Friday, November 26, 2010

HR Success and Dave Ulrich

What an amazing evening to acknowledge HR success! And Management Consultancy International was there to share in the success.

AHRI is the premier human resources institute of Australia and last night was the event that celebrated all the incredible interventions, events and processes that top companies have put in place.

We were nominated in the category of HR Leadership in a Small Business and we were immensely proud to be recognized for the initiatives we have taken that made all the difference to the way in which we do business.

We were recognized for the innovative way in which we created a diverse workplace and at the same time acted in a socially responsible way. Our nomination for the award acknowledged the very different way in which we conducted recruitment and how we used a very different way of ensuring that our work environment became more diverse in its make-up.

A surprise factor at the AHRI awards - we are siting calmly and listening to the award winners being called on to the stage and next thing who walks on to the stage, none other than HR guru Dave Ulrich! And the next thing he begins to share some great insights with us!

He spoke about his simple vision for the future of HR. He says that it revolves around three simple questions - Why are we here? What do we do? How do we do it?

The answers to these questions revolve around the acronym VOLTAGE.

The V is for value.

The value that we create in a company is defined more by the receiver than the giver. In HR it is not about what we do. It is about the amount of value that we create. We need to work from the outside in. It is all about the value that we bring to the lives of the people who work in the organisation.

The O is for outcomes. We should be called the field of talent. Individual talent does not create the success of the team. If you look at the Oscars, only 15 percent of movies that win best picture of the year also have best actor awards as well. HR's job is therefore to define the capabilities needed to get the organization to be the best and to ensure that these capabilities are demonstrated. HR needs to worry less about structure and focus instead on capability.

The L is for leadership. Build a leadership brand that is filled with emotion and passion.

T is for talent. How do we create the right environment where people give their hearts and soul.

A is for align. We align our HR work with our customers. We need to question whether we are aligned with our community and with our investors.

G is for govern. Yes, we do follow compliance and governance but how do we take all this knowledge and ensure that there is productivity in the organization.

E is for expertise. We are investing in the next generation. Manage all the opposites. Manage the balance of the pendulum. Ensure that you leave things better than you found them.

Create value through VOLTAGE and in this way you will get all the elephants to dance. Ensure that all people are cared for personally and managed professionally.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Communication and presentation tips

I had the pleasure of listening to Barbara Warren from NIDA. She gave us some really good tips for using our voice well when communicating and presenting.

1. Good communication is about being aware. It is about being committed. It is about giving eye contact to bring people in. Be specific. Speak in language that is uplifting and specific.

2. Don't hold tension in your shoulders. Release your breath.

3. Voice needs space in the mouth. Voices will carry if we put sound behind it. Posture is so important for voice to carry.

4. Put your antennae up. And make sure your headlights on. Fill the room with light.

5. Be in control of yourself to be in control of your space.

6. Do lots of vocal warm-ups. Pretend to catch bees in the shower...

7. Put oomph into the voice and don't let it get stuck in throat.

8. When you umm and ahhh it is to the detriment of the quality of communication. Use your breath instead of an um and or an ah. Stretch the jaw and flatten out speech. Bring in energy.

9. Follow through and be specific - be careful about how you say things.

10. Value language and speaking face to face.

11. When you speak too quickly, modify the pace of language by breathing properly. Not just half breathing. Get our sounds right. Stay in the moment and be present.

12. Make sure you have rehearsed. Work should be polished and prepared. Adopt new habits. Talk to yourself constantly. Extend and expand to communicate in an exciting way.

13. Think of your body architecture. Words need space. Like a gym membership for your voice. Massage jaw hinges.

14. Sometimes it is good to have a level of anxiety. But you must control the nerves as well. Anxiety snowballs and breath does control it and preparation does help. If you find your voice in every sense, nerves are not there.

15. Be centered and grounded in yourself.

16. Keep doing your tongue twisters. Be courageous with words.

17. A smile is important in communication and represents openness.

18. Explore possibilities and don't over-complicate.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frontline management

What an incredible group of participants in the Daikin Frontline Management program! They have not only learnt new skills – they have also applied them to benefit the business and to improve the way in which they work with their teams.

Here are some of their amazing success stories of what they put in to practice following attendance at the training sessions:

“The greatest asset I have gained is being able to better manage my time. I have found the simple task of starting a list of jobs to work on throughout the day has been a good way to gauge your progress for the day. I also enjoy crossing jobs off, as they are completed, as this can give you a sense of achievement.

