STEPHEN CARTER | Partner - Sharp & Carter



In my last blog I spoke about the first pillar of our culture – Care. And today I want to write about the second – Generosity.

Some of you may have seen the research by Adam Grant and his book “Give and Take” on the different approaches to generosity and the success each can bring to an individual. Adam’s research showed that there are 3 types of approaches to giving by individuals:

  1. Takers

  2. Matchers

  3. Givers


Takers are self-focused and put their own interests ahead of the needs of others. They try to gain as much as possible from their interactions while contributing as little as they can in return.


Matchers like to preserve an equal balance of giving and taking. Their mindset is “If you take from me, I’ll take from you. If you give to me, I’ll give to you.”

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Givers are others-focused and tend to provide support to others with no strings attached. They ask themselves, “How can I add value for this person? What can I contribute?”

In terms of how successful each of these approaches are, the research showed that the least successful people are “Selfless Givers”. These people give and give and give, often to their own detriment – they’re the ones who will help others so much that they don’t get their own work done.

The next least successful group of people are Takers, followed by the Matchers. Essentially, any one kind of the above approaches is not going to be wholly successful.

The most successful people in life are Givers who are proactively generous, but who also look for win/win outcomes from the Takers and Matchers. These are called “Otherish Givers”.

 At Sharp & Carter, we are very much Otherish Givers.

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What assists our ability to adopt this style is that we are ‘considered’ in our approach. We consider both the costs and the benefits very deeply with each decision we make – always coming from a generous standpoint, but still taking into account all of the factors that our generosity could impact.

We consider the cost of damage to our culture, we weigh up the short-term costs of employee struggle versus the long-term benefit of retaining staff. Ultimately, we believe that our reputation, our relationships, our ability to have positive advocates or raving fans in the market and how people who have worked with us feel about their experience with us is incredibly valuable.

As a business owner, ‘cost’ is easy to measure, whereas ‘value’ is a little more difficult. And therefore, I believe a lot of businesses fall into the trap of focusing on cost and don’t place enough emphasis on value. We sometimes see this in the salary negotiations of the candidates we place; often companies will offer a candidate less than the expectations that had been discussed throughout the process. The company asks the employee to ‘prove’ themselves, following which a salary review will be given after a period of time (classic “Matcher” behaviour). This may save this business some cost financially but what about the cost to the relationship with the new staff member? To the new employee’s attitude and opinion of their new employer? Does it leave them disappointed and disillusioned, perhaps struggling financially outside of work, rather than enthused, energised and focused purely on their new job with their new employer who really appreciates their value? When you balance this cost with value it’s not hard to see the cost savings of the lower salary for the first 12 months do not outweigh the value lost in the other factors.  


Good leadership takes courage, empathy and relationships. In other words, it takes a generosity of spirit. When one of our staff members is struggling we take a very long-term view as to how we approach their struggles. As an example, we once had an employee commence with us who got extremely sick about 3 months into their new role - he had a lung infection that then became a brain infection and he came very close to passing away. Needless to say, he was off sick for a number of months and there was no real timetable for his return. Very early on we decided that we would pay him for every day he was off sick, so that he didn’t need to worry about paying his rent and he could focus on getting better. Obviously, there was a ‘cost’ associated with this, but the ‘value’ was immense.

Since returning to work he tells all his colleagues what we did for him and he also often tells his clients about his experience in working with us. Really, we ‘bought’ deep engagement with a colleague who is now one of our most important, senior, high performing (and profitable) team members. True to Adam Grant’s research, being a giver in this instance and more generally has been critical to our success.

A question we ask of each other all the time is “How would we feel if we were being treated this way?”

Reciprocity - or treating others as you would like to be treated - is a key part of why we are generous. Essentially in the current market, if people don’t feel like they have a ‘fair’ deal they will leave. A lot of our staff began their recruitment career with other recruitment firms, and whilst I think our business can act as a bit of a ‘carrot’ given we are an attractive place to work, the vast majority of people who move to our organisation do so because they do not feel like they are being looked after where they are. Thus, no matter how good we are as an employer, without people wanting to leave their current organisation due to (amongst other things) a lack of generosity and care, we would never be able to hire those people.

And remember you can be generous with plenty of things aside from just money. You can be generous with your time, generous with your interest and generous with the things you possess by sharing them with others.

 So, when you are making decisions in your business or your team, I would recommend you try the following:

  1. Think about the long-term value rather than the short-term cost

  2. Think how you would feel if you were in the employee or the customers shoes

  3. Have faith that the more generous you are the more successful you will be – after all, it is what the research says!

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Stephen Carter
Partner, Sharp & Carter
0411 543 833



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After a tense first rose ceremony (first round of interviews for a job) a few of the bachelors (candidates) are sitting around the pool, purely happy they survived this first round. The boys are sharing their views over a cold beer after a very shaky start.

“This role not my usual cup of tea, but I will just stick it out and see how we go.”

“I think the role has a great work-life balance, nice legs too.”

