Posted by Antonia Haythornthwaite on 25 March 2013
Last week I stepped on a bus to get across the city to a client meeting. It was evident from early on in the journey that the driver found us all to be a disruption to his day but a particular customer interaction at one central city stop really took the cake. A mild-mannered older couple approached the bus enquiring if it went to the airport to which the driver shouted "read the sign, it says Courtenay Place" - the doors dramatically slammed shut and we drove off leaving the bewildered couple in our fumes.
I wondered how the bus company recruits its drivers. As it turns out they are currently recruiting on their website. Interestingly, if you thrive on providing excellent customer service then being a bus operator is for YOU because they are looking to hire individuals who genuinely enjoy interacting with people and who are sociable, helpful, polite and understanding. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for you to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people taking the bus. It sure is, but I bet the out-of-town couple who wanted to get to the airport and didn't know their Courtenay Place from their Rongotai didn't feel our driver had made much of a difference to their life.
Often when you're recruiting for a vacancy it's easy to underestimate what is needed. The focus tends to go on the technical skills (in this case, do they have a Class 1 license and can they drive a bus?) and less on how they do the job (the behavioural stuff like customer service, teamwork, communication etc). The kicker is that for most jobs it's relatively easy to teach the technical stuff and a lot harder for people to master the behavioural aspects. In my experience most workplace conflict or problems tend to be caused by a lack of non-technical skills.
Maybe the bus company does emphasize customer service in it's recruitment process and our driver was a disengaged poor performer. But it sure was a reminder that it's not just what you do but how you do it that leads to success.
Posted by Antonia Haythornthwaite on 12 November 2012
Today marks the start of the first ever Telework Week in New Zealand and Australia. The purpose of the New Zealand Telework Week is to encourage individuals and organisations to give teleworking a go. Teleworking is a flexible working arrangement that involves working from home or away from the usual workplace. 2008 statistics suggested that close to 30% of New Zealand employees do some sort of work from home occasionally or on a regular basis yet a recent survey found that employees believed teleworking is discouraged by bosses.
In July 2008 legislation was introduced to allow employees with caring responsibilities the statutory right to request flexible working arrangements. In 2010, a Department of Labour review of Flexible Working Arrangements found that they are common in many workplaces throughout New Zealand, with 70% of employers reporting that some or all of their employees work flexibly. The term ‘flexible’ was not qualified in the survey questions, other than explaining it covers patterns of work in the workplace, such as working at different times or days or from different places. Small firms were found to be more likely than large firms to have all staff working flexibly although 31% of small employers reported that they had no staff working flexibly.
The future workforce will be more mobile and remote. Now is the time to explore and refine flexible working practices.