Cutting Through the Bullshift
31 July 2017
Cutting Through the Bullshift Jack McGinn

Sarcasm and humour may be considered an integral part of Australian culture, but incorrect use can ultimately create a barrier to honest conversations in the workplace

Cutting Through the Bullshift

by Jack McGinn 31 July 2017

Sarcasm and humour may be considered an integral part of Australian culture, but incorrect use can ultimately create a barrier to honest conversation in the workplace.

This was one of the key messages presented by The Bullshift Company’s Andrew Horabin and Malcolm Dix at AIM WA’s opening Professional Development Seminar for 2017.

Addressing a full house on finding honesty, accountability and authenticity in the workplace, the pair delivered a humorous and largely interactive presentation where attendees were encouraged to take responsibility, speak up and tell it how it is.

“Most people go to work to do the thing they want to do – the thing they’re most passionate about,” Mr Horabin said.

“But you get caught up in the politics, and the ego, and the people not talking about stuff and the issues that need to be addressed, and that stuff is exhausting. If you’re having more conversations in your head than you’re having with people it wears you down.”

One of the biggest barriers to clear communication the Bullshift team has identified in workplaces across the country is subtext – when body language and tone don’t match the words being said in a conversation.

“What happens with this is that we have to guess a lot, because the person said they were OK with what I asked, but were they really OK with it?” Mr Horabin said.

“There’s a whole lot of guessing, and what we’re trying to do is get people to open up.”

PRINCIPLES FOR IMPROVEMENT

The Bullshift Company delivered four key principles for opening up and clarifying workplace communication:

Don’t make excuses, encourage people to take responsibility

The human ego’s inclination to avoid responsibility is evident in the behaviour of children being told off for misbehaving in a classroom – as a general rule, each blames the other for ‘starting it’ and refuses to accept their role in the incident.

Mr Horabin said the practice was just as evident in the workplace setting.

“As a parent you try to tell your kids to take responsibility, then you go to work with people who are 48 years old and in conflict, and when you try to find out what’s happened they tell you everything the other person is doing,” he said.

The Bullshift principles encourage employees to take responsibility for their actions, rather than palming off blame to others.

Don’t be vague, be clear

Taking responsibility for your actions can be difficult if you’re not sure what your responsibilities actually are – something Mr Dix said happened regularly at companies he had worked with.

“For me, the lifeblood of any organisation is managing conversations and relationships,” he said.

“If either of those two things aren’t going well you’re going to have problems. A big part of managing that is around the issue of managing requests – when you ask someone to do something for you.”

A lack of clarity when issuing requests – what Bullshift refers to as a ‘sloppy’ request, where deadlines and expectations are vague – is often met by ‘slippery’ promises to follow up, and uncertainty and potential conflict down the track.

Don’t pretend, be authentic

Authenticity in the workplace can sometimes be hard to come by, but the Bullshift principles encourage employees to be honest with themselves by putting pretending to one side.

“What are five things you pretended at work today?” Mr Dix asked.

“Did you pretend you were busy when you really weren’t at all? Did you pretend to be sympathetic to a colleague without meaning it? Did you pretend to listen in a conversation or meeting when you weren’t listening at all?

“What might have happened if you didn’t pretend? What would happen at work every day if we all stopped pretending and started to be more honest? Our principle is don’t pretend, be authentic.”

Say it straight or don’t say it

While Australian’s may consider themselves straight-talkers, The Bullshift Company believes sometimes sarcasm can morph into a passive-aggressive way of communicating, clouding the true intention behind what’s being said.

In some instances, sarcasm can be used to get the message across, but in others it can add unnecessary layers to conversation or even cover as a front for personal issues.

“Sometimes you can say something in a classic Australian backhanded fashion as a way to get a person to look at something, like ‘have a look at your desk, have you got a teenager living here?’ and they say ‘oh’ and adjust their desk,” Mr Horabin said.

“But our observation is, if you’ve done it a second or a third time and the behaviour hasn’t changed it isn’t going to.”

Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Success... Not Without Sacrifice
03 July 2017
Success... Not Without Sacrifice Kaitlin Shawcross

It was always going to take an ambitious leader to pilot one of Australia's largest retail conglomerates through the global financial crises and out the other side as more than just a survivor.

Success... Not Without Sacrifice

by Kaitlin Shawcross 03 July 2017
It was always going to take an ambitious leader to pilot one of Australia’s largest retail conglomerates through the global financial crisis and out the other side as more than just a survivor.

It’s a good job outgoing CEO of Wesfarmers Richard Goyder AO FAIM was just that.

The newly appointed AFL Chairman has been walking in business circles for many years now, a far cry from his childhood life on a farm in the Western Australian regional town of Tambellup.

A career as a farmer – just like his parents – could also be described as ambitious, especially given changes in climate and the unpredictability of a harvest year-on-year.

“I knew I didn’t want to farm when I saw my parents – who were good farmers – trying to make it through a bad drought in 1969, but I’ve always been ambitious,” Mr Goyder said.

“When I was in high school I wanted to be Prime Minister.”

While he didn’t get to fill the top job – yet – his career certainly has been high profile, and he is one of Australia’s most prominent and respected businessmen.

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Management WA's Inspirational Leader Series breakfast, Mr Goyder shared how he got to where he is now and the sacrifices it took to get there.

A monumental year in the business executive’s life was 1978, which he spent in the United States as an exchange student with a family not too dissimilar from his own.

The family were integrated dairy farmers and may have given Mr Goyder a further appreciation for business operation as they produced milk, pasteurised it and bottled it under their own label, as well as owning three restaurants and outlets.

During his time at The University of Western Australia, Mr Goyder met his wife Janine and enjoyed three “amazing” years at university.

“The reason it was amazing was because the economy was strong; those who graduated back in those days had plenty of job opportunities,” he said.

The first – and only – company Mr Goyder worked for before Wesfarmers was pipemaking company Tubemakers Australia, where he held a number of positions, including general manager.

“I worked for Tubemakers in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne,” he said. “In 11 years at Tubemakers I had 10 jobs and someone once said to me ‘they’ll find something that you can do one day’.”

Mr Goyder’s time at Tubemakers was a memorable experience and gave him his first real opportunity to lead a company through trialling times.

By the age of 28 he was in charge of leading the industrial rubber company out of spiralling losses, turning it around in just six months.

Mr Goyder said not only was the company losing money, but there was the added struggle of the organisation being highly unionised and English being a second language for most of its 180 employees.

“What I learnt from that was if you work with people and tell people what is required of them in order for a business to be successful, it’s amazing what outcomes you can get. We turned the business around and we became profitable,” he said.

In 1993 the Goyder family was offered the opportunity to return to Perth with Wesfarmers – a move that was a welcome relief for Janine, who had been without nearby family support in the eastern states while caring for three young children. Mr Goyder’s first role within the company was with the business development team; it felt a huge step up from his previous work in Sydney.

“At Wesfarmers I worked on the twelfth floor in this huge office – in Sydney I was in a box – and I was about three doors away from the managing director, so I thought ‘this is a great gig’. I had to keep saying, ‘Richard, you’re not on holidays here’,” he said.

When asked at what point he knew he wanted to run the company, Mr Goyder teased in all sincerity that it was from day one – “or maybe two”.

While it’s apparent his ambitions were not unrealistic, he did appear to those around him to lack focus on the present.

A piece of advice from his general manager early on in his career has stuck with him throughout his subsequent role changes.

“I was working as a division accountant and our general manager came to see me and said ‘Richard if I were you I would focus more on your current job than the one you’re going to do in three moves’ time, because the one that’s in three moves’ time is not going to happen unless you get the current one done properly,” Mr Goyder shared.

We can only assume he listened given his track record of professional success.

This includes a turnaround of the Wesfarmers rural division in Sydney and growing the company to 220,000 employees during his time as CEO.

Mr Goyder’s keys to success centre on keeping things simple by looking at the business objectively and not by way of climatic conditions and commodity prices, holding to Wesfarmers’ single objective to provide shareholders with a satisfactory return and maintaining clear direction about making decisions in the interest of the company and shareholders.

“We monitor cash really carefully. Every day we sweep the cash from our businesses into a single account in Wesfarmers. It’s the most simple process of all. We maintain a strong balance sheet that means we can move quickly for the right opportunity,” he said.

While it may not have looked at all like the right opportunity at the time, the acquisition of debt-laden Coles in 2007 defied its bad beginnings to become one of the company’s greatest acquisitions and Mr Goyder’s crowning achievement.

His appointment to the position of CEO in 2005 by the board made him the seventh CEO at Wesfarmers in 103 years, where he also followed in the steps of past CEOs with a long tenure – something Mr Goyder said was often taken for granted.

“I think tenure is an undervalued factor in developing leaders,” he said. “I would hope that 12 years on I’m a better CEO than when I started, and that’s because if you’ve been in the role a while you do get the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and from other people, and also what’s gone well.”

But that commitment hasn’t been without its sacrifices, the biggest of which Mr Goyder said was time spent with his family.

Travelling commitments meant he would spend more than 50 per cent of the year away from home.

“Janine constantly reminds me ‘you say we’ve been married for 32 years but in reality it’s a whole lot less than that’,” Mr Goyder said.

Moving out of his position at Wesfarmers, Mr Goyder said he was looking forward to less of the constant demands his seven day-a-week job held.

His new role as Chairman of the AFL will bring with it a new set of challenges for the ambitious businessman, including increasing the number of women in the industry.

Looking back on his career to date, Mr Goyder said the key to success had been surrounding himself with supportive people, learning from his mistakes and, above all, being himself.

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Kaitlin Shawcross is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

No Ordinary Surgeon
20 June 2017
No Ordinary Surgeon Sandra Argese

Faced with insurmountable odds and circumstances beyond our control, we turn to the brightest minds and most innovative thinkers to find a solution.

No Ordinary Surgeon

by Sandra Argese 20 June 2017

Faced with insurmountable odds and circumstances beyond our control, we turn to the brightest minds and most innovative thinkers to find a solution. Through sheer resilience and grim determination, their ability to grit their teeth and conquer challenges head on come to define history and craft a lasting legacy of innovation, creativity and strong leadership.

Transcending the medical profession by exceeding expectations at every turn, Professor Fiona Wood encapsulates this concept on a daily basis having built a career on routinely defying societal expectations and navigating obstacles placed in her path. She shared her story when speaking at an AIM WA Inspirational Leader Series event in November last year.

Having completed her internship and residency at several hospitals in London prior to emigrating to Australia in 1987, Prof Wood has been a part of the medical sphere for decades, achieving national and international recognition for her extensive portfolio of work in the field of burns treatment.

Working since the early 90s at both Royal Perth and Princess Margaret hospitals led her to develop a spray-on solution of skin cells in 1995, revolutionising the industry by reducing permanent scarring on burns victims. In the immediate aftermath of the Bali bombings, 28 victims were initially flown to Perth where they received specialist treatment from Prof Wood.

Her fascination for discovering the ‘why’ in situations and an eagerness to dive further into the potential that comes with acquiring knowledge actually began from a young age.

“Around age 13 I was obsessed with education,” Prof Wood said.

“Education will give you the choice in life to get up in the morning and enjoy what you do. That was the mantra that I was bought up with, that your education is your key to the future.

“If you don’t enjoy what you do then it’s an opportunity to use your intellect, your training, your education and change that lens of your life. That’s what I saw and witnessed when I was growing up as my mum and dad were obsessed with education.

"My eldest brother passed away at 33 with very challenging asthma. Even after leaving school at 15, he went on to become a criminal defence lawyer with a Cambridge law degree because when you get knocked down, you get back up again.

Proceeding to then work and study at Saint Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, Prof Wood encountered people who were adamant that, as one of only 12 females in her year, she should ‘know her place’, and her place was not as a surgeon.

“I had to deal with the hurdles that were presented to me and were in front of me. I had to work out how to get over them, around them or knock them over,” Prof Wood said.

“I learnt one of the most valuable lessons in life – negative energy, criticism without engagement in problem solving, is just simply a black hole. To engage in aggressive argument, fighting, counter debate with somebody whose mindset is so closed is an abject waste of time.

“Criticism is not a problem per say, it's healthy; but saying 'you can’t do that because you’re a woman, you’re black or because of your religion is wrong', there’s no point in engaging in that, just walk on by because it’s not even worth your breath.”

Labelling herself as ‘aggressively competitive but not intrinsically aggressive’, Prof Wood highlighted the one thing that gave her the choice to continue on her journey despite the prejudice.

“It was clearly research. It was engaging in people who were at that edge, who wanted to do better, who were interested in driving the body of knowledge forward; that was where I found my niche.”

Prof Wood said her experiences as a medical student heightened a fascination for research, learning and their endless possibilities.

“I saw them take the muscle from the back and put it around the leg, so that we could salvage a young man's leg after a motorcycle accident; it was very commonly amputated prior,” she said.

“All this technology was bought into a room to change the person’s life. When I started thinking how I could be part of this journey, it was with people who were resilient enough in that environment.”

Sharing the story of the first patient in Western Australia to encounter cultured skin in 1990 at the intensive care unit of Royal Perth Hospital, Prof Wood was a young registrar and had been tracking technology that grew skin. Not only did she manage to commandeer the operating room and bone marrow laboratories so her team could use a certain environment to undertake the operation, she convinced them to also grow skin for the patient.

“The patient had a major burn, with multiple infections and was slipping through our fingers like sand,” Prof Wood said.

“We achieved the operation and she was out of intensive care, off the ventilators on the burns unit ward. On the Wednesday afternoon she had a cardiac arrest and we couldn’t resuscitate her.

“We only stop if everybody at the bedside believes we can’t go any further. If somebody has a shadow of doubt that there is life there, we continue. I was the last one to stand up.”

Where some medical professionals are bestowed the option of feeling self-indulgent or depleted following a loss like this, Prof Wood was quite the opposite.

“I have never thought of it as a failure and realised the only way I could honour this life is by changing the lives of others and I could do that by learning, learning, learning,” Prof Wood said.

“We could honour this death by understanding our responsibility to learn and to influence going forward.”

A Professor in the School of Surgery at The University of Western Australia and a cofounder of the Fiona Wood Foundation, Prof Wood was a recipient of the Australian of the Year award in 2005 and the WA Citizen of the Year award in the same year and in 2003.

When performing a surgery or administering treatment, Prof Wood said the wealth of responsibility to a patient went beyond them simply signing a piece of paper.

“They trust you on a level that I don’t believe we see in any other field. That team is responsible for keeping you well, because you are putting your life in their hands,” she said.

“Solving a problem that is in front of you is what I do on a daily basis – people who’s lives have changed in an instant, that’s when we bring all our knowledge and experience we can to the table to work out how we can influence this trajectory of life right here, right now.” 

“To do so takes a lot of energy and engagement by working out how we can do better. Finding people who engage with you, don’t necessarily think the same, but are interested in the same problem, and in working out the problem, rather than spending time on all this collateral damage is key.”

Continuing to research and teach at Royal Perth Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and The University of Western Australia, Prof Wood encourages those around her to unleash their potential throughout all spheres of life.

“I have a fundamental belief in the unique gifts that people bring. I think everybody is special; everybody has a gift to give. Have we given ourselves and each other an opportunity, a framework, where we can be the best we can be?” she said.

“You can make the choice to see challenges as a learning opportunity, or you can sit down and let life wash over you.

“There’s no point getting up in the morning to be average; be the best you can and tomorrow, be better.”

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Sandra Argese is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Time to Turn the Dial in WA
06 June 2017
Time to Turn the Dial in WA Kaitlin Shawcross

The battle for gender balanced and fair workplaces is far from over, and although there have been significant changes to the makeup of the workforce, there is still much to be done, particularly in Western Australia.

Time to Turn the Dial in WA

by Kaitlin Shawcross 06 June 2017

The battle for gender balanced and fair workplaces is far from over, and although there have been significant changes to the makeup of the workforce, there is still much to be done, particularly in Western Australia.

According to data gathered by member based organisation CEOs for Gender Equity, WA lags behind the national average when it comes to women represented in senior leadership roles and gender pay gaps.

CEOs for Gender Equity Executive Director Tania Cecconi said the key to lasting improvement in the workforce rested with existing business leaders who could advocate and facilitate change.

“We know that despite efforts, something is not working,” she said. “We maintain that unless a CEO is behind the charge and embracing gender equity as a real leadership opportunity, we know we’re not going to turn the dial in WA.”

Despite two out of three organisations holding a gender equity strategy and one in two with a flexible working strategy, only one in five companies in WA conducted pay gap audits compared to the national average of one in four.

CEOs for Gender Equity recently announced a commitment to fixing the pay gap problem within the next five years.

Its CEO members, which include Chris Sutherland from Programmed, Barry Felstead from Crown Australian Resorts, Terry Agnew FAIM from the RAC, Graham Kerr from South32, Andy Crane from CBH and Edgar Basto from BHP Billiton Iron Ore among  any others, undertake and support regular pay gap audits of their respective  organisations.

Members of CEOs for Gender Equity share what they have found works and what hasn’t. Each member hosts a round table event with non-members to share their thoughts and experiences on gender balance in the workplace.

Women influence 70 cents for every dollar spend in the economy.

If we boosted female workforce participation by 11 per cent nationally, we would boost GDP by the same amount.

Ms Cecconi said the most successful companies were those where the CEO had clearly articulated his or her commitment to gender equity in all areas of the business.

Progressive CEOs are holding themselves to account and influencing the internal  culture of their company, which in turn shapes how hiring processes and systems are applied.

“When CEOs talk about some of the big things that don’t work, they say blaming women doesn’t work,” Ms Cecconi said.

One way to remedy the gender imbalance in the workforce is to encourage the use of quotas and targets.

Ms Cecconi said because quotas were mandated externally by a third party, there was often a natural resistance to the well-meaning effort.

“Sometimes targets are criticised for driving the wrong behaviours, as if it’s a tick and flick exercise,” she said. “That can be managed in such a way that targets are used to facilitate meaningful and courageous conversations to challenge the status quo.

“Setting a target says to the business ‘we know this is important, we’ve got the metrics around this and we’re going to report to this in a transparent way at a board  and executive level’.”

After just one year in her role, Ms Cecconi said she had already noticed a significant change – that being a shift in dialogue from what women needed to do to what leaders and CEOs needed to do to drive positive change towards a more fair and balanced workforce at all levels of business.

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Kaitlin Shawcross is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Three and a Half CEOs
18 April 2017
Three and a Half CEOs Eva Skira FAIM

At my local supermarket last week, I ran into an ex-colleague who is a CEO at a major financial firm in Perth. Hugh (pseudonym) has been in his current job for five years and is about to step down.

Three and a Half CEOs

by Eva Skira FAIM 18 April 2017

CEO Number 1

At my local supermarket last week, I ran into an ex-colleague who is a CEO at a major financial firm in Perth. Hugh (pseudonym) has been in his current job for five years and is about to step down. I met him when I was appointed Chair at a prior organisation where he was the CEO. At his previous firm, Hugh was very focused on a long-term vision and there had been great stability in the business model. He had been brought in by his current employer to reform the organisation and had driven transformation. After three years, Hugh had largely made his desired changes. But as we talked, he told me his greatest discovery was that the changes had not stopped. After three years he found more needed to be done, largely because the external context had changed in terms of products, customers, technology and innovation. In fact, his take on it was that change was permanent and employees should be told that. They shouldn't be presented that reform was a finite matter and after all the change in the workplace, one day we will be in a permanent state of ‘stability’. On the contrary, managers now need to be trawling and listening to the external environment and be prepared to continually adapt and innovate.

