Archive for the ‘Employees’ Category

Rewarding Employees

Friday, February 22, 2019

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 Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au.

The Power of the Executive Assistant

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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 Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

And The Greatest of These is….

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman recently published an article in HBR which asserts that trust is a leading indicator of whether others evaluate leaders positively or negatively (Read it here).

Using data from the 360 assessments of 87,000 leaders they have distilled the three key elements of trust, and how they are displayed. The level of trust is highly correlated with how people rate a leader’s overall leadership effectiveness. And while the entire article is worth the read, but in summary, here they are:

  1. Positive Relationships – creating positive relationships with other people and groups is vital, and includes being able to:
  • Stay in touch on the issues and concerns of others.
  • Balance results with concern for others.
  • Generate cooperation between others.
  • Resolve conflict with others.
  • Give honest feedback in a helpful way.
  1. Good Judgement/Expertise – that is, the leader is well-informed and knowledgeable. This means:
  • They use good judgement when making decisions.
  • Others trust their ideas and opinions.
  • Others seek after their opinions.
  • Their knowledge and expertise make an important contribution to achieving results.
  • Can anticipate and respond quickly to problems.
  1. Consistency – where leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do. That means they:
  • Are a role model and set a good example.
  • Walk the talk.
  • Honor commitments and keep promises.
  • Follow through on commitments.
  • Are willing to go above and beyond what needs to be done.

So leaders should never underestimate the impact of building and maintaining the trust of their teams. How do you think you would rate on these three elements?

And remember, if you need help with your leadership or management needs, Avondale Business School is here to help, simply call or ring on 02 4980 2168 or Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

You Deserve What You Reward

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Do the remuneration and reward policies of your organisation recognize the values and culture you want your organisation to be known for? Or do they reflect the ugly underbelly of what is really happening in your workplace? That’s a tough question, because it is the behaviors of the employees and leaders that determine the culture, and what gets rewarded gets repeated.

Karen Gately in an excellent article ‘Leverage Reward and Recognition Strategies to Drive Culture’ (read it here) addresses this issue and provides some suggestions on how to ensure your programs “not only reinforce desirable behaviors, but make clear also those detrimental to the success of the individual, team or business.”

  1. Create and maintain awareness – regular communication about the program can support efforts to keep the importance of the desirable culture on the radar.
  2. Focus on outcomes and behaviors – place priority on not only what people achieve, but also how they go about it. That is, don’t undermine culture by rewarding people who achieve outcomes by behaving poorly.
  3. Recognize role models – you can do this by acknowledging those members of the team who demonstrate examples of the behaviors that are needed, with the added bonus that as these people progress in the organisation, it will strengthen and grow the culture.
  4. Make no exceptions – don’t reward the ‘high performance’ bully, and irrespective of the nature of their role or authority, someone who is having a detrimental impact on organizational culture or team engagement should not be rewarded.
  5. Be creative – find a variety of ways to reinforce the cultural expectations and positive examples.

The article in full is worth the read to see how Gately expands on these points, because culture can make or break your organisation.

The Avondale Bsuiness School can help you with your organisational needs, to find out how just call or email Warrick Long on 20 4980 2168 or warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

Too Scared to be Fearless?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

While high-performance organisations are not as common as we would think, there is a common attribute amongst them – being a fearless organisation. Amy Edmondson, in a great article called ‘How Fearless Organisations Succeed’ (read it here), goes right to the heart of the matter and outlines the essential characteristics of being fearless.

A fearless organisation is one where employees have confidence to take risks, and where the organisation minimizes the fear people feel on the job. This provides psychological safety, where there is the belief it is safe to speak up when needed with relevant ideas, questions or concerns, without being shutdown is a gratuitous way. Employees respect and trust each other, and can be candid when needed.

Edmondson quotes a 2017 Gallup poll that notes only three in 1- employees agree with the statement that their opinions count at work. Do the opinions of your employees count at your work?

There are some caveats, which include noting that such a fearless organisation is not one where people agrees for the sake of it, or offer unconditional support for every idea. On the contrary, psychological safety enables candor and openness, and therefore, thrives in an environment of mutual respect.

So how do you create such an environment? The article offers three main things leaders can do:

  1. Set the stage. That is, get people on the same page, with common goals and a shared appreciation of what they are up against.
  2. Invite participation. This involves adopting a mindset of situational humility and engaging in proactive inquiry. No one want to take the risks of proposing ideas when the boss appears to think they know everything.
  3. Respond productively. This sort of a response is characterized by the tree elements of appreciation, destigmatizing failure, and sanctioning clear violations.

