Tag Archives: culture

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Giving back

This is how we give back, as told by Ted Schellenberg of B1G1

Tell us your story of giving below.

We all seem to lose our balance every now and then, as we go about our lives. Luckily we often find a way to ‘right ourselves’ quickly, because we just seem to know, instinctively, what has to be done – less of this, more of that – to regain our balance. However, keeping the right balance at work can be a little more difficult, as somebody else is usually making the decisions there!

Enter Susan Rochester of Sydney, Australia. Susan believes that everyone has the right to be happy at work – including the boss. Her company offers a suite of online surveys that help managers to hire right the first time, to lead with confidence and to create a motivational culture.

With a name like ‘Balance at Work‘, we’ve always known that work is about a lot more than just making money,” Susan told us. “We were inspired to join B1G1 when we heard Chairman Paul Dunn speak here in Sydney. Such a simple and effective way for Balance at Work to ‘give back’ was really appealing to us. We particularly liked that we could link our contributions to B1G1 with our work with clients.

Their company website proclaims that “The Right Balance Delivers the Best Result”, and to get the best results from their giving program, Susan’s team took a page from their own company playbook – sitting down and spending time co-ordinating and balancing their contributions.

Each of the projects we contribute to is linked to a service we sell,” she says, “And those B1G1 projects are often relevant to that service. Over the time we’ve been a B1G1 partner, we’ve selected projects involving primary, computer and workforce education, microcredit, life coaching, meals and the environment!

We’ve found B1G1 makes giving more of a regular habit. B1G1 keeps us informed and makes it easy to share the concept with our clients.

Growing a business is hard work, and Susan told us that the B1G1 program helps that happen in a very balanced way: “Knowing that as our business grows we are able to help even more people to have a better life helps to make it worth the effort!

We are all capable of so much more than we think, and that’s especially true when it comes to global giving through B1G1. It really does give you a nice balance at work and in life!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How well do you know your team?

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…

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Case study: 360 degree feedback for company culture

accountability

You can download this post as a PDF here: Case Study – 360 for Culture

Late in 2012 we were approached by the HR Director of an SME in manufacturing. The organisation had been through extensive change and renewal. A new strategic plan was in place, as was a set of clearly defined organisational values.

Values
Keen to ensure the values were embedded in the day-to-day running of the business, the executive team decided to use 360 degree feedback. In this case, the members of the executive were to be rated by themselves, the CEO, their peers and their direct reports on how well they demonstrated the company’s seven core values. The values were:

  • Loyalty and transparency
  • Stamina and passion
  • Striving for excellence
  • Responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Unified culture
  • Innovation and initiative

The business had clearly defined and communicated the values to all staff in the organisation. Our task was to put those values and examples of aligned behaviours into an online questionnaire.

Questions
A typical question would look like this:
To what extent does this person demonstrate innovation?
Those who are innovative will –

  • Develop and initiate new approaches, experimenting with different ways of doing things
  • Follow through on their ideas, even when faced with significant obstacles
  • Maintain focus on the desired outcome

In addition to the questions on each core value, two questions allowing for additional comments were added at the end of the survey. These were:

  • What they do well… Please comment on how this person’s behaviour in general demonstrates the core values.
  • How they could be more effective… Please comment on what this person might do to more strongly reflect the core values.

Ratings
For each question, participants are invited to give a rating on the following scale and to add a free form comment.

1    Not at all
2    To a little extent
3    To a moderate extent
4    To a great extent
5    To a very great extent
N/A    Don’t know or not applicable

The N/A option was used to ensure participants were not forced to give a rating if they did not have enough information to do so. Likewise, there was no neutral option. Participants instead chose between options that describe the extent to which the specific behaviour is demonstrated.

Administration
While we were designing the questionnaire, the HR director was:

  • Educating staff on the purpose of the 360 and the process to be followed.
  • Training participants on how to give appropriate feedback.
  • Creating lists of who would be completing the survey. For each manager, there were five peers and five direct reports to give feedback, making a total of twelve responses for each person (including their own response and the CEO).

This pre-implementation phase took about two weeks in total.

Unique codes for each participant, linked to their relationship with the relevant manager, were sent to the HR director for distribution. The HR director knew who had which code, but had no access to the raw data. We knew which codes had been used but didn’t know the names of the participants. By separating these functions, anonymity was ensured.

During the two weeks of the survey, we monitored the responses to track completion. Reminders were sent to all participants a couple of times, to give a 100% completion rate. Responses were also screened for inappropriate language, although none was found.

Results
The survey results were collated and published for initial consultation with the CEO within one week of the survey closing. Following this discussion, copies were supplied to each of the managers, supported by coaching from the CEO and HR director.

Lessons learnt

  • Defining the purpose of the 360 degree feedback survey and how it links to strategy is critical in engaging participants.
  • Good rapport, communication and cooperation between the internal person responsible (in this case the HR director) and the supplier are essential for the smooth running of a 360 degree feedback project.
  • The 360 degree feedback process works on three levels to support company culture building:

1.   Demonstrates to all staff the importance management places on living the values;
2.   Helps individual managers understand how their behaviour in relation to the values is perceived by those around them;
3.   Points to areas for individual and organisational development in line with the desired culture.

More information
The Balance 360 feedback surveys and reports were developed by Balance at Work to complement the Harrison Assessments coaching reports.

