spark M A G A Z I N E
MEASURING CULTURE IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS + INSPIRE INNOVATION PEOPLE THE KEY TO DIGITAL TRANSFO RMATION INSPIRATION CAN COME FROM THE DARKEST PL ACES
ISSUE NO.19 DECEMBER 2019
2 Spark Magazine is “The fuel for business”. The target audience is business people, with an interest in innovation, technology and new ideas. We provide the ideas, motivation, and inspiration for success.
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EDITORIAL Paul M Southwick firstname.lastname@example.org (+61) 424 70 40 10
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CONTENTS FUNDING AND NETWORKS CAN BE A POWERFUL COCKTAIL 6
INSPIRATION CAN COME FROM THE DARKEST PLACES 38
3 REASONS WHY MEASURING CULTURE IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS 8
3 WAYS TO TRANSFORM YOUR DISCONNECTED TEAM 45
INSPIRE INNOVATION 12
YOUR IDEAL WORK WEEK 47
PEOPLE THE KEY TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION 16
BUSINESS DISASTERS TO AVOID AUSSIE CASE STUDIES 50
BOOST ENGAGEMENT BY CHANGING THE WAY PEOPLE APPROACH WORK 20
AI IN YOUR WORKPLACE â€“ COMING READY OR NOT 55
HOW ORGANISATIONS WASTE TALENT 24 ACHIEVING A GREAT CULTURE 28 BEHIND THE BUZZ WORDS OF BUSINESS 32
OVERHAUL YOUR MEETINGS 58 LEVERAGE SKILLS FROM ALL AGES 62 5 STEPS TO GREAT CULTURE & GETTING THE BEST FROM MILLENNIALS 66
The articles in Spark Magazine are of a general nature only. Always seek independent financial, investment, tax and legal advice.
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T O S PA R K M A G A Z I N E WHERE ARE THE INNOVATORS IN GOVERNMENT? Missed by most economic commentators in Australia, and the big story of late, has been the collapse in value of the Australian dollar. From 1.08 US dollars on 4 July 2007, in December 2019 we are at around 66 cents! The value of a country’s currency is perhaps the ultimate best single test of how well a country (and government) is doing. If that is true, Australia is struggling, and losing its way. The consequences will be severe. The latest growth rate of less than half a percent for the September 2019 quarter, and 1.7% annually, illustrate big problems with the Australian economy, despite natural mineral wealth. Even that wealth is under threat with the anticoal lobby and the lack of true support for alternatives. Borrowing costs are not the issue – as they are close to zero. And there is plenty of money around for the right proposition. Our problem is innovation, or the lack thereof. Despite our cosiness to the US and a similar business culture, we pale in comparison when it comes to entrepreneurial innovation. Just look at Garmin, Cirrus, or Apple as examples. There are pockets of excellence in Australia, like the BSI Group, Ryan
Aerospace, who make helicopter simulators, or soon to listed, Adelaide based, Aerometrex, an aerial photography, LiDAR and mapping specialist but our track record and performance is poor. It is the role of government to provide leadership, incentive, stimulation and example to business and individuals, especially in innovation, but they are failing badly. Innovation is the key driver of wealth creation in an economy and the path to national riches. It causes all the boats to rise. It’s time for government to encourage and lead innovation by action not words. Don’t leave it all to the SMEs. Let’s make that a New Year resolution for 2020. Innovate. On the topic of innovation, we lead with a few articles in that area in this issue. There are also a range of stories from our top regular writers, and some new ones, on the importance of people and culture. All good thought for the Christmas – New Year holidays which Spark Magazine readers fully deserve. See you in 2020. Paul M Southwick Editor
FUNDING AND NETWORKS CAN BE A POWERFUL COCKTAIL by Ivan Kaye
Research from the 2019 Global Start Up Ecosystem Report identified four of the nine key components of a high performing start up ecosystem include: • Funding, • Knowledge, • Connectedness; and • Market reach There are lots of events, mentors and desire to help add value to start ups and ventures, and yet Australia’s start up ecosystems are sliding down the ranks. According to the report, Sydney fell six places from 17th to 23rd, while Melbourne fell out of the top 30 altogether.
Who do the go to - to find the money?
Australia needs to grow its Angel investor community. We are a gambling nation - Melbourne Cup for example - and yet we have not yet doing the key to connect “punters to players.” Startup economies such as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, New York, China and other ecosystems around the world seems to have nailed this!
One of the biggest risk mitigation tactics for investors is to access a highly diversified portfolio. Invest in 10 - one will nail it. There is an opportunity to invest in VC funds that the “punters” can trust.
1. Inability to access angel/VC level funding,
Why are there so few of them in Australia?
2. Access to distribution channels and networks, and
What a great opportunity! I believe this opportunity will grow exponentially over the next 10 years.
3. Challenges with scaling into different marketswere identified as issues
SO, HOW CAN WE FIX THIS? FUNDING •
How does a business become investor ready?
How does a business become referrable?
How does a business get access to capital, distribution channels and networks?
Can VC be an asset class that can be as prolific as property? I believe the returns can be better for the investors, the economy and the country.
ACCESS TO NETWORKS How can we connect larger business or enterprise clients, suppliers, and partners to start ups? How can we build know like and trust with each other? Maybe BBG can be a conduit to
provide larger companies with access to industry trends and the opportunity to collaborate with the start up communities and founders. Give people what they want and you will get what you want!
ACCESSING INTERNATIONAL MARKETING Founders and companies should be global and scalable. How to access international markets is a key challenge. Some solutions could include •
Austrade have launch pads, and grants
Investors have connections
Networks need to be accessed
Network of professionals
Founders and unicorns that have been there and done that becoming mentors and investors
BBG building out an international network of forums
The next decade should provide an outstanding opportunity for Australian founders, the start up community and BBG www.bbg. business Onwards and upwards! Ivan Kaye, is the chairman of the BSI Group.
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Michael has been involved in lifestyle education, health, and wellness promotion and organisational development since opportunities; and the Eighties. With close to 20 years of management experience in four continents, he brings to the table a well-refined cross-cultural team/community building capacity and leadership acumen amassed in both Non-Profit and business contexts. He has extensive experience in Mindfulness practices and delivers insightful and engaging group work through nondenominational science-based methodologies. In earlier years, Michael worked as a therapist and a workshop facilitator in clinics and centers in Australia, UK, the US, and Canada. Later, he undertook senior managerial roles in international businesses and charities. In recent roles, he was a manager for the East-West Learning Centre in Singapore in which he focused on designing platforms to deliver an integrated Mind-Body approach to leadership education, and later was the CEO of TeamUp in Thailand which delivers online group coaching for not-for-profits. Here in Melbourne, he teaches seminars and workshops for the School of Life; is responsible for strategy and business development for a start-up called ODIS Technologies, and runs his own coaching practice for executives and start-up teams. www.positiveneuroplasticity.com | www.teamup.co
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by Linley Watson
REASONS why MEASURING CULTURE IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS
Company culture is back on the agenda for leaders of small and large businesses alike. Seemingly out of favour for more than a decade, culture took a back seat as performance management and learning management systems were deployed, Lean and Agile methodologies took hold and engagement surveys ruled. But not anymore!
he high profile business failings of recent years, adverse findings by the
royal commission into the financial services industry in Australia, and a failure to move the dial on engagement, despite billions spent on benefits to enhance the employee experience in workplaces
1. WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS IMPROVED In a new take on the adage “what gets measured gets done”, American entrepreneur and founder of GoDaddy Group, Bob Parsons, stresses the importance of measuring everything of significance.
across the globe, are just some of
In his 16 Rules for Success he points
the reasons why organisational
culture is in the spotlight.
anything that is measured and
With evidence supporting its far-
watched improves, and anything that
reaching impacts on employee
is not managed deteriorates.
indicator for many CEOs and executives, sparking a keen and sometimes “back pocket interest” in prioritising and influencing culture for the better. When it comes to the causal link between measurement and improvement, culture is no exception.
2. FOCUS ON THE RIGHT THINGS Beyond engagement surveys, leaders need to dig beneath the surface to really understand what underpins their culture. Knowing their “secret sauce” and what to reinforce is just as
engagement, customer satisfaction,
Traditionally, culture was hard
and profitability, culture is now top
important for sustaining high levels
to measure and manage. Now
of the priority list for enlightened
of performance as knowing what to
survey instruments like the
CEOs and business owners who
Cultural Transformation Tools from
understand that a healthy, thriving
Barrett Values Centre provide an
culture is no longer just a “nice-to-
objective, quantitative measure of
an organisation’s cultural health.
But there is a big difference between
This cultural health score, which is
knowing that a healthy culture is
based on the proportion of positive
important and knowing how to
versus potentially limiting values and
behaviours in the current culture,
Recent research by Deloitte of more than 7,000 business leaders across the globe found that although most leaders (87 percent) think culture is important, only 28 percent believe they understand their culture well and just 19 percent believe they have the right culture. Here are three reasons why every organisation should conduct regular culture assessments to measure and help manage their culture.
can be used to measure, monitor and help manage culture over time. It is possible to measure the current culture of an organisation, and the various demographics or subcultures within, such as departments, locations or level. It can also be useful to compare results within industry sectors across the globe to understand how an organisation is tracking on a macro level. Culture is now a key performance
The former CEO of an award-winning organisation with 35 staff explained that they had 100% staff engagement and a “gorgeous” culture. As a founder of the organisation she was often asked what their secret was and what were their core values. At the time their culture was something that she took for granted and couldn’t really articulate. It wasn’t until she became CEO of a much larger organisation where she could not get the information needed to make decisions that she realised there were underlying cultural issues at play that she needed to understand and address. A values-based culture survey was commissioned to understand “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the
current culture so they could build
culture or leave it to chance and risk
on the strengths, address the issues
it evolving in ways that negatively
and start moving toward the culture
they desired. It turned out that unwieldly processes were the source of much angst.
a specialist in culture transformation and M&A culture integration.
proactively determining and shaping
much time and money would likely
are the first steps towards creating
have been wasted on HR initiatives
a cultural advantage that fuels the
aimed at the wrong thing.
organisation’s strategy. Without the cultural data as guidance, leaders are flying blind.
culture survey process commented
Christopher Gomez, CEO of Barrett
that “Culture isn’t something you
Values Centre commented, “In
necessarily think about when
today’s volatile business landscape,
everything is running smoothly. But
leaders need to revise their strategies
when things aren’t right you need
more frequently. How do you know
to look under the surface. You need
if you have the right culture to not
the right tools and the evidence
just enable but ignite your new
to understand the fundamentals
strategy? Measuring your culture
of your organisation’s culture. Too
allows you to truly understand your
many people look at engagement
strengths, opportunities, and blind
and then try to influence culture. But
to really effect change, you need to understand your culture’s current strengths and weaknesses.”
