The When, How and What of Meetings

March 13, 2019 by Avondale Business School

When is the best time, how to meet, and what most frustrates professionals about meetings was the subject of a major research project by Doodle, the online scheduling company (Read it here), who surveyed over 6,500 professionals involved in over 19 million meetings. The report makes fascinating reading, and should be mandatory for all people responsible for organizing meetings.

Some key highlights include:

  1. When:
  • 70% of professionals prefer meetings between 8am and 12pm, with another 12% preferring them before 2pm.
  1. How:
  • 76% of professionals prefer face-to-face meetings.
  • Of the other formats:
    • 7% prefer conference calls
    • 5% prefer video calls,
  • 97% of professionals feel that meeting in person was an effective way of building relationships at work
  1. Frustrations:
  • Poorly organized meetings top the list, with professionals spending an average of three hours per week in meetings, two of which they consider unproductive! This creates confusion in the workplace and impacts their ability to actually do their work.
  • Bad meetings that involve people:
    • Taking phone calls during meetings
    • Interrupting each other
    • Not listening to the contributions of others
    • Arrive late or leaving early
    • Talking about nothing for long periods of time

The good news is that there are some characteristics identified of good meetings also, which included:

  • Setting clear objectives
  • Setting a clear agenda
  • Not having too many people in the room

Any organisation that can transform their meetings into effective processes will be a step ahead of their competitors. How does your organisation shape up? Maybe the Avondale Business School can help your organisation transition to more effective meeting practices. To find out how, contact Dr Warrick Long or 02 4980 2168.

Communicating Through The Noise

March 6, 2019 by Avondale Business School

“Sorry?” That is the reflex response from anyone in my family when one of us makes even a vague comment about ears or hearing. The goal is to try and get the person to repeat what they said. Silly, I know, but we’ve been doing it for so long it is ingrained in our DNA!

Communication can be a very big issue in relationships, especially in workplaces where we usually don’t have the benefit of an intimate family history together. A recent article I came across deals with one aspect of communication, specifically when the conversation takes a turn for the worst. Alexandra Hayes takes a look at this and has brought together some tips on how to minimize the damage. The full article can be read here, and following is a very brief summary for you.

  1. Breathe – take a deep breath, and slow things down.
  2. Don’t be accusatory – no labeling other people as that can be offensive to them. And check your non-verbal’s (like eye rolling).
  3. Don’t be preachy – trying to always be right and winning down not help.
  4. Avoid Combative dialogue – avoid trying to one-up the other person
  5. Avoid 100% certainty – certainty is dangerous so avoid absolute terms like “always” and “never”, which put the other person onto the defensive.

At the end of the day the goal is to be able to communicate respectfully, allowing each person to truly hear what the other person has to say.

Avondale Business School is well placed to help your team develop its communication skills. To find out how, contact Warrick Long at

or 02 4980 2168.

ABS Reports on the AICD Summit 2019 “Rising to the Moment”

March 6, 2019 by Avondale Business School

ABS Head Associate Professor Lisa Barnes attend the recent Australian Institute of Company Directors 4th Annual Governance conference in Sydney on the 4th  and 5th of March.

The opening panel was a debate on the future of corporate governance in Australia, with panel members Penny Bingham-Hall (non-executive Director), David Gonski (Chairman of ANZ) and Heather Ridout of Australian Super. Hot topic of course was the recent findings of the Royal commission into the banking sector, with Mr Gonski readily admitting they dropped the ball in terms of governance and now have a fairly rigorous amount of work to do to repair the culture from within the organisation particularly around the notion of remuneration, to gain back the trust of their stakeholders. The following was a quote that ended the session from David Gonski.

This was followed by a presentation by current CEO of Xero Steve Vamos, who has previously worked with the likes of Steve Jobs. His message was clear, we need to “humanise” our workforce and presented his talent mapping tool, where staff can be placed into one of 9 boxes, so that they can be targeted in terms of their potential in particular for succession planning. Steve asked the question are you “driving the right culture for your business”?

