Tag Archives: business

11 Career Related Movies You Need to Watch Today

Besides being a passionate talent acquisition professional, I am also an avid movie fan. I’m in total admiration of the actors and actresses that portray the roles scripted for them and the directors that make the scripts come to life. Whenever I come across a movie that has relevance to me in my career, I’m always eager to see it at the first given opportunity. So, if like me you are interested in how movies deal with work related subject matter, you may want to check out the following titles.

The Circle (2017)

The premise: The movie is focused on Mae’s character (Emma Watson) who successfully secures a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle. Things get off to a flying start in the beginning but she soon discovers that the company is up to no good and that its products may adversely impact humanity. She becomes the whistleblower and the chief architect of the company’s downfall.

Takeaway: I see this movie as a bit of an essay on the tech sector revealing the prevalence of bad practices including weak corporate governance and overbearing leadership. The company’s products clearly pose serious ethical concerns around privacy which kind of reminded me of the Facebook privacy issues and Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.

The Intern (2015)

The premise: Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro) is a recent retiree who quickly struggles to deal with life post retirement. He spots an opportunity to get back into work and applies successfully to become a senior intern at an online fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway).

Takeaway: What was really pleasing about this movie was that this was the first time a ‘talent acquisition team’ is featured in a movie setting. We actually see the candidate experience in flow.  Indeed, Ben’s first interaction and interviews are with several members the TA team which suggests that the company in the movie probably has a robust interview and selection process. The movie also raised some important issues about work life balance. In the movie, Jules’s husband is a stay at home dad allowing Jules to pursue her career often to his frustration. The movie also reassuringly tackles the issue of ageism in the workplace. Instead of casting aside senior citizens, it proactively puts together a program of inclusivity to reintroduce senior citizens back into work and really utilize their experience. This probably suggests that the company in the movie values diversity and inclusion. In this movie, Ben helps Jules to reinvigorate both her and the company to overcome operational issues.

A Family Man (2016)

The premise: Dane Jensen (played by Gerard Butler) is a headhunter operating in the cut throat world of agency recruitment. His job is made even more challenging driven by his desire to outperform his peers, own the company whilst fulfilling the needs of his family – thus creating a clash of priorities.

Takeaway: Lays bare the inner workings of agency recruitment. It reveals the tactics – often underhand and unethical that recruiters use to win jobs and place candidates. A ‘win at any cost’ approach reveals an industry culture that is incompatible with work life balance. Agency recruitment isn’t for everyone. Struggling to juggle work and family life, Dane is fired from his job and then starts his own company working from home to take back control of his life.

Up In The Air (2009)

The premise: Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) works for an HR consulting company that specializes in terminating employees on behalf of employers. This sees him travelling up and down the country and pleasingly collecting air miles in the process. He enjoys what he does but soon comes across issues that threaten his lifestyle by the emergence of a love interest, and a new hire which prompts him to reassess his life.

Takeaway: Firing people is unpleasant. Sadly, whenever a company goes through a rough patch, it’s human capital that has to pay the price through layoffs. This movie details that process and the issues that companies have to deal with in order to remain profitable. The movie also chronicles the life of an individual (Ryan Bingham) who seems content hopping from one city to another doing a very sensitive job. How happy would you be constantly travelling for your job?

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The premise: Based on Chris Gardner’s true story (played by Will Smith). The movie depicts a struggling salesman taking custody of his son and the immense difficulties he faces in pursuing a professional career.

Career takeaway: A hugely inspiring and motivational movie that reveals in spectacular detail the struggles and stresses we face as human beings. An emotionally charged account of the worst that can happen to any capable person. Chris Gardner was a phenomenal hero of his own life facing one challenge and setback after another. In the end, he prevailed through his commitment and self- belief.

The Internship (2013)

The premise: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are two salesmen who find themselves struggling in their careers because of the digital age. They somehow manage to get internships at Google where they compete against a talented bunch of youngsters to secure employment.

Takeaway: Whilst critics referred to this movie as being a Google documentary, it’s really about how one needs to adapt themselves in a changing labor market that is being disrupted by technology.

Office Christmas Party (2016)

The premise: Jennifer Anniston plays a CEO of a family run company who threatens to shut down his brother Clay’s branch (played by T.J.Miller). In an attempt persuade her to change her mind, Clay throws a lavish Christmas party in order to land a big client to save the day, but things do not go as he intended.

Takeaway: Both funny and rude, this movie is about the challenges involved in running a family business. It also highlights the importance of company culture. In the movie we see the client rejecting Clay’s business proposal because he doesn’t like the culture of his company which led me to the conclusion that you could think that you are the best company in the world but if your culture isn’t good to those outside the company, you run the risk of damaging its reputation and profitability.

