Category Archives: Motivaton

Future of Work Conference 2015

At the end of April 2015, I was fortunate enough to attend two days of inspiring sessions at the Future of Work conference

There was so many ideas shared, which I’m sure you will see reflected in future posts on this blog. For now, a summary provided by the organisers, the Centre for Workplace Leadership.

If you’d like to know more, please ask!

In total, there were 367 attendees at the conference, plus 35 speakers, and around 30 staff and volunteers. In the two days of the conference, we managed to fit in 17 sessions, consume 1000 cups of coffee, write thousands of tweets, and the hashtag (#2015FOW) was trending on Twitter.

The conference taught us to get ready for Uber working, identified the key issues facing business, highlighted the need to promote innovation (and throw out our management textbooks), explored what was holding us back as entrepreneurs, and much, much more.

The one question you should be asking your staff

“At work, do you have an opportunity to do what you do best, every day?”

Gallup has asked this question of more than 1.7 million employees in 100 companies from 65 countries. Rather disappointingly, only 20% felt that their unique strengths were being used every day at work. Even more shockingly, the longer an employee stays in an organisation, the less likely they are to feel they get to apply their strengths. 

What does this mean for you?

Top performers in any organisation are those who get to do more of the things they enjoy and less of the things they don’t. This is so obvious, we sometimes miss the need to be more proactive in making sure all employees have the opportunity to experience more of the joy of using their natural talents at work.

If we are serious about improving productivity and performance, we need to be asking how we can be improving the number of people who can answer ‘yes’ to the question above.

enjoyment-performance

The link between enjoyment and performance

Enjoyment and performance are linked because the level of enjoyment an employee has while performing a particular activity is directly related to the level of their performance in that activity.

When people enjoy a task, they tend to do it more and get better at it. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, good performance creates acknowledgment and positive self-regard which then causes people to enjoy the task even more. And so on…

This elegantly simple concept underlies everything we do with Harrison Assessments. Most behavioural and personality assessments fail to measure work satisfaction and are therefore limited to predicting personality, whereas Harrison Assessments go beyond personality to identify a wide range of traits linked to job fit and performance.

The link between enjoyment and engagement

Engagement survey after engagement survey tell us that employees in many workplaces are feeling they are lacking a connection with their jobs and their organisations. If this is happening in your organisation, go back to this single, simple question:

“At work, do you have an opportunity to do what you do best, every day?”

When you take the time to listen to the answers and understand how you can change your results, you’ve taken a big step to realising the full potential of your business.

Download ‘Engagement is a Shared Responsibility’ Whitepaper

What’s your story? #1: Dr Howard Bell

What's your story?

The first volunteer in our interview chair is Dr Howard Bell OAM, Principal Solicitor at WorkCover NSW.

When I first met Howard Bell, he was my boss and we were working in the chemistry department at the University of Sydney. That was 35 years ago and a lot has happened since then! We hope you enjoy reading his story.

Howard BellWhat’s your current position and what do you do?

Principal Lawyer at WorkCover. It’s the best job in the world. I love it because it helps to build a safer and healthier New South Wales. WorkCover, as a regulator administers the State’s work health and safety laws. We provide legal services to WorkCover and also other agencies within Safety, Return to Work and Support. I am also an elected Health and Safety Representative.

What other activities are you involved in?

I am also a part-time officer in the Australian Army Reserve where I have been an instructor, project officer, company commander, the Executive Officer of  University Regiment and had lots of interesting and rewarding roles in the Reserves, including having deployed overseas peace keeping in East Timor. I have, addition  been a part time teacher at TAFE NSW and taught at various universities – most recently at Charles Sturt supervising post graduate doctoral students. I have also enjoyed an active volunteering life with community organisations including Amnesty International, the St Vincent de Paul Society, Cana Communities, music and folk festivals, the trade union movement and other great organisations that strive to make the world a better place especially for battlers,  the homeless community and people who need help with their struggles.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

No. When I was at school I wanted to go out and become the world’s greatest chemist – but a later interest in Law and social justice led me towards my current career choices.

What was your first job?

Laboratory assistant and landscape gardener.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?

Becoming a dad. And becoming a grandad. These events have inspired me especially.

Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?

My children and grand-children. And people who follow their hearts and pursue their dreams. And people who live to love, to be happy, to build peace and kindness in the world.

If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?

I would build 105,000 homes across Australia so that all our homeless Australians would have a safe, loving and happy home in which to live.

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt). And the world is your oyster.

Do you know someone whose career story belongs in our ‘What’s your story?’ series? Please let us know!

How to make the most of your 360 degree feedback reviews

feedback

In the process of assisting clients with 360 degree feedback surveys, we are often asked ‘What comes next?’. The three videos below explain simply how to get real results from any feedback survey.

The Real Goal of the Feedback Review

Using the ‘5 Whys’

Make Sure Employees Take Action

Have your say…

What has worked well for you? Do you have any other suggestions for making feedback more effective? Let us know in the comments below.