CEO Number 2

I recently did a ‘meet and greet’ with Sylvia (pseudonym), a CEO of a major organisation. We had arranged to meet at her offices and she took me to the refurbished cafe on the ground floor where there were quite a few other employees, mostly young, having coffee meetings. While this company is a mature business in a mature industry, the buzz made it feel like an innovator hub. Sylvia saw the marketplace and regulatory changes surrounding her industry as manageable, although her main concern was around changes in technology. There had been so much disruption caused by technology changes in the marketplace that consumers were now becoming its main competitors and her take on it was that disruption would continue to the point where great value would be lost from the existing organisation. This impairment may already be fact. It would just take time for the business reality to set in. At one level this organisation has left it too late to take the lead and disrupt itself, but in the next few years, like a phoenix out of the ashes, will arise a new business model for this organisation and it will be just right for the times. To get there much change, adaptation and pain will be required.

CEO Number 3

This CEO, Andrew (pseudonym), runs a large organisation where, while the winds of business model disruption have been quiet to date, change has been profound. The external environment has changed so much, it has been in a constant state of flux for 15 years in order to meet customer need. The imperative has been to adapt the service offering to keep up and at the same time the employee mix needed to change. Reflecting Australia's demographic structure, this organisation has a very large number of employees in the baby boomer years and progressively over the past few years they have been exiting the workforce, either because they want to move on or because the workplace skills mix required has changed so significantly that they can’t contribute as effectively as they once did. This CEO has had to lead an organisation that has needed to disruptively restructure itself in order to serve customers as they need to be served in the late 2010s decade, which will of course soon be the 2020s.

Lastly the half CEO

I mentor a young person who is not yet a CEO but might well get there. I had coffee with her this week and Jess (pseudonym) tells me she wants to leave her current job as she has had enough. She has been working in policy and stakeholder relationships and feels she has matured in her current role and the industry she is in is not to her liking. She doesn't know exactly what she is looking for but while she talks to me about herself, I find out she was in fact trained as an economist with a strong mathematical and statistical bent. That last part is not what she has been using in recent years but as we survey the future landscape, I encourage her to widen her job search and believe she has the smarts and skills to manage algorithmic, big data and machine learning in a digital native world. She asks whether she should do an MBA and while we agree it's potentially a necessary evil, an MBA won’t necessarily bring more remuneration or a better job but it adds to the ‘package’. She has enough nous to be a future CEO because she can bring to the table her STEM background overlaid by a strong record in policy, people relationships and stakeholder management.

And so what?

The changing theme is obvious or, as my husband argues, is everybody running flat out to stay in the same spot? I think it’s more than that. I posit we will witness a profound shift in underlying skills, experience and youth of future leaders in the near future. Firstly, current baby boomer leaders are tiring; the leadership cloak will pass to millennials far quicker than we think. Secondly, those people with only skills in managing a growth economy will not make it in the new era of macroeconomic challenge. Those who do succeed will be leaders who can manage in the downtimes and can find growth in a shrinking industry or market. Thirdly, the school of hard knocks is the real world and that real world is one where corporations are changing, technology is accelerating, workplaces are mutating. Future leadership will be exciting, but get ready for a turbo charged ride.

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As a former executive in banking and finance, Eva Skira held positions as an economist and finance professional in corporate banking, institutional stockbroking, capital markets and derivatives. She is currently Non-Executive Director at ASX listed entities, including Macmahon Contractors Ltd (ASX 200), RCR Tomlinson Ltd, and Chairman of Trustees of St John of God Health Care. She is also the immediate-past Water Corporation Chairman.

Fourth Arm of Defence
16 March 2017
Fourth Arm of Defence Cassie Gunthorpe

The future of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) looks bright with the sector on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation cycle of modernisation.

Fourth Arm of Defence

by Cassie Gunthorpe 16 March 2017

The future of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) looks bright with the sector on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation cycle of modernisation.

Around $195 billion has been allocated to the ADF’s Integrated Investment Program (IIP), a document unveiled in 2016 that ties together all related investment in the industry and aims to strengthen the defence sector in WA and Australia.

The Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) WA President Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe AFAIM said the Australian industry sector had an important role to play in the strength of the ADF.

“The ADF views industry as being indispensable for ongoing operations, acting as its ‘fourth arm’ alongside Army, Navy and Air Force,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

“Civilian industries provide the critical mass of infrastructure and trained manpower necessary for the industry to expand.

“Even after the acquisition of new assets is completed, there will still be decades of maintenance and upgrade work to follow.”

The Australian defence market is tipped to markedly improve following recent economic strength in overseas markets.

“Whilst certain sections of the Australian defence industry have declined significantly in recent years (most notably the legacy shipyards on the east coast such as Forgacs), increased government spending is set to see the industry receive a substantial boost across all areas,” Mr DeSilvaRanasinghe said.

“Around 25 per cent of the IIP’s funds are to be allocated towards maritime and antisubmarine warfare; there are immense advantages for WA.”

Being a part of the defence supply chain offers advantages to a range of businesses, according to Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe, none more so than small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Businesses in areas which match the demands of their local ADF contingents are likely to obtain the most benefit,” he said.

“WA’s most successful defence SMEs, such as Hofmann Engineering and Airflite, are civilian firms which have diversified into defence. This allows them to even out the peaks and troughs of government and private demand.”

However, there are some important things to know before contracting with the defence sector.

“It pays to know how defence works as an organisation,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

“The Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (formerly the Defence Material Organisation) is your friend. Not only does it control the acquisition and sustainment activities for the ADF, it also provides assistance and information to SMEs seeking to enter the defence supply chain.”

The sector has seen a developing trend with an increasing number of SMEs subcontracting to major defence companies known as 'the primes', which include US companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, British firms such as BAE Systems and French companies like Thales and DCNS.

“Becoming part of the global supply chain of large defence primes can allow firms to gain exposure to a worldwide market,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

With a crucial part of the ADF’s strength relying on Industry, the IIP is set to offer great advantages to the sector.

The IIP program aims to enhance the ADF’s ability to defend Australia, conduct independent operations and contribute to global coalition operations, while also creating greater stability in defence budgets.

“WA’s defence industry is likely to be reinforced in its existing areas of strength - shipbuilding, maritime sustainment, C4ISR, engineering and fabrication,” Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe said.

One area highlighted by Mr DeSilva-Ranasinghe unlikely to bloom in WA was aircraft sustainment, which was primarily based in the eastern states and unlikely to shift to the west.

Cassie Gunthorpe - West Australian journalist

Cassie Gunthrope is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Passion Brings Freaky Success
16 January 2017
Passion Brings Freaky Success Kaitlin Shawcross

From humble beginnings with a single store in Subiaco to more than 26 contracted franchises and an interstate expansion set for mid-next year, Health Freak Cafe has a lot to celebrate as it looks to its third birthday in December.

Passion Brings Freaky Success

by Kaitlin Shawcross 16 January 2017
From humble beginnings with a single store in Subiaco to more than 26 contracted franchises and an interstate expansion set for mid-next year, Health Freak Cafe has a lot to celebrate as it looks to its third birthday in December.

With a goal to make healthy eating more accessible, Health Freak Director Victoria Carbone had a vision to develop five cafes in five years. She quickly exceeded her own expectations as Health Freak Cafe met with success, and continues to flourish.

The business idea was born out of Ms Carbone’s own lifestyle experiences – working plus exercising two hours every morning and afternoon left her with little time for much else after going home to prepare her own healthy meals.

Being able to enjoy a healthy meal out with friends would make all the difference to her schedule and daily routine.

When the business began, Ms Carbone’s time was stretched even more as she worked every aspect of the cafe including cooking seven days a week for two years to drive the vision on the ground.

“If you put yourself in the business and work every part of it from doing dishes to making coffee, you can’t go wrong because then you can educate people on how to make something work,” she said.

Ms Carbone devised the menu from the meals she made at home, while also catering for special dietary requirements such as vegan and gluten intolerance, which has played a large role in the popularity of the brand.

“I made the menu versatile so someone who is vegan or eats paleo can have a personal connection to it,”​she said.

“Customers feel like they are being catered for and get excited when they see items that are gluten-free or vegan-friendly.”

The former accountant admitted while her passion drove her to start, it was thorough planning that saw the success snowball.

“Every passion has to be put on paper – if you don’t have a business plan and ideas for when you do lose track, you get people telling you things and it gets in your head,” she said.

“I always went back to my business plan and I stayed focused.”

Of course, a large part of a business plan is the financials. Ms Carbone said so often entrepreneurs lacked the necessary financial knowledge for success or neglected to give it the full attention it required.

“If I did not have an accounting and finance background I would not have made it through the challenges,” she said.

“We offer to set up all our franchisees’ accounting, we give them fortnightly budgets, we go through analysis and offer them advice at no charge.

“That’s the biggest hurdle most people find; they say, ‘I want to get into business but I have no finance knowledge’.

“So we wanted to offer that to people – not just do it for them, but educate them on how to run businesses and make money and stick to percentages and margins.”

Ms Carbone said only in the last three or four months had it become easier, now that she had her own office and a group of staff to assist. However, expansion brings its own challenges.

“The hardest part is probably the people more than anything,” she said. “Not everyone is going to have the same drive as you.

“A lot of people go into business for money or for other reasons; I did it because I was passionate about healthy eating.

“But I don’t want to be party to being another brand that’s just about making money and slopping something together and saying ‘here you go’.

“My biggest challenge is finding like-minded people who share that passion for health and fitness; everyone seems to steer in certain directions.”

Health Freak Cafe has plans to open five Sydney cafes in May and is continually adding to its Perth foothold, with the latest cafes entering shopping centres.

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Kaitlin Shawcross is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Being the Best You that You Can Be
13 October 2016
Being the Best You that You Can Be Chloe Vellinga

When we look at ourselves and others in our workplace or community, what do we see?

Being the Best You that You Can Be

by Chloe Vellinga 13 October 2016

When we look at ourselves and others in our workplace or community, what do we see?

Normally, the first answer that pops up is ‘looks’ and ‘appearance’, which explains our visual reputation, but what defines us as individuals is far deeper than that.

Delving into what makes us different from others in our work life, personal life and community, we need to look at our values, morals, thoughts and experiences, which help build our personal brand and overall executive reputation.

So what is personal branding and why is it important?

Our personal brand is essentially who we are and how we appear to the world.

We know these things instinctively, but the key to building a successful personal brand is how well you communicate this to others, for example, telling them about your best qualities and values, as quickly and as clearly as possible to avoid losing their attention.

Image Intelligence Director Narelle Goodfield AFAIM has spent much of the last decade researching the importance of building your own personal brand, working closely with many individual clients, groups and organisations.

According to Ms Goodfield, your personal brand needs to be explained as quickly and as effectively as possible, preferably in just nine seconds.

“Most of us have short attention spans and they are getting shorter all the time, for a whole variety of reasons,” she said.

“When you are communicating, you need to be able to get your values across quickly, really easily and straight away, because you haven’t got time to dilly-dally.

“People need to know pretty much immediately what they are going to get.”

But how do you do this?

Firstly, be different rather than better than your competitor.

Addressing an AIMWA Your Best Self Series event in July, Ms Goodfield discussed a situation she found herself in during her career.

“In my business I got wrapped up about five years ago on the commoditisation belt and I had to strive to be better than the next person and better than the next person and so on,” she said.

“Then when I finally thought ‘I have got this nailed, I am the best in this area’, someone would pop up and take me off or they would pop up and be really close to me and absolutely take the cream off the top and drop their prices.”

By altering what she offered, Ms Goodfield was able to compete on a different level, instead of riding the merry-go-round that is commoditisation.

“Today’s working society isn’t terribly buoyant, so to cut through the crowd and stand out is important,” Ms Goodfield said.

Secondly, we need to know how to package up our personal brand and values in a single, quick and easy sentence.

Ms Goodfield recommends breaking down your qualities into two words – an adjective, so a word describing how you are different from others, and a noun, which describes what you do best.

For example, I am efficient and I am good at communication.

When putting this into a sentence – ‘If you need someone to provide efficient communication, then it’s me’ – it becomes your personal brand.

Of course, there are literally thousands of different options you could use and this is what makes your tagline uniquely yours.

Lastly, roll out your tag line as much as possible, so everyone, including your employer, knows what you can bring to the organisation.

“You need to try it on for size, you need to utilise it and you need to roll it out to see if it fits, because if you say it and you cringe then it’s not the right anthem for you,” Ms Goodfield said.

“For you to be really, really valuable, you need to be extraordinary at something and people need to know about it.

“I’ve seen executives leverage their personal brand attributes to project them into new opportunities and positions they would never normally have believed they could reach.”

ChloeVellinga

Chloe Vellinga is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Clear Scope is the Key to Success
12 September 2016
Clear Scope is the Key to Success Cassie Gunthorpe

The Egyptian pyramids are some of the world’s most fascinating man-made structures. Their scale and volume impress, much of the original forms from some 4000 years ago still casting a prominent shadow on the landscape.

Clear Scope is the Key to Success

by Cassie Gunthorpe 12 September 2016

The Egyptian pyramids are some of the world’s most fascinating man-made structures. Their scale and volume impress, much of the original forms from some 4000 years ago still casting a prominent shadow on the landscape.

They also reveal project management has been around for thousands of years – the construction of these structures requiring foresight, planning and management.

At least this was the connection Peopleistic Global Chairman and Australian CEO Todd Hutchison FAIM made in his Leading Successful Projects talk to AIMWA Members.

“We have been doing project management for thousands of years,” he said.

“The Egyptians would have had this design before they started [building a pyramid] and they would have needed significant project resources, a schedule and costing to be able to finish it.”

Yet thousands of years on there still remains so much obscurity when it comes to project management, according to Mr Hutchison.

“All of the issues and headaches start if there is ambiguity in the scope and strategy,” he said.

By 2020, more than 600 million people will be 65 years or older, and more than 15.7 million new project management roles will be added globally.

“What it is showing us is we need to start skilling up,” Mr Hutchison said.

“Who are the ones that have been trained, educated and know the tricks?,” Mr Hutchison said.

To further his point, Mr Hutchison drew on a recent job search on Seek, typing in ‘project manager’ and returning over 5700 positions vacant.

“These roles aren’t getting filled because [employers] aren’t so sure who the real project managers are, and that is why we have to focus on education and developing the skills in-house,” he said.

“It is the one qualification I have found makes you most employable and most able to change to different industries.”

Known as the Corporate Mechanic, Mr Hutchison gained this title through his vast expertise and roles, including international best-selling author, educator and global consultant.

Starting his career in the television industry, he began in camera operations and later worked as a technical director and broadcast engineer.

Mr Hutchison has since gone on to work in various sectors including mining, health, education, architecture, environment, military and the police.

A talented leader with a wealth of experience, and not one to rest on his laurels, he continues to study and add to his achievements, with some 20 tertiary qualifications across engineering, business, coaching and information technology.

Today he helps people and organisations – that have been left confused and at a halt with failed projects – monitor and pin-point where they went wrong.

Mr Hutchison said the most essential building block to successful project management was to have a clear scope.

“It surprises me when I go into projects that this is the core issue I’m dealing with,” he said. “People have different expectations and they’re doing good work, but they may not be doing the work aligned to the project sponsor.”

He strongly advises organisations to set up a culture where people feel comfortable sharing mistakes upfront – what he calls an issue register.

About 90 per cent of companies he went in to ‘save’ did not have an issue register, setting themselves up for a culture where employees were more likely to hide their mistakes.

“How scary is that?,” Mr Hutchison said.

He also advises being careful about project scope creep, where once the project scope is clearly outlined, unapproved or undocumented changes can blur it.

“They start saying, ‘while you’re there, can you add this, or can you extend this or what about this new idea?’,” Mr Hutchison said. “The problem is if we accept that, we don’t often get the dollars or the schedule, and then next minute you have projects you’re not going to deliver on.

“Project management says that should never ever happen.”

Instead the project scope should be clearly defined, planned and documented.

“Our role as leaders is to be very clear on our strategy and then translate that down to the next level,” Mr Hutchison said.

Cassie Gunthorpe - West Australian journalist

Cassie Gunthrope is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Mindful Lessons
19 July 2016
Mindful Lessons Jack McGinn

Action learning – an approach to education which has taken significant steps over the past 25 years as the human brain has become better understood – channels the thinking power of the mind to deliver lasting outcomes for those who use it.

Mindful Lessons

by Jack McGinn 19 July 2016

Action learning – an approach to education which has taken significant steps over the past 25 years as the human brain has become better understood – channels the thinking power of the mind to deliver lasting outcomes for those who use it.

The process, first developed by pioneering management consultant and Olympian Reg Revans in the UK in the 1940s, involves working together in small groups on real life problems to engage the mind and find ways to implement lasting change.

By collaborating with like-minded and driven individuals, participating groups are encouraged to challenge existing practices and discover more efficient or effective ways of getting things done. By encouraging active participation and collaboration in reviewing actions and developing efficient solutions, the brain is able to actively process information and formulate well thought-out solutions.

This is a concept explored in David Rock’s Your Brain at Work, which encourages the reader to better know their brain in order to improve thinking performance and efficiency.

Within Your Brain at Work, Mr Rock champions his SCARF model – based around collaborating with and influencing peers.

The SCARF model focuses on the social interaction areas of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness and how these factors influence the behaviours of both the individual reader and the people around them.

By teaching the reader to understand the fundamentals of thought, managing emotions and expectations under pressure, the brain's approach to others and methods for facilitating change, Your Brain at Work encourages a shift from traditional decision-making to a more effective method.

When integrated with traditional approaches to learning, action learning can expand the methodological mix of your organisation and build the skills and knowledge of staff.

David Rock's SCARF Model

  • Status
  • Certainty
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Fairness

Facilitating brain power Jeremy B. Teitelbaum is the creator of communication and collaboration training program ‘Cognitive Communication: The science of connection and influence’ and author of forthcoming book Train for the Brain, which identifies four areas where brain science can be used to improve learning, and explores how these can be used to get the most out of thinking in the workplace.

Lesson 1 - Brains cannot multitask

Mr Teitelbaum warns that human brains are simply not geared to multitask, and trying to force them to do so is counterproductive.

He cites a 2014 study from Stanford University, which put around 100 students through a series of three tests and found multitasking reduced the efficiency and productivity of workers.

The tests split participants into two groups – media multitaskers (those who tend to keep up with more than one stream of electronic information at a time) and those who prefer to complete one task at a time.

The results revealed those who identified as multitaskers tested poorer across all three areas assessed – memory, ability to ignore irrelevant detail and ability to switch between tasks.

Mr Teitelbaum’s deduction is that the best way to receive training or think about information is when learners can give their undivided attention to the task.

Lesson 2 - Brain and body

According to Mr Teitelbaum, the influence of brain health on the body is well-established, but the return relationship is less so, despite its importance to brain training.

In the context of creating a training environment conducive to learning, Mr Teitelbaum said trainers needed to incorporate physical activity into their programs to encourage activity and stimulate brain activity.

