Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ 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 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.

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 Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

Less Days and More Productivity? Can’t be Done! Or Can it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

As an employee, the idea of working four days and being paid for five sounds great! Having been an employer, that idea sends shivers down my spine. Even though research suggests that people can only concentrate for 4-5 hours in one sitting, and in the UK a survey of employees indicated that the average employee works for three hours in an eight hour day (click here to read more). I wonder if that would really work?

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

Well, one New Zealand company has recently put this idea to the test. The firm called Perpetual Guardian recently concluded a two month trial whereby employees could take either Wednesday or Friday off, yet still be paid for a full five-day work week. What happened? Some things went up, and some things went down. According to a recent article in Fast Company (read it here) here are some of the results:

  • Job performance improved slightly
  • Productivity did not fall
  • Workers’ sense of work-life balance went from 54% to 78%
  • Stress went down
  • Employees’ sense of satisfaction with their own lives in general went up
  • Employees found their work to be more stimulating, had more confidence in the leadership team, and felt more empowered in their roles
  • Employees sense of engagement with their work went up
  • Employees commitment to their employer rose from 68% to 88%

How did the company ensure that productivity did not fall? They discussed the idea with the employees, who came up with a range of ways to ensure there was no drop, and included:

  • Spending less time in meetings
  • Spending less time on social media
  • Experimenting with signals on their desks that they shouldn’t be interrupted.

Getting the leadership team and employees was crucial, as was the focus away from hours and onto productivity.

What a challenge – do you think your organisation could implement the four day week? Certainly something to think about. And the Avondale Business School can help you with your business challenges. Simply email us to discuss how we can help abs@avondale.edu.au

Open Offices and Closed Minds?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It is hard to remain objective on issues when all our technology is geared towards filtering the information we receive so that it reinforces our existing views. I became very aware of this when a recent article on the issues associated with open office plans came across my feeds. I eagerly read the article and felt a sense of satisfaction that it supported my own personal view that open office plans do not deliver on all that they promise. My introverted self felt comforted that I wasn’t an outlier in an extroverted world.

However, given that so many organisations are moving towards open plan offices, and that the financial investment is too big for them to not have considered the risk of getting it wrong, I felt I needed to consider the (uncomfortable) option that open office plans may actually work.

The advantages of open offices are typically noted as:

  • Encouraging spontaneous epiphanies amongst colleagues
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Greater flexibility
  • More engaged and productive workforce

There are also challenges, as identified in a number of research studies about employee dissatisfaction with open office plans:

  • Noise and other distractions reduce productivity
  • Lack of personal space
  • Decreased team cohesion and satisfaction
  • Increased levels of sick leave

My search yielded a number of articles supporting the open office design, usually with the caveat that the organisation needs to be very strategic in how it is implemented, designed and the culture that grows from it. Other articles were tentative in their support, noting that it worked in limited circumstances, for example, for connected team projects. Other articles were clearly not supportive.

Interestingly, a number of articles noted that the decisions to move to open office designs were frequently made by leaders who retained private offices and were not aware of the issues and impacts of them.

So in the interests of fair play, listed below are a series of references to articles that discuss open office designs, some supportive and some not. Embedded in the articles are links to various research projects and reports that explore the consequences of open offices. But as for me, the idea of working in the midst of a crowd of extroverts causes me to break out in a cold sweat.

https://hbr.org/2018/01/sgc-research-when-moving-to-an-open-office-plan-pay-attention-to-how-your-employees-feel

https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-open-office-trap

https://theconversation.com/open-plan-offices-can-actually-work-under-certain-conditions-89452

https://www.archdaily.com/884192/why-open-plan-offices-dont-work-and-some-alternatives-that-do

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/313034

https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/when-the-walls-come-down

By: Warrick Long, Lecturer, Avondale Business School

Workforce of the Future

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

‘Competition for the right talent is fierce. And ‘talent’ no longer means the same as ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today”.

Rather than being daunted by this finding by PWC in their report “Workforce of the Future”, PWC provide some excellent scenarios of what 2030 may look like, and what organisations should be planning in order to prepare. The reports is based on a survey of 10,000 business leaders globally. (click on the image to access the full report).

PWC identified five megatrends, or forces, that are shaping the future. These megatrends are:

  • Technological breakthroughs;
  • Demographic shifts, that is, the changing size, distribution and age profile of the world’s population;
  • Rapid urbanization, which involves the significant increase in the world’s population moving to live in cities;
  • Shifts in global economic power, between developed and developing countries;
  • Resource scarcity and climate change.

Rather than extrapolate these into one potential future, PWC consider four scenarios (or ‘worlds’) based on varying degrees of fluidity between collectivism and individualism, and business fragmentation and corporate integration. These scenarios recognise that there are multiple potential outcomes possible, and that organisations need to ensure they are thinking about a range of futures, rather than betting everything on just one possible alternative. The outcomes of this extrapolation into 2030 are:

  • The Yellow World, where humans come first
  • The Red World, where innovation rules
  • The Green World, where companies care
  • The Blue World, where corporate is king

The one common thread throughout each scenario is the rise of automation and the implications of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), which will result in a massive reclassification and rebalancing of work.

While providing helpful recommendations for individuals and society as a whole, the report also suggests a few things organisations can also do to position themselves for whatever future unfolds:

  • Recognise that linear predictions don’t cut it – there are multiple and emerging visions of the future;
  • Make decisions based on purpose and values;
  • Embrace technology as a force for good;
  • Focus on humans and the humane.

This is an excellent and informative report that is easy to read, yet challenging. Leaders looking into the future would do well to consider this report and how their organisation is preparing for an uncertain, but different, future. And Avondale Business School is excited to be able to partner with you to achieve success.

