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Leaders. Get your head in the clouds

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, April 17, 2016

The big picture doesn't cut it any more. It's the friggin HUGE picture that matters now.

Remember that famous analogy of the rocks, pebbles and sand that Dr Stephen Covey made famous? (If you've been living under a rock - pun intended - thencheck out this video from FranklinCovey). Well in the 90's and early 2000's that was a great way to plan, execute and manage your time.

But today in 2016 it's simply not going to cut it.

As suggested by Gary Vaynerchuk, today you need to act more like a futurist and have your head in the clouds and far ahead on the horizon as well as still keep your feet in the sand (Gary says the dirt but I prefer the beach) at the granular level.

Today the companies and leaders who succeed have learned to reach up high and tap down low, to think 30 years ahead and to execute and innovate in the now. Think like Apple and Tesla.  

Think about your own industry for a moment. Where do you see it heading in 30 years time? Will it still exist? Will it have been replaced by robots and artificial intelligence? What technology will be needed to support the people driving change?

And what can you do about that now? How can you begin to be more like sand in the surf, being flexible and nimble, light and able to shift and move with the current. Or are you still focused on the rocks, stuck, stagnant and unable to adapt and adopt? Is there a massive ship about to crash into your rock and because you weren't checking the view from the lighthouse in the clouds, and now you're unable to adjust course and move your business left or right, up or down?

VISION is worthless without EXECUTION

and 

EXECUTION is pointless without VISION.

You not only have to know your craft intimately (your sand) but also understand where your business and industry is heading (your clouds). If you stick with the rocks you'll be average and get average results. You have to start reaching up and tapping down rather than spreading out. Gone are the industrial age days of growth for growth sake. Bigger larger plant sizes, more staff, bigger contracts, even when the margins were getting smaller and smaller and profits less and less we saw big companies still aiming for lateral growth, taking up space, wasting energy on their middle aged spread.

Tomorrow's successful businesses will be vastly different they'll be grounded, long, lean and wiry, reaching, reaching, reaching for the clouds. They'l be architects and masons. Grounded yet unsettled. Think Uber, Air BNB and Alibaba.

Those companies stuck in the middle bland land will get lost in the sea of sameness, stuck with massive overheads, large volumes of wasted stock, with buildings, land and machinery of little worth. They'll have large footprints that take up a lot of space and have massive environmental impacts. They'll play it safe when safe is no longer a valid strategy.

If you're thinking 1-3 years in the future, you're leaving yourself and your company vulnerable and exposed. If you're spending three days at a leadership retreat planning your three year strategic plan and then reporting blindly for the next three years against that plan then you're essentially dead in the water. 

You need to forget the big picture and aim for the HUGE picture. You need to think where do we need to be in 2050 not in 2017. All the best leaders and companies now are bringing in futurists to consider 10, 20, 30 years into the future and then executing in three day, three week and three monthly cycles. 

Remember just five short years ago Netflix weren't streaming movies, and Snapchat and Instagram didn't exist. Where did they come from? The clouds.

You can't go for incremental improvement any more, you need to evolve. Start losing yourself in the clouds and then getting gritty in the sand. That way you're more likely to create something remarkable, something epic that will change the game.

Leaders you have to be the brains but you have to get your hands dirty too. Stop stressing so much about the dumb little sh*% and start playing the bigger game. Most of our daily grind is just a result of not having clarity about the huge picture 30 years out. Once you have that kind of huge clarity, everything falls into perspective.

Build an epic vision and a huge why, solve a future global problem, then build and create all the time listening to the market as you course correct, adjust and improvise every day. Oh yeah and remember to keep your eye on the clouds!

If you want to read more about this topic see my recent presentation for the April meetings of Higher Power Leaders Network here on Slideshare.


Germanwings Crash Why Leaders Must Discuss Mental Health Issues

Alexandria Joy - Monday, April 06, 2015

In the wake of the recent tragic Germanwings crash, the working world is reminded of just how far we still have to go to identify, treat and manage employees living with mental illness and experiencing extreme stress or anxiety in the workplace, especially in high-risk, high-pressure professions.