He also believes trainers should provide brain foods – nuts, grains, fish, beans, eggs, tea, spinach, berries and quality dark chocolate – to encourage clearer thought.

Lesson 3 - Adaptability is essential

While brain research has come a long way, it continues to be limited by cost, time and its challenging nature.

Mr Teitelbaum said the way around this limitation was through finding patterns in available research, recognising the similarities of the human brain but also catering to the fact that no two brains operate in exactly the same way.

Flexibility is preached in training delivery, and with more knowledge of the brain expected as new research comes to the fore, adaptability is considered a key aspect of training development moving forward.

Lesson 4 - Brain science and lessons learned

Finally, Mr Teitelbaum does not believe enough is being done in the workplace learning context to keep up with the latest developments in brain science.

He said despite science showing that brains don’t distinguish between thought and action, not enough action was taken to use this knowledge for training implementation.

The other area Mr Teitelbaum identifies is the role of emotion in learning. In tying with action learning, he encourages participants be taught the importance of their emotions in the learning process to fully get the most out of themselves in the training setting.

Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Live Well
22 June 2016
Live Well Kaitlin Shawcross

There doesn't have to be such a thing as passing your prime.

Live Well

by Kaitlin Shawcross 22 June 2016

David Beard AFAIM was the first exercise physiologist to work in the aged care industry, where he introduced health and fitness activities to people in retirement homes.

He found when people were willing to push themselves to do more than they believed they could, they experienced great results, not only in health and wellbeing but also in their experience of life.

Along the way he learned some valuable lessons about getting older that changed his perspective on ageing, experience and sustained performance.

His discoveries led him to write his first book, If I’d Only Known I’d Live This Long, which shares the lessons he learned from the people that proved getting old can be better than it looks.

David shared with us the secrets to longevity, sustained success and a happy life at any age.

He shared seven key characteristics of those people that thrived throughout their lives and gave examples of how young people can start now to adopt these habits early.

Mr Beard said certain mental skills, if practiced regularly, give people the right mindset to tackle the challenges that come with getting older.

“As people get older a lot tend to focus on the things they can’t do anymore and things they used to have,” he said.

“Focusing on the positives – friends and family, and all they can still do – is much more empowering.

“Those tho age well are those who keep a positive attitude.”

The key to a good attitude is to maintain a forward-looking viewpoint as you get older, rather than one that looks backwards.

Mr Beard talked about the importance of setting long-term goals, especially focusing on what you would like to be able to do in your later years.

He also shared the value of having positive role models in our lives and how these helped to shape our expectations of the future.

“Some of the amazing people I have been lucky enough to work with over the years have given me a much more optimistic view of growing old,” Mr Beard said.

His message emphasised the importance of every individual having meaningful work that gives them a sense of purpose, even after we leave the paid workforce.

Mr Beard suggested taking on volunteer work or looking after family or friends as the most beneficial jobs because they focus on others.

As an exercise physiologist, Mr Beard said working with older people to improve their health and fitness and reinforced his belief in the importance of maintaining a reasonable level of physical fitness throughout life.

“Exercise is an investment that if done correctly for 30-60 minutes a day makes the other 23 hours that much easier,” he said.

As we age it’s important to keep learning. Research shows if we challenge ourselves mentally we can continue to learn and grow new brain cells.

“Combining physical activity and mental challenges is the optimal way to stimulate new brain cells and connections. With the rate of change accelerating, it is essential we all keep learning new skills.”

So when should these principals be applied?

“The reality is, the sooner you apply these the better off you will be. Don’t wait until you’re 90 to start exercising or learning new things; start doing it now so it’s habit as you get older,” Mr Beard said.

“Start changing your attitude wherever you are right now and choose to focus on the good things in your workplace instead of dwelling on the bad.”

“Leaders and managers are the ones workers look up to as aspire to, so if they’re modelling positive behaviours and they’re enjoying their work then others will look up to that,” Mr Beard said.

He believes the best habit anyone can get into is to look after their health and wellbeing.

“Once your health takes a back seat it becomes hard to do your job properly and everything else falls with it.”

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Kaitlin Shawcross is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Listen: Listen: Listen
26 May 2016
Listen: Listen: Listen Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

Being a good listener has never been easy. Deep, mindful, active listening without judgement is a higher order skill.

Listen: Listen: Listen

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 26 May 2016

Similar to the advice about asking your receptionist what she or he thinks is going on, is the principle that leaders need to listen more.  The wonderful book by Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking could be adapted for leaders as Powerful Insights for Leaders Who Finally Stop Talking.  Leaders simply need to listen more and talk less.

Leaders are promoted because of their ability, their insight and their positive contribution to the organisation.  Unfortunately, this can breed a level of hubris that suggests their views are more valid that those of others.  “They made me the boss because I’m smarter than the others”.  Clearly the really smart leaders are those who are capable of accessing the full contributions of those around them.  The wisdom of the crowd will, in most cases, far exceed the contribution of the single egotistical boss.

Being a good listener has never been easy.  Deep, mindful, active listening without judgement is a higher order skill.  Just giving someone your undivided attention is difficult in a world obsessed with multi-tasking.  Adding additional skills of acknowledging the other person, summarising, paraphrasing and questioning, all without interrupting or making premature judgements about the content or emotion behind what the person has to say, requires a very adept communicator.

Even having all these skills is not enough.  The other party needs to feel sufficient trust and positive regard from you before they will give you something to listen to.  This trust is built over time and is based on past experience.  A one-off interaction is never going to have the other person sharing everything they know and feel about a situation.  This is the reason we only ever share our most intimate and deep seated emotions with our best friend.  We can trust them with this information and know they will listen, unconditionally.

If, over time, our staff come to believe we have a genuine interest in what they have to say and we are willing to give them the time to listen, then they will naturally be more forthcoming.  They will raise issues without being asked and will contribute actively when requested.

This does not mean you have to agree with everything they say or implement all their suggestions.  Most followers will acknowledge that would be an unreasonable expectation.  However, knowing that you have been heard is enough for most of us.

ONE SMALL STEP – in the next 24 hours

Just like any skill, listening takes practice.  Choose two or three interactions when you make a deliberate effort to focus on the quality of your listening.  It does not need to be only at work - it could be at the coffee shop, with your children or anyone else.  Just give the other person your full attention, signal through your non-verbals, your paraphrasing and questions that you are truly listening and, most of all, don’t interrupt – you might learn something.

This excerpt is taken from Shaun’s book ‘One Small Step…for Leaders”.

Shaun Ridley

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.

Innovation in Business - Buzzword or Reality
12 May 2016
Innovation in Business - Buzzword or Reality Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

It should be no surprise that in a less than certain business environment in Australia - innovation is the buzzword yet again and remains critical to an organisation’s top and bottom line.

Innovation in Business - Buzzword or Reality

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 12 May 2016
Without new sources of value – whether that’s defined in terms of quantity of revenue or quality of life – most organisations eventually wither and die.

The world around them changes and competitors emerge to provide the same offerings more effectively or efficiently.

Yet – the Institute’s own Management Capability Index highlighted that Australian management capacity is lacking in what might be termed “innovation leadership”.

And while there are many examples of business innovation in – it is likely that innovation remains a buzzword rather than reality.

Here are 3 possible reasons it may be a buzzword. Firstly, in general, the concept of “innovation” is generally not well understood in Australia.

Australian businesses often use the words "creativity" and "innovation" to mean the same thing. But there are significant differences. Creativity is about coming up with ideas, while innovation is about exploiting those ideas.

While individuals may display creativity, innovation occurs in the business environment - by bringing creative ideas to life.

And those ideas are not restricted to product and service creation - but extend to business processes, distributions, value chains - and the types of business models used.

So this confusion or divergence of views on what the term “innovation” actually means may well have hindered the Australian business environment from moving forward.

And here is the second reason. Many believe that Australian businesses stifle innovation by taking a highly risk averse approach.

I hear many stories from Australian business leaders and managers on a daily basis - that while they encourage innovative ideas and solutions to filter up to senior management– by the time they filter up – they are totally de-risked and lack creativity.

It may well be that the culture of many Australian organisation’s across the corporate, government and community sectors has caused managers to strip away any innovation found in new ideas – rendering solutions that are weak, limited in scope and impotent.

In short, Australian businesses may well be challenged by not having the knowledge and skills to build organisational cultures which promote and support innovation.

Let me move to a third reason which might explain why “innovation” is more of a buzzword that reality.

It is a well-known fact that Australia’s business performance in years gone by has been strong compared to some of its international counterparts. But has this strong performance, particularly in the former "powerhouse" states of Western Australia and Queensland, bred complacency within Australian business?

It might be argued that - since business had been going well in Australia – some businesses simply opted to do more of the same rather than to “innovate”.

So while this may seem like a harsh assessment of the status-quo and acknowledging that there are pockets of innovation in Australian business, it may be that confusion about the meaning of the term “innovation”, a risk-averse business culture and a good dose of complacency have all contributed to innovation being more of a buzzword than reality in Australian business.

Emeritus Professor Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Skills to Effective Networking
11 May 2016
Skills to Effective Networking Chloe Vellinga

Networking - it is an extremely helpful skill to have, but talking about yourself to a complete stranger is not something that comes naturally for most people.

Skills to Effective Networking

by Chloe Vellinga 11 May 2016
Walking up to someone at a work function or conference and introducing yourself means stepping out of your comfort zone, but according to Emotional Intelligence Institute Director Rachel Green AFAIM, there are certain techniques and strategies you can use to become a successful networker.

First, you need to go to the right places and know what you want to achieve.

“What happens is that people often just pop out and say ‘alright I am just going out networking’ and they go to the place that is nearest to them or the place where they like the people or that fits in with their diary,” Ms Green said.

“Other people often say they are at a networking event to have a good time and I say ‘you could go down to the pub for that’, while some others just do it to meet nice people.

“Networking is about getting known and it is about managing who knows you.”

According to Ms Green the first step to effective networking is to have a goal –

Why are you there, what are you hoping to achieve and how will these people help you achieve your work goals.

Then use this goal to develop a networking strategy that works for you. But how do you approach someone in a large room at a networking function? Ms Green suggests the fade-in approach.

“I find that people are really awkward about breaking into groups,” she said.

“You can walk into a networking room and it is full of people and they are all in huddles. One of the things I recommend is that you just fade into a group, find a gap between the people and walk into it.

“You don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to suddenly stop the group and introduce yourself, you can just fade in.

“Somebody will almost certainly look at you, [which] means you are accepted and then you can join in the conversation or stop and introduce yourself; whatever you most feel like you need to do.

From there the connection is built and the networking begins.

The next step is to find a common passion or interest with the person or group you are talking to.

“Are you both ballroom dancers or do you both go skydiving or do you both read Harry Potter books? It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is something in common that you share,” Ms Green said.

“Once you find that common ground you can build the relationship, so it doesn’t matter if the other person is younger or older, female or male, a CEO or a junior clerk.

“I believe 100 per cent networking is a skill you can learn and once you have learnt how to break into a group, how to make conversations interesting and how to get people to open up to you, then the key is how to stay connected afterwards.

“A lot of networking conferences and meetings are just a starting point; it is what happens afterwards that shows whether you are practicing correct networking or not.”

Rachel Green's checklist to successful networking

Things to do before you go to a networking event

  • Set yourself a target number of people to meet
  • Review what you want to achieve
  • Think of five open-ended questions to ask

Items to take with you

  • Your own business cards
  • A large, easy to read name badge

Things to do when you get back

  • Sort out all the business cards and details collected
  • Keep notes on important people
  • Write the date of the next event in your diary
  • Remember to keep in relevant, personal and timely contact to build the relationship.
ChloeVellinga

Chloe Vellinga is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Leadership of Sport:Is it Any Different?
28 April 2016
Leadership of Sport:Is it Any Different? Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

Some would argue that the issues and challenges encountered by leaders within sporting organisations are no different to those experienced by other industries.

Leadership of Sport:Is it Any Different?

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 28 April 2016
My experience in talking to leaders of professional sporting organisations, however, is that - that these organisations do in fact present some of the same issues and challenges as well as a raft of unique and different challenges.

It is true to say that professional sporting organisations, like all other organisations, involve leading and communicating with people and all function at some level within particular frameworks - for example - legal, economic, sociocultural and political frameworks.

And like leaders in other industries, leaders operating in a sporting context face a rapidly changing and increasing technological society.

Let me describe a few of the issues and challenges that might be more unique to the sporting world.

The Strong Emotional Attachment of Stakeholders
Many sporting organisations operate within a high-profile and highly visible public environment with multiple stakeholders who are exceptionally interested in - and often emotionally attached to the organisation.

It is often that emotional attachment of stakeholders including members and fans that helps to differentiate a sporting organisation from other organisations.

Media Attention
Competitive sports teams typically attract significant media attention on a very frequent basis and sports leaders must be able to deal effectively with issues that create news - that can travel around the world almost instantly.

Public Relations
Leaders in sporting organisations must be constantly vigilant about every component of their organisation relative to effective public relations. One negative incident or crisis may take years of public relations work to overcome.

And increasingly, sporting leaders are required to steer through very public issues such as substance abuse, ethical misconduct and occasional criminal behaviour of employees or players –through what appears to be an increasingly litigious operating environment.

Rapid Change Required!
There is a general expectation in the broader community that sports organisations must lead change, or produce a significant organisational turnaround within exceptionally short timeframes – for example, there is an expectation from fans or members that a disastrous season one year will be turned around the next year.

Personal Integrity
And finally, in a results-oriented world of competition, with an exceptionally pronounced emphasis on being the winner, there are many situations in which sports leaders, employees and players are faced with situations in which they are challenged to maintain their personal integrity and values in light of pressure to produced what internal and external stakeholders consider the desired results.

Emeritus Professor Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Understanding the Older Workforce
31 March 2016
Understanding the Older Workforce Keren Smedley FAIM

It’s not unusual for people of 50+ years of age to be facing a number of conflicting dilemmas, both personal and professional, in the workplace. Many of my coaching clients are in this age bracket and they often raise issues related to their age.

Understanding the Older Workforce

by Keren Smedley FAIM 31 March 2016
It’s not unusual for people of 50+ years of age to be facing a number of conflicting dilemmas, both personal and professional, in the workplace. Many of my coaching clients are in this age bracket and they often raise issues related to their age.

So, what are the changes in society and in the workplace that affect this group? It’s important to understand them whether you’re in that age bracket, managing an older worker, or working alongside one.

Born in a different time

Men and women in their 50’s, 60’s and now into their early 70’s can find themselves unsettled at work. It’s an interesting time in their lives. They are no longer ‘youthful’ and in this age-obsessed culture may not feel they are of any interest, but neither are they old enough to be put out to grass. They truly are in between. 

Born into a more traditional world, men were the main breadwinners and, although many women worked, they often took long breaks to rear children as their careers were not considered of equal value to men’s. Male jobs were for life, as were relationships. Divorce was uncommon and so were stepparents.  Many now find themselves single or supporting second or third families. This unexpected financial burden means that their superannuation will not cover their retirement and they are left either facing a life of poverty or having to work later than they expected.

Men and women were expected to assume certain roles and follow a set path throughout their lives. There was a fixed age for retirement and organisations asked people to leave when they reached this age. Most didn’t expect to reach their 80s so retirement was a limited phase. For some this means that their superannuation pot won’t stretch far enough if they retire in their late fifties or early to mid sixties. It is therefore important that they work even if it isn’t full time.

Unexpected responsibilities

People in their late 50’s and 60’s certainly didn’t expect to have their own parents still alive and possibly requiring care. Sadly many elderly parents’ physical and mental health deteriorates as they age. They can no longer manage by themselves and they look to their children to support them. This is not easy for ‘children’. Watching your parents slowly age and become infirm is both emotionally and physically draining.

Alongside this many are supporting their children both financially and with childcare. Grandparents are the most popular form of childcare in Australia. According to the Bureau of Statistics 837,000 children in 2014 were looked after weekly by their grandparents. This responsibility in later life can make flexibility of working arrangements an essential element for older workers. 

Technology

The workplace has changed dramatically. Technological changes have been phenomenal. Computers, the Internet, email and mobile phones have brought with them 24/7 demands and expectations of immediacy.  A global economy is the norm and no one thinks twice about working internationally.

Most 50+ workers have done pretty well at adapting to fast-paced change, technology and globalisation, but for some it has been a strain. They worry that they will not be able to meet the next challenge, learn to use the next bit of technology, or generally keep up.

It is easy at times especially in the workplace to avoid dealing with issues that are really simply solved. It’s important individuals speak up when they feel stuck and ask for help. Alongside this, managers need to talk one to one with anyone who is clearly struggling and offer them small group, or individual tuition. Most older people are fast learners when their learning style is taken into account and they are helped to feel confident.

Education

It was less common for people to go to university in the 1960s and 1970s. Older workers, even senior managers, are less likely to have the same standard of professional or academic qualifications as some of their younger colleagues. The fear of being ‘caught out’ is palpable for some. For others, it traps them in jobs they don’t want, as they don’t have the paper qualifications needed to move. Many have bosses who are younger than them and are working with people the same age as their children. This brings all sorts of tensions.

Fear that they’re unable to learn as effectively as young people and worries about ‘losing their memory’ can mean older workers lack self-confidence in their ability to learn new information and skills, particularly when having to do so within a group of younger people. This lack of confidence can undermine performance and the willingness to ask for help.  From my experience one to one coaching is extremely beneficial in enabling people to overcome their fears and to learn to value their experience and wisdom and to feel secure enough to ask for help when it’s needed.

Communication

In many organisations today hierarchy is less defined, with more colleagues able to have a say in the decisions that are being made.  This brings with it some negatives - office politics!  Older workers may rightly want to influence the environment and as such, may need assistance with learning new interpersonal skills such as assertiveness, so they can stand up for themselves when the change isn’t good for them and they want to offer their opinion to the bosses.

It’s really important that older workers don’t expect to be treated differently just because they are older, possibly wiser and have been around the block. On the other hand their experience and wisdom shouldn’t be discounted.

 As the pension age rises, so does the number of older workers in the workforce. Successful businesses will leverage the value of older workers and understand the issues that affect them in order for productivity and harmony to be maintained.

KerenSmedley

Keren Smedley FAIM runs Experience Matters offering coaching and workshops to empower the 50+. Email keren@experiencematters.org.uk or visit www.experiencematters.org.uk

Privilege and Participation
02 March 2016
Privilege and Participation Jack McGinn

Generation Y will revive Australia’s pioneering spirit in the coming years in the face of significant cultural change, according to Federal Social Services Minister, the Hon Christian Porter MP.

Privilege and Participation

by Jack McGinn 02 March 2016
Mr Porter, former Attorney General and Treasurer of Western Australia, was the special guest at an Australian Institute of Management WA Inspirational Leader Series breakfast in Perth in December, where he spoke to a packed house about the notions of privilege and participation in a leadership context.

Using Evelyn Waugh’s literary classic Brideshead Revisited as a reference point, the minister told business leaders that while Australian society had offered tremendous opportunities to many, it was important for leaders not to lose sight of privilege enjoyed to date.

“One of the things that occurs to me in the context of leadership, politics and public policy is that you’ve got to be very careful about the fact that privilege, like the kind we enjoy, can make you smarter, it can bring you wealth and all the accoutrements that wealth brings, but it can also bring you to a kind of stupor,” he said.