3. INCREASE THE ODDS OF A SUCCESSFUL STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION
Without data to show the culture you have and the one that will best serve you going forward, you are betting the success of your strategy on luck.” There is now significant evidence supporting the relationship between
Culture has an impact on everything
organisational culture and numerous
inside an organisation. And like a
business outcomes including
living organism, it has the power to
employee engagement, customer
adapt and evolve on its own.
satisfaction, sales performance and
Therefore, leaders have two choices. They can positively and intentionally influence their organisational
Peak Performance International and
dealing with the challenges and the culture needed for the future
consultants engaged to assist in the
Linley Watson is CEO of
Understanding the culture that exists,
Without a sound cultural measure,
Rosemary Fisher, one of the
About the author
ultimately business results. Measuring and managing organisational culture is simply good for business.
by Charlotte Rush
INSPIRE INNOVATION What does it take to be a leader who inspires innovation success? Should managers focus on doing innovation and leading by example, or is creating a supportive environment where roadblocks are removed, and efforts rewarded the more effective approach?
researching innovative companies
job engagement and employee
now recognise not
showed that senior executives from
job performance. Employees that
only the importance
the most innovative companies do
scored highest on performance and
of innovation but
not delegate innovation. Instead,
engagement had leaders who were
are also investing in training and
they do it themselves. Leaders at less
narcissistic and humble. Humility on
developing their workforce to
innovative companies see innovation
its own led to employee performance
champion innovation from within
as something to delegate or a
the organisation. However, training
process to oversee.
people in â€˜design thinkingâ€™ and
Show a little humility
experimentation methodologies is not enough to create a successful
When thinking about the leaders
army of intrapreneurs.
that you seek to emulate, do you
Here are three strategies to help you become an effective innovation leader:
lean towards the humility of Nelson Mandela or the arrogance and brash self-assuredness of Steve Jobs? The best option may be both!
The researchers argue that the positive aspects of narcissism (persistence, confidence and risktaking) are an important ingredient in successful leaders. The additional presence of humility (i.e. admitting limitations, highlighting the contributions of others) can temper the potential negative aspects of
STOP DELEGATING INNOVATION
In one study of information and
narcissism (i.e. arrogance and self-
technology firms, leader humility
Over the last week, what tasks did
resulted in higher levels of
you personally work on and what
information sharing. Information
did you delegate? Chances are, the
sharing is important for promoting
tasks that you delegated were of less
team creativity. But high leader
If you have invested in training your
humility only prompted greater
employees in innovation tools, you
information sharing in teams with
are probably wondering how you
low power distance (i.e. where
can best support them to then put
team members desire more power
that training into action. So, what do
you focus on - cheerleading from
Delegating innovation to other people sends a strong signal about its importance. Research based on teams from an US information
FOCUS ON SELF-EFFICACY, THEN MOTIVATION
the side-lines and boosting their
technology company indicates that
Teams with high power distance
leaders who are confident in their
(i.e. members expect leaders to be
creative abilities are also more likely
dominant and take charge) did not
to have teams who produce more
benefit from a humble leader - these
creative ideas. This is likely because
team members are more likely to see
Longitudinal research looking at
those who are more creatively
humility as a weakness.
trainees who voluntarily attended
confident are likely to value and
Beyond humility on its own, the
encourage creative output, being less conformist and more receptive to new ideas. Results from a six-year study
combination of narcissism with humility can have positive effects on followers. One study measured perceived leader effectiveness,
confidence? Or, reinforcement and rewards? Research shows that your approach should change over time.
statistical workshops found that trainees who felt confident in their ability to apply new skills were more likely to make initial efforts to apply that training to their job. In contrast, motivational factors (whether you
approach to innovation.
feel committed to applying what you have learnt) predicts the transfer of those skills over time. As such, leaders should focus on building confidence between the end of training and initial application of the skills. In the long-term, leaders should focus on techniques to boost employee motivation to apply the tools. Adopting the above tips will help ensure that you are leading your people towards innovation success.
About the author Charlotte Rush is the Head of Learning at innovation consultancy, Inventium. She is an Organisational Psychologist and has worked across Asia, the United States and Australia to support organisations in embedding a sustainable and proven
people by Nigel Adams
THE KEY TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION The characteristics of digital natives are clearly different to those of more mature organisations. Their ability to innovate and scale rapidly, generate new revenue streams, organise around small, self-directed teams, and pivot with ease is a source of great envy. Add disintermediation to this and, itâ€™s no surprise that digital transformation has been a hot topic in recent years.
owever, with the major
re-allocate a sizeable portion of
consulting firms citing
the investment pool and trim the
success rates below 30%,
operating budgets of the Run Team
(those responsible for delivering
is not for the faint hearted. It also
day-to-day services) to fund the
comes at a cost: a recent Harvard
change. It is this approach that
Business Review study found that
sows the seeds of division, which
69% of the $1.3 trillion spent on
will eventually undermine the
digital transformation last year was
communication but by binding their role to the transformation. The Change Team will still need a small number of external hires to anchor the new skills and mindset. Their role then is to train and coach existing staff in these “new” skills to demonstrate that they aren’t as foreign as they appear.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Finally, the Run Team must learn
On the one hand, the new hires
help fund the transformation and
typically find the pace frustratingly
ready to lend their subject matter
slow and the mindset and culture
expertise to the Change Team. It will
more constraining than empowering.
also create enough time for them to
They struggle to understand “how
learn the new skills and prepare the
WHY IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION DIFFERENT?
things get done around here” and
groundwork for the transformation
may conclude that the bureaucracy
by unpicking the tangled web
is designed to impede progress. They
of processes through a: “Stop,
blame the Run Team.
Consolidate, Standardise, Simplify”
The root of the problem is that
The Run Team, on the other hand,
agenda. Easy to say,
mature organisations must digitise
feel overwhelmed as they are
but is it achievable?
before they can become digital.
expected to do far more, with
Digitising an organisation goes to the
far less. They must innovate with
very heart of how an organisation
minimal investment. Customers will
creates and delivers value and then
not wait for the Change Team to
turns it on its head. After decades of
finish. Their best people are being re-
corporate evolution, delivering value
assigned to share their subject matter
today is dependent on thousands of
expertise with the Change Team.
process fragments stitched together
They assume the new hires are being
by a tangled web of legacy systems.
paid far more even though they
This brings up the dilemma: do
don’t deliver. New ways of working
companies train existing staff who
increase their workload, absorbing
understand the organisation but
far more change, more frequently.
lack the new skills and experience
And if that’s not enough, when it’s
of working in a digital native? Or,
over, it’s the Run Team that will bear
do companies hire external staff
the brunt of the job losses. They
with the new skills but limited
resent the Change Team.
Much of the research has focussed on communication and engagement as a primary, explanatory variable. But a successful digital transformation requires more than just town hall meetings, executive presence, newsletters and FAQs.
organisational knowledge and hope they learn quickly? The language associated with the new skills is so “other-worldly” that building in-house capability appears as a daunting task. Hence, the more common route to transformation is to establish a Change Team based on new hires. The next step is to
SQUARING THE CIRCLE The key to success is to reconcile the
how to do more with less. This will get them back in control, proud to
WHAT WILL IT TAKE? There are three steps to make this possible: 1.
The executive team must acknowledge that the Run Team is equally critical to delivering the transformation and should enjoy the same level of executive attention, recognition and reward.
2. The Run and Change teams must develop a shared understanding of each other’s roles, learn how to communicate and work effectively together and embed joint accountability for delivering the transformation. 3. The Run Team must implement
differences and allow each team to
an operational excellence
play to its strengths.
program to control their
The Run Team must be brought into the transformational tent, and not just through extensive
workload and enable the simplification agenda. This people-oriented approach will
not only make the transformation more achievable but will deliver benefits along the way. And it will be genuinely engaging.
About the author Nigel Adams is a thought leader in operational excellence and has led large, multi-award-winning teams spread across many countries. He is the author of “Match Fit For Transformation – Realising The Potential Of Everyday Heroes”. For more information visit www.hettonadvisory.com
boost by Dr Amantha Imber
ENGAGEMENT BY CHANGING THE WAY PEOPLE APPROACH WORK Increasing employee engagement is a permanent fixture for the focus of most human resource professionals. And for good reason. Research from Gallup has shown the companies with employee engagement scores in the top percentile were 22% more profitable than those with engagement scores in the bottom percentile. Customer loyalty is also 10% higher in the highly engaged group. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile and are also less likely to leave a company.
e know it’s important, yet most companies are
THEY PRIORITISED DEEP WORK OVER SHALLOW WORK
unable to achieve
more than single digit gains over the course of 12 months (reference). This is despite introducing initiatives that are specifically designed to boost engagement, such as recognition programs, career development strategies, team building, and so on.
energy that individuals in a team run on, otherwise known as their Chronotype. According to chronobiologists
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport
Martha Merrow and Till Roenneberg,
suggests that because of the
approximately 14% of people are
distractions technology imposes
Larks. Their peak time is in the
on us, we spend the majority of our
morning. At the other end of the
time doing Shallow Work - work
spectrum are Owls (around 21%
that is non-cognitively demanding.
of the population) who come to
Because of the constant distractions,
life at night. Everyone else falls
Research conducted by innovation
employees have forgotten how to
into the “middle birds” category
consultancy Inventium in
truly engage in Deep Work - that is,
and are somewhere in between in
collaboration with the University
focused thinking where they make
terms of energy peaks. [Complete
of New South Wales, found that
meaningful progress on their most
this assessment to determine your
focusing on traditional engagement
challenging but impactful projects.
Because many employees have
By structuring the workday around
boosting activities might not be the best way to go.
been conditioned into fitting
people’s Chronotype, performance
The research examined the impact
bits of Deep Work around lots of
lifted due to aligning work tasks with
of a six-week initiative called the
Shallow Work, people often find it
when energy was at its peak. People
Workday Reinvention program.
hard to spend large chunks of time
also experienced less stress through
The program was designed to help
focusing. The Workday Reinvention
not having their natural circadian
knowledge workers (re)learn how to
program educated the group on the
rhythms be out of sync with their
do deep, focused work and reduce
distinction behind these two modes
workplace’s office hours.
how reactive they were to digital
of work and helped them create
strategies to prioritise Deep Work.
