Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

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.

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.

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!

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

How To Do Sick days

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sick daysRecently I felt a bit out of sorts, but was proud that I was able to “soldier on” and still turn up to work and get a few things done. But I was challenged about the real virtue of doing that, and found an article in ‘The Muse’ by Richard Moy (read it here) that gives some tips on how to handle being sick.

Moy makes the point that we all feel like we need to get to work in order to keep on top of things, but challenges this. In the article he proposes three things most of us are not doing right, and offers some tips on how to get it right.

The article is not particularly long, so I’m not going to summarise it all, however the main issues Moy addresses are:

  1. You’re treating your sick days as an all or nothing proposition

What to do instead of going into work sick

  1. You’re trying too hard to get out of the house

What to do instead of going out

  1. You’re working too hard

What to do instead of taking meetings from bed

Presenteeism is a real issue in workplaces now, whereby employees come to work sick, but are basically ineffectual for as long as it takes them to get better. Whereas if they were to stay home, they are more likely to get well quicker, and you actually gain in productivity more than if they come to work sick. Not to mention the risk of spreading their disease to other employees causing them to get sick as well.

So let’s make a pact to take the time to actually take our sick days, and get better sooner. If you would further information on how Avondale Business School can help your organisation, contact Warrick Long

E: Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

P: 02 4980 2168

Why Leaders Lack Emotional Intelligence

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Emotional IntelligenceTravis Bradberry is the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and in a recent blog in Inc.com explained the counter-intuitive situation of CEOs having the lowest level of emotional intelligence (EQ). You can find the article here.

Through his organisation TalentSmart, Bradberry analysed over one mission EQ profiles across the spectrum of roles to find out who has the highest level of EQ. Surprisingly, it is middle managers, probably because people in these positions have been put there because of their ability to work with people and general level-headedness.

After this though, the scores drop continually until ending up with the CEO, who typically had the lowest EQ scores. However, Bradberry also notes that the best-performing CEOs will have the highest EQs. Bradberry proposes that KPIs and knowledge form a significant part of the appointment process for these roles, which focus on short-term results. Instead, he suggests that the key criteria should be their skill in inspiring others to excel. It is this new environment of leadership where leaders find themselves getting out of touch with people and their EQ levels dropping.

Listed below are a few of Bradberry’s strategies for boosting your EQ:

  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings
  • When you care, show it
  • Watch your emotions like a hawk
  • Sleep
  • Quash negative self-talk

In the coming week, why not give at least one of these strategies a try, and see if your EQ gets a boost. 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

Not-for-profit Workers Are Happier Workers

Sunday, July 31, 2016

NFP WorkersMoney doesn’t always buy happiness! Reviewing a recent article by Martin Binder in the Journal of Economic Psychology (find it here), Christian Jarrett writes in the BPS Research Digest (read it here) that Binder’s study looked at British people working in both commercial and not-for-profit organisations.

One of the surprising findings was that while there are many “perks” in working for a commercial organisation, people in the NFP sector were typically happier with their lives, more satisfied in their jobs, and believed more strongly they were making a difference.

Other findings included:

  • For-profit employees would need to earn an additional £27,000 to be as happy as an equivalent NFP employee
  • Women and higher education people are more likely to work in the NFP sector

Some may question whether by their very nature happier people are more likely to enter the NFP sector, however Binder does not believe this is the case.

This is a very interesting and challenging research project, and has implications for both sectors of the workforce. What else can for-profit entities do to increase the happiness of their workers, and how do NFP entities ensure they do not exploit the generosity of their happy workers?

Are you happy in your work?

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

If You Are Hiring on the Basis of Skills, You Are Doing it Wrong!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

HiringManagers typically don’t do enough to understand their own organisational culture, and that exposes the organisation to significant risk. Such is the assertion in a recent Australian Financial Review article (read it here) that looks into organisational culture.

In fact, the traditional definition of organisational culture as being ‘the way we do things around here’ is challenged in the article with an alternative suggestion being ‘how we understand what motivates individuals at the forefront of our business and why they are engaging in the conduct they are.’

One of the main points of the article is that organisations typically hire people based on their skill sets and capabilities, yet fire them because of their behaviours and cultural fit. Why not instead consider behaviours and cultural fit at the time of hiring? Hence the question as to whether Australian managers really know enough about their organisational culture and people to really know what people are needed to move the organisation forward.

Another issue raised in the article concerns what organisations say is their purpose and culture often being quite different to what customers and front-line employees are actually experiencing. This is identified as a significant risk for organisations whereby people are empowered to disregard management statements because they have proven to be meaningless.

Within your organisation, does your organisational culture at all levels match what you say it is? And even more importantly, are you hiring people who are congruent with that culture? 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