“At times I find in the circles we all travel there’s this casual self-satisfaction which attaches to where we’re at and not a lot of questioning as to why we are where we are. “I think the problem there is to confuse privilege’s present existence with a guarantee of future privilege.

Mr Porter said while Australians had often enjoyed the benefit of living in a rich egalitarian, liberal democratic society, which has experienced 26 years of  uninterrupted economic growth, significant change was approaching and more existential questions needed to be asked.

“We need to constantly ask ourselves how we ride these waves of change and avoid floundering in them and, if change is here, which I believe it is, we need to work out in our own society what are the most and least worthy parts of Australian life to feed the good and starve the bad,” he said.

“Everyone’s individual sense of that will change and your answers to those existential questions will differ, but I get the overwhelming sense we don’t ask those questions enough.”

Despite concern over a potential lack of foresight at present, Mr Porter, a new father, said he believed the nation’s young people were smart and well prepared enough to thrive in what he predicted would be a time of significant change.

“I think our kids can be a second great generation of Australian pioneers,” he said.

“They are at the pioneering forefront where they can do completely fabulous and amazing things.

“Ours is a nation founded on complete courage and independence and a pioneering spirit, and I have a sense that became a bit dulled over the last several decades, but I think and hope it’s about to have a rebirth.

“I guess like the old poster said ‘your country needs you’ – it certainly needs all of you but it definitely needs your kids.”

For present-day leaders Mr Porter said the happiest, most satisfied and enlightened people he knew maintained activities outside the scope of regular work.

“It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s a sporting club or being on a committee, it’s friends who spend time travelling to Asia to build homes for people in need – just people who do something outside their immediate concerns,” he said.

“I must say the thesis that they are the happiest people holds true to the man and the woman.”

A qualified lawyer whose father and grandfather were both Liberal Party stalwarts, Mr Porter said working with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had instilled a new spirit in the ranks of government.

“He comes from an entrepreneurial culture where, unlike in legal cultures, failure is a part of success,” he said.

“It gives you the scar tissue and the learning and experience to go on and do amazing things.”

And while there may be big change ahead for the Australian people, the minister said he hoped such attitudes could be instilled outside the walls of parliament as well.

“We need to be careful we don’t assume privilege will last forever,” he said.

“While we have privilege we need to make it endure and absolutely make sure it doesn’t rob us of our public spirit, our spirit of adventure, our spirit of trying to do things outside ourselves and our desire and willingness to take risks and sometimes fail.”

Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

The 5 Mistakes 73% of Wellness Programs Make
22 January 2016
The 5 Mistakes 73% of Wellness Programs Make Eoghan McKenna

Health and wellbeing programs are becoming commonplace. In order of importance, the workplace is matched only by the education system as the most significant setting to address chronic disease and promote wellness.

The 5 Mistakes 73% of Wellness Programs Make

by Eoghan McKenna 22 January 2016
The many benefits of health and wellbeing programs are well documented but organisations are often unsure how to implement a successful program and how they can engage high risk employees. The 5 points below are the most common mistakes made by organisations.

No initial research
Many organisations do little or no initial research or needs assessment. How can you have any impact if you don’t know what the actual organisational needs? Programs are soft and cuddly and don’t really have a clear WHY and SMART goals. Build the foundations first.

No metrics
This is the biggest and most common error. Why implement something if you cannot measure its impact. Organisations spend a lot of money on health and wellbeing programs but often have no metrics, or have metrics that are irrelevant to what the organisation actually needs.

Low Engagement
Healthy people will generally participate in health and wellbeing initiatives, so how will you get the unhealthy individuals involved? These are your most at risk so their involvement is essential. Consult them and see what motivates them.

No Management support

The most successful wellbeing programs have the involvement and participation of all levels of management. This does not mean senior executives are marathoners, but it does mean they are seen to participate in the program and endorse employee participation.

Not relevant or realistic
If you have a workforce that is labour intensive, providing exercise as the main part of your program will prove difficult, especially if they work 10-12 hour days. You need to focus on the realistic solutions. The same goes for providing work lunches with pastry, meat pies and sausage roll or having unhealthy vending machines in the workplace. Make it easy for employees to participate and make the right choices.
EoghanMcKenna

Eoghan McKenna is Managing Director of Logic Health, a physical health and injury risk specialist consulting firm. He has worked alongside some of Australia’s largest organisations to assist them to drive down unnecessary costs associated with ill health and sprain and strain injuries. www.logichealth.com.au

"Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader"
04 November 2015
"Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader" Andrea Walters AFAIM

Being a reader across a broad range of subjects is essential for those aspiring to, or currently in, leadership positions.

"Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader"

by Andrea Walters AFAIM 04 November 2015

Why is reading so important?

Reading provides insights from fields outside our own experience and expertise that can be applied in new ways. A great example is the impact the field of Mindfulness is having on individuals and on leadership in organisations now that the benefits and practices are more widely understood.

Not only does reading improve our cognitive skills; it increases our knowledge, extends our vocabulary, broadens our perspective, requires focus and reduces stress.

Whether we’re reading books, articles, blogs or magazines, this additional information provides us with credible evidence for our projects, strategies, and plans. Equally importantly, comparative reading challenges pre-existing ideas, providing us with a more complete understanding of subjects and generating healthy debate.

The title of this article is a quote from Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1860), a nineteenth century transcendentalist. Her views on reading and leadership are supported by many other respected figures.

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), former US president believed “Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.”

During his life, Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs was an avid reader and through his love of books, gained perspective and pleasure. According to Business Insider Australia among the books that most affected him are: William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’; Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick’; ‘The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas’; ‘Diet for a Small Planet’ by Frances Moore Lappe;‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda; ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’ by Shunryu Suzuki and Clayton M. Christensen’s ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’.

So how do I go about reading more?

There are numerous ways to increase your reading and encourage others in your organisation to do the same. One way is to make a few shelves or a bookcase available at work; somewhere with shared access. You can start the library small by adding a few books that you’ve already read and encouraging others to bring in books that they have found stimulating for others to read.

It may help to keep a record of borrowing on the shelves. This isn’t about trust; rather it allows you to see who’s read the same books as you so you can discuss them. You can also find people who’ve finished a book that you’re considering reading and check whether they would recommend it to you. It’s certainly a conversation starter.

Another option is to join a book club near you. Whilst reading is predominantly a solitary occupation, it can also be a great form of social stimulation and team building. Book Clubs are very popular in Australia today, whether purely for pleasure, or for professional development. They range in frequency, level of formality, complexity of book selection and depth of analysis. It’s good to decide what you want from a book club and look for one that suits your style. Sometimes book clubs operate by invitation only – so, put your interest in reading and joining a book club ‘out there’ by mentioning it to friends and colleagues. If you can’t find one that appeals to you; or it’s not happening quickly enough, then you may decide to start your own book club!

The benefits of book clubs

Being part of a book club challenges us to step out of our comfort zone and read genres, subjects and authors that we may never have contemplated, or even known about. This is especially true of the more challenging books that we may otherwise skip over when making our book selections.

We are encouraged to look for and apply the ‘so what?’ factor. Reading builds knowledge, but real learning and wisdom comes from ‘doing’. Reading, when action follows, affects real change.

You can read with your ears!

Another way of increasing your reading is to listen to audio-books, online interviews, or podcasts during your daily commute, and on the way to meetings.

Many people prefer the portability and cost-effectiveness of e-books and audio books and there is a lot of benefit from simply soaking up content from an audio-book without needing to annotate. If you like to make notes in the margin, good e-readers have note-making capabilities.

And never fear, traditional ‘paper, ink and glue’ book-lovers like myself can take comfort in the words of Stephen Fry who proclaims, “Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” So, there’s room for all of us!

It’s usually the books we re-read (or re-hear) that have the most impact on us; so if there’s a book that you have particularly enjoyed, take some time to reflect, and then read or listen to it all over again.

On a final note, we learn so much from reading: we can travel the globe and time experiencing other centuries, cultures and traditions; we lose ourselves in mystical places; we have our hearts broken, and mended, and we discover new interests.

And very importantly for busy leaders “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” Charles William Eliot (1869 – 1909), former Harvard University President.

Andrea Walters

Andrea Walters AFAIM is Director, Personal Membership Services at the Australian Institute of Management in WA with responsibility for delivering a diverse range of professional development and networking services to members. These include professional events (such as the AIM WA Business Book Club), the Member Mentor Program and various online management development resources and partner services.

WA's Silver Bullet. It’s not technology - It’s Our People.
23 October 2015
WA's Silver Bullet. It’s not technology - It’s Our People. Darren Harlock AIMM

Western Australia faces significant challenges to remain competitive, but our secret weapon won’t come in the form of new technology. Instead, we need to focus on the greatest forgotten driver of productivity in the workplace: our people.

WA's Silver Bullet. It’s not technology - It’s Our People.

by Darren Harlock AIMM 23 October 2015

Measuring competitiveness in a global economy

It’s no secret that a variety of external factors are beginning to hurt the WA economy: in recent months, the media have reported a variety of doomsday predictions from sectors from resources to housing and finance.

The external factors confronting us - primarily severely depreciated resource prices and rapidly softening demand from large buyers in particular China - are out of our control. Additionally, our international competitors are increasingly able to provide a similar level of product, at a much cheaper price. We must seemingly do more, with less, to be able to remain competitive.

‘Efficiency’ or doing more with less

Efforts to improve efficiency in skills-dominated industries typically revolve around improvements to systems and processes. But while it’s true, new technologies can boost utilisation of resources, they typically only amount to single-digit improvements in output productivity.

Taking this a step further, any boost to international competitiveness from these improvements is inherently short-term in nature, as any technology of sufficient impact will soon be exported, sold, shared or otherwise copied by our friends and competitors. As such, while new technologies are to be welcomed, over the medium to long-term they act as a tide that raises all boats - not just our own. The net result is no specific comparative benefit for our local economy.

Contrary to the usual hyperbole around machines taking our jobs, as our economy matures from production and manufacturing to a more service-centred economy and processes are systemised and automated, people become more important than ever before.

The single biggest area we can improve: re-evaluating how we hire

 ‘Drucker and others have pegged hiring success at 50 percent. Imagine what productivity would be unleashed and how great our teams would be if we got success 90 percent of the time? There’s very little else that could provide the same level of return.’

Maynard Webb, Chairman at Yahoo! and former COO at eBay

This statement might seem a throwaway line until you consider it in detail: compare the most engaged and productive team member you have, to someone who just turns up each day to tick the box. The difference in their output, and their contribution to the surrounding company culture, far exceeds single digit increases - indeed, it’s not unusual for a truly engaged employee to contribute twice as much or more than one who is merely a passenger, preserving their income level for a bare minimum contribution.

What does ‘success’ look like in hiring?

There has been consensus in the scientific literature for some time that hiring for fit rather than skills produces measurably better results for job satisfaction, engagement, retention, productivity and output over time. It’s cheaper, safer and more productive to hire for will and train for skill, than it is to hire an expert with poor fit and attempt to change their core motivation.

For too long, our hiring mechanisms have focussed on the exact opposite; prioritising resumes, CVs and qualifications above all else. In short, we screen out the vast majority of our potential talent pool before we even give them a fair chance. In WA this effect is arguably magnified as the focus on skilled engineers over time means we end up hiring the same people in the same roles, despite the market changing.

Forward thinking companies have already started to glean major benefits by prioritising diversity and fit in hiring. Ernst & Young have stopped focusing on academic results in the UK due to lack of correlation with the success of candidates, and Google recently switched tack after concluding their brainteasers and behavioural interview questions predominately measured applicant preparation and speaking skills rather than likely on the job performance.

Technology has also enabled new approaches that weren’t possible in the past and are designed to measure what matters for future success in the workplace accurately, quickly and cost effectively online. These mechanisms can help reduce unconscious bias in hiring and develop more diverse, productive, and efficient teams in your workplace.

Using our comparative advantage

Western Australia has unique access to a community of skilled, experienced, and diverse people from around the world - but we must update our approach to hiring if we are to make full use of this advantage. If we can focus as a team on getting the right people in the right roles to match their intrinsic motivators, it will be a massive step toward sustaining an efficient, globally competitive state.

If we can do that, everybody wins.

Darren Harlock Square

Darren Harlock AIMM is co-founder at Covocate.com, a Perth-based tech startup that provides flat rate online algorithm based job candidate screening for $99 per hire. He is a tech enthusiast and advocate for honesty, integrity and engagement in the workplace.

Retrenching With Compassion
11 September 2015
Retrenching With Compassion Brian Briscoe FAIM

Employers risk ruining their brands by not handling this powerfully.

Retrenching With Compassion

by Brian Briscoe FAIM 11 September 2015

“Winter is Coming”.

Jon Snow is both pragmatic and pessimistic as he warns the world of what is in store in the very popular TV show Game of Thrones. Whilst warmer weather and bright spring mornings are re-entering our worlds, if you are one of the tens of thousands of West Australian workers who have lost their job in the last 12-18 months, winter probably feels like it is hanging around a while longer this year.

The last year has seen more redundancies than we have ever experienced in a single year in Western Australia over the last 25 years. Downsizing, rationalisations and redundancies have happened across so many industries; it seems the resource downturn touches every other sector as well as its own. Government, utilities, contractors, manufacturing, retail, service industries have all been impacted.

Large Perth employers are shedding staff to stay competitive in these testing times and medium and small businesses are also copying to keep up. Whilst this is a time of stress, anxiety, discomfort (and perhaps opportunity for fresh starts), we do get to see the best and worst of how organisations handle this delicate situation.

Culling is a natural part of the cycle

Culling is a natural part of nature, in all walks of life. In the labour market, the cull is a very definite part of the cycle. It brings reality to the market (often a stark one for many people), increases affordability as prices drop, it allows for the economy to re-emerge as fortunes turn. But culling in a labour market needs to be done without “turfing” a loyal employee on the streets without any support going forward, or leaving a person hopeless and hapless. And it needs to be done without ruining your own employer brand; or giving what has had a long upbringing, a quick death. Redundancies don’t need to look like a Game of Thrones scene. They won’t be sunny affairs, but should have honour, support and just as importantly, involve mindfulness for those who are left in the organisation.

Why?

The painstaking work done to elevate an organisation’s employer brand can be ruined in a few weeks if this highly emotional process is mishandled. Remaining employees will judge the way their former colleagues are treated when they are retrenched and in the age of technology and online business / social networking, bad news has never travelled faster.

Whilst organisations may not think it matters in a time like this, think again! Your ability to survive and prosper during a difficult time like this will depend on the engagement and passion of your best performers.

News spreads like wildfire

Retrenched employees will readily communicate to their network how well or how badly their exit process was handled.  The news of a badly managed program spreads like wildfire, and can reduce employee morale if they know their ex-colleagues have been mistreated. The biggest fear for any victim of redundancy is how to go about seeking their next role, particularly in a market like we have at the moment. Many have never had to hunt for a job in earnest.

So, perhaps there are two reasons to retrench with some sensitivity – to be humane to the departing, and clever to the surviving. If the survivors watch with trepidation the cull of their colleagues, they may mentally run for the hills even though, physically, they remain on the payroll. Your ‘live’ wood becomes dead wood – wasn’t that one thing you wanted to solve with a reduction in numbers in the first place?

Outplacement

Think about timing. Think about redeployment opportunities. Think about notice periods. Most of all, think about an Outplacement service. We are astonished as to how many employers either don’t know about such a service, or choose to ignore it if they do. Most of the reputable outplacement providers offer various levels of support, at various price points, so there should be at least the budget for a basic service if nothing more. It gives the employee a lifeline after receiving the ill-timed news.

There’s no doubt that cost management is paramount to survive in any economic cycle, but not at the expense of losing your best people’s hearts and minds. Again, we are not referring to those who leave, but those who stay to protect you against the storm you are currently in. The key to keeping your stars is harnessing the creativity, intelligence and energy of your best human capital; creating a healthy workplace culture where employees feel respected, valued and motivated to succeed. This includes showing the honour, respect and support to victims of redundancies.

In an economic sense, you cannot avoid the fact that “Winter is Coming”, you cannot lament from the feeling that the wall you built to protect yourself from the enemy doesn’t look as big and sturdy as you once thought it was. But you can control how motivated your army is to take the battle on – that’s what you need to focus on. Spring will be here soon, have your best people smiling as it does, and by your side.

Brian Briscoe Small_Square

Brian Briscoe FAIM, Briscoe Search & Consulting. Briscoe Search specialises in outplacement services, executive search and talent consulting for a myriad of blue chip organisations.

Have you got your Mental Health First Aid?
25 August 2015
Have you got your Mental Health First Aid? Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

45% increase in stress related workers compensation

Have you got your Mental Health First Aid?

by Melitta Hardenberg AIMM 25 August 2015
Employers today face a very real and very daunting reality; they will (if not already) have to prepare themselves for stress related absenteeism. In Western Australia alone there has been a 45% increase in stress related workers compensation in the last 12 months. The problem is very real, according to the Mental Health Commission, one in five Australians are suffering from a mental illness at any given time and one in two Australians will be diagnosed with a mental health concern in their lifetime. It is highly likely that most managers will supervise someone with a mental health problem during their management career.

It is the fastest growing health epidemic in the developed world. In Australia, stress related absenteeism results in 27 days of lost productivity for every person cited to be absent for stress related illnesses. Nine of those are for sick leave and 18 days for ‘presenteeism’ (when workers show up to work but are unable to perform at full capacity due to illness). Stress related illness is estimated to cost Australian business $28b in lost wages and productivity each year.

Employee Wellbeing. Why it’s so important

The companies leading the way and reducing stress related illness are investing in employee wellbeing. So much so it features as a key metric in employee engagement surveys. Global Professional Services Company, Towers Watson, revealed companies with not only high engagement but also high employee wellbeing outperform companies with high engagement alone. This outperformance is on every business measure, profit per share, productivity, absenteeism, you name it, the list goes on.

On measures of wellbeing Australians lead the way in financial wellbeing, however 75% of Australians say they are struggling with physical wellbeing and purpose. Purpose wellbeing can be described as ‘you like what you do every day, you learn or do something interesting every day’. A recent global wellbeing report from Gallup, show when these two elements of wellbeing work together, high physical wellbeing enables purpose wellbeing. It does this by providing the energy and focus to support individual performance on tasks that are important to people. Concurrently, high purpose wellbeing helps people set priorities and focus on values like health and wellness. They are so interconnected it is hard to separate; yet Australians perform the worst on these measures of wellbeing.

Furthermore the new generation entering the workforce state purpose as one of the most important criteria for job selection and satisfaction. In order to employee this generation employers better know how to tap into purpose.

How can you future proof your business?

Invest in wellbeing measures.

If you are measuring engagement, measure wellbeing. Measure the key areas of wellbeing being physical, mental, purpose, financial, & community. You can either measure this through formal channels such as surveys, or via more organic means, like in conversations.

Promote Movement

Sitting is the new smoking! We now sit more than we move (sitting 9.5 hours per day and sleeping 7.3 hours per day). Find ways to help your employees move more, whether that’s through adopting corporate challenges, walking meetings, or lunch time yoga classes. Whatever you do, just move more.

