It Doesn’t Take Much

November 29, 2018 12:10 pm

Walking through a manufacturing workshop with a business owner last week, apart from the layout, product quality and efficiencies the business exemplified, the thing that struck me was the people.

As we walked past each team member, the business owner greeted them by name, with energy and with a smile; even when they weren’t aware of his presence, he would poke his head through the various office doors and windows and say good morning, expressing a genuine interest in each.

His team members demonstrated openness, enthusiasm, receptivity, energy and engagement.

It doesn’t take much.

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Promoting Growth

October 22, 2018 11:05 am

Organisational Lawn

Over the years of caring for lawns, I have come to understand that one cannot make them grow by standing over them—harassing, badgering, pressuring, urging, nor barking incessantly. The grass is deaf to my clamant appeals.

I have realised that I have to work with a lawn—providing the best nutrients and conditions required in order to promote natural growth and literally, from the ground up.

The people in our organisations are similar.

Some individuals and teams display abundant growth while others are more sparse — a bit of green here, a bit of growth there but overall, lack cohesion and progression against their verdant colleagues.

Just as a lawn needs watering, weeding, soil conditioning, fertilising and suitable climatic conditions to grow, so too, our people and departments need to be nourished and provided with the right conditions and environment to promote and support their growth.

Sometimes after working with existing lawns, I have decided to replace them—or parts of them; and so it goes for some personnel also.

To create a thriving lawn takes effort and care; working with our people is no different.

 

 

 

 

 

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Employees: A Reflection Of Management

February 6, 2018 5:58 am

Grapes

I visited the Curlewis Winery on the Bellarine Peninsula this past weekend in Victoria. Their wine was the definite go back for more variety. As I drove into the property I could see immediately the high care that was given to the vines. Their website says that the owner “wraps each cordon himself by hand in a process that takes up to three months. This hands-on, detailed approach is applied to every step of growing, nurturing, protecting and eventually picking the fruit.”

And as for the vine so for our people.

Talking to an employee recently they said, “I have learned to just do my job – nothing more, nothing less.” Digging a little deeper it was obvious that this was a case of diminished care of the vine by management resulted in lacklustre fruit.

I have met and worked with other team members over my time who are constantly improving, taking ownership of their roles, attempting new things, suggesting better ways of operating to their managers and so forth. When I see these employees in action  (and particularly a team made up of these types) I don’t have to look far to see that the leader is one that nurtures his vines (people) for greatness.

If you desire to increase both the quality and yield of your organisation, don’t forget that the vines need attention. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

 

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Grateful. Australia Day Reflection

January 30, 2018 5:51 am

Flags

This past Friday, I tuned in to hear and see what was happening across the country for the  Australia Day events and increasingly found myself incredibly grateful for this country I am part of.

I heard stories of appreciative migrants; I saw the invasion marches and the proclamations of “we have survived”; the thousands of people who became Australian citizens;  awards presented to those who are making a difference in this country and across the globe. Watching the Sydney Australia Day concert that night, I found myself quite moved through parts of it. Aside from the actual artists and various high-quality theatrical components of the event, what further fuelled my gratitude was our ethnic diversity (both of the crowd and those who shared the stage) and the heartening sight of both Indigenous and Australian flags being proudly lifted to the heavens, side by side.

It is not a perfect country by any means and while there is much work to be done (and changing the date of Australia Day I think, is one of those changes that would further assist the healing process and unity of our nation) it is a fortunate country. And for that, I am grateful.

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Love Languages In The Workplace

January 11, 2018 9:39 am

I remember reading Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages many years ago. The one thing I took with me and have sought to implement over the years (sometimes successfully and at other times dismally) is that each of us hears love, value and appreciation in our own particular way.

If someone speaks to you in Chinese and you understand only English, there is little, if any chance, that you will have any clue as to what they are communicating. It makes sense therefore that if we are to communicate to someone, in order for them to understand us, it has to be in their language – one that they comprehend.

Some people understand our value and appreciation of them verbally and others don’t. The key here is taking the time to understand what the other person’s particular language (or languages) are.

Gary Chapman lists the following languages:

  1. Gift Giving
  2. Words of affirmation
  3. Quality time
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

How do these play out in the expression of value and appreciation to those who work for you and with you? And note, I always advocate saying ‘thank you’ with each of these.

