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Isn’t it time to have a think about yourself?

As we round the corner and the year-end comes into view, Senior Managers need to take some time to think about themselves and reflect on what they want for 2024. This applies equally to your world of work as well as personally.

Most leadership time is spent putting a lot of effort into strategising, planning, and managing people and projects. These become all consuming, and hours of intense and incredibly demanding work stretch into days, which become weeks and then all of a sudden the month is gone, and the next month’s work is starting to build pressure. Soon it is year-end.

Locked into an adrenalin rush of successful work, this pattern morphs into the new normal.

The one catch, though, is that it is unsustainable, and, in the end, something has to give. It may be poor decision making, it may be overly emotional responses, it may be lack of perspective, it may be impatience, it may be health, it may be domestic tension.

Healthy life patterns become compromised by the whirlpool of work. This type of never-ending cyclical work pattern can make you feel like a stranded whale, without any chance of getting back in the water.

As a leader, this can feel like a lonely place to be.

So, what to do?

Take stock of your own time management.

  • Are you as organised as you should be? Are you regularly – by that we mean throughout your day, week, month – prioritising tasks or is the river of demand catching you in its pull? And sending you into other people’s swirls that are difficult to get out of? Simple techniques to stay on top of work can be lost in the busyness of everyday. It needs constant self discipline to stay ahead of the game.
  • Are you delegating appropriately? Or do you just put your head down and keep on keeping on? Do you use the demands placed on you as an opportunity to delegate tasks and jobs to others? This gives them the opportunity to grow and develop, which most employees want. It is a little like pay now, fly later, but surprisingly you will fly sooner than you think and then will have someone relieving the pressure on you.
  • Are you constantly appraising the benefit of your own meetings and also then selecting the meetings that you will attend? Are these meetings the ones that really matter? Are these agenda driven and time bound? Or have a number of them become meandering talk fests, perhaps dominated by one or two personalities? Analyse the efficiency of meetings. It can free up a huge amount of time. Don’t allow meetings to sink into an unchallenged routine. Review them every 3 months so that a focus remains on the outcome and productivity of each one.
  • Find some inspiration so that each day seems bright. Are you feeling weighed down and flat? Seeking and riding aboard some new ideas and different ways can not only inspire you but can also lead to much better ways of doing things. It really is important to be constantly looking and searching for improvements in everything you are involved in and have control over. Don’t get complacent. There are always better ways! Part of this looking for inspiration also relates to making sure that your own attitude is positive and optimistic. Managing people demands this. So, take some time to feed yourself in what ever way gives this to you.
  • Focus on your own health. Set some personal health goals, be they physical or mental, and then develop an action plan to keep you on track and always heading in the right direction. Prioritise your health. It sets you up for success in all aspects of your life and has a positive impact on people around you.

Positive People have over 25 years helping leaders organise their time for best results. Call us now on 09 445 1077. We are here to help.




Chanel Finnigan No Comments


The months prior to an election are always full of uncertainty. Throw in the after effects of a global pandemic, heavy flooding, a cost-of-living crisis and a very long wet winter and the end of the year is proving to be tough for businesses and employees alike.

But whatever the results come election day, most people are looking for stability and to feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. As more of your team start to feel the effects of negative impacts like increased mortgage rates and food prices, overwhelmingly they are looking for solutions to their current issues, and for the Government to just get on with fixing things.

This year we have seen changes in employment matters across all the industries we deal with:

  1. Unrealistic pay expectations – Remember when 3% was a good annual pay increase? Not anymore! Compared to CPI, inflation levels and the increase in market rates, 3% just isn’t cutting it for most employees anymore and you may get push back. We understand that last year you may have been generous, but costs are increasing for businesses as well, so this year matching the CPI is a lot tougher.
  2. Higher levels of absenteeism – It seems the increased level of absenteeism caused by Covid is sticking around. While most businesses anticipated absenteeism returning to normal levels, the increase to 10 days sick leave and the number of bugs around this year haven’t seen this happen. We know this places pressure on businesses and is a constant frustration.
  3. Increased number of Personal Grievances – Employees appear to be far more aware of their rights, and justified or not, the number of PG’s being raised has risen. Stress and financial pressure play a role in this, as tempers are shorter and patience levels are reduced.
  4. An increased number of performance issues – When people are stressed their ability to rationalise and think through the consequences of their actions suffer. The focus for many people is on personal and financial issues and this impacts work performance,

People are stressed, patience is thin and it is a tough environment for business.

So, what can you do to navigate successfully through this period and support your team and your leaders?