The tragedy raises many questions for leaders and organisations today and not just should we allow pilots with a history of depression to fly passenger planes? Here are some questions you should consider as a leader:

  • Should we promote employees who have required psychiatric care?
  • Should we approach a workmate we suspect of experiencing depression or anxiety?
  • Should someone on medication for mental illness be allowed to drive vehicles or operate heavy machinery on job sites?
  • Should we permit a person with a mental illness to be promoted to a stressful job?
  • Should an employee ask a supervisor or upline RUOK?

This is a complex issue and has no simple answers. When faced with such complexity it is valuable to begin with the facts:

Fact: Smart workplaces provide support. If profitability and responsible business practices are part of your company’s vision, mental health should also be a priority. Your commitment to mental health should be communicated openly and frequently to all employees. For example as part of induction, displayed in tearooms on posters, as policies and procedures that everyone is aware of and visibly reinforced through the practices of management.

It's one thing to have a policy in place to to accommodate employees with mental health issues, but it is another to create a supportive environment where they don't feel inhibited to take advantage of them.

Fact: Healthy workplaces discuss Mental Health openly. Mental illness is a cloak and dagger affair in many organizations, mentally healthy organisations on the other hand start and continue the conversation. A good test of how supportive your organisation is is to ask yourself this question: “How safe is it in your company for an employee to let their manager know that they are on medication for depression and/or visits a therapist?”

Addressing the issue of mental illness in the workplace has to begin with an acknowledgement that it exists and needs to be discussed openly.

Fact: Healthy workplaces promote a culture of respect. Sometimes the greatest help to mentally ill employees comes not from some kind of official policy but from peers or line bosses who are willing to listen and offer genuine support. The fish rots from the head - organisational leaders and business owners need to make visible, long-term commitments to mental health in their workplaces as they are in the strongest position to positively influence the company culture.

Ensuring robust policies around bullying and harassment is also important, as well as encouraging employees to call out or report any inappropriate behaviour they witness or experience.

My heart goes out to the passengers, crew, families and all those affected by the Germanwings crash, especially the family of our two Australian passengers. The loss of life is heartbreaking and yet it may have opened a door to many employers to start having difficult, compassionate discussions about mental illness. As tragic as it has been, let us not waste this opportunity to create more awareness.

PWC research shows $2.30 is the average return on investment for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Better productivity begins with a mentally healthy workplace

A positive workplace environment and good mental health go hand in hand. Let's honour those lost by beginning this conversation today.

If you are a leader in your organisation have you tackled any of these questions? How have you opened up dialogue? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like to read more about the benefits of creating a healthy workplace environment then you may also like the following articles and videos:

How Balanced Leaders Create Healthy Workplaces

How Workplaces Are Making Us Sick

How Toxic Workplaces Are Killing Us

Balanced Leaders Create Healthy Cultures

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Most people today could share a story about someone they've worked for who was highly intelligent, highly skilled and got promoted to a position of leadership only to drive their workers around the bend and leave them running for the hills.

This common story told the world over suggests that identifying individuals with the right goods to be a great leader is not an exact science or exercise in who has the best resume. After all, evidence shows that the personal styles of the best leaders vary greatly as seen from my recent list of the 50 leaders I most want to interview.

Some leaders are quiet, conscientious and analytical, others are bold and boisterous preaching their vision and values to the biggest audience they can find. Regardless of their external personality traits however, we have found through our work at UQ Power that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they create healthy workplace cultures where their workers feel safe and valued.

In the course of the past year, my colleagues and I have focused on how leaders and managers can create the most physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy workplace cultures. Using our proprietary UQ Powerhouse Blueprint we have worked with numerous public and private organisations and examined the relationship between IQ - innovation and intellectual safety, EQ - emotional intelligence and psychological safety, BODY - cultural presence and physical safety and VISION - clarity of purpose and financial safety, especially in leaders. And we have observed how each of these four dimensions, the quadruple bottom line, shows themselves on the job.

Which is why most people today could share a story about someone they've worked for who had high IQ but low EQ and drove them around the bend. When we study organizational psychology, culture and well being we begin to see that one area connects to another, and another in such a way that it is hard to isolate one without considering the other. Organizations therefore could more appropriately be seen as a complex living organisms rather than simply as an organization.

Identifying what makes an organisation healthy is not a straightforward science as one needs to appreciate the UQ (uniqueness quotient) of each individual employee - basically every worker has different motivators and or stressors and each group or team has its own dynamic which in turn ultimately creates the organisation’s culture.

