“The main benefit from working with Challenge Consulting is the guarantee of finding the best possible person for the position required.”

Wendy Tunbridge – Uniting
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]


In order to be effective team members, or to become effective team leaders, supervisors or managers, we first need the direction of a great leader.

‘Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.’ —Peter Drucker

Have you had a great manager that stands out in your mind? How did they help you develop your career? Or perhaps you are currently a manager? Do you know what your team members need?

Melissa Raffoni submitted a blog in the Harvard Business Review on Eight Things Your Employees Want From You (as the manager):

1. Tell me my role, tell me what to do, and give me the rules. Micromanaging? No, it’s called clear direction. Give them parameters so they can work within broad outlines.

2. Discipline my co-worker who is out of line. Time and time again, I hear, “I wish my boss would tell Nancy that this is just unacceptable.” Hold people accountable in a way that is fair but makes everyone cognizant of what is and isn’t acceptable.

3. Get me excited. About the company, about the product, about the job, about a project. Just get them excited.

4. Don’t forget to praise me. Motivate employees by leveraging their strengths, not harping on their weaknesses.

5. Don’t scare me. They really don’t need to know about everything that worries you. They respect that you trust them, but you are the boss. And don’t lose your temper at meetings because they didn’t meet your expectations. It’s often not productive. Fairness and consistency are important mainstays.

6. Impress me. Strong leaders impress their staff in a variety of ways. Yes, some are great examples of management, but others are bold and courageous, and still others are creative and smart. Strong leaders bring strength to an organisation by providing a characteristic that others don’t have and the company sorely needs.

7. Give me some autonomy. Give them something interesting to work on. Trust them with opportunity.

8. Set me up to win. Nobody wants to fail. Indecisive leaders who keep people in the wrong roles, set unrealistic goals, keep unproductive team members, or change direction unfairly just frustrate everybody and make people feel defeated.

Does your manager know what you need to be successful?

It is up to each of us to make our expectations and needs clear to our manager. While it may be an easier option to blame the boss when things go wrong, remember that management is also dealing with many other tasks on a broader scale and they too are human and make mistakes. And even while they may appear to be busy, it is important for you to approach them and provide feedback when needed. Taking accountability and showing initiative by taking action is part of the way we grow, both personally and professionally.

Managers are not expected to be mind-readers however, when it comes to employee goals and expectations. In order for effective progress to be made, communication needs to be established between both parties to achieve company goals, personal goals and when processes/procedures need to finalised by (setting deadlines, follow up meetings etc.).

Companies across Australia are about to be busy with Performance Appraisal Meetings – what feedback will give to your manager? What do you need to be most effective in your work?

I personally need a manager that I can approach to ask questions or report issues to. Who can make the time to sit with me to discuss upcoming tasks. Not only that, but someone who can allow me to get the job done and make decisions on my own and I can report to back to if I have any questions/issues.

If you set out your needs and management sets out their needs, it is then the process of collectively working together to achieve those goals and move forward. In order to work collectively however, you will need to consider the following:

• Not all goals/strategies may be agreed upon when meetings take place. Certain goals may be put on hold to be re-evaluated at a later stage. However, take the opportunity to ask management to review this again if you are truly passionate about it and believe it will benefit the overall business.

• Try to understand from a bigger picture where your goals tie in with the company goals. This will help you to understand management’s perspective and will help further build your bond between one another instead of creating a barrier.

• You need to be adaptable and flexible with the feedback we are provided with. This needs to be taken into consideration from the manager and employee perspective, as you will both have the opportunity to share your opinions. Don’t take constructive feedback too personally. As one of my articles in this week’s news outlines, use feedback to your advantage.

I have been in situations in the past where management has offered me the opportunity for advancement for hard work and effort, and I have also been advised on times where I needed to step up my game and it does leave you in a situation of vulnerability as negative feedback can feel like a personal attack. The shields go up and you may end up spending a long period of time reflecting on the negative instead of looking for positive solutions.

