to come to terms with the change?  Can you remember the tell-tale signs that you exhibited that showed how you felt?  Most importantly, what was the catalyst for you to get past your resistance and embrace the new and different?

Let’s be honest – we have all resisted change at some stage in our lives.  Just because we wear ‘executive hats’ it does not preclude us from going through the wide range of emotions that go hand in hand with uncertainty, ambiguity and chaos.  The underlying concerns we all have are as varied as they are long.  As executives, we are charged with the responsibility to respond to resistance, not treat it like a battle with a string of strategies to overcome employee opposition.

Think about it this way – not all change is good and the reason we sometimes resist is because we have sound logical reasons against the change.  We all have the ability to be a firm resister to change, especially if we feel that our values, beliefs, morals, or business ethos is being challenged.  Broad brushing employees as ‘one size fits all resisters’ leads to misunderstandings that increases the void of communication, understanding and empathy. We may not be able to put words to our logical reasons as yet and so it is our responsibility to encourage dialogue and help each other uncover individual concerns.

So let’s take a look at a range of change resistance behaviours and see what we can do to alleviate the misunderstandings and bring people closer to a shared understanding of what is really going on.

The Sentry Post

This is a nice, clean type of resistance where they just say “No!” usually without reasons.  Asking questions like “What specifically worries you?” or “What in particular do you object to?” will give you information and a starting point for your conversations.  Fully examine the resistance by listening actively and asking questions to clarify.  Be sure you have heard and explored what the resister has to say before moving on to action planning.  Do not jump in too soon and assume you know their position – you may be entirely wrong and it will only frustrate the other person and close down the communication channels.

The Quiet Assassin

These people say in effect:  “Tell me exactly what you want me to do.”  This is a hidden form of resistance.  If you fall for it, they will comply with the bare minimum, but not the spirit of what you want.  Ask:  “Are you quite clear about what is being asked and expected of you?”  “What resources/support do you require to get your job done in the new environment?”  This should reinforce that the change will be happening and provide an opening for them to discover what they need from you.  This will take many conversations, so be patient, maybe even buddy them with someone they trust.  People are fragile when they feel vulnerable and they often come out fighting when they are stuck in denial.  It will be your responsibility to be a provider and an enabler of change.  The end game is to not leave them behind and empower them towards good performance.

The Proscrastinator

Outwardly, they appear on-board with the change, however you may hear “I’ll get on to it first thing Monday morning.”  And then, of course, something more important crops up.  If you think this is a resistance tactic rather than an honest response, try asking “Is there anything preventing you from beginning now?” or “Tell me how you feel about changing…”

The Cynical Gossiper

The water cooler whispers and corridor conversations that keep the organisation going – the “Rumour Mill” – can be difficult to contain.  This type of resistance can sometimes appear to have a greater following than it actually has however it can destabilise your efforts quite effectively.  Emotional capital is the currency that these resisters trade in.  Quite often, they will not verbally object to you in a larger group setting – it is their closed off body language that will be a red flag for you.  The best way to tackle these is head on in a one-to-one conversation.  Discovering common ground is a great way to start discussions but you will also need to be scrupulous about presenting your position, factual data and your support to them as an individual during the change process.  Over-exaggerating the benefits or downplaying their concerns will only lead to further scepticism.  Remember, they will either become your enemy or your ally depending on how you approach them.

The History Teacher

“But we’ve always done it the other way.”  Sometimes the old way is the best way, but most often the appeal to tradition is straightforward resistance of the “better the devil we know” variety.  Try saying, “I understand the old way worked very well; however, this situation is unique.”  Or “Yes, the old approach worked well – how can we adapt it to this way?”  You might also hear “We tried that ‘x’ years ago before you were around (or born) and it was a disaster!”  Asking them about those details is the only way to get them on your side.  Allow them the space to describe how it did go wrong and ask probing questions about the failure.  Responding with the organisational and environmental differences between ‘then’ and ‘now’ will help them see that things have changed since that last attempt.  There is now a greater chance of success as the organisation is in a better place to handle the change.  Be open and honest about the challenges ahead and the need for them to be a part of the implementation team to ensure that you do learn from the past!

The Employee Representative

These resisters imply that “the staff” (or someone else) won’t approve.  This may or may not be true, but don’t discuss it now.  Say something like:  “I appreciate your concern and I’ll check it out.  Meanwhile, what I’d like you to do is……” or “I’ll bear that in mind.  What objections do you have?”