What we have found through our work is that just like any other living organism, an organisation needs to be nourished, maintained, and experience growth in order to sustain it over the longer term. It also needs some essential nutrients to ensure it maintains peak health including:

Nutrient 1 - Free Flowing Communication: Communication is always a two-way street and requires contextual listening (listening beyond words to what is being said, not said and felt). So many companies are built on top-down communication from management leaving employees feeling there is no point in saying how they feel as they have no direct channel and don't feel they'll have an impact. Effective leaders and managers are those who create an atmosphere that fosters trust and open, two-way communication. Communication can be critical especially during difficult times such as those recently experienced as a result of the economic downturn (Read this article to find out more about leading during a downturn).

Nutrient 2 - People emPOWERment: By understanding and appreciating the UQ (uniqueness) in each and every employee and leveraging their individual talents, a leader will build confidence and trust and empower individuals to self-manage. By empowering employees to be victors rather than victims, to celebrate their uniqueness rather than punishing their imperfections, by owning their responsibilities, a healthy empowered environment is created. Through an empowered workplace you will not only have the benefits of enhanced productivity but you can grow your reputation among your customers and stakeholders.

Nutrient 3 - Spreading PositivityIn The Happiness Advantage, former Harvard professor Shawn Achor argues that people who start off happy are more likely to succeed and using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how organisations can gain a competitive advantage by shifting employees to become more positive too. Similarly Professor Richard Boyatzis' Intentional Change Theory states that intense positive emotions will have a contagion effect on others. Likewise we must be conscious of the negative emotions one emits as well, Boyatzis suggesting that for every negative thought three positive thoughts are needed to counter the affect.

Nutrient 4 - Cool Collaboration: In short, teams that play together, stay together. A leader's job is to ensure everyone in the organization must work in solving problems while adapting change together. Cohesive organizations build unity toward improving and resolving issues as a team and not as isolated units. Simon Sinek frequently cites the Marine Corps for having found a way to build a culture in which men and women are willing to risk their lives, because they know others would do the same for them. It’s not brainwashing; it’s actually based on the biology of how and when people are naturally at their best. If businesses could adopt this supportive mentality, employees would be more motivated to take bigger risks, because they’d know their colleagues and company would back them up, no matter what.

The best company cultures are vibrant, healthy ones where the well being of individuals and the sustainability of the organization go hand in hand. It is ultimately a place where individuals are inspired to work, trust, and value the uniqueness in one another, while reinforcing the mission of the organization.

What interventions, improvement programs or cultural reviews have proven to work well for you and your organization?

What other nutrients do you believe support a healthy organizational culture, not listed in the list above? 

Feel free to share a comment or two about your experiences below, I'd love to know.

References
Achor, Shawn The Happiness Advantage
Adelson, S. and LaRoche, G . (n.d) The Power of Positive Emotional Attractors. Boyatzis, R. E., Soler, C. (2012). Vision, leadership and emotional intelligence transforming family business, Journal of Family Business Management.
Sinek, Simon (2014) Leaders Eat Last
Topping, Peter, (2002), Managerial Leadership. McGraw-Hill.

How Poor Leaders Are Killing Us

Alexandria Joy - Friday, November 28, 2014
"Our jobs are killing us and the people who are responsible are our leaders."


I recently heard Simon Sinek say this in a YouTube video and it really struck a chord. How did you feel when you read that? Harsh reality? Don't believe me? Or perhaps you have had an experience yourself or heard someone say "my boss is busting my balls" or "my manager is killing me!"

These might be throw away comments around the water cooler but sadly they are a reflection of reality. 
In my view and experience leadership is not a rank or position – it is a choice. It is a choice to be of service and support others. Since first reading Robert Greenleaf's powerful book The Servant Leader when writing my thesis paper for my master's degree in my late 20's, to working for the General Manager of a large teaching hospital with 3,000 staff who clearly cared about his staff and how they cared for their patients, I began the journey of studying servant leaders.

Some of the most powerful lessons I learnt came from working in toxic environments where there was a clear container manager culture of restrictive, measured and fear based decisions that created a dog eat dog, dobber mentality amongst staff. Here I saw how even one container manager at the top could have a negative impact on people's self-esteem, health, wellbeing and relationships both at work and at home.