Not only did the program increase productivity by 22%, but it achieved huge gains in employee engagement within just a six-week period.
THEY RESTRUCTURED THEIR DAY TO BE IN LINE WITH THEIR CHRONOTYPE
Compared to pre-program, at the
THEY BATCHED EMAIL AND MEETINGS Many productivity experts talk about batching emails. But batching meetings can have an equally big
end of the six weeks, employees felt
Most workplaces are structured
impact. Research from Ohio State
9% more absorbed in their work,
around the hours of 9am to 5pm.
University has shown that when you
job satisfaction was 10% higher, and
While workplaces are increasingly
have a meeting coming up in the
energy levels had increased by 24%.
claiming to have flexible working
next hour or two, people get 22% less
policies, working hours still default to
work done compared to if there was
nine to five.
no upcoming meeting.
biggest impact on not only their
The problem with these hours
The Workday Reinvention program
productivity, but also their happiness
is that they may not align to the
educated participants on the impact
natural peaks and troughs of
of batching both email and meetings.
Here are the strategies that participants reported having the
This led to people feeling more in control of their day and enabled them to assign large chunks of time to engaging in Deep Work.
THEY ELIMINATED DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS Six minutes. This is the amount of time people can stay focused on a
About the author
task before succumbing to email
Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder
or messaging apps, according to
of Inventium, Australia’s leading
research by Rescue Time. After
innovation consultancy and the host
analysing 185 million working hours’
of How I Work, a podcast about the
worth of data, the research revealed
habits and rituals of the world’s most
that people check email or instant
messenger every six minutes, on average. The research also found that employees only spend 2.8 hours per day doing “productive” work. Given the average American works 47 hours per week, most are spending less than a third of their working hours doing focused, impactful work. The program taught people several strategies for eliminating the digital distractions (email, Slack, Instant Messenger, social media) that invade workdays and make it almost impossible to engage in large amounts of deep, focused work. So when planning engagement boosting activities for next year, remember that it may be as simple as changing the way people approach their work, as opposed to changing the work itself.
by Megumi Miki
HOW ORGANISATIONS WASTE talent Over the past few years, LinkedIn has estimated that between 45% and 60% of its more than 400 million users waste talent. Some recruiters believe these so-called â€œpassive jobseekersâ€? now comprise up to 75% of the overall workforce. Gallup surveys have shown poor engagement for a while now, with percentage of people who are actively engaged at 31% in the United States and 14% in Australia/New Zealand in 2017.
despite billions of
here are continual
dollars being invested in leadership development.
Poor leadership is showing up at organisational, political and social levels, locally and globally. We seem to have a mismatch between the types of leaders we want, compared to ones we have or are appointed. Diversity – in whatever category you look at - is not reflected in leadership within organisations and society and progress is slow. It’s not to say there aren’t any good leaders out there, but we should ask ourselves: •
Are we selecting the right people for leadership positions?
Are we overlooking and wasting real talent?
Below are five ways in which organisations and leaders may be overlooking and wasting real talent.
if the frameworks are balanced, interpretations vary and some elements are given more importance, disadvantaging people whose strengths are in the lower priority elements.
When a person makes a positive first impression, we may miss warning signs while we may disregard people who make a luke-warm first impression.
If you were to choose one to promote between people who
Worse still, we let some leaders
have the following qualities into a
get away with abusing their power,
leadership position, who would you
either because we believe they can
do no wrong, or because we are too
Whether we realise or not, we tend
afraid to call them out when they
to value the left-hand column more
than the right. The qualities on the right column can be perceived as not
3. FALSE MERITOCRACY
leader-like, even though they can be leadership strengths.
We have unconscious biases and stereotypes not only based on more
2. MESMERISED BY CHARISMA
visible attributes such as gender, ethnicity, LGBTIQ+, physical abilities but on less visible attributes such
1. BIASED LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORKS AND INTERPRETATION Some leadership frameworks are skewed towards certain qualities, others are more balanced. Even
A phenomenon known as the
as personal styles and perceived
‘awestruck effect’ has been
researched and shows that we are
These biases are unconscious or
often mesmerised by charismatic
denied such that some organisations
leaders such that we lose our
and leaders claim that they have
capacity to think rationally and
become easily manipulated.
True meritocracy is difficult to achieve as “privilege is invisible to
those who have them,” as Professor
environment favours some more
Michael Kimmel says.
Performance or talent assessments – Talented people
than others and adjust.
4. RESULTING BIASED SELECTION/PROMOTION/ ASSESSMENTS Even if organisations use blind CVs as a way of limiting unconscious bias based on names, the traditional recruitment/selection/promotion approaches still makes it difficult, if
get overlooked despite all their
The cost of wasting real talent
achievements, quality output, strong
cannot be ignored, as people who
relationships and influencing skills –
are overlooked lose confidence, give
because they don’t ‘fit’ the expected
up, disengage, burn out or leave.
Rather than a war for talent, we
5. RESULTING UNPRODUCTIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR SOME
not impossible, for some talented
should wage a war on wasted talent.
About the author Megumi Miki is a leadership and
people to get through the hoops.
For some talented people, the
culture specialist and founder of
Personality profiling –
working environment does not
Quietly Powerful. Megumi helps
Unconscious bias against some
harness their strengths. Open
individuals, leaders and organisations
personality traits still exist. For
plan offices and brainstorming are
to unlock their hidden potential.
example, I have heard of an
examples of environments that
She is the Author of upcoming book
organisation that eliminated
reduce creativity and productivity
‘Quietly Powerful: How your quiet
introverts from their talent pool.
for quiet professionals. Leaders may
nature is your hidden leadership
Interviews – Interviewers may not
lack the skills to adapt to different
strength’ (Major Street Publishing
be attentive or skilled enough to
needs of people, intentionally or
$29.95) and ‘Start Inspiring, Stop
uncover real talents. Expertise and
unintentionally forcing people to ‘fit’
Driving: Unlock your team’s potential
substance of some talented people
the mainstream approaches.
to outperform and grow’ (Baker
may require better questions and listening.
Leadership assessment centres – Many assessment centres focus on group work, speaking up, thinking on your feet and preparing presentations quickly, often biased
Street Press $24.95).
MINIMISE TALENT WASTE For more information about For organisations to minimise the waste in talent, you may wish to consider: •
talent and leadership, both on
against people who prefer to prepare well, read, research and reflect.
Referees – Referees are usually
paper and beliefs. •
minimise bias, stereotypes and
leadership effectiveness is rarely, if
awestruck effects in selection/
ever, assessed by their team, such well can be preferred over good
Reviewing and implementing processes and systems to
someone more senior. Candidates’
that poor leaders who manage up
Expanding the definition of
Checking whether the working
Megumi visit www.megumimiki.com.
by Ross Judd
ACHIEVING A great CULTURE HR Directors are asked to implement culture programs as a key business imperative, which begs the question, what is the potential impact of improving culture and what’s the most effective way to get a great result? Conversely, what is the impact of a poor culture? Larry Thompson, the US Justice Department–appointed monitor after the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, stated ‘there was a corrupt corporate culture at Volkswagen … it was not a culture marked by honesty and openness.’ It’s an extreme example but he suggested it contributed to illegal and scandalous decisions which cost VW billions.
n 2015, the manufacturing
what that means for them as a team.
One word, the catchier the better.
division of Viridian Glass, that
The beauty of this approach is that
The point is to get people talking
runs Australia’s only glass
leaders are not discussing “culture”
about the attitudes and behaviours
which is gets a negative response.
they need to adopt to deliver
implemented a culture program.
When people hear that word, they
the purpose and strategy of the
They wanted to engage their
roll their eyes, take a deep breath,
workforce to support process
and dig in to “wait out” this latest fad.
improvements. Two years later they had achieved a 9% improvement in production which almost doubled their profit. It was an amazing result.
HOW DO YOU CREATE A GREAT CULTURE? Start by defining culture as “the attitudes and behaviours people unconsciously adopt to fit in with the expectations of the people around them.”
Once people are talking it’s then a
A leader engaging with their team to
matter of “A - Assessing the current
discuss why they exist and how they
culture,” “P - Planning” a process to
help deliver the company purpose
bridge the gap and “T - Transforming”
is another story. It is so different,
people will wake up and take notice! The next step is to “D - Define a target culture.” Leaders engage in a discussion about the attitudes and behaviours needed to deliver the purpose. It’s a rich and motivating conversation that also engages people in the purpose and strategy of the business. How would your
MAKING IT WORK To make this work leaders need to be accountable for culture and willing to engage in conversations with their people. For many of them this means a different style of leadership. They will need to listen, facilitate, and guide conversations to reach a group
This gives a clue to the simplest,
organisation perform if every team
and most effective way to create a
was thinking about the attitudes and
great culture. Make it conscious. A
behaviours they needed to adopt to
Leaders have the role of providing
common mistake is to define culture
support the company purpose?
guidance on the conversations in
as either “the way we do things
Imagine the alternative. Too many
around here” or “shared values,
companies are imposing culture on
norms, and traits.” They describe the
their people. They are effectively
outcomes of culture but don’t help
saying “you will have this culture
leaders understand what they are
and we will measure it using this
A great culture is a fantastic place to
survey.” It’s an approach that
be. It inspires people in ways you can
Culture should be a conscious
builds resentment, cynicism, and
only imagine and it’s only possible
and simple conversation. Leaders
defensiveness, which is a shame
if your leaders have genuine and
that talk about the attitudes and
because everyone wants to be part
authentic conversations with their
behaviours they demonstrate, and
of a great culture, even your most
people about the culture needed to
expect from their teams, are more
cynical and jaded people.
deliver your purpose.
likely to achieve great results. Just this simple step can make a huge difference.
A SERIES OF CONVERSATIONS
The best thing you can do is Define a target culture in one word. Yes, one word, or two at the most.
A.D.A.P.T. and the support, coaching, training, and development needed to make this happen. When you do you can create something magical.
