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BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
You may have heard us eagerly discussing the diagnosis, design and development of better organisational culture.
What we really relish is not just the talk but helping to map the current state and plan what needs to be done to reach a desired future culture.
Susan had the pleasure of working with the CHOICE team on their journey. Check out what they did, as told by Jessica Hill, Director, People & Culture at CHOICE:
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” a phrase attributed to management guru Peter Drucker.
Organisational culture is so very important, it’s one of the main reasons that people leave an organisation and why they’re drawn to a new one. Culture is often hard to describe, although when it’s not quite right it becomes clear very quickly.
At CHOICE we’ve spent a number of years focusing on employee engagement. This has been a comprehensive approach with feedback loops and dedicated action that’s led to a highly engaged workforce. But engagement isn’t all-encompassing. There are aspects within an organisation’s culture that don’t typically surface when looking solely at employee engagement. It was this realisation that led us to focus on our culture in 2016.
How do you define culture?
Initially we loosely defined culture as the “way we do things around here”, recognising that this takes into account the values and beliefs that shape our organisation. There are some other good definitions:
“Organisational culture is defined as the shared values, norms and expectations that govern the way people approach their work and interact with each other. In other words it’s “what am I expected to do in order to fit in and get ahead here.” Mike Gourlay, Director, Human Synergistics
“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.” Frances Hesselbein
To identify and map our culture we found a simple and effective tool in Dave Gray’s culture map.
This map allowed us to take stock of the behaviours we were seeing and the enablers and blockers that were influencing those behaviours. It also highlighted the outcomes that they all contributed to.
Mapping culture while balancing rigour
The CHOICE culture is built on rigour, so these culture workshops with post-it notes did seem a little vague to some of our teams. We looked to validate some of the behaviours that we collectively agreed were present in our culture. We then asked leaders to complete a Harrison Assessment facilitated and debriefed by Susan Rochester from Balance at Work . We analysed the group’s collective Harrison data and compared it with what we identified in the workshops. This gave us a mark-in-time view of our current culture.
Mapping our aspirational or future culture
With a new strategy underway, we wanted to understand what our future or aspirational culture looked like. This is the culture that would allow us to deliver our strategy. We again used a collaborative approach to define our future culture using Dave Gray’s culture map. We came away with an agreed future state, with three key aspirations:
1. A collective understanding of the strategic direction
2. A learning organisation
3. An improving organisation
What does the future hold for culture at CHOICE?
Culture is constantly moving while we’ve mapped our current and future culture, they’ll be forever evolving.
What did this achieve?
- A common language around culture
- Culture now measured at points in time
- Less focus on employee engagement numbers and more focus on qualitative measures
- We identified gaps in our current culture vs where we want to be (future culture)
- Taking stock of and leveraging the strengths in our culture (mutual respect, flexible thinking, collaboration, information sharing, motivation to making a difference)
We’ve also worked with fantastic coaches Susan Rochester and Dr Sean Richardson to help us shift to where we need to be. We’ve started with organisational communication and looked at ‘possibility’ conversations. While we have a united organisational purpose, this focus has shown us that individual team purposes haven’t yet been clearly articulated.
Where to next?
We’re moving into another strategic planning process. As part of this process, we’ve embedded a focus on culture as a key determinant in the success of the new strategy.
CEB/Gartner research from 2017 found organisations with strong cultures do two things really well:
- They know where they want their culture to go and;
- they measure it at regular intervals.
Have you thought about mapping or measuring your culture?
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
One thing we all have in common is unconscious bias or implicit association.
A simpler way to describe it is that we have ‘blind spots’ in our attitudes to other people that lead us to assume certain things about them.
It can be a mental shorthand we use when making decisions and it can lead to the wrong decisions.
If you don’t think this applies to you, I strongly encourage you to try this quick quiz!
On this White Ribbon Day, drawing attention to domestic violence in Australia, let’s take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Domestic violence exists, be it against women, children or men, because of a belief held by some people that in our society some people are less worthy than others.
This happens because of the assumptions we make about other people, often based on nothing more than what we’ve been told about them.
Here’s an excellent illustration of implicit association at work:
What are the beliefs you are projecting onto other people?
And how is that impacting your interactions not only with strangers but with your family, your friends and colleagues?
Being aware of our own biases and consciously making an effort to change will simply make us more compassionate.
I might be biased, but I think our homes, workplaces, communities and planet could use more compassion right now. It starts with us.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
All professionals depend on the trust of their clients, and unfortunately when clients lose trust it takes a long time to get it back. So how do you avoid losing the faith of your clients in the first place?
Trust is the thing which makes a client want your advice, pay for it and follow it.
It’s a fundamental bedrock of a business relationship, but much like termites eating a structure from within you may not know you’re losing trust with your clients until it’s too late.
