Getting Your Hands Dirty to Stay in the Game

Getting Your Hands Dirty to Stay in the Game

We’ve all been there, either as an employee, manager or business owner; where we think all our processes are perfect and our methods are unquestionable. I’m not saying this sense of satisfaction isn’t true, of course you should be proud of what you have achieved, however, it’s important not to lose focus and simply never re-assess.

What is there to lose by sitting back for a minute, taking a deep breath and looking at what is going on around you? You might be thinking “I don’t need to, business is great right now!” but this can lead to complacency and, if you’re not careful, your winning streak could quickly come to a halt. Your competitors are always looking for new ideas and new strategies on how to become number one, so to be competitive you must do the same!


Make time

As a manager it is quite easy to be “trapped” in the four walls of your office and you are not to blame for this. Time is an incredible resource and one that we wish we all had more of. However, isn’t it great to know that you have control over this, you are actually able to go into your calendar and block out a 2 hour time slot to get out of those 4 walls and see what is really happening on the front-line of your business. Blocking out these 2 hours might sound a little inconvenient, but isn’t impossible, especially if you consider what you might get in return. Getting your hands dirty to stay in the game will not only develop you as a person, it will establish you as a leader amongst your team. Your employees will have a great deal of respect for you if you are seen, heard and show appreciation for the work that is being performed, by being present.


Complacency is your enemy

I have personally experienced being “trapped in my four walls” and although my knowledge of policies and procedures were at a high level, how can I be positive that these were actually being carried out by the team I was working with? The figures and finances were looking steady from the back end, however the word “steady” does not sit well with me, as I knew that we had to always be one step ahead to be a leading business. By getting my hands dirty and working along side all staff, I had a true indication of what was really going on in the business – I had my finger on the pulse.


Taking the first step

I was a little nervous, to say the least, when I first adopted this strategy. was I actually going to have to perform tasks that I actually didn’t know how to do? However, was I going to get it right? I haven’t seen this button before, I wonder what it does? People will be looking at me and observing what I was doing – This was a perfect opportunity to step up and lead by example. I recall sitting on reception for 30 minutes, just to get a feel for how busy our administration team were and what our service delivery was like in the crucial stage of welcoming a customer. It was fantastic being able to speak with the customer face to face, taking phone calls and not only witnessing, but being a part of the multi-tasking that was required in this position. Not only was I seeing what was happening or what improvements were required, I was also gaining respect from the team as they witnessed me getting in touch with the clients and the staff as a team member, not as their manager. This was very important, removing the manager label and working as a team member. The minute you mention your title to clients you will be treated differently, I did not want this to happen – I would prefer the real experience of what was happening on the front-line of the business.



I am fortunate now where I am in a position where I can continue to get my hands dirty by visiting one of our programs or facilitating a corporate professional development day. When I am visiting a program, I try to arrive unannounced, not for the reason of surprise or micro management, rather to experience the “reality” of the present. To be truthful it actually helps develop me as a person and a leader by having the exposure and involvement in our programs. I know my place and know when to participate and when to sit back and enjoy the ride, that’s what makes it exciting for me. By being involved I am unconsciously aware of the environment I am in and always observing and thinking of ideas and strategies to improve. I will once again use the word “reality” as this is the most important aspect of getting your hands dirty. If you turn a blind eye or choose not to believe what is going on then you are doing more damage than you may realise.



We are living in a technological advanced world and everything is so quick these days. This means that the faster things move the quicker they change, hence we need to ensure we are aware of what is really happening around us and keeping our skills fresh and current. This also goes for those who are returning to work and haven’t used their skills for a while – be excited about the opportunity to learn. Things may not be the same as they were before but embrace it and recognise that this is a good thing.  Some of us might have qualifications from 10 or more years ago and the theory behind the learning is very relevant, however I believe the execution needs to be altered to complement our modern world. We need to place ourselves in our customers shoes to gain an understanding of how we are adding value and how we continue to deliver an excellent service. “Asking the question” or “having the conversation” is one of the best ways to gather intelligence. If you are aware of the expectations that are required then you can not only just meet them, you can devise strategies to exceed them.

