Posts Tagged ‘Avondale College’

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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Four Ways That Accountants Turn To The Dark Side

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Accountant FraudAccountants and book keepers are not perfect. That may be a revelation to many, and unfortunately recent research at the University of NSW reveals that they have been known to commit fraud. Not all of them, of course, but a number of them

A recent online UNSW BusinessThink article (read it here) showcases research by Paul Andon, Clinton Free and Benjamin Scard into fraud by accountants in Australia, examining 192 successful fraud prosecutions. Essentially they found the four major pathways into fraud:


  1. Personal circumstances – “crisis responders”, people who have some personal crisis in their lives (like marriage breakup, gambling debts). This group is the most common (in excess of 50%), the majority of whom are female.
  2. Situational elements – “opportunity takers”, people who see an opportunity too good to pass up, and are often satisfying some need to take revenge or right a perceived injustice.
  3. Humans are fallible – that is, anyone is capable of fraud – people make mistakes.
  4. Attitudinal flexibility – “opportunity seekers” who are proactively looking to commit fraud, and “deviance seekers” who are calculating and unremorseful in their actions.

Interestingly the research also found that it frequently takes a long time to get caught. Warning signs to be on the lookout for include people not taking annual leave (for fear of being found out), and not having adequate separation of duties.

Fraud is committed by anyone, for a variety of reasons and motives. Are you reducing the risks of fraud in your organisation? If you would further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long


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Slow Deciders Make Better Strategists

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Strategy 3What contributes the most to making good competitive-strategy decisions – Education? Experience? Outsiders with new ideas? Mark Chussil, in a recent HBR Online article (read it here) shares some findings from data he has collected based on competitive-strategy decisions.

Chussil has developed a matrix of decisions, highlighting the four styles of strategy decision-making as follows:




Chussil’s experience indicates that those in the best performing group are the “I don’t knows”. These are the people who take their time and consider alternatives before launching into making their decision.

This is opposed to those who “Already know”, and are overconfident, not really looking for other solutions, because they “already know” the answer. Close behind this group are the “Now I knows”, who have a high degree of confidence following pondering the issue for a time.

The lesson that Chussil draws out is to take a “not so fast” approach and really consider alternatives before committing to action.

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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Not-for-profit Workers Are Happier Workers

Sunday, July 31, 2016

NFP WorkersMoney doesn’t always buy happiness! Reviewing a recent article by Martin Binder in the Journal of Economic Psychology (find it here), Christian Jarrett writes in the BPS Research Digest (read it here) that Binder’s study looked at British people working in both commercial and not-for-profit organisations.

One of the surprising findings was that while there are many “perks” in working for a commercial organisation, people in the NFP sector were typically happier with their lives, more satisfied in their jobs, and believed more strongly they were making a difference.

Other findings included:

  • For-profit employees would need to earn an additional £27,000 to be as happy as an equivalent NFP employee
  • Women and higher education people are more likely to work in the NFP sector

Some may question whether by their very nature happier people are more likely to enter the NFP sector, however Binder does not believe this is the case.

This is a very interesting and challenging research project, and has implications for both sectors of the workforce. What else can for-profit entities do to increase the happiness of their workers, and how do NFP entities ensure they do not exploit the generosity of their happy workers?

Are you happy in your work?

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


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If You Are Hiring on the Basis of Skills, You Are Doing it Wrong!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

HiringManagers typically don’t do enough to understand their own organisational culture, and that exposes the organisation to significant risk. Such is the assertion in a recent Australian Financial Review article (read it here) that looks into organisational culture.

In fact, the traditional definition of organisational culture as being ‘the way we do things around here’ is challenged in the article with an alternative suggestion being ‘how we understand what motivates individuals at the forefront of our business and why they are engaging in the conduct they are.’

One of the main points of the article is that organisations typically hire people based on their skill sets and capabilities, yet fire them because of their behaviours and cultural fit. Why not instead consider behaviours and cultural fit at the time of hiring? Hence the question as to whether Australian managers really know enough about their organisational culture and people to really know what people are needed to move the organisation forward.

Another issue raised in the article concerns what organisations say is their purpose and culture often being quite different to what customers and front-line employees are actually experiencing. This is identified as a significant risk for organisations whereby people are empowered to disregard management statements because they have proven to be meaningless.

Within your organisation, does your organisational culture at all levels match what you say it is? And even more importantly, are you hiring people who are congruent with that culture? 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 Secret to Being a Better Leader: See and Hear Others

Sunday, July 17, 2016

EmpathyConsistently people who have good empathy for others are proven to be better leaders, lead more effective teams, and gain power more readily. What does it mean to be empathetic? According to Dacher Keltner in a recent Science of Us article (Read it here), it is the understanding of what other people think and feel. Using Abraham Lincoln as an example, he quotes a journalist (Thurlow Weed) from the Albany Evening Journal who said of Lincoln: “He sees all who go there, hears all they have to say, talks freely with everybody, reads whatever is written to him.”

