Interview with WPB Property Group’s HR leader, Damien McLeod

posted by Suzi Sarkis 07/11/2016 0 comments

In your experience, what are some of the key attributes of an effective leader? 

  • Being realistic and understanding the differences you can face with people;
  • Passionate about coaching people to get the best out of them;
  • High EQ – is self-aware as well as aware of the emotions of others;
  • Walk the talk.

Legislation that governs the way businesses employee and manage staff is frequently updated and changed. What are some of your strategies for keeping up to date?

  • Subscribe to updates, check the Fair Work website; I also subscribe to Portner Press and I’m a member of AHRI, the Australian Human Resources Institute;
  • Make time in your diary for reading articles and keeping up to date;
  • Talk to other HR professionals and stay in touch with previous colleagues;
  • View even the most difficult situations as learning opportunities;
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know everything; knowing where to find answers and not being afraid to seek advice is enough.

As a national People and Culture leader who has managed large teams for some of the world’s biggest brands, what are the most successful strategies you have enlisted to build and drive high performing teams?

It starts with attracting the right people. It’s important to identify the skills, attributes, values and experience required to be a high performer. A good way to do this is to look at your team and ask ‘why are the top performers your top performers?’

Once you have identified what your top performers need to possess, it is important to then identify what can be taught and what is hard wired in people. Typically, values can’t be trained, so someone who doesn’t possess the right values will most likely not be able to sustain high performance. In my experience, people in high performing teams are typically passionate about the business and their own personal success; they are also resilient and positive in their approach.

Next, the recruitment process is critical. Having a values-based recruitment and selection model is a key element to this strategy. Your recruitment methods need to identify values and the recruiter needs to know what values to look for.

In the past, I have had some experience working under an open book management model. Based on this experience, my tips on driving a high performance team include:

  • Know and teach the rules – make sure your team knows the factors that impact on the business’ financial performance;
  • Keep score – keep your team informed on how your performing, good or bad;
  • Provide a stake in the outcome – if you want a team that views performance as a company-wide outcome, then incentives linked to overall company performance are perfect.

Businesses are a lot like sporting teams. Upper management are the coaches and trainers who come up with the game plan and strategy. The employees are the players and, like any sporting team, only the players can change the score. Players who don’t know the rules, the score or the strategy are not really players, they’re spectators. Don’t treat employees like spectators.

If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your professional career?

I was given a couple of pieces of great advice that I always refer back to:

  • If you aspire to something – most commonly a role or position – display the required behaviours before you get there. If people already see you as the HR Manager, it will put you in a good position when the opportunity presents;
  • Walk the talk;
  • You’re better off feeling foolish and asking a question than looking foolish by making a mistake as a result of not asking a question.

If I could give myself advice when I started my career it would be ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’. There is always a solution and you don’t always have to think of it yourself.

How have you found working with Brook Recruitment? 

Very positive. Ashlea and Vanessa share my views on identifying quality candidates and the attributes they should possess. They have a very high standard when it comes to candidates and, in my dealings with them, this results in high quality candidates being provided first time.

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