Staff turnover was high. There were lots of excuses for this but none that held any water.
The organisation was still doing well. They had a good reputation publicly, but behind closed doors, the staff were incredibly unhappy, stressed and constantly looking for mistakes.
They had, unintentionally, fallen into a culture of criticism. They focused all of their energy on things that went wrong; they were looking for people to stuff up.
No one would speak up, no one wanted to rock the boat. Most people wanted to fly under the radar and not attract attention.
They were miserable and people left the moment they could get another job.
We met with the leader of the organisation. They were exhausted. They struggled to answer the question, what is working well? But they could tell us all the things everyone did wrong. Lack of engagement, people are so entitled, no one takes responsibility for their actions anymore...
We listened to them and saw how hard they were working. How...
It can be overwhelming when our team is not going well - when there is lots of negative talk, blame and gossip.
As a leader, you might feel very responsible for how your team is travelling.
It can feel like a lost cause.
But it's not.
We work with lots of teams that are struggling and we are able to turn them around so that all of the team members care about each other, have each other’s backs and become productive again. The leader feels more empowered and the team have the skills to cope with difficult and stressful days or big workloads.
But it takes a bit of time. There is no magic wand that can turn around a negative culture in a period of a week.
What do we do?
We listen. We meet with all of the team members one-on-one and we listen.
We humanise everyone in the team by helping the team understand how they react when they are stressed.
We use DISC assessments to help everyone in the team understand each other’s behavioural...
Family business can be so good and it can be so difficult.
It is good because we usually have extraordinary trust in our family. Family members are often incredibly loyal, have shared experiences and values. You know where you stand. You can have the odd dispute or disagree on a multitude of issues and always know that your family member will be there tomorrow. It can be so much easier than navigating a relationship with a non-family member.
And then the family can be incredibly complex and difficult because sometimes it is much harder to have some of those difficult conversations with family; it can be difficult to maintain firm boundaries with family members that are relatively easy to enforce on non-family members. Often in family business disputes matters come to a head, there is a full-on argument and then the next day everything goes back to normal. Nothing changes and that can make it worse.
I have seen so many family...
My well-meaning parents decided that the best way for me to be successful in life was to “keep my options open”. As such, they were very keen for me to study science and maths subjects in Year 12.
However, anyone who knows me well would know that I’m an artsy-fartsy kind of person; I have no special inclination towards science or maths. My year 12 results reflected the same. Fortunately, I had just enough points to get into a BA and do what I wanted to do, which was study psychology.
Unfortunately, though my inability to do maths was my undoing. I failed the required subject statistics twice, thereby ending my longed-for career as a psychologist.
It took me eight years to get my BA. I had no idea what I was going to be when I grew up if I couldn’t complete my degree in...
Many moons ago I had a team leader whom I really didn’t like. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t like me either.
We were not on the same page.
I mediated/arbitrated outcomes disputes in a specialised area and I was always incredibly happy if we got an outcome everyone could live with because an ongoing conflict was not a good outcome for either party.
However, my team leader was more focused on deadlines and the written report. He would send back any minor error for correction. It drove me mad. It seemed so petty.
I felt like I was being micro-managed. I assumed that he thought that I didn’t care about my work; that I was sloppy. I assumed that he was more interested in KPIs and that he didn’t care about the people with whom I had developed a relationship.
It was a very difficult working relationship. It took nothing for me to have a meltdown every time I received an email from my team...
How do business owners save time, money and energy – they know their stuff!
A long time ago, in the last century, I set up and ran the child support unit at Legal Aid for about ten years.
People would come and see me and the team for advice about how to deal with their child support disputes. Many people often came and saw us after so many things had gone wrong; after relationships had been burned or often when it was too late to help them resolve the issue.
So many of our clients made decisions on the advice they got from a friend or something they had heard at the pub or when they were at the hairdresser. They were stressed, misguided, agitated and full of regret that they didn’t come to see us sooner.
So many people got such bad advice from their mates that I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to set up an office in the pub next door...
The team that plays together stays together!
For as long as I can remember, we have always tried to do more with less. We are always cutting budgets and greater productivity. Some of that is driven by technology and a lot of it by managing people’s time very closely.
COVID has provided an opportunity for employers to explore the practicalities and efficiencies of people working from home. Many employers worked out that their people were more productive when they worked from home (at least in the short term) and that it was more about the value people brought to the workplace rather than the number of hours they worked.
But I think the challenge in this new work environment is how do we meet the needs of the team; how do we build culture if people are not always in the same place at the same time?
How can we create a workplace that is an employee’s workplace of choice?
I don’t know about you but I just fell into my career.
A series of events resulted in me ending up at Legal Aid back in the early 90s. It was never planned.
Below is a photo of me circa 1994 providing Divorce Classes in Mt Gambier for the Legal Services Commission (aka Legal Aid).
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a child psychologist (read into that what you will) but unfortunately, you need to be able to pass statistics at university to get a degree in psychology – so after two attempts at that subject, I changed my focus to politics (similar but different).
It took me eight years to get that degree because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. In the meantime, I worked at a Community Legal Centre (because my cousin worked there) and started a journey working with people in conflict for the next thirty-five years.
Over that period, I have done lots...
Leadership is a privilege. It is not a right.
Leadership can bring the most extraordinary joy and pride when your team is in flow and everything just falls into place. Just like when your team wins a grand final by a point, and even better when your team runs away with the game in the last quarter!
Leadership also requires leaders to take ultimate responsibility for anything that happens on your watch. You don’t get to pick and choose the best bits; you are responsible for everything.
We live in interesting times when many leaders in positions of power all around the world are reflecting behaviours that they would never want their children to display. Deliberately lying about facts, tolerating behaviour in their ranks that they would never accept of their opponent, using hateful language and calling it free speech. But worst still, deflecting responsibility when they stuff up....
The most important question is always, why did it happen? It is not, what happened?
Recently, here in South Australia, our focus has been on a COVID outbreak which resulted in South Australia going into a harsh and speedy lockdown for three days. All this, happened apparently because a pizza guy lied about who he was working for.
There was an unleashing of public fury towards the pizza guy; because it turns out that the lockdown was unnecessary. The State Government would not have locked down the State if not for the lie.
Now it’s not ok to lie, and this lie (taken at face value at the time) had an extraordinarily negative financial and emotional impact on thousands of people and individual businesses. I accept and acknowledge that people have every right to be angry about what has happened. The consequences were huge.