Human Resources - Autumn 2021 (Vol 25: No 3) - Maintaining a positive culture in a disrupted world!

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New Zealand’s Magazine for Human Resources Professionals

Maintaining a positive culture in a disrupted world! PLUS: Investigating bullying Seven steps to change Understanding the essence of strategic leadership

Spring 2020

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Shaping the Profession

People Powered Success


Top of Mind Nick McKissack – HRNZ Chief Executive


HRNZ Member Profiles John Baillie and Kate Rengey


From the Editor Kathy Catton


Get Chartered


PD Programme


Student Perspective Cecilia Zhang


News Roundup

11 Coaching Fight or flight? – Mary Britton, Coaching Pacific 18

Maintaining a positive corporate culture Keeping the employee experience on target – Stephen Moore, Ceridian


Employment Law Update Investigating bullying – Chloe Luscombe and Jack Rainbow, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers


Learning and Development Going virtual – Angela Bingham, Open Polytechnic


Immigration Law Update Essential skills and border exceptions – Rachael Mason, Lane Neave

30 Insights LIC and Xero: Managing Culture – Kathy Catton 32

Health and Safety Health and Safety in the post-COVID workplace – Susan Rowe, Buddle Findlay Lawyers


Professional Development Spotlight Immunity to change model – Kris Cooper


Research Update Wellbeing research – Ashley Fell


Am I Managing? Natalie Barker

Features 6

Responding to change Navigating the future – Laurna Munro

14 What is strategic leadership? Understanding the essence of strategic leadership – Alicia McKay 24

Charity profile Corporate giving and volunteering – United Way


Recruit your way to a new culture? The rules of belonging – Fiona Robertson


What's the best response to COVID? Leadership perspectives – Debbie Dawson

44 Managing a career through change How to stay on track with your career – Dr Christian Yao





Top of mind... Nick McKissack is Chief Executive of HRNZ. Nick is passionate about people development and sharing the success of members and organisations leading the HR profession in New Zealand.


henever I think about the future of the HR profession, my mind automatically turns to the people who are entering the profession today. After all, these are the people who will hold senior HR roles in the future and will, therefore, shape the practice of HRM in New Zealand workplaces in the years to come.

commit to a Code of Practice for HR and their ongoing professional development. For employers, this will provide an assurance that, when recruiting new HR professionals into their team, they are hiring those who have made a commitment to ethical standards and to applying best practice in their organisation.

HRM has evolved over the years. Back when I started, HR people tended to enter the profession from many different angles. It often wasn’t necessarily a deliberate career choice. My journey started with volunteering for a project to implement a new HRMIS into a national organisation. Little did I know where that would take me. Times have changed, and now we more typically see people choosing the study of HRM and consciously making this their career path. This is a really positive change that shows the increasing professionalism of HR that lies at the heart of HRNZ’s vision.

This is an exciting step for HRNZ, and it’s one we hope will also encourage new HR professionals to start early on a pathway to becoming Chartered Members in the future.

It is for this reason that HRNZ has introduced a new accreditation standard for those starting their career journey within HR. The Emerging Professional Member accreditation will support these people by acknowledging the completion of their foundational education and training and their early development and application of HRM competencies. The accreditation also encourages young professionals to




In addition to a new accreditation standard, HRNZ is working on a research project to identify how the skills and attributes expected of Emerging Professionals are changing. We’re engaging with senior HR leaders from various sectors to find out what is most important to them when recruiting new team members into HR and how they see this changing in the future. We’ll use this information to ensure we’re providing our members with the kind of professional development support that prepares them for the future. Of course, none of us has a crystal ball and so predicting the future with any degree of certainty is not possible. The most crucial goal, in the end, is to support our members in the HR community to embrace the notion of HR as a profession and encourage others to do the

same. For those getting started in HR roles today, having access to a professional network is essential for future success. In many ways, the most significant contribution we can all make to shaping the HR profession for the future is to set the next generation on this professional journey, including adopting professional accreditation with pride. If we ensure that those who are to become future HR leaders are committed to ongoing professional development and a principle of lifelong learning, we can feel confident that the HR profession will evolve and grow as the world around them changes. We’ve been extremely pleased with the early messages of support and enthusiasm that we’ve received about our new Emerging Professional Member HR accreditation. We look forward to releasing a whole new range of resources and opportunities to support those who will take up the mantle of leading the HR profession into the future.

Nick McKissack Chief Executive HRNZ

MANAGING EDITOR Kathy Catton Ph: 021 0650 959 Email:

From the editor T

here’s no denying that 2020 is proving to be a year of disruption. COVID-19 has cast a shadow of doubt, worry and anxiety across the global business economy and, for many, our personal lives, too. While the virus has changed our lens on reality, it has also opened up different perspectives on how we work with people. This issue of Human Resources magazine shines a light on some of these perspectives: what it means for our workplace and what role HR can play. As we know, HR is best placed to mobilise people to lead their businesses through both current and future demands. The key to success will be instilling a sense of co-ownership and responsibility in all staff for the long-term welfare of their business – something that is, of course, easier said than done. It’s got to start with honesty, compassion and comradery. Part of being compassionate is understanding what needs to be done. Alicia McKay explores the topic of strategic leadership and how we can cut through the jargon to understand the big picture and know what to do to make it a reality.

have managed this sense of balance between empathising with the stress and pressure while keeping the overall mood in the organisation positive and optimistic. In amongst our regular employment law, immigration law, student perspective and HRNZ member profile features, we are proud to have guest writer Laurna Munro share practical steps on responding to the disruption and maintaining a positive culture. The challenging circumstances of the past few months have certainly led me to view the world with more compassion and kindness, and every day I am grateful for living in New Zealand. I’m sure many of you will agree. We hope you enjoy this online issue, and I look forward to receiving your feedback.

ADVERTISING & SPONSORSHIP Steve Sheppard Ph: 027 863 1246 Email: DESIGN Selena Henry, Crux Design Ph: 022 417 6622 PROOFREADER Jenny Heine Email: SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES Email:

PUBLISHER Human Resources is published quarterly by Human Resources New Zealand PO Box 11-450, Wellington Ph: 0800 247 469 The views expressed in Human Resources are not necessarily those of Human Resources New Zealand, nor does the advertisement of any product or service in this magazine imply endorsement of it by Human Resources New Zealand. Copyright © Human Resources New Zealand Inc. Vol 25 No: 3

Kathy Catton Managing Editor

ISSN 1173–7522

There is also the question of maintaining empathy and keeping energy levels as high as possible. In our Insights feature this month, we look at how the Livestock Improvement Corporation and Xero





Female-dominated industries supported by law change


arliament has passed the Equal Pay Amendment Bill, which lays out a new process to raise and consider claims of systemic sex-based pay discrimination across femaledominated industries. The law change, which will take effect as of early November 2020, will allow workers to make a pay equity claim using a process based on New Zealand’s existing bargaining

framework. The collaborative process, which makes court action a last resort, will lower the bar for workers initiating a pay equity claim. Employment New Zealand will be developing online tools and resources, with the support of its pay equity partners the Ministry for Women and the State Services Commission.

Pay equity differs from equal pay, which is about men and women getting the same pay for doing the same job. Pay equity is about women and men receiving the same pay for doing jobs that are different but of equal value (that is, jobs that require similar degrees of skills, responsibility, effort, experience and conditions).

Emerging Professional Member accreditation launched


RNZ has recently launched a new Emerging Professional Member accreditation. Designed for those early career HR professionals, HRNZ’s Emerging Professional Member accreditation is a signal to employers and colleagues that those new to HR are committed to pursuing a career in human resources. The eligibility requirements for the accreditation include evidence of education and training in at least six of the HR delivery competencies, at least 18 months in an HR role, and the completion of the HRNZ Code of Practice module. HRNZ believes that providing this new accreditation level will encourage members to commit to continued professional development throughout their careers, and for new members, it starts them on a 4



pathway to becoming a Chartered Member of HRNZ. “In addition to the new accreditation standard, HRNZ is also working on a research project to identify how the skills and attributes expected of Emerging Professionals are changing,” says Nick McKissack, Chief Executive at HRNZ. “We’re engaging with senior HR leaders from a variety of sectors to find out what is most important to them when recruiting new team members into HR and how they see this changing in the future. We’ll use this information to ensure we’re providing our members with

the kind of professional development support that prepares them for the future.”

Tackling temporary migrant worker exploitation


$50 million government investment over the next four years will address temporary migrant worker exploitation in the New Zealand workplace. The investment will facilitate changes to reduce the risk of exploitation occurring in the workplace and remove barriers to reporting exploitation, along with improving response systems for helping migrant workers. Specific initiatives include establishing a new visa to support migrants to leave exploitative work situations and increasing the number of labour inspectors and immigration

investigators, to strengthen the enforcement response. In addition, a free-phone number and reporting service will be set up to receive and handle complaints about exploitative work situations. This is hoped to build a better understanding of the nature and scale of the problem, which will inform enforcement action. These changes are part of a review led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment into temporary migrant worker exploitation. The review aims to prevent migrant exploitation at work, protect migrants in the workplace, and enforce immigration and employment law.

“It’s great to see these initiatives being introduced to encourage migrant workers in exploitive situations to speak out”, says Rachael Mason, immigration lawyer at Lane Neave. “These people are extremely vulnerable and their employers wield such power over them it can often keep them locked into awful situations for years. These measures will also help level the playing field for the majority of New Zealand employers who have been doing the right thing but being undercut in the market by the few rogue operators exploiting their own staff in order to make more money.”

Banking industry first to be living wage accredited


anking has become New Zealand’s first fully living wage accredited industry, leading to nearly 1,800 employees and contractors moving onto the living wage. New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA) Chief Executive Roger Beaumont supports the move, stating: “As one of the largest industries in the country, we are showing leadership by committing to paying the living wage. I encourage all industries to,

where possible, pay the living wage to their employees and contractors”. NZBA research shows that almost 80 per cent of New Zealanders think the banking industry paying the living wage is a good idea and that it is important. Banks employ more than 25,000 people in New Zealand and, last year, the five major banks paid $2.7 billion to employees nationwide. “This is the first time we have had a whole sector showing leadership around a living wage and that is

really something to celebrate,” says Annie Newman, Living Wage National Convenor. The living wage is currently $21.15 per hour and will increase to $22.10 per hour on 1 September 2020. It is set by an independent group, the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit, based on the assessed needs of a family of two adults (one working 40 hours per week and one working 20 hours per week) and two children.





Ready, steady, GO! A disruptive world brings fast-paced change. Laurna Munro, business performance facilitator, explores disruption types, the effects on the labour force and workplace culture. She offers steps that organisations can take to respond to our disrupted world.

intensifying, the gap between those embracing change and those falling behind is growing, and we are moving toward a more inclusive society. The briefing highlights that, although we are facing intense competitive and societal challenges, the opportunity is also there to create value.


The speed and scale of disruption are affecting labour force availability. The statistics below highlight what we can expect to see with regard to access to talent.

f you don’t take the time to understand what the disrupted world is doing to your organisation and your employees, your culture and the brand you have built could erode, which means you are putting the future of your organisation at risk of becoming irrelevant. Disruption is here, and it is intensifying.

Disruption exists beyond technology

The types of disruptions that are affecting organisations include shifts in economic activity, globalisation, our response to COVID-19, and the acceleration of activity through technology, data and demographic changes. A briefing note prepared by the McKinsey Global Institute for the World Economic Forum in January 2019 notes that disruption is 6



The speed and scale of disruption are affecting the New Zealand labour force

• Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report: 11 per cent of organisations believe the whole workforce will need to change its skills and capabilities in the next three years, and less than 5 per cent of New Zealand organisations surveyed are confident they know what the skills of the future are going to be. • Mercer’s thriving in the age of disruption: estimates 35 per cent of skills used today won’t be relevant in three years. It identifies trust, transparency, inclusiveness, connectedness and approachability as the key

evaluative characteristics of a thriving workplace. • National Labour force projections: the labour force will age, and this is reflected in a rising median age and an increasing proportion of the labour force being in the older generations. • The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s medium to long-term employment outlook forecast: as we move towards 2026, employment growth will be most substantial for highly skilled occupations (27,400 average annual increase) and weakest for lower-skilled occupations (14,000 annually).

Disruption will affect employees and organisations Because the age composition of employees is changing, and our employees are living through these disruptions, their points of concern are changing. Employees are worried about financial security, their value, how they will get the new skill(s) they need, and their ability to keep working in the face of any illness or disability issues that occur as they age. For example, Statistics New Zealand calculated that a disabled person is three times less

likely to be in work, the Ministry of Health identified that 24 per cent of New Zealanders are disabled and more than 60 per cent of disabled adults aged 45 years and over have multiple impairments.

Disruption is intensifying, the gap between those embracing change and those falling behind is growing, and we are moving toward a more inclusive society. Disruption plays havoc with workplaces and the personal lives of employees. The changes that

come with disruption also bring waves of excitement, uncertainty, noise and stress. We have become more productive in some areas of life and blinded by distraction in others, connected with more people but often feel disconnected. We are empowered with knowledge that we don’t feel empowered to act on, and, as Hans Rosling says in his book Factfulness, “our instincts distort our perspective of the world and prevent us from seeing how it actually is”. In short, most of us are poorly equipped to navigate a disrupted world, but we can take action to help equip our employees and organisation to do so.