Listening to management’s feedback and then offering feedback to work together towards a solution is the best way that I have found dealing with feedback and also getting my own needs met within any organisation. It could even be something like ‘further training’ required in a particular field or area of your job and you should never be afraid to ask, especially if it offers advancement within the company.

Have you compiled a list of items that you would like to discuss with your manager? It’s never too late to do so. Take the time to assess the most important items or ones that require more immediate action. Also make sure to review what goals will overall benefit your career and the organisation as a whole.

Are you prepared to take action and approach management about your needs/goals? You don’t need to wait until the performance review, and you can even arrange a meeting if you would like to discuss items in more detail. In order for changes to take place, someone needs to be the initiator, so why not take the stand and be the one to enforce it. You will feel better knowing that you took the steps to voice you needs rather then spending your days wondering ‘what if’?

As a manager, what feedback have you received from your team? How did you handle this feedback and what did you provide to your staff in return?


I recently saw an article on www.recruiter.com about ‘What Motivates People To Jump’, and it had me thinking why in today’s climate would someone be motivated to change their current career path to pursue something completely different? Is it a generational thing? Did the career you strived for not end up being what you had hoped it would be? Or do the current conditions of the workplace cause you to throw up your hands and say, ‘That’s it! I’ve had enough!’

In one of my previous blogs, ‘Are more people today settling for any job as opposed to finding their dream job?’ I found that most people were settling more for a job that pays the bills as opposed to actively pursuing their dream jobs, so again this has me wondering, are we actively thinking this through if we are volunteering our resignation, whatever the reason may be? Is it that easy to find another job just around the bend?

I came up with some possible reasons as to why I thought someone would volunteer to leave their current job, and this is what you voted:

  • Lack of motivation – Only 8% of you agreed with this
  • Poor relationship with higher management – 50% of you agreed to this
  • They want more money – Only 8% of you agreed with this
  • No opportunities for career advancement/ No job security – 33% of you agreed to this

It’s good to see again that you consider the relationship factor more important than the money when it comes to workplace sustainability, and another website I observed http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com confirms:

  • Employers who think their people leave for more money: 89%
  • Employees who actually do leave for more money: 12%

It also goes on to say that four out of the seven hidden reasons why employees choose to leave is because of ‘Little or no feedback/coaching is provided in their roles, they feel devalued and unrecognized, they feel overworked and stressed out or lack of trust or confidence in their leaders.’

Uh-oh management, are you reading this?

That is not to say we need to point the finger at one cause, but to be successful as a manager you need to understand the needs of your employees before any growth within your organisation can take place. And with an environment that is constantly changing in terms of trends and needs, are you being adaptable? Are employees approaching you for advice because they know you will listen to them? If you are investing all of that time and money into your organisation, why not invest it in your employees?

With that said, the attitude of staff members also need to be positive when dealing with constructive feedback and guidance from managers within the workplace. You may not be an identical personality type to your current manager, but as long as you can find an understanding in each other when it comes to the focus of the business then you can at least create less tension in your day to day activities. If you haven’t already, I found the Myers Briggs Personality Profiling to be quite advantageous in terms of finding out what personality type you are , as well as reviewing other personality types in the workplace and how you can best interact and co-exist with different personalities.

A website called http://voices.yahoo.com also points out that a lack of clear direction because of the company structural changes can also cause frustration amoungst employees because they feel a lack of security as to what the future holds for them. I can relate to this, however, this can always depend on an individual’s viewpoint on change.

Most organisations that I can remember working for have gone through some sort of structural ‘change’. Either changes in management or procedures, or just overall adapting to more modern methods of completing daily tasks. I have been offered full time roles as a result of theses, been promoted to then brought back to the same position again, I have been made redundant, you name it! And even recently our organisation is undergoing change. But when you can see the change overall affecting the greater good of the company, and you get to take part in that, that is when I find change to be good. It’s new, challenging/exciting and motivating is it not? That’s certainly how I see it now.


