What it takes to successfully transition into management

What it takes to successfully transition into management
By Paul Clifford

What it takes to transition successfully into management is often something that many underestimate and are underprepared for.

Let's start with new managers. Countless times I've heard managers bemoan the lack of training they received as a new manager. This is an admission that they weren't ready, yet they still accepted the roles. They almost certainly accepted them because they were communicated as promotions and as rewards for hard work. The increase in status and remuneration is seductive and for many that can facilitate a certain denial about the true nature of the role. "It'll be the same but I'll just to get to make more decisions" they tell their friends.

Reality can be quite different.

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Large scale transformation - how to get the buy-in you need

Large scale transformation - how to get the buy-in you need
By Paul Clifford

As a Senior Executive, making a commitment to significant transformational change in a large organisation is akin to setting a challenge to climb Everest.  If you spent too much time analysing the potential obstacles or if you looked at the track record of previous attempts, you’d probably decide against it.  However, if you have embraced your role as having responsibility for driving change and you want to leave a legacy as a successful Senior Executive, you have the motivation to make it happen regardless. 

However, you can’t make the change happen alone.  You need your workforce to do a lot of the lifting.  Trouble is, in organisations many employees feel like they stand to lose more than gain by participating in a large scale change process.  They have skin in the game so to speak but maybe not in the way you’d like. 

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Should I broaden or deepen my experience?

Should I broaden or deepen my experience?
By Paul Clifford

In my role as supervisor of Psychology Masters Placement students at FBG I am often in discussions with students about the path they want to take in their careers.  Some are already ready to specialise in a certain content area.  Others are keen to dabble in a number of areas and keep their options open. Neither is wrong and I have always been a firm believer that with persistence and determination you can change career trajectories at any stage. 

In recent days we have seen two pieces of commentary related to two federal government departments cautioning against 'cradle to grave' tenures within organisations.  In other words, these departments are recognising the need for its people to gain experience in a range of environments and by doing so, add further value to the organisations when they re-enter.  
In order for this to happen, managers need to be highly influential in their discussions with staff because in many cases they will behind the eight ball on two fronts.

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When structural change is not the messiah

When structural change is not the messiah
By Diya Dey

Are people in your organisation tired of hearing the term ‘’restructure’’ being thrown around every time there is a significant change in leadership? Most employees see restructuring as a redundant exercise which creates havoc with workflow and productivity, unsettles them and accomplishes very little otherwise. But a well implemented, purpose-driven restructure can in fact do wonders for an organisation’s effectiveness. So the question arises – when is a restructure the right solution?

Most new leaders fall into the trap of thinking that structural change is the best way to refresh and revive the organisation and essentially ‘’shake things up”. Unfortunately, a large number of these restructures are unsuccessful ventures because of inadequate planning, implementation, and most importantly, engagement with staff on the ground.

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Three questions to understand why you aren’t delegating

Three questions to understand why you aren’t delegating
By Paul Clifford

If you are a keen student of politics as I am you will have noticed that some of our recent Prime Ministers have at times (some more often than others) failed to successfully execute the important leadership tool of delegation. 

Kevin Rudd was miserable at it and our current PM, Tony Abbott seems to struggling with it too (take his recent rumoured micro-management attempt over Julie Bishop’s trip to Lima to discuss climate change, and Abbott’s Chief of staff Peta Credlin’s rumoured micro-management of Liberal Party ministers). It's time we address some aspects that make delegation so difficult.

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We must change the way we do performance management

We must change the way we do performance management
By Paul Clifford

Whenever I read an article on performance management, the analysis typically concludes that performance management as we typically know it is not working.  “It has to change, and that change has to be dramatic” is effectively the consensus view.  I agree, and the groundswell for change is growing.  Here’s where I think the changes must come.