Taking action

You can work with your leadership team to define who is responsible and accountable for enabling the following seven actions to help navigate the effects of disruption on your organisation. 1. Monitor and evaluate the characteristic of the positive culture you want to maintain. 2. Help your leadership and management teams to become informed about the implications of disruption on your organisation’s future through the testing of assumptions and seeking perspectives on the resilience of your product or service offering.





3. Plan and communicate your organisation’s approach to disruption implications using a transparent approach. Your organisation might be planning to thrive, survive, accommodate, specialise, recover or gracefully exit. Whatever the organisational approach is, be purposeful and clear in communicating it. This will provide important decisionmaking context, for example, planning how to identify and secure business-critical talent. 4. Provide support to help managers understand what the leadership direction means for their area of responsibility. Re-imagining what a workforce will need to be to enable a new direction is often difficult to do when you are an insider. 5. Create and refine an exceptional employee experience, for example, ensure equality is an essential element of providing opportunities, improving your environment, processes and policies. This will help address the concerns of any misrepresented demographic groups in your 8



organisation and improve your talent pool. 6. Empower employees (within their circle of influence) to be involved in your organisation’s approach to thrive, survive, accommodate, specialise, recover or gracefully exit. For example, managers could be empowered to identify the disruption concerns employees have, then identify what capabilities, skills and tasks relate to these and address (or raise) those concerns. 7. Re-focus wellness programmes to equip employees to navigate, respond and adapt to a disrupted world and your organisation’s chosen approach. When employees lead healthy lives, feel confident about their financial future and bring their perspective, passion and creativity to work, organisations benefit through improved productivity, resilience, staff retention and reduced absenteeism. If you approach each of these steps with an expectation of maintaining and building trust, transparency,

inclusiveness, connectedness and approachability, you will equip your employees to thrive through disruption, keep your positive culture and help your organisation to navigate into its future state.

Less than 5 per cent of New Zealand organisations surveyed are confident they know what the skills of the future are going to be.

Laurna Munro is an experienced facilitator who is passionate about enabling high performance workplaces. She has a background as an inclusion and diversity programme manager, organisational development advisor, senior ICT business analyst and career mentor. Laurna is an advocate for evidence-based change and, where the evidence is not apparent, encourages innovation through human centred design practices.

People powered success

Serious about your future in HR? Apply for HRNZ's new Emerging Professional Member accreditation to demonstrate your commitment to becoming a leading HR professional.





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Understanding my emotional response At a time in our history when we need to be open to new ways to move forward and to thrive, we are frequently stressed by our emotional reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread. Mary Britton, Coach and Co-Director at Coaching Pacific, explores how our emotional response can help us to thrive.


very interaction we experience has a response or reaction inside your brain or mine. It’s either a stress reaction, pushing us into automatic fight or flight (the famous amygdala hijack) or a resourced response, which allows us to learn new things, think new thoughts and innovate. The stress response, left to run uninterrupted, will have detrimental mental and physical effects. Repeated often enough, these responses can build to high stress, anxiety and even clinical depression. So how can we move to more often choosing the resourced response?

Let’s consider resilience

Resilience is our ability to bounce back, to make use of the data we get from every event in life, and to build this data into a worldview that allows us to learn and innovate. Let’s consider the following seven learnable competencies that will support us in consistently choosing the resourced response, instead of the stress reaction.

A real-life example

HIJACKED! Carl is due on an important Zoom call for work but gets delayed when his eight-yearold, Amelia, takes time to settle to her virtual school day at home. After sorting things out, he is 15 minutes late joining the meeting.


Emotion regulation: identify and manage feelings.


Impulse control: tolerate ambiguity. Sit and think.

1. Complete a self-assessment and action plan for those learnable resilience competencies.


Causal analysis: look from many angles and reframe.

2. Create a list of positive truths about yourself and your life.


Self-efficacy: I can solve problems.


Realistic optimism.

3. Notice when your thoughts are taking you in a fearful, stressed direction and reframe them to support your learning and build new ideas.

6. Empathy: building relationships and social support. 7.

Reaching out: willing to try and to understanding failure is part of life.

Hijacked to the fear reaction, Carl experiences nausea and stomach cramps from the stress; triggering some thoughts. "I am always late. If I keep messing up, I will lose my job.” Without pausing to consider whether his thoughts are true, Carl takes unhelpful actions. Feeling he needs to impress the team leader, he interrupts several of his colleagues and claims sole-credit for a jointly created project. RESOURCED! Leveraging his resilience competencies, Carl could have thought, “I am a little worried, but my colleagues will manage well until I arrive. Amelia and I can learn to create a better start to our day for next time. I am grateful my team leader is understanding about family.” Carl joins the meeting and plays his part in supporting the co-created project and appreciates his teammates and his team leader for their patience with his lateness.

Top five actions to thrive

4. Take five minutes every night before you sleep to note three things you feel gratitude for. 5. Choose a news diet that serves you well. Choose your sources for accuracy, and ration your access in support of a good habit.

Understanding your self

As humans, we are wired to react and pay more attention to fear-inducing, ‘dangerous’ stuff. Developing new habits that take us more often into a resourced state and allow us to innovate and learn will move us more rapidly to a thriving future. I am always happy to hear how you are doing with these ideas. For references, click here. Mary Britton is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Professional Certified Coach and member of EMCC and HRNZ. Co-founder and Co-Director of Coaching Pacific, Mary trained for RCS (now NLG) before working with Linley Rose, Master Certified Coach, to develop the Executive and Organisational Coaching Certificate, which takes coach training to a new level. Mary speaks at global coaching and leadership conferences. Mary is a qualified coaching supervisor, member of the Association of Coaching Supervisors, has a BA (Massey), and a Diploma in Te Reo Māori. Mary is currently co-creating 2020TRANSFORM, a virtual summit for ICF Australasia and is Immediate past Head of Coaching Excellence. SPRING 2020




John Baillie also very data driven. It is too easy to make assumptions about customers' behaviour – particularly when you are in a very digital world. Equally, as you change the way customers engage with you, that too changes the way you need to interact with them.

John Baillie runs his own HR consultancy. John is Chair of the HRNZ Board. Human Resources magazine caught up with him to gain an insight into his world.

1. What do you do in your current role to help your organisation be successful? I am lucky enough to run my own business. I help other organisations with the people and technical sides of digital transformations. I have recently finished a large programme with Education Payroll (EPL), which is responsible for paying around 94,000 teachers and support staff in approximately 2,500 schools every fortnight – a $5.2 billion payroll. They are in the process of releasing a replacement to Novopay, called EdPay, and it’s an exciting programme. Writing software, particularly with large legacy systems is extremely complicated. However, no matter how good a job the development teams do – and they have done a fantastic job – if we can’t engage schools, customers and the sector, then millions of dollars will have been wasted. The great news is we have released the online payroll service to all schools in New Zealand and we have 99 per cent uptake with no noise – in fact we’ve had rave reviews. For me it is really important to understand what is important to their customers. Once you understand that, you strive for alignment. You constantly bring the customers' voice back into the conversation. I am 12



Having live, qualitative (go talk to them) and digital (how are they behaving in your product) feedback loops is essential. I believe exactly that same thinking applies in HR. Understand your customers – internally and externally. Then strive for alignment. 2. What attracted you to pursue a career in HR? I actually started off working in computer science, but I soon realised that people were much more interesting. HR gives you the ability to transform an organisation – not many roles can give you that. It’s enriching to see the difference that we can make to our organisations. 3. What motivated you to apply for the role of HRNZ Board Member? I feel it is important to support HRNZ, because they are professionalising the industry, challenging HR professionals and people leaders to constantly strive for better outcomes for all New Zealanders. I had worked at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in London and was on the Western Australia State Australian Human Resources Institute committee. Both roles were a great privilege to carry out. I suppose I have always seen the importance of giving back to my profession. 4. What has been a highlight in your career to date? Although it was a few years go now, working at the CIPD in London was an amazing experience. I got to speak at conferences, write articles and work closely with leading HR practitioners and academics worldwide. I really valued the cutting-edge research that was happening and the value the

Institute placed on its people. It was an amazing ride. 5. What do you most value about HRNZ membership? The people I meet and the stories I hear about the difference that HR professionals are making for their organisations and for New Zealand. It’s very heart-warming and gives me great hope for the future of human resources. I particularly love going to the awards dinner each year – it is so inspiring to see the upcoming talent and the dedication that people have for their profession. 6. What’s something that not many people know about you? I was an RNZAF Officer, as a psychologist. For an absolute aviation geek, it was a fantastic experience. In my role, I was working with aircrew, selection panels and conducting research. 7. If you could have dinner with three people living or dead, who would they be and why? My mother’s parents – she is an inspiration to me, and I would love to meet the people who raised her. My wife’s father – for the same reason – he sounds like he was such an amazing man who lived through really challenging times in Germany post-war. Finally, if I am allowed, Amelia Earhart. What an incredible aviator and woman who challenged massive stereotypes. 8. What’s your happy place Fly fishing on Paradise Stream at the head of Lake Wakatipu. The most peaceful and beautiful place in the world.

Kate Rengey got an excellent opportunity to build stronger connections within the HR community here in New Zealand. I’ve seen it done well in other parts of the world and feel our HRNZ Auckland Branch has the talent to do it even better. I wanted to be a part of that and what better way than becoming the Branch President!

Kate Rengey is currently the People and Development Director for OMD New Zealand, a global media agency with three offices in New Zealand. She is also the Branch President of the HRNZ Auckland Committee. Human Resources magazine caught up with her to gain an insight into her world.

1. What do you do in your current role to help your organisation be successful? In my role as People and Development Director at OMD, my main focus has always been on our people: developing relationships, listening to how people are feeling and really understanding them. If I can keep our workforce happy, engaged, and empower them to grow and develop in their careers, then I know I’m contributing towards the success of OMD. 2. What attracted you to pursue a career in HR? I’m a people person! In high school, I remember my brother encouraging me to do a double degree to open up different types of opportunities. I studied Business and Health Science and then fell into a recruitment consultant role. I just loved working with people and supporting them to develop in their careers. 3. What motivated you to become Branch President for Auckland? We’re living in a fascinating world at the moment, and I feel that we’ve

4. What has been a highlight in your career to date? Our team at OMD was a finalist in the ‘Workforce Experience Programme of the Year Award’ with HRNZ in 2019. The agency had been on such an incredible journey, and so the focus was our people; how we could empower them to take control of, belong to, and develop themselves within a new work experience. It was a true ‘People-First’ initiative. When we shared the good news with the agency, there was a real sense of pride across the team. It was awesome. 5. What do you most value about HRNZ membership? I’ve always felt inspired attending our HRNZ Summits. I remember the one in Queenstown last year was terrific, and our Virtual Summit this year had such a great line up. To listen to the experiences of HR professionals at the top of their game is really valuable. I’m also interested in ‘HR Chats with Te Radar’ – it’s such a great new initiative to hear from leading HR professionals and learn more about different trends and ideas.

an impact on us, we decided to start a charity called ‘Friends of Korogwe’ and helped raised money for them over the years that followed. 7. If you could have dinner with three people living or dead, who would they be and why? First would be, Arnold Schwarzenegger! His determination is unbelievable, and I love a good action movie! Winning the Mr Universe title at 20 and going on to win Mr Olympia seven times, he’s also starred in close to 60 films and once became the Governor of California, how could I resist. Second, my grandmother Oma. She was Austrian, so we’d sit around the table enjoying her famous schnitzels and Arnie would love them too. Third, Michael Jordan – his recent documentary was fascinating, I admire his skill and determination. 8. What’s your happy place? Mount Maunganui! Climbing the mountain, enjoying the view and watching the world go by, it brings about a real sense of calm. It’s definitely my happy place.

6. What’s something that not many people know about you? I lived in London for a couple of years when I was 23, and then travelled through Africa on my way home. My friend Sheree and I spent about two months in Tanzania volunteering for the Korogwe Youth Centre, and it was just phenomenal. Living with a host family, we learnt some of the local language and were teaching English to orphaned children in the community. Playing sport during lunch, singing songs and connecting with the kids was an amazing experience. It had such SPRING 2020




What exactly is strategic leadership? It’s fair to say that, for some, the topic of leadership has become cliché and jargon. Alicia McKay seeks to cut through the gibberish and focus our attention on what really matters when it comes to leading our people.


eadership is a lot more than managing people or saying the right things. A favourite recent definition (amongst the smorgasbord of definitions out there) comes from Dr Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director-General of Health. “Leadership is an invitation to collective action.” – Dr Ashley Bloomfield In just seven words, Bloomfield sums up the essence of leadership: that it’s about more than you; that it’s about action; that it’s an invitation – because people have a choice. When I work with people, we define it like this: A leader is someone who makes good sh*t happen. This definition strips leadership of title, status and platitude. You don’t need to be a chief executive, run a large team, or head up a country 14



to be a leader. You don’t need to have a large following or a senior position either. You don’t need to know everything. In fact, you’ll find it easier to learn if you’re aware that you don’t.

more toward the operational and management end of the spectrum, and were more ‘plot’ driven. They tended to be short-term, and focus on incentives, performance, projects and delivery.

What you need is to care about doing worthwhile things – and do them.

