Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Prize giving and Graduation

Management Consultancy International held our annual prize giving ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of learning and development managers and also to reward excellence that was displayed by candidates.
Prize winners included:
Daniel Fluckiger from Allianz Insurance as training manager of the year. Daniel is committed to training and passionate about everything he does. He has introduced new training programs to the business and these are positively received and are making a big impact.
Learning and Assessment team of the year went to the L and D team from Napoleon Perdis Cosmetics. They put together superb TAA portfolios and showed their commitment to the process.
Program of the year went to Perisher Blue where they have been working towards their Certificate 4 in Frontline Management. The portfolios received were of a very high standard and the group participation in the program was excellent - what's more they are applying the skills acquired.
Other prize winners include Tanya Mittaga from Toll Personnel as Training Administrator of the Year for her skills and commitment to rolling out a national program in Frontline Management.
Students recognised for the high level of their portfolios of evidence include Andy Harcombe from Tyco, Matthew Attard from Sensis and Spiro Tzvaris from FujiXerox.

Lego Serious Play

What a remarkable response to the introduction of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology into Australia!
We held our first breakfast session where we did a demo of the process to a group of 20 participants who were actively participating. All responded in a positive way and many comments included:
"This could be really useful for my organisation when a new project team gets together"
"I would look to use this to offer a different way of ensuring that people listen to OHS messages."
One of the activities of the day included a surprise instruction that involved change. The reaction from some of the participants was really interesting as they grappled with including the changes into their models. The looks on their faces were in some cases anxious to say the least and one participant commented angrily: "Why couldn't she have said something a lot sooner!"
This highlighted to the group just how tough it can be to introduce even the smallest changes that unsettle the team and create a range of responses - not all of them positive!
The use of the bricks in telling the stories of what is currently going on in organisations was also so interesting - one participant used the red transparent bricks to show the "blood that is flowing in his organisation". The bricks become a powerful metaphor that is readily shared and understood - we sure felt his pain!
Have a look at some of the amazing models that were built during the session which reflect challenges that participants are facing at work.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Yesterday I ran a highly successful session at a major publishing organisation using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology as a basis for a Creative Thinking program. The participants included managers and team members from a range of different divisions including marketing, conferencing and editorial.
The day covered areas such as how to use imagination in different ways; how to involve a wide diversity of team members in generating ideas; how to work with the concept of 'flow'; how to create challenges through change; practical application of the 6 hats thinking concepts and action strategies for reviving and refreshing teams who are feeling 'flat'.
The outcomes from the day were some very useful designs for the way forward as well as some deep insights into how the team could function more effectively moving forward.
The participants are so keen to spread the word in the organisation that they want to start a legolution!
Comments from the day indicate just how much the participants benefited from the session:
"Everyone in this business should do this program!"
"I saw different ways of thinking and of imagining."
"I learnt about the various creative thinking techniques and how to improve my team's creative discussion"
"Loved every minute of it! A very warm and accepting environment to take risks and explore new ideas and ways of thinking."
"Helped me to understand methods for unlocking creative thought"
"Lots of fun. Very inspirational"
"Took me out of the doldrums in terms of leading my team through changes"
"The course covered a number of strategies that I can use on a regular basis with my team."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

School Business Week

I was asked to mentor a group of school children in Year 10 who are participating in Business Week. The aim of the week is to encourage children to understand the world of business and they work through a business simulation activity.
I felt it really important to be there as there were no other female mentors participating - this sends the signal to girls that the world of business is only open to males.
The group was working on the launch of a hotel and had to fulfil various functions such as setting a budget, launching a marketing campaign and issuing shares.
One girl in the group was in tears as the 'CEO' of the team had spoken to her harshly. A fellow student came to console her and I listened in to the conversation. The fellow student spoke to the tearful student with such a high level of emotional intelligence and with a maturity beyond her years. She showed her how to use empathy and see things from someone else's perspective.
I was really impressed by the use of this skill and asked the girl who provided the counselling what her role was in this hotel launch.
I am the HR Manager she said! Well, of course she was...

Monday, November 12, 2007


View this video to get a sense of what is possible through a LEGO SERIOUS PLAY session and imagine how you could use this methodology to suit the needs of your organisation.


The great thing about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is that is has so many adaptations to a range of different organisational situations. This is the first time that Australian businesses have use of this methodology through the official LEGO-r channels and what an opportunity it is!
We are currently using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in the following cases:
1. We are delivering training to an organisation that needs to become more innovative and generate a culture of innovation in all teams. We have designed a day that includes De Bono's 6 hats thinking as well as some of the key principles of the LEGO methodology - working with hand-mind connections; inclusivity of all those in a meeting; effective brainstorming that moves from the individual to the group; differentiating between the different types of imagination and how these could be used effectively and also setting guiding principles for the facilitation of future innovation meetings.
2. We are also working with teams who are in a range of functional areas and who don't always see each other. How do they feel connected to the business goals and how do they establish a network amongst themselves so that they feel supported and not isolated. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY's real time team strategy day fits perfectly with this purpose and ensures that there is no more 'Lonely Guy' syndrome. Everyone becomes part of the system and feels that they are an important player in maintaining the system.
3. We are designing sessions that relate to culture change. One of Australia's top businesses wants to improve the team members' attitudes towards customer service. At present customer service representatives don't see the importance to the business of a strong customer service ethic and don't know how serving a customer better could in fact give them a more perfect day at work. They are currently stressed and face a range of conflict situations with no skills to resolve them. LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is going to be integrated into changing the outlook of the team members and their coordinators through a range of activities. These include allowing the team members to have a basic understanding of the Johari window and how these perceptions of themselves and how others perceive them are integrated into their total personality. There are also activities designed to allow the team members to build their own versions of team strategy and to feel how incidents from the outside have an impact on this strategy - they have the opportunity to act out how they would react in these situations and set their own team wisdom should these events occur.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I spent the most incredible week in the USA with an amazing group of participants learning how to facilitate a range of sessions using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology.
Watch out Australia as Management Consultancy International incorporates this powerful tool into a range of applications for business. We will soon be updating our website to include more information and demonstrate the strong impact that LEGO SERIOUS PLAY has on team development and strategic thinking. Management Consultancy International has acquired the licence to use the process in Australia and we will soon bombard you with lots more detail.

