Attracting regional employees is a hard sell

If you follow me on social media you would have seen these posts popping up over the past week

When I look at Seek advertising, local business websites and speak to jobseekers & business leaders based outside of Kalgoorlie-Boulder one thing becomes glaringly clear.

We just don’t do a very good job of selling ourselves

One thing I think we can all agree on is it is a lot more sustainable for our businesses & community if people who work here; live here, and, we need to bring residents back to the town. We need to grow the population to ensure essential services, a healthy retail environment and the type robust economic & community environment that encourages continued population growth.

Where to start?

If you don’t already have a recruitment strategy in place seriously consider it. It forces you to look at your current practices and external forces which may prevent you from attracting quality employees.

Know who your demographic is & tailor your advertising to suit. Millennials are those born 1981 – 1996, so at the top end someone aged 38 and at the low end someone aged 23. This generation makes up 50% of the workforce and are our emerging leaders.

We know that millennials consume digital content the most; they stream music over listening to the radio and stream TV over sitting down and watching live free to air tv.

Print, radio & tv advertising is largely wasted money when trying to grab this generations attention.

If you have digital content thats hard to consume ie: overly formal, unnecessary text or information, poor image quality, no emotional connection, then they will scroll straight past. Opportunity lost.

When writing your seek or social media employment advertising view it from the view point of the person reading it. Am I telling them What, am I telling them Who, am I telling them Why?

Have you considered embedding some video footage into the base of the ad?

This one is FREE from the KBCCI on You Tube

Or if you frequently recruit & are going through a period of growth why not create your own content?

Want to read more? I wrote this post 12 months ago about selling Kalgoorlie when you recruit.

When it comes to selling Kalgoorlie as a great place to live we all play a part. But if theres one message I want to reinforce, it’s that no-one is expecting you to do this all on your own. Don’t be shy about outsourcing components of your business if they are areas that aren’t your strength, I mean you outsource your finances & taxation to an Accountant don’t you? Why not outsource your HR too?

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day

Simone Pickering | The People & Culture Office


Building an “always learning” culture

“No matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, more to learn, more to achieve” Barack Obama

One of my favourite questions to ask of potential new employees is “what is something in your area expertise would you’d like to learn more about”

When looking to future employees I’m looking for not only someone who can, and, is willing to learn something new, but someone with enough self awareness to understand there is ALWAYS something to learn.

I’m about to bang on now about how the workforce is changing and how entrenching a culture of continuous learning is a must for attracting and retaining not just younger employees (16 – 37 year old demographic), but any employee who values their position within an organisation and wants to bring as much value as they can to their role. In other words, the type of employee you’d be lucky to score.

So lets start with my favourite subject – the changing landscape of the workplace

Learning is no longer just for students or apprentices & trainees. Technological advances, such as AI and automation, are creating an environment of almost constant change – not just at work, in every aspect of our lives. Businesses that don’t encourage and enable their employees to adapt to the changes will lose their competitive edge.

Traditional employee learning and development strategies are based on a stable and predictable environment. That, for better or worse, no longer exists.

On a small scale we are talking about minor changes to internal processes; ie: the requirement for handover notes or incident reports to be completed online meaning all employees need some level of computer competency, for a big picture example, thanks to technology a multitude of businesses can now operate in a digital & global space that just wasn’t conceivable for them 20 years ago.

It’s also no longer enough to employ someone and expect them to remain stagnant in their nominated field of work. Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends’ report found 42 per cent of millennials are likely to leave their organisations because they’re not learning fast enough. That number is astounding, especially when 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025.

What’s needed for organisations to survive and thrive in this new world is education; creating a culture of continuous learning that helps older staff shift into this new, fast changing era, and to satisfy the younger workforce’s desire to learn.

It requires a change in mindset, but the rewards are positive. Leaders who embrace the concept of a learning culture understand that learning is a natural process, that people yearn to grow. These organisations cultivate employee potential through learning opportunities and experiences.

And now onto my next point – thanks to technology workplace learning is now easier than ever.

Thanks to applications such as Zoom & Skype workplaces can access coaching, webinars and structured training right from their desks.

TAFE’s around Australia have been delivering course content 100% online for some years now.

Depending on your industry, there may be an industry specific LMS system available for you to join in order to access learning modules for your employees.

And finally the *most* important factor in building a culture of continuous learning within your organisation – senior employees & leaders who possess the skills to coach employees.