Many of the things we do to lose trust with clients, we do unwittingly. We’re only human, after all.
But there are things you can do to recognise and, more importantly, rectify faltering trust before it’s too late.
Here are some warning signs to look for in your business if you want to avoid losing clients or gaining a bad reputation.
1. Your own house is not in order
You’re probably familiar with the expression ‘the plumber with a leaky tap’. It’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t apply to your business – even if you aren’t a plumber.
Is there anything your clients pay you to do for them that you don’t get right in your own business?
If you’re an accountant, are the invoices and statements you send your clients 100 percent accurate?
If you’re a graphic designer, is your branding constantly updated and appealing? If you’re an HR consultant are your internal staff management processes best practice?
None of us is perfect, and mistakes happen, but your attitude to your core business activities will reflect the quality your clients expect in the work you do for them.
Would you be happy to put your accounts in the hands of the accountant who sends you inaccurate bills?
2. Your clients see style over substance
A recent survey found the following occupations were rated as ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for ethics and honesty by just 25 percent or less of the Australian population: Car Sales; Advertising; Real Estate; Insurance Broking; Stockbroking; Politics; Journalism; Financial Planning.
They’re all seen as jobs that can be lacking in substance – where style and profile is put ahead of providing value to clients.
Are you someone who puts a lot of effort into presentation, branding and profile?
On their own, there’s nothing wrong with putting effort into those areas – but if it’s not matched by a commitment to deliver value for clients then you risk eroding the trust of your clients.
How you present yourself and your business will have less impact than how you behave when it comes to clients’ trust levels.
3. You’ve forgotten who number one is
Without clients, your business doesn’t exist.
There’s no value in what you sell – products or services – unless you have a paying customer.
That’s why the customer is always the most important part of your business.
You may believe this, but do you and all your team act according to your belief?
Look at your business from a client’s perspective.
If you were a client of your business, would you know you were more important than anyone else? Or, would you feel the business has other priorities more important than your own?
Some banks, telcos and retailers are notorious for ignoring the importance of customers and putting their own interests first. You can no doubt think of your own examples.
How far would you trust them to look after you? Be careful you’re not going down the same path.
Is it time to do a ‘trust audit’ of your business?
This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
Boosting the impact of career planning: Strategies for getting the most out of your programs.
(Click here to view research highlights and download the full 16-page report.)
Today’s HR professionals know how crucial career planning is but their organisations often fail to act on this knowledge, according to new research conducted by HR.com in partnership with Harrison Assessments.
Our survey analysis also revealed a number of critical findings that relate career planning to issues such as employee retention, engagement, recruitment, assessment and leadership development. Below are some of the key findings from the research:
1. Career planning has grown more important in the last three years, suggests the data. About nine out of ten respondents said employee career planning is either more important (48%) or as important (43%) compared to three years ago.
2. Few organisations approach employee career planning systematically, despite its rising importance. Just 11% of participants say employee career planning is a serious initiative in their organisations.
3. Employee career planning has a large impact on other critical talent management areas, according to many of our respondents. Participants believe career planning has a very high or high impact on employee retention (60% of respondents), employee engagement (58%), and recruitment of high-quality talent (45%).
4. Few organisations make data-driven decisions related to employee career management: About 60% of the participants use competency models for leadership development, but less than
one-in-four participants use behaviour assessments in career planning.
5. Most participants report they are either already facing or will face soon talent gaps in leadership: More than one-third (35%) of the participants say they already face a leadership talent gap. Another 20% say they will face a leadership talent gap within two years.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
The video below really puts a smile on my face. Could it be because I know – from my Harrison Assessments results, at least – that I have a very low tolerance for structure? I’ve learnt from experience that not everyone thinks like this and that there are benefits to having rules and regulations. For one, you wouldn’t want to go out on the road if you weren’t confident that most people follow most of the rules most of the time!
If you’re like me and want to do things your own way, read on for the tips I share below for living in a world full of structure. But first, enjoy the video! Apologies to those who think work comes before fun – you probably don’t need to read any further.
Tips for when structure matters more to others than it does to you
Firstly, I can’t claim to do all these things all of the time. They are just ideas designed to make us feel better about structure.
- Realise that just because it doesn’t make sense to you, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. It’s fine to question the status quo but at some point in the past what you are questioning was important to someone.
- Ask questions. As Stephen Covey famously said: “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” Practice empathy.
- Listen – don’t interrupt. When you think you know a better way, your enthusiasm drives you to share it at the earliest opportunity. Keep your ideas to yourself for now.
- Influence gently. Once you’ve fully listened that is! Show don’t tell. You can demonstrate what needs to change and why.
- Don’t kerb your enthusiasm. Any change – especially to the ‘tried and true’ – takes time. It’s your desire to make things better for everyone and the persistence that breeds will make the difference.
- Be patient. Not everyone will want the speed of change and variety you seek, even after you have convinced them that the change is a good thing.
