Calling all Employers and Recruitment Tech’s – Anomaly with disability questioning

I’ve been applying for jobs recently and some forward thinking organisations are asking the full suite of diversity questions. Thank you to all of you.

However, me being me, I noticed something which could be evolved.

When answering if you have a disability, it’s a bit confusing when it comes to some mental illnesses.

The question is mainly along the lines of, “do you have a disability, when the term disability means you’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”, with a Yes or No option for answering.

In some cases however, specifically surrounding mental ill health, it’s not as clear cut as a Yes or No answer!

If someone has OCD, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder and possibly other mental or physical impairments, the symptoms are not always present, and in some cases the illness or impairment can be pretty much 100% under control!

But even in these cases there will potentially be times when the symptoms present themselves and will have a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on one’s ability to do normal daily activities!

So what do you do? Do you answer ‘Yes’ even though your employer may never see any impact on your ability to do normal (gosh I really hate the word normal) daily activities, and potentially worry in the back of your mind that in the wrong hands that intel might be used negatively against you (stigma hasn’t been completely smashed yet), or do you answer ‘No’ and being the conscientious people we are, have that niggle in the back of your mind that you are in fact not answering honestly?

I personally think the answer is to include another answer selection which is, Yes, but controlled (or equivalent). In my book this covers all basis, and opens up an additional healthy line of conversation regarding the person’s health and how by managing the symptoms it has created additional experience, capability and resilience etc.

I’m sure others have an opinion on this so please comment and share so we can potentially influence change if indeed people agree change will add value.

All the very best.

Colin.

Diversity – It’s not a Gender Agenda!

She hopefully won’t mind me saying this but I took my initial learning and inspiration for focusing on diversity and inclusivity throughout my resourcing career from the most amazing Group Head of Diversity, Theresa White of G4S.

Diversity was an automatic element of everything that G4S did whilst I was there, and I remember clearly a leadership diversity focused meeting at Group where Theresa made us all feel comfortable to say whatever came into our heads, as there was some apprehension from us newbies to the subject surrounding inadvertently saying the wrong thing during conversation.

To open our minds to the full diversity experience Theresa instilled in us the notion that ‘Diversity is not a gender agenda’ and that all difference was good and should be celebrated and incorporated at all times.

I was reminded of this during a Facebook conversation this week with some industry chums as I played back an experience I had when I was on an external panel discussion and afterwards someone quipped that the panel wasn’t very diverse.

Yes on the face of things there were three white blokes, who even with the best makeup artist couldn’t look young again, so we fitted the stereotypical pale, stale, male group, however, one was in his seventies, another was gay and I have a mental illness, OCD.

So in reality it was a very diverse panel, but aesthetically, you could understand why we were called out as being the opposite.

A question bounced around my head whilst mowing the lawns this morning and I just had to write it down. So just how diverse are our workforces?

Do we really know what diverse groups our employees enjoy belonging to? Some are quite naturally easy to recognise, but the more private and sensitive, e.g. mental ill health, where many don’t want to disclose, could account for so many more belonging to a diverse group and therefore enriching the real percentage scoring of diversity across the organisation.

And back to the pale, stale, male stereotype. Has anyone else thought that as more and more are comfortable discussing their diverse group membership, especially people with mental ill health (yes I do think this is a diverse group), are people that fall into this category and absolutely no other, ultimately going to fall into a future minority and diverse group that will need to be surrounded by a support and campaign environment, where members are championed for the difference they can still bring to our ultra-diverse world?

Happy Bank Holiday (UK) everyone, and do get in touch if I can support with any of your diverse hiring, or mental health initiatives.

Colin.

When recruiting becomes a complete waste of time, effort and cost!