  1. Gift Giving
    Simply put, these people appreciate the smallest of things. It might be a cup of coffee that you buy for them through to a holiday in the Bahama’s for outstanding performance.
  2. Words of affirmation
    The words ‘thank you’ are powerful words. As I posted in my blog a few weeks back, “Gratitude, particularly expressed in the two words thank you to all in our relational sphere, though taking but a second to express, can reverberate through the receivers psyche for a lifetime – making the journey all the more richer.” This can be expressed both verbally and written.
  3. Quality time
    This obviously is a tricky one for business owners and managers but it might mean instead of having coffee or lunch on your own, you take one of your people with you.  You could include an employee in helping you accomplish a task. If you have a long drive to do or a flight to catch you take them with you. The key here is quality time whereby you are expressing interest in who they and how they are travelling.
  4. Acts of Service
    Your manager’s car broke down on the way to work…you make the call and arrange the towing service for him, paying for it in the process. An employee is struggling with his paperwork and you stay back and help him get up to date. One of the female team members expresses how her yard is overgrown and you organise some of the staff to head over on a Saturday morning for a working bee.
  5. Physical Touch.
    Ahh… where angels fear to tread. This obviously is a tricky one and I’m not referring to the types of sexual touch that the media moguls are currently being called out for. From personal experience here, I have found that when some people talk they automatically touch me on the arm. This has proven to be a good indicator that one of their languages is touch. In turn, when I say thank you to them or express my gratitude for who they are or the work they do, I simply touch them on the arm in the process.

The place to start is to understand what your personal love language is and also those closest to you. Then, in the workplace, start observing and trying a few different languages as you express gratitude and value to your team. Some will hit the mark, others will miss and if all else fails, the fact that you are trying to express appreciation and saying those magical words ‘thank you’ will in themselves, move your workplace culture and team members engagement forward.

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Staff Pain

November 28, 2017 8:52 pm

Pain

I was at a restaurant last night and got chatting with the girl who was serving me. While she was very professional in her service and communication, I detected something was troubling her. After two questions and within about 60 seconds, I managed to uncover what her pain was and she talked openly about it.

There are two primary roads we can take in our view of staff.

  1. The Dis-integrated Model. They are here to do a job and they need to leave their personal issues at home.
  2. The Integrated Model. People are whole beings and work and personal are interlinked.

Our staff NEVER leave their personal issues at home. They might function in their role at work but thoughts and emotions still surface and can derail them during their days – thus distracting them, decreasing their ability to engage with customers and co-workers and decreasing their productivity overall. They can compartmentalise but still, complete detachment for most is impossible.

If however, managers treat staff as people, not just workers; if they tune in to those they’re managing; build a culture of humanness and trust and engage with their staff at both a personal and work level then there are higher chances of increased productivity and particularly loyalty. Some staff are closed books but many are open if they know that acceptance prevails.

A supervisor told me today: “I am being totally transparent and open with (my boss) about the challenges I am having.”  That demonstrates the power of an integrated model where the leader treats their people as human beings, creating a culture of transparency and trust.

Staff pain. We can see it as either our ‘staff are a pain’ or that we honour the reality of their pain, using the opportunity to build greater rapport with them, helping diminish fear and driving both the well-being of our people and our organisation. Ultimately, everybody wins.

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A Case For Micromanagement

November 14, 2017 6:35 am

There is a case for micromanaging employees and the only three situations that I think are relevant are:

  • In the very early stages of employment
  • When they are not taking responsibility for their role and failing to meet performance measures
  • When they are making continuous errors

Micromanagement is about managing people at a detail level (as opposed to the larger macro – oversight level) which makes sense in the situations above, however…

The trap in this, for us as leaders, is that we fail to see that this management style should be seasonal, for periods of time – what I have termed as Interval Advancement Management. This style of micromanagement is designed to effectively advance an employee or manager quickly, over a short period of time with the end result for them to be taking full responsibility for their role without our direct involvement at a micro level.

Where managers and business owners fail in this style of management is that they micromanage continuously as a management style rather than utilising it for short-term advancement.

3 Reasons Why Leaders Tend to Continuously Micromanage

My ground level observations about micromanagement in relation to leaders often relate to the following and in many ways are interrelated.

  1. Wanting to maintain complete control
  2. Lack of trust
    “No one can do it as well as I can.” This is often not verbalised as such but in reality, we want quality, we don’t trust our people, and so we have to be in all the details, functioning partly in everybody’s roles, checking absolutely everything (and driving our people crazy.)
  3. The Need To Be Needed
    A very honest business owner client of mine said it this way. “I am scared that when I have everybody in place with all my previous roles fulfilled, I will be no longer needed. What then?”