A less dramatic reason to leave the current role would be because the job does not fit the talents or interests of an individual, or that the role was not what the candidate expected it to be. We have all been there one way or another, and each new role we take on is a stepping stone in the path to our future careers.

One piece of advice that I would like to give any individuals that may be changing roles on a more frequent basis, from a recruitment perspective, would be to try and maintain a decent level of time within an organisation, as this will show company loyalty and commitment when reviewing your resume. Unless you are on a working holiday visa, if it appears that you are moving around every couple of months within organisations, employers who are looking for longer term commitments from applicants may question investing there time in you for the long haul.

Do you have any feedback on this blog or anything else that you would like to add? Please have your say below. Don’t forget to check out our latest poll as well, Do you believe that the measure of success is through a dollar figure? You could be in the draw to win a Hoyts Cinema Double Pass!


Have you ever wondered as an employee if you were given the opportunity to be ‘the boss’ for your workplace, what you would do differently? Would your approach to the role be even more remarkable than just managing tasks?

On the other hand, you may also be in the position of ‘the boss’ and have your own methods and qualities that you have learned over the years that you have found to work really well in the workplace.

Regardless of where your position is currently, in last week’s poll I listed what I thought to be some key qualities which were:

  • Strong leadership qualities
  • Someone who has the ability to be diplomatic in difficult situations
  • Someone who can motivate their staff
  • Someone who can adapt to changes in the workplace
  • Someone who is reliable

Of course the list of qualities can be endless depending on your personal preferences, however, based on the list above, the top two choices that received the highest votes were: Someone who could motivate their staff (76%) and Strong Leadership Qualities (74%) with reliability coming in third.

I was also happy to read your responses to see how important you found the value of having a close relationship with your employers, having someone who is ‘genuine’, ‘approachable’, ‘trustworthy’  and with strong ‘listening skills’ when it comes to their staff. Someone who can also promote their staff, developing them within their roles by being a mentor and sharing the company vision.

‘The most outstanding bosses I’ve ever had, don’t generally see themselves as ‘the boss’. They see themselves as one of the others and act accordingly. Obviously they put on their boss hat when needed and can mentor me and guide me, but we can then go to lunch and laugh together about common things.’

I remember once in a previous role, an email was sent out with different levels on management CC’d in the correspondence about a particular event that I was running at the time. The person who distributed this email had made a comment, which appeared almost like an accusation, about a situation that had not been handled properly directed at myself without first corresponding with me on the situation.

As we all know, tone can often be misread in emails, but needless to say I felt humiliated, especially since higher levels of management were included on this email and I did not have a chance to explain myself before being blamed for something that was actually a false conclusion.

Without even having to ask, my boss responded with a ‘Reply All’ to that comment, as I had been liaising with her on all aspects of the event, and in a very professional and assertive manner explained the accurate details of the situation and put that staff member in their place. We later had a meeting with that staff member and we never had a miscommunication on email again.

I know how busy employers can be, but wow did I ever feel valued as an employee that day. I was very lucky to have such open environment for communication with my boss because otherwise who knows what the outcome of that situation would have been.

A recent article posted on www.inc.com listed ‘The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses’ as the following:

  1. Develop every employee – not just reaching targets, but providing the training, mentoring and opportunities that your employees need and deserve.
  2. Deal with problems immediately – Nothing kills team morale more quickly than problems that don’t get addressed.
  3. Rescue your worst employee – Before you remove your weak link from the chain, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead. Find out what is going on and work together on improvement strategies.
  4. Serve others, not yourself – If it should go without saying, don’t say it. Your glory should always be reflected, never direct.
  5. Always remember where you came from – In the eyes of his or her employees, a remarkable boss is a star. Remember where you came from, and be gracious with your stardom. If an employee wants to talk about something that seems inconsequential, try not to blow them off, as they are seeking you for a reason.