Most people within a leadership position was probably bought up through the ranks by what’s known as a “Command & Control” leader, defined by traits such as; I’m the manager, so I make the rules; Your job is to do what I say; If you mess up, I’ll let you know about it; If you don’t hear from me, that means you’re doing fine; You’d better be careful not to make a mistake, or cross me!; I make the policies, and you follow them.

If this was your boss how willing do you think you’d be to try something new? Not very; you’d be terrified of getting in trouble.

Growth and innovation comes from trying new things; stepping outside of your comfort zone; not being afraid to fail. It requires a collaborative and innovative leader.

When people think of coaching employees to learn something new, they think in terms of just showing them what to do. “First we do this” “If this happens you need to do that”

Coaching is about providing your employees the tools and capacity to discover the solutions for themselves as opposed to the how and when to complete a task. The leader still makes decisions but the conversation in getting there is two way.

It’s about developing your employees by providing regular support & feedback to allow their careers to progress to where they aspire to be. The ongoing dialogue of coaching communication guarantees that employees know what is expected of them and how their work fits into a larger vision or strategy of the organisation. 

The unfortunate reality is most people in leadership roles do not coach or develop their employees — ever.

Organisations with neglected learning cultures experience high talent turnover, struggle to keep customers, and ultimately fall behind competitors. These organisations may be profitable in the short term, but they ultimately fail.

On a scale of thriving to failure, where would you rather be?

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day

Simone Pickering | The People & Culture Office


People | Process | Power

Workforce Planning | The People & Culture Office

Last week I wrote this post to give you an overview of strategic HR management and how each element adds value to your business, today we are going to take a closer look at one of those elements; Workforce Planning.

Put simply, workforce planning is “having the right people in the right place at the right time” The key principles to workforce planning are;

  • identifying future business directions and workforce needs
  • analysing and understanding the make-up of the current workforce
  • determining the necessary skills, capabilities and competencies required to achieve strategic and operational goals in the future
  • developing policies and strategies that will assist in achieving these goals

Workforce Planning provides management with a framework for making informed staffing decisions which are in line with the organisation’s strategic and operational goals. This is opposed to reactionary or “knee-jerk” staffing decisions that may seem right at the time, but eventually turn out to be ineffective in supporting the strategic directions of the organisation.

The planning process also provides a mechanism for integrating a range of human resource strategies that can assist with the attraction and retention of staff in a systematic, equitable and strategic way.

Sounds great Simone but how does this work within my business? Let’s say you are a mining contractor and you have just been awarded two separate contracts to develop and mine mid-sized open pit projects to commence in 4 – 6 months time. As part of the planning process HR would sit down with the operations manager and map out the project; what positions would be required & when needed throughout the project, what will the roster be, what will the manning of the crews look like and the duration of each contract. Armed with this information HR would go off and start to pull together workforce plan to ensure the organisations ability to meet the workforce need is approached in a systematic, proactive and cost effective way.

This may include looking at the current workforce skill set & capability to determine opportunities for promotion into Superintendent / Shift Supervisor positions, the number of new recruits required, remuneration structure, risks to attraction & retention of employees, whether there is a requirement for the creation of, or review of, HR policies & procedures and then the development of a recruitment schedule giving sufficient time for the recruitment process to occur, successful candidates to leave exisiting jobs and then mobilise to site. Systematic, Proactive and Cost Effective.

So obviously, and as with all business planning when approached with a measured and considered approach, workforce planning has numerous advantages – the ability to identify more effective and efficient use of people at work; enabling effective planning in relation to the “demographics” of the workforce to ensure business continuity; enabling proactive management as opposed to just-in-time management or management by crises; the development of a range of alternative courses of action to meet changing market environments; understanding issues associated with retention and turnover so increases or reductions in staff are managed appropriately and cost effectively with minimal impact on the workforce, individuals and to the business are just a few.

But say you’re a bit of a fly – by – the – seat – of – your – pants person? What are the risks associated with not having a planning mechanism in place? It would result in management resorting to make staffing decisions in an ad-hoc or reactionary way that does not support the longer-term goals of the organisation. This type of decision-making may lead to – a workforce that is inflexible and does not have the necessary capabilities to deliver future services necessary for an organisation to achieve its goals; an inability to attract and retain high quality staff, due to irrelevant or inconsistent human resource policies and practices; operational goals that are inconsistent with the organisation’s wider vision and strategic focus; staff development resources being funnelled to activities which do not support the strategic goals of the institution; under-utilisation of staff; increased staffing costs; a lack of leadership and succession planning and poor management decision-making. Eeeek!