You’ve got the full support and stakeholdership of the CHRO, AND BEST resourcing leader, strategic workforce planning outcomes, resourcing target operating model, recruitment business partners, researchers, representation at conferences and seminars to share and acquire best practice, employer brand, employee value proposition, talent pools, job descriptions, career site, attraction strategy, digital / social recruiting channel ecosystem, mobile strategy, recruiting CRM, applicant tracking system, recruitment process, hiring manager maturity model, interview strategy, assessment process, offer and screening process, candidate experience, onboarding process, integration with your amazing core HR technology solutions, and everything else your optimum resourcing strategy includes to hire the very best people, which collectively costs you £millions per annum!

But some great people still don’t apply, and some of the people you recruit leave almost immediately, or stay and don’t achieve 100% productivity before leaving! Why?

I gave 100+ talent leaders at Talent Leaders Connect the answer yesterday, when I highlighted that sub-optimal working conditions, environments, relationships and behaviours, created by the existence of unhealthy levels of workplace and workforce stress, can undo all the sensational work they, and their supply chains, are all doing to bring the very best emerging talent to their organisations!


I use the example with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt!

With the right contacts, reasons, message, approach and offer, you could get one, or both, of them to run a race for you.

Ask them to run it on an Olympic grade track, at the optimum altitude, with the latest sports and footwear, in perfect running weather conditions, and they will deliver for you.

Ask them to run through a field, two feet deep in squishy mud, in the pouring rain, in loose welly boots, with a heavy and uncomfortable rucksack on, and they will of course be sub-optimal, or may even decline to attempt it.

Oh, and they will tell their network about the situation, so you’ll never be able to attract an elite athlete into conversation again.

So if your organisation suffers from unhealthy levels of workplace and workforce stress, most of which is employer demand, process and people driven, expect the very best people not to want to join you, not to perform if they do join you, and especially with regard to emerging talent, leave you quite quickly because they can!

I’ve specialised in attracting best people to organisations for 20+ years, and have strengthened and expanded my interest and capability in the last two years to incorporate how best to attract, optimise and retain them, by treating and evolving the business, not the people you have just hired.

It’s now possible to accurately diagnose, remedy and prevent problematic stress in the business, so if you are worried that some of your time, effort and/or budget is being wasted because you are landing people into a sub-optimal workplace, plus you are experiencing productivity, risk and culture challenges, please feel free to contact me.

I can optimise your resourcing investment, ensure the best people stick and demonstrably increase people and business performance.

Colin.

I just wish I had done it earlier!

Old news now, but you know I ‘opened up’ about my life with OCD in August, and that I eventually took the fight to it and seized a healthy control over it (most of the time).

I wanted to share what ‘opening up’ has done to, and for me, because doing so was something I feared so much, for all the usual stigma associated reasons, but quite honestly shouldn’t have with the benefit of hindsight.

I hope the following might help others in their thinking as to whether or not to ‘open up’ themselves.

First of all I can categorically confirm that I am not alone! Since ‘opening up’ so many known and unknown people have spoken to me privately about their experience of mental difference and challenge.

As a consequence a tremendous amount of two-way good feeling, intention and compassion has been shared, which in itself has made us all feel good, supported and a little bit free’er (if the word exists)!

It has also motivated me to speak more and more about my personal experience, which seems to be encouraging more to do the same. What a brilliant outcome and a great step towards increased acceptance, understanding, support and most importantly, people and businesses recognising that mental difference can be harnessed to support doing even better business!

Secondly, I have been asked by some to help them tackle their personal challenges by intimately sharing how I took the fight to my illness, what my coping and containment strategies are and how I have developed a pragmatism about my OCD.

I cannot begin to describe how rewarding it is to help others combat the symptoms of their illnesses and support them to feel better about life. This again is a joint learning exercise because combating OCD is different to combating, for example, depression, however, there are some demonstrable similarities and cross overs. By sharing how we approach our own situations and challenges it enables us to grow and tweak our weaponry, which is tremendously powerful for all.

Finally speaking about my USP, AKA my mental difference, which has given me a different and sometimes enhanced skill set and capability, has surprisingly opened a new world of professional opportunities for me.