At the heart of it is “us” to think about how we want to achieve good culture. The humanisation of the workforce was the primary message here. He recommended to read the book “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella current CEO of Microsoft – a mindset change may even happen! In his words “Culture” shapes why people do what they do and how they do it. Values and engagement are elements of culture. The CEO is the chief culture officer. Culture is a contact sport.

Next was Ann Sherry AO FAICD Chairman, Carnival Australia and Board member of NAB discussed outcomes from the royal commission, she stated that the board should have “listened more” they were focussed on short term numbers rather than long term outcomes, they basically lost their customer focus. Stepping back from a human level, they got caught up in the micro, forgetting the macro.

Finally to end the first day was a role playing “hypothetical” session attended by 5 high profile Company Directors entitled “Moral and Ethical Decision Making in the Boardroom – Exploring the complex dilemmas facing todays Board”. 5 different scenarios were posed from a cyberattack, media leak accusing the company of unethical sales practices and discussion on amoral practices companies unwillingly engage in. A great way for delegates to continue thinking about their own performance as a Board member is this constantly challenging state that us being on a Board.

The second day of the summit opened up with Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s address on the Imperative of Innovation. He predicts the advent of fully autonomous companies by the end of the decade – that is no humans running companies, just DirectorBots. Alan touched on his 6 year role as Chancellor at Monash University. In his opinion a good director should be competent, intelligent and well meaning. Directors when making decisions shouldn’t be asking can we do this, but should we do this.

The second session of the day was a panel “Unlocking the value of doing the right thing”. Panel members included Michael O’Loughlin (ex Sydney Swans player and GO Foundation co-founder), Jill Hannaford, Shelley Reys & Shirley Chowdhary. Run by Ali Moore, journalist with the ABC, the panel discussed diversity and inclusion and embedded work practices, particularly the representation of indigenous people and cultural awareness in corporates.

The next session involved the Not-For-Profit sector, entitled the “Evolution of the for-purpose sector”. The panel discussion centred on remuneration of directors on for-purpose boards. A representative of the ACNC, the Productivity Commission, and some directors of for-purpose directors, also discussed the changes of reduction in not-for-profit red tape, but increase in liability and fiduciary responsibilities for directors serving on for-purpose boards.

The next panel discussed Future Trends: Preparing for the next cycle of change.

This panel discussed technology governance, in the framework of ethics, regulation, agile governance approaches, & competitive advantage. In a live audience poll asking “which trend is your Board least prepared for?”, 34% felt least prepared for governance of emerging technologies, followed by 27% machine learning, 22% autonomous machines and finally 18% social trends.

The final session was a discussion on the findings of the Royal Commission into the Banking and Finance Sector. According to Honorary Neville Owen who presided over the HIH Royal Commission in 2003, his views have not changed with the recent outcomes from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, he wants to know, did anyone ask themselves “is this right”?. The summit finished with a panel made up of the AICD Chair, Justice Owen, Ali Moore (ABC) taking questions from the audience on any matters concerning director and governance.

The conference program can be accessed via the AICD website at

Unlocking Your Team’s Creativity

March 4, 2019 by Avondale Business School

Creativity can be coached! A recent article by Rebecca Shambaugh (read it here) outlines both the importance of developing creativity in your teams, and some simple tips leaders can use to get the creative juices flowing.

The compelling argument to focus on creativity comes from Shambaugh’ s assertion that with the rate of rapid change in the market place, leaders cannot afford to rely on the ‘tried and true’ ideas that have bought them past success. Equally so, leaders cannot allow for their team to become complacent or overly ‘agreeable’.

Following is a very brief summary of the tips to stimulate creativity amongst teams, the article itself expands on these, and is well worth the read.

  • Avoid getting hemmed in by process. That is, an over reliance on rules may be stifling your team – try removing limitations of some procedural structures and set every one free.
  • Facilitate spaghetti throwing. While most companies and executives admit that unlocking creative potential is the key to economic growth, very few feel they can do this. Maybe it’s time to just try things and see what “sticks”. If you’ve created safe spaces for people to do so without recrimination, then you are unlocking the potential of healthy conflict and debate. Oh, and don’t micromanage!
  • Reveal “sticky floors”. Some team members feel they are not capable of being creative are limiting themselves. Use your leadership skills to offer coaching and support for such people to get them into the groove and getting a few easy wins to build their confidences and experience with creative success.
  • Encourage a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset appreciate that they will make mistakes, but these are opportunities to learn and grow, and gradually improve. To facilitate this, let your people know that they can fail, perfectionism is not the goal and learning is valued.

