Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

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

Multitasking Doesn’t Work!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Multitasking 4I have met a lot of people in life who have been very proud and vocal about their ability to multitask, notwithstanding I am a male and supposedly have diminished multitasking abilities. However, a recent article from Andrew Medal in the Entrepreneur blog (find it here) suggests multitasking is not as good as we’ve been led to believe.

The article contends that switching from task to task is very ineffective as it takes our brains some time to adjust to the new flow of thoughts, and rapidly changing disrupts these flows, and compromises the quality of our work. I wonder if this principle would equally apply to rapidly moving from one meeting to the next, with little time between to process or adjust?

Medal proposes a system to increase productivity, based on the method developed and implemented by Ivy Lee in 1918. The process involves six steps:

  1. Make a list of six important tasks for tomorrow at the end of each work day.
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. Complete all tasks on the list in the same manner and repeat the process for the next day.

What are steps 2 – 5? Well you will need to open the article and find out! However, I can attest that the process does work well, except for when a crisis occurs!

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

The Smart Office

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Smart OfficeSo what makes a smart office? Adam Uzialko in a recent Business News Daily blog (read it here) gives a quick overview of how technology is changing business. So what is the smart office? It is where technology makes the physical work environment intelligent and adaptable. The aim of the smart office is to unify operations under one system and empower that system with machine-learning technologies.

But what of the employees? Well the theory is to free them up to do real work, the type of work technology cannot do. See our previous blog: ‘Machines Replacing Humans’ for more details on what type of work this might involve.

The smart office will most likely incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes smart lights and thermostats, virtual reality cameras and speakers and more. Machine learning will do things like direct enquiries to the most suitable person in the company based on that person’s skill sets, and interconnectivity and control will be dominated by automated systems all linked to apps able to run from hand held devices.

However, as with most office environments, no one size fits all, and technology needs to be tailored to each company’s specific needs. And budget. Smart office technology can be expensive so companies need to be confident there will be a payback.

Uzialko ends his blog by proposing that maybe the smartest office at all will be the no office work environment, which will enable employees to work from anywhere at any time. But a word of caution, our own research in this area has found that this can soon turn into employees being required to work everywhere all the time (see the blog Anytime Email and Work-life Balance ).

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

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

The Myth of Open Office Spaces

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Open OfficesThe idea of open office spaces comes and goes, and has recently been revived by a new group of employers looking to “break down barriers” and create “collaborative” and “team-oriented” work spaces. However, recent research questions this premise and instead suggests that open office spaces cause more problems.

Rachel Morrison and Keith Macky surveyed 1000 Australian employees about their experiences with open office plans. You can read about this research here. Contrary to the popular myth, their research found that there were increases in “employee social liabilities”, which include distractions, uncooperativeness, distrust and negative relationships. They also found that co-worker friendships and perceptions of supervisor support worsened.

The authors surmise that in open office environments, employees develop coping strategies like withdrawal which create a less friendly team environment. In addition, from the research, cooperation became less pleasant and information flow did not change in a shared office space.

Acknowledging that providing every employee with their own office is unlikely to happen, two strategies shared by the authors include:

  • Use panels, bookshelves or green walls of plants to block visual distractions
  • Allow the use of noise cancelling head phones to reduce noise distractions

Maybe it’s time to rethink your office layout and give back some privacy to your workers. If you would like further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long:

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

Managing Up

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Manage Your BossThere is plenty of advice out there on how to lead and manage teams, and we at ABS have presented many of these. However, in a recent Business News Daily blog Nicole Fallen Taylor writes about a different perspective to managing – managing your boss, or managing up. You can read the full article here, but following is a brief summary of the main features.

Don’t be afraid to manage up – which essentially is learning what your boss’s work style is and adapting to it for achieving the best possible results for the team. Remember though that every boss is different, and one size does not fit all. Also remember that your boss has many more people to worry about than just you, so don’t be too pushy or all-consuming. The author provides a few tips on what might help in this process:

  1. Earn your boss’ trust
  • Build friendly rapport
  • Learn how they prefer to work
  • Leave your ego at the door and commit to your manager’s and company’s goals
  1. Give regular feedback (but don’t nag)
  • Don’t take up all their time – they have more to do than just listen to you
  • When invited – provide honest feedback
  • Be aware of your boss’ communication preferences
  • Don’t catch them off-guard!
  1. Show that you’re a team player
  • Don’t try and micromanage your boss
  • Look to add value to the team, for example:
    • Keep cool under pressure
    • Offer solutions, not just problems
    • Mentor junior staff

And most importantly, managing up is not sucking up! It is all about the success of the team, where everybody wins.

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.

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168