Keep candidates warm not cold

Recruitment is a bit like dating. There is a lot of emotion and expectation involved behind the scenes. Unexpressed hope. Fragile confidence, fear of rejection, of not being ‘good enough’.

Being aware of and empathetic to these emotions at play behind the ‘transaction’ of recruiting a new person is really important.

From the employer’s point of view, it may be a business ‘transaction’ but to the candidate, it is a life changing, sometimes house moving and school changing upheaval with huge ramifications and also risks, because of employment law, culture fit, impact on partner and children etc.  This is magnified in the uncertain world in which we now live – a VUCA world. (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous)

Good experienced recruiters like Chris Dykes are essential to aid the process, the ‘match making go-between’, connecting the candidate and potential employer and keeping things smooth, expedient and moving forwards.

It is a bit like a Doula represents the interests and wishes of a mother due to give birth, representing her practical and emotional interests to the doctor and midwife, yet ensuring compliance and a safe and successful birth/outcome for the benefit of all parties.

With some candidates having to give 3-6 months’ notice, the cost of getting recruitment wrong, candidates going off the boil, and knock on impact on the running of a department and business is huge!

What do you do to ensure that your recruitment process is engaging? Is your approach building or potentially damaging your employer brand?

With Oxfordshire enjoying a high level of employment and a skills shortage in some cases, applying attention to this area and doing it well will pay dividends.

It isn’t just about wooing the right candidate at the right time, ahead of time for your company’s needs. It means positive or negative word of mouth about your company, comments on social media channels, and an average or poor review on Glassdoor.

  • Does your recruitment process acknowledge the receipt of an application?
  • How long do you take to get back to a candidate after the interview?
  • Do you give candidates feedback about how they performed in their interview?
  • Are you aware of other job options they are considering?
  • What impact does moving jobs and the timing of this have on their children’s schooling?
  • How and when do you communicate the stages of the recruitment process?
  • Do you consider applicants who aren’t an ‘exact fit’ with experience, but who have a brilliant attitude and fresh thinking bringing innovation, or do you screen them out at the outset?
  • What flexible working options do you offer to attract high quality candidates needing work flexibility?

As an analogy, good taxi companies now use technology to create fabulous customer service.

  • Confirmation of your booking by text so you have peace of mind
  • A text to let you know the taxi is on the way
  • A follow up text to let you know the taxi has arrived
  • The taxi driver calling you when they have arrived, so you are not waiting outside in the cold
  • A request for a review with a discount on the next booking as a thank you for you making time to do this

How does your recruitment process compare? In a 24/7 world with enabling technology, high expectations and automated processes, there are no excuses to be anything but excellent. Otherwise your candidates may go cold on you and join your competitor.

This Christmas when you are attending parties and waiting for a taxi, think about how you can humanise your recruitment process more, and the opportunity cost of not doing so.

Rachel Brushfield Rachel Brushfield is The Talent Liberator at Energise – The Talent Liberation Company, founded in 1997. She is a career strategist, coach and published author, with a career heritage in marketing and brand strategy and communications who helps her clients enjoy uplifting breakthroughs at major career crossroads. Rachel’s career coaching specialisms are helping women professionals and executives to gain more career fulfilment and comfortably and competently market themselves, and creating, editing and marketing portfolio careers for a future proof and sustainable career. Rachel co-runs the network PWHub with CPD style quarterly events for senior employed women in Oxfordshire.

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Personal branding

Did you know that you are a brand, and a unique one at that?

People are brands and brands are like people. There may be lots of human beings around, but there’s only one of you. You’re a one off, at least until cloning is legalised.

Personal branding – marketing yourself as a brand is hot news in the United States and often the UK follows the U.S.A. with trends. So how is personal branding relevant to you? First, let’s examine what is a brand and why they exist.

A brand is a product or service with a personality, which occupies a territory in people’s minds. Every time they interact with it, for example a service like Alton Towers or a product like Heinz baked beans, they hopefully have a consistent and positive experience which builds the relationship they have with the brand and their affinity to it. Equally if they have a negative experience, their attachment to the brand is lessened and they start to consider other choices.