About the author Ross Judd is a cultural engagement expert and founder of Team Focus International. He is the author of
The idea is to make it simple,
‘Cultural Insanity ($19.95). For more
memorable, and something that will
information about how Ross can help
A.D.A.P.T. is an acronym you can use
get people talking. Don’t make the
you build a great culture visit
to guide leaders in the conversations
mistake of over complicating things
they need to have with their teams. It
with a series of values with expanded
starts with “A - Align with Purpose”.
definitions that people can’t
Leaders engage with their teams to
remember. Make it something that
discuss the company purpose and
will actively stimulate a conversation.
behind by Kate Engler
THE BUZZ WORDS OF BUSINESS Jargon, industry speak, weasel words or just plain BSâ€Ś. The business world seems full of words and catchphrases that people throw around with reckless abandon, but what do they really mean, and how observable are they?
recently attended (along with
these fields what these words mean
leaders have never been taught
thousands of others) Brene
to them, and how we can work to
to lead. The people promoted to
Brown’s Dare to Lead event
have them be more observable in our
positions of leadership in many
businesses are those who’ve excelled
in Melbourne. Having followed
at being a practitioner in the
Brene for over a decade, I have all her audio books on loop, so I am
The words I hear most often are
business, so they seem the obvious
quite familiar with her material. But
leadership, resilience and boundaries
choice for a more senior ‘leadership’ position. Sadly, this often fails which
there’s something about standing only two feet away from this beacon
Let’s start with one of the biggest
only serves to demotivate the team
of my respect and admiration,
in this group – Leadership. I think
and set the newly appointed ‘leader’
hearing her messages ‘live’ that really
the world became somewhat
up for failure.
had them land with me in a different
more focussed on this word and
how observable it can be when we
“Leadership can be defined as what
watched the way Jacinda Arden
gets you going, management is what
And I think one of the key things
reacted to, and led her country
keeps you going. However, most
I really ‘heard’ (or perhaps heard
through, an unthinkable act of
people in leadership positions are not
differently) was when she talked
violence in 2019. Her actions
leading at all, in fact they are barely
about values and how these need to
brought into sharp focus how other
managing,” Rob says.
be observable in your life and indeed
countries’ elected officials perhaps
fall (sometimes considerably) short of
According to Rob who has studied
the ‘leadership’ mark.
leadership at various levels for over 30 years, including with the
Observable. Interesting huh? As in you get to SEE it when people DO it/ LIVE it/ BE it or ACT in a certain way that clearly demonstrates to you via their actions what their words are saying. I’ve always been big on ‘walking my talk’ yet the way Brene described the notion of values being observable got me thinking. So, I pondered on some of the most popular ‘buzzwords’ on the business landscape at the moment and asked a handful of experts and leaders in
LEADERSHIP But the word ‘leadership’ has been slowly taking hold in businesses across the country prior to these events in Christchurch, with mixed results. Rob Hartnett, a former world champion sailor who now runs the Rob Hartnett Advisory Group specialising in high performance leadership, explains that sadly, most
global leadership development organisation, The John Maxwell Team, a leader sets the agenda, inspires a collaborative vision while a manager implements someone else’s vision. Both are necessary skills to have in business, however Rob warns: Confuse them at your peril! Many people do not understand that leadership is also situational. “Anyone can lead and frequently we
see leadership in action every day by
by example so that your team – all
talk, which sadly, many people (in life
people without leadership titles. This
of it, grows and raises their individual
and business) try to bluff their way
is inspiring and demonstrates true
bar of standards,” George says
leadership. “Leadership means modelling the way, taking the lead, creating a vision of possibility, challenging the current thinking and setting the tone for success no matter in which arena – life, relationships, family and business,” Rob explains.
“Those that believe that they can lead with a ‘do as I say and not as I do approach’ are not only letting their team down but far more importantly the company will then not have the right culture or approach to be of the best service to its clients.
In the ‘bluffing’ vacuum, leadership will always be a casualty. Part of ensuring a ‘bluffing vacuum’ doesn’t become the norm is having good boundaries. Again, harking back to Brene’s words, she explains boundaries quite simply.
“He believes Australia needs more
“Truly great leaders are inspirational,
Boundaries are what’s ok and what’s
transformational leaders who
supportive and don’t need to
not ok (for you or the organisation).
operate from a position of possibility,
ridicule their subordinates to elevate
And when boundaries are viewed in
empathy and hope, and not the
themselves. They aspire to grow
this way, they really aren’t the big
opposite which is transactional
their team and if the company
scary thing some people make them
leadership based on managing by
can’t offer them the right position
out to be. What’s ok, and what’s
or opportunities after that growth,
not ok is devoid of judgement or
they will assist them to grow further
blurred lines. It’s an uber-simple
Another leadership specialist who
elsewhere with their absolute
explanation, making boundaries
completely agrees with Rob’s view of
blessing. Through this approach,
something to be embraced rather
modelling is George Mavros, a serial
the company gets a team that knows
than shied away from.
entrepreneur who created his first
management is there for them, and
product and business at the tender
then they in turn, will be there for
Brene made a very interesting point
age of 11, and now runs a successful
the company and their company’s
about boundaries though. She
business coaching and advisory
clients,” George explains.
said that those who struggle with
service, ETSI Consulting. George’s
boundaries value being liked over
view on leadership can be summed
So, whilst these men are using
different words, the sentiment is totally in line with what Brene was
their own self-respect/self-worth. Just let that sink in for a moment.
“It’s not about telling people what
saying – what you say, especially in
to do, how to think or behave. It’s
leadership, needs to be observable.
Those who struggle with boundaries
about showing, guiding and leading
To be blunt, it’s about walking your
value being liked over their own self-
And Rob agrees.
the trenches experience, and now
“Boundaries in business means
helps women to grow their resilience
Slippery boundaries are a fast-track
deciding what is acceptable and
through her Motivating Resilient
to suddenly ending up with a client
not acceptable in a business
Women Coaching business. Tracy
who takes advantage of you, or
about dealings with customers,
says that many people mistakenly
waiting on an invoice to be paid
stakeholders and staff for example.
believe that resilience is something
that’s over 90 days late, or a staff
As an example, Sir Richard Branson
that you’ve either got or not. She’s
member who starts off with a few
has boundaries he sets (like most
quick to debunk that notion.
sick days and then is more away than
multi company owners) on what
“Resilience is not an attribute you
they are at work.
his board members and senior
are born with. It is a skill that you can
executives can and cannot do.
improve with patience and training.”
Whilst extreme, the ‘boss’ in the
Other organisations have boundaries
“Anyone can learn to grow their
above examples may value being
on what can be accepted from
resilience capabilities and like any
liked more than they value having a
suppliers and providers. In small
skill, learning resilience is something
company that runs efficiently with
business boundaries might be set
that you can do at any age, from
staff who respect the work being
around credit terms, customer
any background, no matter your
done, and because of this need to be
discounts, use of company vehicles
education or family relationships.
liked, no one (not staff or clients) are
and company credit cards.
It is something we can teach our
held accountable for their actions.
Whatever your size, boundaries
children, our team members and
are critical to brand reputation and
especially ourselves,” Tracy explains.
This is classic ‘lack of boundaries’
business success,” Rob says.
She’s also quick to point out that
So, with boundaries and leadership
being resilient doesn’t mean the
all sorted, the road ahead should be
person doesn’t feel the intensity
George Mavros explains that being
clear sailing, right?
of the event or problem. Instead,
respectful of boundaries of those
As every entrepreneur knows,
it just means that they’ve found a
with whom we interact is important,
business can be like the tide – rising
pretty good way of analysing it, and
but not as important as respecting
bouncing back from it faster than
our own personal boundaries about
When considering the challenging
other people, and in helping others
what’s ok and what’s not ok.
times that all businesses inevitably
around them do the same.
face, another ‘buzz word’ comes to
Tracy points to relationships as one
“Maintaining your own internal
mind and it’s used a lot across all
of the key factors in assisting people
compass will help you avoid shady
areas of society now.
build their resilience muscle.
“Powerful factors in determining our
deals or compromising ethical dilemmas. If you can’t live with
levels of resilience proofing, is our ability to emotionally connect with
yourself then you can’t live with anyone else either, so being clear on
Tracy Tully, a former high school
others, physiological strength, our
boundaries is fundamental to human
principal who had to develop her
ability to adapt and our flexibility to
and business success,” he stresses.
own super-sized resilience tools
during her career, has learnt from in
“Positive relationships with our
they are grateful for or that went well
to deal with stressful situations at
spouse, children and friends, help
for them. This simple act of taking a
work as well as improve connections
us to feel bonded and provides
pause to reflect on what there is to
between colleagues and teams,”
support and the encouragement
be grateful for is having a profound
that helps us to keep going. Those
effect in our community and in our
relationships can offer alternative
It’s in mastering the ‘buzz words’
suggestions for how we can view
“Over the last few years there has
and finding ways to put them into
challenging situations, the most
been an increasing demand for
practice in business and in life, that
appropriate ways for us to act and
presentations in the corporate
the richness of life and all it offers
help us to reframe situations with
world because there has been the
can truly be enjoyed.
realisation that a person’s mental
“Resilience is not about ignoring what’s happening or pretend that everything’s ok, it’s about being courageous enough to share what’s going on with those around us, so they have permission to offer a different perspective which can help our resilience to grow,” It is perhaps the relationship with
and emotional wellbeing will directly influence their performance in the workplace. “Everyone is placed somewhere on the mental health spectrum and no matter where you find yourself, it’s important that we all work on our mental health so that we can function more effectively - both at home and at work.
self that holds the greatest key to developing resilience however, and
“We have found that by focusing
for this, my ‘go to’ organisation is
on gratitude, empathy and
The Resilience Project, founded by
mindfulness, as well as touching on
Hugh van Cuylenberg.
other wellbeing factors including
The Resilience Project works with
emotional literacy, exercise, social
schools and corporate groups
connection and living with purpose,
and holds public talks around the
everyone can make simple but
country each year. Their focus is on
effective changes to their health.
gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Rather than these words adding to
“These are not complicated or
the esoteric list of buzz words that
convoluted concepts, but change will
often have little firm, actionable
only occur when we integrate these
ways to develop these things,
concepts into our daily lives. These
Hugh and his team have developed
changes will not only positively
a gratitude journal which allows
affect an individual’s day-to-day
people to reflect daily on the things
wellbeing, but they will assist people
About the author Kate Engler has revolutionised the way publicity is harnessed by businesses, giving them access to thousands of dollars of free media exposure without using the traditional PR agency model. With her help, Kate’s clients are regularly featured on some of Australia’s biggest TV shows including The Project, A Current Affair, The Today Show, Mornings, Sunrise and ABC News 24. Her clients have been interviewed on numerous radio stations including 3AW, 2UE, 6PR, ABC Radio around the country and 4BC. And her clients have been featured in the nation’s biggest circulating newspapers including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Courier Mail, The Australian, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph as well as many local newspapers.