I personally like number five. Sometimes we have been in a particular role for so long that we often forget that we were once in a junior position. We forget how important it was to seek someone that we looked up to who could guide us in the right direction, especially with our future careers. How can we ever know what potential the junior staff have if we do not allow them the opportunity to seek that advice so that they can grow?

So maybe the strongest quality of all as the boss is to be ‘human’. If employers can’t relate to their staff and are just trying to reach deadlines, more will be at a loss then what you could gain through working together. If interaction/communication is lacking, then all employees may as well be ‘robots’ in the daily grind. Fortunately, as individuals, we are much more valuable then machines.

Haven’t had your say? Please do not hesitate to express your feedback below, otherwise I have launched our new weekly poll: Would you hire someone based on potential or experience?

The results for this poll will be published after 10th April 2012 as I am off to New Zealand to take part in my walk for charity so stay tuned and have a wonderful Easter! If you have time this weekend, feel free to have a look at the progress of my team The Bush Ramblers.


One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

“The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 


To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …


Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


I should admit from the outset that this topic is one that is very close to my own heart. When I posted the poll on Facebook last week – How do you like your desk: Streamlined Order or Organised Chaos?one of my ex-colleagues left a comment along the lines of “Kate has the neatest, most clutter-free desk I have ever seen in my entire life”. 

To further illustrate this, do you know what I spent two hours doing last night? Pulling out each and every CD I own (a couple of hundred) (yes, I have CDs, I am that old. I even have LPs … far out), deciding which ones I did not want any more, and then putting the rest back again in neatly stacked columns, but not before grouping CDs by the same artist together, of course. 

Sure, this might be an extreme example, but I know I am not alone in my quest for an orderly existence. 

68% of respondents to last week’s poll said they like their work desk to be kept in “streamlined order”, whiles 32% said their work desk more closely resembled “organised chaos”. 

Now, I think the word “organised” in the latter option is interesting to note. As one respondent said (a trifle defensively, perhaps, but still), “To an outsider looking in my desk may seem chaotic, however, there is an order and a working system in the organised chaos. Volume of work creates that outcome sometimes, and I think streamlined order can reflect not enough work and too much time to tidy.” Along the same lines, another responded, “although I have paperwork and piles everywhere I know where everything is.” Yet another resorted to the old chestnut, “a clean desk is sign of a sick mind”. What is that about? I much prefer “tidy desk, tidy mind”. 

Are you the kind of person who thinks a messy desk makes you look busy and important? Consider what your desk says about you, and the impact it has upon your productivity. If I had to waste time trying to find things 75 times a day, I would get less done, be more stressed, waste more time, and cost my boss more money. 

“According to OfficeTeam, a US-based recruitment specialist, a messy desk could reflect poorly on your professional reputation. Polling more than 500 human resources managers, the survey found that 83% of those surveyed felt the appearance of an employee’s workspace affected how they perceived that person’s professionalism … ‘A tidy desk won’t necessarily boost your career, but a messy one can leave a bad impression on colleagues,’ says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. ‘By taking simple steps to organise your workspace, you also will be able to find materials more easily and increase your productivity.’” [Source

Of course there are different levels of disorder. A few piles of paper and folders is one thing, but this:

is quite another.

I mean, if you work alone, fine – do what you want. But, as always when working with others, it is about striking a balance between conducting our work in a style that suits our preferences with not impacting or encroaching negatively upon the work spaces and preferences of others. Considerate behaviour, in other words. What a revelation!

Our new poll is live! Tell us: how much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …


Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


The Challenge Consulting office is on edge. As we always are at this time of year. The level of competitiveness will soon reach fever pitch. The coveted title of ‘Tipster of the Year’ is up for grabs! It is true that some members of the Challenge Team are more excited than others about the end of the NRL Season approaching. We won’t name the tipster who elatedly declared “It is nearly over!” when made aware that this weekend is the final round of the season. Naturally they were over moon to hear that the tipping continues for four more rounds of finals action – when each correct tip will earn double points!