- Pick your battles. You might not like doing things a certain way, but if it helps to make it easier for others to work with you then sometimes it’s best to keep your ideas to yourself. On the other hand, as the video shows, sometimes it can be harmless to break a few rules when no-one’s looking. But choose them very carefully!
[Tweet “Tolerating structure – it’s all about respect and empathy”
You might not follow all these tips all of the time either. The first step is awareness and the second step is practice. Remember, if no-one questioned the way things are done, we’d all still be sitting in caves chewing raw meat. One change in the way things are done that definitely relied on demonstrating a newer, better structure.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
Some new business owners struggle with how to treat their ‘competition’. Do you research what they’re doing? Do you try to beat them on price? Do you even try to undermine their integrity? What if collaboration is a better option?
It can be difficult when you’re in start-up mode not to have a negative view of your competitors. They are already established, they already have the clients you would like to have and they may the staff and infrastructure you can only dream of at this stage.
- They already know the market and they’re talking to your potential clients;
- They’ve made mistakes you can avoid if you know about them; and
- Most people want to help you because it makes them feel good.
Learning from what your competitors do well, and tapping into what and who they know, can be a real short-cut to getting your business off the ground.
Getting to know your competitors (and I don’t mean spying on them!) will be one of the best steps you can take towards having a successful business. Ask yourself: How can I help them? What expertise, tools and experience can I offer that will support their success?
A friend of mine calls this ‘coopetition’. I’ve built my business on close relationships with other businesses that outsiders would see as my competition.
If you are still hesitating about picking up the phone and having that first conversation, give us a call first. We are always open to opportunities for collaboration and happy to help with tips to start you on your ‘coopetition’ journey.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
We can’t all be good at everything, but we’re all good at something. You can build a career on knowing how to combine average levels of ability.
This is true even if you’re not brilliant at any one thing. Take Donald Trump for example…
The talent stack is a concept I first encountered through Scott Adams (the Dilbert cartoonist). In this post from January 2016, he predicts the rise of Donald Trump based on his unique combination of talents.
We all have some talent, skill or characteristic we already possess or can develop if we are willing to put in the time, work and energy.
This combination will give you the advantage over anyone who believes a unique talent, or passion, in just one area is enough as a base for a successful career. Look at Scott Adams’ talent stack as an example:
1. Artistic talent (mediocre)
2. Writing talent (simple and persuasive, but not Pulitzer-worthy)
3. Business skills (Good, not amazing)
4. Marketing and PR (good, not great)
5. Social media skills (mediocre)
6. Persuasion skills (above average, but not Trump-like)
Any one of those skills alone would be enough for an average career. Recognising that combining them systematically to make him more valuable is what has made Scott Adams above average. It was also the key to building a satisfying and successful career.
What do you think of this idea? How could you create a talent stack that works for you in your career?
We can help you work out your unique talent stack and how to build on it. Find out more here.
Or you could use Scott Adams’ list above as a guide. What talents have made you successful so far? What talents are you willing to develop further?
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
We love sharing career stories! What could be more inspiring or educational than hearing about other people’s experiences in a wide range of careers?
There are 2 ‘occasional’ series of career stories running on this blog:
- What’s your story? (Here’s one of the early stories, just updated.)
- Career reality check (So far we’ve touched on pilots and TV presenters.)
Today’s career reality check is ideal for you to share with anyone who might be considering a career in fashion publishing.
We became aware of the 60 Minutes segment below because one of the subjects, Laura Brown, is my cousin. From growing up in Sydney and studying at Charles Sturt University, Laura has worked incredibly hard to pursue her dream of working in fashion in New York. Laura is now Editor-in-chief of InStyle magazine. The other Australian subject of the story, Jo Levin, built her own path to Editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine in London.
Their stories are inspiring. Both women epitomise the power of creativity and persistence. That, and a love for their work. They also have in common an ability to be true to themselves and their own vision.
Incredibly, Jo just happens to be the cousin of one of my friends and neighbours. How’s that for a ‘small world’ story?
Do you know someone with a career story that should be shared? Let us know!
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
(This was my first ever post on LinkedIn and what I said seems to have struck a chord. That’s why I’m also sharing it here. Hope you like it!)
This question is not a huge, existential angst-filled, deep philosophical question. Instead, I mean “why are you HERE – on social media?”.
This is my first article on LinkedIn, even though I’ve been blogging here forever. It’s also a post that’s been rumbling around in me for over a year.
Back when I first thought of writing this post, at the start of 2016, I had just learnt that someone I had known and cared about for over 30 years was gone from this world. It was a big shock to me.
In the preceding few years, I had reconnected with this old acquaintance through our business interests, on LinkedIn and via our weekly email ‘Feel Good Friday’. With those links, even though I hadn’t seen him for many months, I thought we were ‘connected’.