An Employee’s Comment About Their Boss

During a conversation at a Melbourne Cup party last week a woman said to me “I am looking for a new job. I have been with my company for 12 years and they have had 100% staff turnover this past year. I know my job inside out but they micromanage me and I’m over it. ”

My Recommendations

  • Don’t dismiss micromanagement but do it short term and perform it as Interval Advancement Management with ONLY those employees or management requiring next level advancement.
  • Establish performance measures, reporting, quality checks and balances etc. that allow the person to do their job independently while at the same time, you as the leader understand if their performance is meeting the required standards. If they are, take your hands off and let them do their job. If they are not meeting expectations consider the Interval Advancement method.
  • 360-degree reviews can be useful here to allow employees to rate their managers. Ensure you give your employees a voice as they have the capacity to change our organisations for the better through ground floor understanding and frontline insights.
  • If you are a micromanager and find it hard to let go, ask yourself:
    • Why? What is it within me that drives me into everybody’s role (and drives them crazy and out the door in the process)? Why can’t I trust my people? Why do I have this need to be needed? Why do I derive my personal value from being busy and active?
    • How would you feel if someone came into your organisation and started micromanaging you? How would it make you feel? Would it empower you or disempower you?
    • Who in your organisation needs Interval Advancement Management and how can you best get them to where they need to be?

Micromanagement has its place but only for short periods of time to help people perform at the level required.

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They’re Doing The Best They Can

September 8, 2017 11:37 am

They’re Doing the Best They Can

Over my years of consulting, business owners or managers, in describing their people have sometimes said “this person is hopeless” or “they just don’t get it”. The most memorable was “I work with a bunch of dickheads.”

Brené Brown in her book Rising Strong mentions a concept that I’ve really taken hold of in my own personal journey and in my coaching work with others. That concept is that everyone is doing the best they can. The understanding that people are generally doing the best they can,  given their history, emotional and physical health, current skill set, strengths and weaknesses, habits, life circumstances and so forth.

She says, “It can be painful for organisation leaders to answer this question (are people doing the best that they can?) because…what often comes up is the realisation that instead of prodding and pushing someone, they need to move on to the difficult task of helping them, reassigning them, or letting them go.” [Bracket insert mine]

Brené goes on to say “This doesn’t mean that we stop helping people set goals or that we stop expecting people to grow and change. It means that we stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they’re actually doing. It means that we stop loving people for who they could be and start loving them for who they are. It means that sometimes when we’re beating ourselves up we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.” [Italics mine]

A large part of my consulting and coaching work over the years has been to help employees and leaders within organisations to become more productive. The approach I’ve taken is, go slow to go fast.  I take time to get to know who the person is as per the areas I mentioned in the first paragraph. Once I know who I am working with I can steer them appropriately. For some it can happen within the hour, for others, it can take numbers of meetings – dependant on the person. From this approach I get to know:

  • if they have the potential to be a star player
  • if they have reached their capacity in their current role or within the organisation
  • if they need to be demoted or promoted
  • if they need to be released to work elsewhere that is more suited to them.

Once I know the above about a person, having built trust with them along the way and when they know I have their best interests at heart, the process of getting them where they need to be can be rapid. It’s a win for the organisation and a win for the employee. Both parties come out on top.

For you as an influencer and leader of people, taking this empathetic leadership, they are doing the best they can approach, means that you start with where the person is; accept that who that person is now is what you have to work with and then to work alongside them from the ground up as opposed to from the top down.

Everyone is doing the best they can. I am doing the best I can. It has the potential to revolutionise your organisation and your own life.

Watch The Video

 

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High Workplace Engagement

March 10, 2015 1:33 am

I have finished an article on Workplace engagement and thought I’d share some thoughts here for business owners and managers on how to create a culture where engagement can thrive.

  • Make the environment a fun and enjoyable place to be
  • Recognise and reward staff achievement
  • Set the performance bar high and work with your people for the achievement of such
  • Create an advancement path providing training opportunities, stretch targets, small project responsibility – assisting them to be all that they can be
  • Listen to your employees asking for their improvement suggestions and actioning as appropriate
  • Take an active interest in your people seeking to understand their internal drivers and motivators and working with them accordingly
  • Express how much you value their contribution
  • Conduct performance reviews on a regular basis. I would suggest quarterly. These need to be mutually involved discussions and even held over lunch for key people
  • If you incentivise, try to tailor it to the individuals internal motivators or to team performance
  • Get consistency in team meetings sharing your vision, company values and goals
  • Lead with transparency, openness and honesty
  • Eat together. This is both one of my observations in my consulting work and also one of the factors in the Australian Workplace Awards. Those who engage in social activities particularly around food tend to demonstrate higher engagement than those who don’t.
  • Provide some level of autonomy for workers with other benefits beside financial considerations. These might be the opportunity to work from home a couple of days a week, moving toward performance based work practices as opposed to purely time based, flexible hours etc.
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When to Initiate Change

February 4, 2015 1:46 am

If the return on investment is strong enough, thought should be given to the implementation of change initiatives as soon as possible. Every day you delay is another day of missed benefits. Whether that be $500 per day or $1,000,000 per day; of increased customer satisfaction or the current decline; of promoting your new product or allowing your competition the time to get ahead of you; of allowing toxic personnel to drag the organisation down or creating a great work place culture.  Choice is yours but if the value is demonstrated, the sooner you act the better off you will be.

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