  1. Stay close to your people – Even those employees who you think are financially secure may be facing financial or personal pressure right now, so don’t assume anything. Be aware of signs of stress, changes of behaviour and standards of performance. If you can understand the reasons behind this, you can support them through it and build long term engagement and commitment to your business.
  2. Reconsider your well-being offerings – There are many interventions that can go in your well-being plans, but are they right for what your team need now? Consider financial planning support or having financial support resources available. What about wellness days for when things become a bit much and they need a day to decompress? Do you have overtime you can offer, or can you allow flexibility to help cut childcare costs? Ask your team what would support them most. Then target that with your support.
  3. Communicate well – Part of your team’s stress could come from their fears on job security and their future in your business. Make sure you lead from the front, acknowledge their concerns, and communicate a strong message around your future. Through your communication you can build a united, supportive, and focused team, which is a workplace plus that everyone could benefit from right now.
  4. Be strategic with your salary increases – It may be tough to give the increases your team are asking for, so you may have to make some tough choices and try a different approach. Who can’t you afford to lose right now? Who is critical to your business success? Who do you need to retain for the future? Making sure your talent is well rewarded will reduce your business risk and help your business continuity.
  5. Take care of yourself – Leading a business has been a tough job over the past few years and will continue to be. It is normal to feel the pressure yourself. Caring for your team, making the right decisions and dealing with financial demands all contribute. Be purposeful in doing the things which reduce your stress levels, energise you and give you joy. Keeping yourself well will make you a better leader for your team.

Positive People have over 25 years’ experience helping businesses build high performing teams and navigate through business challenges. Call us now and we can help you make a plan that’s right for your business, and supports your business success.

Chanel Finnigan No Comments

Building a psychological contract with your employees

Do you remember your first job? Things were simple, weren’t they?  You work, your boss pays you. No need for flexible work, wellbeing strategies, recognition plans. Today the equation is far more complex, and we all have to shift our thinking.

While technically, employment is based on an employment agreement, it is also very much centred around a psychological contract.

psychological contract refers to the unwritten mutual expectations and obligations between an employer and an employee. It is based on the perceptions of what each party owes the other in terms of contributions, rewards, work commitment and delivery, as well as attitude and shared values. It is much more than what is in the job description.

The psychological contract is essentially the progeny of the organisational culture. It reflects the behavioural and attitudinal vibe that exists within the organisation. Whilst it is linked to the expectations established in the employment agreement, it operates at a much deeper level, is organisationally unique, is more nuanced and really aims to establish a hand in glove fit between employee and organisation.

To have a truly successful employment relationship, both parties need to understand, agree and be aligned on the expectations that arise from the psychological contract.  

The needs of employees and their expectations of work have evolved significantly in the past few years. We have seen the increase in flexibility, the need for meaningful work, and the increased importance and protection of personal time and space. Generation Z has also entered the workforce, and this generation has never known a time without a smartphone, social media or an airpod in their ear.

However, to be successful, and irrespective of the way the world of work changes, you and your employees still need to share common values.

You might need to shift your expectations as much as your employees need to shift theirs. If you are to get what you need from them, they also need to get what they want from you.

So how do you do this?

Starting at the beginning of the employment relationship is essential and will set things up for success from day 1.

  1. Ensure that your organisational culture is well articulated and outlines the organisational vibe and expectations beyond what the employment documentation does – A Company-wide commitment to the organisational culture gives it credibility, so be prepared to involve your team in fine-tuning what it is. It should reflect a win-win outcome. This will ensure the commitment endures and underpins everyone’s success.
  1. Build the psychological contract into the recruitment process – Most job ads have a list of what you require, and what your business will provide to the new employee. Does anyone read this? Are these just words for attraction’s sake? Make sure these are meaningful and relevant statements and discuss this at interview stage. Having a real two-way conversation about the Company culture at the recruitment stage will help establish fit and commitment. Ask what flexibility means to the candidate. Does this align with your organisation’s view on it? Discuss your organisational values and ask candidates what their values are and what they mean in real work related terms. Let them tell you. This will help you to work out whether a psychological contract could be formed with a candidate.
  1. Discuss again during the on-boarding phase – At the recruitment stage these discussions are theoretical. The on-boarding is where the practical elements of the psychological contract start. For example, if you have work from home options that also includes attendance at a Monday morning meeting every week, tell them and start this from day 1. This builds habits and reinforces the employee’s part of the bargain.
  1. Make sure you always meet your organisational promises – It is very easy to list what you expect from your team. But what about the promises you have made to them? If you don’t follow through with your own organisational commitments, you have broken the psychological contract. Why should they keep their promises if you don’t?
  1. Reinforce the psychological contract – Too often we let unacceptable behaviour occur multiple times before the issue is addressed. By this time it can have become a habit and through your acceptance of the behaviour it can become the norm. Early intervention and a reminder of the commitments they have made is the easiest way to correct things before they become a big problem and the relationship breaks down.
  1. Be consistent – As leaders, on some days we are well prepared to discuss matters with our team and on others we are not. Not addressing issues in a timely way creates uncertainty in the employment relationship and can muddy expectations of each other. To be successful consistency is key.