By Matthew

Write a Job Winning Cover Letter

Write a Job Winning Cover Letter

First impressions; yes, we all have them. Even though we are told not to judge a book by it’s cover, we all do it to some degree anyway. A cover letter is your crucial first impression on a potential employer, so it needs to be fabulous. It needs to knock their socks off. It needs to get your foot in the door.

Most jobs nowadays, require a cover letter to accompany a resume. While the resume is a very significant tool in getting who you are across to potential employers, they can pretty much be stock standard as well; but a cover letter is your chance to tell a short story about yourself, to sell yourself in your own words, to get your resume read and to ultimately gain that interview.

Writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Once you know what is expected, it’s actually quite easy. Just follow these tips below and get that interview.

  1.      Read the advertisement, then read it again

Mark any keywords that are in the ad that you can use in the cover letter and make sure you can back up your claims.

  1.      Don’t just copy your resume

This is your chance to show some personality and your interest in the job and company. Match the cover letter to the job role to which you are applying for. If you are applying for a few different jobs, write a new cover letter for each job. Your resume can stay the same, but you need to personalise each letter to whom it is intended for.

  1.      Keep it simple

Use simple language; write as if you are talking to the person face to face. You need to be comfortable with what you have written. Make your cover letter easy to read, for example; font size: 11 or 12 and font style: Calibri or Roman Times.

  1.      Make sure your layout is correct

There are hundreds of cover letter templates on the internet, these will show you how to layout your cover letter professionally if you are unsure.

  1.      Include all essential details

The details you need to include are:

  • Date,
  • Your name
  • Your contact details
  • The contact details of the recipient

and also remember to state the position to which you are applying, either as a heading or in your opening paragraph.

  1.      Don’t make it too long

One page is acceptable, about three paragraphs. Remember your cover letter won’t be the only letter they receive. Be confident, let them know why you are the best person for the job. Elaborate on your resume by giving more details about relevant experience you may have. If you have a lot of experience, put it down in years as opposed to specific dates.

  1.      Tell them what they want to hear

Don’t tell them why this job would be good for you and your career, tell them why you would be good for their company and what you can bring to the table. Remember, they’re looking at what you can do for them, not the other way around.

  1.      Highlight achievements

Towards the end of your letter, you can highlight any career achievements, as long as they are particularly relevant to the job to which you are applying.

  1.      Close your letter

Draw your letter to a close by being polite, saying thank you and showing interest in meeting for an interview.

  1.  Finally, check and double check your letter

Make sure there are no spelling mistakes, get someone else to proofread your letter. The last thing you want is to be disregarded because of a simple spelling mistake (it happens more often than you’d think).

Remember, you are not the only person wanting or needing this job. Your cover letter needs to stand out from the crowd while being professional at the same time. Be true to yourself when writing your letter, put some of your personality into it.

In the end you will never really know what type of person they are looking for to fill the position. Sometimes it’s not only about experience and qualifications; a person’s personality can get them a long way and a glimpse of this in your cover letter will hopefully secure you with an interview. Then you can really show them what you are made of.

by Kelly

The REAL way to unwind & chill!

The REAL way to unwind & chill!

“Have a glass of wine. It will relax you.”
“These may make you have weird dreams, but you’ll sleep.”
“You just need to get away and relax. Go on vacation!”

Three coping mechanisms, three different suggestions. But which one of these actually works when it comes to chilling out?
None of them. Temporarily, maybe. But reaching that utopia of complete chill, stress-free living doesn’t come in a bottle, isn’t topped with a cork or isn’t some place you can get to on a plane.

A true state of chill starts from within.

We know what you’re thinking, easier said than done, right? Well, bottled happiness costs money, and a plane ticket isn’t free; but getting to a place of total relaxation without leaving your seat is free and accessible by everyone. When you’re relaxed, you’re happier. And when you’re happier, you’re more productive, more loving and more understanding.

There is nothing to lose.

STEP 1: Quiet.

And by quiet, we don’t just mean be quiet, we mean get quiet. Get to a quiet place, quiet your mind and listen to the sound of nothing. If it helps, a white noise might help you get there – the sound of a fan, the dryer full of towels, waves – all of these are low-level sounds that can help you get to a state of quiet and a place of chill.

STEP 2: Focus. (with your eyes closed)

During troubling or stressful times it can feel all consuming. Thoughts may be racing through your head one hundred miles an hour, especially at night when the distractions of a busy day aren’t there. And although it’s hard, if you can just slow it all down so that you can think logically, you might be able to answer all of life’s questions with some quiet reflection.

