The World According to Shane

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Shane Ridley

Shane Ridley

Shane Ridley has not set their biography yet

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On my recent trip to the US, over dinner and a discussion about the challenges of running a business our host Chris made the statement - "In my business, the more my staff need me, the less I need them".

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I've just returned from a 3 week trip to the US, where myself and 4 close mates traveled around the south east part, looking at businesses and meeting with business owners and learning as much as we could.

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Finally, after messing around for half the morning, I realized that my blog account was set up on another GMail account. Once I logged in as the correct user, it all happened - yes that is correct, I'm an idiot!!.

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There's an interesting thought I've been having centred around the following statement:

People don't leave jobs, they leave managers.

With all the noise at the moment about a skills shortage, labour shortage and people shortage, and everyone experiencing the mining, resource and energy sector sucking up all the good workers, my though was are we focusing on the right areas to make a difference here?

We've been involved with a lot of employers and industry groups over the past few months, as well as a few NGO's and other enterprises that have been set up to address these issues. What surprises me is that everyone is looking at more recruitment, more advertising, more training and more money.

Obviously this is probably whats required at a sector level, but I don't think its the full answer, particularly when you get down your business level.  I struggle to believe there are "that many more people" out there to fill the jobs, regardless of how much we invest in recruitment and training (not without reviewing our immigration policy anyway).

The fact of the matter is people generally don't leave jobs, they leave people. Its about the experience of the job, not the money or training that will drive their likely ongoing employment and certainly their engagement. More engaged people are less likely to leave, regardless of how much money is on offer by another competitor.
This is not just my view, but a direct finding by the Gallup organisation after 100's of focus groups and 1000's of interviews with employee across a range of sectors.
So if this is the case, my hypothesis is this:

We could fix the skills shortage (in our business at least), by becoming better leaders of people.
I believe 10 of the 12 questions in Gallops Employee Engagement survey are directly influenced by an employees direct manager, regardless of sector, role, skill level and budget constraints. So if this is true, its leadership and engagement that will overcome (our businesses) skills shortage, not recruitment and training. 
We are spending a fortune (or several fortunes perhaps) on training people with hard skills like trades qualifications, and yet I see almost nothing being spent upstream on the supervisory and management team to make them better leaders. Sure some companies are, but by and large the most are not.

Add to this the fact that in a lot of cases the people left to manage the team are the people who have been there the longest, not necessarily the most experienced or qualified and you have all the makings of a disengaged workforce.

Add to this the significant resources being spent by your competition (either for business or talent) telling your employees how much better off they would be working from them and you have all the makings of a labour shortage in your own environment.

Personally I believe in an abundance mentality. Whilst the energy sector boom is going to require however many people it requires, your business in only going to require a minuscule percentage of that. Even if you are growing at a rapid rate. So forget the press and focus on your team.

There are more than enough suitably skilled people available to fill all your roles. They're just already working for your competition. You just need to create an environment that promotes engagement. And thats done through genuine leadership.

Becoming an employer of choice is an over used cliche these days. Nearly every employer I meet with tells me they are and yet hardly any have a grasp of what it really means. (One manager recently spent 15 mins telling me how great his company was and how they were an EoC, then 20 mins later asked me to find him a new job???)

If your too busy fighting off crocodiles to drain the swamp, it might just be time to review your situation and see what you are doing to create an engaged workforce, (Tip: Its not about how much you pay). Gallups questions are a great place to start.

The World According to Shane: Becoming a "leader of choice" is the new frontier. Master leadership and you'll fix any skills shortage, maybe not in the entire sector, but certainly in your enterprise - and thats all that really counts right. 

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This morning I was lucky enough to be invited on a private ride morning with my local bike shop. As a hack mountain bike rider I’m in the market for a new ride and Sandy from iRide in Toowoomba offered to let me and some mates trial a range of new bikes prior to my purchase.

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I attended a workshop today that was promoted on the basis of “Managing Staff during Difficult Times”. In Toowoomba (where I live) we've had a few challenges recently, most notably was the flooding in January and on top of the GFC, its having some serious impact on the local business community.

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The World According to Shane

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I came across this note today, that I received from a friend of mine, Jack Daly, a Sales and Culture Coach from the US exactly 3 years ago this week. Its an extract from an interview with Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE in 2007 about people. There were 3 quick points about people that resonated then I included them in our monthly newsletter), and still resonate today, so I thought I would share

Interestingly, this interview was from before the GFC and the challenges that the world has and still is now facing. Reading the note again, I felt the points were just as valid today as in 2007. I guess it just goes to show the fundamentals of business (and people) don't really change.

