Posts Tagged ‘Avondale College’

Multitasking Doesn’t Work!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Multitasking 4I have met a lot of people in life who have been very proud and vocal about their ability to multitask, notwithstanding I am a male and supposedly have diminished multitasking abilities. However, a recent article from Andrew Medal in the Entrepreneur blog (find it here) suggests multitasking is not as good as we’ve been led to believe.

The article contends that switching from task to task is very ineffective as it takes our brains some time to adjust to the new flow of thoughts, and rapidly changing disrupts these flows, and compromises the quality of our work. I wonder if this principle would equally apply to rapidly moving from one meeting to the next, with little time between to process or adjust?

Medal proposes a system to increase productivity, based on the method developed and implemented by Ivy Lee in 1918. The process involves six steps:

  1. Make a list of six important tasks for tomorrow at the end of each work day.
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. Complete all tasks on the list in the same manner and repeat the process for the next day.

What are steps 2 – 5? Well you will need to open the article and find out! However, I can attest that the process does work well, except for when a crisis occurs!

The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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The Smart Office

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Smart OfficeSo what makes a smart office? Adam Uzialko in a recent Business News Daily blog (read it here) gives a quick overview of how technology is changing business. So what is the smart office? It is where technology makes the physical work environment intelligent and adaptable. The aim of the smart office is to unify operations under one system and empower that system with machine-learning technologies.

But what of the employees? Well the theory is to free them up to do real work, the type of work technology cannot do. See our previous blog: ‘Machines Replacing Humans’ for more details on what type of work this might involve.

The smart office will most likely incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes smart lights and thermostats, virtual reality cameras and speakers and more. Machine learning will do things like direct enquiries to the most suitable person in the company based on that person’s skill sets, and interconnectivity and control will be dominated by automated systems all linked to apps able to run from hand held devices.

However, as with most office environments, no one size fits all, and technology needs to be tailored to each company’s specific needs. And budget. Smart office technology can be expensive so companies need to be confident there will be a payback.

Uzialko ends his blog by proposing that maybe the smartest office at all will be the no office work environment, which will enable employees to work from anywhere at any time. But a word of caution, our own research in this area has found that this can soon turn into employees being required to work everywhere all the time (see the blog Anytime Email and Work-life Balance ).

If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long:


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The Myth of Open Office Spaces

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Open OfficesThe idea of open office spaces comes and goes, and has recently been revived by a new group of employers looking to “break down barriers” and create “collaborative” and “team-oriented” work spaces. However, recent research questions this premise and instead suggests that open office spaces cause more problems.

Rachel Morrison and Keith Macky surveyed 1000 Australian employees about their experiences with open office plans. You can read about this research here. Contrary to the popular myth, their research found that there were increases in “employee social liabilities”, which include distractions, uncooperativeness, distrust and negative relationships. They also found that co-worker friendships and perceptions of supervisor support worsened.

The authors surmise that in open office environments, employees develop coping strategies like withdrawal which create a less friendly team environment. In addition, from the research, cooperation became less pleasant and information flow did not change in a shared office space.

Acknowledging that providing every employee with their own office is unlikely to happen, two strategies shared by the authors include:

  • Use panels, bookshelves or green walls of plants to block visual distractions
  • Allow the use of noise cancelling head phones to reduce noise distractions

Maybe it’s time to rethink your office layout and give back some privacy to your workers. If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long:


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Managing Up

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Manage Your BossThere is plenty of advice out there on how to lead and manage teams, and we at ABS have presented many of these. However, in a recent Business News Daily blog Nicole Fallen Taylor writes about a different perspective to managing – managing your boss, or managing up. You can read the full article here, but following is a brief summary of the main features.

Don’t be afraid to manage up – which essentially is learning what your boss’s work style is and adapting to it for achieving the best possible results for the team. Remember though that every boss is different, and one size does not fit all. Also remember that your boss has many more people to worry about than just you, so don’t be too pushy or all-consuming. The author provides a few tips on what might help in this process:

  1. Earn your boss’ trust
  • Build friendly rapport
  • Learn how they prefer to work
  • Leave your ego at the door and commit to your manager’s and company’s goals
  1. Give regular feedback (but don’t nag)
  • Don’t take up all their time – they have more to do than just listen to you
  • When invited – provide honest feedback
  • Be aware of your boss’ communication preferences
  • Don’t catch them off-guard!
  1. Show that you’re a team player
  • Don’t try and micromanage your boss
  • Look to add value to the team, for example:
    • Keep cool under pressure
    • Offer solutions, not just problems
    • Mentor junior staff

And most importantly, managing up is not sucking up! It is all about the success of the team, where everybody wins.