Night time speed thinking is rarely resourceful and can blur your vision between perception and reality. Slow down those lightening thoughts and try to focus on one thing; even if that one thing is something so basic, like “just breathe.”

STEP 3: Put yourself first.

Mothers, fathers, managers and supervisors; all of these are titles of responsibility. You carry the load of other people by managing the team; if you fail your team fails, right? Wrong. With you as an ineffectual leader or caretaker, parts of your domain are sure to get neglected or fall apart if you are not in the right head space.

If the thought of 15 minutes of alone time puts you into a panic, then you are exactly the person who needs to take 15 minutes to get quiet. You deserve it, so make it a priority. Because by putting yourself first, you are actually putting your team first. They are who they are because of you, of what you represent and if you are showing up as being tired, irritable and irrational, they will soon follow your lead.

We’re all for a glass of wine, and modern medicine can sure have it’s advantages. But for true chill, there’s nothing quite like getting down to the source. And in this case, the source is you.

3 Steps to handle criticism

3 Steps to handle criticism

One of the greatest fears that we all have in common is the fear of being criticised. It can be the primary reason why people don’t like to speak in public, talk in meetings, even post something on social media sites – all because we’re afraid of what people will say, afraid of how this will look, and we don’t want to be judged.

But without criticism there can be no praise. Think about it – if it was all praise all the time there would be no legitimate judgement and you’d never know if you were actually good at something in the first place.

The key to criticism is how you handle it. Handle it incorrectly and you could establish some real roadblocks and fears that could have a long term effect. Handle it the right way and you could grow in new directions and learn how to handle even bigger hurdles down the road.

Here are a few ways you can not only handle criticism but grow expeditiously because of it:

1.) Be calm.

Anyone’s natural reaction to being criticised would be to get mad and lash out. Blame, diverting or ignoring can be just a few ways that people negatively react to criticism.

The best advice is to take it in. Feel your blood pressure rise and make a conscious effort to remain calm. Even if that means tuning out for just a moment to calm yourself down, it’s worth missing out on a second or two of feedback so you don’t do or say something you might regret later.

Counting to five or just zoning out for a minute could give you enough time to pull yourself together and start developing an appropriate reaction plan.

2.) Listen.

Hearing that you did something wrong or hearing how you could have done it better feels negative. But you can slowly transition it to a positive if you actually listen instead of react.

Is there some truth in their words? Did you rush through the project and make a lot of mistakes? Could you have taken some time to go one step further? If there’s room for improvement, hear it – and take it in.

Getting criticised with no tips to walk away with is wasteful. If you’re going to go through those emotions – pain, embarrassment, anger – that can go along with being criticised, the least you can do is walk away with some guidance so the next time you don’t make the same mistake and have to go through this all over again.

3.) Say thank you.

That’s right. Say thank you.

This is the toughest step. Because out of all the things that you want to say, thank you might be the last thing on your mind. But by saying thank you, you are taking the high road. You are refusing to slip down to an unprofessional level. And, you may find saying thank you will make the criticiser step back a bit, surprised that you are a tough one to knock down, amazed at your resilience. And you know what that gets you? Respect.

If you just can’t seem to push the words “Thank you” from your lips, these others will do:
“I appreciate your feedback.”
“That’s great advice for next time.”
“I’ll work on it.”
“I think with your help, we are going to get there.”
“I hear what you’re saying and I’ll work on your requests.”

Colours to wear for an interview

Colours to wear for an interview

In today’s job market in which companies might interview dozens of potential clients for one position, first impressions are more important than ever!  One important and often overlooked aspect of an interviewee’s first impression is colour.  The colour of your clothing sends a subconscious message to the interviewer about your personality. Research shows that 85% of our communication is non-verbal so choosing what to wear is an important part of your overall presentation.  What you choose to wear communicates a lot about who you are and how you see yourself.

So that leaves the question – “What colour should you wear to make a great first impression?”

BLACK – Leadership

Black can initially be seen as unapproachable, but if worn correctly it can also communicate ‘glamour, sophistication, exclusivity’.  Black is a colour that is to be taken seriously, it is communicating you are a leader in that industry. Black can also connote drama so use it carefully when putting an outfit together – you may want to use it as an accent rather than a primary colour.