A third and lesser-known fiction format is the ‘arena-driven story’. Here, the emphasis is more on context. In arena-driven stories, the environment is a critical antagonist for the main character. In stories like Castaway, Gilligan’s Island and Lost, the main character has to survive a challenging environment, which drives individual choices and overall results.

Strategic leadership: step into the arena

In fiction, writers often talk about the difference between character-driven and plot-driven stories. In characterdriven writing, the focus is on the inner conflict of the people in the story – who they are, what they think, what decisions they make and how they evolve.

It is in the arena that we find strategic leadership.

In plot-driven stories, the emphasis is on action and external conflict, where we follow the twists and turns of an outcome.

In a changing environment, our challenges are less about personality or projects, and more about context.

Much of today’s leadership theory is character-driven. They describe the kind of traits you need – assertive, confident, empathetic, and so on. Leaders undergo extensive profiling and testing so they can sum up their personality and style as a snappy acronym.

The Oxford Dictionary defines an arena as “a place or scene of activity, debate or conflict”.

Less popular now are transactional approaches to leadership. Popular in the 80s and 90s, these leaned

What is an arena?

Arenas represent places where decisions are made, where something is at stake, and where there are both constraints and aids. The arena is about more than a physical location or an institutional construct. It’s about the spaces – ideological, relational and tangible – where important ideas

are up for debate. In today’s shifting environment, assume those spaces are everywhere, and that everything is up for debate. In the arena, there is no right answer – just the best response at the time. When we’re making big decisions that really matter, we always face multiple objectives and competing values. This means we need to be making trade-offs constantly because pursuing one thing can make achieving another more difficult. Strategic leaders don’t resist trade-offs, they seek satisfying and intentional choices between the short and long term, internal and external progress, performance, people and politics. This isn’t a sign of things being wrong or harder – it’s a leadership reality. Strategic leaders enter the arena. They understand that they exist within context, culture, time and audience. They focus their energy on adapting to change, competition, debate and conflict. They focus on grappling with paradox, challenge and uncertainty and on responding to their shifting environment, mobilising their supporters and stepping towards a bigger vision.

The case for change

The world is messy and changing.

Leading through change hinges on our capacity to change the way we think, adapt and lead through the mess. The future of our organisations, economies and societies hangs in the balance. We exist in and rise to our context. Like the nature versus nurture debate, while we have a natural inclination toward a certain behaviour, our leadership ability is not predetermined. Our leadership has everything to do with the opportunities we’ve had to develop it and the experiences that preceded it. Let’s be clear: action is important. Decisive, determined action is an essential part of any hero’s journey. But it isn’t enough. Without purpose, our action is nothing but a busy distraction from our own feelings of being overwhelmed. With purpose, we get focused action that creates real, meaningful impact. The classic leadership arc goes like this: • we teach people to be technically proficient • we train them to manage people • we profile their personalities and hope this leads to self-awareness. What we don’t teach are the skills we assume to be intuitive or

hardwired. Things like managing change, making good decisions, exercising judgement and being creative are left to chance, despite our acknowledgement that those skills are the most in-demand for our future leaders. The 2015 New Zealand LDC report recognises that: “While our leaders have the cognitive grunt required to think through the complex issues and determine the most viable path for them and their organisation, they aren’t quite as skilled in the capabilities that are needed to persuade or inspire others to follow.” This is a global issue. According to Forbes, “statistics show that fewer than 10 per cent of leaders exhibit strategic skills” (2017). Our leaders are not equipped with what they need to set direction, solve problems and drive performance. Because of this, our teams and organisations are left floundering, but overwhelmed, lacking confidence and wasting time and effort. Wellintentioned leaders operate well below their paygrade, spinning their wheels and eroding the confidence and autonomy of their teams, customers and communities.




Unless we change how we think about leadership and equip our leaders for reality, our results are unlikely to improve. Strategy implementation will continue to fail, performance and results will continue to drop off, and the leaders we invest in today will lose currency and relevance.

Beyond crisis

Strategic leadership is about your capacity to handle the unpredictable and thrive anyway. Whether you’re responding in a crisis or adapting to emerging shifts, the skills are the same just in different helpings. The key is in recognising the need for change – in our environment and in ourselves. The COVID-19 response has been interesting. When I talk about leading through change, I’m not talking about crisis. Overall, we’re pretty good in a crisis. Hero mode kicks in, and we step up with adrenaline, decisiveness and focus. The challenge is about bringing those skills into the everyday. Responding to shifts in technology, society, teams and the economy ask's that we make change leadership an everyday event, rather than an emergency tactic. In a crisis, we have a clear mandate. A burning platform for change makes it easier to mobilise people and resources and provides permission to experiment and make system changes. In emerging change environments, though, things tend to move more slowly, which can make it harder to get people on board.

Unlocking strategic leadership

There is no magic bullet but there are key areas you can strengthen to unlock your strategic leadership. The trick is knowing what skills to build on and when to use them. Who you are is about so much more than what you do it’s about how you think, what you see and how you act. Unlocking your potential for strategic leadership is about using the master




key – flexibility – to deploy the right combination at the right time. Tomorrow’s leaders: • know how to make good decisions about now and the future • manage their teams and organisations from a systems perspective • drive meaningful strategic performance • are intentional about their influence of themselves and their ideas.


The adaptive arena: responding to change At its core, good leadership is about more than getting good sh*t done in spite of your environment – it’s about getting good shit done because of your environment. And the more senior you are, the more complex and challenging that environment is likely to be. Flexibility is the ability to bend without breaking. It requires awareness, agency and resilience. You can build your flexibility, by focusing on: • context (what you see) – becoming attuned to shifts in your environment and maintaining a clear sense of perspective • character (who you are) – developing strong self-awareness and understanding of your purpose, values and defaults • choice (what you do) – being intentional about the way you show up, developing good habits and responding appropriately in any situation • capacity (what you know)– actively seeking opportunities for learning, growth and failure.


The strategic arena: setting future direction Tomorrow’s leaders think critically, make sense of context and know how to make choices to align and inspire their teams. Strategic leadership is

not about what we think but how. We can’t outsource our thinking if we want to understand the past, guide the present and plan for the future. When we make good decisions, we do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time, with the right people, with the right attitude. You can make better decisions, by: • framing: setting a clear frame to best understand the problem you are solving and the information you need • collaborating: creating a safe and productive space for decision making that captures ideas, generates and ideas and options and reaches conclusions • acting: taking deliberate action that turns your ideas into reality.


The organisational arena: creating powerful environments When we neglect our environment, relationships and dependencies, we build siloed teams and organisations that are less than the sum of their parts. Successful leaders see the big picture and focus on how things fit together. They think in systems and create an environment to support their most important goals. You need to: • diagnose your environment, by uncovering defaults, asking better questions, understanding impacts and challenging assumptions • design powerful systems using precision, alignment, collaboration and visualisation • delegate to your systems, to reduce risk and build sustainability into your life and team by leading, resourcing and implementing systems change.


The operational arena: delivering results When you master the ability to convert your thinking to reality and manage performance well, you unleash the ability to make a real difference.

Performance is all about results, the product of clarity, coherence and commitment. You should understand the four driving forces of genuine performance: • planning – being clear on what 'the right thing' is and using that to define short- and medium-term indicators of success • priorities – eliminating distraction and wasted energy in order to focus on the most important work • quality – developing nonnegotiable 'bottom lines' that set the standard for delivery based on key risks, values and customer needs • accountability – establishing the mechanisms to manage and track results and acting quickly to remedy errors.


The engagement arena: leveraging your impact Good ideas don’t stand on their own. Political savvy isn’t slimy, it’s

a non-negotiable skill for strategic leaders who want to have impact at scale. When we equate influence with charm and charisma, we prevent people from genuinely connecting with our ideas. Strategic leaders know how to: • anticipate – show respect by understanding what you need from others and what they need from you. • mitigate – show empathy by identifying the needs, fears and desires of your disengaged stakeholders • communicate – show authenticity by communicating in ways that truly reach people. • engage – show passion by making your ideas meaningful and interesting. • activate – show trust to build ownership and drive change • substantiate – show integrity to build sustainable momentum.

As we move out of the emergency phase and into the real work, what are you doing to build adaptive strategic leadership in your teams and organisations?

Alicia McKay is a strategy, change and leadership expert, specialising in the public sector. She is co-host of What’s on Your Mind podcast and author of the acclaimed From Strategy to Action: A Guide to Getting Shit Done In The Public Sector and the forthcoming From Action to Impact: Tomorrow’s Leader’s Guide to Doing Good Shit. With an incredible track record leading critical conversations and building leadership capability, Alicia is at the forefront of challenges facing today’s teams and leaders. Running programmes in strategic leadership and business change, Alicia cuts through the complexity to focus on what really matters. W:





Maintaining a

positive corporate culture How can we maintain a positive and consistent employee experience, both now and in the future? Stephen Moore, Head of Asia, Pacific and Japan at Ceridian, looks at ways to keep employees engaged, despite the disruption.


t is estimated 2.7 billion people, or more than four-out-of-five workers in the global workforce, have been affected by lockdowns and stay-athome measures during COVID-19.1 What, in more ‘normal’ times, might have taken years was accomplished in weeks when many organisations transitioned workers to the world’s largest work-from-home environment. In New Zealand, it is estimated that 10 per cent of workers – 200,000 out of 2 million – started to work from home when the country entered lockdown at the end of March.2 Many have heralded working from home as the way forward, mainly because of advances in technology, which have made it easier than ever to stay connected. A University of Otago study of 2,595 New Zealanders working from home

during lockdown revealed 89 per cent wanted to continue working this way for at least part of the time post-lockdown.3 The lasting impact on workforce culture and employee engagement is still very much unknown. Maintaining a positive and consistent employee experience now and into the future will be essential to drive productivity, engagement and a positive workplace culture. While there is no golden formula, organisations can encourage and foster a strong culture, even with a distributed workforce.

Increase visibility

For employees to feel informed and connected, maintaining visibility is essential. At the height of the pandemic, many businesses hosted global employee town halls, knowing that going remote was going to be a significant change for many people and would be met with questions and some anxiety. Many companies are continuing to do these today. A well-defined and widely understood communication process can help create trust within the organisation and ensure employees are kept up to date on company information

and policies. It also creates a feeling of community and strengthens their loyalty to the company.

For employees to feel informed and connected, maintaining visibility is essential. Encourage two-way communication

It goes without saying, but now more than ever, organisations must be proactive and transparent in their communications as changes occur. They also need to prioritise and ensure employees’ voices and concerns are heard. Engagement analysis tools allow businesses to collect feedback and identify patterns and trends in employees’ emotional states. With this information, you can build action plans to respond quickly to employee concerns, as well as help reduce turnover, burnout and absenteeism. However, it is not just enough to ‘listen’ to how employees are feeling; leaders must act on the insights they receive from their workforce and communicate changes effectively.

1 2 3




Empower employees to manage their schedules

During lockdown, the traditional 9 to 5 workday necessarily transitioned to more of a productivity model, focusing on output rather than set working hours, which both employers and employees have embraced. As new ways of working become established, and more New Zealanders continue to work from home, organisations must empower employees to balance their work and personal matters by allowing their people to schedule time away from work or work to more flexible schedules. This mind shift will demonstrate we are applying the principle of managing outputs and not simply recording timebased inputs.

Provide an accessible pay experience

When employees are financially stressed, both their health and work performance can suffer. According to data from Ceridian’s Pay Experience Report, we found 70 per cent of employees felt at least slightly stressed about money on a regular basis. Concern about financial health is one of the biggest causes of employee stress, potentially affecting mental and physical health, if left unchecked.

Technology provides companies with the tools to share information about employee pay from their mobile device, tablet or laptop. This provides greater visibility and immediacy to their income streams and can significantly help to reduce stress around finances.

Provide holistic benefits

Employees are grappling with many changes and navigating day-to-day life with a degree of uncertainty. Organisations can offer wellness programmes that include mental health benefits, to help ensure workers have access to the type of care needed to prevent, treat or manage psychological distress and burnout. While two-thirds of Kiwis working from home found the shift from the office “easy or somewhat easy” to adapt to, it doesn’t guarantee this sentiment will continue as time progresses.

Maintain a positive employee experience

It’s well documented that an engaged employee is happier, more productive and more likely to stay with their company. From a business standpoint, an engaged workforce positively affects the bottom line. While business leaders continue to cite employee engagement as a

priority, many organisations struggle with how to do it well, and as the country and the world adapt to a new normal, employers will need to urgently rethink how to foster a strong workplace culture. Offering an intuitive, personalised and consistent experience – from flexible schedules to communication, wellness benefits and the way employees are paid – will reduce friction points and help employees better manage stress and anxiety. Leadership must set the tone for the workforce, and this starts with genuine engagement, as well as open and honest conversations every step of the way. It’s a shared journey. Stephen Moore is responsible for overall leadership of the Asia, Pacific and Japan region at Ceridian. His focus is to deliver world-class innovations and experiences to customers, helping them optimise performance using Ceridian’s intelligent HCM and deep business insights. Steve has held a range of senior executive positions, including APJ and ANZ leadership roles at SAP and managing director roles at Unisys and Lawson Software. He was General Manager at Fujitsu Consulting and led PeopleSoft’s APJ Services business. He has sponsored several ground-breaking initiatives and is particularly passionate about driving the advancement of the social enterprise sector and empowering disadvantaged young people.