The Ducker and Weaver

“Let someone else do it!”  They like to switch the attention from themselves onto someone else or even another department.  If your request is reasonable, don’t fall for this tactic.  Let them know that it is from them that you are expecting thought, engagement and action.

The Victim/Catastrophiser

The aim here is guilt and sympathy.  There is a deliberate attempt to make you feel guilty for asking them to alter their ways, try something new and cope with perceived mountains rather than the molehills presented to them.  This could be in response to their lack of coping strategies and their strong preference for routine and simplicity.  Empathise with them, use active listening techniques and, unless their reasons are very sound, confirm with them (repeatedly) what the changes will mean to their day to day working life.

The Fence Sitter

This is another passive form of resistance, however it is not as insipid as some of the others.  They may genuinely be confused or just not interested…yet.  Do not confuse this with denial.  Fence Sitters are more likely to appear disengaged (blank stare, no eye contact, doodling fiddling, appearing bored etc.) so you will need to inspire to engage them in your discussions.  Give them a reason to want to change with the team.  Explore through stories/data (whatever you think they would prefer) how the current situation does not support the bigger picture anymore.  Check their understanding and sell them the direct benefits.

The Chameleon

This form of resistance can be tricky.  If you find yourself being surprised by someone’s enthusiastic response, e.g. “Wow! What a great idea!”, look for quick delay as a follow-up.  If this happens, you can be fairly sure the person is telling you what you want to hear but intends to do nothing about it.  Say something like, “I’m really glad you think it’s a good idea.  What in particular do you like about it?”  It will force them to engage in a positive conversation, particularly if it is done in public.

On a final note

Let’s not forget the employees that are actually behind the change.  Our attention is usually taken up by those who resist, however a strong ‘coalition of supporters’ (Kotter) can relieve you of much of the burden.  They are more likely to build momentum for the change, ask interesting and probing questions and start looking for solutions.  These employees are our allies and we need to sustain their enthusiasm with success stories, troubleshooting and implementation plans.

Andrea Collett is CBB’s Senior HR Consultant.  If you have any queries about how to navigate your team /organisation through the white water rapids of change, she can be contacted via email or by mobile on 0422 437 153.




Get used to it – change is here to stay (Part 2): Storytelling, the art of communicating visions

What can organisations learn from JK Rowling and Dr Martin Luther King?

The answer is surprising and simple, although easier said than done.  Both have been able to inspire a generation of followers into action by using their ability to tell a story.  JK Rowling has inspired a generation of children (and adults alike) to rediscover the skill of reading by engaging their imagination.  Dr King inspired a global generation towards social change through his ability to use metaphors to share his vision of a better and fairer future for all.  So, how can storytelling help build and sustain organisations through change transformations?

“It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities” (A. Dumbeldore: JK Rowling)

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” (ML King Jr)

What is storytelling?

The art of storytelling is not a new concept – it is one of the oldest forms of communication and socialisation.  Many indigenous populations have been using stories for centuries.  They are used to explain the physical, interpersonal, spiritual and social world around us.  These outcomes are not dissimilar in our organisations.  Stories express organisational culture and help employees to align their personal beliefs with the purpose of the organisation.  This alone is a crucial aspect of an organisation’s development.  Stories provide insight on the norms and values at play as well as shining the spotlight on rituals that underpin the culture.

Why tell stories?

The simple act of telling stories can energise the intellectual capital and knowledge creation of the organisation.  This can result in developing your own brand of competitive advantage; one that is difficult to replicate and provides a self-perpetuating sustainable workforce.

Leaders ultimately have the responsibility of ensuring that the working environment sustains voluntary followship.  It provides an avenue to build trust, inspire, develop shared mental models, demonstrate empathy, encourage openness, stir up intellect and provoke emotions amongst their followers.  In this kind of environment followers are more likely to possess high levels of commitment to the vision and the values of the organisation.  Storytelling can provide the platform where ‘people’ meet ‘process’ in the change transition.  The stories belong to people, and the history belongs to the organisation.

Choosing stories

Traditionally, storytelling is synonymous with children and bedtime.  It seems hardly reputable for businesses to be engaging in an activity that could be considered childish, immature and irrelevant, particularly to the bottom dollar.  A closer look however shows that these very stories have meaning, inspire a child’s imagination, evoke feelings of empathy and enhance the relationship between themselves and the storyteller.  Look deeper still and you may find wisdom and culture forming behaviours hiding in the pages.  The goal is to choose stories that elicit these conscious and subconscious learnings.

