Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic Talks the Dark Side of Confidence #AHRINC

I’ve been really excited to hear this one. The room is very full (yup, everyone’s here after such an amazing Gala Dinner last night bright-eyed and bushy-tailed).

If people were self-aware there would be a strong relation between confidence and competence (but there’s really not). 

Dr TCP kicks off the day confirming that this will not be a motivational talk… if anything it will be a de-motivational session (love it!).

Why do we all think we’re better, funnier, smarter, better lovers… than we really are? The Dunning-Kruger Effect represents this by a u-curve (i.e. idiots and geniuses estimate their intelligence in very similar ways). More men are overconfident in comparison with women (e.g. additions, stock companies that have more women will often do better).

Our desire to maintain positive self image is greater than our desire to understand reality.

Hogan measures positive traits, as well as the negative ones (bold, mischievous, colourful being the ones that corporate managers will often display those in excess). 

The impact? 

What else is going on?

  • Link to disengagement or lack of engagement.
  • Large market of passive job seekers (e.g. LinkedIn) in the industrialised world
  • Self employed economy (estimated 2020 the USA will have 40% of the workforce being self-employed)
  • Start-up activity rates have been increasing greatly over the past 10 years (but only 5% of start ups succeed)

“When selection fails there’s always training & development”

We should disentangle the issue of self-promotion from competence (i.e. men have more self belief – therefore that is why we have so many incompetent male managers).

We’re stopping using negative language i.e. ‘this candidate has a lot of potential development opporunitites’… (he’s getting a lot of laughs here!)

The criteria hasn’t changed to be seen as a leader/politician… successful women in this arena often out-do men in negative traits. (Comparison between Argentina’s HOS and Angela Merkel in competence vs. confidence.)

What can we expect for the future?

The narcisistic epidemic:

  • millennials will soon comprise the majority of the workforce
  • science says that generational (rather than age) differences reflect that narcisism is increasing drastically
  • (The only thing that’s increasing that much is obesity rates!)

Guardian article coming up “the public masterbation of self-image’ – must keep an eye out for this. This guy is amazing, am absolutely going to follow his stuff in the future.

Dr TCP talks Kim Kardashian and the evolution of narcisissm in popular culture… (love that this is a topic of conversation at the HR conference) – Donald Trump is another example.

We end on Freud “Most of the things we say today are just footnotes to Freud… he saw narcissm and self-love as the psychological manifestations of our survival instincts” (ie. what’s the point of survival if you don’t love yourself)

He also had the hedgehog analogy… and the implication on teams and leaders in the workplace.

If people/society keep going down this path then it will become harder to create and maintain high performance teams and cultures.

Wow! Food for thought from this one!


Elizabeth Proust: Myths & Realities in Managing a Woman’s Career #AHRINC

31 of the ASX top 200 boards have no women on the board.

Woah. Australia, what’s happening? Norway mandated (and acheived) 40% board membership by women in 7 years. 7 years!

23 of ASX 500 companies have no women in their executive. In small busineses women do much better (are we getting sick of corporate culture). At the current rate, we’ll get equality in 177 years on boards and in in execs.

This isn’t just an equity issue, it’s a waste of talent.

Over Elizabeth’s career (3 decades across a variety of sectors) she’s learned:

  • The need for lifelong education and training (her mother missed out on her last year of school due to her grandfather’s attitude towards women’s education) so as a child/teen Elizabeth was encouraged not to focus on domestic tasks so she could do homework. Advice to women? Have at least one domestic task you can’t, or won’t do. (Love it!)
  • The need for supportive relationships (whatever that means to you). Choosing partners/relationships wisely is critical. Elizabeth shared details of her supportive, equal partner (she married very young – but her husband supported her in her career seeing it as equally as important as his).
  • Networking is critical – especially when it comes to more senior roles this becomes more and more imporant. Women sometimes (says she is speaking generally) that hard work and long hours = promotions, it doesn’t always
  • Nave a go at a job you think you can do. (Tells the story of a role in the late 80s where of over 100 applicants were all men – the line manager requested that women apply and Elizabeth encouraged someone to who then went on to get the role)
  • Take risks. Her career success has largely been due to moving outside of organisations (rather than being promoted within them). A good network is critical to this.
  • Women tend to question their own competence. It’s hard to put aside those doubts.
  • Mentors are critical. All of Elizabeth’s mentors have been men – goes hand in hand with networking. It’s a myth that women don’t help other women. Elizabeth is a mentor in the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
  • Don’t jump to board roles too soon (Elizabeth took her first position at 55). Having battle scars helps a huge amount (although she’s open to being questioned about this in the Q&A). 
  • Get as much experience as you can in your company, in other roles (just HR isn’t generally enough) – but a variety of experiences is key. Boards are getting smaller (it’s not just a cost issue).