Workplace investigations Managing a positive culture in the workplace is not always easy and can require careful management of conflicts between employees. Chloe Luscombe and Jack Rainbow, from Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, take a closer look at what to do when things get troublesome between colleagues.


orkplace investigations have become common when resolving conflicts, particularly where allegations of bullying or harassment have been made.

Do employers have to undertake a formal investigation?

Where an employee is dismissed or otherwise disciplined in connection with a complaint of bullying or harassment, the employer must investigate first. Section 103A(3) of the Employment Relations Act 2000 includes this express requirement, in order for any disciplinary action to be regarded as ‘justified’. Where an employer has received a complaint alleging sexual or racial harassment by another employee,




under section 117(3) of the Employment Relations Act 2000, the employer must inquire into the facts. In A v B and C (unreported, ERA, Auckland, AA 248/08, 14 July 2008, Urlich) the Employment Relations Authority had to consider a claim by an employee that she was constructively dismissed in circumstances where the employer had failed to fully and fairly investigate A’s complaint of sexual harassment. The Authority found that, while the employer did not have to believe the employee’s complaint of sexual harassment, they did have a duty to inquire into the facts of her complaint fairly and reasonably. The same is not necessarily the case for a bullying complaint, if disciplinary action is not being taken. The relevant employment agreements, and the employer’s policies, will be important in determining whether an investigation is required for a bullying complaint. In FGH v RST [2018] NZEmpC 60, the Employment Court found that the mere use of the term ‘bullying’ did not require the employer to start a bullying investigation under its Harassment Policy. Employers should look at precisely what is alleged and consider whether a bullying

investigation is the right approach, before getting started. Employers are required to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent the risk of harm to employees. In many cases where a bullying complaint is made, even where there is no policy or employment agreement requiring an investigation, this obligation will mean an employer should investigate. However, in some cases, the employer can meet its health and safety obligations in other ways too.

Who should be the investigator? The investigator could be the decision-maker, or someone else internal to the organisation, provided they are independent of the events giving rise to the complaint. However, bullying and harassment investigations can be complex and time-consuming, and many employers opt to seek external help.

When engaging externally, the employer is required to ensure that the investigator is appropriately qualified and experienced for the work. In Reti v Carter Holt Harvey (unreported, ERA, Auckland, AA479/05, 12 December 2005, Y S Oldfield), the employer paid the price for appointing someone who was not sufficiently skilled and experienced.

Many employment lawyers and HR consultants act as external investigators, carrying out workplace investigations. However, in a recent decision from the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority, this work was found to be a breach of the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010, when it was being carried out by someone who was neither a practising lawyer nor a licensed private investigator.

What is the scope of an independent investigation?

Where the investigator is not the decision-maker, their role should be confined to making factual findings. An independent investigator should never make findings about whether the substantiated conduct amounts to misconduct or serious misconduct, or what the disciplinary outcome (if any) should be. These are matters for the decision-maker.

What are the alternatives to an investigation?

Where the employer has a choice about whether to conduct a formal investigation or not, and opts for an informal process, they are still required to show that they have addressed the concerns raised in the complaint and, if applicable, taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent the risk of harm.

In most cases, an informal process will include several different actions being packaged together to address the issues raised. These could include: • training and development: for example, mentoring and coaching, training in management techniques or interpersonal skills, and 360 reviews for continued monitoring of behaviour • mediation and facilitation between the parties: this may include an external or internal facilitator or mediator, the provision of an apology in some cases, and the parties (together with the employer) arriving at agreed protocols for future interactions • resolving any disputes about work boundaries and responsibilities: sometimes bullying and harassment complaints arise from unclear boundaries between role responsibilities. A collaborative review of job descriptions and clear instructions could help in some circumstances.

for proposing and implementing a plan that all parties can accept and that will enable the employer to show they have taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent any risk of harm. A happy workforce comes with many added benefits for the employer, including increased productivity, reduced staff turnover and fewer legal claims. When conflicts arise, and complaints of bullying or harassment are made, managing them properly will be essential for maintaining a positive workplace culture.

Chloe Luscombe is a senior associate at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers. She advises employers and employees on handling complaints and carries out workplace investigations as an external investigator. Jack Rainbow is a solicitor at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers and provides legal advice to a range of clients, including in relation to bullying and harassment.

Any informal intervention will likely require the cooperation and participation of both parties. Consultation with the parties is vital SPRING 2020




Making a start Angela Bingham, Executive Director People and Capability at the Open Polytechnic, shares her predictions for learning and training in the future, and looks at practical steps organisations can take to embrace online learning.


have built a career, as have others, on e-learning. We’ve watched the evolution of 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 and now we’re on the cusp of 5.0 (I Googled it, and no-one has claimed it yet!).

Brief history

1.0 was about e-learning from a website with compliance and completion protocols, communicating messages to get a broad and consistent reach. 2.0 brought to the world Flash and interactives, and the realisation that there was a learner at the other end. Podcasts and videos created a learner experience. 3.0 blended the social construct with the behavioural models. 4.0 focused on the technology (responsive design, third-wall narration and quirky edu-tainment), and the authoring tools replaced code. 4.0 went on to challenge the learning management system demanding a learning 22



platform, meaning learning record stores became more critical than a completion score. 5.0 is now up for grabs. My prediction is that there will be a demand for quick sound bites of learning that don’t take large amounts of time and money to build. This will require bringing together the designer and subject matter expert to enable asynchronous and synchronous learning. They’ll be in constant discussions and releasing learning in a similar way software is consumed, as a service (SaaS).

Wide-open spaces

If you haven’t produced online content before, it’s a big scary place. As a face-to-face facilitator or trainer, you are in control of the message, and you are probably adding the human element to your delivery. In our new worlds, this just isn’t possible. There are no more international experts flying in, and the days of trainers travelling town to town delivering training are over. So, come on over to the world of virtual learning. I promise you that you can add human elements, you can have control over your message, and you can develop learning that is palatable for learners. Here are four suggested actions to virtual learning, with questions to help guide your thinking.

Case study 1

Consider a small medical centre in a small city. Each month, the office manager delivers a health and safety briefing on information that is relevant and topical. The team looks forward to the briefings because it’s a break from the public; they can laugh, share and relax together. The team itself is a reflection of the community; most of the nurses are female and a good cross-section are Māori and Pasifika. Like many across the globe, the medical centre must continue throughout lockdown, including delivering training. Many of the support staff are working from home because the office space has reduced to share with the physio and dentist next door who had to find new premises. My recommendations to the office manager are as follows. 1. Start hosting coffee catch-ups using Google Hangouts, and ask the team to join virtually. Book in the next one, a week later, to try an online fun quiz. These two simple tasks will give you a good sense of who can use the technology and link to an external site from the Hangout. 2. Take the briefings that you received from external stakeholders and break them

into 10-minute sessions by using the questions: “At the end of this learning, you will be able to … [insert specific actions or knowledge]”. Keep it to one outcome per topic. 3. Change up each second session with a pre-recorded video that you create on your phone. These videos should be no longer than three minutes and allow seven minutes for a couple of questions and discussions. 4. For each third session provide some reading material or a link to a video and then host the Hangout to have a Q&A on the particular topic.

Case study 2

ABC is a large corporate organisation. The L&D team sits within the HR function. It is continually working on the production of e-learning modules that support sales staff, from product knowledge to compliance training. There is always a large backlog of work because product releases are happening all the time. Competition is tight across this sector. During lockdown, a significant amount of revenue was lost. The L&D team members are looking to show how they can position themselves as the organisation considers its options to downsize. The issues here are the team takes six to ten weeks to develop e-learning (from concept design to stakeholder sign off). Next comes the change management plan to implement the learning into the business, meaning the business can need a lead time of 12 weeks. The L&D team members know they get great results when they evaluate both the e-learning and the workshops. I would recommend the same steps to the L&D manager as I did to the office manager. The L&D team decided to set up MS Teams to run e-learning modules. They started with the product enhancements (and decided to leave the new products to the traditional e-learning). These enhancement

chunks consisted of a briefing sheet (linked to the product site), a ‘Stream’ session from the service experts, ‘Polls’ are to be used to replace the scenario-based learning, and each product manager shared a few discussion questions that prompted engagement through the chat channel; these were done in the quirky tone of the main e-learning modules. They are going to use ‘Stream’ to deliver the workshop components in short 30-minute sessions. The way they have structured MS Teams enables learning to be done in real-time or at a later time. They have approval from the Head of HR to try this model to continue to grow sales as the organisation assesses the viability operating model.


Questions to ask yourself

Set your philosophy

Is our training essential? Do our learners turn up as a break from work? Is our training compliant? Does our training add motivation? Do you acknowledge the role of leaders in your organisation for training staff?

Identify your learning design principles

Must your learners pass an assessment? Do you require a change in behaviour? Do you require an enhanced skill? What is the tone of voice within your organisation?

What is the cultural demographic

How do the people in your organisation like to learn or be communicated with? What is the segmentation of the roles within your organisation (process oriented, service oriented, technically complex, innovative, hands-on tools, computer-driven or legislative)? What is the risk profile of the organisation? What is the ethnic make up of your organisation?

Start small

Wherever you are on your learning and development journey, it’s important just to make a start. That start may be easier to consume from a philosophy and principles place than a formalised strategy. Ensure your approach provides choice and control to the learners. And, finally, be absolutely crystal clear on what you want to be different after the learning event.

Understand the technology you have to hand. What are the things your people must know and what are the things you like them to know? Do you have a way of sending a fiveminute video (recorded on your phone)? What are the free or cost-effective content authoring tools you can have access to? Practise writing statements like “At the end of this learning, you will be able to … [insert specific actions or knowledge]”.

Angela Bingham He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! Angela Bingham started as the Executive Director People and Capability at the Open Polytechnic in October 2018. Before that she held a variety of leadership roles, with an emphasis on learning and development. She has worked for Kineo (Pacific), ACC, Endeavour IT Limited, Rugby New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs and ANZ, among others. Angela has a strong people agenda, which she has developed from her degree in community and family studies from the University of Otago. Angela’s philosophies are that an effective leader works for the good of others with a firm foundation in strength-based conversations.





Corporate volunteering builds strong teams While reimagining team dynamics and culture in the COVID-19 environment won’t happen overnight, organisations can take action right now, to reinject purpose and a sense of achievement into the workplace, according to United Way New Zealand. It is inexpensive, has an immediate effect and is needed more than ever before.


or over 45 years, United Way New Zealand has helped funders and organisations of all sizes to design and deliver social responsibility and community engagement programmes with real impact. The not-for-profit matches organisations with small-to-medium frontline charities all over the country that have no in-house marketing and fundraising resources. These frontline charities are generally the first port of call for New Zealanders when they need help, and COVID-19 has been no exception. Teresa Moore, CEO of United Way New Zealand, says with demand for the services continuing to rise exponentially as the social and economic effects of COVID-19 begin to bite, corporate volunteering and workplace giving is the ultimate exercise in mutual outcomes, with significant positive impacts for both community charities and employee engagement. “No matter how agile your team has become, pivoting to allow for the new normal takes a toll on employee sentiment and team 24



culture. Injecting opportunities to find a sense of achievement into your work environment will lead to new perspectives, new community relationships and most importantly opportunities for employees". And there isn’t a better time than now to see the effect. Research undertaken in April 2020 by United Way New Zealand shows Kiwi charities are under increasing pressure, managing a surge in demand with fewer resources, due to COVID-19. However, Moore cautions that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate volunteering aren’t a set and forget process. “Identifying the right volunteering opportunities in multiple locations can be incredibly time-consuming, and it’s hard to assess what, if anything, the impact will be. If CSR initiatives are treated as an ad hoc, last-minute exercise they risk becoming a chore rather than a valuable experience for your people and brand,” says Moore. Moore believes, to maximise the impact of CSR and corporate volunteering, organisations must align projects with their underlying vision and values and allow for

employee input. Projects should also enable cross-functional teams to develop relationships across the business. “It’s amazing how many times we see employees demonstrate experience or skills they haven’t shown in a work environment because a programme has offered the opportunity to do so,” says Moore. In September, United Way New Zealand launches a free Volunteer Hub where volunteer coordinators can browse and identify opportunities across the country. Moore says United Way New Zealand will grow the hub in coming months, building a valuable tool for those tasked with facilitating corporate volunteering and CSR. “Thoughtfully designed and executed corporate volunteering and CSR projects act as a catalyser. The new relationships formed, discussions had and experience uncovered is brought back to the workplace enabling stronger teams and ongoing change that simply wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” says Moore. For more information or to talk to United Way New Zealand about maximising the impact of your CSR or corporate volunteer programmes, please visit

Get Chartered! HRNZ is committed to promoting the highest levels of professionalism in the practice of HR in New Zealand workplaces and encourages all members to aspire to and achieve Chartered Membership. Chartered Members of HRNZ enjoy the status that comes with demonstrating they have attained a level of professional ability that is respected at a national level by employers and their peers. In addition, Chartered Members are provided with guidance and opportunities to expand and enhance their professional knowledge and expertise through continuing professional development on an annual basis. Chartered Members are expected to be technically competent and highly credible HR professionals. Assessment for chartered status is based on the HRNZ competency framework – Kahikatea, ka taea. Candidates need to provide evidence of their independent actions that match the competency descriptors. These are assessed by a panel of experienced HRNZ chartered members.