I recommend you read the entire article to get the details of these, but this is a good summary to hopefully inspire you to move your organisation towards being more fearless.

If you would like to find out how Avondale Business School can help your organisation become fearless, call or email Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

Money Just Isn’t Enough

Thursday, December 6, 2018

“Just pay more to get the best”, has been a mantra in organisations for many years. However in more recent times the research is indicating that there are more important things to employees than money. In a recent article for McKinsey & Company, Jeffrey Pfeffer (read it here) notes two issues that contribute to employee engagement – job control and social support.

Job control refers to the amount of discretion employees have to determine what they do and how they do it. Studies have found that this has a major impact on employees’ physical health. The article notes a number of studies to support this, including one that found people who had a higher level of influence and task control in a reorganization process had lower levels of illness symptoms for 11 out of 12 health indicators, were absent less frequently, and experienced less depression. Pfeffer also reports that chaotic workplace environments also adversely affects people’s motivation, leaning and emotional state.

Social support in organisations also impact on employee health and well-being. Workplaces frequently create environments that are disincentives to developing social support, due to pitting people against one another in competitive assessments and promotional criteria. Whereas organisations that encourage people to care for one another enjoy higher employee wellbeing and satisfaction. And it can be as simple as fixing the language of the workplace through less titles and being more community focused.

Perhaps the best way to sum this article up is to allow Pfeffer himself to conclude:

“Giving people more control over their work life and providing them with social support fosters higher levels of physical and mental health. A culture of social support also reinforces for employees that they are valued, and thus helps in a company’s efforts to attract and retain people. Job control, meanwhile, has a positive impact on individual performance and is one of the most important predictors of job satisfaction and work motivation, frequently ranking as more important even than pay. Management practices that strengthen job control and social support are often overlooked but relatively straightforward—and they provide a payoff to employees and employers alike.”

The Avondale Business School can help your organisation develop employee well-being. To find out how, simply contact Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 49802168.

When Being on the Same Page Is Bad For the Organization

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

“All our employees are on the same page!” “We are united as a team!’ “As an organization we move forward as one!” Really? Are you sure everyone in your organization is on the same page, united as a team, and moving forward as one? It is more likely your employees hold different values and perspectives, are too reluctant to speak up against the prevailing view, and as a consequence are less committed to their tasks than you would like. These are the conclusions I drew from reading an excellent article from Maud Lindley, Jeffrey Schwartz and Malcolm Thompson entitles ‘When Cultural Value Leads to Groupthink, the Company Loses’ (read it here), found in a recent online edition of strategy+business.

Drawing on some recent Australian experience with values and perspectives in the public and corporate arena, the authors note that even company values like “courage” and “excellence” can negatively impact on people in their organization. So the key is to develop a workplace based on authenticity, which is described as creating “a context for dialogue in which the organization’s leaders and employees can talk openly and genuinely about the values of the enterprise, and why they agree or disagree with those values”. Without having such safe places for such discussions, hidden conflicts develop that can diminish people’s commitment and increase their cynicism. And it’s not about changing people’s minds, or getting them to al think the same way, it is about ensuring employees “feel that they can contribute freely and bring their whole selves to work”.

If you goal in the organization is to avoid conflict, then the authors note this to be a bad decision. They draw on the work of Patrick Lencioni who advocates conflict, and to avoid it is to put temporary comfort and the avoidance of discomfort ahead of the ultimate goal of the organization. Bringing painful issues to light and dealing with them constructively is the best course of action.

The article describes three capabilities effective leaders have that can help manage diverse perspective:

  1. Mental Agility – being able to recognize the existence of different perspectives and the reasons different people might hold them. These sorts of leaders consistently invite others to voice opinions, perspectives, or expertise that might challenge their own views.
  2. Cognitive Humility – that is, where leaders recognize their own unconscious associations and correct the errors of judgment that result. It involves bring a third-person perspective to their own experience.
  3. The Ability To Foster Psychological Safety – which involves creating contexts where everyone feel valued and heard – where people feel safe to contribute perspectives even if they differ dramatically from the organization’s prevailing values.

Thankfully the authors recognize that not every conversation will lead to a solution, and people may not necessarily understand another’s perspective any better, but it does mean people will “recognizer the workplace as a place with a true commitment to its employees: a place where people respect one another, even in disagreement, and are able to bring themselves openly to work. If you would like to see your leadership and organization become such a place, contact the Avondale Business School on abs@avondale.edu.au or 02 49802168 to find out how.