Keltner refers to numerous studies that show the positive results of being empathetic. It increases team effectiveness, one’s ability to negotiate better, widens the circle of friends, and enables one to gain power much more easily. In part this is because when people are heard and understood, they are more willing to be influenced by such people.

However, an interesting phenomenon occurs – Keltner refers to studies that show once empathetic people attain power, they often experience empathy deficits, whereby their empathy disengages. By losing this empathy, people in power then start disrespecting people and those once harmonious relationships are now jeopardised and tend to undo the previous good work.

The challenge for those that do rise to power is to be conscious of this and to purposively commit to maintaining the empathy that got them where they are. As Keltner points out from Lincoln, the secret is to see and hear others.

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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The Four Building Blocks of Change

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Some people get really excited about change. I am a bit more cautious and tempered – maybe I’m just too lazy to be bothered with all the hard work that goes with it. However, change is really a constant in today’s environment, and while never easy, does need attention.


McKinsey & Company recently published an excellent article by Tessa Basford and Bill Schaninger (read it here) that identifies the four key factors that successful transformations were built upon. In summary form, these factors are:


 1. Fostering understanding and conviction

  • That is, congruence between beliefs and practices
  • People often wrongly assume everyone understands the “why” of the change
  • It’s important to develop a change story to be told

2. Reinforcing changes through formal mechanisms

  • Remembering that association and consequences shape behaviours
  • There is a need to align reward with desired behaviours
  • Collaboration and purpose are more valued by employees than compensation

3. Developing talent and skills

  • Old dogs can learn new tricks
  • Some people don’t realise that they need to learn new skills
  • But people who believe developing new skills won’t change a situation are more likely to be disengaged

4. Role-modelling

  • People mimic (consciously and unconsciously) individuals and groups who surround them
  • Key opinion leaders exert more influence than CEO’s

When (not if) your organisation undergoes change, just remember that successful transformations use these four building blocks. Are you ready for change?

The Avondale Business School can help you with change management in your organisation – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Business Kindness

Monday, July 4, 2016

Business KindnessAs an accountant I was trained that the only things that matter are those that can be measured. And now, much to my surprise, kindness is one of these things! Recent research into Australian organisations has resulted in the Workplaceinfo Business Kindness Index. You can read more about it here.

I was unaware that there is a growing movement of business kindness within Australia and globally. Some people might even ask why is it important? The report cites research from University of NSW that provides an answer: “Leadership compassion – ‘the ability of leaders to spend more time and effort developing and recognising their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism, and fostering cooperation among staff’ – is the single greatest influencer of productivity and profitability”. Being kind makes money!

Some of the key takeaway points of the report include:

  • Providing time to listen and interact with others makes a difference
  • Voice concern and support
  • Understand that process systems revolve around people, not people around processes and their parts
  • There is no change without leadership.

So creating a culture of kindness makes good business sense. Can you afford not to be kind? The Avondale Business School can help you with your organisational culture. To find out more, contact Warrick Long at:


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The Secret to Delighting Customers: Putting Employees First

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy CustomerSo we all agree that happy customers not only return, but share their positive experience. Consequently, organisations looking to thrive are constantly looking for ways to keep customers happy.

Recent research by McKinsey&Company, through Dilip Bhattacharjee, Jesus Moreno and Francisco Ortega (Read it here), has found that a major contributor to keeping customers happy is to empower employees. While most companies understand the need for engaging customers, and have made it a strategic priority, many struggle with the implementation simply because it falls down at the front line. The reality is that the front line staff are the ones who engage with customers, and unless they are on board then all the best strategic intentions in the world are not going to do the job.

Bhattacharjee et al found that there were four key approaches to developing workers that were consistent amongst those companies that were successful in keeping customers happy and engaged. These are:

  1. Listen to employees and deal with the problems and needs as a priority
  2. Hire with attitude, not aptitude, in mind, and build on this attitudinal strength
  3. Instil frontline workers with purpose, not rules
  4. Tap into their creativity by assigning autonomy and responsibility

The article, well worth a read, illustrates these points through an actual case study of an organisation that has implemented these and found the associated success that goes with it. It concludes by pointing out just how much easier it is for customers to shift loyalties, which has increased the need for companies to ensure the frontline workers who interact with their customers are engaged and valued.

The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop these customer service and employee management skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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