The process incorporates story-telling and is inclusive of all participants. No more meetings where few contribute and no overall buy-in achieved. Using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY ensures full participation and the possibility of accomplishing more in 1 day than is otherwise possible. There are many other advantages as well as so many different ways of applying the methodology as required by teams and the outcomes they are seeking to achieve. It is a great tool for team building as well as development of

There were participants on the training program from just about every continent and as the group grappled with the process, firm bonds formed - yet more proof of the effectiveness of the tool in so many settings.
It was interesting being a participant instead of a facilitator and certainly the same old principles of learning apply - you get out as much out of the training as you put in and you learn so much from your fellow participants.

To give you a preview of what we learnt, have a look at some of the photos of the group in action:

Friday, September 14, 2007

HR Week 2007

I ran a session at the NSW AHRI week on talent retention strategies in call centres.
Callan McDonnell from Suncorp shared the stage to share a case study of what Suncorp had done to improve retention in their high volume areas.
We described the initial situation to the group of attendees and asked them to suggest ideas of what they would have done to work towards a higher retention level.
Here is a sampling of some of their suggestions:
  • Introduce a rewards and incentive process toboost levels of morale
  • Re-frame job titles to give a greater sense of meaning to the role and also to demonstrate that their positions are appreciated
  • Introduce clear progression pathways
  • Set a development program
  • Introduce a rotation system if possible
  • If possible, personalise the desks and introduce a well-being program
  • Set clearer expectations of what the job is about and build the employment brand
  • Conduct a culture survey of staff to determine what staff expectations are
  • Look at a more structured management system that understands competencies requirements and routes for advancement
  • Create more opportunities for fun at work
  • Streamline recruitment processes to also allow for flexibility
  • Introduce a mentoring program for team leaders
  • During the recruitment interview show both the positive and negative aspects of the job
  • Introduce assessment centres to look at applicability of person to the role

Transport Supervisory program

Toll’s new Transport Supervisor Program targets our unsung heroes!
Over sixty-five of Toll’s unsung heroes – its frontline supervisors and managers - have enlisted in the ‘Transport Supervisor Program’, an initiative of Toll Personnel. The program is a ten-day training workshop which leads to them to gaining the highly valued Certificate IV in Frontline Management qualification.
The course is conducted in non-consecutive days and focuses on issues which face all frontline manager; including teamwork, communication, conflict resolution OH&S and conflict management. Participants represent the whole spectrum of Toll Group’s.
Tanya Mittiga, organiser of the program sees this as an opportunity to both crystallise participants’ understanding of management issues as well as network with colleagues from Toll’s different divisions; “It’s so exciting to see our frontline managers so keen to learn and share their ideas about effective management”, “Our supervisors and front-line managers really are responsible for generating Toll’s bottom line - so it’s great to be able to offer them a chance for professional and career development”.
The training is conducted in a hands-on manner, with brief lectures punctuated by activities, discussions, role-plays as well as presentation skills workshops. Participants have also been lucky enough to have guest speakers from around the Toll group.
Upon completion of the course, participants will be eligible for their Certificate IV in Frontline Management - a highly valued, nationally recognised qualification. Ambitious participants can even continue their studies by enrolling into a Diploma in Frontline Management.
Gavin Wedell, head facilitator of Management Consultancy International, the Registered Training Organisation conducting the training says that response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive; “The frontline managers really are the unsung heroes in any organisation. These are the men and women at the coal-face of the business. All too often we see insufficient attention paid to them, so it’s great to see the Toll Group being so proactive in offering professional development for its supervisors.” “What’s also so nice is that the training is heavily focussed around people skills - it’s not unusual for our frontline managers to have never had any formal training in management, with many having worked their way up to management roles in the organisation. What we’re giving these guys is a chance to crystallise what they’ve already learned on the job about management and also a chance to learn some new ideas to bolster their effectiveness.”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Staff Engagement

I listened to a fascinating presentation by Kevin Panozza, chief executive of Hewitt Best Employer award winning enterprise, SalesForce. His attitude towards staff development and his commitment to achieving an engaged workforce come across very strongly.
Here is a summary of some of what he had to say in his dynamic presentation at the AHRI luncheon

Sales Force is an outsourced contact centre with 5000 seats. The business has displayed consistent profit growth
Kevin says that within all relationships, expectations are set for us/ by us: whether or not these expectations are met increases or decreases the level of satisfaction.
Therefore in a corporate culture where staff expectations are met, this leads to positive corporate culture. Often the call centre is perceived as a threat/ burden.
Staff engagement = the measure of how people feel about being at work.
It is essential that staff feel good about being at work if you want to serve the customer well - particularly in call centres which are often described as sweat shops.
What are the eight enemies of engagement? If you know what they are then what can you do about

Enemy Number 1:

Uniformity – making everyone the same. Accentuate the whole leads to the individual feeling diminished. Rather, celebrate the individual as a strategy: Be yourself dress code, personalised work stations, no hot desking, performance based remuneration, develop a leadership pool, hold competition and events. The Sales Force culture = sum of individuals attitudes.

