Culture: It all Starts with Mind-Set

“I’m an accountant. I’m all about making money. If you want to make money, get your culture right first. Don’t waste your time on the other stuff.” (Giam Swiegers, former CEO of Deloitte Australia)

Most of us understand its importance, but actively managing workplace culture in order to optimise results can be a tricky business. Even once you’ve got a handle on what culture is (and for the record, I prefer a simple definition: “Culture is the way we do things around here”), accept its importance (organisations with the most constructive cultures significantly outperform those with the least constructive cultures: quality +32%, teamwork +28%, satisfaction +26%, Human Synergistics International, 2014), and have determined that the current culture of your business/organisation is hindering performance, it can be a bit baffling to know where to start the change process.

Carolyn Taylor in her book “Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success” (Random House, 2005), presents the following framework which aligns closely with my own experience over 20 years helping clients improve outcomes through effectively diagnosing and improving the culture of their workplaces:

Change in the mind-sets of leaders

Leads to

Change in the behaviour of leaders

Leads to

Different decisions being made by leaders, in-line with their new beliefs and values

Leads to

People attributing meaning to decisions (symbols) associated with a change in values

Leads to

New messages being received throughout the organisation about what is now valued (supported by changing enablers which have simultaneously been redesigned)

Leads to

Other people in the organisation changing their behaviour to fit into the new norms

Leads to

Further reinforcement that the culture and its values have now changed

Leads to

New performance outcomes, the effect of the chosen values. Read more

THE DREAMER, THE REALIST AND THE CRITIC -The Value Of Different Perspectives

When a close colleague of Walt Disney’s was asked what he thought were the secrets of Walt’s success, he reportedly replied “There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist and the critic. You never knew which one was coming to your meeting.”

  • Walt the dreamer was optimistic – the creative, self-actualised, “big picture”, inventor of new ideas.
  • Walt the realist was the practical one – the planner, the organiser, the one focused on “getting stuff done”.
  • Walt the critic was skeptical – testing dreams and plans against reality, looking for gaps, obstacles and risks.

With the inclination and ability to look at a single issue from multiple perspectives, Walt Disney was able to creatively solve complex problems and consistently make sound decisions that ultimately led to his significant success.

Walt Disney was not alone in recognising the value of looking at things from different perspectives, and indeed Edward de Bono’s renowned Six Thinking Hats technique is all about using multiple points of view to improve problem solving and decision making. Read more

Surviving the Growing Pains! – Managing Staff in a Period of Growth

One of the common features of many of the businesses we come into contact with is that they are experiencing a period of rapid growth. They have a proven product or service, they’re doing the right thing by their customers and they’re reaping the rewards of their efforts – terrific!

But life is not always wine and roses as they say, and a number of businesses going through this phase also experience “Growing Pains”. Growing pains can develop in any area of the business – it could be that product or service quality is beginning to suffer, or it could be that your IT, accounting or communications systems are not keeping up with the increased pace. It might also be that you’re having difficulty in attracting and retaining quality staff to enable you to continue to provide the level of customer service that has contributed to the success of your business. Read more

Sales Manager – The Team Selector

As a sales manager you’re not just the coach, but the team selector. You will be responsible to finding, hiring and inducting the right people into your sales team. This is always challenging and even the best sales managers cannot expect to get it right all the time.

“I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right players” – from the movie ‘Miracle’

To help find the right person for a sales team, you need to ensure you have the right factors lined up before starting the recruitment process:

  • The right position – is the role clearly defined and do you know the knowledge and skills required to be successful in the role? Can you communicate this effectively to the new team member?
  • The right time – for both for the candidate and the company. Will the role be appropriate for where the candidate is in their career? Can the company accommodate this new employee at this time?
  • The right things – do you have a clear understanding of how your new team member needs to apply their knowledge and skills to be successful? Will they?
  • The right ways – will the the new team member be able to perform at their highest level while remaining in alignment with the business’s core values and the team’s culture?
  • The right fit – will the the candidate demonstrate the right attitude, behaviour and communication styles to ‘fit’ with your team culture?

Read more

HR Consulting

How Strong Are the Links in Your Management Chain?