Horrible Bosses 1 (2011)/Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

The premise: In Horrible Bosses 1 (2011), three friends concoct plans to murder their awful managers in order to secure their happiness. In Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), the three friends featured in the previous movie start their own business but get into problems when an investor cheats them prompting them to plot revenge against their tormentor.

Takeaway: You’ll really relate to this movie if you ever worked for a boss who was passive aggressive, a micro manager or just plain unpleasant to work for. It’s a light hearted look at how three individuals driven to despair by their managers are desperate to ensure their happiness.

Fist Fight (2017)

The premise: Andy Campbell (played by Charlie Day) inadvertently causes the dismissal of another teacher Strickland (played by Ice Cube). This act leads to Strickland challenging Andy to an after school fight.

Takeaway: Shows the impact of weak leadership trickling all the way down to employees. You’ll end up with disharmony among your employees and a workforce that is isn’t engaged. In this particular story, the inability of leadership to manage an employee relations issue results in a fight between two teachers. Poor governance and a lack of concern for employee welfare are strong themes here.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

The premise: Focuses on the life of Alexander (played by Ed Oxenbould) and his family. They each face back to back setbacks. He ends up thinking if he has somehow managed to curse the family.

Takeaway: Ben Cooper (played by Steve Carell) and Kelly Cooper (played by Jennifer Garner) are both working parents who face struggles in their professional lives. In the movie, Ben has the weirdest interview experience when he’s forced to take his toddler son with him to the interview, and Kelly who works for a publishing company, accidently changes the words in a children’s book which result in the book being full of rude words. Despite their individual misfortune, Ben actually ends up impressing in his interview and gets the job whilst Kelly’s mistake actually ends of benefitting her company. The movie is a reminder that we are all not perfect at end of the day and that sometimes it’s ok to have a bad day and you can’t do anything to change it.

So these are my favorite career related movies. If you get the chance, I encourage you to watch them as most of them are comedies so you’ll enjoy them. Happy viewing!

Image Credit: Manu Mohan

Advertisements

5 things I learnt from the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the lessons they have for business

The 2014 FIFA World Cup recently concluded and despite on and off the pitch controversies, and much public anger at the cost of the Brazilian Government’s spending on infrastructure, the tournament was one of the most successful and memorable in living memory. Here are five things I learnt from watching the tournament and the resonance they have in business:

ONE – There is no substitute for team work and attitude:

Teams such as Costa Rica and USA were a prime example of team work and attitude. They didn’t have the household names and match winning players of other teams but they proved that getting basics right, having a nothing to lose mentality and punching above their weight together with helping other team members out when they were out of position made them a force. This propelled them to the highest level of performance any team can desire at a major tournament.

Business Lesson: Go beyond your job description and keep things simple. Believing in yourself and your team members will create a positive team environment. More importantly, understand what the common goal is and be realistic in your expectations.

TWO – Don’t be afraid to take a risk:

Netherlands coach Louie Van Gall embodied this in abundance. During the Quarter Final match against Costa Rica, Van Gaal substituted his first choice goalkeeper Cillisen and replaced him with Krul when the match went to penalties. The outcome of this was that Krul saved two penalties and this put the Netherlands through to the semi finals. His greater height and reach were sighted by Van Gaal as the rationale behind the substitution.

Business Lesson: Don’t be afraid to experiment. As a Manager, next time you have a project – put an untested team member on the project. Know your teams’ individual strengths and skills to get the best out of the team.

THREE – Have a plan B:

In each of the games Netherlands played, the team adapted their style and tactics to their opponents and that proved valuable as Netherlands progressed through the tournament. Van Gaal was a thinking coach who constantly studied the oppositions every move before executing his strategy.

Business Lesson: In business, it’s important to know what you will do in a clutch situation. Something might not work as you would expect. Have something prepared that you can revert to in times of need – a toolkit etc.

FOUR – Stick with the norm and you run the risk of failure:

By the time we got the Semi Finals when Brazil played Columbia, signs were evident that Brazil was not up to the standard of other teams. When Brazil played Germany, their weaknesses were laid bare and they imploded before the eyes of their country. In the aftermath of Brazil’s disastrous exit, it was apparent that coach Scolari was heavily reliant on Neymar and Tiago Silva who were the spine of the team. Scolari kept faith with the same team as he picked in the first match to deliver but as that turned out that was blind faith. Brazil were predictable, relied on the same tactics and never had a plan B.

Business Lessons: Don’t be afraid of mixing things up and when it comes to recruiting a team; do not be averse to individuals of unconventional backgrounds whose CVs may not read great on paper. Resist having similar styles of people in the same team and instead select individuals who would complement each other and a particular function and/or department. Above all, give indivuals time and autonomy and let them flourish.