Culture depends on its people and not the other way around.

Enemy Number 2 – Rule driven behaviour. Do it because you are scared. Not being able to make decisions for yourself makes people stressed.

Instead – Have simple guidelines, empower team members, recruit intuitively, recruit for attitude, invest in training. There might well be a solid corporate structure but ultimately it is the agent that talks to the customer. Intuitive behavious is to be encouraged.

Enemy Number 3 – Don’t let call centre look drab – have lots of colour everywhere. Dullness in countries with no sun leads to more suicides. Create atmosphere for creativity.

Enemy Number 4 – Isolation. When the headset is on and computer screen on, you can feel isolated. Use communication – is not a staff newsletter. Interactive training and interactive group interviews to keep close. Team leaders do conversations to see how people are travelling. Tell them if they are living up to expectations.

Sales Force has 'Chairs in' = one on ones for honest feedback. 10 minutes of honest feedback with manager once a fortnight.

Enemy Number 5 – Being taken for granted. Cost of replacing an experienced agent is $10,000. Rather - Use recognition strategies, Awards events, certificates, Chairman’s award. Socialising with work mates, team outings, vouchers, Certificates of attendance, occupancy, turning up on time. Issue these publicly.

Enemy Number 6 – The deep end = you feel lost. Rather have a strategy – go through induction program. Go through the Sales Force Rainbow book. How will you make way in your environment.

Enemy Number 7 – Lack of career opportunities. Instead look at team development as a strategy – find people and help them to get ahead. If you want to get ahead, there are opporunities galore and a brochure that describes how to get ahead. The Sales Force business has an internal RTO that provides training up to a Diploma level, and there is encouragement to do courses.

Enemy Number 8 – Boredom & Tedium – Scripts that need to be followed. Your strategy should be it’s ok to have fun at work. Competitions, dress up days, events, international food day and parties.

There is no doubt that there is a link between commercial performance and staff engagement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John Kotter

An amazing session with an amazing man. I would love to crawl inside John Kotter's head and download all the information stored there.
Prof Kotter is dean at Harvard Business School and has some great insights into leadership and what makes change work in an organisation. He is emphatic that there is a difference between management and leadership, with both skills sets being equally needed. Management is all about planning, budgeting, organising, staffing, controlling and problem-solving - anything that makes an organisation run efficiently.
Visionary leadership on the other hand is about creating strategy and ensuring buy-in to that vision; motivating for action and helping an organisation to grow and evolve and adapt to changing circumstances.
Leadership is needed at all levels and no great CEO can do the job on their own.
Kotter's latest book is a parable on change and how penguins cope when the iceberg around them starts melting. This is the time we need a team - not a committee! This is the time to get complacency down - not by leaving anxious people behind - but by really talking and influencing people. It is not simply a case of throwing data at people and hoping they will read it.
When we empower others to act, we ensure that people do not become cynical when barriers appear. Instead we change the systems and structures that are creating the blockages.
Kotter used 2 Australian case studies of change leadership in action - one was the ANZ story of the breakout program and the other case study was on Centrelink and how they reacted in the hurricane disaster relief work.
Kotter's final message was, "Don't over-complicate things" - we all can make a difference.
What was also interesting was Kotter's facilitation style. He only uses videos, stories and discussion - nothing else. Something that we could follow as an example

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bruce Copley

What an uplifting and energising session that we had yesterday with Bruce Copley. The passion for learning that he generates is totally inspiring and if we could all take such a passionate approach to all our learning interventions, the impact would be immense.
Some of Bruce's thoughts:
  • Sometimes it is worth taking things that are old and re-birthing them. Not every learning intervention needs to be revolutionary
  • Learning always involves change - we need a heightened awareness of things around us and we can't be on auto-pilot
  • We have choices in life that lead us to either walk or fly. We all reach the same destination but is there a better way of getting there. Trainers can be 'edutainers' who guide learners who take their own responsibility for learning
  • Incorporate stories into training - it adds lightness to what we do. Work is an intense form of being and we need to include some lightness
  • Not everything needs to be rehearsed before an intervention takes place. Have the trust in the process and understand that you can't always control the outcome. The only thing that you do have control over is the amount of passion that you bring to the process
  • Ask learners what they want to get out of the session and have a deep respect for their intent - learn to listen deeply
  • All the questions will be answers and all the answers will be questions
  • Keep asking participants what do they want and why do they want it - reach at the true intention and the real objective of the session
  • Create a sense of wonder during the day - something is waiting for the learner at the end that is good and positive
  • Integrate games - life is a game in itself, life is a play
  • Keep asking the question of yourself - where to from here? What else will this session give rise to?
  • Know the difference between the map and the territory. The map provides the way, the systems and the models and the territory provides us with the knowing. Territory and the map equates to wisdom
  • There is a difference between teaching, facilitating and animating - animating is the highest form of being together
  • If someone takes 1 thing from a session and integrates it into their life and then shows it to someone else the cycle is complete. You become a catalyst for change in someone else
  • We are all connected to the larger system and what we do has an impact on other parts of the system.
For a demonstration of the 'toothpaste' exercise have a look soon on our mci website:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Microsoft.Net NSW Cluster