So as I sat down to write this week’s Challenge Blog – of course I had to use a sporting analogy. I had planned to use the recent Phil Gould spray on the Sunday Roast about head high tackles being an accepted “part of the game” as the basis of my sporting metaphor. But then Friday night happened. Two of this year’s most successful NRL Teams were involved in a brawl that has since resulted in both clubs being fined $50,000 by the NRL and 11 players facing charges, just a week out from the finals.

This week the Challenge Poll asked: “Who do you think is most responsible for managing workplace conflict?”

In the case of the Storm versus Sea Eagles, there have been varying views as to responsibility: Wayne Bennett (Coach for St George Illawarra Dragons) – declared “The players have got to be accountable. We just can’t keep blaming someone else”, whilst Monday morning NRL Chief Executive David Gallop weighed in to say: “This isn’t a time for anyone to be looking for excuses or deflecting blame to others … both clubs need to face up to their responsibility for the overall behaviour of their players.” Whilst pointing out “As much as we are keen to take any lessons that can be taken I stress that anyone who blames the referee for what happened on Friday night is wrong and that they are looking to escape the real issue at hand.” Perhaps the real issue at hand is the question of how did the culture of the NRL get to the point that this year’s two most successful teams participated in such an ugly brawl?

Our recent Challenge Consulting Poll suggested that mostly the buck needs to stop with Line Managers, with 52% of respondents suggesting that Line Managers were mostly responsible for managing workplace conflict. The remainder of the votes were split pretty evenly amongst: HR, Senior Management, and Co-Workers, with a handful of voters selecting: ‘other’ and confirmed that managing Workplace Conflict is the responsibility of everyone. But what role should everyone play or how can we help Line Managers to ensure that conflict doesn’t become counterproductive?

►      “Each and every one of us is responsible. As much as line/senior managers should step in where necessary -it is up to all of us.”

►      “While Senior Management should ultimately be held accountable, HR should provide the strategic guidance and tools for management to be effective in the management of conflict.”

►      “Everybody should share this responsibility. Effective policies and procedures will empower all staff to recognise conflict appropriately, deal with it in a professional way, and limit the negative effects on the rest of the business.”

During the recent Challenge Consulting discussion forum we discussed that conflict based on tasks and ideas is not always negative if managed effectively. In fact, a lack of conflict in some teams can be a sign of dysfunction. But we do know that conflict not managed proactively or effectively can have a range of negative consequences*, and can escalate out of control, much like what we saw on Friday night. During the Discussion Forum we explored the different conflict management styles people adopt, and confirmed that some organisations through their procedures, environment, and culture may escalate counter-productive workplace conflict**. Some could say that the examples of players pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour over the last few weeks may have influenced the conflict we saw on Friday night. But does this deny responsibility? No.

Each one of us, regardless of level in the organisation, has responsibility for creating an environment where we can be our most productive. Senior Management needs to lead the way through their behaviour and actions. HR needs to help in developing the framework so that there are clear boundaries as to what is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and what to do when things have moved beyond what is productive. Line Managers need to develop the skills to build trust in their people through open dialogue and proactive feedback that encourages collaboration and proactive sharing of ideas. Whilst each one of us has responsibility to take the time to understand our peers and work within the frameworks that have been set out for us to manage conflict effectively. When counterproductive conflict does occur, we each have responsibility to manage it immediately, respectively and consistently.

And for those playing along at home – Carmen Mackrill, Della Einfeld and Patricia Hegarty are currently leading the Challenge Tipping Competition – who will take the coveted prize? No doubt the competitive spirit will heat up over the coming weeks, but with Senior Management leading the way, a clear framework for managing disputes, and open and transparent dialogue, our conflicts should be based on the task at hand, rather than counterproductive behaviours, because at the end of the day we have a Tipping Competition to win!

Want to know how Challenge Consulting helps Line Managers build their Conflict Management Skills – Effective Supervision Workshop or how Challenge Consulting help teams proactively manage conflict – Team Building Workshops.

How do you help manage counterproductive conflict in your team and organisation?