The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Machines Replacing Humans

Friday, September 23, 2016

AutomationAre you ready to be replaced by a machine? It is much closer than you think. A July 2016 article in McKinsey Quarterly (Read it here) reports on a major investigation undertaken by McKinsey to determine how much of each occupation automation could take over right now. At the moment, 45% of activities people are paid to do now could be automated.

However, while technical feasibility is a big factor, there are other factors to also consider, including:

  • The cost of developing and deploying;
  • The current supply and cost of labour;
  • Benefits beyond labour substitution – fewer errors, better quality, etc.
  • Regulatory and social-acceptance issues (are we really ready for a robot to perform routine surgery on us?)

The reality is also that it is more technically feasible to automate predictable physical activities than unpredictable ones (e.g. assembly line welding versus raising outdoor animals). Interestingly, though, it is not manufacturing that has the highest potential for automation, instead, it is accommodation and food services, with its routine activities of preparing, cooking and serving food, clean-up, preparing beverages, and more.

Another area that can have high rates of automation is in the middle-skill jobs, that include data collection and processing. This is where one-third of workplace time is spent and has great potential across all jobs. But in the financial services sector, it takes up on average 43% of a worker’s time and is ripe for automating.

Activities with a low potential for automation are typically those that involve managing and directing people, or where expertise is applied to decision making, planning or creative work. Humans also still need to determine proper goals, interpret results and provide common sense checks for solution. And the sector with the lowest technical feasibility of automation is education, as the essence of teaching is deep expertise and complex interactions with other people.

The article concludes with a very interesting point – the majority of the benefits of automation may come not from reducing labour costs but from raising productivity through fewer errors, higher output, and improved quality, safety and speed.

Are you ready for the future? If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long


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How To Do Sick days

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sick daysRecently I felt a bit out of sorts, but was proud that I was able to “soldier on” and still turn up to work and get a few things done. But I was challenged about the real virtue of doing that, and found an article in ‘The Muse’ by Richard Moy (read it here) that gives some tips on how to handle being sick.

Moy makes the point that we all feel like we need to get to work in order to keep on top of things, but challenges this. In the article he proposes three things most of us are not doing right, and offers some tips on how to get it right.

The article is not particularly long, so I’m not going to summarise it all, however the main issues Moy addresses are:

  1. You’re treating your sick days as an all or nothing proposition

What to do instead of going into work sick

  1. You’re trying too hard to get out of the house

What to do instead of going out

  1. You’re working too hard

What to do instead of taking meetings from bed

Presenteeism is a real issue in workplaces now, whereby employees come to work sick, but are basically ineffectual for as long as it takes them to get better. Whereas if they were to stay home, they are more likely to get well quicker, and you actually gain in productivity more than if they come to work sick. Not to mention the risk of spreading their disease to other employees causing them to get sick as well.

So let’s make a pact to take the time to actually take our sick days, and get better sooner. If you would further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long


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Why Leaders Lack Emotional Intelligence

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Emotional IntelligenceTravis Bradberry is the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and in a recent blog in explained the counter-intuitive situation of CEOs having the lowest level of emotional intelligence (EQ). You can find the article here.

Through his organisation TalentSmart, Bradberry analysed over one mission EQ profiles across the spectrum of roles to find out who has the highest level of EQ. Surprisingly, it is middle managers, probably because people in these positions have been put there because of their ability to work with people and general level-headedness.

After this though, the scores drop continually until ending up with the CEO, who typically had the lowest EQ scores. However, Bradberry also notes that the best-performing CEOs will have the highest EQs. Bradberry proposes that KPIs and knowledge form a significant part of the appointment process for these roles, which focus on short-term results. Instead, he suggests that the key criteria should be their skill in inspiring others to excel. It is this new environment of leadership where leaders find themselves getting out of touch with people and their EQ levels dropping.