Almost as bad as the container manager was the disinterested manager where I witnessed people shrivel and lose their spark as they became undervalued and invisible.

And the research proves working for these poor leaders is a problem for individual employees as well as for the organisation. Studies from Europe and the US are showing that when people say “my boss is killing me”, quite literally this could be the case - around 25% of people who have worked for a poor manager for a short period of time and 38% of the people who have worked for a poor manager for a longer period of time are more likely to have a stroke or heart disease later in life as a product of working with them.

Biologically working with a manager who makes us feel paranoid and anxious and unsafe creates too much cortisol in our body which compromises our immune system, will make us self-interested and stressed, and makes us less empathic and considerate of others.

In addition, being ignored by a manager results in a 4 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged in your job on a daily basis. If your manager tells you what you’re doing wrong – there’s a 2 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged at work.

On the other hand if you are fortunate to work for an expander leader who focuses primarily on your strengths – there’s only a slim 1 in 10 chance that you’ll be disengaged at work.

So what is it that expander leaders do differently to poor leaders or container manager? Expander or servant leaders:
  • create more leaders – they are of service
  • see possibility in every individual employee and seek to find the Uniqueness (I call it the UQ) in every single person
  • are more likely to sacrifice self for the good of the many and the organisation
  • take care to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.
  • focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.
  • give control, not take control.
Of the company's I've studied over the past two decades, those with an expander leader driven culture experience:
  • less staff turnover
  • less OHS issues, disputes and claims
  • increased productivity
  • increased profit
  • increased stakeholder and employee engagement.
Creating a positive, productive and mentally healthy workplace culture is one of the important issues businesses face today. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report identified that ignoring it costs Australian businesses around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity. And with stress, anxiety and poor mental health likely to affect one in five employees, by taking action the benefits can be profound.

The benefits are clear. Business leaders need to make a long-term commitment to a creating positive, mentally healthy workplace, not killing their people. By taking the initiative, you'll not only make your company a better place to work where people feel respected as unique individuals, you can help make it more productive and profitable. And that's just good business.

Want to change the world? Become an Expander Leader and #StartwithU
If you're sick and tired of working for a container manager and are at your wit's end you might like to watch my video "How to tell your boss they suck".

Business Innovation on a Shoestring Budget

Alexandria Joy - Friday, May 09, 2014

It's true – innovation is a huge buzzword and we are all aware. Craig Lambert describes it as being "...bandied around a bit like a Miss Universe contestant talking about world peace." While the idea of innovation is tossed around and misused, it doesn't mean businesses can't or shouldn't be innovative, but rather the opposite: businesses need to embrace creativity and exciting new ways to connect with customers.

It is important to know the two relevant types of innovation in order to start thinking outside of the box and reaching your business potential.

The two main types of innovation are:

1. Sustained: Innovation that maintains and evolves established markets.
2. Disruptive: Innovation that creates new markets and fresh values.

How Can Your Business Succeed With Innovation?

In order to be successful as a business, your business must have a clear and focused 'Power House.' Think of your business's house as having four rooms that are the key foundations of a successful business. These four rooms include:

1. Vision – a clear strategy.
2. IQ – a smart intellectual focus.
3. Body – a physical energy and presence.
4. EQ - its interpersonal connections.

These four rooms are critical to building a sustainable, commercially viable company – when they are all working together they provide a strong profit power loop. For example:
• If you have a clear vision and stick to it you should eventually reach your goals. Without clarity of vision of a phone that also played music and allowed you to surf the web, Apple would never have created the iPhone.
• Intellectual focus involve taking small but crucial improvements to your products or services that can win over customers and keep your company fresh. Dyson failed over 5,000 times before he and his vacuum cleaners reached huge success.
• The physical energy that your business creates in visual forms such as branding and marketing is essential to make a positive first impression. If you can win over eyes, you can win over customers.
• Finally without emotional intelligence and having the ability to connected with staff, customers and stakeholders on a personal level you will not enjoy repeat business and good will. You should want to connect to your customers and this is the biggest reason you are being innovative. Serve your customers and find success.