38 by Kate Engler
INSPIRATION CAN COME FROM THE DARKEST
Itâ€™s dark. Really dark. And often in these times we think, the darkness will never end. But it does end, and often, like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, the bi product of this darkness, these hard times, is nothing short of inspirational.
nspirational, not only because it rose from a dark place deep inside another human, but
inspirational because it shows others
foundations of your life, it can also lead to rebuilding life with a change in perspective,” Dr Lavalle explains.
people begin being grateful for the ‘small things in life’ or look at their priorities and have redefined what they see as important in the wake of tragedy.
just what the human spirit is capable of and reminds us that this possibility
She says it’s common when thinking
lives in us all.
about grief, to think of the big
“When you grow from grief you may
moments of grief: death, tragedy,
discover the strength you never knew
As I write this I am in New Zealand,
a relationship breakdown that all
you had. It can help you to redefine
spending my days on Cardrona
result in the person feeling they’re
meaning in life and develop a sense
mountain with my two boys – skiing
trapped in a world of darkness. But
of knowing, that no matter what life
and snowboarding respectively.
she believes growth is possible but
throws at you, you will cope.
What we have witnessed this week
also stresses it doesn’t mean the grief
at Cardrona has been squad after
“Some people decide to take that first step in doing things they have
squad of Paralympic athletes skiing faster and more gnarly than us all.
“To make it clear, growing from
always wanted but were too worried
Each time I witness another of their
loss does not mean that there is an
about what other people would
amazing feats, I am awe-struck (and
endpoint to grief, or that suddenly,
think. When you think about it, what
the pain has ended, and you are
else can you lose, you’ve already lost
that special person in your life, so this might be just the opportunity you
Grief expert and clinical psychologist, Dr Olga Lavalle says
“A person’s growth can occur while
need to take steps to really honour
this rising from the ashes to make
feeling pain from the loss of a loved
them,” she explains.
something wonderful from the
one or that special person who was
darkness is far more common than
in your life. When you face your pain,
One such person who literally
we think, and not just showcased on
there is also a chance for personal
changed his life in the face of grief is
the Olympic coverage.
growth to occur,” Dr Lavalle says.
former AFL footballer, Tom Allwright. Having had his AFL career with the
“As grief can make your world fall apart and break the
Dr Lavalle has seen personal growth
Geelong Cats cut prematurely short
from grief start off small – where
due to recurring knee injuries, Tom
set his sights on another challenge.
“It was something that my friend
he told us how much he loved his
Whilst devastated by the end of his
Matt had understood, as two years
life in Australia, and especially his
football career, he rose again to find
prior we’d hiked Kokoda in Papua
family. Characteristically, he was his
a new way to find meaning in his life.
New Guinea together. Throughout
laughing jovial self.
this entire hike, Matt and I were In early March 2017, Tom was with
brainstorming ideas of what could be
“Faced with Matt’s condition, my first
a group hiking to Mt Everest Base
possible with a new way of packaging
thought was that we’d descend to a
Camp. The group had been hiking
up ‘adventure travel’.
small nearby village, where we could
well and there was no reason to think that this trip was going to
spend some time acclimatising and “Our brains were firing!
change his life, let alone give him
then head back to meet the rest of the group. We never made it to that
the purpose he needed to recreate a
“At around 3:30am I got a knock on
new dream to be fulfilled.
the door. It was Matt’s roommate,
saying Matt was struggling to
“Matt passed away in my arms at
“Throughout the hike I’d been
breathe. After assessing his condition,
4:15am, less than an hour after we’d
discussing the opportunities I’d
we decided it was best for Matt to
departed our lodge. We were only
seen throughout my time of leading
descend where the oxygen was going
one day away from achieving our
groups to places I like to call
to be thicker. We weren’t able to call
goal to Base Camp,” says a sombre
paradise - Kokoda, Everest Base
for a helicopter as it was dark, and we
Camp, Kilimanjaro and the European
had to wait until sunrise before they
could fly in,” Tom explains.
“My thoughts were based around the
Tom says his group departed in the
situations; the realisation that life
idea of not having to ‘rough it’ and
middle of the night with only a small
is precious, and it can change in an
to provide inspirational adventure
team of local Sherpas to guide their
instant. “It’s very common for people
experiences without the so-called
path back down the mountain to find
to have a bit of a wake-up call in
‘character building’ mantra which
thicker air for Matt.
these moments and realise just how
Tom had a moment that Dr Lavalle explains is common is such tragic
was really just industry speak for
insignificant many of their small
doing it really rough and on a
“Matt was an incredibly funny and
problems are,” Dr Lavalle says.
loving person. Just the day before,
Tom realised that living a life of
purpose is a far greater outcome
beginning of a shared vision. We’d
than any financial success was going
been inspired by one another to see
something that others couldn’t. It’s a feeling that’s impossible to put into
“I’d experienced every Australian
words,” Tom explains.
childhood dream playing AFL for
Tom’s ‘phoenix’ is Adventure Abroad,
my favourite team and I’d taken
and it was created to motivate
people around the world in pursuit
people to do things that inspire them.
of their goals, but it wasn’t until after dealing with the months of grieving
“To get people to believe that the
to follow after Matt’s passing, that
way we live is only limited by our
I’d work out what my ‘why’ was, the
imagination. There doesn’t need to
answers to the questions what was it
be boundaries or roadblocks. I wasn’t
that truly made me happy? What was
going to do this by sitting in an office
my purpose of being?” Tom says.
or building someone else’s dream, the best way for me to communicate
The months that followed is hard for
that was through unique adventure
Tom to put into words. Dr Lavalle
experiences without the ‘character
says this is common.
building’ mantra and ‘roughing it’ expectations,” Tom enthuses.
“I’m a bit of a closed book when dealing with emotions and my grief
Today, Adventure Abroad runs over
was not only difficult for me, but
15 unique tours per year to exotic
also for those closest to me who
places like the Arctic, Norway, Africa,
just wanted to help, but didn’t know
Mont Blanc, India, Mt Everest and
how,” Tom says.
Patagonia while tailoring unique experiences upon request for people
“It would have been like trying to
who want to get out and explore the
squeeze water from a rock in a hard
planet beyond David Attenborough’s
place. There was no moment or
amazing documentaries, whilst still
spark that suddenly gave me the
experiencing the finer things in life.
purpose I needed, but it was a period of time in my life where I was able to
Dr Lavalle explains the significance
gain a clear consciousness amidst a
for Tom each time he embarks on a
mess of rubble and prioritise what I
needed. “For Tom, this business is about “In my head, Adventure Abroad
legacy. Not only the legacy for
began the moment Matt lay next
his friend Matt, but also to create
to me in the helicopter on our way
a legacy for every person he takes
back to Kathmandu. It was an hour
with him on any one of his trips. His
flight together in utter silence, no
purpose is discovery and helping
people do that across the globe is
“I could feel what it was. It was the
what drives him,” says Dr Lavalle.
Both Dr Lavalle and Tom agree that finding one’s passion doesn’t have to come from a dark moment. But if a dark moment does befall you, then their advice is to look for the inspiration once the pain starts to subside. Discovering a passion in the darkness can be the very thing to assist in turning on a light.
About the author Kate Engler has revolutionised the way publicity is harnessed by businesses, giving them access to thousands of dollars of free media exposure without using the traditional PR agency model. With her help, Kate’s clients are regularly featured on some of Australia’s biggest TV shows including The Project, A Current Affair, The Today Show, Mornings, Sunrise and ABC News 24. Her clients have been interviewed on numerous radio stations including 3AW, 2UE, 6PR, ABC Radio around the country and 4BC. And her clients have been featured in the nation’s biggest circulating newspapers including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Courier Mail, The Australian, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph as well as many local newspapers.
F I N D A BB G B U S I N E S S G R OW T H E V E N T N E AR YOU CLICK HERE
by Michelle Sales
WAYS TO TRANSFORM YOUR
ighly disconnected and
curious? If you don’t invest the time
in really getting to know them?
collecting data from more than
don’t feel part of anything, have low
commitment and are usually only at work to do the bare minimum and collect their pay. Yet unfortunately, these individuals are common in organisations and teams everywhere today. When people lack emotional connection to their work, they usually take more sick days and there are performance and behavioural issues, with extreme cases leading to purposely causing harm and disruption to the entire business.
Being curious about your people as individuals allows you to coach and motivate them using strategies and tools that are right for them rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. This also means that great leaders are much more interested in listening to others than listening to themselves; to learning, to leveraging the talent
5,600 people in 77 organisations. She concluded that:
Out of all the various elements in a business, the ability of a leader to be compassionate, ‘to understand people’s motivators, hopes and difficulties and to create the right support mechanism to allow people to be as good as they can be’, had the greatest correlation with profitability and productivity.
and different strengths in the team.
Employees feel greater trust with
You simply can’t do this if you aren’t
leaders who are compassionate.
curious about what your people
Harvard Business School’s Amy
Cuddy and her research partner have shown that leaders who project
2. SHOW HUMILITY
warmth before establishing their
their work, their leader and their
The governor of the Bank of
those who lead with toughness and
peers. They want to work with
England, Mark Carney, claimed in
skill. This is due to the trust that is
others, which means collaboration
2018 that humility is one of four
created with warmth, kindness and
happens and performance thrives.
essential leadership traits in this era
of disruption. Leaders who exhibit
When trust is built; strong
On the flipside, engaged employees feel a real sense of connection to
A study by Gallup revealed that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share and even recovered at a faster rate from the recession. In addition, people
humility listen to their people and invite them to share their ideas and to challenge the status quo in order to improve and grow.
competence are more effective than
connections are created. This is when you move beyond just engagement and start to achieve real commitment and results from your people, both
who feel connected to their leaders
Part of the process of genuinely
internal and external to the business.
are more likely to remain with their
connecting with your people and
organisations and act in ways that
being able to be humble is letting
About the author
support the overall vision.
go of your own excessive ego,
Michelle Sales is a speaker, trainer,
insecurities and concerns about
coach and author who helps senior
leaders and their teams to build
This means that as a leader, you are responsible for moving your
confidence and maximise their
people from feeling disconnected to
Humility in leadership allows you
connected – something that is not
to have an accurate perception of
always easy. It takes focus, energy
your strengths and weaknesses and
and emotional courage to do this.
to understand the needs of others.