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” ― Alan Lakein, author

The People & Culture Office can assist you to create overall capability and ensure that your organisation has the skilled, committed, engaged employees it requires to achieve sustained competitive advantage. We will analyse your strategic plan and goals to identify opportunities to develop people and culture initiatives that will integrate with, and support the overarching business strategy. 

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day 🤣

Are your workplace policies enough?


Workplace policies can come in a variety of formats, I’ve seen everything from a simple 2 paragraph statement to a 30 page framework. But if you’re an organisation without any dedicated or appropriately experienced HR personnel how can you expect to be able to act within the constraints of employment legislation if your policies are brief, vague or not compliant to legislation?

There are plenty of places to obtain workplace policies on the internet, generally they are relatively cheap, you insert your business name and you’re off and running, but generic policies don’t always work from business to business. Your policies need to be reflective of your workplace & peculiarities of your industry. In addition most of these policies only contain basic information and will then include a “insert procedure here” paragraph, without the appropriate knowledge how can you ensure your content isn’t just best practice but legal?

The key to getting policies right isn’t just understanding industry and the workplace, but understanding the law. It’s the difference between knowing legally what steps must be taken during employee discipline or termination to ensure you don’t end up on the wrong side of a Fair Work decision & just copying another companies policies off the internet. Policies also detail how issues will be managed, so that there are clear consequences for unacceptable behaviours or poor performance.  Even if certain behaviours are obviously not acceptable, there could be confusion over their severity.  What you think is a ‘sackable’ offence might be viewed by an employee as something that just warrants a warning.  This type of confusion can easily lead to unfair dismissal claims, so eliminating confusion reduces the risk of such a claim.


The People & Culture Office policies reflect contemporary human resource practice, offer step by step procedures and are fully compliant to Australian workplace law and legislation. They have been written with the average employee in mind; that is anyone in the business can pick up the policy and understand exactly what is expected of them and what procedure should be followed to achieve the desired outcome.

Policies should add value to your business, whether it’s a Recruitment & Selection Policy to guide you to recruit employees of the highest standard or an EEO, Bullying & Harassment Policy that covers off the relevant legislation, if your policies are too vague, don’t provide guidance and protect you from legal action then you aren’t getting the value from them that you should.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more





Is your boss affecting your mental health?

Design 17

As a manager or supervisor have you ever stopped to think about what effect your conduct has on your employees? I bet it has a greater effect than you come to think.

Number 1 rule when it comes to people management is that this is people’s lives your dealing with, sure as a manager or HR representative at some point or another in your career you have to make business decisions that will have a negative impact on an employee or group of employees, but the way you choose to do it can be with respect and compassion that softens the blow or it can be hard lined that blindsides the employee and leaves a bitter taste in their mouth, and the way they communicate your actions to family and friends will make a dent on your reputation.

But it’s not just about disciplining employees or terminating their employment, the most damage is done in the day to day interactions, how employees are spoken to, the subtle (or not so subtle) indications of playing favourites, failing to address another employees’ poor behaviours or performance, I hate to be overdramatic but whether or not an employee enjoys their job, largely comes down to their manager, and whether or not an employee suffers situational depression as a result of a workplace incident, largely comes down to their manager. Food for thought isn’t it?

Toxic bosses are, unsurprisingly, the top cause of unhappiness in the workplace. Half of employees have left their jobs to get away from a bad manager, according to a 2015 Gallup survey, and 41 percent of workers say they’ve been “psychologically harassed” on the job.

In Australia, workplace health and safety legislation effectively holds employers responsible for ensuring the emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing of employees.

Mental stress claims lodged by affected employees against their employer increased by 25% from 2001 to 2011. Although the proportion of stress claims specifically relating to “poor relationships with superiors” was not reported, a Medibank Private commissioned study reported that in 2007 the total cost of work related stress to the Australian economy was A$14.8 billion; the direct cost to employers alone in stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism was A$10.11 billion.

Image result for office space meme

A recent study into the impact of systemic toxic behaviours exhibited by managers found that even one or two toxic behaviours, such as manipulating and intimidating, was enough to cause significant harm to employees’ mental and physical health.