Back at the house, the Bachelorette (Hiring Manager) is also tossing up her decisions with a cloud of confusion. “For so many years, I have always dated (hired) the bad boy, someone who just wants to climb the corporate ladder without getting to know me and grow into the role and then BAM! Six months and they break up with me (resign). I want to take my time with this one, try something a little different and be sure my parents (leadership team) like him too.”

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As some time has passed, there has been extensive delay between rose ceremony’s (second round interviews) and the bachelors (candidates) grow restless in the camp. Most seek refuge with the host (recruitment consultant) to seek further clarification, whilst others bow out of the process in sheer despair and frustration. The host gives the best advice of being yourself, following your heart and if this journey is right for you, it isn’t worth rushing such a big decision.  


“Why is there a hold up?”

“Should I show her my party trick? Is it time for the hail Mary approach and go all stage 5 clinger?”

One candidate could not contain himself and broke down in tears “I can’t handle waiting. I have 15 other bachelorettes DM’ing me on LinkedIn, I am so done with this. I just want to dance! Tell her to get stuffed!”

The Bachelorette finally makes her decisions on who to take on the next round of dates. No surprise, it’s the three bad boys (candidates from competitors). Cheaper (in salary), tried and true with experience. Safe options. Good for now. Whilst she wanted to give the nice guys a go, she felt the pressure from all sides in picking someone good for the immediate requirements.

The arrow attached to this very long-winded bow is that in every recruitment processes you put your heart on the line (not on national TV!) and that falling in love (getting a new job) takes longer and longer in this day and age. 

My advice is to be patient, approach each rose ceremony as an opportunity to grow with this Bachelorette, to see if she (this career move) is right for you. If not, be honest and up front, and thank them for this opportunity, as you never know what the future might hold.

The same goes for hiring managers (Bacherlorettes - sorry I am not trying to be gender specific either). If there are candidates who just don’t fit the bill, why should they pick purely on getting an outcome? Conversely, why not take a risk on a candidate who may swing your train of thought and change the way you have always done things?

This is about finding the right person, not a shotgun hiring ceremony just for the cover of TV Week!

Whether you are a Bachelor (candidate) or Bachelorette (Hiring Manager/HR) I am always keen to hear how I can assist in your process to find the right match. 

Stephen Christofakakis
Consultant, Sharp & Carter

Haylea Smith | Learning & Development

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At Sharp & Carter, we are proud sponsors of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) Learning and Development network for 2019. As part of this sponsorship, we are holding events in Brisbane throughout the year, the first of which took place on Wednesday 3rd of April 2019. 

Through speaking to HR professionals across Brisbane I am in the exciting position of being able to obtain a great birds eye view of the market, which allows me to identify key trends. At this event on the 3rd, I was able to share a few of these key learnings and development trends that I am seeing from a recruitment point of view in the current Brisbane landscape – and today I have taken the opportunity to summarise these for our wider audience, as follows:

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1.     Training as an employee benefit and tool for talent acquisition

From an organisational perspective this means offering personal and professional development to employees to retain and keep staff long-term. We are seeing smaller organisations embrace this and offer it to prospective employees during the recruitment process. From a candidate perspective, I am seeing many candidates particularly at the graduate to advisory level consider training, further learning and development in the form of education and on the job learning and coaching as an important factor in their next job selection. In addition, I have found that the lack of this offering at current employment has also been a key reason for individuals moving on from their existing roles…

 2.     Continuous learning culture

A degree is no longer all it takes to stand out from the competition. We are seeing more and more candidates engaging in post graduate qualifications and further learning to keep their finger on the pulse in their respective fields, and quite often these candidates are the most competitive in shortlists. We are also seeing a shift in which methods individuals are engaging in to further upskill.

Going back to university whilst working full-time is HARD (I am doing it now!) but there are other ways to upskill without the huge commitment of time and adding to your HECS debt. Short courses, individual university specific subjects, networking events, podcasts and online webinars are adding a lot of value to individuals wanting to upskill in certain areas.

3.     Executive leadership coaching

There has been a real shift towards senior leadership coaching and this is a key requirement for most jobs I work on at the senior end of the HR market. As we all know, a strong culture comes from top down and learning shouldn’t stop even if you are at the highest level of an organisation or in your specialist field. For most of my clients, middle management is also a difficult level to keep engaged and retained – I am seeing many more senior level roles with a focus on middle management coaching. 


4.     Engaging the new generation of workforce

This point links to my previous point around coaching. Generation Z are quickly becoming a large chunk of the workforce which is creating a challenge for businesses and leaders. This is a generation that sees work differently to how the generations that came before them have. They crave regular, varied and technology-enhanced learning, want meaningful relationships with their leaders, thrive on opportunity and want to participate in the journey. These workers move quickly and are not as risk adverse to those before them which has shifted the way companies are approaching their traditional learning and development activities.

I don’t think it is any secret that learning, and development can affect so many facets of an organisation and employees at all levels. What perhaps isn’t discussed as much is how support from above in attacking these challenges can motivate employees to commit to an organisation and really engage in the culture and future of the business.

For example, I am back at university studying post graduate qualifications in employment relations at the moment because I love to learn. My employers support me with my further study and constantly check in to see how I am juggling work, life and study. My leaders have completely embraced leadership coaching with each of them continuously pushing themselves and upskilling to be the best leaders they can be. This was huge factor in my job search and now that I have settled into Sharp & Carter I certainly feel like I am involved and part of the Sharp & Carter journey.