I did a presentation on talent retention strategies for the NSW Microsoft.net cluster. There was some very interesting discussion and excellent suggestions were made.
I suggested to the group that there are a whole range of strategies that could be adopted to ensure that staff remain in the business. Some of the tactics could include
  • Learning and development programs
  • Mentoring possibilities
  • Good human resource practices - such as following the Investors in People framework
  • Taking care of the small things - thanking people and providing the right tea or coffee.
Companies adopt strategies that suit them best and survey to determine what would encourage people to stay. An example would be from St Georges bank where 2 new strategies have been promoted recently in the media - one was to offer grandparents some form of leave to take care of grandchildren and the other was to allow those who stayed for 5 years and took a slightly lower salary base, one year off to travel and explore.

In terms of determining a solution for your own business, one possible way forward would be to hold 'stay' interviews. Don't wait until people leave and give you an exit interview - which might in any event not reflect their true feelings.

The .net cluster meeting worked on devising the types of questions that could be asked in the 'stay' discussion. This conversation could be conducted one on one or could be done in a focus group - but not through email or through a formal survey.

Here are some of the superb suggested questions for a 'stay' interview:
  1. What do you like about our organisation?
  2. What motivates you in the workplace?
  3. What motivates you as an individual?
  4. What would you change about this company?
  5. What are your ambitions?
  6. What career plan do you have in mind for yourself?
  7. What can we do to make your life easier here?
  8. How was your last month - what was the high point and what was the low point?
  9. What would you do differently here?
  10. What could we do to allow you to perform your job better?
  11. Are you happy with my performance as a manager?
  12. How do you feel about your work?
  13. Let us discuss your goals and set them together
  14. I would like a moment of your time. I would like to get some feedback on how you feel about the business, your role and where the business is going
  15. I would like some feedback on how you feel about the environment, your peers and the professional recognition your receive as well as about our product and clients
  16. How can we challenge you professionally?
  17. I would like to have a chat to you about how it is all going. I am interested to hear if you are happy and if there is anything we can do for you.
  18. We would like to know where you see yourself going
  19. If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing with the organisation
Bear in mind that if you do have these discussions, there needs to be follow-up or some form of action. If people see no change, they will not trust having further conversations with you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I attended a workshop yesterday on the changes that are being implemented for the way in which RTO's are going to be audited in future - and there are definitely some major implications for providers in terms of how they self-assess and the types of documentation that needs to be stored and the processes that will have to be put in place.
The system has changed from being input-based to becoming more outcomes-focused and is certainly a step in the right direction as it should improve the quality of delivery and assessment.
There are certainly a range of issues that were discussed at the workshop that are going to need to be taken cautiously by RTO's and as this system is new, we will have to trust that it will take time to solidify and settle in.
Of concern to us was the mention of RTO's being measured now on the rate of completion of candidates and this is something that could determine whether the RTO is high risk or not. With so many factors affecting completion rates, many of which are beyond the control of the RTO, this does seem to be a rather stringent measure.
I would welcome discussion from other RTO's as to their views on this new auditing process and also whether they feel that the vocational system in Australia is mature enough to cope with outcomes-based auditing. This was a very pertinent question raised by one of the VETAB auditors and in the room the feeling was that RTO's could be ready, but are the auditors ready to make the huge mindshift that they need to do in order to make the system work?

Lunch with Optus CEO

WOW, Wow and wow again. Paul O'Sullivan, CEO of Optus, simply personifies everything we teach about leadership at Management Consultancy International.
In a luncheon talk yesterday where he shared the platform with John Bell, Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare Company, he spoke about what his business goals and strategies are. "We create competition and choice" and in order to do this he places his people and customer service as key drivers. "It's all about the little bit of care that you take that makes all the difference to the customer experience".
In fact the business is moving to the new campus in North Ryde and the design of the building is to allow for collaboration between teams to come up with better ways of serving the customer.
Paul says that one of the reasons that Optus is involved in the sponsorship of the Bell Shakespeare company is that it is part of their strategy to attract top talent into the business. An organisation that is doing good things is more likely to attract the brightest and best who are looking to work in an innovative environment. The sponsorship also allows internal staff to become involved and participate in exciting ventures such as designing podcasts on Shakespeare.
When asked how Optus continues to be innovative, Paul responded by saying that no organisation should become complacent. Every challenge needs to be looked at in a new light and challenges are welcomed as these serve to unlock potential.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Management and Leadership