An interesting article that helps leaders develop creativity in their workplace, and hopefully move to the next level of success. And Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you do just that. Just contact Warrick Long to chat about how we can help. or 02 4980 2168.

ABS Reaches Out Internationally

February 27, 2019 by Avondale Business School

International students from India, Vietnam, South Africa, Thailand and Philippines enrolled for the Avondale Business School’s Bachelors of Business Degree (BBus) program. Third party provider UIT (Universal Institute of Technology) had its Orientation day on Thursday, Feb 21, 2019. Fourteen new and returning students formed the Sem 1, 2019 cohort at the Melbourne campus.

This off campus location at UIT has been operating for 4 years since 2015 in partnership to provide the Avondale Business Degree to students living in the Melbourne city area. This has resulted in total six students graduating with BBus degrees (3 Marketing, 2 Accounting and 1 Human Resources major area of study) in 2017 and 2018.

Although this approach is not new in the tertiary education sector Avondale Business School runs a model that has a unique.  A blended delivery style with tutors present in the offsite campus to enable the face-to-face contact with students. Lectures are recorded at the Avondale LM campus and are uploaded using the Learning Management System (Moodle) for students to learn and engage at the offsite.  Best wishes for the new students and for the partnership.


2019 Has Officially Begun

February 27, 2019 by Avondale Business School

Wednesday (Feb 26) marked the officially beginning of Semester 1 for students on the Lake Macquarie campus, and it is nice to feel the energy of students returning to campus. Students have been experiencing Orientation events, which culminated with the Opening Convocation held in College Church the previous day. Discipline Heads offered words of wisdom to their student cohorts and prayers of blessing offered.

Associate Professor Barnes welcomed new and returning students to the Avondale Business School, outlining some of the benefits of studying with our Business program. Graduate employment, industry links, Internship programs and corporate based student excursions were provided as examples of how our program provides business students with both the theoretical knowledge and practical applications of real world experiences that can assist their learning.

Students were challenged in the choices they make, reminded by the words of Eleanor Roosevelt “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility”.

The staff here at ABS are very excited to be sharing these students’ learning journey, and hope the best is yet to come for 2019!

ABS Welcomes New 2019 Student Cohort!

February 25, 2019 by Avondale Business School

At orientation week or “O”week, the ABS welcomed its new cohort of students, and they are from all parts of Australia. From Perth, Melbourne, the Sunshine and Cold Coast, and of course some local students, all were keen to start their Bachelor of Business journey. The students were introduced to the ABS staff and were shown the student lounge, computer rooms and board room. They also met staff from the Smart Business Hub, one of which was an ABS alumni who shared his experience of Avondale.

Students were then shown their options in terms of majors, double major and minors all available at ABS. The new wellness module of “Foundations of wellbeing” was discussed which focuses on the whole student experience and for particular interest to business students was the notion of understanding emotional intelligence.

Students where then shown how to forward emails to their phones, enrol in units, access their timetable and how a Moodle site operates. Of particular interest was the discussion on Academic Integrity and how to reference correctly. After some well earnt nourishment (morning tea), the students then got involved in some “get to know you” games. It was a breath of fresh air to have new students walking down the corridors again. On behalf of the ABS we wish them well on their journey and look forward to being a big part of that experience.

Rewarding Employees

February 22, 2019 by Avondale Business School

What ‘floats your boat’? That is, what is it that makes you genuinely feel appreciated for the work you do? Is it the big pay packet? Or the internal sense of achievement? Or some gesture of appreciation from your company? Unfortunately, what works for you is unlikely to work for others in your organisation, imply, one size does not fit all. So if you have been magnanimously offering pizza vouchers to staff for their achievements, there is a strong possibility many of them have not felt rewarded or appreciated at all.