ABS Challenges Directors

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Board of Directors of Adventist Senior Living NNSW recently completed several modules of professional development, delivered by the Avondale Business School team. The sessions were held over three days, in February and May, and topics included the roles and responsibilities of directors, as well as finance, marketing, human resources and information management for directors.

Warrick Long and Associate Professor Lisa Barnes shared cutting edge practices and the latest research in these areas, also drawing on their extensive experiences as directors and leaders in the not-for-profit sector, including with aged care and disability services. The directors appreciated the interactive nature of the sessions, with up to date and practical information. Their feedback reflected that while they had been challenged, they were presented with easy to understand relevant concepts.

ABS presenter, Warrick Long, noted that “this is a great example of a board of directors taking their responsibilities very seriously, and endeavoring to improve their knowledge and sharpen their governance skills – it was a pleasure to work with them”.

The Avondale Business School has a suite of programs that can help your directors and leaders develop the winning edge for your business. For more information, contact Warrick Long to discuss customizing something unique for your organisation. Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

Avondale Business School collaborates with Business

Monday, May 15, 2017

Business and College collaboration is a wonderful way to enhance student learning. A recent excursion organised by the Avondale Business School to Sydney saw students visit 3 business to get insights into risk management, marketing, human resources and accounting.

The first business to open its doors was the Mascot Air Base facility. Manager of Airline safety lead them into the emergency procedures training facility which demonstrated the approach to risk management, in particular in relation to the evacuation of passengers in the event of an emergency. Students were privileged to be shown the various different aeroplane doors used to deploy passengers, rafts and survival kits. They were also shown the pool used for ocean training, in both the dark and in the rain.

Students were then put into the emergency procedure training simulator, where they experienced a crash landing in which the cabin lights turned off and the cabin filled with smoke. Students followed the orders of the cabin staff in relation to “evacuate, evacuate” and were led safely out of the simulator. Some students also were given life vests to deploy, and shown the various safety features such as the water activated light. Students had a better appreciation for flight crew and risk management procedures, after this confronting experience.

Students then headed out to Allianz stadium, for a tour of the facility. Students were taken down the ramp into the stadium, and the logistics of running the stadium that is shared by three different codes of sport (NRL, Rugby Union and Football) was explained. The marketing of the stadium signs, the sponsorship of the different codes and general keeping of the grounds were explained. Students asked questions such as who are the sponsors and what are the benefits of sponsorship from a marketing perspective.

Student then headed into the Sydney Roosters facility where they were led into the boardroom for an “Apprentice” style session (yes Mark Bouris is on the Board of the Sydney Roosters), by the Chief Financial Controller Mr Manuel Vlandis. Students were presented with financial information about the club and the challenges of running a rugby leagues club from a financial perspective. Questions were asked of the salary cap, costs of injured players, and how the model works in relation to revenue streams such as memberships, gate takings and sponsorship. The CFO was happy to answer the questions, and speak of his relationship with the Board and the new strategic plan they are currently developing.

Students then headed next door to the NSW Waratahs headquarters. There the player development manager Lachie McBain explained the complexities of running a rugby club, including issues such as preparing players for life after sport. He talked about the initiatives the club has in place for players such as further education and financial planning. He discussed the available careers in a rugby association, and his role in relation to his employer being RUPA (Rugby Union Players Association), formed to prepare players for life after sport. The club facilities were shown to the students, including the training areas, technology viewing areas and player lounge. Students asked questions in relation to membership numbers, revenue from Foxtel, sponsorship and player wages.

Feedback from the day included the following:

“It gave us insights into jobs where we do not see what happens behind the scenes”

“It was awesome to see business applied in a sporting context”

Avondale Business School will continue working with these businesses in the future, turning textbook learning into the reality of business. As the late Wallaby and Lawyer Ross Turnbull stated “There is nothing that I learnt in SPORT that doesn’t apply to BUSINESS, or LIFE” (2014). This excursion came from research done previously into the education of current sports people for their career after sport, a paper to be presented at the Global Conference on Education and Research (GLOCER 2017), which will be held during May 22-25, 2017 at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus in Sarasota, Florida.

 

How To Be A Bad Manager

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bad Managers

I was intrigued recently to read an article in The Huffington Post (find it here) that identified eleven ineffective leadership styles. It was hard while reading not to assign the names of people I have worked with through the years against these. It was even harder when I realised I was guilty of a number of them.

The article is a quick read, in infographic style, so I’m not going to reproduce all the material here, but I will highlight the top five styles that most annoy me:

  1. Micromanaging
  2. Autocratic
  3. Dictatorial
  4. Excessive consistency
  5. Mushroom management

As you read the article, think honestly about your own leadership and see if you are guilty of having any of these styles, and if you do, then develop a plan to see if you can move from being ineffective to effective. Your employees will love you for it!

Micromanaging Could be Killing Your Employees

Sunday, November 6, 2016

MicromanagingVery recent research has looked at how having less freedom in a high-stress job can increase the likelihood of employee death by over 15%. Chad Brooks provides a great summary of  this research in a blog (read it here).

Interestingly, where employees have control within their high-demand jobs, there is a 34% decrease in the likelihood of death as compared to a low demand job. Therefore, in stressful jobs employees need control over what they do and when. This can be energising to employees when they feel they have more freedom.

The study also found that in low control jobs employees are often heavier – frequently the result of using coping mechanisms like eating or smoking to cope.

The lesson from this is that organisations should focus more on giving employees more say in how their work gets done. Are you a micromanager? Or do you trust your employees?

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.

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168