Innovation is About the Big Picture

Once you've got your house in order you can start building upon your solid foundation you can begin to focus on raising your roof to become more and more successful. Your focus is to find ways to improve your product or business practices in such a way that serves your customers and keeps them connected with you as a brand. Innovation isn’t about innovating for the sake of innovation, nor is it about throwing money at the latest trend, gadget or radio advertisement, rather innovating should always be focused on helping your end-customer and servicing their needs and wants. With the foundations in place you then have the clear air space to create some really unique and memorable experiences that will ensure your business is remembered, respected and referred.

Want to know more about how you can create a culture of innovation in your team or business? Contact us to ask about our affordable, fun workshops support@uqpower.com.au

Open Plan Office Hinders Productivity

Alexandria Joy - Monday, November 04, 2013

Open plan offices with cubicle partitions were created in the 1950s to encourage communication and boost teamwork. It’s a trend that is still in fashion, but a recent study has revealed that this type of environment attracts higher levels of staff dissatisfaction.

The Downside Of Open Plan Working Outweighs The Benefits

Working in an open plan office has its benefits, especially if you love to take regular breaks to share hilarious tales of your life from the weekend. But it’s this type of distraction that could affect staff productivity and satisfaction levels.

The study, conducted by the University of Sydney, involved analysis of 42,764 survey samples collected in 303 office buildings across the globe. Noise and lack of privacy and space were the top gripes.

Professor Richard de Dear, Head of Architectural Design Science at the University of Sydney and a co-author of the research paper, said worker satisfaction was important because it was linked to productivity.

“The productivity benefits of teams working together have been used to sell the open plan office for decades. Yet, if you do these evaluations and actually talk to occupants of open plan offices, very few people think that they are productive spaces. You need places to concentrate.”

A Better Way Of Working

New to the 21st century, savvy companies are bucking the antiquated open plan trend to create an Activity-Based Work Culture.

When the Commonwealth Bank moved its headquarters in 2011, it used the opportunity to change the way their employees worked day to day.

The Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, David Craig explained: “Activity-based working recognises there is a spectrum of work styles and demands and that each day, people will have different activities to complete requiring varying levels of concentration or collaboration.”

In an activity-based working environment, employees aren’t necessarily stuck to the same desk. It recognises that sometimes they’ll need quiet time to focus. Sometimes they’ll need access to technology and sometimes they’ll need to brainstorm or share tasks with others.

At places like the CommBank’s headquarters, there are quiet, enclosed spaces, open spaces for collaboration, and areas for formal and informal meetings. Employees choose where to set up for the day, the morning or afternoon according to what type of work they need to do.

“Activity-based working delivers the working environment and tools for staff to choose different work styles to suit their work activities. It is about empowering them and engaging,” Craig said.

You can read more about the Commonwealth Bank’s workplace environment here.

Your Environment Affects Your Psychology

Your physical environment has a huge impact on your brand, your culture, and how your business is perceived (by employees and customers alike). At an individual level, it affects how people carry out their work, how they feel, and how well they perform.

Take a look around your workplace now. Does it scream efficiency and precision? Does it encourage creativity and innovation? Does it feel fun, cosy, or friendly? Does it have dedicated spaces to cater for different activities?

Every day the UQ Power team visit organisations from a range of industries and we see a lot of desks. We can usually tell straight away what the appearance of a desk says about the desk owner and the company culture of the organisation. See for yourself here - http://www.uqpower.com.au/_blog/desk-a-day

An OX with a high IQ

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, June 26, 2013


There are four key qualities needed to be a successful leader or business in today's modern marketplace and boost your Uniqueness Quotient (UQ) Power - I, EQ, Body and Vision. One of the qualities in particular is IQ or your Ideation Quotient - the ability to innovate and generate new ideas.

We love seeing examples of IQ muscles being flexed and we think this unique innovation is no exception. Meet the OX Truck - a new flat pack truck that could be suited to our own mining, resources and agricultural industries here in Australia.

It's a truck that arrives flat packed for assembly, just like a piece of Ikea furniture. It takes 3 men approximately 5 hours to prepare the fla
t pack in the UK and on arriving at its destination takes 3 people about 11.5 hours to assemble the vehicle from the flat pack. 

The OX has been designed specifically for developing countries where water and food are often a long journey away. It is the same length as a normal car, has a payload capacity of 2,000kg but weighs just 1,500kg. It can carry 13 people or 8 x 44 gallon drums of oil. 