We have been conducting the Toll Supervisory program and some interesting insights have come to mind that could be applied in other organisations who are implementing the Frontline Management program:
1. We ensured that there were guest speakers from within the business who came along to share their experiences and their 'war stories'. This has allowed the participants to meet members of the senior management team who they would not usually encounter and also to feel more engaged with the business.
2. Where speakers were not available, they have been filmed and shown to other centres who have then discussed some of the suggestions and ideas.
3. Sessions have been video'ed to allow participants who are away to keep up with the program and to ensure that there is continuity. These DVD's are available to all participants as well if they would like to revise any aspect of the program and it would reinforce some of what was learnt.
4. As we had run focus groups prior to the commencement of the training, the case studies and scenarios have hit directly at the types of situations that the supervisors confront. This has ensured that the skills needed to deal effectively with the issues are being practised in the training room.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I attended a most wonderful session today conducted by Edna.edu.au - the online network for educators.
I would encourage all trainers to join up - it is free - and enjoy some of the benefits of being part of this on-line community.
As Mark Twain once said,"I wanted my son to get a good education, so I took him out of school." There is so much that is new and happening on-line in education and training, that it seems such a pity to be conducting training using the same old techniques in the classroom.
I am so pleased that at Management Consultancy International we are going to be exploring how we can integrate some of the new tools into our sessions. We have already started by using video to capture sessions and ensure that the in-house groups receive a copy so that they can refresh at a later date or observe how they interact with others.
We are also going to be looking at using some of these tools as well:
1. Podcasts and hopefully picture podcasts
2. Some videocasts as well
3. Seeing how we can use Wikipedia in the sessions
4. Including Utube videos in our blog
5. Perhaps investigating Second Life as an education forum
6. Introducing an RSS feed.
As soon as I have my head around moodles, breadcrumbs, js tools and feedreaders, we will be moving Management Consultancy International and our clients way into the 21st century of learning. So watch this space....

Bruce Copley

We are so fortunate to have Bruce Copley conduct a learning session at Management Consultancy International on 31 July this year.
Bruce is my guru and has influenced the way in which we design and deliver learning to the 100's of students who come through our doors. I have known Bruce for over 15 years and still remember what I learnt with him all that time ago...
His ideas are simple and effective and make all the difference to ensuring that changes in behaviour genuinely take place. What he says makes sense in terms of incorporating holistic techniques into sessions and creating ice-breaker after ice-breaker to ensure that we don't just teach things but that our students learn.
Whoever gets to use Bruce's techniques quickly turns into a designer with fresh thinking and the ability to design programs that are different - and memorable.
if we ask most learners what they remember of a program 3 months post-training, they run for their course material and try to quickly thumb through the pages. The way in which Bruce guides designers is to ensure lasting impressions and messages that endure with the students.
I would encourage all designers and learning and development professionals to take this opportunity to refresh their thinking and as Bruce puts it:


The modern world is inundated with information, facts, figures and data. This KNOWLEDGE SUNAMI engulfs every aspect of our lives and we are literally and figuratively swamped with an endless array of books, magazines, films, videos, courses, conferences, lectures and workshops. In this dazzling smorgasbord every input we may chose to have, has the potential to become a BUILDING BLOCK OR BRICK in our “house of knowledge”. While these “ bricks” constitute important “parts “ of this house, there is something even more important without which, this house even if it happens to be a mansion will never be strong, firm , integrated or whole. This vitally important component is the CEMENT.
This internationally acclaimed learningshop is firmly anchored in timeless and universal holistic principles and practices and is widely acknowledged as the “ missing link " in education, training and managing. It does not simply offer more bricks but focus rather on the sorely needed CEMENT that holds, bonds, balances and integrates both individual and collective living, learning and loving on this planet.


Anyone who has been to school, college or university or who has attended lectures, seminars and workshops knows from personal experience that very little of what we are told, taught, study or write can be recalled after just a few days. Since we are unable to apply what we have forgotten, the learning efficiency of conventional PowerPoint presentations, lectures, workshops and seminars rarely exceeds a dismal 10% to extend their skills levels.

For more information, see the website and don't miss out on this opportunity.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wayne Swan, Shadow Treasurer, Australian Labour Party

Wayne Swan in his lunchtime address to the Australia Israel Chamber of Business stated that in order to lift productivity levels more investment would be envisaged to skill and educate the workforce.
The ageing population is a definite danger and if we are to lift productivity in Australia, we need to look at participation levels in the workforce - this includes looking at 2nd income earners and reviewing tax rates.
Technical education also needs to be updated and there needs to be an emphasis on school apprenticeships.
All in all, there are imperatives to train more and education is a number one priority.
All of this is music to the ears of learning and development professionals so let's hope this is not just a case of false election promises and no action.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

AHRI Conference 2007 - Main Learning Points

I attended the AHRI conference last week and listened in on an array of exciting local and international speakers.
Here are some of the main points that I picked up on during the presentations.