Know your strengths – and theirs

Employees with high ‘purpose’ wellbeing have an opportunity to learn something every day and have an opportunity to do what they do best every day. These employees are also 50% more engaged in their work and have higher discretionary effort. So, how do you help your employees to ramp up their purpose? Know their strengths. When you are having performance & career conversations get to know where your employees shine, when they are at their best, and ask them how the team can leverage. Spend more time developing their strengths and helping them manage around their gaps. The more your employees play to their strengths, the higher their purpose wellbeing and their engagement.

Promote work life integration

Work life balance is a topic that almost every company is tackling, yet no one doing well. The challenge here is that what balance means to one person means something different to another. The definition of balance is that of equality, that the parts are evenly distributed. Work and life will never be evenly distributed, so it becomes less about balance and more about integration. The key here is to know your employees, know what integration means for them. They might be happy to work 70 hours per week, but miss football training two afternoons per week and the scales tip. The key for integration is working with individual employees on how they can integrate life with work and work with life.

With such a sharp rise in stress related workers compensation, you can’t afford not to care. Companies who tackle wellbeing are reaping the financial and productivity benefits.

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM, founder of Fit & Focused, is extensively experienced in building an organization of 'exceptional thinkers' who make better decisions faster, are more engaged, and bring a healthy mind, body and attitude to work.

How to Get the Job Done
30 July 2015
How to Get the Job Done Emma Williams

Doing some homework before a job interview can help avoid fluffing your lines and blowing your chances.

How to Get the Job Done

by Emma Williams 30 July 2015

The problem with first impressions is you only get to make one of them, which is why interviews can seem so daunting.

When you get called up for an interview, you want to make sure you have the answers to really ‘wow’ your interviewer. The last thing you want is to stumble or ramble through your answer.

However, it can be difficult to keep those nerves at bay and answer the tough questions. Paul O’Loughlin, from O’Loughlin Recruitment, recommends candidates treat it not as an interview, but as a meeting.

“Most people are experienced in meetings. Treat it as a meeting where you are going in to gain more knowledge of the role and organisation to discern whether it is right for you,” O’Loughlin says.

Know your subject matter

O’Loughlin suggests when you go into a meeting, go in prepared and know your subject matter extensively. You should also apply this commitment to your interview, having thoroughly researched not only the company, but also the person who will be asking the questions.

O’Loughlin says you also need to be acutely aware of your own experiences and have some answers ready. He says interviewers are not just looking at the content of your answer, but the way in which you respond.

Prepare your responses

Body language, stuttering and rambling can all negatively detract from your professional image.

“Prepare yourself for the difficult questions. Get someone to sit down with you before the interview, get them to ask relevant questions.

“The classic question is what are your strengths, and if a candidate stumbles with that, if they’re not prepared or don’t have that self-awareness, all is lost.”

On the flip side to that is the dreaded “tell us your greatest weakness” question.

O’Loughlin says it is important to put a positive spin on your weakness, show that you’re aware of the problem and how you overcome it. “If you say, ‘I’m a workaholic’ you give the impression that you’ll burn out. However, if you say something like, ‘I have a really strong work ethic but I have a problem delegating. To counteract this I make sure I delegate to the right people who I can trust to get the right results’,” he says.

According to O’Loughlin, you need to paint a clear picture of your qualifications by having real-life examples at the ready. Real-life examples show the interviewer how you react to different situations and illustrate how you can adapt your skills to suit their organisation.

O’Loughlin warns the worst response you can give is, “I’ve never thought about that”. He says people often feel they need to jump straight into an answer; instead, he suggests candidates take a couple of moments to gather their thoughts before answering a question they’re not 100 per cent confident with.

Don’t rush your answers

“If you want to think about a question, sit back for three seconds. Three seconds may seem like a lifetime in an interview, but it may give you the opportunity to articulate your thoughts in a really concise way rather than getting tongue-tied,” he says.

Emma Williams is a journalist at Mt. She won the Gordon Burgoyne memorial Prize for Journalism in her final year of studies at the University of Canberra and has an interest in the impact of social media on business.

Poor Form
16 July 2015
Poor Form Jane Caro

The Trials and Tribulations of Paperwork.

Poor Form

by Jane Caro 16 July 2015

By nature I am really quite a sunny person. My moods are fairly even and I generally approach life with equanimity. There is, however, one thing that is guaranteed to make me grumpy, frustrated and cross.

Forms. I hate, loathe, detest and abhor filling in forms. In my entire working life I am proud to say I have never generated a form and never asked anyone to fill one in. How I wish I could say the same about the rest of the world. These days, it seems that whenever you enter into any kind of business relationship with an organisation, however fleeting, the first thing they do is send you a barrage of forms to be completed – often so you can be paid!

What is particularly infuriating is that the forms often merely require you to provide the information that is already on your invoice. What is usually happening, therefore, is that the large organisation [presumably with a fully staffed accounts department] is asking the sole trader [who by definition must do everything themselves] to do the work required to comply with the large organisation’s processes for them – unpaid! This behaviour is now so common it has even acquired a name – cost shifting.

What’s even worse than forms, however, is forms that don’t work. I recently filled in a form for one organisation eight times. I repeat, eight times! They then belatedly discovered that there was a glitch in the link they sent me. No-one will pay me for the time I spent doing this or the wear and tear, not just on my psyche but on that of my family as I swore, fulminated and threw things across the room in frustration. My long-suffering computer took a bit of a battering too.

And then there are signatures. Signatures don’t really work anymore with our technology. If a signature is required, forms must be printed, signed, scanned and emailed and more (unpaid and unproductive) time is wasted.

I am not the only person who has noticed the deadening effect of all this process, either. Deloitte recently released a report Get out of your own way: Unleashing Productivity that details how red tape [usually in the form of forms] costs Australia $250 billion every year in lost profit and productivity. The report also exploded some stereotypes. Far from the public sector being the worst culprits when it comes to bureaucracy and red tape, it was the private sector that was generating the vast majority of this self-imposed burden – double the amount of the public sector. According to this ground-breaking report (the first of its kind in the world, apparently) middle managers and senior executives waste 8.9 hours a week on complying and other employees 6.4 hours. No wonder workplace morale is plummeting.

Deloitte is taking its own advice, asking its employees to nominate the dumbest rules in their own organisation – an excellent first step, if you ask me. [Mind you, I couldn’t help wondering if they asked them to fill in a form about it.] As a sole trader myself, however, there is little I can do to fight back when some great big player decides I must spend some unpaid hours complying with their ponderous processes. I will give you due notice, however. My response has become classically passive aggressive – it’s what the powerless always do in the face of the powerful. I receive your email requesting I fill out the attached forms and then I ignore it. What this forces your staff to do is chase me for compliance – over and over and over again. It’s the only defence I have. If you are determined to waste my time with your stupendously boring and unnecessary forms, the least I can do is waste your time in return.

I think it's called quid pro quo.

Jane Caro Square

Jane Caro writes for AIM Magazine and runs her own communications consultancy. She worked in the ad industry for 30 years, and is now a novelist, author, journalist, speaker, lecturer and media commentator.

A New Vision - What are we selling to China now?
30 June 2015
A New Vision - What are we selling to China now? Tim Harcourt

China has played an important role in Australia's economic development over the past three decades

A New Vision - What are we selling to China now?

by Tim Harcourt 30 June 2015
It’s our largest trading partner, accounting for $141.9 billion (28.2 per cent) of total Australian merchandise trade. In 2013, we imported $47.2 billion from China (19.6 per cent) and we exported $94.7 billion worth of merchandise (a whopping 36.1 per cent). Exports create jobs for Australian workers and China, as our number one export destination, plays an important role in improving conditions in the Australian labour market. Austrade-ACTU-UNSW research shows that on average exporters pay 60 per cent higher wages than non-exporters, provide better occupational health and safety, education and training, employment security and equal employment opportunity for women. China also invests $31.9 billion in Australia.

While iron ore and coal are a big part of the future of the Sino-Australia trade relationship, Australia will move from the mining boom to the dining boom, as our food exports grow and we see more agricultural delegations visit China to build up domestic farm capacity. We can't feed China on our own but we can help China feed itself. Even so, expect "rocks" (resources) to dominate the primary export ledger of "rocks and crops" (resources and agriculture) for some time to come.

The trade relationship won't and it probably doesn't have to move beyond this. Primary industry brings with it associated services in mining equipment, agricultural technology, human capital and education. The proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and China should help in this regard in reducing agricultural tariffs and subsidies and smoothing away tight services regulations. According to the latest DHL survey, most exporters would welcome the FTA with China. In 2014, 61 per cent thought an agreement would benefit their business, 31 per cent thought it would be neutral and only 8 per cent thought it would be negative.

In some ways China's development is as much about urbanisation as it is about globalisation and Australia will play a big role in the servicing of the second and third-tier cities. My Chinese friends tell me that places like Chengdu, Wuhan, Chongqing and Qingdao are "country towns". But when I arrived I realised they are "country towns" of more than 10 million inhabitants. This means opportunity for Australian architects and planners. Consider Place Design Group, which opened an office in Chengdu to meet the insatiable demand for landscape gardening in Sichuan province.

The story of China's structural reform is not only about rural-urban migration but also about the transformation of being a nation of shippers to a nation of shoppers. It wants to rely less on exports and more on domestic consumption and investment. Middle-class incomes are on the rise along with demand for consumer goods once considered a luxury in China. That's why Rheem (hot water) is now based outside Chengdu to service the domestic market and BlueScope Steel is located outside Shanghai to transfer steel locally free of tariffs. Add to this the opportunities in the professional services sector like architecture, landscape design, education and financial services.

Australia's export relationship is more broadly based than people think at first glance. Maybe we should listen more to the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) sector and less to our billionaires when seeing how to succeed in China in the long run. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics' data, more than 5600 SMEs now export to China and more than 3000 are based there and are succeeding. More Australian businesses lose money in the US than in China, and more SMEs export to China than to the whole of Europe.

Tim Harcourt

Tim Harcourt writes for AIM Magazine and is the JW Neville Fellow in Economics at UNSW Business School and author of Trading Places – The Airport Economist's Guide to International Business. He was previously Austrade’s chief economist.

Why Should Anyone Buy From Us?
18 June 2015
Why Should Anyone Buy From Us? Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

"Why should anyone buy from us?" is probably the most fundamental question in business.

Why Should Anyone Buy From Us?

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 18 June 2015
It cuts through the fancy Mission Statement, bypasses the Key Performance Indicators and gets to the real value proposition from the viewpoint of the customer.

Answering this question requires precision. It is easy to take the soft option of offering generalisations such as "our products are better than anyone else's" or "our people provide better service".  These responses are vague, unverifiable and come from the organisation's perspective instead of the customer's.

Examples of better responses would be precise measures of performance that matter to the customer, such as

  • "we are 12% cheaper than the next closest provider of similar quality" or,
  • "our customer feedback results indicate 95% would do business with us again even if we weren't the cheapest provider due to our superior service levels".

In a perfect world, the perfect people to have answer this question are your customers.  If your relationship is strong, their insights will be invaluable. You could even give them some information about the inner workings of your business so they have a greater appreciation of your challenges as well.

If your world is imperfect, then look for others to provide input such as employees, suppliers, Board Members, even academics interested in the forces of competition.

As a simple exercise, write the question on a board or whiteboard in your office and ask everyone who comes in over a one week period to write one answer. By week's end you'll have a rich list of ideas to synthesize into a few short statements that capture your uniqueness in the market.  The responses will help decision making - what to start and stop doing, what unique competencies exist in the business and where the major weaknesses lie.

“Why should anyone buy from us?” is such a simple question that it can connect with everyone in the organisation.  Sometimes the jargon of corporate strategy causes employees to disengage.  This question will be understood by everyone.  Just brace yourself for the answers you receive.  They may not be pretty, but they will be valuable.

Shaun Ridley

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.

7 Habits of Healthy CEO's
02 June 2015
7 Habits of Healthy CEO's Dr John Cummins

What does it take to be at the top of your game?

7 Habits of Healthy CEO's

by Dr John Cummins 02 June 2015

Like all of us, CEOs face the same challenges in life: limited time to achieve all that we need to, constant and predictable demands (family and occupational commitments, body maintenance requirements such as sleep and nutrition) as well as unpredictable demands such as a sudden change in the economy or an illness or change in life circumstance.

Most senior executives recognise that their health is critically important. As Warren Buffett states: “You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck 40 years later. It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate 10, 20 and 30 years from now.”

As a medical practitioner looking after the same CEOs and managers for many years, one gains an insight into their lives and thought processes. After all this time it still never ceases to surprise me how their success can often be, to a large degree, explained, among other things, by some common habits.

The 7 habits of successful business people

Obviously technical competence at their craft so that they are rewarded for their work is critical, but how many people have you seen that have been technically brilliant yet never reached their full potential due to an inability to manage themselves? These are seven habits, not necessarily in any order of priority, that I see consistently utilised by successful business people.

Relationships

CEOs and senior executives have a clear understanding of what is important to them in life and they consistently set aside time and energy in the maintenance and nourishment of those areas. One specific example is that they nurture their primary relationships with their significant other. The divorce rate of those I see is definitely lower than the national average and people are surprised when I say that my clients often have long-lasting, very happy and nourishing relationships. They also nurture their relationships with their offspring, as well as close friends. We know from international studies that one of the predictors of personal wellbeing is a strong sense of social connection, where relationships are prioritized and actively nurtured. Putting energy into them is one habit worth embracing.

Exercise

It is one of the best anti-ageing mechanisms and a critical tool for stress management, avoiding (and if necessary treating) depression and anxiety and often creating a 'mind environment' where creative business ideas can sprout. They do the minimum of 150 minutes a week where they can 'talk but not sing' – if you can sing you are not working hard enough. But mostly they do activities they enjoy or at least don’t mind doing.

Diet

They tend to follow a Mediterranean diet – heavily plant based, red meat once a week, legumes and so on. Why? Because there is very strong medical evidence it helps avoid heart attacks, strokes and may have an impact on reducing some cancers.

Drink

They stay well under the safe alcohol consumption guidelines – seven standard drinks a week for women and 14 for men. Alcohol plays a role in sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, brain disease of various types, some cancers (10 per cent of breast cancers in women internationally), specific forms of heart disease and contributes to mood difficulties. 

Sleep

They get enough sleep – just recently new sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation in the US recommended between seven and nine hours sleep for adults and seven to eight hours for those aged over 65. They manage jet lag and don’t overload their bodies with too many work-related flights.

Attitude

They are great managers of their own minds and are adept at compartmentalising their thinking so they don’t bring their work home. When they are home they are present and not focused on the office. They often refuse to let their minds indulge in negative and destructive thinking patterns, know when they are getting overloaded and take steps to reduce this. They are generally great time managers. For example, they understand the difference between what is important and needs attention versus what appears to be urgent but is not really important and therefore managed in a completely different way.

Advice                 

Many of the very successful people I have come to know have business mentors to bounce ideas off, but in addition they are very careful as to whom they listen to with regards to advice about their health, their finances and any other areas of their lives that are important to them. They are willing to pay well for such advice and are willing to travel to get the best input possible.

Dr John Cummins is medical director at Executive Medicine –www.executivemedicine.com.au and wrote this piece for AIM Magazine

 

sports bag

The Lowdown on Little Data
28 May 2015
The Lowdown on Little Data Susan Muldowney

Big data can be a big fuss.

The Lowdown on Little Data

by Susan Muldowney 28 May 2015

The term used to describe the collection and analysis of massive amounts of information in the hope of learning what we don’t already know, big data can provide deep customer insights, more targeted communications and improved operational efficiencies.

Big data also has a big drawback

It’s expensive to collect and often requires a significant investment in the software and hardware needed to analyse, manage and store it.

Big data is generally unstructured, which makes it hard to interpret using traditional databases and it usually involves a lot of text – think social media posts and video footage. The volume, variety and speed at which big data is generated can also be challenging to handle.

Meet little data

Now more and more businesses are turning to big data’s more manageable cousin, little data, as a means of providing relevant and beneficial insights.

Little data refers to information about individuals that’s now easier to gather through mobile and social technology. It’s a marketer’s dream. It involves tracking and analysing our lives – what we buy, where we buy it and what we like to do for fun.

“It’s personal,” says Michael Pain, analytics lead with Accenture Australia. “Little data is quite granular – it provides a very detailed view of something, such as web clicks. It provides very actionable, insightful information.”

Sources of little data

Little data can be collected from many sources, such as credit cards data, smart phones and clickstreams. Some people also volunteer their own little data through online surveys and membership forms.

While big data is controlled by companies, little data rests with the individual. It can help us monitor and achieve our own goals. Mobile health devices, such as Fitbits, the wristbands that monitor and record fitness-related metrics, are a good example. Little data can also be used to generate shopping lists based on recent grocery purchases or to ensure that special promotions matching your interests are delivered to your inbox.

“People want more things to be personalised these days so you need little data to make this happen,” adds Pain. “Organisations assimilate data from all their sources and deliver a personalised experience that leverages a person’s little data. Insurance and banking sectors, for example, are tailoring products
to needs based on little data.”

Written by Susan Muldowney for AIM Magazine

Susan Muldowney

Seeing Red
21 May 2015
Seeing Red Christopher Niesche

Rules can cost businesses more to manage than the risk they’re trying to eliminate

Seeing Red

by Christopher Niesche 21 May 2015

While businesses like to point the finger at government red tape, their own red tape is actually much more costly – running to a staggering $155 billion a year, trumping compliance with public sector rules by around $60 billion, says a report from Deloitte Access Economics.

Get out of your own way
Unleashing productivity reveals middle managers and senior executives are chalking up 8.9 hours a week complying with the rules organisations set for themselves, with other staff spending 6.4 hours.

Examples of excessive regulation uncovered by Deloitte include small taxi fares that have to await approval from the weekly executive team meeting; a firm that rejects application forms from potential customers if they are completed in blue ink; and the firm that insisted staff complete an ergonomic checklist and declaration when they moved desks, then introduced ‘hot desking’ where everyone spent 20 minutes a day filling out forms. So pervasive has been the rise of corporate red tape that it has effectively wiped out efficiencies gained from technological advancements such as IT, and Deloitte says this is a key reason why productivity growth in Australia has been so slow. Back-office workers have occupied a smaller and smaller proportion of the workforce over the past two decades as their jobs have become automated yet these workers have all been replaced by compliance staff.

As a result, there are more compliance workers across Australia than people working in the construction, manufacturing or education sectors. In fact, one in every 11 employed Australians now works in the compliance sector. “Where new technologies are implemented, they’re often implemented into
a framework of existing processes and rules. So, the efficiencies that you would hope to benefit from implementing new technology or an enterprise-wide platform often get cannibalised because the processes don’t change. So, you’re getting in your own way,” notes Deloitte Private partner Mark Allsop.

Not all red tape is unnecessary or wasteful
Rules and regulations can protect consumers from shonky businesses, keep workers safe and help businesses manage costs.

Much of the regulation arises from businesses’ desire to reduce risk. Making rules is a way of managing uncertainty and volatility. But organisations tend to overestimate the extent to which they can insulate themselves against risks – hence the proliferation of rules that can cost more to manage than the risk they’re trying to eliminate.