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So, what has your company done to benefit their employees through Learning and Development? If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can engage your staff via this pathway or how you can integrate Learning and Development into your job or business, our next AHRI Learning and Development network will be on Tuesday the 16th of July 2019.

To register your interest for this event please email Laurie Hughes on and we will be in touch with further information.

Haylea Smith
Principal Consultant, Sharp & Carter


STEPHEN CARTER | Partner - Sharp & Carter


It is a given that profit is the goal of any business, but to suggest that it is the primary responsibility of a business is misguided. It is the leaders of companies that see profit as fuel for their culture that will outlast their dopamine addicted, cortisol-soaked competitors.

The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, both customer and company will suffer.
— Simon Sinek, Leaders eat last

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When people ask me about the success of Sharp & Carter and how we have grown to 125 people across 3 states, there are a number of things that come to mind that I believe we have done well in the way we lead and structure our business. However, by far the most important factor is our culture, which acts as the engine of our business. It is our competitive advantage in the marketplace and the key reason for our success.

When I describe our culture to our team, or to someone external I describe the four pillars our culture rests on:


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Today I want to write about Care and why caring for our people is so critical to the success of our culture. Intuitively it makes sense - if you ask people to think about mentors, coaches or teachers that have gotten the best out of them, and to think about the adjectives they would use to describe them they will say things like they were “inspiring”, “empowering”, “collaborative”, “trusting” “caring” …. 

So why do so many business leaders micro-manage, “pressure”, “tell”, “threaten” and “direct”? 

We have a belief - one which our experience and track record supports - that caring for people puts people in a situation where they can be at their best over a long period of time. But what does that look like? It’s not a 9-5 thing, it is an always thing. We have found that to truly care for people, it is not enough to just care for people as professionals during work hours, or to care for them by being a good leader. 

In order to truly care for people, we have to extend our care beyond the workplace. This doesn’t mean we will tell people how to live their lives, but we do believe there are certain universal things for all of us that are critical to living a fulfilling life:

  • If you have some friends, it is better than not having any friends

  • If you have some hobbies that you enjoy and give you an outlet it is better than having no hobbies

  • If you are mentally and physically healthy it is better than being mentally and physically unhealthy

  • If you have a functioning relationship with your family it is better than having a toxic relationship with your family

  • If you have love in your life it is better than not having any love in your life

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We have found that if people don’t have these things in life they generally aren’t as happy and sometimes cannot enjoy their everyday as much. We are interested in and take an active role in encouraging our people to grow as people and implementing some of these changes can help people reach significant goals in their personal and professional lives. If people are leading a fulfilling life, they are likely to stay in their jobs and our business becomes a lot more sustainable and profitable.  To this end we recently agreed as a team that the leaders of Sharp & Carter:  

“Exist to serve and care for our people to ensure individual fulfilment.” 

An example of this is a colleague of mine who suffers from an ongoing, severe medical condition. Prior to joining Sharp & Carter he spent 4 years at another recruitment firm and describes an environment where you could not let your personal life - in this case, his medical condition, impact your work. 

The pressure to perform was constant and never ending. He was never allowed to “take his foot off the gas” and this meant he was constantly rushed and stressed, and so he compromised on rest and exercise. He describes feeling anxious about taking time off to attend medical appointments, and that during his 4-year employment at that company he had twelve flare ups of his condition.

During this person’s interview process with S&C, and during his early days we made it very clear that his health and his personal life was the most important thing. Through his almost 4-year tenure at Sharp & Carter he describes how he still has moments where he works hard, but he is also able to utilise quieter times to rest and relax. He has never felt pressured here, and he has never compromised on exercise and his health. As a consequence of that, he has had only two flare ups (as opposed to 12 in the previous four-year period) since he commenced at our company. 

In addition to this, he has achieved a 20% improvement on billing performance – a sign that not only is he healthy, but he is also achieving incredible professional success, all while looking after himself!

This approach of caring for our people does rely upon knowing our people. And in order to grow a relationship with someone you need to invest in that relationship with time, interest, and creating an environment where people know that they come first – before profit and before shareholders. 

Here are some quotes that I have read across the journey which ring true for us:  

“To truly care for someone means that their interests come before your own.”

“Leadership is being a gardener. Gardeners don’t grow anything, plants do. Gardeners create environments and care for the plants to flourish.” 

“People need to be able to try and fail and fall and get back up again and they won’t be able to do it without leaders who say, ‘I believe in you, I will teach you, try again’.”

“Leadership is a huge sacrifice and a huge responsibility. You get the joy of seeing someone in your care become more than they thought they were capable of becoming.”

“We want people to work with us out of love not fear.”

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

“People are not things to be used, they are people to be loved.” 

Do you genuinely feel cared for at work? Do you feel like you come first? If not, you are probably not alone and it could be time to contribute to a change in approach at your organisation by treating the people you work with differently. 


Stephen Carter
Partner, Sharp & Carter
0411 543 833