FIVE – Feeling valued elevated a player:

Suarez, Neymar, Neuer, Messi, Robben, Rodriguez were all talisman to their team. Their talent is undeniable but what was even more important was that they had the support of their team, coaching staff, and when these players performed they had a domino effect on the rest of their team.

Business Lesson: Feedback and engagement are two of the most critical elements in business. Get either wrong, and you end up with a disenfranchised and de – motived workforce. To get it right, work out what truly drives your workforce and what puts them off. Move forward then by making a commitment to driving out the practices that create unhappiness in the workplace.

 

 

 

Why having a wider skills set is better!

I was at home in my bed at the weekend nursing a twisted knee which was mind – numbingly painful. As I lay there moaning and groaning in pain. A random thought arose in my mind. That thought was that a person needs absolutely no experience to set up their own business but when they wanted to say apply for a business development position or other, they probably wouldn’t get the job because they had no specific experience. How odd I thought to myself. People who run their own businesses are just as capable as the people who do the regular 9 to 5 jobs of their counterparts. To run your own business, one needs to be pretty decisive and not shy away from doing the dirty work. In many respects you need to be a jack of all trades, and in many cases that is where the lessons one has learnt in life come in handy. You have a pretty big in-tray of work daily as you juggle marketing, sales management, administration, order processing etc. You don’t have specific targets as such but one big moving target all the time which is the product and/or service you are selling.

The global recession has resulted in many business failures because finance has dried up leaving a lot of entrepreneurs to pick up the pieces. So my question is shouldn’t these people be top of the interview pile when they to apply for vacant positions because they have so much to offer?  Does one really need to have specific experience in a specific field to be good at the job, or is experience gained over a certain length of time in a general field more worthwhile? I believe that in a depressed economy, it may be more economical to employ someone who has a wide range of skills rather than one skill. I think time has come when it should be perfectly possible and indeed permissible to have one person performing two functions. People who have a wide ranging skills set are more likely to have the appetite and capacity for learning new skills and taking on additional responsibility.

Talent management and retention in a changing world

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The economic changes brought about by the global financial crisis have reshaped the business world. This is a challenge of considerable importance for way human capital is developed and managed.  Successful talent management begins with a proper understanding of how people work effectively and more importantly what it is that makes them tick. Built on to this is the notion that people are motivated by different things. According to renowned author Daniel Pink, there are three things that motivate workers:

 

1)      Workers want to be given autonomy – they want to be in control of their time

2)      Mastery – workers want to make a contribution at work

3)      Workers want to make a contribution likened to a broader purpose in the company

The key takeaway for companies is that they must synchronize these three motivations with their own goals. If these three fit well, a winning situation is created. However, companies also need to address the issue of staff retention. Compensation is not the only reason to ensure employees stay happy and committed. Daniel Pink’s analysis of employee motivation, highlight non – financial factors as being increasingly important in dictating the motivation of employees in a post crisis world.

However, in practical terms the focus must also be on the economic cost. It costs more to hire a new worker than to train an existing worker, so the focus must be on retention. The time has come for companies to think of employee retention in an innovative light.

Socio – economic factors have radically altered the make-up of the average workforce that will impact a company’s recruitment and retention practices. People work across international boundaries and live longer. The work forces of the future will probably be made up of a 20 something, a 40 something and a 60 something worker. Multi – generational teams will be more prominent in the years to come. Companies need to actively think of creating balanced workforces that are rich in both age and experience, and focus on the human side of management. By adopting such practices, companies will be better prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

Leadership Wisdom – 7 Knowledge Nuggets

Leading the pack

Leadership is a fascinating discipline in the business world. Many academics and theorists have written at great length about the topic and published countless books for us to read and process their insights. New research is being published on the subject regularly to help us understand the essence of leadership. Here are seven observations that I discovered in an old journal that characterize what leadership is all about in the real world:

  • Be ready to take decisions when you can’t be certain that you are right
  • Invest more time and effort than you really want to in getting to know your team – talk to them and listen even when you know that what you are saying might not be right
  • The key attributes of successful leader are focus, context and communication. You can learn them. The first 100 days are key: manage your team, listen to them and remember that to get 70% right, you have to get 30% wrong
  • Run an operation through other people rather than doing it yourself. Step back and trust the people working for you
  • A leader has to make the direction clear
  • Effective leaders have a clear sense of purpose and strong values, but they also know when to make compromises
  • Leadership is not achieved by riding into town and shooting it up. Skillful leaders spend time getting a sense of the place

Are you doing any of this? If not, you would we wise to do so!

Photo credit:  Ulrik