A brand’s territory which can be real or imaginary, functional or emotional is something that is desired, e.g. Virgin ‘The People’s champion.‘

The brand’s personality makes it interesting, appealing and relevant to us so that we seek it out, select it over other choices and often pay a premium for it. It has a clear raison d’être and wanting to choose it gives us one less thing to think about in a myriad of overwhelming choices.

Apply the same principles to human beings in life, work and business and the same is true. We all want to be chosen in work, in business, in love, in friendships. We need to stand out and stand for something relevant and desired or we’ll get overlooked and left behind.

In business, we all need to market ourselves to give us an edge over our ‘competitors’; within our companies if employed, at interviews if seeking new employment and with our contacts if self employed.

We all have unique skills and talents, some we were born with and others we acquire along the way. What we don’t want to stand for is blandness, or we’ll be left standing while our competitors leap over or even tread on us.

So how do you market yourself as a brand? Simply work through the following 10 steps, either by yourself or with the help of an experienced coach.

  1. What’s your desired outcome from this exercise?
  2. Who are the people who you want to influence, i.e. your target audiences?
  3. What’s really important to you in life?
  4. What are your skills?
  5. What are your personal qualities?
  6. What are your unique talents?
  7. What sums up what makes you different to your competitors? (your USP)
  8. What are the needs and problems of your target audiences?
  9. How can you help solve the problems of your target audiences using your skills, personal qualities and unique talents?
  10. How can you express your USP utilising all your senses, consistently and impactfully?

Often people are so close to themselves that they forget or cannot see what makes them great or unique. This is especially true with the modest and self-depreciating British!  This is why it can be useful to work with an objective coach who holds up a ‘metaphorical mirror’ so that you can see things clearly.


My personal brand is ‘The Talent Liberator’. What will your personal brand be?

Interested in career coaching to help you achieve a career breakthrough? Visit our web site

A Coaching style of management

Making time to reflect is invaluable in a fast-moving world.

Coaching is a useful way to do this, and this can take place in different forms.

  • Having a coach – having someone who acts as a confidential and objective sounding board who helps you to think, learn, grow and achieve your goals
  • Self-coaching – asking yourself questions and creating time and space to enable yourself to think, get clarity and move forward on challenges
  • A coaching style of management – instead of telling others what to do (being directive), asking incisive questions to enable staff to come up with their own answers so that they learn and grow and become more resourceful and self-able

For some professions and businesses, using a coaching style of management can feel time consuming and alien, but the benefits accrue over time, from the initial investment of your time as a manager.

This blog focuses on a coaching style of management, which is a fast-growing trend in business and a useful and empowering tool in life.

In this article:

Why is a coaching style of management growing?

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) shows that there is immense growth in the use of a coaching style of management in business, with more and more trainings in coaching skills as well as use of internal coaches and external coaches.  Why is this?

  • It is more empowering and motivating to come up with your own answers than be told what to do. The chances of you approaching something in exactly the same way as your boss is unlikely
  • Evolution in management thinking; the UK follows the trends in the USA where coaching is well established
  • Every person is unique and perceives the world and challenges in a different way
  • Organisations are often lean in nature and more productivity needs to be released from less people
  • Modern business is frenetic and stressful so time to think is rare and needs to be created
  • Organisations need to work harder to maintain their competitive advantage, and stress and busyness inhibit creativity and the emergence of insights

What stops a coaching style of management from being used?