Empathy – Soft Skill of the Courageous

succession

One of the traits we measure with Harrison Assessments is empathy. It’s a major contributor to success in life, at work and elsewhere.

In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown explains empathy and reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own vulnerability.

Would you like to know if others think you are empathetic?

We can show you with Harrison Assessments and 360 degree feedback. Get in touch!

Why are you doing that?

In an aside in a recent webinar, Tim Paige from LeadPages mentioned he has a sticker on his monitor that says ‘Why are you doing that?’. Couldn’t we all use that question?

‘Start with Why’ is the name of a book by Simon Sinek and it has become a catch-phrase in business and management circles. Sinek has been lauded for making us think about our purpose and how we communicate it to those around us.

What if we applied this thinking to the little things we do all day long?

Here are a few examples where asking ‘Why are you doing that?’ might result in some very different behaviours:

  • checking emails every few minutes
  • calling a meeting that isn’t really necessary
  • doing ‘busy work’ to avoid doing the important things
  • copying people onto emails who don’t need to receive them
  • inviting people to a meeting when they don’t need to be there
  • sending messages without a clear purpose or desired outcome
  • straying onto social media when you know you should be working
  • chasing after the latest shiny object, new program or productivity tool
  • avoiding the difficult conversation, the risky decision, the growth opportunity

It’s easy to think of a long list for yourself, I’m sure! Then there’s only one more question to ask yourself:

How would my results be different if I made a habit of asking myself…

‘Why are you doing that?’

 

3 steps to creating your own monster

trust

Have you noticed how many businesses seem to have a ‘problem child’ among their staff? Often this toxicity in the office has built up very gradually until one day you find your very own monster is taking up more and more of your time and creating frustration for the rest of the team.

It all seemed fine before, so what went wrong?

We’ve noticed three factors contribute to creating the monster:

1. Hire in a hurry

You wouldn’t have hired this person if you knew they would turn out like this, would you?

So what could you have done differently to ensure you knew more about them, and how they’d fit in, before you made that decision? What was missing in your recruitment process?

What will you do next time?

2. Leave them to it

Whenever you hire, it’s because you need someone to do the work. Once they’re on board, it’s easy to believe that given they met your selection criteria they should be able to just get on with the job, right?

Wrong! If you haven’t told them clearly and consistently what you expect in terms of work performance and behaviour, how can you expect them to know?

Even experienced employees have come from a different environment with different unwritten rules. It’s harder still for younger staff to discern what the rules are in your workplace.

3. Ignore bad behaviour

This would have to be the most common reason we see for monsters at work and many managers delay addressing bad behaviour until damage has already been done. It’s understandable that in the daily pressure of getting things done you find it easier to ignore the problem.

If you wait until other staff complain, it may already be too late.  If you don’t take immediate action when an issue is brought to your attention you risk doing more long-term damage.

We’d all prefer not to have to deal with monsters at work

By hiring well and setting standards you may avoid having to do so.

If a monster does emerge, our advice is don’t ever wait until you’re in a crisis to talk to them about their poor conduct. The pressure could lead to you both behaving in ways you’ll regret later.

 

Experience is a great teacher

But only when we open our minds to the lessons it gives.

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience, either our own or the experiences of others that can also teach us.

Whether you’re at the beginning, middle or end of your career, understanding this distinction can make all the difference.

You can know a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom lies in not using it in a fruit salad.

The opposite of learning from experience is either ignoring its lessons or using experience to confirm what we already believe instead of keeping an open mind.

We always have more to learn.

Did you know there are certain careers where experience is a definite advantage?

Here’s a list of jobs where experience is a benefit because it clients need to feel comfortable that they can trust your judgement because of the wisdom you have gained*:

  1. Health care professional
  2. Financial adviser
  3. Career counsellor
  4. Brand manager
  5. Consultant

This list shows that age may be an advantage when advising others in many areas of their lives, provided you also have the necessary expertise.

Of course, there will be other advantages for someone with a fresh attitude, up-to-date knowledge and excellent people skills. Combined with experience, these traits produce remarkable benefits for individuals and those who employ them.

*Source: msn.careerbuilder.com

What has experience taught you?

Get it done!

Despite being a coach myself and understanding the value of accountability, I am also probably as bad as anyone else at keeping myself accountable.

Despite every tool available to me, sometimes the keeping track just seems to take up too much time – time I want to spend moving on to the next week, project, client…

If this sounds like you, too, here’s a quick checklist to use to keep yourself aligned to your goals. Fill it in every Friday afternoon to keep you focused.

  1. Top 3 tasks to be completed next week to bring me closer to my goals.
  2. Top 3 tasks I completed this week (including the goal(s) they relate to)
  3. Who I met this week (include current, prospective and past clients; centres of influence; staff; alliance partners)

Use a quick ‘check in’ like this and I guarantee you will make progress. Read it and don’t act on it, I guarantee you will find it hard to keep yourself – or anyone else – accountable.