Fons Trompenaars
Riding the Wave of culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business

How do we create resourceful humans and not necessarily human resources?
  • Diversity is linked to innovation and our HR tools are generally linear-based. The Myers-Briggs measurements for example imply that if we score high on one side, we are low on the other side. It categorises us as thinkers or feelers. Why can we not be both? And if we can be both, which tool could we use to measure this.
  • If we are looking for a balance, this implies compromise and there is nothing worse than that. We need to develop workplaces that are BOTH inclusive and diverse and innovative. We need to take advantage of diversity, of people and things that are unlike us and reconcile this with things that are like us. We don't need balance - we do need integration. It is not a question of either/or. It is And..and.
  • Organisations are made up out of explicit culture and deeper norms and values - values become norms and basic assumptions. We only talk about values when they are not yet norms
  • A dilemma - you are in a car being driven by your close friend. He is speeding and hits a pedestrian and has to go to court. He asks you to lie for him in court and say that he was traveling slowly. Does he have the right to ask you to testify?
  • Our culture determines how we would respond to this dilemma. Our values come in to play when we need to make choices to solve dilemmas. We have 'integrity' as a value - but how does this value help us to answer the dilemma? Different cultures would propose different solutions. One solution might be to influence the driver to respond appropriately in court and place the onus back on him.
  • Leaders use objectivity = the guest point of view and subjectivity = the host point of view. Leadership allows us to connect the opposites.
  • Are you a peach or a coconut culture? - is your culture private or public?
  • Create an environment that encourages innovation through diversity - how can I help you to overcome the obstacles to your ideas?

Dave Ulrich

The Future of HR

What will drive the future of HR? What is the most critical HR decision you could make? "Send your worst performing employee to your competitor!"

  • In HR for the past 40 years we have looked at the things we do, but not at the outcome of what we do - was what we did any good? Are we creating value? And if we don't create value, how can we be a partner in the business?
  • Value is defined by the receiver more than by the giver
  • Some things are so important to do, that they are worth doing badly
  • To create value, start with what the business leaders want - find out what they are worried about and link what we do into what they want. HR is then an enabler to the business agenda and will create value
  • The 4 stakeholders of HR - the employees; the customers; the investors and the line managers. Our focus has tended to be on the employees but now we need to look outside at the investors and the customers and assist line managers to execute their strategy.
  • We build an employee value proposition by - giving the employees a sense of pride in the business; a budget; learning and development opportunities; a good set of peers to work with and good leaders
  • We help line managers by building organisational capacity and by moving the business from the current state to a future state. It is worth doing an organisational audit.
  • We target customers by defining their goals and we build connections with targeted customers - we use their ideas and involve them. We check our L and D curriculum with them to ensure that it is what they would want
  • We create intangible value for investors - the intangible worth of a business is defined by the amount of confidence that investors have in the value of the business. We assist in building a reputation and in ensuring that there values in talent, speed of delivery and efficiency and also goodwill.
  • At every meeting, talk about why HR creates value for these 4 key customers of HR. Run the HR function as though it was a business. Become a human capital developer. There cannot simply be activity in the HR department - it has to lead to an outcome.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Meeting the rich and famous

A bigger twit would be hard to find...
I was fortunate enough to interview Paul Little, the CEO of Toll as part of the start-up of the supervisory program. Paul endorsed the program and welcomed delegates to the training.
He is one of the most highly respected and influential business leaders in Australia and commands an enormous amount of awe from friend and foe. He has been involved in over 20 take-overs and has a tremendous vision and strategy for Toll for the future.
EXCEPT that- nothing recorded!! I held the small video camera really steadily as I was trained to do BUT nothing came out...what an embarrassment...my head hangs in shame...
There is no next time and our one opportunity in a lifetime cannot be repeated.
1. Have Plan B - when it is such a vital time, have 2 cameras in place
2. Delegate - send someone in with the right skill set

Meeting 2
At a lunch for Wayne Swan, I met Phil Burgess, Number 2 to Sol at Telstra. What a superb man - very eloquent and intelligent. He has recently made a very generous donation to the Jewsih Museum in Melbourne of an artifact received from his Aunt and he wanted the Australian immigrant community to have this.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

After many months of hard work our new website is "Live".


If you want some great free information, why not have a look at our articles. We are constantly updating & adding new information, if you have any suggestions please feel free to submit them to us using the contact us page.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Article in Training Australia magazine

I am so excited because this article of mine was published in the latest Training Australia magazine.

Download or View complete Training Australia magazine article here as Adobe PDF.

OR read below:

Check your organisation’s pulse – are you an Investor in People?
Denise Meyerson, Director, Management Consultancy International

It seems like most learning and development practitioners have no difficulty in finding the right places to implement training interventions. But how effective are such interventions? Should management simply spend the money sending staff on a harbour cruise?

Here’s my challenge to learning and development practitioners. Spend a few moments giving thought to a recent training intervention that you either coordinated or delivered. Formulate a single sentence that captures the essence of the goal of this intervention, for example “The report writing training was designed to …”. Next, create a further sentence that clearly describes the impact the training had on the individual or team. Start with these words: “The training resulted in these changes in the level of skills or behaviour in the business:…”. This last sentence should avoid mentioning how much the training participants enjoyed themselves or how wonderful the facilitator was.

It is the follow up evaluation of the effectiveness of training where so many learning and development practitioners trip up. Like any management professionals, we should ask ourselves if the results of our training are both value for money and properly aligned to the goals of the organization.

The potential wastage of resources on poorly developed training interventions is huge. In Australia, the average spend per person on training is $450*. This is in addition to the $2.5 billion in federal funding of the apprenticeship and traineeships schemes this financial year. Add to those figures the $280.6 million set aside by the federal government for skills vouchers and we can begin to understand the massive scale of L&D spending and the potential for squandering these resources on misconceived efforts.