Recently chartered HRNZ members Tracey Ritchie


19 August 2020

Nick Olington


4 August 2020

Esther Nicolay


3 August 2020

Wendy Baker


19 June 2020

Diane Britchford

Bay of Plenty

6 April 2020

David Wyles-Jones


30 March 2020

For more information about getting chartered please visit





You can't recruit your way to a new culture Organisational culture does not have to be complicated, according to Fiona Robertson. It’s not easy, but it is simple. In this article, Fiona explores how we might best start to identify our organisational culture.


ost leaders are quick to acknowledge that culture matters. According to McKinsey’s research of over 1,000 organisations employing more than 3 million people, those with strong cultures (top quartile, according to their organisational health inventory) post a return to shareholders that is 60 per cent higher than those that are at the median and 200 per cent more than those in the bottom quartile. But even though we know it matters, most leaders don’t understand what organisational culture really is or how it works – particularly how it works with recruitment. Frequently throughout my career, I’ve heard the following argument: if we just recruit smart people, we’ll stop making bad decisions. If we just recruit curious people, we’ll increase innovation. If we just recruit service-focused people, we’ll improve 26



customer service; and so on and so on. Insert attribute here and rely on recruiting people with that attribute to shift your culture in that direction. It all sounds so logical and plausible. Surely more smart people would lead to better decisions. Surely more curious people would lead to more innovation. Surely more servicefocused people would lead to better service. The trouble is it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because it fundamentally misunderstands how culture operates. Culture is not changed by adding more of the right ingredients to the system. Culture is changed by changing the system itself.

Culture is the rules of belonging

Think about the last time you joined a new group. Chances are you cared about how that group operated. You wondered what was considered acceptable. You wondered if you would feel welcome. You hoped the others would like and respect you. You wanted to learn how they did things. When you arrived, you used your powers of observation, which are, from an evolutionary point of view, extraordinarily well attuned to the task, to figure out what ‘good’ looks

like in this place at this time. You very quickly worked out who had respect, who had influence, who had power and who didn’t. You saw particular behaviours that earned greater approval, respect and status, and you saw behaviours that reduced those things. My guess is you adopted the behaviour that was successful in the group and you behaved your way to belonging.

Belonging trumps ethics

Belonging is so strong a human need that it will almost always trump an individual’s own sense of what is ethically right and wrong. Take the experience of the bank Wells Fargo as an example and cautionary tale. James Heskett’s column in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge online journal describes the way thousands of the bank’s employees behaved unethically: … "the goals on which the incentives were based were so daunting that they raised the temptation to cheat by establishing fake new accounts and even transferring token amounts of funds between these accounts without customers’ knowledge. When the practice became so prevalent – 2.1 million accounts from 2011 to 2015 – it began to generate numerous customer complaints and evidence surfaced regarding a systematic cover-

up of the practice in the ranks. Wells Fargo announced in September 2016 that some 5,300 employees were fired. The action was taken by leaders who claimed they were unaware of the practice; nevertheless, the board replaced CEO John Stumpf and clawed back some of his compensation. The monetary and non-monetary costs to the financial institution in penalties, fines, and loss of trust began to mount". It seems obvious in this case that the way the incentives were designed was encouraging this behaviour, but the main question it begs for me is this: why did thousands of people do something they must have known was unethical?

I would argue that it was about belonging. Hitting targets was considered successful behaviour in that group and, even if hitting those targets involved unethical behaviour, thousands of people decided that belonging (and the salary that went with it) was more important than their own ethics. Wells Fargo didn’t have 5,300 individually unethical rotten apples in its barrel. It had a rotten barrel. That’s what culture is. It’s the barrel. It’s the patterns of behaviour. It’s the rules of belonging.

Belonging trumps recruitment

That’s why recruiting for a particular attribute doesn’t work. If the culture of the group rewards a particular behaviour with greater belonging, the people we hire will do one of two things: they will either ‘go native’ and start to adopt that behaviour as their own to earn belonging from their new group or they will leave to seek belonging elsewhere. Their departure might be the result of their own decision or by being rejected by the ‘immune system’ of the culture. The result is the same. The rules of belonging trump any attribute you could recruit for.

Fiona Robertson is the former Head of Culture for the National Australia Bank and a sought-after culture change and leadership speaker, facilitator, coach and author who helps leaders create cultures people really want to belong to. Her book, Rules of Belonging: Change your organisational culture, delight your people and turbo-charge your results, is published by Major Street Publishing. More articles are available on





New essential skills work visa policy and the border exception process In our last article, we discussed the fact that the labour market test (LMT) component of Essential Skills work visa applications was going to become much tougher in the post-COVID world. We also discussed the fact that the LMT applies to renewing or extending existing work visa applications as well as to new work visa applications and is likely to be a ‘dealbreaker’ in many upcoming visa applications. Immigration New Zealand has now released policy changes to the Essential Skills work visa, including LMT requirements.


ith the borders now closed, many employers either have existing migrant worker staff who are ‘stranded’ offshore or are considering recruiting a new employee who is based overseas and want to know: can I get them into New Zealand? We discuss the latest position on both of these issues below.




Changes to Essential Skills work visas

Some important implications that these changes mean for employers include: higher frequency of visa applications (now only a sixmonth visa in many cases) with a corresponding increase in time spent providing LMT information, a higher proportion of employers will now need to engage with Work and Income, and some employees who relied on their partner’s ability to work in New Zealand under the old rules may be forced to consider leaving.

The table below summarises these changes.


The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) classification will no longer be used as a component for determining the conditions of an Essential Skills work visa. From now on, the sole factor in determining the visa conditions, and also the nature of the LMT required, will be whether the rate of pay is above or below the median wage (currently set at $25.50 per hour).

Labour market test

A is a qualified baker (an ANZSCO level 3 role) and is paid an hourly

Below median wage*

Above median wage

National recruitment

National recruitment

Engage with Ministry of Social Development Skills Match Report Visa duration

Family members

Six months**

Up to three years

Maximum duration of three years

No maximum

12-month offshore stand down

No stand down

Partner: visitor visa

Partner: open work visa

Children: domestic student visa

Children: domestic student visa

*Median wage is currently $25.50 per hour or $53,040 per annum based on a 40-hour week. **Until January 2022, the maximum visa length obtainable will be six months. Subject to review, this length may return to 12 months.

rate of $23.50. They have a partner and school-aged child with them in New Zealand. The table below sets out the implications for A on the old rules and how A will be affected under the new rules when they make their next Essential Skills work visa application.

It is important to note that ANZSCO will still be very important for future residence applications, so care still needs to be taken when determining the most suitable ANZSCO classification. As we recommended in our previous article, the importance of forward

Old rules

New rules


Mid skilled

Below median wage

Visa duration

Three years

Six-month visa Maximum of three years, then offshore stand down will apply

Family members

Partner: open work visa

Partner: visitor visa

Children: domestic student visa

Children: domestic student visa

A’s partner currently has an open work visa, but once the next visa is issued, the partner will only be eligible for a visitor visa. This will mean A’s partner cannot work unless they can qualify for a work visa in their own right. A will also only be issued with a six-month visa and be able to stay in New Zealand for a maximum of three years (with the period starting when this first ‘below median wage’ visa is issued). At the end of three years, if A is not able to secure a visa in another category or get paid above the median wage (at that time), they will then be required to leave New Zealand and stay offshore for at least 12 months.

planning, good advice and careful preparation of supporting documents for visa applications cannot be underestimated when it comes to making successful visa applications, particularly in light of these new policy changes.

The closed border and sponsoring an exception request As readers may be aware, in midJune, Immigration New Zealand created the ‘Other Critical Worker’ border exemption, whereby an employer may request that an employee (and, in some cases, their dependants) be granted an exception to enter New Zealand. In general

terms, it needs to be established that the employee, either: • has unique experience and specialist or technical skills that are not obtainable in New Zealand • is working on a time-critical role that is essential to a governmentapproved infrastructure or project and so on (there is a list of approved projects), or • is undertaking a time-critical role that has a significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy. We have helped several clients with making detailed submissions to support such a request and have now started to see the first trickle of decisions concerning this policy. Although we have had some good successes with these applications, it is fair to say that the bar remains very high, and employers should expect that only the most exceptional and compelling cases will be approved. That being said, this small ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is still well worth exploring and will provide relief for some employers who can show their employee satisfies one of the entry criteria.

Rachael Mason is qualified in New Zealand, England and Wales, and has practised exclusively in the area of immigration law for several years. Rachael is a facilitator for HRNZ professional development courses, virtual courses and webinars. She works with both multi-national corporate clients and smaller local employers across a range of industry sectors in managing their global and local migrant workforces and developing and maintaining compliance and legal right-to-work policies. Rachael is focused on providing highquality technical immigration advice that is both pragmatic and commercial.





What's it like around here? Culture is the character and personality of an organisation. It’s what makes the business unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviours and attitudes. Kathy Catton takes a closer look at the culture of two New Zealand organisations, and asks what factors can affect workplace culture.

people do and inform how they operate day to day.


#Human – Xeros are authentic, inclusive and really care.

e are all aware that positive workplace culture attracts talent, drives engagement and affects happiness, satisfaction and performance. The Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) and Xero are two organisations that know this at their core. They understand that leadership, management, workplace practices, policies and more, all impact on the organisation’s culture. And, for these reasons, these organisations have sought to define the culture first rather than letting it evolve naturally. Xero describes itself as a valuesdriven organisation. From the early days of doing business (the company was founded in 2006), it has had a clear set of values in place. These values permeate everything the 30



Xero’s values: #Challenge – Xeros dream big, lead and embrace change. #Beautiful – Xeros create experiences that people love. #Team – Xeros are great team players. #Ownership – Xeros deliver on our commitments.

“You’ll hear Xeros use these values day to day, in their language and in their work,” says Rob Munro, Head of People Experience NZ at Xero. “They’re discussed regularly and are used to recognise excellent work and celebrate achievements. But more importantly, they are visible in the way people treat each other – at all levels – and we ensure our values aren’t put to one side when business decisions are made.” It’s the all-encompassing nature of the values that makes it easy for employees to find meaning and consistency in what they do.

This was of critical importance throughout the first COVID-19 experience, with the business’s response being driven from the inside out, focused on the people, particularly the #human value. Rob explains more. “If we look after our Xeros, I know they will do everything they can to look after our customers and our business during this unprecedented time. This #human approach meant that we took early action across all our regions and moved to remote working in advance of any government-mandated lockdowns, to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

We ensure our values aren’t put to one side when business decisions are made. Xero wanted to make sure everyone understood the situation. The CEO and Executive Team became more accessible than ever, and communications from them increased substantially. There were companywide online meetings, regular emails, videos and Slack messages from the CEO and Executive Team and regular targeted surveys of staff, looking at how connected, motivated, productive and supported the people were feeling.

This influx in communication was one of the major learnings for Xero. “It was important to create forums and opportunities for people to communicate how they were feeling and what they needed,” says Rob. “We then had to ensure we were taking action by following up on what we were hearing from our people.”

The aim is that reward and recognition are vital ingredients of our business. LIC shares this need for communication. Having a strong sense of community and connection, all LIC employees work with the farmer in mind, as part of the cooperative identity and strong history of LIC. So keeping those channels of communication open, through Slack channels, Q and A sessions and surveys, has been vital. “Slack has been a brilliant tool for us,” says Roz Urbahn, Chief People Officer at LIC. “People use it for different purposes, from sending out articles to asking about how to go on an information diet! We have an unspoken rule that we don’t send each other tasks through Slack. As a result, it’s a relaxed, light-hearted way to keep talking and being authentic with how we are feeling.”

company uses an organisational health survey, again revealing a positive increase in total points year-on-year. So what’s the difference that makes the difference? Roz remains adamant that providing a positive employee experience leads to a positive customer experience. “We operate on a values-based leadership model,” she says. “We have multiple awards programmes that range from individual rewards to team-based Chief Executive Awards that are held twice yearly. The aim is that reward and recognition are vital ingredients of our business.” Both organisations appear to have exemplary cultures. People want to work there and have a sense of purpose in their work. Leaders know LIC’s vision, what to celebrate and recognise and how to positively interact with employees. In addition, the stable strategy is widely communicated, continuously emphasised and inspiring for employees. And what about the work environment? Does it really matter what offices look like and what hangs on the walls? Xero responds with a resounding ‘yes’. It even has a team dedicated to this area.

LIC’s communications focus has always been about telling the positive stories of the company and listening to its people. This didn’t change through the crisis of COVID, and leaders were expected to continue to tell their stories, listen to the people and take action appropriately.

“We have an incredible Workplace Experience team who are focused on delivering a beautiful office experience,” says Rob. “Our physical work environments are designed to support our culture by creating spaces that encourage collaboration and are enjoyable to spend time in.”

“We made sure our leaders continued to be authentic and honest. We gave clear and direct information about expectations and communicated with set timeframes based on small chunks of time,” says Roz.

Rob is quick to point out, however, that although the office environments support the culture, the culture is defined by the values. This maintains a steadiness with the business, despite rapid growth, several office moves and a period of prolonged working from home.

