Monday, August 29, 2011

When sport is more than sport - The Peace Team IC11

The Australian Football League's (AFL) International Cup 2011 involves 18 male teams and 5 female teams from around the globe competing to become crowned the best AFL country outside Australia.

In 2008 a new team called "The Peace Team" entered the competition. The team comprises 13 Isreali and 13 Palestine players in its squad of 26. They have returned to participate in the 2011 competition (IC11).

This is no ordinary 'footy team' and the challenge of putting the team together is no ordinary challenge. Yet the team is here and made it through to the Division 2 semi-finals.

When asked why the team was created, team leaders reported that peace for their homeland was what they wanted. The complexities of creating the team has involved facilitated dialogue sessions because of the long and historic differences between Israeli's and Palestinians.

I was recently asked, "Gary, when does dialogue work?"

"When all parties choose to dialogue and they share a common purpose, or are willing to discover one." was my response. The Peace Team is an example of the power of dialogue. Imagine the dialogue that occured to create this team.

While the difference they are making might be small, it IS a positive difference none the less and shows what can be done at any level to improve our world when people have the courage to do so.

You can learn more about The Peace team here.

What efforts are you making to create a more peaceful world; at home, at work and/or in your local community?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Honesty Does Pay!

Recently after having concluded a ‘Getting ahead as a Young Professional’ workshop (which is part of a leadership development program for the Faculty of Law at Monash University in Melbourne Australia) one of the students, Steph Wallace, shared a story regarding the power of honesty with me and I’d like to share her story with you.

Steph had applied for a clerical assistant role for a law firm and the role was due to start mid December 2010. At the time Steph had a year to go to complete her degree and was aware that graduate positions going into 2012 were going to be few and far between. As a result of this knowledge Steph had hoped to gain the clerical assistant’s role so that, after the firm having experienced the quality of her work throughout 2011 she would be well positioned to obtain the graduate position in 2012.

From my perspective this is a very sound strategy.

Steph successfully negotiated the first round of interviews and was invited for a second interview, this time with the person to whom she would be reporting if she gained the position.

It was at this point that Steph confronted a dilemma. Her father was ill overseas and Steph had already booked a 6 week visit to spend time with him. Her trip commenced the second week of January, a mere three weeks after she was to start the position. As there was a lot ‘riding’ on getting this job in terms of increasing her chances of obtaining a graduate position, Steph was unsure whether she should reveal in the second interview that she would be away for 6 weeks three weeks after starting her new job, or wait until being offered the job before revealing this information.

What would you do in this situation?

Well this is exactly the question that Steph asked her friends, family and colleagues. Interestingly the majority of people said, “Don’t tell them in the interview. Get the job first, then tell them.”

Steph’s mother had a different view. “How would you like people to treat you if you were in your future bosses’ position?” she asked.

After their conversation Steph decided to go with her intuitive response to this dilemma. “If I didn’t get the job and I bumped into this lady in five years time, I’d want her to remember me for being honest.”

At an appropriate time in the second interview Steph shared her dilemma with her potential boss.

“I know that what I am about to tell you will probably kill my chances of getting this job, but I feel that it is important that I am honest with you.”

Steph then went on to explain her situation.

The outcome: Steph got the job, and has been mentored in the role ever since.

Given that our conversation was nine months after Steph had successfully gained the job I asked her if she had repaid their support.  

"Many times over Gary! I really do everything I can for them because they were so supportive of me, even when they didn’t even know me. I now participate in Subcomittees and try and give that extra bit of work/ effort whenever I can. From the IT team to my boss, to the Chairman they are both supportive colleagues, friends and mentors in a variety of ways."

What I have found fascinating is that I have shared this story with many people. The vast majority have said that they would not have told their new boss about the trip until after getting the job.

If you stop and think about the mental models underlying this response one that keeps popping up for me is that people have a theory that if they are honest, bad things will happen.

Hopefully this story will help to challenge this theory.

In this case, honesty was rewarded and well done to the organisation for having the courage to do so.

What are your experiences of honesty in the workplace? Does it pay?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

US Postal Service decline highlights why Systems Thinking is critical

'Systems Thinking' is a critical leadership skill according to research by the Australian Government that included the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA). Yet Systems Thinking is only taught in two of Australia's universities - Monash University and the University of Queensland.

According to a US Government report, The US Postal Service is in peril. In simple business terms its expenses consistently outweigh its income and the gap is getting wider, not smaller.

When the researchers asked for the organisations 10 year plan none was forthcoming. Let's put the size of this organisation into some perspective. It has 571,566 employees. Imagine the economic and social impact if the US Postal Service was to shut down.

I share this example because it highlights the importance of Systems Thinking. In simple terms Systems Thinking is about understand how everything is connected, that the world does not operate in straight lines and that all systems have limits.

Systems Thinking also teaches us that small changes in one part of a system can have an enormous affect on other parts of the system. We only have to consider our global financial markets to see how this occurs on a daily basis.

In terms of the US Postal Service rather than being proactive regarding significant systemic changes, such as email, they have been reactive. As an example they have consistently relied on 'First-Class' mail to subsidise their losses from traditional mail services. Yet their 'First-Class' services have been declining at an alarming rate over the past 6 years.

With no plan in place or capacity to 'see what was coming' the US Postal Service leaders have failed.
In terms of your development as a leader it is critical that you expose yourself to learning about Systems Thinking, even if you have to lead your own development on this topic. It is one of the reasons I included two chapters specifically on Systems Thinking topics in my book What Really Matters For Young Professionals!
As a start, you might like to review the articles that I have posted on this topic over time. You can access the articles here and here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why the development & recruitment of people lies at the heart of your service strategy

Existing staff need to be developed so that they have the capacity to implement your Service Strategy. This will result in them having the capacity to understand the expectations of their customers and being able to develop appropriate service standards from that understanding.

New staff need to be recruited through processes that identify their alignment with your Service Strategy. This means that the organisation’s recruitment processes must reflect a process that is seeking the best possible people that it can find so that its Service Strategy can be implemented.

The result is a virtuous cycle that re-enforces great service. When people love their work they attract other high quality to want to work with them too. The reverse is also true. The wrong people in the wrong jobs who end up hating what they do don’t provide great service. How could they!

How do your development and recuitment practices support the establishment of a virtuous cycle for great service in your organisation?

Why not use this article to stimulate Conversations That Matter® with your team.

©Copyright Gary Ryan 2011

Research Participant
Our recruitment policy used to be, “Do you know anyone who has a heartbeat and is available?”. Me, I’d been here 20 years and had never been on any training. I never realised how bad we were until I honestly thought about whether I’d like to be a customer of my own team. My answer was no!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Expert Tip - Motivation Factor 10

In the eleventh and final short video in the 11 part series on how to create motivated employees, I share the last of 10 key factors that when present will collectively enhance the motivation of your team members/employees.

How do you rate for this factor? How does your employer rate for you?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Expert Tip - Motivation Factor 9

In the tenth of the short videos in the 11 part series on how to create motivated employees, I share the ninth of 10 key factors that when present will collectively enhance the motivation of your team members/employees.

How do you rate for this factor? How does your employer rate for you?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Expert Tip - Motivation Factor 8

In the ninth of the short videos in the 11 part series on how to create motivated employees, I share the eighth of 10 key factors that when present will collectively enhance the motivation of your team members/employees.

How do you rate for this factor? How does your employer rate for you?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Expert Tip - Motivation Factor 7

In the eighth of the short videos in the 11 part series on how to create motivated employees, I share the seventh of 10 key factors that when present will collectively enhance the motivation of your team members/employees.

How do you rate for this factor? How does your employer rate for you?