I happily and freely speak to customers and potential customers about why I am a good problem solver. It’s because I have been solving irrational catastrophic situations in my head for 30+ years, which has subsequently trained and continually exercised my brain to solve rational problems, such as creating optimum resourcing strategies and methodologies, and automating global HR functions, including; innovating new HR technologies.

I have had new event speaking opportunities on a completely different subject; mental difference in business, which include; Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary wellbeing seminar, DRIVE at the House of Lords with the amazing and inspirational Raj Tulsiani and chairing regular Corporate Wellness Innovation Forum meetings.

I have also developed the HERO Mental Health Readiness Model, which supports employers to increase their entire workforce’s productivity, and have a rapidly growing list of companies that are engaging with me to present to, and consult with, them!

So here was something I thought would potentially label me, hold me back and inhibit my career. On the contrary, it has taken my career to a whole new level and forged stronger relationships with most I know, new relationships with people I didn’t and given me the opportunity to help others individually or en masse via supporting their employers.

So I’m not going to beat myself up about why I took so long to ‘open up’ (that’s me being pragmatic again), I’m going to continue to embrace and celebrate my difference, use it to support others and hopefully encourage them to ‘open up’ as well, and maybe, just maybe, we will remove the stigma associated with mental difference, and all diverse differences to that matter, together.

Let’s make 2017 the year when difference becomes the driving force for better living, relationships and business outcomes.

All the best.

Colin.

Just realised again that I’ve come a very, very long way!

Just had a realisation moment (again) that I’ve come a very, very long way!

I was given an emergency aisle seat for my flight today, 15A, by the window. When we were up it crossed my mind that if I pulled the emergency exit handle I could create a catastrophic event.

I’ve panicked about this many times before, especially as a kid! Psychiatrists would confirm that most people would have the same thought but it wouldn’t even register! I however got a pang of anxiety as my brain tried to convince me it was a very real and probable situation; an obsession.

Then the compulsion tried to set in! The need to prove to myself I didn’t actually want to do this and to demonstrate I am not a bad person. The urge to play over scenarios in my head to give me some comfort and proof. A symptom of my mental difference and something historically I have spent hours, if not days, ruminating about.

This all happened in a matter of micro seconds and Guess what? I just laughed it off, I recognised it was just my human difference kicking in and it wasn’t something I needed to engage in. I kicked it into touch and just carried on with what I was doing, which was proof reading a business plan. I didn’t need to move from my seat as a ‘just in case’, which I would have wanted to do many years ago.

I thought to myself (again); blimey I’ve come along way! So here it is, real-time proof that you can control mental challenges and play the cause at its own game. In my case targeting my rational brain to combat my irrational brain and win.

I personally believe this is a very powerful skill I have developed, which is why I am great in a business related crisis situation. A technology hack or contract going south is a walk in the park compared to the things an OCD brain gets one thinking about and trying to solve.

My mental difference is my USP! Thank you OCD!

Pah, ‘normal’ is so last week!

The definition of ‘normal’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is – Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected:

In the Cambridge English Dictionary it’s – Ordinary or usual; the same as would be expected:

So what are we really saying here; ‘samey’ perhaps!

And come on, there really is no such thing as normal! We are all have human, and everyone has human issues and challenges…..

And I don’t know if you agree (perhaps you will comment later) but don’t we get taught the importance of being different at various stages in our lives? In fact aren’t we encouraged to be different from a young age?

For example, when I started my career in sales I was exposed to the phrase ‘unique selling proposition’ (USP). The Wikipedia definition of USP is – A factor that a business has that makes it different and or better than others out there:

Another example would be the advice we give to people writing or updating their CV! You know nougats of insight like; what makes you stand out from the rest, what difference do you bring to the party, how do you do things differently to achieve better outcomes?

For all the X Factor fans out there, the judges, and money makers behind the scenes, are looking for the next big thing or things, different or better than what’s already out there.

Finally, in sports, there is a continued drive to improve performance and outcomes by doing things differently! Different fitness and eating regimes, different innovations in equipment, different mental approaches!