And the results show that these types of actions do make a difference. LIC has been conducting annual organisational health surveys, with results tracking positively since the beginning of 2015. In addition, the

work environment plays a significant role. We have shown that we can adapt to flexible ways of working with a distributed workforce. The relationships were what enabled that to happen so easily.”

If we look after our Xeros, I know they will do everything they can to look after our customers and our business. The message remains clear: look after your people through a positive workplace culture and your people will look after your business. Recent times have shown us that workplace culture is always changing. And some might argue it’s just as important as your business strategy, given the belief that culture eats strategy for breakfast! So it’s well worth continually evaluating and improving the culture, and learning from others to ensure a successful and happy business for all.

What affects culture in the workplace? • Leadership • Management • Workplace practices • Policies and procedures • Mission, vision and values • Work environment • Communications • Recruitment

Roz at LIC agrees. “It’s the relationships within the work environment that matter the most. The SPRING 2020




Managing health and

safety in the post-COVID workplace At the time of writing, we are seeing clusters of COVID-19, following a three-month hiatus on the original community transmission. It is important to avoid complacency; overall, global cases are still rising, and New Zealand continues to detect new cases. With a vaccine potentially years away, the risk will remain of a further widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand and a return to restrictive alert levels nationwide. Hannah Meikle and Susan Rowe, Partner at Buddle Findlay, outline what we need to do to ensure we are meeting our health and safety obligations.


nder the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 an employer is a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) who has a primary duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others in the workplace or affected by its work. PCBUs must take ‘reasonably practicable’ steps to protect workers and others from infectious diseases that may spread 32



in the workplace or while workers are carrying out their duties. We suggest taking the following general steps to update your health and safety practices. • Keep up to date with official guidance: Official guidance can change frequently. It is vital that you review your policies and control measures in light of updated guidance from the government. The WorkSafe website is a particularly useful source of information. • Review operations: Assess how you operated at alert levels 2 to 4 from a health and safety perspective. Seek input from various sources. Consider what

worked well and what didn’t, and identify any specific issues. Consider how any problems may be addressed in the future. • Identify your vulnerable workers: Identify and keep a register of your high risk and/or vulnerable workers. Consider whether they should, for example, work from home more frequently than other staff or at certain alert levels. You may be able to offer increased support, such as parking space, to make it easier for them to avoid using public transport. • Review and implement changes to policies: Consider implementing amendments to

your policies to cover contact tracing, taking of sick leave, reporting of symptoms and reporting on COVID testing results. Make sure employees know where and how to access policies and information. Provide training sessions and communicate any changes to policies. • Sick leave: Review your policy on sick leave and consider increasing paid sick leave above the statutory minimum of five days or introducing other flexible leave options. This will help to ensure that unwell employees are not coming to the office due to financial worries or pressure. • Keep records: PCBUs should keep records of any measures they have taken to keep employees safe and reduce risk, and the reasons for doing so. This should include measures that were considered but dismissed and the reasons why. In case of an incident, PCBUs may be subject to an investigation (eg, by WorkSafe), and having a clear record of actions taken and why will help with this. • Insurance policies: Review your insurance policies or consider taking out further insurance. Fines

under the Act remain uninsurable, but policies can cover investigation costs and defence costs in case of a prosecution. • Cooperation with other PCBUs: Consider how you’ll work with other PCBUs that you may have overlapping duties with. It would help if you planned worker safety when staff visit other premises as part of their role. Consider how you will manage shared spaces like stairwells, lifts and foyers.

In the office

• Contact tracing: Review how you keep track of visitors to the workplace and the check-in process for visitors. Do you keep a record of everyone who enters the workplace (eg, couriers) and how long are records kept for? Similarly, if you work in a large building, review how you keep track of where employees go. Consider initiatives such as requiring employees to swipe their cards at every access point, rather than following someone through a door. • Physical distancing: Consider dividing your workplace into areas or zones and how you might limit movement between them in case of a return to a higher alert level. If you

can keep track of or limit employees’ movements, this can help manage situations of a worker testing positive or displaying symptoms. Have a plan for where people will sit if physical distancing in the office has to be implemented again. Update it regularly as personnel change, with new joiners or people leaving. • Reporting: Consider having a dedicated email address that workers can use to report any health and safety issues on the ground. • Cleaning: Review your cleaning procedures and work with facilities management, or contractors, to consider any updates or changes to normal practices, depending on the alert level. For example, you may wish to introduce more regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles or lift buttons, or consider more regular cleaning of things that are traditionally not cleaned often, such as air conditioning units. • Supply of cleaning products, soap and sanitiser: When COVID-19 started to emerge as a global issue, there was a world-wide shortage of products SPRING 2020



such as hand sanitiser. Work with your suppliers or facilities team to consider how you’ll make sure you have ongoing supplies of essential cleaning and hygiene products.

Working from home

The lockdown acted as a catalyst for many employers to introduce either informal or formal flexible working arrangements. A workplace is defined very broadly in the Act as being a

place where work is being carried out, or is customarily carried out, and includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work. An employee’s home can be classed as a ‘workplace’, and accordingly, you will still owe a duty to your workers to ensure their health and safety while they work at home.

is worth taking the time to consider what changes can be implemented in your workplace as a result of the lockdown. Prioritising the health and wellbeing of your staff and providing them with a healthy environment will help position your business for postCOVID recovery.

Employers will be judged in the future on how they responded to the challenges posed by COVID-19. It

Hanna Meikle specialises in litigation and dispute resolution and has experience across a broad range of commercial and civil disputes. Hannah also has experience in regulatory, and health and safety matters including WorkSafe investigations and prosecutions. Susan Rowe leads the Christchurch office of Buddle Findlay and specialises in litigation, local government, insurance, industrial relations and health and safety. She currently advises clients on litigation issues arising out of the Canterbury rebuild. She acts for both insureds and insurers on disputed claims. Susan is ranked as a Notable Practitioner for dispute resolution by Asia Law and described as a key name among Christchurch employment lawyers who “leaves nothing to chance”.

People powered success

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HRNZ PD programme Spring 2020 At HRNZ we recognise the importance of professional development and the role it plays in our industry. HRNZ offers a range of professional development courses and webinars designed for human resources professionals and people leaders. HRNZ is reintroducing (in-person) courses again. HRNZ continues to use government guidelines as baseline minimum precautions for holding physical events. Our HRNZ Events and COVID-19 policy outlines further details.

Why you should take an HRNZ PD course: • • • • • • •

HRNZ is New Zealand’s leading provider of human resources PD courses applied learning – develop strategies to implement participation encouraged – don’t merely listen network with peers and share experiences continue your PD detailed course books provided earn continuing professional development points.

PD course schedule COURSE


Effective HR Communication

28 Oct

Effective Performance Management

23 Sept

HR 101: For Non-HR People

7 Oct

HR Foundations Restructuring & Redundancy

20 Oct

Strategic Workforce Planning

15, 22, 29 Aug




24–26 Nov

15–17 Sept

10–12 Nov


Enhanced Interviewing Skills

20 Oct

6 Oct

HR Manager

29–30 Oct

24–25 Sept

Practical Employment Law

7 Oct

5 Nov

17 Nov

16 Sept

Termination of Employment

14 Oct

21 Oct

3 Nov

22 Sept

Courses subject to change. For the latest schedule, please visit

0800 247 469


What's the best

leadership response to COVID? It would be easy amid the horror stories of redundancies and business collapses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown to think the end of the New Zealand economy is nigh. Debbie Dawson has a different perspective and shares how we all have a role to play.


he media hyperbole relentlessly describes what has happened with COVID-19 as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘extraordinary’ and yet, when we stand back and take a wider look at what has been before, we see this isn’t really true. It feels true because every country in the world looks to have been affected in one way or another, and we are continually receiving ‘news’ instalments about this. Yet there have always been catastrophic things happening. What we make this significant event mean for our workplaces and our future is entirely up to us.

Leadership perspective

One of the principles I share with my senior professional coaching clients is that the world is 50/50. This means that, at any one time, 50 per cent of what is happening is great and 50 per cent of what is happening 36



is not so great. I have come to think of this as a natural law of the universe – just like night and day. Modern psychology tends to suggest we should aim for 100 per cent happiness all the time, but if we didn’t experience the adversity that comes along we wouldn’t recognise the good stuff when it happens. And if everything that was happening fell into the happiness category, it would quickly become bland. In other words, many of us know that to recognise joy we need to know what it is to suffer. It is widely agreed in leadership circles that growth comes from the challenge of change. Not much growth will be gained from doing what we have always done and what we have got comfortable and capable doing. The personal and leadership growth tends to happen when we are in places of discomfort and awkwardness doing unfamiliar things. It may be hard to accept, but this global pandemic is part of the natural ebb and flow of life and the natural order of things. And like everything, it will involve sadness and silver linings. I live in Christchurch, and I saw that happen here after the earthquakes. For example, many of our beautiful buildings fell down, but others with considerably less charm also went, and this was a blessing.

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll

When my older sisters were growing up, I remember my parents agonising over the proverbial ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ that seemed to be the big disruptors in our lives. The modern version for those of us who are parents is now more likely to involve the internet, alcohol, online pornography, bullying and loneliness, which I believe are variations of the same theme. If we were to do the same with global events, we would see we have had these issues before. My parents were looking for their first jobs in the depression of the 1930s and then encountered a world war. My mother’s brother died of diphtheria when he was seven and later, in the 1980s, there was AIDS, and now we have COVID-19. I am sure that, at the time, these crises all rated at least as high as the current pandemic. Recently, my husband and I watched the television mini-series on Chernobyl, dramatising the most significant nuclear incident of our times with terrifying human and environmental consequences. We both felt shocked to realise ‘this wasn’t all that long ago’ because it was around the time our eldest children were born.

What changes and what stays the same?

A lot has been written about how the world has already changed as a result of COVID-19, and how the workplace has changed, but I wonder if it really has. I suspect it will be a bit like the Christchurch earthquakes where we all learnt to operate differently, but then over time, we went back to how we were working and essentially not a lot changed. At that time, I remember many employees working from home at their breakfast bars and kitchen

tables, but, eventually, most people ended up back in an office. So the vital leadership question for us is not so much whether our workplaces will be different post COVID-19 but if we want them to be, and, if so, how do we want them to be different? The biological force of homeostasis is very strong. This is the reason why many people struggle to keep weight off after a diet. If the food supply is reduced, there is initial weight loss but, as people know, the body responds by limiting the energy demands of all its functions

by a little bit to maintain the original order of things and the result is that the weight loss stalls. We see this in nature. Just look at places where there are hurricanes and tsunamis where nothing is done and how the vegetation eventually just grows back over the rubble. This is the same for organisations and workplace cultures, unless we consciously decide to do things differently. During the disruption when peoples’ consciousness is high, lots of discussions are held about the benefits of a simpler life without so much activity and travelling and how this will change the way we do things forever, but will it really? I am personally hopeful that fewer people will make unnecessary plane trips between cities to attend ineffective meetings, and many will. But I anticipate that, unless it is consciously managed, it will be like the car traffic and creep back up to the original levels.

Language and commentary

As leaders, we also need to be conscious of the story we are telling. During the time of the Christchurch earthquakes I became utterly disenchanted by the constant use of the adjective ‘devastating’, and even 10 years later it is rare to hear




any reference to this event without the use of this descriptor. This, as with the mosque killings, has come to define us as victims when we are anything but. Some sort of renewal always comes out of adversity, although that is not to say we should not acknowledge the sadness and anguish that significant world events generate. During world wars, it was the senseless killing of lots of innocent young men and the destruction of natural landscapes around the world that was so horrifying. Unfortunately, it is the media’s job to present it all in the worst possible light because that is what keeps us checking out those web pages and those COVID case logs. Journalists and news companies know our reptilian brain is wired to vigilantly scan our environment for danger. Bad news excites our nervous system, and our brains are tweaked by stories of mishaps and disasters. We are biologically wired to take notice as though our lives depend on it, and it is addictive. It is no wonder 38



we develop habits such as listening for the daily 1pm update from the highest health official in the country who will present our scorecard for the day. We delude ourselves into thinking that this continuous checking in with the league tables will somehow keep us safe.

Technological nudges

It is possible that COVID will become synonymous with the next significant technological disruption. Imagine how different life in lockdown would have been without technology. Technology enabled some of us to keep working and to keep in touch with family and friends. All those people who, before lockdown, could not manage the basics of a smartphone suddenly became Zoomers and Skypers. What we saw is that businesses that were on to it took advantage of this and either started or increased their online presence. My local fruit and vege shop, whose owners operated out of a tent for 2.5 years over the earthquake period, were forced to close because of government policy

but developed an online service alongside the butchery next door to resume trading and stay in business. In other words, they created a new service and a new way to do business out of this adversity. So, as leaders, how do we keep our workplaces focused on a better future rather than on what we have lost? It takes a lot of conscious thought and effort – this is the leadership task of our time.