If you have an attitude that you can acheive anything – go for it.

Question Time (With Peter Wilson AM, National President & Chairman AHRI)

  • If you are the only woman on a management/leadership team it can be tough
  • Peter asks Elizabeth about how to engage and communicate effectively as a woman in a leadership position: don’t defer to men, prepare (know what you’re going to make a point on and what you’re not)
  • What about dealing with buillies? Speak up for others – tell the bully what you thought, why the behaviour is offensive and inappropriate (otherwise it becomes “how we do things around here”)
  • Stepping up in your career – what were some of the issues you had to confront to rebalance? For Elizabeth this came earlier (e.g. advisor to Minister, there was only 3 of them and at least one of them had to be at Parliament) so a lot of long work hours = a big dislocation of normal life.
  • What makes you successful in this role doesn’t automatically make you successful in the next (especially when going from managing small teams of people to large teams of people)
  • To get gender equity right at exec ranks: get the board to set targets (include that on the board score card), and hold execs and other HR professionals accountable for striving to do better in this space

Audience Question Time

  • Natural lifespan of a board role? Possibly 9-12 years? There is no magic in it – it’s what is right for that person and that organisation
  • Targets – no targets = it won’t get measured = it won’t happen. Be careful with boards though (don’t want to deplete exec ranks to fill boards as it’s the exec and management that set the culture of the organisation)
  • What does the emphasis on moving organsiations mean for organisations who want to keep their top talent. Some organisations do it well. Elizabeth gives the example of Nestle who are great at developing women’s careers (although they do need to be mobile). Companies’ timescales (for promotion etc.) can be different to what your own timescales are (e.g. them saying you can have a great job in 3 years… when you can’t think of anything worse than staying for another 1).
  • Language (Chair-man) – Elizabeth doesn’t have an issue with it, although notices more people calling it ‘Chair’
  • How do women champion gender equality? Argue it on economic grounds: it’s bad business to not use all your talent.

What an inspiring (and practical) session.


Julia Gillard: Leadership in the Asian Century: Opportunities Abroad, Lessons at Home

When Great Britain industrialised it took 70 years, in the last 25 years Asia has done it (and more of it). Julia Gillard kicks off her talk with a few really funny anecdotes (the Prime Minister of Italy in makeup…)

First thoughts: Julia Gillard is funny! #ColourMeSurprised

So what does this drastic growth in Asia mean for Australia? Australia’s attitudes to Asia and it’s rise have changed drastically.

What this means – Australia’s traditional source of heartache (distance from the world) – is now it’s biggest advantage. Beneath the economic churn (stock markets, demand and downturn of the requirement for Australian resources etc) there is a longer term growth which we need to be in a position to engage in.

Currently there is a summit in Sydney to discuss reform and the way forward to prepare us for this. The US is our ally – while China is our biggest exporter for Australia’s goods. Never before has Australia’s history depended on neither an ally nor a democracy.

HR is in the bsuiness of interconnections between people. For our industry Asia’s rise is the opportunity of a lifetime. Technological change will be the constant disrupter. 

Technological change is rapid (Julia (because we’re on a first name basis) great stories about the first time she used a fax machine here) – “how smart can these walking talking machines be?”. Julia introduces us to “Watson” who was created to play Jeopardy – he beat the best 2 human players ever.

Whaaat? Watson the computer has now enrolled in medical school. 


The rate of change is exponential – we’re running up a very steep curve.

So what will the future of work look like?

More and more is being done by machines (factory work, reading resumes, accounting work)… we’ve got to adapt HR people!

Machines will never be innovators. Never be ideas creators.

People-people that will succeed will be the ones that can adapt and change. Be crystal clear about what you want to do, who you want to be, what you want to change. 

Technology means it’s harder to manage the important over the urgent. Give yourself the time.

Maximise the talent around you free from stereotypes. Success and likability are positively correlated for a man and not a woman.



This is awesome #AHRINC 2015

What a great start to the day!

Epic first key note from Ram Charan (#gotmybooksigned) and now am sitting in waiting for Gary Pert (CEO Collingwood Football Club) to speak about creating a high performance culture (something I blogged about recently on the AHRI National Convention Blog).

I’m very excited to hear what Gary has to say about the lessons he’s learned on the sportsfield and how they’ve been applied to a successful organisation.


From Gary Pert’s intro I’ve learned he has done a lot of very impressive stuff… a lot. He isn’t here to convince us to be Collingwood supporters (“good” says a lot of the crowd).

In Gary’s initial takeover of the CEO at Collingwood FC role he realised that self belief was great… but they hadn’t won a permiership in 20 years, membership hadn’t changed from 40,000 in years, in recent times they’d also not been making huge financial gains either.

