What a year 2020 has been! While COVID has presented plenty of challenges for everyone, there has certainly been lots of positives and so many learnings. Who would have ever thought many of our workforces could transition to working from home basically overnight.

This time 12 months ago Inspire HQ was excitedly undertaking their own version of The Block, renovating our new office space that we moved in to at the end of January 2020. Our new home for about 5 weeks before we moved to working from home. How things can change so quickly.

There has been lots of doom and gloom throughout 2020, plenty of pivoting and an overkill of zoom / skype or teams meetings, it can however be easy to focus on the challenges. In our final blog for 2020, I wanted to take the time reflect on the year that 2020 has been.

What I’ve learnt

  • COVID-19 brought out the best and worst in people – fighting for toilet paper in the supermarkets certainly showed the worst in some. It brought out the best and worst in people because it challenged our coping skills and our resilience. What it taught me through my own experiences and from those around me is it is the tough times that really do define us. I know I’ve read a quote somewhere over the years to that affect but anyone can be a good leader when the going is good, it’s easy to be a good business in the boom times, however it’s the hard times that show who we are and what we stand for and who you can rely on.
  • Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. It’s all about perspective. A great mentor has told me this many times this year. There have been plenty of times that I’ve thought things can’t get worse or how are we going to get through this and while I’ve been scared, stressed, emotional, and angry in the moment; everything has worked itself out with a bit of time and forming a plan to deal with whatever presented.
  • Early on when COVID-19 hit, I read every blog that was landing in my inbox or being published across every social media platform to help me navigate what I should do, how I should lead my team, what expenses I should cut, how I should pivot, the list could go on for pages. I was drowning myself in content. What I learnt is the content helps but it’s not the be all and end all. No one knew exactly what would happen, how businesses would be impacted, how staff would cope and need to be managed. At the end of the day, I had to find my own way, my own approach to helping and supporting my team members and running my business. There were little bits I could take away from the content I was consuming but what I learnt was that I should have paid more attention to my gut feeling and gone with my instincts rather than trying to follow a method detailed in a blog.

What I’m grateful for

  • Community. By community I mean many different communities. The Ballarat community, the business community, our workplace community (our clients, suppliers etc). This year so often I saw other businesses, our clients, our suppliers, industry bodies, other recruitment agencies reach out to support each other. Prior to this year, it wasn’t that often that I’d talk to clients about Inspire HQ and our challenges. When talking to a client previously, it was often down to business, we were there to help them and solve their problem. This year there have been plenty of conversations backwards and forwards around how we are all coping, what different initiatives we are trying and what has been challenging. The sense of community and supporting each other is something I hope continues and to those businesses and clients that have reached out simply to check in and be supportive – thank you!
  • My network of supporters; family, friends, business mentors and coaches. These are the people that get you through the tough times. The ones that listen, pick you up when you’re down, offer different perspectives, suggest solutions, believe in you, encourage you to get back up dust yourself off and do it all again tomorrow and give you a kick up the bum when it’s needed. I’ve always been grateful for them throughout my business journey, but this year more than ever has shown me how important they are.
  • My team. Having team members that have believed in what we are trying to achieve, what we are here to do; who have pushed themselves outside their comfort zones to deliver services to our clients when the landscape was changing quicker than we could offer the advice. To the new team members that joined Inspire HQ in a challenging year; what a year to change jobs! They took a risk, joined a small business in a downturn and believed in what we do.

What I’d do differently

  • Listen more to my gut and less to what I was hearing, seeing and reading in the media, through blogs etc. There were decisions I hesitated on this year, chances and opportunities I didn’t seize because of some ‘what if’s.’ Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I’ve always gone with my gut and believed nothing ventured nothing gained and this year I deviated from that a little too much on reflection.
  • Be stronger at sticking to what clients to work with. When I started in business, I fell into the trap of doing anything for anyone at any price just to have the work. Over the years as the business grew and I gained clarity on what Inspire HQ stood for, our values and how they aligned to our clients we got to a stage where we were confident to say, we are not the best agency to assist you (for whatever reason). When times were tougher this year, I waivered and we took on a few clients or pitched for work that really wasn’t the right fit for us. Guess what? Every time it came back to bite us.
  • Ask better questions and be a better listener. Particularly with my team. Are you ok is a great question to ask but I’ve learnt this year that it’s also an easy question to respond to with a yep and then the conversation moves on. I think I’ve learnt more about leading a team this year than throughout my entire career to date and asking the hard questions and really listening to the answers and then asking more questions / probing has become so important, especially with working from home, when you can’t observe the drop in enthusiasm, read the body language or pick up on the non-verbal cues like you could when your team were in the office.

What I’ve missed

  • Face to face meetings without masks
  • Shaking hands
  • Networking events in person, online just doesn’t cut it for me
  • The incidental conversations that take place in a workspace, that’s often where the gold is

2020 has been a big year for all of us, with plenty of learnings, challenges, high’s and low’s however there are plenty of things that I plan to take from 2020 and apply in the future. It hasn’t been all bad.

The Inspire HQ team will be taking a break from blogging over the Christmas and January period and will be back in touch in 2021 to keep sharing with you our thoughts, ideas, market and industry knowledge on all things recruitment, human resources and careers.

We wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Thank you for your support and feedback throughout 2020.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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