Worst and best case scenarios

One of the principles of the ‘50/50 world’ is to make sure we are listening to media channels consciously. For instance, if you are living in America and you listen to Fox News then you really also need to listen to CNN. As leaders, we need to cultivate this deliberate perspective consciously. If we leave our brains to our own devices they will look for further evidence for their current thoughts, which is that there is no hope and no way to recover from this.

lane neave

making immigration Thinking deliberately means we spend some time thinking of the worst-case scenario – which could include losing our customers, laying off all our people, going into debt or even more debt – but that we also spend time consciously considering the best-case scenario. For some of us, this could be that we migrate to doing more of our business online, consider different working hours and places for our people, consider employing a more diverse workforce and in other locations, develop new products and services, identify ways to reduce our costs, such as unnecessary travel, streamline and improve processes, identify new skills that we support our people to acquire, and create new roles. For some of us, this is actually exciting.

Debbie Dawson, CFHRINZ, is an award-winning HR specialist who works with people and organisations to implement practical strategies for sustainable workplace wellbeing. She is a coach, facilitator, presenter and writer based in Christchurch. Debbie is a facilitator on HRNZ's PD programme, running some of the HR 101 PD courses and delivering webinars.

law simple The visa application process can be daunting and complex for both employers and employees. At Lane Neave we make the complex simple. We’ve got years of experience with every aspect of preparing and submitting visa and immigration applications on behalf of New Zealand employers. Give us a call for a no obligation discussion to see how we can support you with all things immigration-related.

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Immunity to change: why, what and how? If we want to go beyond survival and thrive in a disrupted world, we need to be prepared to keep learning and doing things differently. To that end, we need to keep open to different tools and techniques. Kris Cooper introduces one such tool here and gives practical examples as to how we can apply it.


oes 'Sarah' work in your organisation?

Sarah is a manager who strives to improve her leadership. For the past three years, she has received the same feedback from her manager and direct reports that she needs to delegate more. Each year she has confirmed her commitment to doing better. She’s sought advice about delegating from her manager and her coach, she’s done the recommended reading, signed up to regular tips from a blog site she found and even attended courses. There is no doubt Sarah is committed, yet she continues to work longer and longer hours and her manager and direct reports still say she doesn’t delegate. Everyone, including Sarah, is at their wits’ end. Something needs to change.

Do you know a ‘Sarah’? If delegation is not the issue, I wonder if you substitute ‘delegation’ for something else whether this story is familiar?

A model to make sense of it

This is where the immunity to change (ITC) model comes in. Developed by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey and recorded in their book Immunity to Change,1 the ITC model recognises that some changes cannot just be ‘willed into action’. Following a ‘to-do list’ and trying to form a new habit just doesn’t work. And we’re talking about smart, disciplined people here, not someone flaky who doesn’t care. In fact, it’s the same as the New Year’s resolution commitment to change. If the posts online earlier this year are to be believed, by February we’ve stopped paying any attention to our heartfelt commitment to ‘exercise more’ or whatever goal we had, and by April we’ve even forgotten we set the goal. To our ‘gym bunny’ friends we are just not disciplined enough or committed enough, or we don’t really care. But that’s not the case. Instead, there is a bigger draw or draws for our attention. Those draws thwart our progress on our intended goal. The ITC model invites us to identify and consciously see these different

draws for our attention. It asks us to develop plans, which we hold lightly, through an experimental mindset, in order to make progress on the matters that are drawing our attention away from the intended goal. You might be thinking this doesn’t make sense: why would we work on something other than the main goal? It sounds counter-intuitive. So, let’s consider an example. When I was working with a group a while ago, one of the participants shared her story with me. She had been trying to lose weight for many years. When I met her, she said she had lost 20 kilograms and kept it off for two years. Her secret? She didn’t go on a diet. She was quick to point that out. Instead, she focused on the sort of life she wanted to have, and she worked on different aspects of that ‘ideal new’ life, one step at a time (and with help from her life coach). And she lost weight. The change in her mindset and her life created different food choices for her. She felt happier in her personal life, was more productive in her work life and generally more satisfied with where she was heading. In effect, this is the ITC model in action. When I shared it with her, she totally agreed that she had been putting it into action

1 Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (2009) Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization. Boston, MA, Harvard Business Review Press.




without even realising it, and she committed to learning more to see how it might continue to help her.

identify one big assumption to work on in using our more traditional goal-setting methodologies.

So, this is how it works. It’s a fourcolumn model in the identification, and I suggest a further five columns in the action. While I sometimes use different headings when working with people, here I will use the language from Kegan and Lahey’s book.

An example will help. ‘Sarah’ above wants “to be better at delegation”. This is her column 1 goal. When honestly inquiring about what she is doing or not doing instead of delegating (column 2), in moments of honesty, Sarah identifies several things – and it’s most helpful if she can identify at least five actions, behaviours or mindsets she is adopting instead of delegating. Here’s Sarah’s list: I am not prioritising the work required of my team, nor am I distinguishing the urgent from the important, I don’t ask for help, I don’t say ‘no’ to anyone, I don’t plan my time, I spend a lot of time on emails (and then have little time left over).

Column 3 is both the hardest to identify and the most critical to making progress. The answers in here are confronting for people. However, as is often the case when something is confronting, completing this column honestly and thoroughly is what makes breakthroughs possible. Column 4 invites us to make sense of the issue with a more remote, onlooker perspective. Only when we have done this can we helpfully

At this point, there have not been many surprises for Sarah; she has been okay about identifying the things she has or has not been doing. In fact, she has discussed most of these with her manager and coach over the past three years. What she can’t seem to do, though, is hold herself to doing something differently. Column 3 is where Sarah will identify the thinking that is putting a brake on her ability to achieve her column 1 goal. When having to identify what worry arises for Sarah if she does not do the things listed in column 2 (yes, tricky concept when there are double negatives involved), this is what Sarah realises for her ‘part one’ answers: I worry that I might not achieve like I’m used to, that I might be wrong, that I’ll lose control, that I will be dependent on others.

Identifying the ITC 1. Visible commitment

2. Doing or not doing instead

3. Hidden competing commitments

4. Big assumptions

What do you want to be better at? Pick just one thing. Use the preface:

What are you doing or not doing that is counter to achieving this goal?

Part 1: What is the worry for you if you do not do the things you have noted in column 2?

I want to be better at:

I do:

I worry that:

What are the assumptions you are making that are keeping you captive to your commitments in column 3?

I don’t:

Part 2: So, what does your answer above mean you are really committed to?

I assume that if..., then…

I am committed to:




Then, further urged to consider what these factors mean she is really committed to, Sarah is shocked to identify: I am committed to not giving up the quick wins and experiencing myself as an achiever, to not finding out I’m wrong, to not failing, to not being dependent on others or putting my fate in others’ hands. The double negatives in these answers can be tricky to get your head around, but when you do, they are extremely powerful. In effect, the identification of these commitments shows that Sarah cannot get better at delegation without giving up part of the identity she has created for herself to date in her work role. About now, Sarah can feel pretty stuck. Her unconscious immunity has now been brought into consciousness; it doesn’t feel good. But there is light at the end of the tunnel: column 4. Big assumption test


When Sarah sees this list, she can identify some entries as assumptions she is holding lightly and others that are significant for her. The

Success looks like:

Action to take:


Column 4 helps identify the assumptions that are holding Sarah captive and preventing her from making progress on her goal. These are her column 4 insights: I assume that: If I don’t get quick wins, I’ll be anxious and ineffective, that I need them to know I’m on track; If I find out I’m wrong, I don’t deserve this role; If I fail, I’ll let down everyone I care about; If I’m dependent on others, I’m screwed when they don’t deliver; Effective leaders get it right first time; We can’t make mistakes and survive; I can do it better than the others can; It takes longer to explain it to someone so they get it right than it does to do it myself.


idea is to take courage and identify the assumptions that we believe are putting the biggest brake on progress, and then work to understand and test whether those assumptions are, in fact valid, or not.

Overturning the immunity

Kegan and Lahey provide helpful tips for action. For instance, we can consider the history of the big assumption: what has happened in our life that has caused us to build this assumption? And we can design experiments to yield disconfirming information. SMART criteria apply to each experiment. Experiments should be: Safe, Modest, Actionable within a few weeks (it’s important to make a quick start), Research-focused (datadriven), and Test the big assumption (rather than being some tricky way of proving it).

Data collected

Examination of results

What now?

What happened, reactions:

Possible interpretations and accuracy of big assumption:

Another big assumption test or something else?

From here on in, the goal-setting is more like we are used to. The columns to complete are as follows: Big assumption test; Success looks like; Data collected; Examination of results; What now? (Refer to table on page 42.) By using this process, Sarah will improve her understanding of her big assumptions and release the brake to progress on her delegation goal. Ideally, she will do this with an action partner beside her, to help her bring consciousness to what may be unconscious, and to help her see her progress objectively. The aim is for the work on the big assumption to help Sarah get to a situation where her conscious immunity transitions to conscious release and then unconscious release. While it can take about six months to see goal progress, this seems like a relatively small amount of time, given the three years she has already been working on it. So, what’s your ITC challenge, and how will you progress it?

Because this is not an easy tool to get your head around, if you want to use it in your organisation, I recommend that, to make a start, you read Kegan and Lahey’s book, attend their Minds at Work training, or seek the support of someone who has.

Kristen Cooper is an experienced senior manager with several years’ experience running her bespoke consultancy. She offers solutions in business strategy and performance; people, leadership and culture; training, coaching and facilitation; and conflict resolution and mediation. One of HRNZ’s past National Presidents, Kristen is proud of her association with our institute and welcomes contributing to supporting organisations, line managers, and people and capability professionals to be the best they can be. She facilitates HRNZ’s HR Manager programme, which helps with the transition from HR advisor to HR manager. Registrations are open for new and aspiring HR managers. E:





Managing a career through COVID-19 Dr Christian Yao, from Victoria University of Wellington, reflects on how much has changed in the career landscape over the past few months and looks at how we can keep our careers on track and thriving.


nly six months ago, I was teaching a class of students about technological disruption on careers and how this may reshape individuals, organisations and societies. Today, as a result of COVID-19, these scenarios need to be revisited as we experience a global wipe-out of jobs, incomes, livelihoods and future endeavours. The effects have begun. Pilots who spent years training and flying now face the harsh reality of losing their jobs. Café and restaurant owners who have put all their money and energy into their businesses have faced months of minimal revenue. Tour operators who have previously enjoyed the international tourist influx have seen visitor numbers reduce to zero. These are just some of the examples of how the global pandemic has affected people. According to the International Labour Organization, the disruption to 44



the world’s economies caused by the pandemic is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of this year – the equivalent of 195 million jobs worldwide. The speed is fast, the scale is vast and the effect is cascading. So far, lots of attention has been given to the impact on jobs and incomes but less so on careers.

It is the government’s role to save jobs but, individually, it is our job to rethink and be more strategic about our careers. So, what are the differences between careers and jobs, and how should we view and protect our careers through the pandemic? • A job is something you do to earn money and to pay the bills while a career is a series of connected employment and business opportunities to achieve personal goals. • A job can be short term, yet a career needs a plan with a focus on long-term achievements. • A job is a reactive approach to the changing context. A career requires a proactive attitude and careful craftsmanship.

• You can lose a job in the blink of an eye. Careers can stay with you even when you experience temporary shocks. It is the government’s role to save jobs but, individually, it is our job to rethink and be more strategic about our careers.

Protect the basics: Finances

First and foremost, we need to take care of our personal finances. Do a budget and think about ways of reducing expenses and be prepared for potential job loss. Get in touch with your bank and discuss ways they can support you through the shortterm pressure. Gather information from the government to see what support you may get.

The disruption to the world’s economies caused by the pandemic is expected to wipe out the equivalent of 195 million jobs worldwide. Differentiate between a job and a career

If you’ve lost a job or are about to, it is important to be pragmatic about the differences between a job and a career. Get a job that will help pay the bills but also spend time thinking

about the big picture – your career. What are the things that make you truly happy? Are there any career paths you have always wanted to pursue but never got around to? What will it take you to get there? Asking these questions will help you find a path through the woods to start an exciting new journey. I was made redundant from an IT company in 2009 as a result of the Global Financial Crisis. I quickly found a job in a restaurant to maintain my income, and during this time, I had the space and motivation to plan for my dream career of being an academic.

What are the things that make you truly happy? Are there any career paths you have always wanted to pursue but never got around to? What will it take you to get there? Invest in your career capital

Like investments, the value of your career will likely experience ups and downs during your life. Sometimes, it may be useful to accept the shortterm losses and focus on the longterm gains. With a careful plan and persistence, you will see a bull market for your skills. You should

also invest in your career capital, for example: develop skills that are future proof, maintain and build your professional networks, and work on your personal resilience.

job loss and jumpstarting a new career. Looking after your physical and mental health first will only make your newly selected career more sustainable.

Be innovative and flexible

Regardless of the impact of COVID-19, we have entered an era where careers are no longer conventional. Contracting jobs, portfolio careers and digital careers may be good options for you.

Treat the job market as an eco-system

Following the principles of Yin and Yang, you should treat the job market as an integrated system. If you work with the tide, rather than against it, you will always know which step to take. If an occupation is perceived to be redundant, then accept it and move on.

Be the first mover

We all know that the impact of COVID-19 will pass one day, so we need to be prepared. Collect information from different sources and be ready to grab the opportunities when you see them.

Be kind to yourself

Finally, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. It can be a lonely and painful process surviving a

Dr Christian Yao is the Academic Programme Leader of the Masters of Global Business and a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington. Christian’s research focuses on global careers, cross-cultural mobility and international human resource management. Christian is an award-winning researcher, and his work has been published in academic journals such as the International Journal of Human Resource Management, the International Journal of Management Reviews and Career Development International. His collaborative research on living wage issues in New Zealand addresses the important social issue of poverty using capability theory. Christian holds editorial roles in several international journals.