The most common toxic behaviours exhibited by managers include:

  • Constantly seeks and needs praise
  • Has to win at all costs
  • Lapses into time consuming, self-praising anecdotes
  • Charms, cultivates and manipulates
  • Plays favourites
  • Takes credit for others’ work
  • Lies
  • Bullies and abuses others
  • Incessantly criticises others publicly
  • Has mood swings and temper tantrums
  • Treats all workplace interactions as a fault-finding exercise
  • Takes all decision making authority away
  • Micro manages everything you do
  • Promises to take action but later reneges
  • Ignores requests

Impact on an employees wellbeing

Negative consequences for wellbeing reported by participants in the study included:


Anxiety, depression, burnout, cynicism, helplessness, social isolation, loss of confidence, feeling undervalued.


Anger, disappointment, distress, fear, frustration, mistrust, resentment, humiliation.


Insomnia, hair loss, weight loss/gain, headaches, stomach upsets, viruses and colds.

One way to deal with toxic managers is to escalate the risk and report it to senior management. However, a common theme in the study was frustration felt by participants when no action was taken after reporting the leaders’ toxic behaviours. Sometimes organisations are reluctant to take action against the offender, perhaps because they hold important relationships, bring in significant revenue, or for fear they will become litigious if challenged. Organisations that choose to ignore toxic leadership behaviours are likely to incur increased stress claims and litigation costs.

Individual coping strategies

If you are experiencing toxic leadership, and feel you are not in a position to report it, or leave the organisation, coping strategies reported in the study as helpful were:

  • Seeking social support from colleagues, mentor, friends and family
  • Seeking professional support, i.e. Employee Assistance Program, counsellor, psychologist, general practitioner
  • Seeking advice from Human Resources
  • Undertaking health and well-being activities, i.e. diet, exercise, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises
  • Restructuring your thoughts about the incidents in question to maintain a sense of calm and manage your state of mind.

What not to do

Coping strategies that were reported as having negative consequences or prolonging stress and fear of their leader were:

  • Confronting the leader
  • Avoiding, ignoring or bypassing the leader
  • Whistle blowing
  • Ruminating on the wrongs done and reliving the feelings of anger and frustration
  • Focusing on work
  • Taking sick leave (short-term relief only).

Individuals regularly on the receiving end of toxic behaviours commonly start questioning themselves, doubting their capabilities and feeling locked into their current situation/role/organisation.

To protect against such frustration, ensure you have an up-to-date career plan, clearly outlining your strengths, achievements, personal values, work preferences, development opportunities, and employability. Keep your resume and online profile up to date and ensure you are well networked in your occupation and industry – all part of a contingency plan to exit the toxic workplace situation should it become untenable.

So we’ve looked at the impact poor management has on employees but what is the impact it has on the organisation?

High turnover

A high turnover rate deters jobseekers from applying for the recently vacated positions you want to fill as the company earns a reputation of being a bad employer – and then you’ve got reviews from disgruntled former employees on sites like Glassdoor to worry about. Even if you miraculously manage to fill those vacancies, it can take as long as two years for replacements to reach the same level of productivity as an existing employee.

And when you consider the costs associated with employee turnover (including interviewing, hiring, training and lost productivity), well, you’re screwed. Analytics place the costs of turnover between 30% and 50% of entry-level employees’ annual salary to replace them, more than 150% for mid-level employees and a whopping 400% for senior-level employees. In other words, poor management isn’t just bad for business; it’s expensive, too.

Decreased productivity

“A boss manages their employees, while a leader inspires them to innovate, think creatively, and strive for perfection.”

Scientific research (as well as our daily experience) confirms this. Effective leadership, and particularly psychological and team empowerment, is positively associated with task performance, as well as job satisfaction, innovation, organisational commitment and more.

By comparison, poor management – whether that’s belittling staff, bullying, throwing temper tantrums, dismissing ideas, setting unreasonable expectations or generally failing to lead by example – has very serious consequences in terms of employee productivity. Their work performance takes a toll which, in turn, negatively impacts an organisation’s financial health. One study even found that workers who were exposed to rude behaviour were less creative during a brainstorming task.

Damaged organisational reputation

As briefly touched upon earlier, poor management isn’t just bad for employees; it’s also bad for an organisation’s health and overall reputation – something it depends on to survive. And that is kind of a big deal.

As a company’s reputation for being a bad employer starts to spread across the internet (thanks to review sites like Glassdoor), it doesn’t just lose potential candidates’ interest but also consumers’ trust. Beyond employee turnover, a bad manager will also contribute to a drop in company profits.