Tech at Work – Leaders Need to Rethink their Approach

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Technology for people at work is now considered a ‘complicated’ relationship. Such is the assertion in the latest pwc TechAtWork report (read it here). Based on their international survey of 12,000 people, pwc reported the following key observations:

  • Leaders say they-re choosing tech with their people in mind, but employees don’t agree.
  • People want digital skills, but aren’t being given the opportunity
  • Employees value the human touch at work, but also like a digital assist
  • Efficiency and status drive interest in advancing digital skills.

It is well worth the time to read the full article, and to fully appreciate what these points are really making. But based on them, pwc make four recommendations for leaders on how to get more buy-in and interest in tech from their people:

  1. You can’t separate technology from your people’s experience and what motivates them
  2. Understand what it’s like to do the job
  3. Rethink who needs to be in the room when making decisions
  4. Upskilling is not traditional training – change your mindset.

Leaders of organisations need to review these recommendations, and benchmark themselves against them. The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with your leadership, to find out how, contact Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 49802168

A Trip down Memory Lane

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Being an Alumni of the University of Sydney, Assoc. Prof. Lisa Barnes was given the opportunity to walk the halls of her undergraduate days when she attended the 13th World Congress of Accounting Educators and Researchers, held at the new Ambercrombie Business School building, on 9-10 November, 2018. The conference was an initiative of the International Association for Accounting, Education and Research (www.IAAER.org).

The TRAC Model

The conference was attended by delegates from around the world and included symposiums as well as plenary sessions. A paper prepared from Warrick Long’s PhD entitled “Accounting Academic Workloads in the Higher Education Sector: Balancing Workload Creep to Avoid Depreciation” was presented. Delegates could relate to particularly the TRAC model presented, where it was demonstrated that Accounting Lecturers are undergoing a type of workload creep with the current changes to student cohorts and changes to the way in which accounting is taught in the higher education sector.

Erin Poulton, one of ABS’s sessional lecturers also presented a paper entitled “The Alzheimer’s approach to Financial Disclosure: the case of Australian Residential Aged Care Providers”. This paper was from Erin’s PhD and is timely in the fact that there has now been an announcement of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Honourable Justice Joseph McGrath and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed Commissioners. Justice McGrath is a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and Ms Briggs is a former Australian Public Service Commissioner. The Royal Commission’s interim report is to be provided by 31 October 2019, and its final report no later than 30 April 2020.

Erin’s recommendations in relation to disclosure of Financial Statements by Residential Age Care providers, is that currently they are inconsistent and inadequate and recommends the use of the General Purpose Financial Reporting (GPFR) standards when preparing accounts. She also recommends an audit of these accounts to enable the entities to release financial information to stakeholders to help them assess their ability to be sustainable, and make sure they family members are well provided for in the facility.

The conference website links are as follows can be found here.

ABS Mentoring Sessional Staff

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dr Erin Poulton and Associate Professor Lisa Barnes recently attended the Melbourne International Business and Social Science Research Conference 2018. There, Erin presented a paper based on her PhD entitled “Financial Disclosure by Australian Residential Aged Care Providers: Are They Suffering Dementia?”

Conference papers can be accessed from the conference website at http://www.melconference.com.au/public/

Erin has been a sessional staff member at the ABS for 2 years, but the history behind her relationship with Lisa Barnes has spanned over 10 years, with Lisa teaching her at undergraduate level, was her supervisor for her honors’ degree, and also supervisor for her PhD. Mentoring of younger staff members is an important part of the ABS strategy for retaining great staff, and getting research outcomes.

The conference was presented by the Australian Academy of Business Leadership (AABL), of which Lisa is on the advisory board. Lisa was asked to Chair the conference and provide the keynote address entitled “Collaboration and Networking for Research Excellence”. This is the 23nd conference of AABL, and 4th conference in Melbourne. The conference was represented by academics of 26 institutions from 10 countries. The Australian Academy of Business Leadership can we accessed via its website at https://www.aabl.com.au/public/.

For this Melbourne conference, research papers were from key areas including Education; Social Business, Environment and Sustainability; Accounting, Economics and Finance; Management and Marketing and Multi-disciplinary areas. Abstracts submitted to this conference were subject to double blind peer review to ensure the highest level of academic quality and relevance.

Erin and Lisa enjoyed the conference, meeting new academics from around the world and of course contributing to the Melbourne economy by visiting local restaurants and getting a little retail therapy!