I’m sorry, but surely this shows that being different is critical, and difference, is the difference between achieving improved outcomes, or the same old same old, the usual, the ‘to be expected’!

I was on the panel session at the brilliant @RoffeyPark Institute’s 70th anniversary forum on wellbeing event last week, chaired by the exceptional @SimonFanshawe OBE, and I spoke openly about achieving as a consequence of my mental difference. As the discussion progressed I talked about businesses needing to focus on skills and capability alone, and that there is no need for labelling based on difference if viewed through the right lens!

Companies have business plans designed to achieve their purpose and satisfy their stakeholders. HR then has the people plan to achieve the people element of the business plan. Finally, resourcing has the resourcing plan, to support the achievement of the people plan.

This resourcing plan and the people plan invariably hold the blueprint of the skills and capabilities needed throughout the end to end workforce to achieve the business plan. It will not and should not go into any granularity about what that workforce should look and sound like, nor include anything personal.

So breaking it down to this level of simplicity, businesses should easily be able to articulate what skills and capabilities are needed and then do the harder bit which is to go out and get these. Race, gender, sexuality, age, health etc. just don’t come into it.

Right, we need a skill and/or capability! Do you possess it to the level we need? Yes, then you make the shortlist. Simple simple stuff.

And going back to my opening, surely the people you ideally want to acquire these skills and capabilities from are predominantly those that can provide it differently and better than others, e.g. leveraging their difference!

I think I might be part of the problem in due course by championing a diversity label, namely mental health, or hidden disability. I don’t think it will be too long, at least I hope it won’t be too long, until I simply talk about having a human difference, instead of a mental one.

My mental; oops sorry, human difference has helped me bring innovation and value to all of my previous employers, and more recently clients, who have all been delighted. I’m therefore happy that I’m not normal because it’s so last week and my difference is my competitive advantage, my USP.

What’s yours?

Resilience – That’s twice now!!!

My wonderful recent meeting with Charles Walker OBE MP at Parliament, has just converged with my speaking and chairing engagement at Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary event tomorrow, where I will give the HERO Mental Health Readiness Model a great airing.

Charles said he loved the model and that it should evolve further and incorporate resilience as a follow up! Roffey Park Institute, one of the world’s renowned leadership institutes, has produced the Resilience Capability Index (RCI) – http://www.roffeypark.com/resilience-capability-index. That’s twice now!

The world is changing faster than ever and I personally think we have crossed the rubicon where change in general happens faster than our ability to adapt. Think about the political changes in the world lately. Relatively overnight, we have seen demonstrable change in the UK and USA political landscape, with what looks like more examples to follow (eek).

Then look at our reaction to it. It’s one of 50% resistance and a lack of desire to accept it and adapt. It’s also one of 50% anger and demonstration. You still see examples of this every day across traditional and social media. The debate rages on!

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or wrong, but I predict before mainstream acceptance has happened to these seismic events (whatever that looks like) something massive and related would have changed again. The pace of change in life is just too fast. Look at tech as well! No sooner have you bought something, version (OMG my version is now old) 2 comes along! We just gotta accept more and more change because you blink and you miss the next one.

The continued and seemingly elevating outcry following change, and compulsion to get involved in the debate (quietly points the finger at social media here) by many is a huge source of distraction and potentially stress. That’s not good for personal or professional lives or human and business productivity!

So my point is this. If events like ‘Brump’, that’s Brexit and Trump combined, were accepted quicker by those/us that voted against them, would they/we be less distracted, less compelled to argue against it and less stressed.

In my own world I say yes. My immediate reaction to my initial reaction to these things, to keep my stress levels in check, is to try to accept things as quickly as possible and move on. Not easy but it’s something I am now conditioned to do because the alternative feeds my illness. Does that then make me more resilient than others? If so another positive for having OCD!