Disclaimer: During the discussion forum we discussed that sometimes Workplace Conflict reaches a point that may need external mediation. For more information, please refer to our article on Workplace Bullying and the references listed.

* When it’s not always black and white, Human Capital Magazine

** Hershcovis, Turner, Barling, Arnold, Dupre, Inness, LeBlanc, & Sivanathan (2007). Predicting Workplace Aggression: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Applied Psychology 92, 228–238.


This week’s blog post is by guest blogger, Carmen Mackrill, Challenge Consulting’s People Services Consultant …

I had the pleasure of travelling to Brisbane last week to attend the 9th Industrial/Organisational Psychology Conference 2011.

Walking across the Victoria Bridge on the way to the Conference and Exhibition Centre, it was hard to imagine that only 6 months ago, parts of Brisbane were completely under water!

Now, despite the complications caused by the volcanic smoke affecting air travel in and around Australia, with true Aussie ‘can-do’ spirit the conference organisers remained undeterred and the conference went ahead as planned. And what a worthwhile event to attend!

The principal focus throughout the conference “connecting people”.

Following last week’s blog post by my colleague Tiffany Whitby on women in the workplace, here I will share my thoughts and impressions of a particularly interesting keynote address on “managing stereotypes in the workplace”, presented by Michigan State University’s Professor Ann Marie Ryan.

But first, just how prevalent is stereotyping in the workplace?

Our latest online poll asked: “Have you ever experienced stereotyping in the workplace?”

Alarmingly, 75% of respondents answered “yes”.

This is backed up by Angela Priestly in a recent article from the Women & Leadership in Australia e-newsletter*: “stereotyping in the workplace (especially in the legal profession) is ever prevalent and diversity programmes have the tendency to focus on numbers rather than on the wider issue of diversity.”

In her conference presentation, Professor Ryan reiterated that whilst organisations should have certain strategies in place to counteract or manage stereotypes in the workplace, employees also use their own strategies to protect themselves and their identity from being stereotyped against. Specifically, individuals make a conscious decision to either express something about themselves or not, to counter the perceived effects of stereotyping.

According to Professor Ryan, individuals use the following strategies:

1. Concealing their identity (i.e. concealing an aspect of themselves that they perceive will be open to stereotype)

2. Acknowledging their identity and putting it out there

3. Avoiding discussion of or acknowledgment of their identity

4. Disidentifying with a perceived stereotype

5. Disconfirming e.g. counter stereotyping

6. Educating others and advocating for their identity

Professor Ryan emphasised that individuals are most satisfied when they celebrate all aspects of themselves, rather than masking an aspect that they perceive could be stereotyped against. She also referred to a study done by Vignoles et al 2006**, who suggested that individuals “… are motivated to maintain or enhance feelings of self-esteem, continuity, distinctiveness, belonging, efficacy and meaning in their identities”.


The hard reality is that cost of being stereotyped against because of some aspect of your identity can be high. Advice to both individuals seeking a job or an incumbent job holder on strategies for managing their identity will obviously vary, as their motivation for impression management will differ according to the situation that they are faced with.

Managers should be aware of the different strategies that individuals adopt to prevent stereotyping, and work with the wider organisation in fulfilling its responsibility to minimise stigmatisation through implementing policies to encourage diversity, diversity training, targeted recruitment efforts, and most importantly creating an organisational culture that embraces the uniqueness of all employees and allows them to bring the strengths of their true identity to the team.

In the end, those organisations that do breed a culture of high stigmatisation will be the biggest losers, whilst organisations that embrace diversity will ensure success for themselves and their employees.


* A. Priestly (2010). Diversity: Far from female only. Women & Leadership Australia eNewsletter, May

** Vignoles, V.L., Regalia, C., Manzi, C., Golledge, J., Scabini, E. (2006). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 90(2), 308-333.