Common reasons are:

  • Not knowing how. This can be remedied by either individual or group training and persistence
  • The process feeling time consuming with time pressures and sometimes stress creating a sense of urgency
  • Assuming that everyone sees the world as you and thinks like you when they are not you and they have had a different background
  • Ego and attachment to being right/superior
  • Misplaced belief that being a manager means telling your staff what to do and how to do it
  • Fear of losing control and what impact this will have
  • Lack of time and a perception that coaching someone is time consuming
  • Misperceptions about what coaching is e.g. that it is remedial and for problems when it is a brilliant and effective tool to make more of time and people’s innate resourcefulness
  • Poor planning and prioritisation. Coaching someone is important not urgent and it is much easier to check your e mails and focus on short term priorities
  • Unsuitable environment e.g. open plan offices with lots of interruptions and noise, which inhibit clear thinking
  • Overactive mental chatter due to busyness or a quick mind, which stops you from being present for the person you are coaching
  • Feeling uncomfortable with the silence required for insights to emerge

Benefits of using a coaching style of management

  • Free up time to focus on your priorities
  • Create more motivated and resourceful direct reports
  • Get greater performance and productivity from your employees
  • Develop your leadership competence
  • Spend less time managing direct reports – quality of time not quantity
  • Be perceived as a better manager, an important factor for developing in your career
  • Faster solutions to problems and hurdles
  • Create more clarity to reduce stress, confusion and enhance reputation
  • Increase your marketability and career potential
  • Free up time for strategic thinking and planning
  • The ability to use a coaching style of management indicates confidence
  • Makes the most of time e.g. ‘water cooler’ moments, in the lift to make staff more resourceful

Top 10 tips to successfully use a coaching style of management

  1. Hold the belief that the person has all the answers within them and that your job is to enable them to emerge
  2. Ensure that the conversation has a purpose and a clear outcome e.g. What’s the issue and how will you know that you’ve moved forward?
  3. Let go of being right and your view being the best, even if you have more experience than the person you are coaching
  4. Quieten your mind so that you are fully present and can listen without judgement and without the filter of your own beliefs, values, opinions and ideas
  5. Create a suitable environment without distractions so that focus is uninterrupted
  6. Listen with all your senses including your intuition, don’t interrupt and create space and silence for insights to emerge from the time to think
  7. Ask open expansive incisive questions, what, how, who, when, where, what (avoid ‘why’) to help the person you are coaching to think and come up with new insights
  8. Reflect back what is being said using their words not yours
  9. Notice body language, tone of voice and what is not being said as well as what is being said, avoiding making any assumptions that are likely to be a product of your value and belief system, not theirs
  10. Ensure that there is a clear and timed action with accountability which will move things forward, and offer further support if they need it

When you’re busy, it can be tempting to do something yourself instead of delegating, be directive and tell someone what to do or allow your ego to make you attached to being right. Investing time using a coaching style rather than a directive style of management is time you won’t regret and will provide many benefits and more time, once mastered. Younger staff in particular are hungry to be given responsibility early, involved in projects and decision making, and value attention, so using a coaching style of management will motivate and engage them.

What action will you take today to develop your coaching style of management?


What next? Energise provide a free exploratory 1-hour meeting with the decision maker for human capital in progressive organisations open to change. Get in touch

Rachel Brushfield’s LinkedIn profile: Here

Meaning at work for talent

Oxfordshire has high employment, so there is a lot of competition for quality candidates amongst different employers.

The fact that many employees are sitting in their jobs because of austerity and uncertainty isn’t new news – it has been covered extensively in the media, as has causes of the UK’s poor productivity vs. other European countries.

What may be a surprise is how employees are fed up of the rat race and planning an exit to do work that is more meaningful and which gives back to the world. Many of our career coaching clients say that they are fed up with politics and want to have more influence/control over their work life blend. This represents a danger to big companies and employers generally – how do you keep your talent happy when they want something different to what you are offering, e.g. to be entrepreneurial and become self-employed, or to develop a varied and fulfilling portfolio career?

Can employers meet both the needs of the organisation and talent for a ‘win win’? Losing your best people is an expensive headache and with Generation Y and Generation Z less loyal than previous generations, this situation is likely to get worse over time.

So as an employer, how can you influence talent attraction and retention?

5 tips to create more meaning and autonomy at work for talent

1) Create smaller business units to give increased role variety and enhanced autonomy and responsibility for talent

2) Engage your talent in this problem and get them to come up with the solution

3) Look at what the best small businesses are doing – they are your real competitor

4) Introduce an external expert to elicit talent’s unexpressed needs and aspirations and how they can be met

5) Proactively introduce part time work as the norm so talent can combine security with risk in a portfolio career

Inspiring quote

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Erich Fromm

Self-reflective question

How could our organisation update the psychological contract to give talent more meaning and autonomy?