Having defined start and finish times for meetings has also been beneficial. In the past, I could sometimes get held up for an extra half hour or so at my first or second appointment. With better time management skills, I will now make it quite clear to my customer how long I will be able to spend with them and set a clear agenda for our meeting.

Communication was a session that was also very relevant to everyone in our team. I learnt that continuing to type an email whilst trying to listen to another colleague was not only a bit rude but the message was sometimes not taken in properly or misunderstood.

It also becomes very clear that you are missing out on five or six types of non verbal communication when you don’t pay enough attention to the person relaying the message. Nowadays I will say to the message giver something along the lines of could you just hold on for a minute and I will be with you or I have to get this email or phone call, I will come up and see you to discuss whatever in ten minutes or so.

I like the phrase we were given two ears and one mouth and they should be used proportionally. Active listening was a real ear opener, for me, a few little things I picked up from this session were Place the focus of attention totally on the ‘speaker, Repeat tentatively (in your words) your understanding of the speaker’s meaning, Allow silences in the conversation and most importantly - Be aware of your body language.

Another participant comments as follows:

I have increased my emphasis on personal effectiveness. This has involved things such as;

  • Consideration of the Time Management Matrix is helping me when I am sorting out my tasks and determining the most appropriate priorities (put them in the relevant quadrant, urgent or non-urgent, important vs not so important).
  • I am paying more attention to regularly updating my To Do List and reviewing the priorities of the tasks in the list.
  • I am scheduling non-urgent tasks to a more suitable time rather than letting them distract me from current tasks.
  • I now schedule time to attend to email. This has reduced interruptions

When possible I have been trying to set SMART Goals for the planned tasks that I do. This has helped me focus on what is really required and when it is required. This is also helping me manage having a number of tasks on the go at the same time.

I was interested in the session where we discussing the differences between managing and leading, where managing deals with day to day issues and leading is more about dealing with change and setting direction.

This is very relevant to the projects that we do in IT where we are designing and implementing new processes and functionality for the business.

It is not just a matter of building something and handing it over to the business users. We need to ensure that there is effective change management so that the new development takes the business in the right direction with the right results.

The course has reiterated the importance of having a good understanding of people in order to effectively communicate and interact with them. When dealing with people I am focusing more on trying to understand their objectives and why they behave the way that they do.

When having a discussion I am trying to ask more questions in order to gain a better understanding of the situation. I am also more aware that depending upon the person I may need to vary the way that I communicate with them.

In terms of being innovative, read this wonderful story that has made a difference to customers:

- My first idea was to set up a central tenders email address. Due to numerous changes in staff and an increase in quotation requests, quotes were not going out on time and there were too many emails going between staff and there was a double up on quotes.

- I discussed with internal sales and other commercial account managers that we should have a central place for all request to come to, got feedback from all on how it should be done. I suggested a process on what would not add to anyone persons workload but make all our jobs hassle-free and assist our customers

- I received great feedback and made changes to way we monitored it. I then took the lead in getting management to set up a new email address and then notified everyone. It has now been running well and both customers and internal staff have benefited from quotes going out on time.”

Well done to the class of 2010 - may you go from strength to strength in your management and leadership skills.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leadership Forum

Talk about a power lunch to end all power lunches! I was recently at the major lunch with Julia Gillard, Catherine Livingstone, Chairman of Telstra and Gail Kely, CEO of Westpac.
Gail currently sits at position number 8 on the list of most powerful women in the world!
They are all leaders in their own right and have substantial influence over us in some form or other - politically, financially and through the telecommunications we use in Australia.
Key learnings from the discussion:
1. Don't get seduced by complexity. Get down to simple things like focusing on the customer. Ask questions like "What would we like people to be saying about us in 2017?"
2. Get a simple and single-minded proposition that everyone in your business can understand. Your proposition must be in the format of an 'elevator pitch' that you can deliver in a minute or less.
3. As leaders, we are constantly dialoguing about change. If you want things to change, you need to sustain the change conversation. Change management is a key leadership capability. Change requires 'hard-wiring' changes as well as 'soft-wiring' through constant symbols, coaching and on-going training.
4. Be consultative when it comes to decision making - but use your leadership skills to carry the decision through.
5. We have to actively focus on promoting women in the workplace. Run a diversity audit and review policies to see how well they are in fact applied. Sometimes you are not consciously aware of discrimination. Ask if you fail the 'imagination' test - can you imagine what a business person looks like in your organisation? Is that image of a man?
6. Put targets in place for the advancement of women into senior roles. Identify high potential women as leaders and work with them. Have detailed succession plans in place and women will start to move through the ranks. Teach your children to only see open doors.

