Monday, 29 October 2012

Principles of Success

MBI: Patrick W. Jordan
MBI: Patrick W. Jordan (Photo credit: Cedim News)
Patrick W Jordan has distilled the essence of 200 self help books into one short and readable little book! And here they are the five steps to achievement, happiness and fulfillment.

  1. Take responsibility - only you are responsible form your life - don't blame others
  2. Set goals - know what you want and set out to get there
  3. Be positive- surround yourself with optimism and be positive
  4. Persevere intelligently - don't give up at the first obstacle but do give up the unrealistic
  5. Connect with others - empathise, treat others well, forgive and learn form others

    Sounds really easy? And all this is achievable - get the book, get a coach and you can find achievement, happiness and fulfillment.
Life and career coaching is available from and from

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Lessons for your next interview from Dragon’s Den, can you do the interview numbers?

Presentation-quality budgets.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching Dragons Den, there are a number of points when you can see that the Dragons lose interest. One of the critical ones is when they start exploring the numbers. Sometimes the reason they don’t invest is that the numbers just don’t stack up. There is no profit to be had. Another reason they don’t invest is that people don’t know their numbers. Or are confused about the numbers and what they mean. Over and over, under the pressure of the interview, people lose the plot about their costs, revenues and profits.

When you think about it, that makes perfect sense, the Dragons are putting their personal money into someone elses’s business. If that person does not know the difference between, turnover, profit, and margin then why would anyone have confidence in the individual’s ability to increase margin, build turnover and deliver profit? Knowing the numbers is critical to success in the Den, and critical in giving the Dragons confidence in the entrepreneur.

Can you see where I am going with this? All senior roles have budgets, some of them very big budgets; interviewers need to be sure that the candidates can handle those  budgets and that they will be good with the money. The challenge for the interviewer is how to assess that.  It is one of the most difficult areas of skill to really test. Numerical reasoning tests can test arithmetic, but that is not the whole answer. Commercial reasoning tests can test the ability of a candidate to think commercially (understand turnover, margin and profit but not deliver it). Questions in interview tend to be bland and relate to ‘how do you ensure you don’t  overspend?’, ‘how do you deliver increased productivity?’, ‘ tell us what you have done to deliver savings/reduce costs?’. Ok those questions will get you some information about whether the person understands processes.

How can you, as a candidate, give the interviewers confidence that you are good with money?
It starts in the Cv and application: if you don’t talk the language of numbers then you are missing a trick. You need to shown in your Cv that you know the cost and value of everything. You need to demonstrate that you know and understand the metrics of performance.

In your interview you should not wait for the interviewer to ask about money, budgets or revenues, you should be talking naturally about your income, your expenditure and your costs. By knowing and talking confidently about those things you are demonstrating that you think about the financial implications of all your activity. Once you do that, you give the interviewers confidence that you will pay attention to those things.
What is it that makes the difference between someone who is a good financial manager and someone who is not? Being able to see the patterns in the numbers, being able to project. to identify and spot trends all make someone good at managing the money. But, I think one of the absolute key things is that good financial managers pay close attention to the numbers.
 If you talk about the money and know your numbers you can convince the interviews that you are one of those people who pay attention to money, and that you can do all those things you need to do to balance the books or turn the profit. If you think money, talk money and build confidence that you are good with money.

For more career advice and interview support go to
Mary Hope is an experienced senior recruiter and career coach.

budget (Photo credit: The Survival Woman)
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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ensure fairness in your restructuring processes

I was interested to see in an article in the Housing press, that there is a thought that BME middle managers lose out in restructuring.  If they can get into middle management in the first place, what is happening in the internal competitions?  The implication of the article is that the sector is not giving these candidates fair treatment. The article then goes on to talk about the lack of BME representation in the top 50 most influential people in housing.
 As the top 50 was dominated by politicians the two issues should surely not be conflated. The politicians and civil servants (David Cameron, Mervyn King, Eric Pickles, Iain Duncan Smith, Fiona Reynolds) in the list are actually in housing more by chance than choice and owe the sector nothing for their elevation to senior levels of influence in policy making.
I am not disputing the veracity of either piece of research but suggest that the two issues should be tackled separately. In the case of internal re-structures, I really believe that organisations need to do much more to take ‘the luck of the day’ out of their re-organisation procedures. Just because Tribunals accept interview processes as fair does not mean they are the best way to choose managers. We all know that interviews favour the extroverts and the articulate. They favour those that are well versed in the art of being interviewed. For that reason I deliver ‘selection preparation’  training sessions for staff, either in groups or one to one. I advocate objective testing and line manager’s references. And I advocate that all these sources are given equal weighting in the selection decision by an independent panel.
And if the sector is concerned that BME candidates are failing in these processes, use the powers of positive action to make sure that those candidates are given additional training and coaching to get through the selection process. If they can improve their interview skills we may see more people get through the selection process to be an MP and onto that list of influencers in housing.