Reduced morale

Poor management doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of a racist or sexist boss; it can take the form of a supervisor who is incompetent, inexperienced or who simply has a God complex.

For example, they could continually ignore the input of staff, which typically results in a feeling of worthlessness. Similarly, employees who aren’t praised and recognised for their performance and achievements begin to feel unappreciated and unwilling to perform to a high level. They can sometimes even begin to display a passive-aggressive attitude.

Before long, a toxic workplace has been created and the reduction of morale is quickly spread around the office like a virus. Even if a manager’s behaviour doesn’t directly affect an employee, the effects their behaviour has had on others will be noticed eventually and could lead them to up and leave.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more






Are you really saving money by getting rid of HR?

JPEG image 15

Have you ever stopped to crunch the numbers on whether having no HR presence in your organisation is really saving you money? I’m not talking about an admin or payroll person who sends off site clearances or tells employees how much leave they have accrued, I’m talking about strategic human resource management – implementing recruitment strategies to ensure a more quality hire, creating a compensation strategy to ensure your salaries & benefits are attractive to potential candidates and enough to stop your star talent from jumping ship, writing contemporary & legally compliant workplace policies and procedures to develop culture, embed standards and build reputation and creating a performance culture.

A report from the Society for Human Resource Management indicates an organisation’s size often determines the impact of not having an HR representative or a limited HR team. “In smaller organisations, the HR function or department … may have interactions with other staff that more often than not centre around duties directly related to having a primarily transactional role,” it states. Smaller companies are unlikely to employ an individual in human resources, or to designate the duties to another job function, by default making them adhoc HR personnel. Recent surveys of SME’s indicate that as much as 82% of employees fulfilling this role within the organisation had no formal HR training, without the proper training, tools and resources to perform HR related tasks, organisations with adhoc HR personnel can inadvertently suffer serious consequences.

Failure to Address Performance Issues

When operational managers perform multiple roles, HR processes such as performance management are unlikely to become a priority unless a crisis occurs. Operational managers may be unwilling to tackle poor behaviors or substandard performance among their employees. Alternatively, they may lack the necessary skills or experience to do so. Failing to address performance and behavioural issues in a proactive manner can lead to a loss of productivity and increased employee turnover, both of which can adversely impact a company’s profitability.

Failure to Develop Employees

With no specialist HR personnel to guide them, small companies are likely to lack the formalised learning and development structures that exist in larger organisations, such as annual appraisals, training needs analyses and development plans. The lack of such processes can lead to training needs being overlooked and a failure to keep staff up to date with best practices. If employees see no opportunities to learn and develop within a small company, they may choose to leave to further their careers.

Difficulty Attracting Top Talent

The quality of employees within a small company is particularly important, given that resources are limited. Attracting new employees of the correct calibre can be a challenge for small companies if they find themselves competing with large organisations. In large organisations, HR managers can ensure that the company’s brand is promoted to job seekers. HR managers achieve this through effective recruitment and compensation strategies, without this assistance smaller organisations can be seen as the poor cousin in comparison.

Failure to Comply With Employment Legislation

Employment legislation and government regulations place the same burdens on small companies as on large organisations. While HR personnel within large organisations have time to keep up to date with changes in employment legislation and regulations, this is much more of a challenge for overstretched managers in small companies. Failure to understand current employment legislation can lead to unintentional breaches of employee rights. This may occur when a company denies employees a right to which they are entitled, or a manager dismisses an employee unfairly.

The right outsourced HR solution — one that connects you with a dedicated HR professional that knows your business personally and has proven processes in place can help. Outsourced HR solutions can help manage your risk, keep you compliant, and give you peace of mind. And in doing so, you’ll be placing your company in a strong position to grow and prosper.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more






How 1 toxic employee can undo a whole organisation

Design 17

The catty gossip. The relentless bully. The slovenly slacker. Toxic employees come in an appalling array of annoying forms. They’re destructive, distracting and draining. Like a cancer sapping the energy of those around them, they cripple their coworkers’ morale, performance and productivity. Worse, they poison your entire business in the process.

I recently caught up with a friend who relocated from Kalgoorlie a few years ago to take up her dream position as a Manager in an up and coming company in Perth. She lamented that she works with an awful group of employees, the office is relatively small which makes an employees’ ability to interact with their colleagues respectfully and professionally even more crucial. About 12 months ago a group of 3 employees started a campaign against her, what started with mindless gossip progressed into blatant undermining of her position and spread until more than 50% of the office regularly joined in on the activities. The behaviour of her colleagues had progressed so far that it was effecting her life away from work and she had begrudgingly resigned as she could no longer cope with the physical & emotional effect it was having on her.