While success stories are terrific in their innate nature, telling only success stories can leave followers with negative personal feelings of underachievement and failure and also run the risk of the story teller losing influence.  To counteract this, stories of failure need air time as followers are more likely to engage in their own analysis of what went wrong drawn from their personal experiences.  The outcome is an internalised response which engages in fresh dialogue on the issues that matter most to them.

Are you ready?

Whether you are new or old hand in storytelling, here are four questions to consider:

  • Do we have the right climate in our organisation?

Think about your intentions behind the stories.  Is it to foster open collaboration and personal empowerment, or, is it to control, redirect or bully people into the change itself?  It is probably no surprise that trust, learning, problem solving, medium to high engagement, creativity and understanding are pre-conditions for storytelling to have maximum impact.  The good news is that the act of storytelling helps to develop these in our culture.  At the end of the day, I believe that any organisation is ready; it’s the sophistication of the stories themselves that will need some forethought.

  • Do we have the right people telling our stories?

In larger organisations, frontline and middle managers have the greatest impact in getting messages to frontline employees. In smaller organisations, it would typically be a senior leader.  Remember to consider employees who do not feature on the organisational chart.  Frontline employees engage in storytelling all the time; they’re just not conscious of it as a skill that can either bond or divide the masses.  Additionally, consideration needs to be given to the personal qualities required; respect, integrity and emotional intelligence are at the fore.

  • How do we contextualise, add meaning and value to the stories?

The simpler the story, the easier to tell, listen, digest, question and then internalise the key messages.  Identifying key messages early and making them explicit in the story provides employees with conclusions that they can accept, and/or question and/or reject.  If stories do not make sense, internalisation does not take place and therefore actions cannot be taken: this defeats the purpose of storytelling, so be mindful.

  • Are we going to ‘manage’ storytelling?

Whilst ‘singing from the same book’ is desirable, over-controlling the process of storytelling can violate its intrinsic nature.  This runs the risk of reduced spontaneity and producing carbon copy story tellers; a sure fire way of increasing the tax on employee trust.  To avoid stories getting lost in the translation, our indigenous cultures have the idea that several people are responsible for ‘part of the story’ which ensures that key messages do not become filtered with individual flavours.  It’s not an exact science, so tight controls and measures akin to management theories do not bode well and can negate any storytelling efforts.

So is it for you?

Take stock of the conversations you have or hear in your organisation.  You’re probably already on a path to making change stories for your employees, your customers and the communities that we serve.  Remember that storytelling in all its forms brings people together, and people underpin successful change initiatives, regardless of where they sit in the organisation chart.

Andrea Collett
Senior HR Consultant
Phone: 1300 284 364


Get used to it – change is here to stay (Part 1): the leadership challenge

Is your leadership attuned to your followers?

A new state of normal has crept into our lives – it’s the realisation that ‘change’ is ever-present and is here to stay.  Older generations are experiencing change fatigue as our younger generations see it as business as usual and wonder what the fuss is all about.  Having both these attitudes existing in the same workforce is a challenge facing most leaders.  I believe that workplace and community leaders are in a unique position in our human history and we have an opportunity to create something new and different in the way we organise our world of work.  Our approaches to the next phase of organisational development will require new ways of thinking, strategising, teamwork and leading.  We find ourselves in a time of respectful openness, creativity, learning, sharing, knowledge creation, technological connections and jobs that tap into who we are and what legacy we wish to leave.  Just when we thought that there was nothing left to discover, we are facing a chasm of discovery.  How do we find new ways to lead and solve problems in this landscape?

Historically, managing change in the old paradigm centred on project management, risk management and step by step change management models and processes.  The new paradigm does not replace the old, it ADDS to the old.  Leadership in itself is not restricted in size or capacity, so completely replacing one approach for another is a recipe for failure.  As leaders we need to respect our past lessons and add the patterns as they emerge.

Leadership thought and development has focussed solely (and for too long) on what individual leaders can bring to the working environment.  Their personal traits and communication style are the most commonly talked about attributes.  It’s now time to add to this and reinvent our critical roles as leaders by focussing on our followers.  They represent the human side to the ‘managing change equation’.  As the old paradigm centres on project management, the new paradigm will add the human element.  Here are some constants about our followers to consider and some ways to tap into these to get the best out of our change efforts:

  1. The capacity to create knowledge is in all of us.

  • Allow space for people to dream, create and look outside your organisation
  • Reduce the systemic barriers to open, flowing communication
  • Accept that some discussions do not lead to measureable outcomes
  • Move beyond the first and most obvious solution when problem solving
  1. The capacity to learn is in all of us.

