Career | Collins McNicholas

Preparing Your Team to Cope While You Take Extended Paternity Leave

Preparing Your Team to Cope While You Take Extended Paternity LeaveQuestion: I am a senior manager at an engineering firm heading a team of six. My wife is due to give birth to our first baby and I want to take time off when the baby comes. However, I’m worried about missing too much time at work and not being around to support my junior team members. How can I prepare them to work efficiently and confidently while I take extended paternity leave? Answer: Firstly, congratulations on the impending arrival of the new addition to your family – an exciting time for you. You do need to be able to have confidence that your team will continue to work effectively while you are away. Employees need guidance but also need to be empowered to make the decisions necessary to be productive, and carry out their duties, when their manager is not present. This is what you need to work on now. Managers will say they want to empower their employees, but few actually do. This can be the result of a lack of trust on behalf of the manager who may think that the employees will not perform equally as well when they are not there or fear that employees will become too independent. Some managers fear that if they let the power go, then they may not be required any longer. On the other hand, many employees are afraid to take on added responsibility and be held accountable for their decisions. Empowering employees requires a great deal of trust by a manager – they must be willing to hand over the decision-making process, and elements of a task or project, to allow others to come up with the solutions. Empowerment will happen with varying degrees of accountability or responsibility being handed over to an individual or a team. However, be mindful of the risk that the individual or team will become overwhelmed or ‘bogged down’ with all that is on their plate. Communicate: Have open discussions with the team – identify the key tasks and responsibilities, have clarity around what they need to do and what the manager will do to aid the process. Discuss how willing and ready they are to be accountable for the task and the decision-making. Categorise: Consider colour coding into areas where the employees have full decision-making powers; areas where you need to be involved; and areas that management have to sign off on. Some employees might not have the right skills to take the correct action alone in certain tasks. If the risk is too high to leave the decision solely in the hands of the employee, this needs to be clarified. Boundaries: The manager needs to respect the categories that have been set out. If an employee comes to the manager requesting their opinion on a non-critical issue, the manager should put it back to them and ask them to come up with the solution. The employee needs to think the issue through and make their own decision. Urge to help: Most managers feel compelled to counsel the employee to prevent a mistake from happening, but this can make employees less inclined to take risks in the future. You must sometimes allow the team to make a mistake, which can be a major learning experience. Clarification: Ensure the team knows the difference between responsibility and accountability. An employee has ‘responsibility’ for the tasks he or she is required to perform as per their job specification. ‘Accountability’ is where they are answerable for their actions regarding a particular task or project. It is important that the manager does not hold the employee accountable for the more serious tasks in the project – they can only be accountable for the tasks they are competent to carry out. The process of empowerment should start at the recruitment stage. This follows into induction and training when the goals, direction and responsibilities are clearly outlined. The manager must truly trust, respect and have confidence in an employee’s ability to make appropriate decisions and take actions when they are absent. If successful, then micro-management is a minimum and it’s a win-win for everyone.           Michelle Murphy Director Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group This article was originally published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on the 5th of November 2017, and this version can be seen...

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Collins McNicholas Host Networking Event in Eindhoven

On the 7th of September 2017, Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group hosted a successful Irish networking event in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Over the past decade we have placed over 300 engineers in The Netherlands, so the purpose of the event was to bring the Irish community in Eindhoven and surrounding areas together to celebrate the success of all our placements in the region, to check their progress since moving out there and ultimately to encourage them to network with each other and strengthen the Irish community there. The event was held in the surreal setting of PSV Eindhoven’s Philips Stadium, where we had access to the dressing rooms, warm-up area and pitch-side. The dressing rooms presented an ideal atmosphere for everyone to get to know each other over some finger food and drinks on the house, and the feedback from those who attended was extremely positive. The evening began with introductions and complimentary snacks. The atmosphere was very casual and allowed us all to get to know each other, and the staff in the arena were exceptional. As the night moved on we raffled off two-tickets for the All-Ireland Football Final, which went down extremely well with our guests needless to say, before concluding with some words of thanks. It was refreshing to learn that all the people we have helped to place in The Netherlands have been treated brilliantly out there and settled in quickly. If you would be interested in a move to The Netherlands check out our webpage www.collinsmcnicholas.ie/netherlands or get in touch with us today.                ...

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How can I tell my sister her son is not a suitable candidate for a position in my office?