I am a big fan of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman as a means of communicating within meaningful relationships (see Chapman, G. (2010). The 5 love languages: the secret to love that lasts. Chicago: Northfield Publishing). Recognizing these do not necessarily fit as easily into the workplace, Chapman teamed up with a colleague to write the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Work Place (Chapman, G., & White, P. (2012). The 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace: empowering organizations by encouraging people (Revised and updated. ed.). Chicago: Northfield Publishing). I recommend this to leaders.

And now a friend of mine recently sent me a link to a great article by Dr Jenny Brockis (read it here) that provides another view of rewarding employees. Essentially Brockis advocates acknowledging employees for a job well done by using meaningful gestures. As an example, she references a study in which people were given rewards following an increase in performance. After only a few days performance dropped significantly in those who received a cash bonus, whereas those who received a meaningful complement, the decrease was much less. Money doesn’t activate motivation to do great work, but rather it is praise used appropriately. It’s the little things that mean the most, like being personally thanked. Read the full article to get more tips on how to acknowledge the people you work with.

Knowing what we know now, ask yourself how do you reward others in your workplace?

The Avondale Business School can help your organisation move to the next level, to find out how, contact Dr Warrick Long on

Avondale Business School Awarded the Faculty “Excellence” Award for 2018!

February 19, 2019 by Avondale Business School

During the 2019 Staff Professional Development week at Avondale College, the Avondale Business School (ABS) was awarded the Faculty of Education, Business and

ABS Team Members (L-R) Dr Warrick Long, Associate Professor Lisa Barnes (ABS Head), Dr Peter Williams, David Wilson. Absent is ABS Department Assistant Diane Smith

Science “Excellence Award” for 2018, for recognition by external parties of their research output, external engagement activities and teaching.

The staff at ABS have worked hard in 2018 to engage their students with businesses, which involved taking students on excursions to Sydney to visit Qantas, the marketing firm Professional Advantage, and visiting the Australian Institute of Company Directors. A little closer to home, another excursion visited Life Health Foods, which included a factory tour and samples of their products.

The ABS was also recognised for their internship program which had doubled in size from the previous year, and their current research projects, one of which included the new Smart Hub facility located within the business school to reduce commuter travel time for staff who normally travel to Sydney for work and helped create a better work/life balance for employees outside of Avondale.

ABS also had a busy year providing consulting services to a range of organisations in areas such as governance, professional development, board updates and leadership training. Quite apart from this ABS members are also actively engaged in numerous boards and committees with organisations, which helps to keep them current with industry.

The ABS was also recognised for the completion of 2 staff PhDs, and attendance and presentations at several conference and winning two “Best Paper” awards. A great achievement for the ABS.

The Power of the Executive Assistant

February 19, 2019 by Avondale Business School

I have long been a believer that the real power in any office does not lie with the “bosses”, but with those who look after the bosses. And now I have the research to support my hunch.

Dilemma-Assist, in conjunction with the International Management Assistants (IMA) network recently released a report ‘The Secret Power in the Office’ (read it here), which is the first international survey of the executive assistant’s role in integrity and business ethics. The findings are fascinating, and at time disturbing.

So rather than being the ‘gate keepers’ Executive Assistants (EA) are actually seen more as the ‘confidant’ or ‘trusted advisor’ of their bosses, frequently being asked for their advice on all manner of issues, including internal promotions and hiring new executives. The report actually uses the analogy of spiders in the web, because the EAs are seen as having access to all the most confidential information, internal politics and personal behaviors within the organisation. A very powerful positon indeed.

However, the research also found some quite disturbing things as well. For example:

  • EAs are frequently confronted with serious misconduct, the most common being waste or abuse of corporate resources
  • Facing inappropriate or rude behavior
  • They also do not feel comfortable to speak up when faced with inappropriate behavior (only a third are prepared to, and even less if their immediate superior is involved)

The report goes into each of these (and other issues) in some depth, and is a very interesting read. The challenge is to image how much better the organisation would fare if these talented and well informed individuals were even more onside and treated better.

So take a moment to reflect on the relationship between you and your team – is it as good as you think it is, or are they too scared to speak up?

The Avondale Business School (ABS) is able to help you and your team maximize their potential. To find out how, call Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or email