In assessing the figures he realised that they just didn’t make sense. They owned the Beach Hotel and the Diamond Creek… income against rent just didn’t play out to their advantage.

First meeting with Westpac – Gary was told (at the start of the GFC) that if they were a normal organisation Westpac would have taken the keys… so things were grim!

But crisis is a great reason for change – and the fundamentals for creating high performance teams in those environments are the same.

These fundamentals are:

– establish and create a vision for the club/organisation: “To be the biggest and best sporting club in Australia” (BRW named them the biggest sporting franchise for the last 5 years)

This then drove everything the CEO and the exec has done in the last 8 years

– create our purpose: “To win AFL Premierships”

Gary asks us all to make sure we can write down the purpose of our organisations (I’m happy to say I can do this in working at YMCA Victoria 🙂 )

– our mission & clarity within the organisation (to give a counterbalance to that drive for performance) – this is what sets us apart. “To create a club where players, staff and supporters can live their dreams and ambitions”. Asking staff “are you living your dreams and ambitions working us here at the Collingwood FC”

Best memory was when Gary took the cup to a retirement village and they had their kids and grandkids there. Gary had a long drive back to Melbourne – a son and daughter asked Gary to take the cup to their mother in high care (the son and daughter we in their early 70s). The whole family was in the room, they asked for a photo with the cup – the family had been told that Mum was going to pass away and they believed she stayed for this event because she was such a big Collingwood supporter. Gary had a call on the Monday saying that the Mum had passed away that night.


– who are our key stakeholders? 

1. Supporters

2. Players

Could your exec articulate who their key stakeholders are? Gary thinks that’s because poor decisions are due to the key people not knowing the difference between parterns and stakeholders. Partners = AFL, media. Stakeholders = the people that you build your strategy around.

“Our people are our most important thing” In a high performance environment you can’t build your strategy around your current people (because if you do you will never do better than those people can do). You need to set goals that are in excess of what your people can do. That will create change. In footy you often understand how/why people need to be ‘superceeded’ 

– create your leadership proposition

Collingwood FC’s values: side by side, excellence, discipline, relentless, community.

Big organisations often say… I’m big on values, but our people won’t embrace the values. But when the exec/board were asked to write down their values – none of them could. Out of the 7 values, the average they got right were 2.5. 

99/1 rule – as a leader you get judged on the one.

Gary asked the Captain to set the values with the team. Critical that the players (or team) are on board with what the values are and why they’re recognised as being important.

“Those five words aren’t where the power sits” – it’s in everyone living the values through real accountability. If you can’t or won’t live the behaviours then you’re not welcome in the team.

The first part of the induction for new staff members is with Gary, the CEO, saying how critical the values are at Collingwood. They promote those who live the values, reward them with bonuses etc. 

Once the leadership proposition was set then they set their goals. (Which were all unrealistic and unacheivable)



A lot of excitement @ the #AHRINC 2015

I’ve just arrived for the kick off of the AHRI National Convention 2015 in Melbourne. Already hard truths have been had…

  • Why did I not bring my phone charger?
  • Why did I not think my iPad/keyboard was a necessity for all sessions, not just the full days?
  • The Melbourne Convention Centre is ENORMOUS – I will get lost here. Must make a note of the meeting points and landmarks
  • There are puppies here! (Anyone who had read my Twitter bio knows I am something of a puppy  connoisseur). These puppies can be found at the HR Onboard stand and are from Guide Dogs Victoria. Well played @HROnboard, well played
  • The conference book rocks (mad respect to anyone who can provide me with a pretty good sized conference booklet with all the necessary info & space to write notes)

I know I’ll take away more valuable learnings than just where the puppies are held – but I’m counting this event as a success already!



#AHRINC 2015

I’m pretty excited about the 2015 AHRI National Convention – not only am I lucky enough to be one of the event bloggers (do you think I’ll get a special lanyard?), but there is an incredible calibre of speakers on show!

My plan is to share learnings while at the event including tweeting away (like you could stop me) and posting updates on my blog as I attend different sessions. If anyone has any questions please get in touch. As always you can reach me on Twitter @ReneeRoberz or you can contact me via the ‘Ask a Question’ page here at Engage Learn Build.  


Personal brand, Thinking differently, Uncategorized

Ugh: Networking!

Ok – so this is how I thought about networking most of my career: “Yuk! Guess I better go… wonder how quickly I’m going to be able to escape out of the door!”

Seriously – I hated it. The forced nature of everything. Meeting people who pressed you for meetings (or worse, work) incessantly. Engaging in awkward getting-to-know-you games after a dull speaker. The fakeness of it all.

But then I discovered I didn’t actually have to hate it. I realised it wasn’t networking I hated – because networking is, at its essence, just meeting people and getting to know them – it was that the events that I was attending were all wrong for me.