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How to make conflict more palatable

How to make conflict more palatable
By Paul Clifford

There are those amongst us who don't bat an eyelid at the idea of disagreeing with someone or giving someone feedback the receiver won't like. For these people there is little emotion in these tasks. However, for many others the idea of expressing a divergent view or confronting someone with an unpalatable message is highly stressful. Like the joke about the person who’d choose being in the casket over doing the eulogy, some would rather anything else than face the potential for conflict.

So how does someone with such an emotional response to giving feedback or facing any other potential confrontation go about the task of reducing the emotional impact?  Here are some suggestions.

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Why we need consistency from our leaders         

Why we need consistency from our leaders         
By Paul Clifford

We have high expectations of our leaders.  Sometimes we expect them to work miracles.  However it’s fair to say many don’t make it any easier on themselves – particularly when they chop and change their approach and their decisions.  I think leaders would be more effective if they stuck to some fundamentals and consistently applied them. 

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Optimising Your Performance

Optimising Your Performance
By Paul Clifford and Carly Newman

Aren’t the habits of human beings interesting? Some things we just do routinely without sufficient questioning. We are habitual creatures and we use habits as a way of creating efficiency and consistency in our lives. We are habitual at work too.

Take jobs for instance - the types that belong in an organisation. We are conditioned to believe that employees occupy jobs and that jobs typically have defined boundaries. We fill those jobs with tasks until they’re full and we give each a name. We organise jobs into families. We have order and structure. That is our routine.

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Guiding Principles for Tricky Performance Issues

Guiding Principles for Tricky Performance Issues
By Paul Clifford

Performance management is not an activity many look forward to, regardless of what your role is in the process. I think the crux of the issue for many is the fear of giving and receiving negative feedback. Performance management can be even more challenging when the person’s overall performance falls below expected standards. The challenge ratchets up another notch when a sensitive issue is involved such as suspicions that a physical or mental health issue may be a contributing factor. It’s in these situations that managers really earn their money.

Unfortunately few managers feel completely comfortable that they have the skills and knowledge to navigate these situations. Many feel anywhere from unsure to terrified and many seek guidance on what to do. If managers do suspect that a physical or mental health issue may be at play in a performance management situation, a useful course of action is to avoid getting too bogged down in the nuances of the situation and instead take a step back and apply some key principles.

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How to Make Delegation Work for You

How to Make Delegation Work for You
By Rhianna Hobbs

Are the leaders in your organisation making the most of their valuable time and their people? Delegation is a key productivity, employee development and team cohesion tool, and there’s a good chance your people aren’t doing enough of it. So what can you do about it?

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Career Limiting Moves: Habits that undermine employee performance

Career Limiting Moves: Habits that undermine employee performance
By Paul Clifford

Every day that we go to work we have an opportunity to make our mark on the world.  It may only be a small mark for many of us – very few of us get to be the PM or win a peace prize – but the opportunity exists to make things better for ourselves and/or for others; to achieve purpose and meaning. 

The way we approach our day is critical to our success.  Exhibiting the behaviours that result in success is not always clear, nor easy to implement.   Sometimes we have to go through a personal change process to overcome our habits and develop a new set of productive behaviours.  So what are some of the habits that many of us need to overcome if we are to secure success in the modern workplace?   

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Building Change Readiness: Empowering people for change

Building Change Readiness: Empowering people for change
By Diya Dey and Paul Clifford

Many people in organisations don’t like change – it can be seen as disruptive and annoying.  Routines developed and processes mastered create comfort, certainty and a sense of competence.  Change throws a cat amongst the pigeons and unsettles things. 

Some people see change in organisations as a reason to suspend current functioning of the business.  Projects and decisions are put on hold while the change is worked out.  Change is seen as an unusual occurrence which we just need to get through before things get back to normal and we can resume business as usual.  

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Leadership Program Design: Are you trapped by your habits?

Leadership Program Design: Are you trapped by your habits?
Written by Carly Newman

When it comes to designing an effective and meaningful leadership development program, what is your typical starting point: Your organisational capability framework? A learning needs analysis? The CEO’s hunch? Inspiration from the latest HBR article? 