  • Uncover the different learning styles in your team
  • Put learning on the agenda at every meeting
  • Conduct a learning debrief for every success and failure
  • Capture learning explicitly by making or buying a lessons learnt information system (LLIS)
  1. The capacity to adapt is in all of us.

  • Encourage new experiences – when was the last time you did something for the first time?
  • Use ‘action learning teams’ for difficult problems
  • Keep a history of your organisation and celebrate how far you have come
  • Embrace your vision and imagine it achieved
  1. The capacity to be human is in all of us.

  • Invest in people; financially and emotionally
  • Talk about empathy and emotional intelligence – for everyone; not just leaders
  • Discover what makes people tick to tap into their motivation to change
  • Tackle the fear of failure that is innate in most of us – it’s ok to make mistakes, as long as you’re not making the same mistake over and over again

The new paradigm is about harnessing all of these, rallying the culture to create something unique and finally recognising that we all play an important part when trying to cope with changes that are thrust upon us.  Is your leadership style attuned to focussing on your followers?

We can talk all we like about developing resilience in our workforce – at the end of the day it’s the experiences that we have that develop our resilience as leaders and as followers.  After all, you cannot learn to swim by reading a book!  You will eventually have to get your feet wet and then your whole body.

So go ahead and immerse yourselves in a new leadership experience where you are supporting others while you are changing together.

Andrea Collett
Senior HR Consultant
Phone: 1300 284 364


Are you in sync with your recruitment agency? Four questions to ask

Whether you’ve used recruiters for years or are just venturing into outsourcing, it’s good business practice to ensure that the service you receive reflects your organisation’s needs as well as the greater aspirations of the nfp sector. To help you make the right decision, here are four mission critical questions we suggest you ask when engaging an executive recruiter.

1. How is the recruitment fee structured?

Recruiting for high level positions can be one of your largest operating expenditure decisions, so you can’t afford to get it wrong. Paying for executive recruitment is sometimes viewed as a “necessary evil” – it’s universally expensive and is rarely included in contingency budgets. If you don’t have the recruitment expertise in-house or require an objective perspective, or simply don’t have time to manage the process, then you need to manage the risk of outsourcing as well as manage any unplanned expenditure.

For years the recruitment industry has operated on an antiquated “percentage of salary” professional fee. The problems with this (aside from any ethical objections you may have) are that the more senior the position, the more it will cost you to fill, and it also makes outsourcing executive recruitment out of reach for organisations with smaller budgets. And remember – steep recruitment fees are not “insurance” against a bad result.

2. Do they actually understand the not-for-profit sector?

Is the recruiter all things to all people, or do they specialise in not-for-profit sector recruitment?  As we know, the sector has its unique challenges, not least of all attracting and recruiting experienced executive leaders. Make sure your recruiter understands your critical success factors when recruiting for your organisation. Better still, test them out. Ask them what you think they should be or wait for them to ask you what your critical success factors are. This will provide an indication of their service levels and understanding of the challenges that you face.

3. How do they assess cultural fit?

There is general consensus in the sector that recruiting for cultural fit is a must-have. However, knowing and doing are two different things. Assessing cultural fit requires a model that uncovers, identifies and matches key drivers of your culture. Ask your recruiter what their model is based on before you engage their services.

4. Which recruitment and interviewing practices do they use?

Recruiting for performance and cultural fit requires a range of contemporary recruitment, interviewing and onboarding practices. Ask your recruiter which techniques and models they use to draw out the responses you need from candidates. What other services do they offer that will give you confidence in making the right appointment?

Making the right choice

Recruiting or replacing executive leaders in the not-for-profit sector is challenging on a number of fronts. So when you need to recruit your next executive, pick up the phone, then STOP before you dial the first firm that you think of, and call CBB about your requirements.

  1. Our professional fees are fixed regardless of the position/salary of the vacancy.
  2. As a social enterprise, CBB are part of the sector and we work exclusively with not for profits, so we understand the challenges.
  3. We include globally recognised assessments for every executive vacancy, to identify and match cultural fit. Our assessments are included in our fixed fees.
  4. We will help you decide which of the many contemporary interviewing practices will best serve you in finding the right person.