Question: Our engineering company is hiring and I am in charge of selecting interview candidates. My sister told me her son (my nephew) is applying and that he could do with the confidence boost, as he has been unemployed since finishing college two years ago. The problem is he doesn’t have any experience. How can I tell him he is not suitable without affecting his confidence? Also, what advice can I offer him? Answer: This is a very common dilemma faced by professionals, particularly in management or HR positions. It is important to consider the potential impact on your career, your reputation, your team – and your nephew. While he may receive an immediate confidence boost, gaining a role that is beyond his capability may have a more damaging effect on his esteem in the long term. Evaluate your nephew’s potential ‘fit’ for the role objectively: Encourage your nephew to apply for the role as any other candidate might. Explain that he will not receive any preferential treatment. This will allow you to consider his application objectively. Is he a potential junior option? Are there other roles that may be suitable in future? There may be aspects of your nephew’s ability that you have not witnessed as your relationship with him has been personal only. If you decide not to progress with his application, you can stand over your decision, content that you have given his application due consideration. From your nephew’s perspective, he has gained the experience of applying to a role, preparing his CV and cover letter and considering his ‘fit’ to the organisation. Provide feedback: The real...

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Dealing With The Difficult Task of Making a Close Friend Redundant

Question: Last year, a promotion came up at the IT firm where I work. A colleague and close friend pushed me to put myself forward. When I got the job she was the first to celebrate with me. Now, due to budget restraints, the company is downsizing and I have been tasked with letting a number of staff go. I was gutted to see my friend’s name on the list and have no idea how to break the news to her. Can you advise me on how I can approach this situation without losing her friendship? Answer: This is no doubt a very challenging time for you both personally and professionally. Supervising a friend can have its benefits if they are a loyal follower of yours and ensure that at no time they let the side down. But it can have its challenges when tough discussions must take place such as terminations. You have to consider how to have this uncomfortable discussion with the hope of minimal damage to the personal relationship. Planning the conversation and the following pointers will help you to approach it in a more professional light. Be prepared for an emotional response. How you handle this will determine the future status of your friendship. 1. Make the conversation brief: Be brief when having the ‘manager’ conversation and offer yourself for the ‘friend’ conversation after work. Keep the actual conversation brief and isolate your friendship until this is delivered – this is important for both your own state of mind and for the way your friend perceives the action. 2. Don’t procrastinate: Be direct about the...

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Helping a New Team Leader Rise to The Challenge After a Rocky Start

Question: I’m the senior manager in a MedTech firm. I promoted another staff member to team leader after he showed exceptional skill during a successful trial period. Eight weeks into his role, two team members have raised issues about his leadership qualities. I promoted him because of his high standard and think he will be a fantastic role model. I want to see him do well, and inspire confidence. How do I bring this up without causing tension between him and his team? Answer: Leading a team long term requires a specific set of skills. But many who are successful at a senior level struggle to make the transition from management of operations or projects to people management. Often training, mentoring and on-going support are required to assist them. 1 Why is this issue arising now? As the team leader has successfully completed a trial period, consider what is the difference between the environment now and during that period. Is the workload heavier? Are there stresses now that did not exist before? While other team members are citing issues with their direct-line management, perhaps there are other issues. Gather information on the performance of the team, attendance records and project requisitions. Garner informal feedback from other team leaders or managers. An overall barometer of the composition and performance of the team will allow you to ascertain if the issue is with the direct line management of the team or with the more strategic issues of the allocation of workload, stress management or more complex dynamics within the team itself. 2 Initiate a coaching-based conversation Organise a confidential space to...

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My Two Week Work Experience with Collins McNicholas

I walked out of my final college exam with a gleaming smile on my face. No more exams or lectures, I was ready to join the real world. Earn my keep and begin my career path. However, not only was I an excited graduate, but a confused graduate, with an interest in HR and Marketing. Having returned from my J1, I set about sending out my CV. I submitted my CV to Collins McNicholas. The following day I received a call from Director Michelle Murphy, she spoke to me about my CV and offered me the position to cover one week’s holiday leave at reception in the Galway Office. I jumped at the opportunity and started the following week as I knew this would be an invaluable experience. Everyone on the Collins McNicholas team was extremely welcoming and were happy to help when I had any questions for them. Aside from my duties at reception, the Collins McNicholas team invited me to help at a recruitment fair they were holding and also to sit in on the interview process, as they knew I held an interest in HR. As my week at Collins McNicholas came to a close, I was invited to return the following week, spending one day in the Galway office to see how the assessment centres were run, and to spend the rest of the week in the Sligo office with the Marketing Department. On Monday I observed an assessment centre run by HR Manager Caroline Ward and HR Consultant Emma Woods. They spoke with me about the different methods used to test various capabilities that...

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