Just over 2 years ago I moved to Melbourne Australia from New Zealand. For anyone that has emigrated there is definitely a shift, no matter your industry: job titles don’t exactly translate, organisations you’ve worked with aren’t well known, the ‘nature of work’ can be different. Despite NZ and Australia having many similarities, I was definitely on the back foot when entering the Melbourne job market.

I thought I should just suck it up and get networking, I (luckily) found a role, but all of a sudden my wide network of connections in NZ didn’t count for much. I didn’t have many contacts in Australia who I could drop an email, asking how they were dealing with this law change, or that industry issue. I attending some great events, but I attended many more terrible ones.

I discovered that I have preferences when it comes to industry events and networking just like everyone, the key for me was figuring out what I wanted and who could provide me with that.

Some of my learnings have been:

  • I don’t need one event to do it all
    I love having the opportunity to hear someone speak I would never get the opportunity to otherwise, Commissioners, Head Economists, Politicians. A good breakfast event (because, coincidently, I also love food) with a great speaker is tops! What I don’t like is for an event to shoe-horn in a speaker with games and awkward conversation.
  • I like having unstructured talking time.
    I’m actually ok at striking up a conversation here and there. Often the best contacts I’ve made through various forums has been engaging in a great conversation and continuing it over dinner or drinks after the event has finished. If I’m not tied to a table or group I’ll mingle until I find interesting people who I can learn from.
  • I don’t like feeling like I’m being lined up as a client.
    The big divider between events where I feel engaged and those where I don’t is the authenticity of the conversation. You know what – if your company stumped up a lump of cash to make this event happen then that’s awesome! Good on you for investing in relationships. But I don’t want to sit through an hour of your MD telling us about how great their product is if they’re doing an ‘introduction’ for the speaker that got me in the door who then only speaks for 15 minutes.
    Likewise if you’re a consultant that is fantastic, I get that you need clients to make your business work. But I’m not going to become a client by you pressing me into a meeting. I’d like to actually connect with you as a person, and in exchange I won’t pretend like I might have some work if really I know there is no chance.

Recently I was flirting with the idea of reconnecting with a great group of people who I coincidently met at one of the great networking groups I joined when I first moved to Melbourne. I had a chat about it with a friend and thought ; well if I like the super unstructured drinks & a loose theme kind of networking event then maybe others would too’?

As a result of this, and subsequent conversations, with the original group I’ve set up a ‘People People Catch Up’ – for people whose business is people – People & Culture, L&D, OD, Projects, Change and everything in between. If this sounds like you and you’re based in Melbourne (or just happen to be here on August 13th 2015) I’d love to see you there!

For more details head to book into the #PeoplePeopleCU here or contact me via @ReneeRoberz



Ethics, Values & Mission – Oh My!

lions tigers & bearsHow inconsistent messaging can be costing you more than you realise

I’ve had some really interesting conversations with people, both online and in the flesh (shock horror!) after last week’s post on ethics. To me, it seems like there is a clear consensus among individuals that if an organisation, public or private, uses its mission, values or ethics in its brand (whether that is internally or externally) then it needs to live and breathe them.

But, both employees and leaders of those organisations consistently lament that there seems to be a breakdown between the promoted brand and the hypocrisy of what actually happens within the workplace. (If this is an area you’re interested in, check out some of Steve Simpson’s work on ‘Unwritten Ground Rules‘ – very interesting.)

So how does an organisation that has committed itself to values, a mission or a message ensure that the statement is lived and breathed internally on a day to day basis?

Long answer short? Never rest on your laurels.

Yes, you might be a private company with an excellent brand and you are seen as a desirable place to work. Yes, you might be a highly respected NFP who has to turn highly skilled volunteers away at the door.

But… (there’s always a but isn’t there?) It’s not one thing that will trip you up. It’s 100 small things, instances if viewed in isolation are all 100% reasonable decisions. Things like;

  • Not advertising a position when you have the perfect 2ic ready to take the reigns*
  • Employees/stakeholders witnessing behaviour seeming to be at odds with the mission/values by those who publicly tout those values (perceived or otherwise)
  • The use of mission/values messaging in justifying something that the average employee/stakeholder sees as a convenient excuse by management.

Some of these examples are simply poor communications management and others come down to organisational processes seeming to be too cumbersome for the average manager who doesn’t see the value and reasoning behind why they’re so important.

Simple fact = no matter how good you are at what you do, how much cash you throw at external marketing and branding, or how amazing you are as an employer, if you don’t get your comms on message (whatever your messages are) and follow them consistently then you are doomed.

* Note: I worked ‘reigns’ in to the article to really capitalise on the season of St. Nick 😉