She is the author of the new
Here are three ways to help.
It allows you to recognise the
whitepaper The Connection Deficit:
contribution of others, which in turn
Why leaders must bring both head
1. BE CURIOUS
means people feel valued.
and heart to work to build trust,
Being curious and interested in your
3. PRACTICE COMPASSION
people is critical to building strong
leadership and performance by consciously connecting with others.
lift engagement and accelerate
connections. As a leader, how else
Christina Boedker of the Australian
do you understand what drives and
School of Business researched
motivates your people if you are not
the link between leadership and
organisational results. Visit www.
by Andrew May
YOUR ideal WORK WEEK We all have the same number of hours in the week (168 to be exact). So why does that time look - and feel - vastly different to some people? Many people are scrambling, like the proverbial hamsters on a wheel, we never feel like thereâ€™s enough time and are never able to run fast enough to keep up with it all. Then there are those people who seem to have more space, achieve more professionally, fit in exercise, socialising, sleep and they donâ€™t even seem to break a sweat.
hat’s their secret? Many of the world’s most successful people schedule
compare it to an Ideal Day (utopia).
Include permanent meetings
At the very least, meet me halfway
and bookings but remember that
and start taking control of your time,
your goal is to strip out some of
energy and attention.
these to free up capacity.
their time with military precision –
Start by adding three or four simple
like Bill Gates whose long days are
activities to your morning routine.
to plan your Better Week – if you
carved into “five-minute slices, with
These can be as simple as a glass of
find you’ve forgotten activities,
every meeting and handshake timed
water with a squeeze of lemon, a
for instance, or not allowed
to the second”.
quick walk before work, a break for
yourself enough time. It usually
morning tea. These will then become
takes a few goes to get it right.
There is no need for us all to be this rigid, however a little planning can certainly help us move from the feeling of treading water to forward
performance habits – beneficial actions triggered automatically in
Don’t worry if you find it difficult
Once you’re happy with your Better Week, open your diary
response to contextual cues.
and book in the relevant training
momentum and regaining control
Once you start to self-regulate and
sessions and so on for the next
of our lives. As a result of this, we
feel momentum from your new
three months. When the dates
not only work smarter and improve
behaviours, add a few more. Then
are in your diary, you’ll be more
our wellbeing, we create space
some more. Keep building upon
motivated to stick to them.
to recharge and reconnect with
this process over a period of weeks
ourselves and those we love. This
and you’ll be surprised at just how
enables both our productivity and
much better your day can be. Once
the quality of our performance to
you know how much more time and
energy, clarity and connection you can create in a single day, it’s time to
WRITE IT DOWN Start by considering what your ideal
Review and update your Better Week plan every quarter to ensure that it stays meaningful and relevant.
Acknowledge that you will need
build a better week. This incorporates
to be flexible as you strive to live
accountability and sets a clear vision
your Better Week but aim high –
for the future.
there’s no point admitting defeat before you’ve even begun!
day would look like and write it
Will it be ideal, even perfect? No.
down. Be specific.
It’s called life and ‘stuff’ invariably
Your Better Week won’t happen
happens. But will it start to feel
perfectly and completely. But if you
can regularly achieve 70%, you will
Include everything from the glass of water you drink upon waking up, to coffee breaks, time for exercise, how you will spend transit time (listening to a podcast? Reading? Thinking?),
feel more content and in control.
TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR BETTER WEEK
when you would read your emails,
About the author Andrew May is a leading strategists on workplace performance and
Prioritise what is most important
wellbeing. He presents keynotes
you will spend time with friends or
to you. This might be family time,
around the globe and is the author of
family. Consider how and when you
or recovery time, or exercise – it
the newly released book, MatchFit.
would incorporate each of these
depends on your what you want
Andrew is coach and confidante
elements into your day: Specific time
to several Australia’s leading CEO’s
Stop reacting to other people’s
and executives, elite athletes and
demands and take control by
how you will wind down and how
to move; fuel; recharge; connect; think and play.
The process of writing down your
locking in the activities that are
ideal day gives you a framework and
most important to you. And
a vision. Think about your current
remember to plan some time
day (non-controlled chaos) and then
alone for yourself.
by Alan Manly
AUSSIE CASE STUDIES Business disasters come in all shapes, sizes and industries. There are many famous examples â€“ think Enron, Blockbuster Video and Dick Smith. Businesses can be vulnerable to disaster at any stage, but start-up and expansion phases are particularly risky.
hile the failure of a
The Lesson: Once the product is
The lesson: Naturally entrepreneurs
business is a disaster
launched the clock is ticking. If the
fall in love with their idea be it a
for those involved, it’s
customers have not accepted the
service or a product. The actual
a great learning opportunity for
new product then patiently waiting
product itself can become the
other entrepreneurs. Here are three
might be understandable but an
centre of attention. Stepping back
business disasters to avoid.
urgent revision of the assumptions
would reveal that an entrepreneur
behind the KPIs would be wise. Even
must always remember that it is the
successful entrepreneurs have learnt
business model that’s important and
to accept what the market says as
the business must pay its way.
1. STARBUCKS IN AUSTRALIA Despite being well established in the
United States, Starbucks’ expansion into Australia didn’t go so well.
2. PIE FACE All start-ups could do with a bit more
Aussies love their coffee, so surely the Seattle-based company would
Founded in 2003, Pie Face is a chain
money behind them. But imagine
be welcomed with open arms.
of pie and coffee retailers which
starting a business, effectively a
The decisionmakers at Starbucks
experienced rapid growth in Australia
start-up, with a whopping $3 billion
certainly thought so, with nearly 90
and overseas. Unfortunately,
in funding. That’s essentially what
Australian stores opened from 2000
mounting debts forced it into
Masters did, launching into the
to 2008. Gartner’s Thomas O’Connor
liquidation in 2014, resulting in
Australian market like a runaway train
put Starbucks’ Australian failure
the closure of most of its stores.
before its new board chair slammed
down to a rushed expansion.
Franchisees were overspending
the brakes on.
on rent to occupy CBD hotspots, “When they launched, they launched
putting extra financial pressure on
According to the Australian Financial
too rapidly and they didn’t give the
them to break even. The company
Review, the expansion was “strangled
Australian consumer the opportunity
owed money to its landlords. Pie
by a hard-headed new Woolworths
to really develop an appetite for the
Face is a lesson in what happens
board led by Scotsman Gordon
Starbucks brand,” O’Connor said.
when entrepreneurs turn a blind eye
Cairns, who simply couldn’t stomach
to cash flow problems and ignore
tipping any more funds into the
Masters hardware chain, after $3
They saw scaling as the panacea
billion-plus had leaked into the drains
for success – and being a global company with plenty of cash, they
Cash flow is something a business
outside its 63 stores across Australia.”
could afford to absorb the losses,
owner simply cannot ignore, and
which only kept them hurtling down
one of Australia’s most famous
Critics pointed to the Australian
the same disastrous route.
entrepreneurs is known for being
market being different to the US,
obsessive about it. As referenced in
and suggested Masters had stocked
Either Australian customers were too
the book Murdoch: The Making of a
too many products Australians didn’t
slow to realise what they needed in
Media Empire, Rupert Murdoch was
want to buy from hardware stores,
coffee (unlikely), or Starbucks should
“interested, above all, in cash flow”.
including washing machines and vacuum cleaners.
have launched fewer stores and listened to their customers before
While it may sound a little soulless,
scaling up. In 2008, Starbucks was
by taking a leaf out of Murdoch’s
Its early marketing and store designs
forced to close 70 per cent of its
book, you can avoid the humiliation
were deliberately aimed at women,
Australian locations. An avoidable
of a Pie Face-esque collapse.
alienating hordes of tradesmen
who stayed loyal customers at
Bunnings. Had Masters spent more time understanding what Australian consumers wanted from a home improvement store before investing billions, perhaps this disaster could have been avoided.
The lesson: Persistence can sometimes be confused with ego. Having committed to a business model, with everyone who knows you watching, can unwittingly lock you into a dismissive response to any pragmatic suggestion of a major rethink. Be bold and learn to listen. Not every business will end up like these but to avoid disaster, you’ve got to be smart and pragmatic. As American comedian WC Fields said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”
About the author Alan Manly is the CEO of Group Colleges Australia, one of Australia’s largest private education institutions and recently launched the private MBA school, the Universal Business School Sydney. From high school dropout to successful entrepreneur, Alan is a disrupter in the private education space. He is the author of two books, The Unlikely Entrepreneur and When There Are Too Many Lawyers There Is No Justice.
To find out more about Alan visit www.alanmanly.com.au
by Gihan Perera
AI IN YOUR WORKPLACE –
READY OR NOT
A few years ago, one of my friends told me he wanted his son to be a bricklayer because “at least that job can’t be outsourced to India or China”. But last year, Perth company Fastbrick Robotics announced the release of its one-armed robot bricklayer Hadrian X, which can build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, in half the time of a skilled brickie.
he robots are coming for some jobs. In Australia, the report “Australia’s Future Workforce” predicts
about 40% of jobs could be lost to robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the next 10-15 years. But there’s a positive side as well. According to technology analyst Gartner, AI might destroy 1.8
time for your people. At a more sophisticated level, AI can handle more complex tasks, such as reading and interpreting contracts and legal documents. This is already being used in industries such as law, banking, insurance, and mortgage broking to simplify these timeconsuming and repetitive tasks.
million jobs, but it will also create 2.3
AI can also help you attract, choose,
million new jobs, and many more in
and keep the best people. There
the long term.
have been some stories about AI
You don’t have to completely automate your operations with robotics and automation – that’s risky and costly. The biggest benefit comes from AI working with people, rather than replacing them. According to Dell, most leaders expect their employees and machines to work as “integrated
making controversial hiring and firing decisions, but it doesn’t have to be this intrusive. Deloitte reports one-third of HR teams globally are
meetings. Outsourcing this work to smart software frees up valuable
instantly providing intelligent advice about that customer to a sales assistant.