Prior to her resigning she approached her Executive Manager to share her concerns, as she had done on many other occasions, except on this occasion she was quite taken aback by his response, despite previously being extremely supportive, and having attempted to (unsuccessfully) put initiatives in place to put a stop to the behaviour, he was now denying any knowledge of the issues and claimed to not have any knowledge of their previous conversations.

Many managers avoid confronting toxic employees because they fear that difficult conversations might make things worse. After all, the temptation to avoid or delay addressing the issue is almost irresistible given the expected tension, conflict and angst. In this instance her Manager chose to take the easy way out and let the aggrieved employee leave rather than attempt to address the situation with the group of employees causing the most damage. But it’s just false economy, because what the Manager has ultimately made clear to the group of bully’s is that they are now untouchable, I mean if they can push a Manager out what chance does anyone else have against them? The choice to do nothing is of course a sign of a weak leader, but the denial of any issue is representative of a lack of integrity on the managers behalf & indicative of much bigger issues.

In his recent article on Perth Now, Professor Gary Martin said “A toxic employee can poison the atmosphere where you work and make it difficult, if not impossible, to manage effectively. The toxicity is insidious and can drag you and your colleagues into an abyss of low morale and decreased productivity.” he went on to note “No organisation worth its salt ever wants to label any of its employees as “toxic” or “poisonous”. However, a single toxic employee in a team or an organisation can cause a constructive culture to turn into destruction, headlined by aggression and reduced productivity. A toxic employee might do their job well, as measured against personal performance targets. However, it is work behaviours outside this domain that contribute to a poisonous culture.”

Professor Gary Martin categorises toxic employees as exhibiting the following behaviours;

The “pot stirrer” attempts to pit one person against another through creating rumours, innuendos and malicious gossip, while the “blame gamer” attributes fault to everyone else for any workplace issue.

Like the leech, the “protectionist” latches on to others to make themselves indispensable and difficult to remove. They build a group of supporters who remain loyal to them and will help defend them should questions be asked.

And the “illusionist” spends considerable time and energy on pretending to be hard at work or meaningfully engaged while frequently complaining they are overworked.

But by far the most challenging toxic employee is the “underminer”.

This employee will make every effort to sabotage management and colleagues alike.

While face-to-face with managers they will agree to adopt a course of action, but when left to their own devices will systematically undermine that direction if they believe their own interests will not be served well.

A toxic employee costs the business at least the equivalent of the individual’s salary – and likely more. Take the example of a badly behaved accounts payable person being paid $50,000 annually. As this individual is not highly paid, you might consider that their behaviour is less of a problem, but if you have someone in that role who is toxic, who gossips and bullies and so on, then firstly, everybody wants to avoid them, but they can’t get their accounts paid if they avoid them permanently; secondly, they’re spending a large portion of their time running around being a nuisance, so are not really doing their job; and finally, their manager, who is on a much higher salary, is spending 20 per cent of their own time – often more – trying to solve the problem.

Other costs that are more difficult to measure include lowered productivity, higher employee turnover, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, adverse publicity and loss of employer brand (leading to attraction and retention issues), workplace accidents and security issues.

The commitment of management is essential in solving behavioural issues in the workplace and ensuring they do not become regular occurrences. Once you have correctly identified a bad apple by their behaviour, start identifying and articulating the management problem. Once you do that, the pain is in the past. Then it’s simple – your goal is to turn the employee’s behaviour around and if you can’t, then you terminate.

Principles to Remember


  • Talk to the person to try to understand what’s causing the behaviour.
  • Give concrete, specific feedback and offer the opportunity to change.
  • Look for ways to minimise interactions between the toxic employee and the rest of your team.


  • Bring the situation up with your other team members. Allow them to mention it first and then provide suggestions.
  • Try to terminate the person unless you’ve followed the correct procedures in regards to investigations & terminations.

