Archive for the ‘Employees’ Category

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 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 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 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 (

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

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

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!


Maybe the Difficult Person is You!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Perhaps there are no difficult people – only situations in which people seem to us to be difficult. Author Adam Kahane takes a quick look at those situations where we find ourselves having to work with people we consider difficult. He writes about it in a short blog (find it here) that is worth a quick read.

Kahane gives three things for us to think about when we are facing those people we consider to be difficult. In summary these are:

  1. Create low-stakes spaced: That is, start off by just listening, or trying things our, or just having a meeting. These are early opportunities to experiment with creating new connections with the person.
  2. Look for patters in your frustrations: In particular, see if we are actually part of the problem, and can then work to be part of the solution.
  3. Practice letting go: We have the choice about who we work with – sometimes the best choice is to choose not to work with someone. That’s ok.

In concluding, Kahane reminds us that none of this is easy or foolproof, but if we want to be able to collaborate, then we have to be willing to change ourselves. And the Avondale Business School is able to help you with change. To find out how, contact Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or

Trust Me, It’s Important

Friday, October 19, 2018

Trust is an undervalued resource in organisations. Most organisations take it for granted, and don’t have an intentional program to develop and nurture it. However, the business advantages of fostering a culture of trust are immense. In a recent article in Governance Directions (read it here), authors Vinay Goswami and Erick Fibich note the following about how trust enhances what employees do:

  • They put their best foot forward
  • They work efficiently together
  • Work towards a common goal
  • Think outside the box
  • Support each other’s back
  • Communicate with transparency, openness and honesty

Conversely, when trust is absent, employees will jockey for positions, hold back information and play it safe. They also tend to become more withdraw and disengaged, with confidence among the team eroding, as does commitment to the organisation.

Essentially, as the authors note, trust builds the bridge between the business need for results, and the human need for connection.

Interestingly, the article makes the strong point that “rebuilding trust takes far more effort, time and resources than it does to initially build and maintain it in the first place.” Which begs the question, why don’t organisations invest more into building a culture of trust?

The authors propose four area in which to build and maintain trust, and the short time it takes to read further about these is time well spent, but in short point form, these are:

  1. Understand the need to build trust with the team
  2. Understand the theories of trust and apply what is right for the environment
  3. Use a framework to structure you approaches to maintain trust
  4. Deploy feedback mechanisms to repair/sustain trust

Taken for granted, trust in your organisation can soon disappear, leaving a disgruntled, disengaged and uncommitted workforce. However, investing time and resources in building and maintaining trust can see your organisation succeed. And the Avondale Business School is here to help you with your success. Simply contact Warrick Long at to find out how.

Organisational Change? – Don’t Forget The Employees

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

While many people thrive on change, there are also plenty of people (most?) who don’t relish the idea of another organisational restructure or “adjustment”. Change fatigue is a very real issue in workplaces. But some change is very necessary for the ongoing success of the business and so the issue becomes how to implement change is the most effective and successful way.

There are a number of resources available on change management (I personally like John Kotter’s approach in his book Leading Change). However, I recently came across a really succinct article on how to ensure employees are engaged and on board with organisational change. If comes from Morgan Galbraith and can be found by clicking here. Galbraith notes that almost one0thrid of employees don’t understand why changes are occurring in their workplace, which is a leading factor why command change transformations fail.

To help with the employee understanding, Galbraith notes four key factors leaders can take on board:

  1. Inspire people by presenting a compelling vision for the future.

Ensure you give a clear view of the path ahead, answering the questions of why the change is important, and how it will positively affect the organisation in the long-term.

  1. Keep employees informed by providing regular communication.

A hallmark of successful transformations is continual communication which is clear and consistent, and answers the question ‘what’s in it for me’ for employees. It is also important to communicate even when you don’t have all the answers.

  1. Empower leaders and managers to lead through change.

Successful transformations also happen because senior leaders model the behaviour changes. But for them to do so, you need to help them understand the fundamentals of change, including how to be an effective leader during that time.

  1. Find creative ways to involve employees in the change.

This is scary, but you need to solicit feedback and engage people in the process, which helps build ownership and makes them more likely to support the change.

The whole article is well worth reading (it only takes 6 minutes), and as noted by Galbraith, companies who are highly effective at change management are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform industry peers. So remember to inspire, inform, empower and engage. Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with your change management processes, to find out how, contact Warrick Long via



Employees Need More Respect

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Employees worldwide rank respect as the most important leadership behaviour, yet employees are reporting more disrespectful and uncivil behaviour each year – these are the comments from Kristie Rogers, in her article ‘Do Your Employees Feel Respected’ in HBR Online (read it here). It appears that leaders are failing to understand what it is that employees need to feel respected, and their attempts to address it are falling way short.

The article examines two forms of workplace respect, Owed Respect and Earned Respect, which is very informative and contains great advice. But the real value in this article are the tips for closing the gap between toxic and respectful workplaces. The full article is deserving of being read, but the summary of those seven tips are:

  1. Establish a baseline of owed respect – every employee should feel that their dignity is recognised and respected.
  2. Know how to convey respect in your particular workplace – use active listening, and value diverse backgrounds and ideas. Other examples include leaders delegating tasks, remaining open to advice, and giving employees freedom to pursue creative ideas.
  3. Recognize that that respect has ripple effects – leadership behaviours are often mimicked throughout an organisation, and just as incivility can spiral, so too can respect.
  4. Customize the amount of earned respect you convey – praise from an immediate manager, attention from a leader, and opportunities to head a project can have more impact on motivation then do monetary incentives.
  5. Think of respect as infinite – it can be given to one employee without shortchanging others.
  6. See respect as a time saver, not a time water – neglecting respect can be far more costly than attending to it.
  7. Know when efforts to convey respect can backfire – employees see honestly as one of the most valuable expressions of respect, insincere compliments, however well-intentioned, are likely to be counterproductive.

Respect is something that the new generation of workers are particular about, so leaders that understand that and tune in will be the ones who lead most successfully. And Avondale Business School can help you be a successful leader, simply contact Warrick Long on 02 49802168 or

All smiles at ABS

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Avondale Business School celebrated the completion of their innovative research project with the business Professional Advantage, by way of sharing a lunch in the Smart Hub premises. Professional Advantage is an Australian IT consulting company, with its head office in North Sydney. They have been using the Avondale Business School “Smart hub” to avoid the up to 3 hours a day commute to their North Sydney Offices.

The Avondale Business School has been involved in a research project with Professional Advantage, researching the benefits of the use of a smart hub, embedded in a business school. The reciprocal advantages for ABS has been the exposure for students to a real live business operating here at the ABS. Students have had the opportunity to see the employees at work and to ask questions about their IT consulting roles.

The ABS secured a grant for their research project Remote Business Hubs embedded in Higher Education Institutions: Stakeholder Engagement of Business, Educators in Business and Business Students” from the Avondale College Lifestyle Research Centre, and they hope to publish from their research to encourage more businesses to consider the benefits of remote smart hubs to create a better “Work/Life” balance for employees.