Listed below are a few of Bradberry’s strategies for boosting your EQ:

  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings
  • When you care, show it
  • Watch your emotions like a hawk
  • Sleep
  • Quash negative self-talk

In the coming week, why not give at least one of these strategies a try, and see if your EQ gets a boost. The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Two Types of Leadership

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Leadership 2

Leaders can be categorised into those who have a desire for either dominance or prestige. So writes Emily Stone, reporting on research that has just gone to publication from John Maner and Charleen Case of the Kellogg Institute. You can find the article here.

From their research, Maner and Case found that typically people are motivated either by their desire for dominance or prestige. Neither is any better or worse than the other, but each works best in different circumstances. Typically, leaders have the capabilities for both types, and effective leaders are those who know when to switch between the two types, depending on the circumstances and situation.

A desire for dominance leaders typically led by intimidation and coercion, and demand following rather than inspire it. But they are also decisive and swift decision makers. Unfortunately, they are also characterised as likely to sacrifice the best interests of the group in order to retain their power.

Prestige seeking leaders will display their skills and knowledge, convincing people that they are worth following. They are known for being able to foster creativity and innovation in their teams, but they are also prone to avoid making the right decision in order to continue being liked. They are reluctant to give the hard feedback required at times.

You might be a dominant type leader if you do most of the talking in meetings, and lower your voice when talking. But beware, people often mistake you talking for competence, just because you sound like you know what you are doing. Time reveals the truth. Alternatively, you could be a prestige style leader if you listen more than you talk and can empathise with your employees who are able to find innovative and creative solutions to issues.

Stone points out at the end of her article that Maner and Case remind readers the best leaders are those that are able to switch between the two types as situations and circumstances change.

So which type of leader are you? Most importantly, are you able to adapt? The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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5 Strategies for Leading a High-Impact Team

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Teams2For introverts like me, working in teams can be very stressful, but it is more a fact of working life now than ever before. As a result, I am also glad to find some useful tips on how to work in teams better, and one such piece of useful advice comes from Leigh Thompson in the July 2016 edition of KellogInsight (read it here).

Thompson offers some strategies for teams, based on her extensive research in the area as an academic leader at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Without wanting to take anything away from the substance of the article, and it is highly recommended you read it for a richer experience, a quick summary of the main points are:

1.Teams are not cocktail parties: don’t invite everyone.

  • In other words, keep things small and co-opt specialists when you need them.
  • Also, think about changing the membership regularly in order to keep ideas fresh.

2. It is possible to set ground rules without stifling creativity.

  • You will probably find that some structure will actually provide a safe environment for the creative juices to flow.
  • At a minimum, have a clear goal for the team, and a brief charter of how to function. Teams that do this are proven to be more nimble.

3.Drop the pride talk. Vulnerability can be a good thing.

  • Almost counterintuitively, but based on research, team members who have shared an embarrassing moment typically generate more ideas in subsequent brainstorming sessions.

4.You may be able to cut your meeting time in half – if you are smart about it.

  • Again, based on research, it is better to have four one-hour meetings than two two-hours meetings. The article has some really practical tips to help with this.

5.It is possible to get along too well. Agree to keep disagreeing.

  • Disagreement that is properly managed helps teams to avoid groupthink by probing the strengths and weaknesses of any idea.

This week, think about teams you are a part of, and see if there is an opportunity to introduce one or maybe two of these suggestions, and take your team to the next level. The Avondale Business School can assist your team to become an effective team – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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12 Lessons You Learn or Regret Forever

Sunday, August 28, 2016

LifeIt is painful having to learn lessons the hard way. So we at ABS have found an article that will help take the pain out of life’s lessons. Writing for Inc. magazine, Travis Bradberry points out 12 lessons that as a leader of an organisation we need to learn sooner or later, and the sooner the better. You can read it here. We are not going to spoil the article for you, but as a teaser, following are some of the lessons Bradberry helpfully points out, and offers some advice with:

  • You’re living the life that you’ve created
  • Being busy does not equal being productive
  • Don’t say yes unless you really want to
  • Seek out small victories
  • Don’t seek perfection

Without even going into the details of them, those simple headings alone should change your life, so don’t neglect reading the full article.

The Avondale Business School can advise your organisation on being effective in these areas – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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