Friday, October 15, 2010

23 Things for educators and trainers

Some key learnings from a fabulous course that I am attending on using elearning to its full extent.
1. There is an 'avalanche' of information available on elearning and so many tools that are out there - instead of a 'fall-asleep' session for people learning via distance learning.
2. We are finding clients are driving us to work in different ways to enable rural and busy staff to still have access to learning. MCI is taking the step of moving forward with elearning and webinar options for our clients and we are entering this very exciting space!
3. Even if people are not seen via video camera, they still need to 'meet' each other in the virtual training room. Ask questions so that the group gets to know each other and they can chat.
Will keep you posted on all new learnings!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Advanced Diploma of Management

Some incredible presentations from a group of managers who were trained in a major retailer on the Advanced Diploma of Management.
These are some of the comments that the group made during the presentations in response to the question - how did the program benefit you in your work environment and what did you change and implement as a result of having attended the program:
1. Changes were made to the way in which the team motivation takes place.
2. The risk templates are being used more frequently even on smaller projects.
3. Risk management is taken far more seriously as it is far-reaching and gives the business a competitive advantage.
4. There is far more communication happening and when work is delegated to team members, the RAA principle is followed of resources, accountability and authority.
5. There is much higher level of proactivity and networking is occurring more intensively in an effort to break down silos in the business.
6. There have been changes made to the way in which performance reviews take place and feedback from team members has been very positive who have gotten more out of the process than previously.
7. Goals have been more clearly defined for team members and are now readily measured.
8. Relationships between team members are now much stronger and more emphasis is placed on the importance of this happening.
9. The team values are seen as vitally important to the team success.
10. There is more encouragement to think out of the square and to use different processes such as 6 hats thinking to find better solutions to challenges.
11. Managers commented on how they are now more financially aware of the bigger picture.
12. There were comments about the ability to manage change more effectively and to ensure that weekly meetings are used for team members to set their own goals. This creates a more consultative environment.
13. Managers also mentioned that they are beginning to think more systemically and not only systematically.
14. They are also using the skill of story-telling to a greater extent in painting a picture for the team and encouraging them to come on board.
15. They are driving their team to become more of a learning type organisation so that there is not a culture of blame.
16. They are looking for ways to highlight short-term wins particularly in the longer term projects.
17. The section on strategy really worked well for the group who in some cases had their contribution to the organisation's strategy accepted in to the final version.
18. Budgeting was also an important skill that will assist some of the team in establishing targets.
I find it so encouraging that this group has applied their skills into their work situation and really made a huge difference to the business and to their leadership abilities.
Well done to the class of 2010!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I was privileged to listen to a superb talk on innovation by Mark Wynne, Managing Director of Kimberly-Clark Australia. Some of the key points he made are very useful to organisations looking to develop a strong culture of innovation.
Some of the ideas that Mark put forward:

1. It is not innovation unless something changes that creates value. Innovation is not the same as a good idea that goes nowhere.
2. Innovation can be risky and expensive but without it, our businesses go nowhere. The more fun we have innovating, the more people enjoy working in that environment.
We cannot stay ahead without innovation.
3. Innovation is hard and the problem starts at the top! We can't always predict the future very well but companies love predictability and streamlining. Innovation is often risky and established firms have more to lose than 'cheeky start-ups'.
We often don't like to try things we have not tried before and we go back to assumed paradigms. This is often what happens in companies and silos begin to grow and everyone begins to accept the status quo.
4. So, how do we go about breaking down these barriers to look outward?
Firstly look at your staff. How do you ensure that they look for incremental improvements and also breakthroughs? Mark suggests that we need innovation champions who are prepared to overcome the obstacles faced by those seeking to innovate. The champions' role is to connect the right people and to ensure that there are the opportunities for marketing and technology to collide.
5. Train staff in creative thinking techniques so that everyone opens their mind to different ways of doing things. Have innovation as a standard agenda item at meetings. You don't need consultants to achieve this. Your 'in-sultants' need to have an environment where it is safe to speak out and say what you see as going wrong, with no consequences.
So, are you constantly energising the innovation process? Are you ensuring that all knowledge and information is being socialised so that it is not retained in silos that are hoping to hold power? Are you allowing for failure? Do you have an ideas bank where each suggestion receives an answer? Do you 'steal' ideas from everywhere and do you have a rewards program that recognises innovation?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Andrew Forrest, CEO Fortescue Metals