Most leaders expect AI to play an increasingly important role in the workplace, boosting productivity, efficiency, and safety. If you haven’t already started integrating AI, it’s not too late – but don’t wait too long!
can listen to sales calls in real time,
monitoring performance for early
and either offer immediate advice to
warning signs of potential problems.
the salesperson or suggest areas of
workplaces with sensors that
transcribing conversations in
as they walk into a retail store and
and development. For example, it
to AI assisting them in their work.
reminders, and recording and
software identifying a customer
assisting with reporting, and even
Things (IoT), can create “smart”
scheduling appointments, sending
world: Imagine facial-recognition
job advertising, filtering candidates,
most employees are looking forward
administrative tasks such as
model will also move to the physical
Finally, AI can assist with learning
AI, together with the Internet of
For example, AI can do simple
complex interactions. That online
using AI in their HR functions – in
teams”. And Adobe research says
Think “Humans and machines – better together.” Find ways for AI to simplify and automate boring and repetitive tasks, assist people to do their jobs better, and provide intelligent information to improve your decision making.
over control to a human for more
constantly monitor patterns of behaviour to create safer, more productive, and more effective work environments. CSIRO research suggests robotics and automation will reduce physical workplace injury by 11% by 2030.
improvement to their manager. It can also integrate with online learning tools to monitor progress and guide employees to improve their learning.
About the author Gihan Perera is a business futurist, speaker, and author who works with business leaders to help them lead and succeed in an uncertain but exciting future. He is the author of
In customer-facing operations,
“Disruption By Design: Leading the
you’re probably already familiar
change in a fast-changing world”
with online chatbots offering help
(RRP $33). For more about how
when you visit a Website. These sales
Gihan can work with your leaders
and customer service chatbots are
and teams, visit GihanPerera.com.
increasingly being powered by AI software, which engages customers in simple conversations, and hands
58 by Dr Amantha Imber
“I wish I had more meetings”, said no one, ever. The average executive spends 23 hours per week in meetings. Yet few obsess over how to reduce this time and ensure it is time well spent. With a bit of planning, some creativity, and quirkiness, some of the world’s most successful leaders have reduced time spent in meetings by over 50% and infinitely improved the time they do still spend in meetings. This is how they have done that.
THEY DON’T ACCEPT MEETINGS
WITHOUT A CLEAR AGENDA
THEY DO MEETINGS BACK-TOBACK TO AVOID DEAD TIME IN BETWEEN
At 1-800-GOT-JUNK, CEO Brian
To reinforce the structure, Hallas writes up one, three, one onto a whiteboard for all her meetings. “I do it to remind everyone how
Scudamore has a strict rule for
Meetings often litter calendars in a
to frame things. That’s also how I
any meeting that goes in his diary
scattergun pattern. But what impact
set out meeting agendas. It forces
called POA. POA stands for Purpose,
does this have on productivity?
the preparation and the thinking
Outcome, and Agenda.
Researchers from Ohio State
time before we actually get to the
“For every meeting, someone has
University found that when people
to communicate the purpose, the outcome, and a brief agenda,”
have a meeting coming up within an hour or two, the time in between is
Scudamore told to me on an
used much less productively.
interview on the How I Work
When people had a meeting coming
podcast. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a
up, they got 22% less work done in
ten-minute meeting or a one-hour
the time before the meeting started
meeting. If there’s no POA, it’s no-
compared to if they didn’t have a
Brian’s assistant ensures this rule
For Wharton Professor and best-
gets adhered to. His assistant asks
selling author Adam Grant, this
anyone that wants to meet with
research reinforced how he
Brian what their POA is. If they can’t
approached his own meeting
answer the question, the meeting
won’t go in the diary.
THEY NEVER DEFAULT TO 60-MINUTE MEETINGS
he took action. “I deleted every single meeting out of my calendar and it went with a note that said one of three options,” Price describes. “Option one was to reinvite me but tell me what my role and responsibilities are for the meeting. Option two was to still else in my team to do it. And option three is that the meeting probably
a little buffer of five minutes or so
meetings, making the average
long, but then I’d have another day
diary look like a game of Tetris.
with no meetings at all where I could
But for Scudamore, in addition
really focus and be productive. This
to the POA rule, being deliberate
research reinforced that for me.”
realised he was drowning in them. So
said Grant. “I learned that I needed
up on email or in case a meeting ran
a 45-minute meeting,” Scudamore
loathes meetings. And a year ago, he
hold the meeting but invite someone
with blocks of 30 and 60-minute
rather a 22-minute meeting than
Atlassian’s head of R&D, Dom Price,
office hours meetings back to back,”
The average leaders’ diary is filled
meeting will need is critical. “I’d
“On a teaching day, I’ll hold all my
between each meeting just to catch
about how much time any given
They try to avoid meetings where
THEY CREATE SIMPLE STRUCTURES FOR SUCCESS For Ella Bache CEO Pippa Hallas, having a structure for meetings is
As a result of deleting all meetings, many of them never returned. “I now have less meetings and the ones I have I find are really focused on something specific and I believe that my contribution in those meetings has now increased.” So rather than get frustrated over the flood of meetings in your calendar, take action to win back time in your diary or to actually ensure your
As such, Scudamore and his assistant
key to getting the most out of them.
never default to 30- or 60-minute
Whenever someone is presenting
meetings, and indeed, most of
in a meeting or a problem is being
About the author
Scudamore’s meetings are for an
discussed, she uses a framework
Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder
odd number of minutes. And where
of Inventium, Australia’s leading
“We ask for one problem, three
innovation consultancy and the host
options and one recommendation,”
of How I Work, a podcast about the
explains Hallas. “We’re forcing
habits and rituals of the world’s most
a POA can be resolved quickly, Scudamore is known for setting meetings that will last for less than ten minutes.
ourselves through a framework to have solution-based conversations.”
meetings are time well spent.
62 by Michelle Gibbings
LEVERAGE SKILLS FROM
As organisations grapple with more complex decisions and an ever-increasing pace of change, building a workforce equipped with the skills and experience to thrive in this environment is critical. Finding this depth and breadth of talent may require leaders to build a diverse workforce, which covers full spectrum diversity including, for example, age, ethnicity, gender, thinking styles, disabilities and sexual orientation.
his means leaders need to
However, when you strip away the
this has consequential impacts for
challenge their decision-
layers and get to the base level
drivers what the person is looking
SEEK OUT DIFFERENCE
for is someone who they feel comfortable with. That is, someone
It’s natural to want to work with
who they connect with because they
people you like and find easy to
can see aspects of themselves in that
work with, and consequently when
you are building a team or forming work groups you often seek out such people. This is either done consciously or subconsciously. In the case of recruitment, for example, search criteria often specifically reference the desire to find a candidate where there is cultural fit.
AVOID LIKEABILITY BIAS
Kellogg University found that getting hired for a job was not so much about the “soft or hard dimensions of the role”, but rather how similar the person being interviewed was to the person conducting the interview. It is very easy for leaders to want
It’s often suggested that one of
to hire people who are like them.
the key success criteria for a job
Similarity makes a person feel
interview is to ensure that the
comfortable. However, when
interviewee comes across as likeable.
you hire people like yourself, you
The premise being that the hiring
are filling the team or work group
manager has already positively
with people who have similar
assessed the applicant’s CV for the
backgrounds, experiences and
required technical skills because they
Cultural fit can mean different things
are being interviewed. Now, all the
to different people. Typically, if you
hiring manager is seeking to test is
ask people how they define cultural
whether they want to work with the
Homogeneity can negatively impact
fit they will give comments such as,
person or not.
how decisions are made. The more
This likeability isn’t just about being
Lives the organisation’s values
friendly and a nice person. It’s about
Can work well in the team
whether the hiring manager finds
Will fit in with the rest of the group
Understands the organisation’s objectives and buys into its vision.
similarities with the person they are interviewing. Research shows we like people who are like us in terms of interests, backgrounds and experiences, and
Diversity improves decision making
alike people are, the more likely they are to think along the same lines and therefore there is less room for debate, discernment and disagreement. Separate research from Kellogg University found that diverse teams make better decisions. That diversity is not just about gender or ethnicity,
it includes age, experience and
Successful sustainable organisations
of experience, background,
recognise the need for their
ethnicity, age and gender (and all
workforce to be is equipped with the
forms of diversity) when forming
capability and capacity to dig deeper
teams and work groups.
The diverse groups outperformed more homogeneous groups not because of an influx of new ideas, but because the diversity triggered more careful processing of the information that’s discussed. ‘Complex problem solving’ and ‘critical thinking’ are the top two competencies that the World Economic Forum identified in its Future of Jobs report. This involves challenge, exploration, suspending
into the mental models that drive their thought processes and be ready
spend more time with. Why?
Consequently, leaders need to
Because the source of tension
be prepared to challenge their
comes from their seeing the
assumptions and expectations when
world differently to you and
they are building their team. This
this challenge to your frame
of reference is good for your
varying degrees. •
thought processes; and
Acknowledging the potential for
with the cognitive capacity to look
often the person you need to
sources and environments.
bias, because we all have it to
of which is aided by having a diverse
Recognising that the person at work who really annoys you is
to acquire knowledge from multiple
judgement, and being equipped at problems in a different way. All
Actively seeking diversity
Inviting other people into the decision-making process who can shift and provide alternate perspectives
It starts with the leader understanding their own strengths
As part of this approach, it helps
and how they are best used at
for leaders to understand and then
work. The next step is to help team
leverage the strengths of their team.
Research conducted over the last 30
years shows that taking a strengthsbased approach leads to greater work satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. This is evidenced in Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s
About the author Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with leaders and
Appreciate the strengths they
teams to help them accelerate
bring to their role, and
progress. She is the Author of ‘Step
Recognise and value the strengths their colleagues bring to their role
Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’. For more information:
book, Strengths Based Leadership,
This is best done through a series of
where they detail how working with
team development activities, which
strengths helps leaders be more
help the team best understand and
leverage the individual and collective
Leaders play a crucial role in bringing strengths to life at work – for both themselves and their team members.
strengths of the team.
BUILD ON STRENGTHS
STEPS TO GREAT CULTURE & GETTING THE BEST FROM
Lazy, entitled, self-interested, unfocused, selfish, unmotivated, pampered, and narcissistic. These are just some of the words used to describe millennials. But who is doing the describing? Most of the time itâ€™s baby boomers who grew up in a different era, with different expectations, who donâ€™t understand this generation.
by Ross Judd
illennials see things differently. Where baby boomers were taught to follow
instruction without question, millennials question everything. Where baby boomers pride themselves on loyalty to a company, millennials pride themselves on mobility. There are other significant differences which Deloitte’s 2019 Global Millennial Survey uncovered. Millennials are more interested in travelling and seeing the world (57 percent) than owning a home (49 percent) and only 39 percent are interested in having children and starting families. Clearly the priorities of the generation called “baby boomers” have not been adopted by millennials.