Need to put workplace policies in place to deal with workplace issues?  The People & Culture Foundations is a package of human resources solutions individually tailored for businesses that are either building their people & culture framework from scratch or reviewing and updating their HR functions.  This package is also offered in a ‘mix & match’ format for companies who have some, or all, of the functions in place already, but wish to update, check, and fill any gaps in their existing HR processes.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more



When your boss has amazing technical skills but terrible people skills

Design 7

You know the old story, a person is promoted into a supervisory / management position because they are excellent at their job, but it soon becomes apparent it was a terrible, terrible mistake. You see whilst technically you can’t fault their performance, being a people manager is more about motivating and engaging your employees and less about the technical aspects of the job.

In order to move up the ladder in most companies and increase their earnings, generally a person must be promoted to management positions. And the role of manager seems like the perfect reward for that one great employee. It comes with higher pay, greater responsibility to help that person grow, and more perks. And, some employers may hope, one high-flying team member can share those skills with a whole group, increasing productivity overall.

However, not everyone excels at managing other people. Sometimes that star employee is good at leading a team for just a short time, but you may see a decline in performance if they take over long-term. Also, though they may be able to make friends and work together, they may not show the empathy and desire to help others that is essential for a manager.

Managers who most consistently drove high engagement, loyalty, productivity, profit, and service levels all shared five uncommon talents:

  • They motivate their employees.
  • They assert themselves to overcome obstacles.
  • They create a culture of accountability.
  • They build trusting relationships.
  • They make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and organisation.

Studies of employee engagement since the 1990s, and has repeatedly found that companies with happy and committed employees outperform all others in terms of business outcomes including absenteeism, turnover, innovation, and productivity. Getting the decision right in who you name manager and how you develop them is the most important decision any organisational leader can make. The best strategies in the world will likely fail in execution without the highly talented managers in place.

The best organisations know that people don’t become leaders just because they got promoted. They take leadership development seriously.

However, lots of other employers don’t. They delude themselves that new managers will learn how to lead employees on their own, without guidance or instruction.

There is another reason there are so many poor managers around, and that is that many of the people who might be coaching and inspiring young leaders don’t understand leadership themselves.

When you have great leaders around you, it’s easy to emulate what they do to be successful. Unfortunately, the same is also true for bad bosses.

If you’ve only ever seen bad examples of leadership, you are much more likely to follow their poor lead.

So how to recognise if you are, or you have, a poor leader

1. Poor Integrity

One of my favorite leadership quotes is, “Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.” It doesn’t matter how capable, intelligent or effective a leader is. If they lack moral integrity, troubles are bound to follow. For one, employees look to their leaders for examples of what behavior is acceptable. If a leader is engaging in unethical behavior, it won’t be long before the employees under them are engaging in unethical behavior as well. Sooner or later, a lack of moral integrity almost always leads to a person’s undoing, which is why it should be a major red flag.

2. Lack Of Adaptability

Great leaders know how to employ a range of leadership styles depending on what the situation calls for. The simple truth is that not all employees are motivated by the same factors, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that will work in every situation. Good leaders recognize this and are fluid, while poor leaders may be stuck in their ways and unwilling to adapt to what the situation calls for. If you notice that a leader is stubborn, slow to adapt to changing situations and is demonstrating a “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude, they are likely a poor leader.

3. Little Vision For The Future 

The job of a leader is to push forward, and good leaders should always be focused on how they can make tomorrow more efficient and productive than today. Bad leaders, though, often get complacent and stay satisfied with the status quo. If a leader is not focused on the future and demonstrating a clear plan for how to continuously improve, progress is unlikely to happen.

4. Lack Of Accountability 

The best leaders take accountability when things go wrong and give credit to others when things go right. Employees want to know that they are working for a leader who will give them due credit when they do well and not throw them under the bus when things go wrong. Some leaders, though, are unable or unwilling to shoulder this responsibility and instead deflect blame to others and take credit for themselves. In the end, this behavior is going to do very little to motivate a workforce to succeed.

5. Poor Communication Skills

Great communication skills are by far some of the most important traits for a leader to have. It doesn’t matter how effective a plan a leader is able to draw up. If they are not able to communicate that plan to their employees in a way that is easy to understand and motivating, then little progress is going to be made. Good leaders need to be able to listen intently and communicate clearly. If a leader is demonstrating an inability to communicate their ideas and expectations to others, they are not likely to be a very effective leader.

Leadership can make or break any business. Because of this, there are a few key factors to consider before you join a new team or hire a new leader. These characteristics should also be applied to anyone trying to improve their own skills, as well. No matter the case, remember that great leaders must regularly demonstrate integrity, adaptability, vision, accountability and communication skills to effectively lead their teams to greatness.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more