Finally, resilience must therefore be a state of mind; well for me it is. I consciously practice resilience as one of my remedies, along with exercise, distraction, CBT, not drinking alcohol (that’s a lie sorry) and by living as healthily as possible. You can apply a reaction to a reaction, and if its a positive to counter a negative, e.g. being resilient, eventually it becomes habitual. Arguably a good habit to acquire! I have a few.

All the best.

Colin – +44 (0)7887 480142 – colin.minto@bigideatalent.com – Join the Mental Health in Business Group

But What About Me???

I think I owe a few people an apology!

So there’s me talking about mental health awareness in business, separately to my day job of advising major corporates regarding their resourcing, HR and HR technology change aspirations, with multiple Group HRD’s and Wellness Heads on the subject of how they support the tens, and hundreds, of thousands of employees they have responsibility over.

Then it struck me after a wellness professional, and separately an HRD, got in touch to invite me in to discuss mental health in their business, and during the business discussion they opened up to me about their own personal experiences.

It dawned on me (err hello Colin) that those ultimately responsible for ensuring the wellness and happiness of everyone working in their organisation, can also have challenges themselves. Obvious I know but not something I immediately considered. I suppose it’s like not knowing your parents have any worries or cares in the world until you witness something!

So taking a step back, this is also going to be true for business leaders. Obvious again, but it just goes to show the extent of how hidden this subject still is. It also brings up an interesting dynamic, that those charged with making a difference for many, might also need support themselves.

So who do they get to turn to? Is it harder for them to open up because of their leadership position? Could they be putting in initiatives for others but not leveraging them themselves? If so does this increase any difficulties they are experiencing?

I can’t answer for them/you, but until I opened up, because I chose to go independent and was no longer employed, I can almost guarantee that in my capacity as a Group Head of Resourcing and HR Systems, I would not have gone mainstream internally about my personal challenges, even if I was putting in support solutions for others.

Sad to say this, but it’s how I would have thought at the time because I have feared for being stigmatised my entire life, something that compounded my particular issues.

So back to the leaders above. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for immediately thinking of those you support over and above you personally. I’m sorry that you might experience a complete set of additional pressures and challenges because of the leadership situation you are in. I’m sorry you might not have someone available in the business to open up to.

But I/we can do something about this. We can open up! We are at the start of a time where this subject is both topical in our personal and business lives. I encourage you to open up if you can find the strength and right opportunity to do so. It was the biggest release for me, and from my own personal perspective it has only been positive.

I have met new people due to a common passion. I have found out new things about close friends, colleagues and customers, because they now have someone they can talk to about things they have buried deep. I have opportunities to talk about something other than end to end resourcing strategy, HR change and HR technology transformation, which is timely because the HR market is a little deflated at present. I have learned things and I have got a huge weight off my shoulders forever!

I am introducing my HERO Mental Health Readiness Model at three events in the next three weeks. It’s going to be extremely hard hitting and liberating. It’s going to be emotional because I know others in the room will either open up publicly, or privately to me afterwards. I know this from experience of delivering smaller, more intimate, workshops on the subject recently. It’s going to be enlightening for all.

hero-mental-health-readiness-model

This all constitutes me doing my bit to support knocking the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace out of sight. Join me, contact me, speak with me, let me speak to your teams, let me run diagnostics in your business.

Let’s all open up, so discussions about mental health become mainstream and comfortable for all, and conditions and availability of support improve.

Let’s Hide No More!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Colin.

Where’s all the mental wellbeing?

mental-health-scrabble

Since ‘opening up’ about my own mental health challenges I have had some amazing meetings and conversations about mental health, diversity and wellbeing in the workplace.

Interestingly, I naively thought that not a lot was being done to raise the subject of mental health in the workplace specifically, so I set about wanting to change that.

It turns out however, it is one of the hottest topics out there at the moment. I kid you not, everyone is talking about it, and there are quite literally hundreds, if not thousands of initiatives running simultaneously!

So why didn’t I know this? Why did an HR professional who has 30+ years experience of mental health, 25+ years business experience, spoken at countless HR and Resourcing conferences and got a pretty cool sized network, not know there was a tonne of initiatives and stuff out there already?