ARE THEY THAT BAD? There are plenty of companies getting great results from millennials. Herald described as Australia’s
I can think of a few reasons why
greatest tech success story to date,
we landed on this list. It might be
are a great example. According
the 100% employer paid healthcare
to “Great Place to Work” 72% of
benefits (which is totally awesome),
Atlassian employees are millennials
or our foundation leave, which
and only 2% are baby boomers.
allows employees to take five paid
How could success of this magnitude be possible if 72% of their workforce consists of people that are lazy, selfish, entitled, and narcissistic? Are they able to recruit the exceptions to the rule? Is their industry so different and unique and their product so good that it wouldn’t matter who their employees were, they would be successful anyway? Atlassian employ over 3,600 people so they would have to be exceptional at weeding out the lazy, selfish,
will need to adjust to these changing
they were employing the exceptions
views because, according to Forbes,
to the rule. It’s also a “tech” company
millennials already make up over
that compete in a cluttered and
50% of the global workforce and will
see millennials and it raises two questions. First, are millennials really that bad or do they simply have different priorities and expectations to their leaders who are mostly baby boomers, and second how to get the best out of millennials?
Workplaces for millennials. It states: “As a millennial working at Atlassian,
entitled and narcissistic people if
a sobering thought for leaders that
them as one of the 100 Best
Atlassian, who the Sydney Morning
If they want to be successful leaders
make up over 75% by 2025. That’s
after “Great Place to Work” included
It’s far more likely that they naturally and instinctively know how to get the best out “millennials.” The two founders were born in 1979, so they are close to being millennials themselves. Is it possible they have a stronger affinity with the motivation and drive of millennials than baby boomers? A clue to the answer is found in a post from one of their employees
days each year to volunteer with an organization of our choice. It could be the open and collaborative offices with dogs and stocked fridges, or the regular social events put on by our experience team. But while the perks are great, what it really boils down to is our company values – these are what truly set us apart from other organisations.” That individual opinion is supported by the research. When asked why employees say it is a great place to work the three most popular answers were (1) Values, (2) Culture, (3) People, with values comfortably winning as the most popular answer. It seems that by consistently reinforcing values like transparency (open company, no “BS”), balance (build with heart and balance), customer focus (don’t #@!% the customer), teamwork (play, as a team), and positive impact (be the change you seek), the founders of Atlassian were able to tap into a different work ethic and elicit a different level of performance. Their company has grown so fast the
Sydney Morning Herald suggests
Millennials also place a high priority
that if it was listed on the ASX, rather
on quality relationships; memorable
than the Nasdaq, it would be among
experiences; their opportunities for
the top 20 most valuable companies
development and learning; and the
quality of their working environment.
It’s no coincidence the Atlassian
The key is to understand what motivates millennials. They are not driven by the same motivations, concerns, and instincts as baby boomers. Trying to manage them in the same way is a recipe for disaster. Millennials have a strong desire to make a positive impact in the world and prioritise this over profit. When asked by Deloitte, 76% agree with the sentiment that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering wider society, and 64% agree that businesses have no ambition beyond wanting to make money. Only 37% of millennials believe business leaders make a positive impact on the world. This all highlights a very different set of priorities to the baby boomers who have put profit before other concerns.
employee quoted above mentioned things like foundation leave (positive impact), open and collaborative offices (relationships), social events (memorable experiences), and company values (positive impact and working environment).
reason to engage in the program so it falls flat and creates a mediocrity that millennials can’t stand. Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends” research found that employees want a career, purpose, and meaning from their work, which means everything you do needs to be driven by purpose and meaning. This includes a culture program. That means throwing away the surveys, graphs, terms, data, and other
leadership is out, inclusive leadership
complications and engaging people
is in” so baby boomers that prioritise
in five simple conversations.
things like short term profit over long term impact, command and control structures, and hard work characterised by long hours will fail to get the best out of millennials who want quality relationships, opportunities to learn and develop, memorable experiences, and a great working environment.
THERE IS GOOD NEWS It’s a simple process to create a great working environment and improve the employee experience and align
research found that younger
with the priorities of millennials. It
generations speak with their wallets
can all be achieved by building a
in ways that seem different to
Millennials start and stop relationships with companies for very personal reasons, often related to a company’s positive or negative impact on society.
They also aren’t given a compelling
According to Forbes “authoritarian
As further evidence, Deloitte’s
as another change program.
Companies can create a great culture, that will engage millennials, improve the employee experience, and create a great place to work. Organisations don’t need expensive surveys and data, they just need to be willing to listen and engage in conversations with people in the following sequence.
STEP 1 – ALIGN WITH PURPOSE The best organisational cultures are aligned to a common purpose which creates connections, energy, and excitement that can’t be matched any other way. It’s an experience that creates an amazing culture,
Unfortunately, most companies
builds strong relationships, and
are missing the boat and trying to
improves the quality of the working
improve culture by using a “change
People are change fatigued and instinctively resist “culture change” because it comes across
As stated earlier, purpose and meaning are something people want from their work, so they will respond
positively to this conversation.
“that the answers to many of the
Now the company has a compelling
Instead of alienating them through
challenges we face in sustaining life
purpose it’s time to talk about
surveys and data you will engage
on our beautiful planet lie in making
culture. The simplest, and most
them in a topic they desperately
better use of space.”
effective approach is to engage with
want to understand.
Talk to people about why the
people in a conversation to define the culture that is needed to deliver
Unfortunately, too many leaders
company exists, what you want
have failed in this conversation and
to achieve, and what they want to
struggle to articulate purpose in
achieve. This is not a conversation
A great tip is to summarise the
a meaningful way. Baby boomers
about targets or KPIs, it’s a
conversation to one word, or two at
come from the mind-set that they
conversation about how you can all
the most. This is the best way to get
need to have all the answers and tell
contribute to making the world a
people talking about the culture you
people the purpose. That’s a mistake.
better place and making their lives a
want to build to deliver the purpose
Leaders need to listen, understand
of the organisation.
People want to know their work
Resist the urge to overcomplicate
their people, and align everyone to a common purpose.
has meaning so try to create a
things with a handful of values and
The key is alignment. Engage in
compelling statement that will
detailed explanations. They aren’t
conversations about the purpose of
motivate people at a deeper level.
needed at this stage. People can
the business and try to align with the priorities of your people. Atlassian aren’t pretending their software will change the world, they are engaging people in the idea the company can make a positive impact through simple things like foundation days, while also making money, while also improving the lives of the people that work in the company through strong values, opportunities, a great place to work, and a great culture. Richard Branson is brilliant at this. He gets great results from millennials because he always has a compelling reason for what they are doing. When Virgin was launched in Australia his catch cry was to “keep the air fair.” Virgin Galactic was launched to “give ordinary people the opportunity to go into space.” Now Virgin Galactic recognises
The objective is to create a compelling purpose for the whole company. Then every leader in the organisation needs to align their team, department, unit, or site by
only remember one or two things at a time so keep this as simple and engaging as you can. The objective is to identify a word that will stimulate a conversation.
discussing why they exist in the
Like the conversation about the
context of delivering the company
purpose, this conversation also
purpose. This is critical because it
needs to cascade throughout the
personalises the conversation for
organisation. Every leader will need
everyone. Don’t worry if they come
to talk to their team about the
up with a slightly different statement,
culture they need to support the
that’s OK. Alignment is more
company’s culture. Don’t worry if
important that uniformity.
they come up with a slightly different
This process cascades the discussion throughout the organisation in a personal and meaningful way for
word, alignment is more important than the whole company having one word.
everyone. It also aligns the whole
These two steps, aligning with
organisation to something more than
purpose and defining a target
culture, will engage people in a
STEP 2 - DEFINE A TARGET CULTURE
conversation they desperately want to have. Everyone, even the most jaded and cynical people in the
organisation, want to be part of a
removes the debate, confusion, and
great culture. These conversations
angst that come from statistics.
will start aligning people to that outcome.
STEP 4 - PLAN
MAKING IT WORK To make it work leaders need to be
The organisation is now aligned to a
accountable for culture and willing
common purpose with a clear target
to engage in conversations with
culture and an understanding of the
their people. For those that are baby
Now the company is clear on why
current culture. It’s time to assess
boomers this means a different
it exists and the culture it needs
the gap between target and current
style of leadership. They will need
to deliver that promise it’s time to
culture and plan the steps to bridge
to ask instead of tell; listen instead
assess the current culture. The most
of talk; facilitate instead of dictate;
STEP 3 – ASSESS CURRENT CULTURE
effective way to do this is through interviews and focus groups.
Don’t make the mistake of using a survey. They will alienate people, create confusion, and build cynicism because people are sceptical about statistics. Culture is not something that can be turned into a statistic. It’s a set of attitudes and behaviours that people adopt to fit in with the expectations of the people around them. So talk to people and find out what the attitudes, behaviours, and expectations are. The best advice is to use an independent third party for this step. Skilled assessors can follow
This can be an exciting and motivating conversation. A group of people working together to discuss how they will consciously move their culture from one state to a desired culture is a fantastic place to be.
STEP 5 - TRANSFORM
and guide conversations to reach a group decision instead of making all the decisions. It’s the new style of leadership that is needed to get the best out of the generation that in just a few short years will make up 75% of the workforce. If you are struggling to get the best
This is the simplest step of all.
out of millennials then it’s time to
Implement the plan and transform
start having conversations that will (1)
the business. This is the culmination
align with purpose, (2) define a target
of a process that will engage people
culture, (3) assess the current culture,
and transform the business. Culture,
(4&5) and plan a transformation.
employee experience, relationships, purpose, meaning, the working
About the author
environment, engagement, and
Ross Judd is a cultural engagement
motivation will all be improved
expert and founder of Team Focus
through this process and this can
International. Ross works with
lead to great business results.
leaders to engage their workforce
threads, read body language, and
MIT research has shown that just
notice things that are not being
improving the employee experience
said as easily as they notice what
can lead to great business results.
is being said. They will pick up
Their study found that enterprises
on the language, themes, and
with a top-quartile employee
unspoken cultural expectations in
experience achieve twice the
the organisation and present their
innovation, double the customer
findings in simple language that is
satisfaction, and 25 percent
easy to understand. Ultimately this
higher profits than organizations
will save your money because it
with a bottom quartile employee
in the creation of a fantastic culture that will deliver strong business outcomes. He is the Author of ‘Cultural Insanity (MHP $19.95). For more information visit www.teamfocus.com.au
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