Disclaimer: The Fair Work Ombudsman can help people who believe they have been subject to unlawful discrimination in relation to their employment. The Fair Work Ombudsman investigates allegations of unlawful workplace discrimination and may initiate litigation against a national system employer for contravening the Fair Work Act 2009. For more information contact: Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94 or review the fact sheet


Our Guest Blogger this week is Challenge Consulting’s Organisational Psychologist Narelle Hess

Challenge Consulting recently facilitated a discussion forum to explore the purpose, value, and practice of performance reviews with a group of Division Managers, Human Resources Managers, Executive Managers, and Business Owners. Our participants began with a view of performance reviews that was decidedly beige, consistent with our recent poll result (68% of respondents rated their performance appraisal as a waste of time), and Samuel Cuthbert’s famous slamming of the performance appraisal.

So why are organisations implementing performance reviews? Our participants described many strategic aims of their annual process, including:

• motivating employees and to help them grow professionally

• developing individual goals to support organisational strategy

• creating an organisational culture of high performance

• helping employees understand their role

• calculating bonuses

• developing training and development plans

• informing succession planning, and

• predicting salary growth. 

With such strategic aims of performance reviews, why are they still seen as a waste of time? Or as Fetzer (2008) put it so nicely – “a review is looked upon as onerous and bureaucratic procedure that wastes time because little, if any, productiveness is achieved during one. It is performed solely as a requirement of the organisation to have a box checked as ‘completed’ and then forgotten for another year.” *

Can the performance review be resurrected to produce the strategic organisational aims it aspires to OR will it remain to be seen as a bureaucratic procedure that wastes time and causes demotivation and low productivity? The consensus across our group was that there was a place for a performance review, but it had to have a clear, measurable purpose, part of a larger performance management process (and not just a once a year check box), and add value at all levels. (Challenge Consulting can help with the implementation of strategic performance review process through our in-house professional development Performance Management Workshops.)

But what about you? As you are about to enter performance review season and sit down with your manager – how can you ensure this process is not a waste of your time? Tiffany Whitby, Challenge Consulting Consultant, recently attended a seminar with Lois Frankel (author of “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” and associated publications) – where she recommended 6 weeks before your performance review to write a summary of your key achievements since your last review and email your manager saying something along the lines of “I know how busy you are and, since I have a performance review coming up, I have put together a list of my achievements since our last review”. (Tiffany will be sharing more of her insights from this seminar in next week’s blog post …)

Last year, I had the opportunity to present at the “Reinvent Your Career Expo” on how to use your performance review to help your career. The performance review can be used as an opportunity to help you manage your career, when you actively participate in the performance review process:

• there is higher consistency between your manager’s and your appraisal of your performance.**

• you are more likely to feel like you have had an active voice and more satisfied with the outcome of your performance appraisal.***

To be an active participant in the appraisal process, prepare for your meeting by considering:

• your key achievements (i.e. feedback you received, KPIs you achieved, new processes that you developed / implemented, or awards you received etc.)

• aspects of your role that you have performed best (i.e. tasks people always ask you for help with, tasks you finish fastest, or that you do without thinking about) – what projects would you like to be involved in the next period of time?

• aspects of your role that you would like to do better (i.e. tasks you need help completing or tasks you tend to put off) – what could help you perform these aspects of your task better – tools / training / change in role?

• What feedback do you want to give your manager to help you to be able to better perform your role?

• Be involved in the goal setting / developmental plan process – what skills do you want to develop in your career?

• Between reviews, bring out your record of your review to review your success towards the plan you made for yourself.


* Fetzer, J. (2008). Building a professional career: Improving the performance review. Biological and Environmental Reference Materials (BERM 11).

** Williams, J. R. & Johnson, M. A. (2000), Self-Supervisor Agreement: The Influence of Feedback Seeking on the Relationship Between Self and Supervisor Ratings of Performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30: 275–292. 

*** Cawley, B.D., Keeping, L. M. & Levy, P. E. (1998). Participation in the performance appraisal process and employee reactions: A meta-analytic review of field investigations. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 83(4), Aug 1998, 615-633.