BLUE – Team Player

Blue is by far one of the best colours to wear for a job interview because it exudes trust and confidence.  Studies show that navy blue is the best colour for a suit to wear to a job interview, because it inspires confidence. It appears you are more likely to get the job when you wear navy blue to an interview than any other colour. The colour blue conjures up calm, stability, trust, truth, confidence and security, these are all great messages to send without saying a word.

GREY – Logical/Analytical

Wearing grey communicates independence or isolation.  This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as long as you are showing that you are confident at the same time.  Grey is also perceived as being a lonely colour, which may say to others that you are very much a self sufficient and capable individual who is able to think on their own. However after blue this colour is not distracting for the interviewer, which means they will be more focused on what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.


WHITE – Organised

Wearing either white or beige is a safe bet.  The only problem is you run the risk of being considered dull and lacking in self confidence.  Some hirers perceive white to mean that you are organised.  Wearing either white or beige for a job where everyone else is wearing colours may make you stand out in a good way.

BROWN – Dependable

This earthy colour means warmth, safety, reliability and dependability and is a great colour to use if you are in doubt.

RED – Power

Red conveys power and passion and is the best colour to wear when you want to impress or persuade someone it is best to use it only as an accent, and it will make a strong impression.  Many brands use red when they want to be seen as powerful and compassionate, and it is also linked to courage, excitement and exuding energy. For an interview use it sparingly.


These louder colours communicate that you are fun and attract attention, but they do not necessarily elicit feelings of trust or commitment, (not the best message to send in a job interview).  I would leave these colours at home and get them out for happy hour or in house meetings.


Accent colours are colours that are used for emphasis in a colour scheme. These colours can often be bold or vivid and are used sparingly, to emphasise, contrast or create rhythm.

Top Qualities Employers Look for When Hiring

Top Qualities Employers Look for When Hiring

Get the Low Down Here

Gone are the days when the only way to get hired was to present all of your qualifications and list every single one of your skill set down on a piece of paper; we are living in the year 2015 and there are higher priorities to organisations now.

To be highly considered for a role in any organisation you need to demonstrate your ability to adapt to the culture of that particular workplace and work within their values. To demonstrate all you need is a little time to reflect on situations that you have experienced in the past and then write these down on paper. A great example of this is if you were to go for a position in management but you have never had the title of a manager in the past; how do you sell your skills?

1. Demonstrate Transferable Skills

You can suggest that you are able to be molded into the management role within their business which can be more beneficial than bringing in old habits from those who have been in managerial positions before. Try reflecting on times where you have had to demonstrate managerial skills such as time management, multi-tasking, meeting deadlines, conflict resolution etc. and then explain how you managed these situations. How did you behave, how did you get the message across to others, how did you involve others in the process and what outcomes did you achieve? These are all behavioural based responses and employers are looking for that inner quality that allows you to follow their people and culture strategies. The fact that you have not had management experience and the fact that you have not performed some required skills is becoming less and less a priority, the organisation wants to ensure you have what it takes and they can train you in the duties and processes if required.

We recently conducted a survey and the results show that organisations are now looking for the FIT within their company as well as a mixture of basic skills to determine your competency to perform the role.

Employer Wants Stats smaller

2. Qualities vs Qualification

As you can see not only is INTEGRITY the most important quality, have a look at the next five top responses. Values and Cultural Fit, Teamwork, Reliability, Communication Skills and Emotional Intelligence ALL outweigh Previous Experience, Specific Skill Set and also Qualifications. We can safely assume that the level of your personal qualities is important to the employer and being aware of your own values and personal qualities is a step in the right direction in securing your next job. Contemplate how you can communicate these values to an employer in your application. Whether it is in an interview or cover letter it is essential to let your prospective employer know who you are and how you can fit into their company.

3. Believe in Yourself

This should give you, the candidate, an incredible amount of confidence when applying for the job that you really want based on your own personal values and how your values match the employer. When you are identifying vacancies in either external or internal positions you need to weigh up whether you are the right person for the job based on qualities, rather than skills. After you have identified this, believe in yourself, reflect and prove to yourself why you are the best person for the position and then (last but not least) – go get the job and follow your dreams!