What we know about workplace wellbeing Through their work as social researchers, Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell have researched how wellbeing can support managers to lead thriving teams in these rapidly changing times. This article delves into some of this research, giving us an overview of what workplace wellbeing is and why it’s important.

wellbeing. Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, a survey of 1,002 New Zealanders found that workers were most likely to value freedom (53 per cent), travel (41 per cent), health (40 per cent), relationships (39 per cent) and choice (30 per cent). Since then, the value placed on health and wellbeing increased from 40 per cent to 54 per cent, to become the area that New Zealanders now value most. Other values that have also increased

include kindness (by 14 per cent), time for reflection (by 14 per cent), relationships (by 10 per cent) and spirituality and faith (by 5 per cent). Thinking about their own lives after the current COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealanders expect they will spend more time with family and friends face-to-face (55 per cent), take better care of their health (47 per cent) and prioritise financial saving (40 per cent).


n a survey of 1,160 Australian workers, we found that 72 per cent of respondents regard wellbeing as the most important aspect of their workplace, rating it above flexible working hours, inspiring leadership and their relationships with colleagues. Eighty-three per cent also believe it’s up to the employer to facilitate wellbeing in the workplace. Let’s look at what that means.

Elements of wellbeing

Personal wellbeing is a crucial goal people are always striving towards and, because work comprises such a big part of our lives, it is a major contributor to it. Significant events often cause people to reflect and reassess what they value in life to improve their personal 46



Taken with permission from Work Wellbeing by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell.

So, when it comes to workplace wellbeing initiatives or programmes, workplace leaders should consider a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of their teams that is considerate of the individuals’ needs. Our approach focuses on personal, interpersonal, vocational and financial wellbeing – see diagram. Workplaces that encourage people to focus and prioritise these elements of their personal wellbeing are critical to people thriving both personally and at work. This might range from encouraging people to leave on time to having regular breaks from sedentary work. Ensuring the workplace is a healthy environment where workers are encouraged and supported, have opportunities to find balance in their lives and enjoyment in their work also contributes to workers’ mental wellbeing.

Seven of the top ten blockers to thriving organisations are directly related to leadership. Culture

We wanted to test how important culture and values alignment so, in our worker survey, we pitted it against other important factors in the workforce, to see which, on

the whole, workers valued more. We asked the question: ‘When looking for a place of employment, which matters most to you: the organisational culture and values alignment or the conditions, earnings and salary package?’. Amazingly, for more than half of all workers (58 per cent) organisational culture and values mattered more than remuneration. While workplace culture is important for all workers regardless of age, our research showed it is key to attraction and retention for the emerging generations. Culture can be quite complex to understand and difficult to communicate. It involves meaning and purpose, both of which are significant contributors to wellbeing and a sense of fulfilment. In our worker survey, 57 per cent strongly or somewhat agreed that they find purpose and meaning in their work. Similarly, 54 per cent strongly or somewhat agreed that what they do for work is making a difference in people’s lives. While these are positive findings, it also indicates that just under half of workers do not find purpose and meaning in their work or feel as though what they do for work is not making a difference in people’s lives. When asked whether efforts are made to help people find

purpose and meaning in their work, one-in-two workers (50 per cent) strongly or somewhat agreed. Clearly, work still needs to be done in our organisations. Human beings are social creatures, and our interpersonal wellbeing is essential to thriving at work. A sense of belonging and connection with others correlates with higher self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, faster recovery from disease, lower levels of stress, less mental illness and a longer life. Therefore, research suggests that, more than just what you’re doing at work, it’s who you’re doing it with and why you’re doing it that contributes to overall engagement and wellbeing.

Barriers to work wellbeing

Just as fantastic opportunities are there for workplaces and leaders to prioritise the wellbeing of their teams, so too are barriers that need to be overcome so people can thrive and flourish. In our worker survey, we asked: ‘In your workplace, which of the following are blockers to you thriving at work?’. The biggest blocker was being overworked and stressed (31 per cent), followed by management structures and hierarchy (28 per cent) and leadership




(26 per cent). Seven of the top ten blockers to thriving are directly related to leadership, and even the remaining three – general culture, fellow co-workers and job insecurity – can be significantly shaped by leaders. This study showed that, in one word, the biggest blocker to workplace flourishing is leadership.

For more than half of all workers (58 per cent), organisational culture and values mattered more than remuneration. Our research also showed that a significant barrier to workplace wellbeing is a focus on return on investment. Leaders do need to focus on outcomes and financials for their organisation to exist, but if that is the only thing they focus on it can lead to demotivated, uninspired and disengaged workers. Great leaders build teams that deliver results, and because they prioritise wellbeing, their performance is sustainable rather than short term. These leaders aren’t driven by fads but by a compelling vision of their future. In summary, work wellbeing exists where people are championed above profits, where the culture is aspirational and inspirational, not just transactional, and where there is a compelling passion for societal good rather than personal gain. And it also exists where leaders are focused on creating a community of customers, clients and teams. Note: This article refers to research from three surveys: two conducted in 2019 and one conducted in 2020. The first involved 1,160 respondents and the second 1,001 respondents. For these surveys, respondents were aged between 18 and 65 years and were employed or self-employed. The third survey was conducted in 2020 and involved 1,002 New Zealanders, nationally representative by age, gender and region. 48



Ashley Fell, along with Mark McCrindle, is the author of Work Wellbeing: Leading thriving teams in rapidly changing times. She is a sought-after speaker, social researcher and the Communications Director at McCrindle, which helps leading organisations gain a clearer picture of what they can do to make a difference in their teams. Work Wellbeing: Leading thriving teams in rapidly changing times is available at all good bookstores and online at


Shaping the future Growing up, I always had a clear career vision to either become a pop star or a human resources director!


his is partly because eight-year-old Cecilia always prided herself on being a leader, as she made others willingly follow her every decision (you guessed it, I’m the older sibling). My instinctual protectiveness and sense of responsibility to unify my girlfriends on the school grounds has shaped my interest in supporting those around me. Naturally, I became a Management student at the University of Auckland. You might ask, what is it like to study human resources? As I reached nine years old, I soon realised that ‘being bossy’ was definitely not good enough to be a successful HR director. As students, we are challenged to always think critically about a variety of HRM topics. Should humour be encouraged in the workplace? How could we address the gender pay gap? Participating in these discussions has not only expanded my perspective of the HR industry it has made me feel empowered to be part of society’s transition towards a more inclusive, autocratic workforce.

Participating in HRM discussions has ... made me feel empowered to be part of society’s transition towards a more inclusive, autocratic workforce. The study of human behaviour and psychology has also enabled me to thrive in team-based projects. I especially enjoy the process of

facilitating collaborative environments for my peers to leverage off each other’s strengths.

and supportive culture is one that I am also motivated to carry into my future workplace.

With the eagerness to gain more practical experience, I signed up for an HRNZ Student Event at Auckland University of Technology. Hearing from a diverse panel of directors, partners and entrepreneurs was highly motivating because it showed me where a career in HR could lead. I was drawn to the personalities of HRNZ’s leaders and share the same values: to support the community of young HR professionals. This drove me to apply for the role of a student ambassador.

Being able to contribute to the meaningful cause of building a platform for my peers to share ideas and inspire each other has overall made the whole experience invaluable. I am excited to unpack the HR industry further as I continue to study, and I cannot wait to work on more projects with the team at HRNZ to shape the future of people and culture in New Zealand.

However, it did not come without its challenges. In particular, the COVID-19 lockdown brought about unconventional methods of communicating and required a degree of creativity in the way we worked around each other. One of the biggest challenges was facilitating the panel for the ‘Changing HR Landscapes’ webinar over Zoom for students across New Zealand. This really put all of my communication skills (and improv skills) to the test!

My role as a student ambassador has already pushed me to take part in many opportunities outside of my comfort zone. Even though I am still a ‘newbie’ to the organisation, my role as a student ambassador has already pushed me to take part in many opportunities outside of my comfort zone. I am grateful to be entrusted with this position where I can have the licence of freedom in setting and delivering my goals. HRNZ’s warm

Cecilia Zhang is a third-year management and marketing student at the University of Auckland. With her passion for engaging with and influencing the community, she aspires to one day become a CEO of a social enterprise. She also studies classical music and loves to sing. LinkedIn:





Culture for breakfast Our regular columnist Natalie Barker, Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance, looks at what she, as a leader, has learnt as a result of managing a remote team during the first COVID-19 lockdown period.


ast Friday, one of my team texted me while she was on annual leave. She had taken the leave to spend time with someone in her family who was unwell, so when she messaged me, I was concerned something had happened. In fact, she was sharing her insights from a podcast she’d been listening to. I was pleased to spend a few minutes exchanging reflections on the connection between vulnerability and courage.

In my team, we agreed a while back that we would ‘learn loudly’. In our organisation, it’s not unusual to share learnings and reflections with each other. In my team, we agreed a while back that we would ‘learn loudly’. One of the first things we do on a Monday is share our learning goals for the week. Over the past few months, themes have emerged around what team members are choosing to learn about. Their choices reflect what’s happening in our business and across the




globe. They’re talking about agility, leadership, change, wellbeing and getting comfortable with uncertainty. The business I work for, like many others, is facing into the disruption caused by COVID-19, so we can deliver the experiences our customers value, as their own realities are changing. It has been heart-warming to see my team leaning into change and disruption instead of ignoring the discomfort they’re feeling. To me, it reflects the team turning a challenge into an opportunity to forge growth and build a positive culture.

They’re talking about agility, leadership, change, wellbeing and getting comfortable with uncertainty. As a leader, it’s my role to understand what my team members value and align those values to a culture that supports our vision. My team values the connection and trust we have between us, much of which has been shaped by navigating difficult situations together. We appreciate that we back and support each other. We’re proud that we face into challenges, even when we’re not sure of the outcome. I believe that culture comes from within a team and reflects what’s important to each member. I also believe leaders can help shape that over time; in fact, I believe it’s our job to do so.

As Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. If your organisation’s culture doesn’t serve its strategy, it won’t achieve its purpose. There aren’t many organisations that haven’t experienced a shift of some sort in their strategy over recent months. Culture needs to keep up. In times of disruption and uncertainty, leaders need to check that they’re role-modelling what’s most important to them. They need to be prepared to be open about their discomfort and open to hearing from their teams. If our actions give our teams the impression we have all the answers, that we’re OK all the time, or that we want them to keep doing what they’ve always done, we’re not helping them, our organisation or our customers. So, I was pleased to read that text message last Friday. “You can’t have courage without vulnerability, because that is putting yourself out there in situations where you can’t control the outcome – we have a very courageous team.” It tells me we’re on the right track.

Natalie Barker is Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance. She has been leading people for 15 years and believes that leveraging people’s strengths and passions is the best way to drive engagement and get stuff done.

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Articles inside

Top of mind... article cover image
Top of mind...
page 4
From the editor article cover image
From the editor
page 5
News Roundup article cover image
News Roundup
pages 6-7
Ready, steady, GO! article cover image
Ready, steady, GO!
pages 8-9
Coaching: Understanding my emotional response  article cover image
Coaching: Understanding my emotional response
page 13
HRNZ Member Profile: John Baillie article cover image
HRNZ Member Profile: John Baillie
page 14
HRNZ Member Profile: Kate Rengey article cover image
HRNZ Member Profile: Kate Rengey
page 15
Leadership: What exactly is strategic leadership? article cover image
Leadership: What exactly is strategic leadership?
pages 16-19
Employee Experience: Maintaining a positive corporate culture article cover image
Employee Experience: Maintaining a positive corporate culture
pages 20-21
Employment Law: Workplace Investigations article cover image
Employment Law: Workplace Investigations
pages 22-23
L&D: Making a start article cover image
L&D: Making a start
pages 24-25
Charity profile: Corporate volunteering builds strong teams article cover image
Charity profile: Corporate volunteering builds strong teams
page 26
Get Chartered! article cover image
Get Chartered!
page 27
Organisational Culture: You can't recruit your way to a new culture article cover image
Organisational Culture: You can't recruit your way to a new culture
pages 28-29
Immigration Law: New essential skills work visa policy and the border exception process  article cover image
Immigration Law: New essential skills work visa policy and the border exception process
pages 30-31
Insights: What's it like around here? article cover image
Insights: What's it like around here?
pages 32-33
Managing health and safety in the post-COVID workplace article cover image
Managing health and safety in the post-COVID workplace
pages 34-36
Leadership: What's the best response to COVID? article cover image
Leadership: What's the best response to COVID?
pages 38-41
PD Spotlight: Immunity to change: why, what and how? article cover image
PD Spotlight: Immunity to change: why, what and how?
pages 42-45
Managing a career through change article cover image
Managing a career through change
pages 46-48
Research Update: What we know about workplace wellbeing  article cover image
Research Update: What we know about workplace wellbeing
pages 49-50
Student Perspective: Shaping the future - Cecilia Zhang article cover image
Student Perspective: Shaping the future - Cecilia Zhang
page 51
Am I managing: Culture for breakfast article cover image
Am I managing: Culture for breakfast
page 52