Peter Meehan is the head of the G100 representing CFOs of Australia’s largest companies and has seen this risk-averse culture develop at board level, with directors asking staff for more and more information and to tick more and more boxes before they make a decision. Much of this effort is simply so a company can show it’s been through the required process and is a brake on productivity and entrepreneurship. “Businesses run because they take risks – it’s risk versus reward. The more you work on risk and try to eliminate risk the less chance you have of reward,” Meehan says.

Nicholas West, national corporate account director at management consultancy PEP, agrees with Meehan that much of the risk-averse behaviour comes from fear of litigation, leading to organisations “overcompensating” by rolling out the red tape. He has seen the effect that an overabundance of rules can have on morale and innovation. “It absolutely puts a fence around innovations and stops that free thinking because if you’ve got to go through five processes to get something done, you tend to lose your enthusiasm. Therefore, you lose a lot of your innovations.”

Focus on what must go right
Rather than focusing on what can go wrong, companies should focus on what must go right. This can pave the way for a dramatic reduction and simplification of an organisation’s rules. Deloitte has an example of
a company that made rules to govern its IT risk systems based on a list of 64 things that could go wrong. It changed focus to the 12 things that must go right. The company identified 29 rules that mapped critical risks to the organisation’s core objectives, then eliminated or streamlined the rest. This cut back the time required for internal and external audit to scope the company’s audit activities, which fell by 80 per cent in the first year. The time taken to complete those audits dropped by one-third.

Josh Keegan of Keegan Consulting Group says companies sometimes introduce rules for a good reason, but don’t return to them later to ensure that they’re still necessary. But some rules just aren’t good to start with. Many middle-level managers also introduce and enforce rules as a way of protecting their own position. “Because people have been caught out previously or senior management has dragged them
over the coals because something has gone a little bit awry, that’s where a lot of self-preservation comes into it and then they have a tendency to create more rules inside an organisation regardless
of whether those rules are good for the organisation,” says Keegan, who believes companies need to have a challenge culture, where staff can question rules. 

The 5 Cs tips for cutting red tape

Cleanse
Slash the stupidity – ask staff to list the dumbest things they are required to do as a result of the business’s own rules, then stop doing them.

Challenge
Businesses should stop asking, “What could go wrong?” and focus on, “What must go right?”, then challenge their rules in that light. What are their rules really trying to achieve, could they be improved and are they cost-effective? If not, there may be more to dump.

Create
Foster a culture focused on performance rather than compliance, and ensure the organisation’s rule-makers are aligned to its business goals.

Change
Businesses and others should change the way they set new rules and audit old ones to better link rules with strategy and risk appetite.

Capitalise
Make the most of these changes to realise the business’s full potential.

Written by Christopher Niesche for AIM Magazine

Seeing Red

Those Who Move More Earn More
07 May 2015
Those Who Move More Earn More Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

Need a pay rise? Try strapping on your runners. Studies show those that move more, earn more.

Those Who Move More Earn More

by Melitta Hardenberg AIMM 07 May 2015
Exercise improves your attention, memory, accuracy, and how quickly you process information – all of which helps you make smarter decisions. According to Tom Rath, Author of Eat Move Sleep, studies show that employees also see a significant increase in overall earnings as their activity level increases.

Exercise has such an impact on your ‘executive brain’ (the part of the brain that makes all your smart decisions) that you can expect a 20% increase in memory function after just 20 minutes on a treadmill. In fact, in a study using brain-scanning technology (functional MRI) outlined in the National Academy of Sciences, subjects who were assigned exercise for one hour a day, three times a week, over a six-month period, show an increase in hippocampus size (that’s the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning). Working out literally bulked up the participants’ brains; allowing them to perform better at tasks that require concentration and recall.

 

Want to earn more?

 

Here are the top two things you can do to increase your earning potential.

 

Every step counts, so count your steps!

Heard of the old adage you can’t manage what you don’t measure? The same applies with your steps. It is estimated the average person only moves 3,500 steps per day. In Eat Move Sleep, we hear of a clinical trial in which one group of people were assigned to wear a pedometer as part of randomised controlled trial. Their overall activity levels went up by 27% compared to the group who had no form of measurement.

 

To measure your steps you will need a device. One way is get yourself a pedometer that you can clip to your clothes and that counts your steps for you. Alternatively you can download any number of pedometer apps for your smartphone. There are apps that will beep to remind you to move and apps that you and your team can use to compare and compete for steps.

 

Increase your exercise intensity
Mix up your exercise with intensity. In fact one study by Winter et al found that people learned vocabulary words 20% faster after intense exercise than after low- intensity activity. Those who did high intensity exercise had a bigger spike in their brain’s levels of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor, (or BDNF, which supports learning and memory), dopamine (feel good chemical) and epinephrine (adrenaline) afterward. So the more you challenge your body, the more your grey matter benefits.

 

You don’t have to be signing up for high intensity interval training to reap the benefits, just mix up what you do. There are three things to think about when thinking of intensity; terrain, incline and speed.  Take walking as an example, to mix up your terrain try walking on sand or going for a bush walk. To mix up your incline try walking up a hill, or up a sand dune. To mix up your speed you could try walking fast between every second light post, or for 1 minute fast and 3 minutes slow.

 

Moving more doesn’t just increase your earning potential it can also save your life.

When scientists from the National Institute of Health followed 240,000 adults for a decade, they discovered that diet alone was insufficient to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind. Those who spent the most time sitting had a 50% greater risk of death from any cause. They also doubled their odds of dying from heart-related diseases.

 

It’s never too late

In Brain Rules, we hear of researchers who found a group of couch potatoes, measured their brainpower, exercised them for a period of time, and then re-examined their brainpower. They consistently found that when couch potatoes are enrolled in an aerobic exercise program, all kinds of mental abilities begin to come back to life.

 

So, start moving more today and just remember, it’s never too late to reap the benefits of movement!

Melitta Hardenberg

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM is extensively experienced in building an organization of ‘exceptional thinkers’ who make better decisions faster, are more engaged, and bring a healthy mind, body and attitude to work. Melitta is an experienced executive coach who has implemented strength-based development programs with clients in the banking & finance sector.

Caught in the Web
23 April 2015
Caught in the Web Amy Birchall

As mobile security threats become more complex, protecting data is becoming more difficult.

Caught in the Web

by Amy Birchall 23 April 2015

Amy Birchall explains how to keep your information safe.

If you’ve ever used your phone to access sensitive data over unsecured WiFi, downloaded an app from an untrusted source or clicked on a link in an SMS that promised access to an important corporate network update, your phone’s security – and that of your organisation – may have been compromised.

The rapid growth in smartphone and tablet usage over the past two years means these devices are frequently targeted by cybercriminals.

Dean Frye, the technical director at cyber security solutions firm Sourcefire, says most mobile security breaches are malware attacks that allow hackers access to sensitive data or databases.

People often do not realise they have downloaded harmful malware onto their phones until it is too late.

“Humans are the weakest link when it comes to security,” Frye says.

“Using the same password and username for different websites and clicking on links in emails from unknown people – which are actually malware – are some of the most common mistakes consumers make. This leaves their personal information open and vulnerable to being compromised.

“Consumers need to be aware of the security implications associated with mobile devices, and as a result, they need to make strategic decisions as to what they open on their devices and where they store their information.”

Frye warns it isn’t just personal data at stake when it comes to mobile security. In the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) era, corporate information is increasingly at risk.

“BYOD has created new security risks and today’s networks are no longer deeply nested within the walls of their enterprise,” Frye says.

“Before BYOD, IT departments could control the use of technology by issuing devices that could be locked down with a corporate IT firewall. As more and more employees use their own devices, maintaining a secure environment becomes a challenge.

“Employee-owned mobile devices often access corporate resources that are outside the control of the corporate IT team, and they easily connect with third-party cloud services, computers and endpoints where security posture is potentially unknown.”

Mobile security concerns such as these mean many organisations are still grappling with the BYOD phenomenon, more than two years after employees first started using personal phones, tablets and computers for work purposes.

Ensuring corporate data is protected on personal devices is so difficult, analyst firm Gartner reported 2014 might herald the end for BYOD as “there is no way for IT to assume full responsibility of securing and managing devices without ownership”.

The benefits of BYOD include increased productivity, reduced IT equipment costs and improved employee engagement; however, organisations are beginning to realise the benefit might not outweigh the potential.

A 2013 Symantec survey found as many as half of employees who had lost or left their jobs in the previous 12 months kept confidential corporate data, and 40 per cent planned to use it in their new jobs.

While Frye believes the BYOD trend isn’t going anywhere, he admits keeping information protected is not easy.

“Organisations need to monitor and protect against the full attack continuum before, during and after an attack,” he says.

“IT security professionals must be able to see everything in their environment, understand whether it is at risk, and then protect it.”

This means restricting BYOD – and dealing with backlash from employees who want the freedom to choose their own devices – is not necessarily the answer.

Instead, Frye recommends “implementing BYOD policies that clearly define the proper and appropriate use of employee-owned devices at work”.

To minimise security risks associated with BYOD, organisations could do worse than follow the advice of legendary management consultant Peter Drucker, who wrote “what gets measured gets managed”.

According to Frye, this means gaining visibility over the entire corporate network, from devices to operating systems, applications, users and network behaviours. This makes it easy to track device use and quickly identify potential security violations.

Policies and network controls are also important.

“On the corporate side, companies must create and enforce policies that regulate what data can be transmitted to BYOD users,” Frye says.

“For employee-owned devices, it may be useful to lock down your organisation’s network or computers – including laptops, desktops and servers – with capabilities such as application control.”

Outdated systems should also be replaced or supplemented by agile and adaptable technologies that are more responsive to change.

Many older systems are too sluggish and unwieldy to respond quickly to new security threats without assistance.

When it comes to operating systems, Frye says Android has proven to be more vulnerable to security attacks than any other operating system.

Cisco’s latest annual security report says 99 per cent of all mobile malware targets Android devices.

“Knowing this, consumers need to be even more aware of the security risks these devices pose,” Frye says.

Mobile Security Tips

Stay Smart Online, a government cyber security initiative, offers the following suggestions for protecting your personal mobile security:

  • Put a password on your phone and a PIN on your SIM card
  • Set up your device to automatically lock
  • Encrypt your data to secure your information if your phone is lost or stolen
  • Be careful when allowing third-party applications to access your personal information, such as location. Always read permission requests before installing new apps or upgrades
  • Install updates to your phone’s operating system as soon as they are available
  • Back up your data regularly
  • Do not click on unsolicited or unexpected links, even when they appear to be from friends
  • Delete all personal information before recycling an old phone. Most phones have an option to reset to factory settings.
  • Remember to remove or wipe any inserted memory cards, too
  • Be smart with WiFi and Bluetooth.
  • Avoid online banking or financial transactions in busy public places and over unsecured WiFi networks.
  • Turn off Bluetooth when not in use
  • Monitor your phone bill for unusual charges
  • Ignore missed calls and text messages from unknown numbers. Responding to a scam text message or missed call could cost you a small fortune in premium rate charges

 


 

Amy Birchall

Amy Birchall is a staff writer at ‘Management Today’, AIM’s national magazine for members.

Diversity and Inclusion: Are We Really Making Progress?
13 March 2015
Diversity and Inclusion: Are We Really Making Progress? Andrea Walters AFAIM

AIM WA hosted 12 senior human resource leaders at the HR Futures Forum boardroom series on Wednesday 4 March, and discussed whether organisations are making headway when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Diversity and Inclusion: Are We Really Making Progress?

by Andrea Walters AFAIM 13 March 2015

AIM WA hosts regular boardroom discussions each year aimed at bringing senior leaders from across all sectors together on vital issues, challenges and opportunities facing managers and leaders. Last week’s HR Futures Forum boardroom series discussed whether organisations are making headway when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. According to the 12 senior Human Resources leaders present, the question is relatively easy to answer…‘No, we’re not’. But it’s not for lack of significant effort in many organisations. The far more vexing question is ‘why aren’t these efforts working’?

Dr Liz Constable, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Western Australia and former Minister for Women’s Interests opened the session with some interesting, but not surprising, anecdotes from her own experiences of gender discrimination during her career. She shared some disconcerting statistics, particularly for Western Australia, around the gender pay gap. Currently standing at 18% nationally, it is a disappointing 25% in WA.

Australia ranks 24th in the world for pay equality and 21st out of 29 countries in the OECD index for employing people with disabilities. Additionally, with 45% of people with a disability living near or below the poverty line in Australia, there’s a long road ahead for us when it comes to making progress on diversity and inclusion.

So, what are the main barriers to equality and diversity in the workplace?

The HR Futures Forum discussion focused heavily on the gender debate and why equality and diversity are so hard to achieve. These are just some of the key areas discussed by the group.

Unconscious bias

The conversation regularly touched upon the ‘unconscious’ or ‘implicit’ bias in the individuals who make up our organisations. This is a ‘blind spot’, or hidden set of beliefs and attitudes that shape the way we think, make decisions and ultimately behave. These unconscious biases begin at a young age and whether that’s a negative bias towards women, people with disabilities or on the basis of age, race or culture, it’s an insidious problem impacting organisations, communities and society in general. It’s not something that can be addressed easily as it is strongly linked to culture, which is notoriously difficult to change.

Not enough focus or positive role-modelling at the top

These biases may begin early in life and at school, but they are often perpetuated from the ‘top’ in organisations, the community and government. The ‘alpha male’ mentality demonstrated recently by the ‘shirt-front’ negotiation style at the highest levels of government, for example, provides the wrong kind of role-modelling when it comes to leadership culture and behaviour.

The group felt that Boards can do significantly more to drive change by setting targets and KPIs that demonstrate a clear and consistent focus on equality and diversity. Rather than being seen as a set of ‘initiatives’ linked to Corporate Social Responsibility, which tend to be taken off the table during tough economic times, it was suggested that Boards should position equality and diversity squarely alongside bottom line reporting and shareholder value as measures of success.  

Tackling unconscious bias in organisations has to begin with leaders. This means everyone from the Board down becoming positive role models by bringing their own biases to the surface; paying attention to what they focus on, what they say, what they do and what they measure as a leader. It means creating pipelines for talented individuals to succeed into leadership roles regardless of age, gender, disability or race.

Negotiation skills lacking in women

It was argued that some women don’t have the necessary skills to successfully negotiate for promotions and pay increases. Research has shown that perceptions of a woman become negative if she assertively negotiates for herself; something which is seen as a positive attribute when demonstrated by men. Though not an issue for everyone, more can be done to address these skill gaps and gender biases through bringing them into focus and providing relevant training. Additionally, promotions and pay rises should not be dependent on the negotiation skill of the individual, male or female, but awarded through a transparent and equitable merit-based system.

So, how do we change this?

There is no doubt that we need some fresh thinking on the equality and diversity agenda. In addition to training and transparency, the question was raised whether we can take away some key lessons from the health and safety arena. Here, steps to modify discrete behaviours have turned into great strides in reducing accidents and safety breaches and creating a lasting culture shift towards positive health and safety in many organisations.

It Starts With Us

Dr Constable outlined the work of Male Champions of Change, a group of male CEOs brought together by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who use their influence to impact gender inequality. Together with Chief Executive Women, a member-based organisation enabling and empowering women leaders, they have launched It Starts With Us: The Leadership Shadow. This model demonstrates how the words, behaviours, priorities and measurements adopted by leaders can create real progress towards addressing biases, shaping focus and providing positive role-models towards gender balance.

Mentors and Role Models

We heard that visible role models and mentors help encourage and support women wanting to break through the ‘glass ceiling’. Providing profile and exposure for women leaders via industry, government and community awards, mentoring programs and women in leadership events is important in demonstrating the way forward for individuals and organisations.

But it’s not just women who can benefit from positive role models. Societally, let’s aim to see greater acceptance of men who access the ‘glass fire escape’ at work in order to be the face at the school gates when the bell rings. Organisations can have such a big impact on the lives of their employees by actively supporting women returning to work and men taking more responsibility for their family’s care. It would go a long way in creating the right balance of career, parenting and carer responsibilities for men and women.

And if you’re asking the ‘why does it matter’ question…?

Because, according to this group and I suspect many more …it’s simply the right thing to do! Let’s stop trying to justify the need for equality with bottom line impacts, though they are undoubtedly there, and let’s start saying, doing, prioritising and measuring what really matters when it comes to genuine equality and diversity in our organisations.

Andrea Walters

Andrea Walters AFAIM is Director, Personal Membership Services at the Australian Institute of Management in WA with responsibility for delivering a diverse range of professional development and networking services to members. These include professional events (such as the AIM WA Business Book Club), the Member Mentor Program and various online management development resources and partner services.

A Rising Trend: Corporate Volunteering
26 February 2015
A Rising Trend: Corporate Volunteering Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

There is a growing trend in organisations: corporate volunteering.

A Rising Trend: Corporate Volunteering

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 26 February 2015

Corporate volunteering programs are appearing within businesses of all shapes and sizes, as those same businesses strive to impact their communities positively, portray their organisation favourably and enhance employee satisfaction.

But what is meant by corporate volunteering? And what benefits accrue for organisations and their employees that put corporate volunteering in place.

What is Corporate Volunteering?

Corporate volunteering programs can be described as a form of corporate social responsibility.  

Corporate volunteering involves an organisation actively encouraging its employees to support a not-for-profit, charity or community-based groups. That encouragement can include acknowledging the contribution an employee is making to a particular group, providing time-release for employees to volunteer, or even allowing employees to use an organisation’s resources to support a particular charity or group.

Corporate volunteering programs can range from a single employee offering support to a specific community organisation of their choice, through to a more formal program which represents a significant partnership between a business and a recipient organisation.

What are the Benefits of Corporate Volunteering?

There are a range of benefits for both organisations and employees who participate in corporate volunteering programs.

Those organisations that engage in corporate volunteering programs often report enhanced employee satisfaction, engagement and retention and a more positive corporate image in the business community.  

Equally, however, there are considerable benefits for employees themselves. Many who participate cite the opportunity for increased knowledge and skills as key to their involvement. At the same time as being able to assist an organisation that does great work for the community, they are exposed to a new context and the learning that takes place in that context can be enormous.

Engaging in corporate volunteering programs outside of an individual’s usual environment allows volunteers to develop their leadership and management and improve their communication skills. Participants of corporate volunteering programs report that that not only do they receive a sense of personal achievement, they achieve increased personal and professional growth through their involvement.

Corporate volunteering programs provide employees with an opportunity to "give back" to the community. While many employees are keen to offer their knowledge and expertise, they are often time poor and being able to volunteer, particularly during work time, supports them in being able to "give back".

Getting Started?

Any business considering formal corporate volunteering programs will need to undertake a level of due diligence to maximise the success of a program and to minimise risk.

A number of dimensions need to be considered, including alignment of the business’s policy and procedures with that of the volunteer organisation. And then there are insurance issues, along with occupational health and safety matters to be considered.

Careful due diligence in selecting a partner volunteer organisation will ensure that corporate volunteering offers a raft of benefits for a business and its employees, as well as significant advantages for the partner volunteer organisation.

Emeritus Professor Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Are You Micromanaging Your Team?
10 February 2015
Are You Micromanaging Your Team? Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM

How often do you hear team members complain that they are being micromanaged in their workplace?

