Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Gain Control By Giving Up Control?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

To have more control, give it to employees! This is the thrust of a very interesting article by Ranjay Gulati (read it here). In the article, Gulati highlights the tensions between employee empowerment and operational discipline. Leaders typically fluctuate between giving too much freedom and not enough.

To address the fluctuations, Gulati proposes implementing well designed and well implemented guidelines to both support and nurture employees. When done well, these provide a “clear positive, galvanizing, sense of where the organization is trying to go”. Essentially this is a “freedom within a framework” approach.

What does this mean? As Gulati says, “it means trusting employees to thank and act independently on behalf of the organisation”. Does that sound dangerous? Yes it is, but what Gulati points out very clearly is that “people now enjoy innumerable channels for sharing concerns and ideas in their personal lives. Compared with these expansive platforms for self-expression, the work-place can feel downright stifling. The freedom of the outside world is banging at the corporate door, demanding to come inside.”

The challenge for leaders is to open that door!

Using some very relevant and interesting case studies as examples, Gulati summarizes the change in a simple model involving:

  • Purpose
  • Priorities
  • Principles

When leaders and employees are clear on what these mean for the organisation, the opportunity exists for a framework which cares less about control and more about empowerment. And when that happens, everyone wins.

The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help your organisation become a winning one, simply contact Dr Warrick Long via Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 4980 2168.

Unlocking Your Team’s Creativity

Monday, March 4, 2019

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. Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au or 02 4980 2168.

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.

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

Book Review: Turn the Ship Around

Monday, January 7, 2019

Control, competence and Clarity is the three-pronged approach former submarine commander David Marquet used to transform the US Nuclear Submarine Santa Fe into the most successful submarine in the US Navy. He tells this story in his 2012 book “Turn the Ship Around: A Trues Story of Turning Followers into Leaders”, published by Portfolio Penguin.

Marquet believed that every follower can be a leader, and that through them becoming leaders in their own right, the organisation would thrive and grow. His approach proved right and transformed the Santa Fe into a highly efficient and effective network of people. Divesting control, developing competence and providing clarity are the key components of this strategy.

Detailing how he implemented this when he took over command of the Santa Fe, Marquet provides a look into the inner workings of life on a submarine. The book is a great read with examples and stories that make the practical application of his ideas easy to see and readily apply into other workplace contexts.

What I particularly appreciated was the stories of things that did not work, and how these “failings” were part of the learning process.

The book is well written, organized well and flows easily. This book is now one of my favorites and I would recommend it to any leader looking to take their leadership to the next level.

Reviewed by Dr Warrick Long, Lecturer at Avondale Business School

Book Review: Leadership in Action

Monday, January 7, 2019

Rising over 40 years from the rank private to two-star General in the Australian army, John Cantwell has spent a lifetime leading Australian men and women in challenging and sometimes deadly circumstances. Using practical examples of what did and didn’t work during this time, John Cantwell lays out his thoughts on leadership in an excellent book “Leadership in Action – Lessons for the real world from a real leader”, published in 2015 by Melbourne University Press.

Believing that anyone can learned the skills of leadership, Cantwell puts together a simple to read but highly effective book on the essential elements of leadership, within an Australian context.

The book is a great resource for new and aspiring leaders who want to find the key areas for their development, or to lay out a strategy for their leadership. It is also a very timely reminder to established leaders of what their leadership can be if they are prepared to continue learning.

The organisation of this book is very logical and straightforward. In fact, you don’t need to read cover to cover, but can pick out key areas that you may particularly want to focus on. The whole spectrum of leadership is covered, but in bite-sized chunks that are quick to read and easily transferable to the workplace. This is a very well written book that should appeal to all leaders, new and established and a highly recommended read.

Reviewed by Dr Warrick Long, Lecturer at Avondale Business School

We Need To Talk About CFOs

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Apparently few others really understand what the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) thinks is important. The most recent survey by McKinsey and Company on CFO’s reveals a range of issues relating to CFOs (read it here). While the whole article deals with a number of observations from the survey relating to the CFO and their roles, one in particular highlights how important it is for the key leaders of the organisation and the CFO to have a conversation to be on the same page.

The following table lists the top 10 activities the CFO believes they have engaged in which adds financial value to the organisation. Next to that is the ranking given to the same activity by other leaders in organisations:

Activity

CFO Ranking

Other Leaders Ranking

Performance management (e.g., metrics, value management, incentives/targets)

1

8

Strategic leadership

1

4

Traditional finance roles (e.g., accounting, controlling, planning and analysis)

3

1

Organisational transformation (enterprise-wide or within finance organisation)

3

7

Finance capabilities (e.g., finance-organisation talent pipeline)

5

9

Speciality finance roles (e.g., treasury, audit, investor relations)

5

3

Cost and productivity management across organisation

7

2

Support for digital capabilities and advanced analytics

8

10

M&A (including post-merger integration)

9

5

Capital allocation (e.g., capital-expenditure allocation)

10

6

Pricing of products and/or services

10

11

 

It is interesting that so much of what the CFOs think is important other leaders place less importance on. The risk with this is that the CFOs will be spending time on activities important to them, but not necessarily important to the rest of the business, potentially causing tension and issues between the leadership team and business units. It is important that leaders within an organisation have the conversation to ensure everyone agrees with what is important, and remain focused on those.

And Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you achieve this, and indeed with any aspect of your business. Simply contact us a ABS@avondale.edu.au or call on 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.