I found out about it all because I got interested in the space (for obvious reasons) and started asking questions about it! I went on the look-out for it, it didn’t find me; someone these initiatives are designed to target and reach out to!

I suppose I also spent my whole career hiding my mental health experience for fear of potential discrimination, so maybe I was just naturally blind to it all.

Anyhoooo, if mental health awareness raising hasn’t been tremendously overt in recent years, due to it, and the conversation, existing internally and within closed groups, that my friends is a changing!

I will be running a conference, it’s my calling, but there are many others already in my diary plus all kinds of meetings and events. So this is getting sorted, but what about other ways of getting the mental health and wellbeing message out there.

Are companies using their approach to wellbeing in their employer brand, EVP, job descriptions and job adverts? I hope so, because when you advertise a product to consumers you market/sell the characteristics, features, benefits and overall experience that ownership of that product brings. Jobs are products and candidates are consumers in my opinion, (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/jobs-products-candidates-consumers-colin-minto?trk=mp-author-card) and consumers are people in this instance.

People want to feel safe, comfortable, valued, excited, rewarded, happy and many other things in the workplace, and I can’t see or think of any other messaging that speaks to this more than a company’s commitment to the wellbeing of its employees.

So take a look at your latest job adverts, job descriptions, content on your career site etc. and see just how much wellbeing confirmation and celebration you can find! Maybe there’s room for more, given it’s what people want to see……

As always, happy to chat about mental health awareness and end to end digital attraction and resourcing strategy on +44 (0)7887 480142 and colin.minto@bigideatalent.com.

All the best.

Colin.

Let’s all be Wally’s!

wally

As you can imagine I have had countless meetings and discussions with people about mental health challenges in the workplace since ‘opening up’, and I always end up quoting something from the first Crocodile Dundee movie. I must add it always gets a laugh then an instant ‘penny drop’ realisation moment!

It’s obvious now why this quote resonated and has stuck with me but it carries with it some tremendous learning. Stay with me people I am being serious!!!

Here is the transcript from the movie after the subject of Shrinks came up at a party Sue and Mick were at:

Sue Charlton: People go to a psychiatrist to talk about their problems. She just needed to unload them. You know, bring them out in the open.

Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: Hasn’t she got any mates?

Sue Charlton: You’re right. I guess we could all use more mates. I suppose you don’t have any shrinks at Walkabout Creek.

Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: No back there if you got a problem you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town, brings it out in the open, no more problem.

The penny drops as soon as I finish the last line.  “Yes”, people say and naturally realise that if more people talk ‘openly’ about mental health, it will become less of an issue to talk about mental health. Simple but effective.

It’s so obvious but you can understand why it’s harder to ‘open up’.

Firstly, it’s still a big taboo subject and many people that have experienced, or are currently experiencing, mental health challenges fear the potential recriminations of telling their story, or asking for support.

In addition, mental health challenges are classified as a hidden disability. Underline the word ‘hidden’. Many people keep their challenges hidden and they are not generally visible to the naked eye, unlike most other diversity areas, so the result is naturally a propensity to focus on the more overt subjects.

So let’s all be Wally’s. Let’s all start talking about mental health. I’m not suggesting everyone ‘opens up’, because it is a big decision to do so and not something that should be rushed into (believe me), although the more that do, the more visible the conversation will be!

So let’s talk about our knowledge of mental health, how our businesses embrace and harness difference, the positives that exists as a consequence of mental health illnesses, yes positives including; alternative ways of thinking, critical risk identification and advanced problem solving, and let’s just be more open about how we feel and how things that happen in daily life make us feel.

Let’s all be Wally’s and bring stuff out in the open and make them ‘no more problem’!

All the best.

Colin.

p.s. If you need a starting point, why not join the Mental Health in Business LinkedIn Networking Group!

p.p.s If you want to talk about performing a diagnostic on your business I’m on +44 (0)7887 480142 and colin.minto@bigideatalent.com