There is little research conducted on the specific impact that training has on business results. As professionals, could we hold our heads high when discussing the impact that our interventions have in terms of concrete business outcomes?
As a training consultant, my mantra is if training doesn’t lead to change, why do it at all?
It would be far better to spend the money on a cruise around Sydney Harbour than engage training where it isn’t needed or appropriate. Not only will it cost you less but I can guarantee that it will also lead to far greater levels of employee motivation and engagement!

Traditionally the development cycle in learning and development has always been “plan, prepare, deliver and assess”. However, this framework is not enough in linking the specific learning generated by training to business performance. A far more useful tool to implement is the ‘Investors in People’ standard. This is the only recognised globally recognised HR. standard used to determine whether an organisation’s performance improves due to a planned approach to people development. The standard is available on the Investors in People website: www.investorsinpeople.co.uk.

The Investors in People benchmark provides us with a framework to continuously evaluate our training and determine what difference our learning strategy makes to the both the participants and the organisation as a whole.
In the UK, over one-third of the workforce work in organizations which use the Investors in People standard. Research has shown the profitability increases that these organisations experience – a jump in annual profit of £353 per employee attributed to Investors in People.*2

Let’s look at Investors in People a little more closely. The standard has 3 main principles; ‘plan’, ‘do’ and ‘review’.

On the Investors in People website, you’ll find a useful tool to help you diagnose your organisation to determine whether you meet the evidence requirements and criteria of the standard. There is no charge for using this tool and it allows you to conduct an internal survey of where stakeholders feel the business stands against the benchmark’s requirements.
Here are some further challenges I have for learning and development professionals who are keen to ensure that their training delivers this elusive ‘return on investment’:
1. Know the budget that is spent on training and express this as a percentage of payroll.2. Start changing the types of conversations that take place around training. Avoid talking about delegates who had positive feedback or training that "all went well". Of course this is important, but it’s more urgent to find out what difference the training made in situ. Once this has been investigated, learn to express it in a few sentences for example "As a result of the intervention, we increased sales by twenty-seven percent” or, “There were better customer feedback reports” or, “we noticed that the team worked more cohesively..". Such success stories need not be strictly quantitative as other factors may provide equally useful information to management.
3. Conduct the ‘Investors in People’ diagnostic and have a strong sense of where you currently stand against the criteria of the standard. Understand the areas of your operation which are close to meeting requirements and areas in which you have further work to do.
4. Set in place some action items that allow you to move closer to the benchmark. Determine realistic goals – it’s no use throwing your hands up in desperation believing that you are too far off the mark to even get started!
5. Never go to a budgeting meeting with a begging-bowl - asking for more money for training. Set yourself the objective of having so many positive stories illustrating the impact of training on the organisation that purse-holders are keen to provide the funds.
In summary, all learning and development practitioners know that investing in people makes commercial sense. It’s now our task to prove this in a more concrete manner. The Investors in People framework provides a way of monitoring your progress. Remember: What gets measured, gets done! Investors in People can help us make these measurements to guide your journey forward.

* This figure is quoted in the latest survey of the retail industry 2006
*2 This is figure quoted in extensive research available on www.investorsinpeople.co.uk

Denise Meyerson PhD
Denise is the Managing Director of Management Consultancy International, a leading provider of training solutions and an advising organisation for the Investors in People standard. Visit our website on www.mci.edu.au

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

AITD Conference

I spoke last week at the Australian Institute for Training and Development conference in Melbourne. My topic was - Check Your organisation's Pulse - are you an Investor in People?
We had some very positive feedback with many delegates saying that this was the most worthwhile session of the conference and the most inspiring.
I discussed what needs to be in place in an organisation beyond the traditional learning and development cycle of plan, prepare, deliver and assess. This framework certainly needs to be there but it is not nearly sufficient in terms of linking learning to business needs. A far more useful benchmarking tool is the Investors in People standard which is the only recognised HR standard used worldwide to determine whether an organisation improves its business performance through a planned approach to people development.
The standard is available on the Investors in People website - www.investorsinpeople.co.uk
There is also a very useful tool there on how you could diagnose your own organisation to determine whether you meet the evidence requirements and criteria of the standard.
In Australia the average spend per person on training is $450 (this figure is quoted in the latest survey of the retail industry). in addition to this there is $2.5 billion in federal funding of the apprenticeship and traineeships schemes for this financial year. There is also a further $280.6 million set aside by the government for skills vouchers to boost skills shortages.
With all these telephone numbers floating around of money spent on training, there is little research being done on the impact that this training is having on business.
My mantra is:
If training does not lead to change, why do it at all? Rather spend the money on a cruise around Sydney Harbour - it will cost you less and also lead to a more motivated workforce who are so pleased to have had the day off work.
Investors in People allows us to continuously evaluate our training and determine what difference it is making to the organisation as a whole or at least to individuals.
My challenge to the group was to:
1. Find out the budget that is spent on training and express this as a % of payroll.
2. Start changing the types of conversations that take place about training. Don't talk so much about the fact that delegates were "happy" with the training or that "all went well". This is important but more urgent is to find out what difference the training has made and to express this in a few sentences. "As a result of the intervention, the following happened. We increased sales or there were better customer feedback reports.."
Have fun using the Investors in People framework and if you decide that you would like to be externally audited so that you can join many of the top organisations worldwide who have met the standard, we can certainly arrange a quotation for you in this regard.