A successful employment relationship is interdependent, is built on trust, involves common understanding and requires good communication.

As leaders, recognising the shifting employment landscape, adapting to it and being clear with your team on your expectations will go a long way towards helping your business get the best from your people. Deliberately building a psychological contract is a critical element of this.

Positive People have over 25 years helping businesses establish positive and productive teams. Call us now on 09 445 1077. We are here to help.

Chanel Finnigan No Comments

POWER Skills for Leaders

As we have thankfully advanced towards the Covid exit gate, it has become clear to perceptive leaders that things have changed in their relationships with employees. The hybrid working model has become almost the norm and working hours, working patterns and work locations are, in many organisations, up for negotiation. Some Companies have resolved these easily, some not so.

As a leader and manager, it requires you to stand back and take some time to assess how well are you managing the people in your organisation in the current employment climate. Have you just picked up where you left off and are you carrying on as before? Or have you done some deep thinking as to what your team now need from you to perform at top levels?

A quantum leap in thinking on leadership and management skills is required.

This entails re-evaluating what have traditionally been known as hard and soft skills. Hard skills have historically been the skills most valued as they are relatively easy to teach and are strongly focused on the job at hand. So-called soft skills have historically been grudgingly acknowledged as a requirement for managers to have, but really existing as a side show to supplement technical skills. If there was a choice to be made, hard skills won every time.

This is no longer the best paradigm to use to guide both the recruitment, and predict the success, of leaders and managers.

The reality of today’s working world is that the so-called soft skills have come out on top and emerged as the most critical for any manager to have. They are now rightfully referred to as Power Skills and are the essential skills that any manager needs to create a top performing team that can successfully drive an organisation forward.

In the past, the use of the word “soft” has in fact discredited their value and has been a real barrier to their adoption within organisations.

If creating the right working environment for employees to flourish and prosper in an organisation is seen as key, then ensuring that leaders and managers have Power Skills is essential.

Companies find their biggest challenges not so much in the technology space, but in the values, strategy, innovation, change, ethics, culture, diversity and growth arenas.

What are Power Skills?

Power skills are basically behavioural skills:

  • Communication style
  • Creating and promoting a Vision
  • Negotiation ability
  • Team building
  • Reading a room and responding appropriately
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Changing to accommodate different circumstances
  • Understanding non-verbal cues
  • Successful collaboration

Power skills are complex and are difficult to acquire.

They require emotional intelligence and the ability to be aware and mindful of what is right in front of you, rather than hinged to pre-conceived notions. They are closely linked to life skills but in a work environment also have a commercial slant. They require an element of wisdom to successfully apply. They also require a deeper understanding of what makes people behave the way they do.

Because they are behavioural, Power Skills require leaders to lead by example in both what they do and, importantly, how they do it.

Hard skills still, of course, have a critical role to play in determining success. Employees and customers alike expect a leader to have a wide and deep understanding of the technical details and workings of the products or services on offer. However, there is now a real acceptance that Power Skills are such a huge determinant of organisational success that they have been elevated to the front row.

So, how can Power skills be learned?

A commitment by the Senior Leadership Team to the central importance of Power Skills is the starting point. This will usually translate into Leadership Development programs that encourage collaborative learning. Collaborative apps can also have a part to play here.

Commit to elevating Power Skills in your organisation and reap the benefits.

Have the discussions around the benefits of having Power Skills elevated to be a non-negotiable and central management and leadership skill. Then fashion and deliver a leadership development program, one step at time, to train and grow your senior team.

We can guide and support you to have the important discussions and develop a customised Leadership Development program that moves your organisation’s thinking and implementation of Power Skills forward.

Call us on 09 445 1077 or email


Chanel Finnigan No Comments

The Biggest Employee Recruitment & Retention Challenges!

Right now some of the biggest concerns facing the country are about the massive cost of living increases we are all experiencing, the mortgage rate rises and the pessimistic economic predictions, not to mention the crazy weather patterns.

A tough environment in which to successfully run a business!

This last year has shown us how difficult it is to find the right talent to drive your organisation forward. This has led to a close and careful scrutiny of what is motivating employees to join, to stay or to leave.