So, if you think there’s nothing new in executive recruitment, think again! CBB offers an executive recruitment solution focused on quality and value for money. We earn the right to partner with you to ensure the right fit: fit for your culture, fit for your business and fit for the sector.

Andrea Collett
Senior HR Consultant
Phone: 1300 284 364


Unlocking Performance (Part 4): Using 360 feedback to drive leadership performance

In previous parts of my series, Unlocking Performance, I have looked at job descriptions, a problem-solving approach to performance issues and the mission-critical leadership skills for NFP executives. Now to bring it all together, let’s discuss how you can improve your performance using 360 feedback.

The true value of the 360 process is usually overlooked. It is often used to gather information to populate formal performance reviews or to identify benchmarks and training opportunities for individual leaders. While these are sound objectives, there are also missed opportunities. The feedback itself is not the end game.  To realise the full benefits that 360s can provide, here are five things to consider once the feedback has been collected.

1. Be open minded about the information you are about to receive

Nobody likes to be told they have deficiencies in their leadership or personal behaviours. There are some who can feel embarrassed when they hear positive feedback from their colleagues.  In both instances we can close our minds to the messages we are about to receive, defeating the purpose of the whole 360 process.

So, try engaging the right mindset for this exercise. Approaching the process as a ‘learner’ rather than a ‘knower’ is one way to do this.  Think back to the last time you learnt something that was completely foreign to you.  Your mind traffic was probably more open to the new and different allowing you to question, speculate and examine the feedback closely.

2. Analyse the key themes

Once you have absorbed the feedback, the next critical step is to analyse it.  Notice that I am not recommending that you blindly accept what is put in front of you and run off to create your 27 point development plan!  Nor am I suggesting that you start to rationalise, make excuses, become defensive, blame others and then completely disregard the whole process due to a few critical comments.  Doing either of these may reinforce some of the identified behaviours that others have told you are getting in the way.

This step is where you critically assess the feedback and identify an overall position on each of the key themes of the 360.  Try looking  for:

  • Contrary evidence to paint a balanced picture
  • Connections between behaviours, use both single loop and double loop learning approaches
  • What is NOT being said, read between the lines

Once you have sense of these, then match them against:

  • Your insights and understanding of the system/environment that you are operating in
  • Your personal aspirations

3. Group key themes and prioritise: Begin with the end in mind

With most of the analysis completed, it is now time to prioritise what is important to you. Engaging with your boss and or mentor at this stage is highly recommended. While engaging in this process grows each of us as individuals, the primary focus is on developing high-performance cultures and becoming more accomplished leaders in our own right.

‘Beginning with the end in mind’ (Covey), is about having a vision or statement about our hopes, dreams and aspirations when we wear our ‘leader’ hats.  With that firmly in place, we can then begin to prioritise our development goals.

4. Create a plan and record it

Try something different at this point. As executive and operational leaders, we know exactly what plans are all about.  We live by them and we are assessed against them time and time again.  Avoid the quick fix solutions often found with using “I will…” statements.  Go beyond the obvious activity based development plans.  Try using some Action Learning approaches (R Revans) – it is arguably one of the most valuable and effective ways to engage yourself in the learning process and the business context at the same time.

Try some of these project ideas:

  • Create and lead employee involvement teams and or reference groups
  • Manage an expense cutting project
  • Resolve an ongoing issue between two people/teams/units
  • Lead a major change
  • Manage a group of low competence or low performing team through a task they couldn’t do by themselves

Get creative with these. Take a look around your organisation and find a wicked problem – there will be plenty to choose from.  Match the problem with your identified priorities and voila!

5. Execute looking forward; review using rear view mirror

Plans are made for execution!  Execution, execution, execution.  We know how to project manage, however, this step (or continuous loop) goes beyond that.  We need to become accomplished conscious learners if we are to use this path.  Being a conscious learner requires one critical skill – the skill of ‘debriefing’ or using a ‘learning review’ to consciously identify lessons that we learn throughout our development plans.

Using our rear view mirrors is paramount.  Engaging others in this process is a must have.  Combining both will allow us to see future opportunities and view threats as challenges rather than debilitating brick walls.  The end game is for us to ‘walk the talk’ in terms of unlocking performance – our followers are more likely to tread the same path.

At the end of the day, our jobs as leaders is to create high-performance cultures and to create other leaders within this process.

If you would like to know more about our 360 process for executive and operational leaders in your organisation, contact Andrea Collett our Senior HR Consultant on 1300 284 364 or