What next? Energise provide a free exploratory 1-hour meeting with the decision maker for human capital in progressive organisations open to change. Get in touch

Interested in introducing more flexible working practices?

Book your place at our event in London 12-2pm Tuesday 16 July 2019, ‘Flex your work and future proof your career’:

Book Now

What skills are needed in the future world of work and is it the individual, employer, or both who is responsible for ensuring that they are developed? Read our 2-part article on future skills for a lifelong competitive advantage for the award winning Future of Work Hub.  Part 2 features a couple of Oxfordshire organisations.

Future skills for a lifelong competitive advantage part 1

Future skills for a lifelong competitive advantage part 2

The positives of uncertainty

Lost and Confused Signpost

There is a lot of ongoing uncertainty about. But it does have some positives.

While on holiday in Sicily one year, I awoke to hotter than expected June air and the smell of smoke. Mount Etna the volcano erupting I thought.

It wasn’t.

My husband and I headed to the shop in the resort for fresh bread and there very close, beyond the fence was fire. The resort staff had fear in their eyes. Breakfast would have to wait. No need to use the toaster today.

Returning quickly to our apartment the phone rang. “Down to the beach now”, the voice said. We left immediately, without taking even water or a book.

At the beach we joined other holiday makers, standing on the sand, their faces covered with towels.

From the beach, we could see fires getting closer, large trees ignited in seconds. We were not certain that they would be contained, whether we could return to our apartment that day, or indeed at all. Uncertainty cloaked the air like the smoke. Water was handed out and cloth to put over our faces. Parents with young children looked worried. Later we were told it was no longer safe to stay at the beach and we must move to the pool area higher up.

This way that way signOur uncertainty about what was happening was magnified as the updates were given in Italian and German, but not English, and we were the only English! We finally returned to our apartment 8 hours later, our short ordeal, captives from the wild fires over.

I faced a day of uncertainty due to the fires in Sicily. The Leave decision means people in the UK face 2 years plus of uncertainty. Many people, businesses and the city dislike uncertainty. How do you feel about it?

One of the things I love about my portfolio career is its uncertainty. I have been self-employed for over 22 years with the occasional certainty of a contract, which I sought if I was going abroad for a month at Christmas. In the main, I have little certainty and I love the fact that it is always changing and I can influence its shape myself.

Uncertainty doesn’t have to be negative, it is how you choose to perceive it.

Positives of uncertainty

  • The feeling of surprise
  • Reduced chance of complacency
  • Extra vigilance and awareness of trends and their impact
  • Not boring
  • A sense of curiosity about what is around the corner
  • Focus on living in the moment and being present
  • Appreciating what you have now rather than thinking about what you might have in future
  • A sense of wonder and possibility
  • Being nimble and agile to respond to what changes
  • Being adaptable
  • Focusing on what you CAN influence not what you can’t
  • The liberating feeling of creating your destiny and being responsible for your own outcomes
  • Taking a creative, enterprising solution focused approach
  • Growing resilience
  • Adopting the attitude that you can and will work it out as you go along, rather than everything having to be perfect and certain

All these positive aspects of uncertainty are also a characteristic of having a portfolio career.

A portfolio career is like having ‘career insurance’, peace of mind for uncertain times. I love my portfolio career and helping people to create theirs. I have an ‘inner turbo boost resilience button’ which is activated when the going gets tough – I access extra resourcefulness to overcome challenges and see uncertainty as an opportunity not a threat.

Uncertainty does not have to be your foe, it can be a friend. A portfolio career is perfect for uncertain times, now more than ever.

How can we help you to create your portfolio career or make a career change? Get in touch.

Energise Events

1 day ‘Headspace for clarity’ career workshop 9.30am to 5pm Thursday 11 July 2019, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. Book now.

2-4pm Tuesday 16 July 2019 ‘Flex your work and future proof your career’ London. Early bird tickets on sale.

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