Standing at the centre of every business’s success are it’s people, and the need for management to attract and retain it’s top performers. Your people will not be immune from the winds of worry sweeping across the country.

These concerns, which are mainly about money, are parachuting into the employment field.

When Covid was at it’s peak and was pretty much all that anybody spoke about, the employment focus was very strongly on employee wellbeing, and on the flexibility that was needed to successfully run an organisation. As the intense concentration on Covid has eased, the flexibility that was required then has become embedded in most organisations as a primary employee requirement for happy employment. The Government’s tardy rejigging of the Immigration settings helped usher in and exacerbate a period of labour and skill shortages that is still with us today. It has meant that employees have been, and still are, in a strong position to dictate employment terms.

Wellbeing continues to stand as a work in progress in many organisations, and still demands attention. However, flexibility is now predominantly a given and was really more last year’s news.

Flexibility has mainstreamed.

Employees are being hard hit with a weekly grocery reality check and believe that a worrying picture of what their personal financial situation is likely to look like going forward is clearly emerging for them.

Flexibility has now been overtaken by PAY as a primary consideration challenging employers.

Pay is now becoming top of mind for employees.

So, what can you as an employer do to ensure that you can attract top performers, and also retain your best people?

  1. Review your remuneration policy to see that it realistically addresses the 2023 employment situation and talent shortage
  2. Review your organisation chart and identify the top/key people that you cannot afford to lose. Also identify key roles in your organisation.
  3. Conduct a market check to ensure that you are paying at the correct level for identified people/roles
  4. Make sure that you are having regular catch ups with your people, and ask them how they are going at these sessions. If you understand their thinking you may be in a position to accommodate their needs and prevent them leaving. There is nothing worse than a resignation surprise
  5. Look to see how you can stretch your salary/wage budget
  6. Do some innovative thinking to see how you can pro-actively retain these key people. This may require some different solutions fashioned for each key person
  7. Make sure that your flexibility offering really is up there to meet employee needs
  8. Keep working hard at developing an organisational culture that is attractive to be in

The overall message is that things have moved along quickly from Covid’s big days, and that pay has edged flexibility as the big front of mind issue for most employees – although flexibility is still right up there as a must have element. As employers, it is imperative to assess the situation within your own organisation. Give deep thought to what influence you believe the pay you offer will affect the recruitment and retention of the talent you need in the next year.

Positive People have over 25 year’s experience working with organisations to ensure that their pay offering hits the mark. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email


Chanel Finnigan No Comments

Developing the right HR plan for 2023

If nothing else, the past few years have taught us all how important it is to have the right people, with the right skills and motivation in our businesses. Having staff that will cope with change, support each other and make the right decisions has been a critical part of organisations successfully weathering this extremely difficult period.

And 2023 is shaping up already to be another year full of curve balls and surprises that your business, and team, must cope with.

Being prepared, focusing on the right HR areas, and having a strong HR plan in place will take centre stage this year as we navigate the year ahead.

So, how do you get the right plan in place?

  1. Start with your business goals.

Key to having the right HR plan in place is being clear about your business goals for 2023, and understanding what you need from your people to achieve them.

  • Are you planning growth? Then you will need a strong employment brand and recruitment strategy to attract top quality candidates
  • Are you changing your product or service offering? This will mean you need a team which is comfortable with change, and ready to grow and develop their skills.
  • Do you expect it to be a tough year? Your team will need to be resilient and engaged, to help them cope with the challenges this brings.

Knowing what you need from your team for success will enable you to focus on the right areas and ensure your plan is meaningful.

  1. Conduct an environmental scan.

Legislation, economic conditions and immigration settings all impact on your people. In today’s world it is essential to understand what is going on around you and to plan how you can work around impediments by having strong HR initiatives which enable performance and deliver staff retention.

  • Do you expect a fair pay agreement to be initiated, or has one been already?
  • How will immigration impact your talent pipeline? Do you need to work hard to retain staff as it is difficult to recruit?
  • How will your people cope with the increased cost of living? Do they need help with financial planning and are your wage levels keeping up with the market to support them through this?
  1. Assess your current HR practices.

Most Companies have gaps or improvement areas in their HR practices. Having a real understanding of deficiencies by working through each HR topic thoroughly will give you a clear overview of potential focus areas. It is important to dig deeper and go beneath the surface when undertaking this assessment.

  • You may have a performance review process in place, but do the reviews actually happen? And does it result in improved performance or is it a tick box exercise?
  • If you do conduct engagement surveys, do you create a strong plan off the back of them? And does your plan improve engagement?