In our work, we have the opportunity to observe the various ways OD and HR professionals go about the leadership program design process. In many instances their approach can be categorised into one of four ways:

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Wellbeing and Leadership: The obvious connection

Wellbeing and Leadership: The obvious connection
Written by Susan Crawford and Paul Clifford

As we outlined in our previous article on this topic, a risk management approach can and should be used to manage psychological injury risk within workplaces in the same way as we would use these systems to mitigate, track and respond to the risk of physical injury. By adopting a risk management framework we begin to take seriously and respond systematically to psychosocial risks that we know have an impact on performance, engagement and wellbeing.

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Real Time Innovation

Real Time Innovation

A collaborative case study of innovation in a Australian Public Service agency:  ComSuper

Written by Christine Svarcas, Branch Head Business Reform ComSuper and Simon Brown-Greaves, Director FBG
  • "Red tape reduction"
  • "Do more with less"
  • "Efficiency dividends"
  • "Work smarter not harder"

Are these the mantras in your organisation at a time when resources are tight and change seems synonymous with cost cutting?  Are these the responses staff are receiving from their managers when they tell them they are at capacity in terms of workload and KPIs?   If so I bet a lot of the time they are falling on deaf ears.   

Faced with resourcing challenges, ComSuper – the agency charged with managing the superannuation funds of more than 600,000 current and former Australian public servants and military personnel – decided that the way to find solutions was not to preach well-worn slogans but to get employees involved in a sophisticated and research based approach to stimulating innovation across the organisation.

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How to build resilience to trauma in the workplace: event review

How to build resilience to trauma in the workplace: event review
Written: Paul Clifford & Chris Barrell

Last week was Mental Health Week with Friday being World Mental Health day. In Australia we are certainly seeing the profile of mental health rising and this is a great step forward in normalising mental health conversations. While there have been some great activities hosted around Australia and Victoria (see Mental Health Foundation VIC), as well in the media with programs on the ABC as part of Mental-As, there have also been activities focused specifically on mental health in the workplace.  This included last Wednesday’s “Building Resilience to Psychological Trauma at Work Seminar.  Coordinated by FBG and 2CRisk, the seminar explored what organisations can do to better prepare their staff to manage potentially traumatic situations at work.

The review below was prepared by Chris Barrell, an Organisational Psychology Masters student currently on placement at FBG.  Here’s what Chris learnt from attending the seminar.

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70:20:10 Rhetoric or Reality? – Part 2 Solutions

70:20:10 Rhetoric or Reality? – Part 2 Solutions

In Part 1 of 70:20:10 Rhetoric or Reality? we asked the question “What’s stopping the rollout of true 70:20:10 programs?”  We identified a number of blockers as we lamented at the large number of learning programs that continue to be dominated by workshop led learning. 
In Part 2 we ask the question – what should L&D professionals and line managers do differently to overcome the blockers and enable the roll out of true 70:20:10 programs?  

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Are you a conformer or a reformer?

Are you a conformer or a reformer?

As a leader, are you a conformer or a reformer?  Do you push the boundaries?  Are you prepared to take your people into uncomfortable territory for the sake of necessary business transformation?  If so you are demonstrating the qualities of adaptive leadership.

Adaptive leadership is characterised by the “practice of mobilising people to tackle tough challenges and thrive” (Heifetz, 2009).    In today’s workplaces where ever increasing uncertainty, competition and complexity are forcing organisations to change the way they do business, adaptive leaders are those that are able to catalyse the organisation and its people to thrive within this new challenging environment. 

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Preventing psychological injury; the next workplace safety frontier

Preventing psychological injury; the next workplace safety frontier

There was a time when fire fighters, running into a burning building, would protect themselves from lung damage by placing a wet rag or handkerchief into their mouths. The standardised use of the breathing apparatus as personal protective equipment has dramatically controlled this risk.

There was a time when coaches sent concussed football players straight back out onto the football field as soon as they could stand up. Protocols around risk assessment, coupled with both reactive and proactive concussion management have begun to positively impact this risk.

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