[From Jack Daly]
[From Shane Ridley]

Back in December 2007, there was an insightful interview in USA Today with GE CEO Jeff Immelt. 

Here were a few questions (and answers) I found of particular value, taken from the leader of a Company that has been in the top five of the Fortune 500 since the 50's, and a Company that seems to produce more CEO's and business leaders of the Fortune 2000 than any other single source.

Q: What skills do people need to be leaders 10 and 20 years from now, especially in international business?
A: It's curiosity. It's being good with people. And it's having perseverance, hard work, thick skin. Those are the three traits that every successful person that I've known has in common. Most of what I have learned when I was young was how to be a general manager. But successful leaders in the next 10, 20 or 30 years will have to be real experts. They are going to have to know how to pick products and how to pick countries. What you should be learning is how to develop your own touch and feeling for customers, technology, innovation, globalization- things like that....And we are really in a what-and-where generation, not so much a who-and-how generation.

"It's curiosity. It's being good with people. And it's having perseverance, hard work, thick skin".
- Is it just me, or are these traits, that on average at least, seem to be missing in our current workforce (of all generations)?

Q: Generation Y has a different view of work. Does your management program need to change?
A: Generation Y-or whatever they call it-I've never seen smarter people, more curious people, more worldly people. I am so optimistic about the talent I see. The other thing I would tell generation Y is that there is a generation A in India. And they want what you have. They want quality of living. They want a second car. They want a vacation home. So, either with you or with them I am going to build a future for GE.

"With you or with them, I am going to build a future"
- This is an interesting point (in 2007 remember). Today, I have just as many employees offshore, as I do in my office in Toowoomba. Not because I want to, but because I cant find the right skills and motivation locally (See above).

Q: You can't be an expert on everything. Do you have a sniff test to be sure that you're getting good information?
A: I have things that I watch. I watch rail loadings in the United States. I watch trailer rentals. I watch consumer delinquency. I get these things every day. So I have probably a dozen statistics that I have found, over time, are leading indicators of what is going on. I am on the board of the New York Fed, which I joined three years ago, so even though I didn't get A's in economics, I rub shoulders with people who got A's in economics at least once a month. And I kind of stir it all up in terms of how it feels to talk to the board-and that's how I make decisions. The only way to run a company like GE, with our size and mass and everything is: Bad news has to travel as fast as good news. You have a management team and a culture where people are trained to give you bad news on losses, bad news on what's going on in the markets.

Lead Indicators and Bad News
- What are your lead indicators? Please share. I must confess, I only have internal lead indicators, but having read this article again, think I'll hunt around for a few external ones as well.

The World According to Shane - I think a lot of people would do well to consider the first two points and how they apply to the way they operate now and into the future. As an employer or an employee.

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Have you ever stopped to notice how infrequently people use your name to address you; or how your ears prick, when someone does?

One of the things I've been trying to do over the past month or so is to remember; and to address people by their first name, and its having a big impact. I've been making a point of introducing myself, and where it is not completely obvious (like no name badge), asking for their first name. Its suprised me how willing people have been to tell me their name, and how much of a buzz they get when you use it in conversation with them.

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I've just returned from a 3 week trip to the US, where myself and 4 close mates traveled around the south east part, looking at businesses and meeting with business owners and learning as much as we could.

In Nashville, and quite by chance, we met with Matt from Imogene and Willie. (

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Finally, after messing around for half the morning, I realised that my blog account was set up on another GMail account. Once I logged in as the correct user, it all happened - yes that is correct, I'm an idiot!!.

Welcome to "the World According to Shane". As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have a view and opinion on EVERYTHING.

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Ryan Myler

Director/ Financial Planner

Optimas Financial Planning

Shane has provided me with invaluable advice, being that I am in start up phase with my business. His knowledge of business in general, along with his strong understanding of the current trend toward social media and it's influence, have provided me with insights on how to grow my company. I would strongly recommend Shane in a business mentoring role due to his depth knowledge and broad experience, along with his superior story telling ability to make the complex simple.

June 25, 2012

Indiana Forrest-Bisley

Business Development Manager Australian Exhibitions & Conferences

Shane exhibited with us at the 2012 Safety in Action trade show - Melbourne. I found him to be extremely professional and furthermore his pre employment training services were a hit at the show. We will see Shane return to the safety show Perth (August 7-9). If you're in need of ANY type of pre employment training
I would strongly reccommend OTrain to anyone within HR."

June 29, 2012