Are You Micromanaging Your Team?

by Emeritus Professor Gary Martin FAIM 10 February 2015
Unfortunately these complaints are heard in many modern organisations with increasing regularity. Some would even say that micromanagement has hit our workplaces in epidemic proportions!

The sad truth of the matter is that many managers who exist in our workplaces often have no awareness that they are, in fact, micromanagers.

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement takes place when a manager exerts excessive control over the work of a team member.  

Typically, the micromanager will monitor and assess every step in a work process even after thorough training has taken place.  They monitor the day to day work performance of team members too closely, regardless of whether a team member is highly capable or a poor performer. 

Micromanagers are usually focused on process rather than outcomes and will often insist that a team member completes a task in a particular way rather than supporting flexibility and facilitating autonomy.

Micromanagement can occur for many reasons including increased pressure for a manager to perform, insecurity in the manager’s role and a lack of management development or training.

A micromanaged team can hurt an organisation in many ways. Micromanagement sends a very strong message to team members that they are not trusted and that that they lack capability. Typically, team members who are micromanaged become frustrated and resentful, and lose confidence in their ability to get a job done. These impacts almost certainly lead to reduced employee productivity as micromanaged employees become increasingly disengaged.

Four Signs of Micromanagement

There is a fine line between a manager who wants to work closely with team members and giving in to micromanagement.

If you demonstrate two or more of the following four characteristics, then there is a good chance that you are on your way to becoming a micromanager.

Unable to Delegate: Micromanagers are often unable to delegate. This means that they frequently feel overworked. They often assign tasks but then take them back to complete themselves because the job is not being done in the way they would do it themselves.  Micromanagers tend to adopt the attitude that if you want to get something done properly then you must do it yourself.

Over-Direction: While all team members require direction, micromanagers over-direct. They spend considerable time showing and telling team members how they should complete a work task and leave little room for a team member to take or demonstrate initiative.

Exclusive Decision-Making: Micromanagers feel that they must make all decisions themselves. Rarely do they consult team members and they often become irritated when team members make decisions without first consulting them.

Communication Avoidance: Typically team members working with a micromanager tend to avoid contact with their manager. That is because they fear that if they approach their manager they may well be inundated with additional direction which they do not need.   

If you are on the way to becoming a micromanager the first step to correct this behaviour is personal self-awareness. This might be followed up by seeking feedback on your management style from members of your team, which can in turn lead to development of effective strategies to eliminate micromanagement behaviours.

Emeritus Professor Gary Martin

Gary Martin is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia. He is a learning and development specialist with extensive experience in the design and delivery of programs in Western Australia and internationally. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Murdoch University and Zhejiang University of Technology (Zhejiang Province, China), as well as an Honorary Professor at Guangdong University of Business Studies (Guangdong Province, China).

Internet Disconnects WA Fans from Live Sport
21 October 2014
Internet Disconnects WA Fans from Live Sport Andrea Walters AFAIM

When 16 WA sporting code leaders met at AIM WA last week to discuss “Leadership of Sport in Western Australia: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities”, the prominence of one topic in particular stood out. It seems that sporting fans in WA are becoming disconnected by the internet.

Internet Disconnects WA Fans from Live Sport

by Andrea Walters AFAIM 21 October 2014

Whilst the impact of the internet and social media on sports can be positive, especially in bringing sporting competitions to global audiences and promoting minor sports, why is the internet one of sport’s biggest threats?

Audience distracted

Nick Marvin, CEO of Perth Wildcats, described how people are getting lonelier and more disconnected from real interactions with each other, diminishing the experience of live games. Apparently, even for successful sporting codes in the sports-mad state of Western Australia, keeping the attention of fans is getting harder.

Audience monitoring data at the Perth Wildcats shows that even those who are at the game are regularly distracted by their mobile devices. The administration at the Wildcats is looking at how they can adapt their product to compete with online and TV versions; perhaps making segments shorter to fit with the busy schedules and reduced attention span of spectators today. And they are not alone.

Audience staying home

Gary Walton, CEO of WA Football Commission, asked whether sport can adapt and keep pace with societal time pressure, given it can take five hours to travel to and watch a game.

Fans of most sports these days can opt for the comfort of their sofa, a 50” TV screen and beer on tap from the fridge, while enjoying online banter about the game via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

Trevor Nisbett, CEO of the West Coast Eagles, agreed that keeping people’s attention is a challenge. Whilst minor sports might jump at the chance for a spot on TV, it’s important for clubs like WCE to get the amount of coverage for their team right, as too much exposure means less people attending the live game. Equally though, too many home games is also a factor for their administration to consider, as this fatigues the local membership and can equal smaller crowds.

Despite enjoying very strong membership at WCE, the waitlist situation is getting more complex, with some fans making the unusual choice to remain on it rather than taking up the annual subscription. With options to purchase resale tickets, waitlisted fans can pick the games they attend without having to commit to the full season ticket. And for the games they miss, there’s always the opportunity to watch it on their TV or iPad.

Redefining sports

Peter Hugg, CEO Football West Ltd, suggests that sports administrators have to redefine their sport. Football can be on the beach or a five-a-side game. This flexibility is becoming increasingly important with the number of young people playing FIFA online via gaming consoles.

The issue of disconnect and online impact are not exclusive to Western Australia. Darren Beazley, CEO of Swimming WA, is just back from the USA, where the disconnection between society and sports is becoming super-sized. With sport seen more as “entertainment” and players viewed as “celebrities”, children are dropping out of sports early seeing if they can’t make it to the top quickly. 

The disconnect of the spectator base may be an issue, but it seems that there is no shortage in participation, with some clubs turning people away as they don’t have the facilities and all codes vying for resources - also significant topics of discussion at the session.

Whilst we would all agree that being flexible and adapting to the needs of your customer base is good business, it’s another example of how long-enjoyed, meaningful, family interactions such as sporting events are in danger of being reduced to briefer, more convenient, ‘quick consumption’ experiences, due to lack of time and the growing dominance of the internet and social media in our lives.

Andrea Walters

Andrea Walters AFAIM is Director, Personal Membership Services at the Australian Institute of Management in WA with responsibility for delivering a diverse range of professional development and networking services to members. These include professional events (such as the AIM WA Business Book Club), the Member Mentor Program and various online management development resources and partner services.

Give it a Rest: You Snooze, You Win
05 October 2014
Give it a Rest: You Snooze, You Win Amy Birchall

The benefits of a good night’s sleep are well documented, but getting enough rest is still a challenge for many.

Give it a Rest: You Snooze, You Win

by Amy Birchall 05 October 2014

Sleep-deprivation a costly habit

Consistently not getting enough sleep can lead to impaired short-term and working memory, increase the risk of conditions such as depression, and even increase relationship dissatisfaction. But did you know a lack of sleep also costs businesses billions of dollars in lost productivity each year? According to research published in the Journal of occupational and environmental Medicine, fatigue-related productivity losses cost employers almost $2000 an employee each year as a result of decreased alertness, memory and interpersonal skills.

Make sleep a priority

If you hit the snooze button more often than you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day, you’re not alone. Respiratory and sleep physician at the Institute for Breathing and Sleep Dr Fergal O’Donoghue says most Australian adults aren’t getting enough sleep – and it’s because they fail to make it a priority.

“People are constantly pushing boundaries and skimping on sleep. It often isn’t considered as valuable as other activities,” he says. “If you take people out of their ordinary lives and put them in a controlled test environment where they can sleep as much as they like, they tend to sleep for much longer – at least 30 to 45 minutes more than usual.”

While business leaders Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi may claim to need fewer than four hours’ sleep a night, Dr O’Donoghue says this is an unrealistic target for most people. “The amount of sleep needed for general wellbeing varies from person to person, but the majority of people who say they can get away with less than six hours sleep a night are kidding themselves.  Some appear to manage well, but it’s certainly rare.” He says.

Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation claims adults need an average of eight hours and 15 minutes of sleep a night to function at an optimum level. However, a 2013 study by America’s National Sleep Foundation has found many people fall far short of this target, averaging just 6.5 hours a night.

Why are we sleeping less today?

Dr O’Donoghue says this has not always been the case. “Look back 50 or 100 years and you’ll find that people got more sleep, and that sleep was likely to be of better quality,”

he says. Dr O’Donoghue cites shift work, noise pollution, working on bright screens late at night and expanding waistlines as factors particularly detrimental to sleep quality. “Sleep apnoea, which can disrupt sleep, is directly related to weight,” Dr O’Donoghue says. “And because people are getting heavier, diagnoses of sleep apnoea are on the rise.”

He also says working out exactly how much sleep an individual needs is difficult because of the interaction between basal sleep need and sleep debt. Basal sleep need is the amount of sleep a person needs on a regular basis for optimal performance, while sleep debt is the amount of accumulated sleep lost to poor sleep habits, sickness or other factors.

“If you’re sleep-deprived because you’ve stayed up late for three nights in a row, you’re building up a sleep debt that needs to be repaid,” Dr O’Donoghue says. “Sleep debts don’t need to be paid back minute for minute, but people often don’t realise a good sleep on the fourth night won’t get them back to normal. “If you’ve built up a total sleep debt of six hours over three days, you’ll probably need to get an extra two hours of sleep on top of what you usually need to feel at your best.”

Dr O’Donoghue says sleep debts generally increase as the working week goes on, leaving workers exhausted by Friday afternoon. “A weekend sleep-in goes some way towards remedying a sleep debt, but in some cases it isn’t enough to restore the balance,” he says. “Aim to sleep more during the week too.”

Amy Birchall

Amy Birchall is a staff writer at ‘Management Today’, AIM’s national magazine for members.

A Healthy Office Feels Good
01 October 2014
A Healthy Office Feels Good Ainsleigh Sheridan

It’s one thing to tell staff you value their health by handing out water bottles or monthly mini massages, but another to affect them directly through a healthy work culture.

A Healthy Office Feels Good

by Ainsleigh Sheridan 01 October 2014
“Think about it,” says Ken Buckley, founder and managing director of Healthworks, which delivers health products and services for more than 500 Australian companies.

“You want to help your employees lower stress levels, so you provide engaging, valuable information on mental health, you organise seminars, you give them campaigns and activities to show in easy steps how to improve positive thinking.

“But their manager sends them emails at all hours; they feel they have to work through their lunch break; and their request for a day off is refused yet again.

“Such actions are all part of your organisational culture. An unhealthy culture can create real blocks for employees to become healthier and more productive.”

So, implement health expectations alongside education, limit business activity to business hours and actually encourage productivity through scheduled breaks. Next, consider your “where, how and why” through which business is conducted.

“Ideally, you should have in place things that are proven to encourage healthy habits,” Buckley says. “Physical things, such as bike racks, and fridges in the kitchen; policy things, such as flexible work arrangements; or operational things, such as a wellness committee [to think up and monitor health initiatives].”

But even in a supportive work culture and accommodating built environment, some employees will struggle to cut back on caffeine and the vending machine.

“For optimal participation and engagement, participants have to want it,” Buckley says. “They have to really see a direct, personal reason for taking part.”

Often the reason won’t necessarily be a desire to feel better. It might be a financial incentive, a need to socialise, or to contribute towards a greater good.

The National Australia Bank offers financial incentives “to encourage and educate employees to make healthy choices”, media officer Chris Venus says.

“NAB provides an annual voluntary flu vaccination and a range of health-insurance providers offer discounts to staff, likewise with gym memberships.”

Venus says a number of the company’s major buildings house bicycle storage with shower and change-room facilities to encourage healthy behaviours.

The company also has a wellbeing web portal where staff can read tips and fill out a health check.

Boeing, the multinational aerospace group, started “Boeing on the move” in 2010 by tracking activity with pedometers after more than half its respondents to an internal health assessment said they weren’t getting enough physical activity.

More than 40,000 employees took part in the global initiative that first year, with prizes awarded to the top five staff, communications director Allison Bone says.
Participants found the program rewarding because it led to weight loss, increased energy levels and an improved sense of friendship among staff.

For Australian east coast recruitment firm Employment Office, a relay ride on a stationary exercise bike as a charity fundraiser has proved a sporting thing to do.

“Two years ago, we started an event called Tour de Office,” publicist Brooke Chapman says. The “Tour” has raised more than $20,000 each time it has been held.

The firm’s staff, clients, suppliers, family and friends each ride 30-minute legs in a continuous relay for a working week, with money raised through sponsorship.

“This year there are 20 workplaces all over the country taking part.”

Making a healthy change

• A poor diet results in reduced productivity, so influencing employees’ eating habits is not just a moral issue, it’s good business
• Ditch pastries and quiches at meetings for fresh fruit and veg and low-fat, high protein snacks (such as hummus dip)
• Resist deadline demands for pizza and chocolate when staff are working late by pinning up menus from nearby healthy food outlets
• Offer more fresh options and fewer deep-fried options in staff canteens, and provide free water in preference to soft drink
• Instead of cake, try fruit tarts, or a communal fruit platter when celebrating birthdays.
Ainsleigh Sheridan_cropped

Ainsleigh Sheridan is a Journalist for Management Today Magazine, AIM’s national magazine for members.

Ensuring Interns are a Help - Not a Hindrance
25 September 2014
Ensuring Interns are a Help - Not a Hindrance Emma Williams

They’re enthusiastic, highly capable and keen to learn, but it’s important to remember interns are not free labour.

Ensuring Interns are a Help - Not a Hindrance

by Emma Williams 25 September 2014

There are many benefits to hiring an intern, both for your business and for the intern. An intern gains valuable industry experience and gets to put all the theory they’ve learnt into practice.

Your business not only gets an extra pair of hands but, often, an enthusiastic, highly capable person with knowledge, skills and a fresh perspective.

You may also find a great future employee who will already have had the necessary training. Even if they do not stay on there’s the possibility the intern who has a productive and satisfying experience will tell others how enjoyable it was to work in your business.

However, before taking on an intern there are some very serious things you need to consider.

Interns are not free labour and internships or work experience are usually undertaken by students through legitimate work-based learning programs and placements, which are linked to formal training through universities or other training institutions.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, a vocational placement is a working arrangement where all of the following apply: the worker is not paid a wage, it is a requirement of an Australian-based education or training course; and it is authorised under a law or administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth, a state or territory.

If you take on an unpaid work placement that does not fit those requirements, you could be breaking the law.

The Fair Work Act states that unpaid work experience and internships can be illegal if the person is in a legally binding employment relationship, based on factors like length of time, obligations and who benefits from the arrangement.

The longer the period of work, and the less observational the role, the more likely it is an employment relationship has been formed. If this is the case, the “intern” should be treated as an employee and receive payment at minimum wage level, plus other employee entitlements.

Employers who fail to meet their obligations under the Fair Work Act can face penalties of up to $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a corporation.

Earlier this year Melbourne company Big Datr created an uproar on social media after they advertised on Seek for interns to work for three, six and 12 months at a time with no financial compensation.

The company required interns to do real work, including set goals, conduct research to identify brand marketing strategies, contribute to and maintain internal libraries and “squashing bugs” in the system. In return the company offered to reward interns “with emoji” (emoticons) and free breakfast.

Big Datr pulled the ads after they were slammed on Twitter, proving that as well as the legal ramifications, companies also need to think how using interns can damage their reputation.

As a manager you need to keep in mind how you treat your interns. You may view them as a hindrance because you need to constantly watch them and train them, but it is important to remember they’re giving up their own time and are eager to learn. It is important to make them feel like part of the team by emphasising the importance of their work and how they’re positively affecting the company. Give them varied and interesting tasks, perhaps a task they can complete from beginning to end, and follow it up with constant feedback so they feel they are really getting something out of the experience.

If managed correctly, interns can make very valuable contributors to your team.

Emma Williams is a journalist at Mt. She won the Gordon Burgoyne memorial Prize for Journalism in her final year of studies at the University of Canberra and has an interest in the impact of social media on business.

Emma Williams is a journalist at Mt. She won the Gordon Burgoyne memorial Prize for Journalism in her final year of studies at the University of Canberra and has an interest in the impact of social media on business.

Good Stories Create New Opportunities
01 September 2014
Good Stories Create New Opportunities Amy Birchall

Storytelling – getting your message across – is such a valuable management tool it is being taught in graduate programs.

Good Stories Create New Opportunities

by Amy Birchall 01 September 2014

If you were afraid to enter the water after watching the 1975 film Jaws, you know a good story can captivate an audience, make messages stick and influence behaviour.

Once the domain of filmmakers and artists, storytelling has been adapted by businesses including the National Australia Bank (which now includes storytelling as a core capability for senior executives), Fuji Xerox, BHP Billiton and Cadbury Schweppes to help managers inspire, engage and lead more effectively.

At select global consulting firms, new employees are even trained in business storytelling as part of university graduate programs.

Adelaide-based independent management consultant Susan Raphael uses storytelling to help her clients maximise productivity, increase employee engagement and achieve organisational objectives and goals.

“Stories are a powerful method of challenging perceptions, reshaping beliefs and influencing people to behave differently,” she says. “Storytelling is hardwired into us as human beings. A good story adds depth, meaning and helps your message to sink in. Leaders can use this to their advantage to embed culture and vision.”

She says storytelling helps managers and executives build relationships, connect people to the bigger picture and cut through jargon. Mark Schlenk, managing director at Australian storytelling and strategy firm Anecdote, agrees. He adds that storytelling can overcome entrenched views and make it easier to convey clear and memorable messages.

“Managers tend to communicate in a way that is abstract. They talk in vague terms about things like employee engagement, or how to be more approachable, but no one knows what those terms actually mean. The number one enemy of effective communication is ambiguity,” Schlenk says.

“Stories, on the other hand, are concrete. They can help managers have a huge impact.”

Raphael says business storytelling also plays a key role in creating and strengthening an organisation’s identity.

“Choose positive and powerful stories. You need to have your antenna up and be on the lookout for stories that highlight your successes,” she says.

According to Schlenk, the fastest way to become a better storyteller is to use examples to clarify meaning. Rather than tell employees that they need to improve their customer service, for example, it may be more effective to say:

“Our customer service needs work. I saw a great example of how we should be treating our customers yesterday when I was walking through the car park and I noticed that Gary had taken time out of his lunch break to help an elderly customer with her shopping bags. We should be more like Gary.”

Schlenk says stories are characterised by time markers, characters (generally people, but occasionally an organisation or team), specific events and the unexpected.

“A story is a promise. You know when you’re telling a story because people want you to finish,” Schlenk says.

“Tell stories to be believed. If you make an assertion, fewer than half of the people in the room will believe you. If you say, ‘I know we had redundancies last year, but even though things are tough there will be no redundancies this quarter’, nobody will believe you. But take that assertion and turn it into a story about how you’ve met with the management team and identified what went wrong last year, and share the steps you’re taking to avoid redundancies, and that’s much more effective.”

He warns that in a business context, it is never appropriate to make up stories, refer to fairytales or start with “Once upon a time”. “You can’t afford to be fluffy or to tell fairytales in a business context. Never say, ‘Let me tell you a story’. That is associated with fairytales and kids, and you risk negative bias because of that. Why give yourself that handicap?” he says.

“Authenticity is also vital. Don’t put on a storytelling voice, and don’t practise gestures, which can look fake.”

Schlenk also recommends practising telling stories out loud to develop compelling anecdotes.