Be honest as a business on what you do well and what areas don’t work as intended. This will ensure you identify the right areas to work on.

  1. Prioritise and create your plan.

Once you have assessed your current practices and highlighted areas for improvement, it is time to link these back to your business goals and environmental scan.

  • What HR areas will have the most impact?
  • What improvement initiatives will support your business goals the most?
  • What areas will cause your plans to fail if you don’t get them right?

In every business there are always any number of people initiatives that you can introduce.

Identifying the key actions in your HR plan will ensure you take the right steps in 2023 to create a highly engaged and productive workforce.

Positive People has been helping businesses create fit-for-purpose HR plans for organisations for over 25 years. Contact us now or call 09 445 1077 to discuss your 2023 HR Plan.



Chanel Finnigan No Comments

Fair Pay Agreements – What could they mean for you?

The Fair Pay Agreements Act has now been passed, and applications to initiate bargaining can be made from 1 December 2022. This raises a raft of questions about how this will work and what the implications will be for employers.

Unfortunately, even though the legislation has been published, many of these questions remain unanswered. We anticipate a lot of change and a number of challenges in the implementation in 2023.

So how will it work practically?

Initiating and bargaining parties

  • The process begins when an eligible Union applies to MBIE for approval to start bargaining as they have either 1000 workers or 10% of the workforce who would be covered supporting the application. It can also be initiated by a public interest test showing that the employees who would be covered receive low wages.
  • Once bargaining has been approved employer associations may apply to be the employer bargaining party. If no one steps forward as an employer bargaining party after 3 months, a default bargaining party will be invited to participate and given one month to respond. If they decline, then the Union can apply to the Authority for the terms to be set without bargaining.
  • Bargaining must be publicly notified by the Union and efforts must be made to notify all employers in writing, who may have employees who will be covered.

While at this stage most employer associations have not agreed to be employer bargaining parties, with the default setting being a determination by the Authority it is in business’s best interests to come to the table on this – or risk having no say in the terms.

The bargaining processes

The bargaining process is very similar to normal collective agreement negotiations. Employers will need to:

  • Act in good faith
  • Provide information to their employees around bargaining
  • Provide employee information to the Union (unless employees opt out of the process)
  • Allow employee bargaining representatives on-site to provide information to employees
  • Allow employees to attend up to two, two hour paid meetings about the Fair Pay Agreements

Mandatory clauses

All Fair Pay Agreements (FPA) must have certain mandatory clauses, like pay rates, overtime provisions, penalty rates (if they apply), training and development arrangements and leave provisions, amongst others. So it will be worth reviewing your agreements now to see what’s likely to change and consider your approach. If you pay a higher base hourly rate and no overtime, you may end up having both once an FPA is in place, so we encourage you to consider your position now.

If my workforce isn’t currently unionised, will this change?

A FPA would cover all employees in an occupation or sector, even those that are not Union members. You will however have to understand how to manage your work force with several agreements in place. Employees can still have an IEA and an FPA can also be in place. However, they are covered by whichever agreement is most favourable, so you could have multiple agreements to balance.

Which Industries are likely to have Fair Pay Agreements first?

Several Industries have been signalled as first cabs off the rank (Security, Bus drivers, Cleaning, Early Childhood Centres, Hospitality, Forestry and Supermarkets). There are reports that at least one Union has already started collecting signatures to start the initiation process. Heavily Unionised industries would be easiest to target first, and with a real chance of a change in Government next year, Unions will want to move as fast as possible to secure an FPA before then. The speed with which this can progress will be hampered by the Unions’ resource constraints and the ability of MBIE to process requests. As this is new territory, we anticipate it will take a while to get set up and will have teething problems, which is likely to mean a slow start to any processes.

However, as employers, being prepared will be key.

What can you do to get ready?

While there isn’t much an employer can do to influence which industries are targeted first, or when bargaining for an FPA is initiated, you can make sure that you are tight with whatever industry or sector bargaining forum you may belong to.

You can also ensure you provide good communication and dialogue with your team if and when you are approached for either Union access or to start the process. Ensuring your team receive accurate and thorough information from you will help to keep your relationship strong and stand you in good stead for the future.

As this new legislation spreads into workplaces, as always, your best strategy within your own business is to have a strong bond with all your employees. This will ensure that any inevitable challenges and hiccups that arise are successfully ridden out in your business.

Positive People have over 25 years’ experience in Industrial Relations and can support and update you through the changes Fair Pay Agreements will bring. Contact us now to discuss any questions you may have.

Call us on 09 445 1077 or email