UPDATE (November 2014)

Since this case study was written up, we have upgraded to a new software platform so we can now offer you even more flexibility for your 360 degree feedback surveys. If you would like more information, please get in touch.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

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.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Where’s all this leadership leading us?

We had leadership programs running constantly, but when a decision had to be made everyone stepped back and waited for someone else to make a move.

Evidence of crises of leadership fill our news feeds daily. Yet leadership development, coaching, books and seminars are a growth industry.

With all this education, why aren’t we getting better decision making from our leaders?

The opening comment was made to me by a former executive of a major bank. I have no doubt the situation is the same in most big institutions.

This is what I think is happening:

  1. Lack of personal direction   Instead of being guided by an internal compass aligned to corporate goals, quasi-leaders’ values are conflicted.
  2. Lack of personal consequences   Apart from a few noticeable exceptions, quasi-leaders get away with bad decisions, or no decisions, many walking away richer.
  3. Fear   When the going gets tough, quasi-leaders look to the past instead of the future.

Instead, we should expect the following from our leaders – and be selecting, training and supporting them accordingly:

  1. Values   – that produce decisions that serve the company and the community.
  2. Accountability   – acceptance of the responsibilities of being a leader.
  3. Courage   – to make the difficult choices.

What do you think?  What would you change?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What’s wrong with politics?

In a recent conversation with a candidate for the next election, she told me she thought politics as a career is a lot less ‘political’ than working in the corporate world.

Her reasoning was that you already know what people stand for if they’re politicians. Their parties, policies and platforms tell you what they believe to be important.

In contrast, individuals in organisations often have hidden agendas. We may not know what their beliefs or real goals are, or what’s important to them.

As a result, political games are more subtle and insidious at work than in the political sphere.

I’d like to know what do you think.

Could there be more politics in your workplace than in parliament? And if so, why do you think that is?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

5 reasons to reduce ‘clutter’ and grow your business

A recent visit to a local boutique was a stark reminder of the main drawback of trying to be all things to all people…

This shop is filled with many beautiful pieces of clothing, jewellery, accessories, giftware and even food. But there’s a problem:  too much to choose from! The ‘noise’ of all the possible options meant the choice I made was to leave the shop in search of somewhere less cluttered and less overwhelming.

OK – so I’ve never worked in retail but I have had decades of experience as a shopper! It surprises me how hard some retailers make if for us to actually purchase from them. Everything from overcrowded displays to lack of staff are barriers to actually handing over the cash.

What about your service business?

“You can’t please all of the people all of the time” was something my father used to say when I was disappointed about something. If he was still around when I started in business, he might have reminded me to be more selective about the services we offer our clients.

Over the years – and it’s an ongoing process – I’ve gradually applied greater discipline to what we will and will not do as well as who we will and will not do it with. I’m constantly reminding myself that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

What’s the situation in your business? Is it easy for a prospect to know exactly what you can do for them?

In my work with professional service firms, I understand the anxiety they often experience when confronted with the prospect of being more finely focussed regarding who they serve and what they do. Once they push through that anxiety, I’ve seen a number of related benefits arise for business owners:

1. Freedom to have the business they want to have, instead of the business they think the should have.  (This is most important because it’s closely linked to the freedom to be themselves.)

2. Prospects make faster decisions about working (or not working) with them, shortening the buying cycle.

3. Staff have more clarity about what the business does and their role in it.

4. They have more confidence to say ‘no’ to the wrong clients and more enthusiasm when saying ‘yes’ to the right clients.

5. By becoming experts in their specialty, they grow in business knowledge, skills and reputation.

All these things have a positive impact on the business productivity and profitability.

What will you do to make choice easier in your business?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Want better customer service?

Qantas is planning to give financial bonuses to cabin crew and other staff based on customer satisfaction (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2012). Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Herald “Incentivising people for doing a good job is absolutely the way to go. The Apple guys do it and it’s very powerful.”

What’s wrong with Alan Joyce’s  approach?

1. If you have to pay bonuses to get good customer service, you’re employing the wrong people

The people you want working with your customers are people who give great service because, to them, it’s the right thing to do. They don’t have to fake it for a bonus because they genuinely care about people.

Select staff who are naturally helpful, friendly, tactful and enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. They love serving your customers and it shows.

If you want to stop them feeling good about what they do, you could try:

a) implying they will give better service if they get a bonus and/or

b) surround them with other staff who believe it’s only worth providing excellent customer service if you’re going to get paid more if you do.

2. If you are sure you have hired the right people but you’re still not getting good customer service, look at your systems

There are a number of ways businesses prevent staff from giving excellent customer service:

a) Constant restructuring and job losses causing stress and impacting on individual motivation;

b) Treating customer service as an inferior function instead of critical to business success;

c) Lack of authority at the frontline to make on-the-spot customer service decisions;

d) Policies and procedures that are counter-customer satisfaction; and

e) Inadequate training and development.

3. Believing that if a strategy works for Apple it should work for Qantas (or any other organisation)

There are just so many obvious reasons why this thinking is flawed, there’s really no need for me to list them here.

So how do you provide your customers with an excellent experience, every time?

1. Create a culture that always put the customer first

2. Hire staff with natural talents for customer service

3. Support them with systems and processes that help them give their best

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please comment below.