Let me know how you go!

How well do you know your team?

business culture

At Balance at Work, we often get involved in helping our clients hire the best people. We also care about how they retain the best.

To keep key people, you need to know them and their needs.

As an exercise, imagine I’ve asked you to tell me the following about each of your top performers:

  1. Why do they work for you?
  2. What are their highest values?
  3. What could they earn elsewhere?
  4. What frustrates them about their job?
  5. What do they want to do in their career?
  6. How would they most like to be rewarded?
  7. Do they like the culture of your workplace?
  8. What worries them the most in their life right now?
  9. What are they most excited about in their life right now?
  10. How easy would it be for them to get another job if they wanted to?

How would you go?  Would you have all the answers?

If you found some gaps, it might be time to do some research – by which I mean having some conversations. Your interest in the answers to these questions demonstrates your interests in your team as people, not just ‘human resources’.  If you would like some help in retaining your team, please click here for more information.

Don’t you think they’ll feel like sticking around longer if they believe you care?

As always, have your say below…

 

A (very) simple guide to business productivity

We’re all busy, so here’s some quick advice on how to get the most from your staff!  Of the millions of words written about productivity, there are really just three things you need to remember.

For your employees to work the way you’d like them to, they need:

1.  Something to believe in

  • What are your core values, vision, mission and goals?
  • How have you communicated these to your team?
  • Can they see a connection between your plan and their future?

Your strategic plan describes the game.

2.  Best job fitness
In my experience, productivity and performance issues are often the result of ‘square pegs in round holes’.  This is a perfect time to reassess the fit of key people within their teams.  If you have identified individual strengths, you’ll be able to make the most of them.

Sometimes, this may result in more training or restructuring, or it may simply lead to the shifting of some tasks between people.
With the right people in the right positions, you can be confident you have built a winning team.

3.  Knowledge of what they’re supposed to be doing
Your organisational chart, policies, procedures, job descriptions and employment contracts are the rules of the game.  As with any successful team, training and coaching are ongoing.

Also let employees know how their role fits into the wider picture of the work that is done in your organisation.  Are they fully aware of the consequences for the business of their excellent (or poor) performance?

By putting in a little extra effort on people management, you can make huge productivity gains. If you would like some help with this, please click here.

What have you tried to improve productivity in your business?

Seven key questions to ask about your team

 

Do you have your ‘dream team’ working happily and productively in your business or your department?  Perhaps you feel there’s still room for improvement.  Below are seven questions to help you identify the gaps in your team’s effectiveness, with ‘best practice tips’ for your consideration.

1.       Do we know what we’re trying to achieve?

Does everyone on your team understand the strategic plan and how the team’s successes (and failures) impact the achievement of the organisation’s goals?  How involved were they in setting the goals of your team?  Could they explain the goals to others?

Include the team in planning and clearly communicate how the team’s performance will contribute to the organisational goals.

2.       Is every team member committed to our joint goals?

You will know the answer to this question through observation and questioning.  Having a common goal is not enough in itself to ensure success, commitment is also required.  Sometimes lack of commitment can be due to a clash between the goal and the individual’s expectations.

Check in with your team members that the goals are consistent with their personal values and aspirations.

3.       How likely are we to achieve our goals?

Do you have the best combination of competencies for what you’re trying to achieve?  If not, how will you add these resources – through training, outsourcing or hiring?  Have you set clear expectations for both work performance and behaviour within the team?

Build teams for future as well as current needs.

4.       Do we understand and value our individual strengths?

Do you know in detail the experience, skills and talents of each team member? Are they respected for their specialist knowledge? Do they get an opportunity to use their strengths?

Delegate tasks and responsibilities to individuals in their field of expertise to give them a chance to shine.

5.       Do we communicate well?

Does the team leader effectively and appropriately share relevant information in a timely manner.  Does every team member get to express their opinion in an environment of respect and openness?

Introduce practices, such as meeting agendas, that allow all members of the team to contribute without feeling threatened.

6.       Are we all willing to lend a helping hand?

Is there a spirit of cooperation, with team members going out of their way (and outside their designated roles) to get the work done to achieve your team objectives?  Are team members happy to collaborate and share information and resources?

As with communication, a good team leader will model the behaviour that is expected from the rest of the team.

7.       Are we having fun?

Work is work and it can’t always be a party, but if people genuinely enjoy the work they do and the company of their team, you will achieve a lot more.

Celebrate your successes and when things go wrong, avoid blaming others.

What do you think?

Reflecting on these questions may have prompted some thoughts about how to improve your team.  Don’t let them be lost! 

Your next step is to decide on what actions you can take and plan how you will implement those actions.  Write it down, share your ideas and ask for help from both inside and outside your team.

 

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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