Monday, March 26, 2007

AQTF 2007

I attended a presentation by VETAB on what the new changes are for RTO's in terms of their quality assurance. There are in fact substantial changes and the focus is going to be more strongly on learning and assessment. If a person is awarded a qualification, the person needs to be genuinely competent and at a level of competence acceptable to industry.
Because skills shortages have moved higher up on the national agenda, the vocational training area is under scrutiny to ensure that more people are qualified with high level skills.
COAG in Feb 2006 set a national commitment to reviewing and amending the AQTF standards and ensuring that it moved to an outcomes-based model to improve confidence in the national training system.
The changes to how RTO's will be audited are substantial and cover 3 standards. The other criteria are now covered in conditions of registration.
RTO's and auditors will need to get used to the new standards and the intention is to phase them in from July 2007.
As RTO's we will need to keep documentation of what impact our training is having on the learners and on the organisation. We will also need to keep records of what our students have achieved and changed in their skills levels and behaviour.
In addition to the new criteria, RTO's will also have the oppportunity to demonstrate excellence and to be either 'quality committed' or 'outstanding'. These new quality standards will be used for both internal and external assessment and will cover areas such as leadership in the RTO, people development, management systems and so on.
A final version of the new RTO standards will be on www.training.com.au in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Trainer development

I ran a session yesterday for a group of assessors in one of the public sector organisations.
A wonderful and dedicated group who participated fully in the day and had a refresher on some of their assessment skills, discussed challenges that are coming up for them in terms of the assessment they do and also spent some time validating their practices.
Some key learnings that came out of the session were:
1. The extent of a robust assessment system. If you take the time to draw who is involved in your assessment system and how many stakeholders there are, I think it is surprising how wide the net goes.
2. In validation, look at all aspects of an assessment system including all pillars in the temple of quality - policies around assessment; systems and processes; human and physical resources.
3. Communication issues came out as being a major hurdle to effective roll-out of assessment - involve the supervisor; give them a briefing on why assessment is so important and also de-brief them on the assessment result. Keep a constant stream of communication going as this adds to building a robust assessment system.
4. Remind ourselves of what it is like to be a candidate and have empathy for candidates - develop a strong code of conduct for assessors that includes confidentiality as well as providing support and being patient as candidates might not have English as a first language.
My hat off to this group of assessors - a true example of what assessors can achieve if they work as a team and support each other in the process.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Performance Appraisal

I listened in on a performance appraisal training session at a major insurance company.
Some notions that came to mind:

As an HR manager one should clarify what intention of the session is. It is essential to have a very clearly understanding of what is the outcome to be achieved. Is the intention to have managers and team members understand the appraisal document and process OR to ensure that people have the skills to deal with the appraisal session OR all of the above.

Performance appraisals are such a touchy topic – they touch on $’s. Get the organisation to state very clearly where remuneration fits in appraisal.
Try to ensure that there is someone internal to the organisation who is capturing the developing ideas and feedback from the session. So many suggestions that came out during the session were not heard and were not recorded therby lost to the organisation.
Be prepared for the questions. Spend time pre-empting all the types of possible and probable questions that could arise during the session. Receive input from a range of people in the organisation as to the types of questions that could arise. List these questions. Rehearse, replay and rehearse again answers to these questions. Get your wording right.
During the session get the questions out on the table. Rather raise the concerns in the room - this is far better than people leaving the room and setting off a range of grapevining amongst themselves. The more transparent the session, the less noise there will be afterwards.
Ask: "Your views please" and "What are the questions?” Not: “Are there any questions?”
Get team members to work in groups to come up with questions; list them on a flip chart. Call for people to comment and do not shy away from the questions – this creates the feeling that the organisation has a hidden agenda.
Make everything as visible as possible. Don’t just talk - use hand-outs, diagrams, posters, powerpoint slides. Say your key messages again and again. People hear what they want to hear. Offering the same message in different ways allows a better opportunity for the group to absorb the message.

I went to a luncheon with guest speaker, the Minister of Health, Tony Abbott. After telling him that he is the best looking Cabinet minister, I easily managed to have a photo taken with him. He certainly leads by example – when he talks about health and well-being he embodies his principles. He keeps his own fitness levels high and works with charities that support well-being.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Contact Centre Training

Yesterday we were at a planning session for the introduction of a Certificate 4 in Customer Contact into a call centre for a major logistics organisation.We developed an interesting way of implementing the qualification that will allow employees who are eligible for government funding as well as those who are not eligible, to participate in the program and to derive full benefits.The process for the roll-out of the program will include:An induction session - this will include information about the program and the what's in it for me factor.The Apprenticeship Centre will sign up those candidates who are eligible for state and/or federal funding.MCI will run a series of focus groups - the aim of these sessions is to uncover what the main pain points are; where the training should be directed and what key areas need addressing. We will also be gathering information about case studies and incidents that have occurred and that could have been dealt with more effectively.A training schedule is being established and here is where the difference lies. MCI charges the organisation per day of training and not per employee. This allows the non-eligible trainees to participate as the overall funding will cover the daily training rate and will be sufficient to incorporate all the needs of the business.Training and one on one assessment will get underway and we will keep you informed on progress.
Posted by Denise Meyerson at 12:54 AM

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Welcome to our new Blog

This is our very first entry. Stay tuned as we put up some great information relating to training & education.