I listened to a very powerful interview over lunch today with Andrew Forrest, CEO of Fortescue Metals.
Some of the highlights of what he said:
1. As a CEO, the most important things for him are to firstly have fun and secondly to be useful. He feels very fortunate that he can achieve this in his work and in his promotion of Aboriginal employment schemes.
2. His kids will not be inheriting his wealth. He will obviously give them a house and car as we would normally do - but he is not going to give them great wealth. He wants them to grow up normally and be treated by others normally.
3. He has great passion when he talks about the importance of having a vision and an end in mind. Once you have that, you bring in the right people at the beginning and suddenly something that looks so remote has a strategy. And then that strategy has the possibility of being realised.
4. One of Australia's great advantages is that deals can be done on a handshake.
5. If we want the broadband to work, we need a proper costing analysis to be done. In any event, he believes that wireless is the way to go.
6. He is prepared to pay a resources tax but not in a way that disadvantages the sector. We need to go back to good old-fashioned transparency...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The master of motivation - Anthony Robbins

Anthony Robbins, the king of motivation, deserves every cent he earns - and he sure earns a lot of cents! He ran his session for 4 and a half hours without taking a break and had an energy level going in the 7000 participant audience as though they were at a rock concert or sports event. He just knows how to package it all together and how to send out some key messages.
This is some of what he had to say:
He says that we should start off by taking a good hard look at ourselves. We must see things as they are. Not worse or better than they are.
We need to learn how to anticipate. We cannot remain in reactive mode as this is disempowering. We cannot look to make excuses or to blame others and we also have to accept that we cannot change the past. We can't blame lack of money, lack of resources, or lack of time.
It is our mindset that holds the key to success.
We also need a vision for ourselves. If we don't have a roadmap we live passively.
Our physiology dictates our psychology. When Anthony was coaching Agassi he asked him to watch a video of how differently he walked on to the court when he won games as compared with when he lost games. There was a huge difference in his whole way of walking and his body language.
Decide what you need to focus on. Focus on what is in your sphere of control.
Don't take anyone or anything for granted. Go against the law of familiarity.
Life does not just show up. Control the way in which you make decisions. Only make decisions when you are in 'the state'. Be totally conscious and aware of your state - are you feeling mentally alert and positive when you make these decisions? Where is your level of energy? Learn how to maximise your energy. Think about how you walk and how you move. Think of the way in which you breathe and of the way in which you use your face and your voice. Emotion is created through motion. You need to be in a peak state and not a weak state.
Only then can you give of your best and move to the next level.
Train yourself to say 'YES'. Keep practising this skill.
The key to happiness is ensuring that the blueprint that you have for yourself does in fact match your key expectations. Having the right blueprint will ensure that you remain in control and you take away the feelings of helplessness and despair. Don't be frozen in time with an out of date blueprint.
Think of Apple where the blueprint changed and where computer sales are now only 14% of the total business. Things can be re-wired.
Don't focus on what you don't want. Where focus goes, energy flows. Don't look at yourself and say I want to lose 30 kilos. Say instead, I want to be strong and walk past a mirror and be proud of myself.
The secret to living is giving and when we think we have done enough, we need to do more!!
Go Tony Robbins....

Ethics for leaders

I listened to a great presentation this month by Dr Simon Longstaff from St James Ethics Centre. His key question to the group was - how many times have we encountered people who look one way and then go another way.
He said that whenever we see hypocrisy it has a terrible impact. As children we remember that deep-seated disappointment when we realised that someone was being hypocritical. And if we see this behaviour in business, we adopt the attitude of, 'well if they don't do it and believe it, why should I? So I might as well look after myself.'
This is where so much cynicism arises irrespective of culture and there are therefore huge benefits for leaders to act in an ethical way. The link between strong ethics and good business has been proven through research to be a very strong link indeed.
Books such as Jim Collins's 'Built to Last' show through extensive research that organisations that endure have high levels of trust. And where you have high levels of trust, you also have low levels of cost.
In organisations where every ounce of energy is used to maintain systems and processes to keep people constrained, the central concern of the organisation becomes regulation. On the other hand, smart organisations evolve and are bound together through values and principles.
Consistent leaders are also essential to the mix because if you lose moral authority, you lose the war. Instead of investing in the control systems, money is far better spent on investment in leadership development.
Simon gave the example that even in the military, leaders are looking to make ethical decisions. Leadership by its very nature is an ethical practice.
It is the leaders role to articulate the vision and the values and principles of the organisation. We need to be aware of what we are rewarding and recognising in our teams because the message that this sends out is so vitally important. We can do things unthinkingly that are just done because that is how they have always been done. But it is the leaders' role to subvert existing practice and to have the moral courage to change what needs to be changed!