But that was an illusion. We weren’t connected enough for me to know that he had become seriously ill and would die before I got around to seeing him again.
This sad event led me to reflect on the meaning of connection…
I love social media and the relationships, knowledge, sharing and thousands of ‘connections’ it has brought me since I started using LinkedIn over 10 years ago.
Social media platforms make it easy for us to stay in touch with more people than ever before. But if we believe that being here is keeping us connected with people who are important to us, then we are kidding ourselves.
We are not communicating, we are broadcasting. We may have some interesting interactions with others – whom we may or may not know in the ‘real world’ – but they are usually simple and ephemeral. Who knows, we may even prefer it to be that way because we have so many other demands on our time and attention.
Sometimes I may even choose to use social media because it feels quicker, cleaner and more efficient than having to deal with real people in real life situations. And most small business owners I know are in the same boat. We feel compelled to do our marketing here because it feels like we’re doing something. Perhaps we are using it to help us avoid what we really should be doing!
At worst, all this is a distraction from the connections we could be making.
I continue to use social media but I understand the relationships that matter can’t be sustained this way. They need time, attention and real conversations.
Go for a walk. Pick up the phone. Send a card. Have a conversation. Connect!
And so I publish this first article hoping something I’ve said will connect with how you’re thinking and feeling. Yes, I do see the irony here!
Please let me know what you think below… or give me a call, or drop me a line, or go talk to someone close to you.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
Harrison Assessments Paradox Theory enables organisations to identify how team members’ behaviours can contribute to or hamper team objectives.
In this video Adam Goldenberg, founder and CEO of justfab,com, describes the critical role that building the right leadership team plays in entrepreneurial success.
Team building with Harrison Assessments
The key success factor in recruitment of his leadership team is their suitability for the role. Assessment of other factors, such as eligibility and interview performance, is relatively straightforward. However, he believes it is a mistake to rely on ‘gut feeling’ to judge a person’s suitability.
To assess suitability, Adam Goldenberg relies on data provided by Harrison Assessments Paradox Reports. More than a simple personality test, Paradox Reports reveal and individual’s strengths and weaknesses associated with many traits. Collectively, a team’s Paradox Reports can also identify gaps in skills and give insights into team dynamics.
Adam also reveals how, after witnessing the results, he became convinced of the value in management coaching. Again, Harrison Assessments provides his company with the information and tools necessary to tailor coaching for maximum effectiveness.
The first step to success
His main message on the first key to entrepreneurial success is:
Hire the right people – then invest in them.
BALANCE AT WORK BLOG
What comes to mind when you hear about workplace giving? Charitable donations? Team-building volunteering opportunities? Secret Santa? In this article, I’d like to explore some other ideas.
In the season of giving, let’s take the time to recognise and appreciate the ways we give to each other at work every day, not just on special occasions. For some people, giving is what you are paid to do. While for others, it sits outside your job description but I believe it’s still a vital attitude for all of us to have in order to work effectively and to find our joy at work.
Here are some reflections on giving at work, not just for the Christmas season:
1. Everyday giving
We already possess them. What’s more, their supply is unlimited. Think about the times you have given freely the following.
- Your attention
- Autonomy and empowerment
- Sincere praise and recognition
- Constructive feedback and guidance
2. Giving gives meaning
You may not always appreciate it, but each of the items listed above is a gift to the other person in the work context. That’s because it benefits both the giver and the recipient. You don’t have to give the gift, but you can choose to do so.
How does this giving make you feel? Could you get more of that feeling?
3. Appreciate that you can give
Being able to give is a gift in itself. Think about the ways you share your gifts and talents in the workplace. Then be grateful for those who give you the opportunity.
4. Real giving is different from ‘giving to get’
Giving your time, attention or praise is meaningful only if you do it without the expectation of receiving something in return. If you would like to give more, seek out Adam Grant’s book ‘Give and Take’ for inspiration.
5. You can give too much
We sometimes see people who always seem to be giving without looking after themselves. I’m sure you know people like this. It may even describe you.
A typical workplace example of this phenomenon is the team leader who loves to dive in and help the team to solve issues and get their work done. This is admirable up to the point where the leader is taking from their team opportunities to learn and to gain a sense of empowerment. The leader is also sacrificing their ability to get their own work done. In extreme cases, we may see this leader exhibiting atypical dominating behaviour when under stress because continually giving in this way is not sustainable.
In the Harrison Assessments Paradox report, this dynamic is illustrated by the ‘Power’ pairing of the traits Helpful (the tendency to respond to others’ needs and to assist or support others to reach their goals) and Assertive (the tendency to put forward personal wants and needs). To find out more about Harrison Assessments and the Paradox report that covers 12 pairs of traits, click here or contact us.
What do you think?
How and what do you give at work? Why is giving important to you?