How Business Trends Have Changed Career Paths Featuring Gordon Conolly part 2

Gordon Conolly

This is the second part of an interview I had with Gordon Conolly.


He is the Managing Director of Dalcross Executive Consulting Pty Ltd and Quadrant Management Solutions Pty Ltd, where he consults and helps people find their career path, drawing upon his global executive experience of forty years.






Gordon’s summation of where we are now, regarding career opportunities and our societal values.


We are where we are now in society from the sum of experiences of everyone before, stretching way into the past.

When I started working, I was the ‘generation Y’ of my time. I worked with four generations going back in time from my generation, just like the millennials now have to.

The options and norms we see and maybe value or value less are always founded on the outcomes of the previous generations’ efforts in society. Whether it be lifestyle or increases in productivity via technology, it was built from the works of the previous generation.


Consequently, what we take for granted today is different to what existed before. Millennials can indeed enjoy privileges of higher wages, and life expectations-but ironically they can suffer in trying to suss out their career options.


Some of the differences millennials face today:

  • Increases in productivity and expectations lead to seemingly less time and energy available to explore actual career grounding activities.
  • Now there are so many career and life options available, but so much competition and obstacles that it’s hard to access these options.
  • Social media is now the norm, yet it can work against face to face contacts that may help how generations and people get to know each other, and learn from relationships based on sharing dialogue, values, and experiences; lessons learned and developing mutual respect and trust as mentioned earlier is critical.



Gordon: Who do millennials trust? That’s a good question.

But it always has been for every generation (Julius Caesar being a good example!) Who to trust!

The answer is always based on “tested” experiences. I.e. people who have positive brands have built trust through consistency, predictability, values upheld that drive their behaviour.


Millennials are no different in this challenge but perhaps need to spend more of their time building relationships that help them with their career and life. I believe this is best done one to one, face to face. It takes time to listen, ask questions and to show interest…it is personal!



Leading on, soft skills such as building and managing relationships is an issue.


Time is now spent differently. In my early career, our social media was not like the digital media of today  i.e. digital is fast, instant, often remote, pervasive, incredibly open and thoughtless often of reactions and ironically often without the substance of personal face to face time i.e. getting to know the other person so you can best communicate successfully.

Though social media and our devices of communication attempt to save time and provide convenience to our communication today, it takes away vital time that could be spent on actually meeting people “live!” It often actually provides negative reactions.


Relationships are best built on time invested, having experiences together, conversing face to face in my humble opinion. (after forty plus years of adult work experience)


I do not believe Millennials are wired differently. They also want relationships they value. However, they seem to be captured by habits that dictate how they communicate. Mobile is king!

What they need to consider is: to stop and talk to someone, and set time aside for discussion where body language can be observed, not just cryptic words on a device. It is important, especially when at work to search out the people whom you can learn from and make sure you do learn from them and can display that in your work and decision making.


I read, and I value contemplating what I read.  But the written word takes time to make happen (even on the net) but it is time-consuming to write or type and even more so to read. Perhaps thoughtful written material is not valued as highly as it was in earlier days simply because of time factors.

I say this: if you don’t invest time to write and read well and assess what you write and read, how can you have time for relationships that require much more investment of your time?


Successful communication is an art.

You are most welcome to contact me to know more about it.


And yet all of us have the same hours in every day- so it’s just how those hours are used.


How you utilise time and prioritise time will be an indicator of how areas such as people skills (building good relationships) are developed. Often this is the key determinant of job placement and even more important job success.


I have a great example. The first Christmas card I receive in the mail box every year is from my old boss. I worked for him in 1985, 35 years ago. It is always handwritten and means a lot to me. He still takes the time to write it personally, and it reflects mutual time invested together at a time when global banks were introduced to Australia- a turbulent but important part of the opening up of the Australian economy to the world. I learned so much from that man.



I chose to work in the “”people business”” i.e. human resources. Why?

Because there is a universal truth that spans all generations.



People are fundamentally the same.


But they mostly want the same things in life. Building lasting quality relationships, and managing them is part of life and especially matters in finding career paths. And it is part of what I think HR is about.



Gordon paints a picture on HR departments today, and perhaps why they are now ironically more needed but are not always as effective as they can be, and giving reasons why.



A lot of organisations have looked back over the last ten to fifteen years, and in hindsight realised they weren’t meeting the needs of new employees today.

Simply put, HR professionals became hard pressed to meet the increased demands of their calling.



Why? As mentioned before, there are several factors that led to this:

  • The increase in options in how to work, live and communicate.
  • The ever increasing load of work for companies and employees.



It led many HR departments to become focused on ‘transactional’ services and vastly administrative in function.


So dealing with other duties such as strategies for staff retention, giving advice on career issues were difficult to deal with as they are time consuming areas. For a time, these were often put on the back burner (and because there were too many employees in most organisations to talk one on one).

Ironically, the HR professionals that were closest to individuals and perhaps best placed to have one on one conversations (often referred to as HR Generalists) found that those more strategic personal tasks were being replaced in larger companies by specialist HR teams mostly at the centre of institutions in Head Office or regional or product groups, whose job it was to create overall strategy on key institution issues such as retention, career and succession planning, leadership development, etc.


While this has been an important development and has raised the bar for the HR profession, the time to give advice to employees one on one, to develop the type of trust and respect that comes from such relationships has probably not yet met the high expectations of staff and companies alike.


So this places even more emphasis on individuals making their own time to build the relationships themselves and to research well how to do this and then do it!



The ball is firmly in the hands of GEN Y to take charge of their careers but to do it sensibly with solid foundations in well-established work history and reputation and a personal brand that reinforces their chances of success.



He shares his insight below in how to deal with your career prospects.



As someone with a background in HR, I know well that getting a pay raise for jumping ship is a way of attracting employees and talent. It is a mechanism built in to attract employees, not necessarily an indicator of an organisation that is the best fit for you.



Importantly, thinking that your pay rise is an indicator of your ‘value’ should be scrapped. It is a market figure that like every other market is dictated by supply and demand. Millennials that jump ship thinking their value is on the rise should be careful not to overvalue themselves i.e. an attraction rate of pay is often just that.

Your pay rise needs to be followed by work and time spent with the organisation, backing their decision to pay you a bit extra-thus helping justify your market value.



So break the cycle of job hopping for money. Not finding the right organisation in your career shows poor decision making and constantly moving from positions will set you back to ground zero all over again.



Lastly, he shares this piece of advice.



“Common sense prevails”.


Generally this is true I have found, but sometimes it takes a long time!!

People come to HR complaining about colleagues that genuinely get away with “doing nothing” or indeed the wrong things. My answer to you is: bad apples eventually get found out.


Importantly also don’t think that your workplace doesn’t notice when you achieve and do your job well. This is always noticed…eventually!



However, sometimes you have to speed up or tweak that process!

The best way to ensure your career is successful is always to do the job you have really well.
Make your boss a hero. She or he will notice that and so will others such as your colleagues, and your BRAND will be associated with achievement and success.


But look for more opportunity to do more, to make your job bigger and/or have good and sound ideas to improve the way it is done.




People always notice that that too.


Show you care, in what others do, and help with team spirit and performance.

Be patient. If you see a glimpse of something worthwhile enough in your current employer, don’t leave or move if it doesn’t come immediately but go for it sensibly.

Find a mentor who can give you good advice about how to access it. Quite often the job you want is where you are working now.



Gordon, thank you for your insight, and sharing so much of your expertise.



What points resonated with you? What opportunities do you see in your workplace?

Please share your insight and stories in the comments below.

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