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience at one time or another of seeing apparently sound decisions fall apart at the point of implementation, or otherwise proceed but result in unintended consequences.

This can of course happen in connection with any type of decision, and staff-related decisions are certainly no exception. Indeed, training initiatives, recognition programs and performance review systems are classic examples of well-intended business improvement initiatives that can go awry.

Of the many possible reasons for things going off track (poor project management or inadequate resourcing, for example), one of the most common concerns the role of middle managers/supervisors. Read more

When You’re a Sales Manager, You’re a Leader

It’s not uncommon for good salespeople to be self-directed and accountable individuals, which makes them naturally effective at being the ‘leaders of their own lives’. Good sales professionals are highly results-driven and competitive. These natural traits tend to see them focus on their individual performance, often with little consideration for team results. The fact that the individual success of high-performing salespeople delivers the results required by the company makes them a valuable asset, but they are not necessarily working as part of a team to achieve these results – that was surely my experience when I was enjoying my greatest success in sales. As a sales manager your ability to lead these unique individuals, and achieve synergistic outcomes is what will define your success.

Management is about doing things right, and leadership is about doing the right things.

The above definition from management guru, Peter Drucker does provide an understanding of the difference between leadership and management, what it doesn’t do is highlight, that to be a successful sales manager, you need to do the right things, and you need to do them right – you are both leader and manager. Read more

Measuring People Management Performance: “Who Cares?” and “Oh Sh*t!”

Just as it’s critical to business success to measure and analyse revenue and profit, investment performance, and monitor the costs of production or service delivery, so it is critical to measure the outcomes and processes associated with managing people. This applies regardless of the size of the business. After all, employment-related costs are the single greatest expense for many businesses (research suggests an average of 60-75% of business costs are employment-related). Read more

Great Salespeople Do Not (necessarily) Make Great Sales Managers

It is often seen as a natural career progression for a high performance salesperson to move into sales management. That was certainly my experience as a young, successful salesperson when, early in my career, I was quickly ‘promoted’ into management.

However, those offering me this ‘great opportunity’ gave little consideration to the differences in the roles. It was simply assumed that as I could sell, and sell well, I would get similar results from a team of salespeople. There was little review done to determine whether I had the attributes required to be a good sales manager. In fact, in those days I expect there was little understanding of what these attributes were.

77% of the time businesses make mistakes promoting sales reps into sales management.

Drew Stevens, a business strategist and the author of ‘Split Second Selling’ discovered through his research that “77% of the time businesses make mistakes promoting sales reps into sales management. This is because many business managers believe that those who sell the most make the best sales managers.”

Drew’s findings confirm what I have experienced through my corporate and consulting life. Most high performance salespeople are not automatically high performance sales managers. In fact, the skills and personality that makes a great salesperson may work against them as a sales manager. Read more

What are your People Management Priorities for 2016?

The start of a new year prompts many of us to think about our goals and priorities for the year. Indeed, we’ll be working with the management teams of several of our established clients over the coming weeks to help them clarify their priorities, particularly in respect of their people management strategies.

Based on our recent work, here are a few common themes we expect to emerge (in no particular order):

1. Clarifying vision and strategy – Sure, a regular paypacket is a good “satisfier” for many, but to really optimise the efforts of your people it needs to be clear just where the team/business is heading, how you plan to get there and what role you are asking them to play in helping you get there. Ideally, formulation of vision and strategy will be a joint effort in order to encourage further “buy in”. Once you have a clear vision and strategy, be sure to review to ensure people-management practices are aligned (eg. if it’s part of the strategy to be number 1 in customer service, staff bonus/incentive plans shouldn’t be entirely about sales volume). Read more

Succeeding in the Culture Change Playground

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

I saw this posted on Linked In the other day and it reminded me of a question I am often asked by clients when speaking with them about potential workplace culture change programs.

The question usually arises while I’m extolling the virtues of taking a structured, collaborative approach to assessing, envisioning and managing workplace culture as a means to improving engagement, productivity and bottom line results. The client or prospect often nods knowingly, then looks thoughtfully, before asking the question, usually along the lines of:

“Yeah, well that’s great, but we have a couple of individuals/teams that are very resistant to change and I just can’t see them coming on board. What do we do with them?” Read more