Friday, July 27, 2007

Microsoft.Net NSW Cluster

I did a presentation on talent retention strategies for the NSW 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.