“Say a story out loud twice and you will remember it. Get in the habit of noticing stories and you will soon have hundreds to share.”

Managers and executives should look to emulate the storytelling techniques of Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and former Queensland premier Anna Bligh.

While each of these business leaders is (or was) a master storyteller, Schlenk says Bligh’s “love for concrete language” is particularly noteworthy.

“During Cyclone Yasi, which hit Queensland in 2011, Bligh’s advisers would come up to her before press conferences and say things like, ‘OK, Premier. There’s a category five storm anticipated to make landfall in eight hours’. Her response would be, ‘So you mean there’s a deadly storm coming?’ She cut through the ambiguity with powerful, concrete terms, which is vital for telling strong stories.”

Amy Birchall

Amy Birchall is a staff writer at ‘Management Today’, AIM’s national magazine for members.

The Lost Art of Deep Listening
01 August 2014
The Lost Art of Deep Listening Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

In a world full of relentless distractions, a major casualty is our ability and willingness to listen.

The Lost Art of Deep Listening

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 01 August 2014
Take a moment to think of the last time you gave someone your complete, undivided attention for as long as they wanted to speak - not for as long as you wanted to listen. Chances are you are struggling to remember any recent occasion at work and, sadly, probably not at home either.
                                                                                                    
A common excuse at work is that we don't have time. The world is moving too fast for us to devote excessive amounts of time to someone “waffling” on about a topic. If they can't capture the essence of the message in a few minutes, then they don't deserve our attention.  Such an excuse is flawed at several levels. As a manager, if you don't believe that listening and engaging with your staff is a vital part of your job  then you misunderstand the role of manager. The excuse also smacks of arrogance because it’s likely that you think you know in advance how much time the issue will take to describe.

So if we are to make a more concerted attempt to listen deeply to our staff, then here are a few headlines to keep in mind.

Be Present - this means moving away from your desk and  from other distractions such as the myriad of electronic devices in front of you. Sit or stand facing the other person square-on, arms unfolded and open, and maintain eye contact for around 70% - 80% of the time (the amount of eye contact is culturally specific, but this is a helpful starting point).

Ask Questions - that are relevant to what the person wishes to say, not what you want to hear. This will require you to pay attention sufficiently closely to pick up both the actual words and the intent behind what they are saying. A good test for how successful you have been at accurately picking the intent is to gauge how long it takes the person to answer your question. If they answer immediately, you have probably got it right, because their answer flows directly from what they were saying. If they delay their response, it may mean you have surprised them and sent them in a different direction which has broken the flow of their thinking.

Check - your understanding of what they said and how they are feeling about the issue. It could be as simple as a statement such as "it sounds as though these two incidents with irritated customers in the one day have knocked your confidence in providing your usual good customer service". The person speaking will be very forgiving if you haven't got it exactly right as long as they feel you have made a genuine attempt to listen and paraphrase accurately. The purpose of this checking process is to reassure the other person that what we have heard aligns with what they were saying.

The up-side of being a good listener is significant. Your staff will think much more highly of you, of your interest in what they have to say and of your concern for their well-being. And, most of all, you'll almost certainly learn a lot more than you would with the abrupt approach to listening which is so common in the workplace. 

Shaun Ridley

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.

Development Conversations Hold the Key to Engagement
31 July 2014
Development Conversations Hold the Key to Engagement Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

The benefits of an engaged workforce are no secret. Most business leaders know that employee engagement is intrinsically linked to a range of business success factors such as employee performance/efficiency, productivity, attendance, retention, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and ultimately, profitability.

Development Conversations Hold the Key to Engagement

by Melitta Hardenberg AIMM 31 July 2014

Recent leadership research by Rath and Harter (2010) shows that the degree to which a manager focuses on the development conversation determines the level of an employee’s engagement. So, performance conversations seem like an excellent opportunity to drive engagement and reap the benefits, yet few managers take advantage of this.

When little or no attention is paid to employee development, the chance that the employee remains actively engaged is only 40 per cent. If you are having development conversations with a staff member, even if it’s only about their weaknesses, the likelihood of them remaining actively engaged almost doubles to 78 per cent. Have a development conversation with your employee about their strengths and how they can be leveraged for the greater good of the company and the chance of active engagement skyrockets to over 99 per cent!

With the stakes so high, it pays to understand the power of the performance conversation and to use it to drive a more engaged workforce. 

Tap into your development conversations

Here are three steps to get the most out of the development conversation:

1.    Rethink your understanding of ‘strength’

Stop thinking of a strength purely as something the employee is good at. Instead, think of it as something that also makes your employee ‘feel’ strong. Undertaking a strengths-based task has a range of positive impacts. For example, when a person undertakes a task that lets them tap into their strengths, they will feel re-energised, like they have just put in fresh batteries. Strengths have a ‘feel good’ factor about them, so your employees will find they volunteer to use these skills, even if it’s not part of their core role.

2.    Become a strength finder

It’s not easy for your employees to recognise their own strengths, especially if they have never been encouraged to identify them before. That’s where you come in. You need to help your people define and articulate what their strengths are. This can be achieved through some simple coaching questions during the development conversation:

  • When are you at your best?
  • If you could describe the perfect day at work, what would you be doing?
  • What is a high-point moment for you? Tell me about a time that is memorable and stands out, when time flew and you felt re-energised? What were you doing? Who were you with?

3.    Challenge your employees to develop their strengths

Once you have worked with an employee to identify their strengths, challenge them to be creative in their self-development activities. Look for stretch projects, secondment opportunities and role shadowing where they will have an opportunity to work to their strengths. Ideally, you should find an opportunity that is mutually beneficial to the team as well as the individual. Ask them to report back on their results and key learnings.

So next time the development conversation time rolls around, get ready to tap into your employees’ strengths and reap the benefits of their engagement.

Melitta Hardenberg

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM is extensively experienced in building an organization of ‘exceptional thinkers’ who make better decisions faster, are more engaged, and bring a healthy mind, body and attitude to work. Melitta is an experienced executive coach who has implemented strength-based development programs with clients in the banking & finance sector.

Work backwards to get the Right Technology
24 July 2014
Work backwards to get the Right Technology Gene Howell AIMM

Start with where you want to be, rather than where you are right now.

Work backwards to get the Right Technology

by Gene Howell AIMM 24 July 2014

Edward De Bono wrote "Simplicity" to make us think differently. One example he uses is about an ant at the bottom of the tree - what's the possibility of it getting to a specific leaf at the top of the tree? Well, if there are 15,000 leaves on that tree, you probably have more chance of being run over in Australia by a rogue elephant on the highway.

But if the ant is already on the leaf, De Bono speculates, what are the chances of it being able to make it down to the bottom of the tree? Pretty well 100% if you think about it. It only has to go in one direction.

Technology is like that. Start with where you want to be rather than where you are right now. If you work out where you want to be or should be, you can then work backwards to where you are now - and you won't get distracted with fads (all the other 'leaves') along the way. Start with the dream, then work back to reality.

Too many times we head in a technology-driven direction because that's what our competitors are doing. Whilst I understand that as a driver, it's not good enough. You need to ask these questions before you pursue technology further:

  • will it work for you? Will it take me where I want to be?
  • will it provide a quality service to your clientele?
  • will it help you do what you need to do?
  • is it easy to use? and
  • is it cost effective?

That's what I asked to choose technology for where I work. Some years ago, people were complaining how far behind we were in this area; this morning I heard that someone of influence had commented on how far ahead we now are in this area.

The difference? Thinking backwards.

Gene Howell

Gene Howell is the Manager – Educational Technology for AIM WA. He specialises in the leadership area and has developed several leadership programs that have attracted national and overseas interest. His latest book “The Game Plan” challenges leaders to develop resilience and commitment.

3 Simple Ways to Engage a Remote Workforce
26 June 2014
3 Simple Ways to Engage a Remote Workforce Melitta Hardenberg AIMM

Not all your employees need to work in the office. Today’s technology has loosened the reigns so people can work from just about any location.

3 Simple Ways to Engage a Remote Workforce

by Melitta Hardenberg AIMM 26 June 2014

Research has shown that incorporating remote staff into the mix can deliver unprecedented flexibility, staff retention and cost efficiency benefits for your business – all of which ultimately lead to better performance and profits. 

However, this flexibility is not without its challenges. If you are an employer who has team members working from home, a different State and especially a different time-zone, you need to think carefully about how you will engage with them. How will you ensure that people accomplish their goals and maintain a strong brand identity and presence from a different postcode?

Many employers think that inclusion is enough to keep their remote employees satisfied. That sending teleconference invitations and cc’d emails will keep them motivated. But inclusion does not mean engagement. In fact, a teleconference can serve to heighten the feeling of separation. Between rustling paper and mumbling colleagues, your remote workers will spend more time trying to hear what’s being said rather than positively contributing to the discussion.

Instead, think about how you maintain a local presence. You meet colleagues, leaders, stakeholders and customers for face-to-face meetings and coffee catch-ups. You bump into them at the water cooler and have a quick chat about the joint project you’re working on. Or maybe you pass them in the corridor and simply nod as you rush to your next meeting. With all of this face-to-face connection, how can you help your employees build a presence from a completely different location?

Here are three simple ways to engage employees working remotely:                           

1. Coffee anyone?

Never underestimate the power of a meeting or connection over coffee. Just because they are in a different postcode should not exclude employees from a
casual catch-up. Encourage the use of video-conferencing and set up a virtual coffee with key stakeholders, colleagues, managers and customers to check in. With 80 per cent of communication being non-verbal, video conferencing is the gold standard of engaging a remote workforce. Plus, by also investing the time and effort in a regular one-to-one catch-up, you are demonstrating your support and will likely find out any gripes and challenges they aren’t able to share with you in other forums.

2. The digital water cooler

Between time-zone differences, overflowing inboxes and as much as 80 per cent of the day spent in meetings, remote workers can struggle to get access to the information they need in a timely manner. In the face-to-face environment you have the opportunity to bump into critical people around the office, but remote workers don’t have this luxury. Invest in an instant messaging tool to help them drive quick responses with the people they need. If you already have instant messenger, encourage them to use it. A quick virtual chat for two minutes to say g’day and ask any burning questions is a great way to get quick responses without getting lost in the sea of unread emails.

3. Morning greetings

Even the most basic instant messaging tools have a chat function. Use it to drop your remote workers a line in the morning to say hello. It gives you an idea when they are ‘at their desk’. Think of it as walking past them in the office and having a casual morning chat.

By making these simple acts part of your daily connection with remote employees, your whole team and business will benefit from more engaged employees. 

Melitta Hardenberg

Melitta Hardenberg AIMM is extensively experienced in building an organization of ‘exceptional thinkers’ who make better decisions faster, are more engaged, and bring a healthy mind, body and attitude to work. Melitta is an experienced executive coach who has implemented strength-based development programs with clients in the banking & finance sector.

Feedback - How to Receive It
17 June 2014
Feedback - How to Receive It Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM

When asked, most people would say they would like more feedback on their performance. In practice this usually means they would like more positive feedback on their performance. Fewer would say they would like more negative feedback.

Feedback - How to Receive It

by Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM 17 June 2014
However, regardless of the nature of the feedback, there are some simple things you can do to maximise the benefits to you from any feedback.

Feedback is Good for Us

In a previous Management Directions article, some guidelines were offered on the best way to deliver feedback.  If done well, feedback offers three important benefits for the recipients: 

  1. It increases their self awareness and overall emotional intelligence.
  2. It’s an opportunity to develop and improve their performance in the eyes of the person delivering the feedback.
  3. It improves relationships.

Suspend Your Judgement

The single most important thing to remember when receiving feedback is to suspend your judgement of the person delivering the feedback.  If you think the person lack’s credibility, it is unlikely you will listen effectively and/or give the feedback the attention it may deserve.  Similarly, if you think highly of the person, the feedback may assume a greater value than is warranted.

So, hold your judgement of the person and focus on the feedback – at least until you have some quiet time later to reflect on the messages being sent.

Four Tips for Receiving Feedback 

  1. Listen – this sounds obvious but it is worth reinforcing.  It can be very difficult to give our full attention to the other person, especially if the feedback is negative.  Positive, active listening will enable you to demonstrate your genuine interest in receiving the feedback.
  2. Say “Thank you” – if you treat all feedback as an opportunity to improve, then acknowledge the fact the person has taken the time to pass on the feedback.
  3. Ask for specific examples – this can be tricky.  If the feedback is negative, it can be hard to ask for examples in a neutral tone and without appearing as though you want the person to justify their comments.  If the feedback is positive, it may appear you want the person to elaborate on how good you are.  The primary objective for asking for specifics is so you can identify the exact behaviours that the person thinks should be changed or repeated.
  4. Seek ideas for improvement – asking for the person’s ideas on how you could improve adds to your own bank of knowledge.

After the initial conversation, there are at least two other things that could be worthwhile.  Firstly, follow-up with the person after an appropriate period of time to see if they have noticed any changes or improvement in your performance.  This reinforces the value you perceived from the feedback and provides another opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment to improving your performance.  Secondly, speak with some of your other trusted advisors to see if they have noticed the same behaviours and to seek their advice.

Feedback has, somewhat dramatically, been described as the “Breakfast of Champions”, suggesting that great leaders seek feedback as part of their quest to constantly improve.  Regardless of what value you place on feedback, the steps above will help you maximise the potential benefits whilst at the same time, respecting the willingness of the other person to provide that feedback.

Shaun Ridley

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.

WA Boom and Bust: Critical Challenges Facing HR
11 June 2014
WA Boom and Bust: Critical Challenges Facing HR Andrea Walters AFAIM

AIM WA recently hosted its first HR Futures Forum boardroom series, attended by senior Human Resources leaders from across a range of sectors to discuss the “Boom and Bust Economy in WA: Critical Challenges Facing the HR Professional."

WA Boom and Bust: Critical Challenges Facing HR

by Andrea Walters AFAIM 11 June 2014

The session was opened with a presentation by Meredith Hammat, Secretary at Unions WA.

Other guests at the forum were:

  • Llewellyn Rogers, Manager HR, HBF
  • Kelly Carter, General Manager HR, Doric Group
  • Kevin Hollingsworth FAIM, Executive VP HR and OD, Clough Ltd
  • Jane Harries, General Manager HR, Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers
  • Claire Swyny AFAIM, Group Manager OD, Monadelphous Group Ltd
  • Ian Jackson FAIM, General Manager People Strategy RAC
  • Kaye Butler AFAIM, General Manager HR, Chevron
  • Donna McKonkey, Senior HR Advisor, Iluka Resources

Whilst acknowledging the importance of the economic cycle to the mining, resources, construction and related sectors, all of which are vital to the West Australian economy, these are not the biggest employers in the state and this wasn’t the main focal point for the discussion. The issues facing employers tend to be the same, regardless of the current position on the economic cycle.

So, what are the issues keeping HR professionals awake at night?

Those present at the event identified a significant disconnect between organisational policy, Fair Work legislation and the ‘lived’ experience of employees when it comes to a number of the critical workplace challenges facing organisations today and into the future.  It was argued that organisational culture and the daily actions of line managers and senior executives have by far the greatest impact on issues relating to engagement in the workplace.

The group also felt it is incumbent on the HR professional to push harder for a seat and greater influence in the C-suite. Broad-based HR expertise and sufficient skill in articulating the commercial case for interventions and strategies that shape organisational culture, increase productivity and drive business success are essential for HR professionals. A focus on strategic, rather than transactional HR activities is required, along with a more open and collaborative environment within the HR community that enables greater sharing of strategies that work and those that don’t.

Trust-building between employers and staff (beginning with employers), along with a commitment to reasonable wages, genuine ‘lived’ workplace experiences around diversity, a focus on skills development and broad-based productivity measures (not just labour costs/output measurement) were argued as enablers to a loyal workforce and a sustainable business, regardless of economic cycle.

Critical challenges identified for future discussion by the HR Futures Forum were:

  • Workforce diversity; increasing participation by under-represented groups (women, indigenous, ageing etc.) and the ‘lived’ and truly flexible culture required to support this

  • Increasing productivity - a complex challenge that must nevertheless be faced and supported by measures and data that track productivity over time

  • Youth unemployment – this is everyone’s issue in terms of social impact – so who is thinking about this?

  • Workplace bullying – this is not just a blue collar worker issue.
Andrea Walters

Andrea Walters AFAIM is Director, Personal Membership Services at the Australian Institute of Management in WA with responsibility for delivering a diverse range of professional development and networking services to members. These include professional events (such as the AIM WA Business Book Club), the Member Mentor Program and various online management development resources and partner services.

"Moneyball" and Business
05 June 2014
"Moneyball" and Business Peter Byala

If, as Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball” demonstrates, there were century old inefficient “sacred cows” in baseball, are there equally inefficient “sacred cows” in business?

"Moneyball" and Business

by Peter Byala 05 June 2014

“Moneyball” documented the fortunes of the early 2000s Oakland Athletics, a major league baseball team in the United States. In particular the book focussed on General Manager Billy Beane who had the courage to challenge the established baseball dogma that had existed since the nineteenth century. Beane questioned the standard performance measures that had always been used to evaluate baseball talent and that determined the salary level of major league players. By using advanced statistical analysis he established that there were skills that were highly correlated with winning that had been totally disregarded by baseball. By acquiring players who had these skills the Athletics were able to compete successfully with teams that had triple their payroll. These teams had been potentially overpaying for the “sacred cow” wisdom of baseball.

The lessons in baseball could equally apply in business. Are there widely held, unchallenged beliefs that could lead to the inefficient use of valuable organisational resources? Jake Breeden’s book, “Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues” is an attempt to answer this question. Here is an interpretation of three of the “sacred cows” that he examines.

Creativity

Most organisations unquestioningly value creativity and the creative process on the assumption that inertia is death. However creativity for creativity’s sake can often lead to changes that organisations do not need and products that consumers do not want. Studies have indicated that creative initiatives are more likely to be adopted if championed by individuals who score high on narcissism indices. The end result can often lead to a return on ego rather than a return on investment.

Collaboration   

Organisations often treat as gospel the concept of teamwork and collaborative decision making. However collaboration can hide a lack of accountability and mask the inability to make a decision. Breeden discusses the example of RIM, the company responsible for the Blackberry, which utilised a dual CEO structure. One of the CEOs believed that the Blackberry Playbook should be launched as a consumer product. The other CEO favoured a business to business product. As a result of compromises made the Playbook was launched as neither in particular and there was very little market interest. The results of this collaborative process may partially explain why the Blackberry significantly trails the iPhone in the global smartphone market.

Excellence

The word “Excellence” appears in many an organisations’ mission, vision or values statement. However an attempt to achieve excellence in every process can lead to budget blowout and unnecessary delays. If a product is too excellent it may arrive in the marketplace too late. Breeden has a four step process for making meaningful progress. 1) Get it; 2) Get it Done; 3) Get it Out There; 4) Get Over It.

So do you have the courage of Billy Beane and are you prepared to challenge the “sacred cows” that may exist in your organisation? 


Peter Byala

Peter Byala FAIM is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Corporate Services) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. He is a member of CPA Australia and has had extensive experience in financial roles across a number of diverse sectors.

What to Do When the Customer is Wrong
02 June 2014
What to Do When the Customer is Wrong Dr Shaun Ridley FAIM