The brain child of Sir Torquil Norman, this innovation out of the UK could change the face of transport globally. Although designed for developing areas, the OX has also had a lot of interest from farmers, estate owners and people on the land who need capacity and agility over rough terrain. This incredible feat of engineering will certainly take the eye of not only people who have the need for a vehicle like this, but certainly from its competitors. 

Thanks for sharing it www.garybertwistle.com

Is office clutter affecting your mood?

Alexandria Joy - Friday, June 21, 2013

Trip hazards, dust, and cosy spots for spiders are not the only things that clutter creates in the workplace. Clutter at work, and at home, has a huge impact on your psyche. 

Cluttered workspace = cluttered mind

The chaotic assortment of waste, unused items, and important workplace tools of trade can make you feel overwhelmed, unable to cope, and resentful. More than just a mess, a cluttered workspace negatively affects worker productivity and creativity and it has been known to increase stress levels.

When the chaos reaches a certain level it’s not the mess that’s the problem, but the impact of the mess on the people living with it. Dr Olivia Wynne B Psych, PhD Psych (Science and Psychoneuroimmunology) explains research has revealed that clutter can adversely affect your mindset.“Our senses once stimulated with something familiar can trigger memories of past experiences. This includes feeling all the emotions attached to that memory,” Dr Wynne said. “If you’re office was once a neat and tidy haven, but is now a chaotic mess because your workload has increased, it’s likely you’ll always feel ‘busy’, behind and overwhelmed.”

  • Clutter makes you feel tired – a cluttered office is a physical and mental drain, hindering creativity and blocking your energy.
  • Clutter makes you feel hopeless – you’re probably too busy to file, pack up equipment, and get rid of stuff that you don’t use, and that’s why there is clutter. The problem is you’ll always feel overwhelmed and “busy” every time you step into that chaotic environment.
  • Clutter makes you feel out of control – too busy to keep a tidy workplace? A disorganised workplace reduces your productivity because it takes more time to find things or access items and equipment. When the clutter stops you from doing what you want to do, you have lost control.
  • Clutter affects your company culture – How you present (and setup) your workspace not only expresses some of your values and beliefs, but can either encourage or hinder communication and collaboration in the workplace.

On the flipside, a well organised workspace shows signs of pride and professionalism. It improves productivity and can even enhance creativity and communication.  

Not all clutter is bad however. Boost your mood by decorating your space with items you cherish such as a family photo or a trinket you bought while on holidays. Their presence, and your attachment to them, will help you to feel at home, relaxed, and inspired.

Feeling drained and uninspired? Is it time to declutter your workspace? 

What does your desk say about you?

Here at UQ Power, we visit a lot of organisations and we see a lot of desks. We can usually tell straight away what the appearance of a desk says about the desk owner and the company culture of the organisation.

In our Desk a Day Challenge we analyse the desks of our readers. We’ve seen some wide-ranging examples of office spaces – from the minimalistic look with barely a pen out of place, to the disorganised and cluttered.

We know everyone prefers to work in different ways, and that ‘having a tidy desk’ can be interpreted differently depending on your propensity for clutter. However the environment of an office is a critical factor to successfully building trust, collaboration and communication in a workplace. What does your desk say about how you and your business operates?

Send in a photo to us at UQ Power and we will analyse what is says about your company culture. 


The #1 Reason Why Top Talent Leaves An Organisation

Alexandria Joy - Monday, May 13, 2013
The world’s high profile and top earning companies are not immune to the everyday challenges that the rest of the business realm experiences. They too can suffer a hard time maintaining highly talented employees; even the cream of the crop in the most senior positions can end up leaving their office with a view, and 7+ figure annual salary. 

So why do the best and brightest walk out the door despite having been courted by their organisation and paid huge sums of money? Basically they leave for the same reasons as everyone else – poor people management and a lack of inspiration.

Five reasons top talent heads for the door 

Forbes.com lists the top reasons why large companies lose their top talent as:

  1. Big company bureaucracy – Being told to follow the rules that make no sense leaves employees (even senior ones) with a feeling that they lack input.
  2. Failing to find a project that ignites the passion of their talent – Top talent isn’t driven by money and power, but by the opportunity to be a part of something huge, that will change the world, and for which they are really passionate. Failing to ask top employees if they’re enjoying their current projects can mean those employees become disenfranchised and then decide to move on.
  3. Poor annual performance reviews – A rushed review leaves the impression that the boss really isn’t interested in the employee’s long-term future with the company.
  4. No discussion around career development – Go-getters want to have discussions with their leaders about their career paths. However, most managers never engage with their employees about where they see their careers heading.
  5. Shifting whims – Top talent hates to be ‘jerked around’. If you commit to a project that they will be heading up, you’ve got to give them enough opportunity to deliver what they’ve promised.
Read the full article to find out five more reasons why top talent often heads for the door.

Banish the bureaucracy 

The number one reason why top talent jumps ship, is not surprising.  As a company culture coach (and earlier in my career in the corporate world), I have seen (and experienced firsthand) businesses driven by Container Managers. Container Managers thrive in their environment by creating boundaries and setting clear-cut procedures to communicate “how things must be done”. 

While it is important to set boundaries, often this culture becomes so dominant that employees lose sight of the outcomes and the possibilities of growth and innovation because they are so focused on the process and “getting things done” on time and to budget.  Think about how this would make you feel day after day. Bored? Uninspired? 

A waste of your skills and talent? 

On the flipside, organisations that breed Expander Leaders develop a culture of growth, autonomy, and uniqueness. They focus on the possibilities rather than on the action of getting things done “the right way”.  Their employees feel inspired, motivated, and able to contribute creatively to the growth of the business. 

Engage your staff and retain your talent

What does this mean for you and your organisation? Retaining highly skilled and talented staff boils down to workplace culture. Work at a distance from your staff and be prepared to lose a few people in the process. Engage your people, allow them to use their experience and talents to create and innovate within your organisation and you will not only tap into their personal UQ Power, you will harness and retain your most valuable asset. 

Leave me a comment or question below and I'll be sure to answer - we can all learn from each other's experiences.

How to create a culture of workplace wellness

Alexandria Joy - Thursday, May 09, 2013

Are you that person who drags themselves out of bed and sniffles and coughs their way through the day just so you can be seen to be putting in the hours? As a leader, are you fostering a culture that values work output over the health of your staff?

All too often the culture of a workplace is all about putting your head down and working hard. A culture that overlooks employee health can have staggering effects on business output.

Employee health can impact your business bottom line

The number one health issue in Australian workplaces is stress, the second is workplace safety and the third is depression and anxiety.

Research published by the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry found that presenteeism (when employees continue turning up for work but their productivity and effectiveness is reduced due to illness) is eating away at company profits and costs Australian businesses almost $6 billion in lost productivity each year. 

Isn’t it time we changed our workplace culture and started to value the health of our employees as much as we value profit and productivity?

Create a culture of workplace wellness

Think about how you feel when you have a cold. You brain is muddled and stuffy, and you are sniffling and sneezing (which doesn’t exactly project a professional image) so it’s no wonder that everyday tasks seem more taxing than usual. No one does their best work when they’re sick.

Unhealthy high-pressure cultures are detrimental to workplace wellness and leave employees feeling stressed. Stress can manifest itself in a number of ways, most of which can lead to employees needing extra time off work, reduced productivity, low morale, and high staff turnover.

Build a “healthy” workplace culture and encourage staff to maintain a reasonable work/life balance.  How do you build a healthy workplace culture? Here are a just a few ideas:

  • Recognise when employees are low on energy or stressed. Speak with them; listen to them. Reinforce that they’re health is a top priority and that they are entitled to use their sick leave for legitimate bouts of dreaded bugs.
  • Engage your HR Department to develop employee programs that promote health and wellness. This may include a corporate fitness program, mental health program and ongoing support channels, access to health and wellbeing information, provision of corporate discounts for services such as physio or remedial massage or consultations with a nutritionist, or implement ongoing communication campaigns about workplace health.
  • Lead by example. Make your body your number one priority. (This means staying at home with that cold or flu!).  Encourage staff to take time out to care their body.
  • Incorporate physical activity into team building exercises or company social outings. Make prioritising health and wellness the norm.
  • Start a walking group. Get a bunch of people together to get out of the office at lunch, before work, or after hours. Make it fun and social for extra motivation.

To truly let your company’s UQ Power shine through, your employees need to be in tip top physical shape. If they’re not feeling fully in tune, how can you expect them to perform at their best? As Buddha said: “To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

 

 

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