Ready to explore a new way to grow your business? Here are some tips, tools and stories to help you on your way.
Across the energy sector, there’s been a cultural shift over the last decade. At Contact Energy, that meant an overhaul of processes and leadership around health and safety. The result? A huge change in organisational culture.
“Our people are more empowered to make their own decisions, and assess risk - without the fear of blame or judgement if things go wrong.”
“AskYourTeam allowed Oil Intel to easily distinguish what areas employees felt needed to be improved.
AskYourTeam enabled us to pinpoint those areas that were most important to our people”
Read how Smith&Smith achieved better productivity and business performance by taking the guesswork out of leadership.
“As a leader I don’t guess anymore. I know exactly what to focus on to get the biggest improvements out of my team.”
Read how Swanndri built a more collaborative workplace and accelerated their growth curve with AskYourTeam.
“It allows for everyone to have an equal voice, not just management or the vocal few.”
Learn how the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce built a culture of continuous improvement with AskYourTeam.
“It reinforces that continuous improvement is a really important part of any business.”
Workplace culture starts with involvement
Productivity grows out of involvement. If you want to build a more productive workplace culture, involve your people more meaningfully in your business.
How do we get balance in all respects?
How to get more women into senior roles? How to better celebrate the achievements of women? How to balance the demands of family and career? Jen McKay discusses how do we get a better balance in all respects.
Collaborative teams are units that bring together individuals with unique, disparate skill sets for a defined goal. Jude Manuel discusses how best to facilitate collaboration in an agile world.
How #MeToo has changed HR forever
The impact of the #MeToo movement has been far-reaching. What started as a campaign to build a conversation around sexual violence has gone on to permeate many aspects of our culture.
Beating the bullies
New Zealand has a shameful history of workplace bullying but there’s a growing movement among workplace culture experts to stamp it out. AskYourTeam CEO Chris O’Reilly investigates.
Today’s businesses are moving on from engagement, focusing instead on their employees’ experience of work and tapping into what they think, says Jude Manuel.
Checking the pulse
A new breed of digital HR tools in creating a people-led business revolution and providing a content read on the HR health of an organisation.
What is this thing called workplace empowerment?
When a person is genuinely empowered in their job and involved in their organisation, they will become highly engaged, productive, loyal and keen to share their ideas and talk about what they do with colleagues by default.
Attraction and retention of millennials through learning and CSR
Business success depends on having an effective career development strategy in place, but what role does workplace learning,and CSR play in the attraction and retention of millennial?
Creating a culture that inspires employee loyalty
Helping senior leaders to understand that they are an integral part in inspiring employee loyalty enables them to acknowledge the value of other people’s ideas and input.
From talent to team: HR’s generational change
Talent is no longer regarded as a raw material in the economic equation to be retained for the productive working life of a human, but something to tap into according to the changing needs of the organisation at any moment.
Are you implementing a culture of empowerment in your organisation?
Genuine cultures of empowerment can only come about when leaders realise that empowerment isn't an act of benevolence toward those lower down the pecking order than them.
How to make Continuous Performance Management work?
Performance appraisals are widely unpopular with both staff and managers. People are now querying whether annual performance reviews and ratings are best serving the needs of organisations and individuals.
A time to reflect, redefine and upskill
In an age of disruption and transformation, career transitions are the norm. Equipping people with the skills to move on will differentiate an organisation in the eyes of those who remain.
The dictator is dead. Killed by technology.
The industrial age command and control leadership is dead. It was killed by digital technology that allows people throughout an organisation to have their say in how it should be run.
Anonymity key to overcoming unconscious bias
Unconscious bias is the great unsolved problem of modern HR and one of the intractable barriers to building a truly diverse organisation. Almost all people hold subtle biases based on gender, ethnic and other differences and we are surprisingly powerless to do much about it.
Digital tools create a people-led business revolution
In the past decade, the operations side of business has been revolutionised by digital connectivity. Now the smart businesses in every industry are looking for the next advantage by redesigning their organisations using a new class of digital tools and analytics driven data.
Wisdom from Women -New Zealand women leaders on leadership
What makes a great leader? Watch four inspirational New Zealand female leaders sharing their views and thoughts on the topic this International Women’s Day.
Building workplace cultures where unsafe behaviour is not tolerated
The consequences of allowing bullying to survive in a workplace culture can be profound. From mental health issues to lost productivity and talent retention problems, bullying has the potential to undermine an organisation and cause serious harm to its members
Why the future belongs to HR
There has been a seismic shift from management by engagement to leadership by involvement that is changing the way we think about everything from the war for talent to how we build organisational culture.
Strengths and Weaknesses of New Zealand Leaders
Powerful new benchmarking insights have been made available for the first time from leadership survey AskYourTeam into the strengths and weaknesses of Kiwi leadership.
5 Tips for Transitioning from an Engagement Survey to AskYourTeam
After years of using a traditional engagement survey, Smith&Smith made the transition to AskYourTeam. Pati Bloor, Smith&Smith's People and Leadership Director, shares her top five tips for a successful transition.
AskYourTeam: A System Your Leaders Will Love
Throughout my years as an organisational development specialist, I've noticed leaders are sometimes less-than-enthusiastic about 'HR' initiatives such as engagement surveys. I think that's understandable.
Engagement: Does it Matter Any More?
In the early days of ‘staff surveys’ we measured staff satisfaction. We then deepened our questioning to understand what made our employees feel committed to go that extra mile or ‘stay, say and strive’. It worked well for some organisations, but many have plateaued.
Are You Measuring What Matters?
As leaders, it’s easy to measure what we're comfortable with, instead of what will actually have the greatest impact on the success of our business. But without a systematic approach to measuring what really matters, your business is unlikely to reach its true potential.
You Don't Have All the Answers (and that's OK)
Leadership is no longer about the visionary guru leading the charge. That idea belongs to a time when businesses operated in a slower world. Command-and-control leadership was the norm. Times have changed.
Why Smart Businesses are Focussing on Performance Before Engagement
The traditional way of thinking about engagement is linear - employee engagement leads to improved business performance. But recent research is pointing to a much more circular model.
How do we get balance in all respects?Sunday, 31 March 2019
Thinking about the theme of International Women’s Day this year of #balanceforbetter, it struck me what a great theme it is. It sums up nicely one of the key challenges we all face, and with no disrespect to men, a challenge that women, in particular, face. The exam question still to be answered is how do we get balance in all respects? How do we get more women into senior roles, how do we better celebrate the achievements of women, how do we balance demands of family and career, noting that the balance of those things is constantly changing as we go through different phases in our lives?
So, just to be clear and manage your expectations, I don’t claim to have the answers but having spent 30 years in the workforce in a variety of roles across a range of industries I have learnt quite a lot.
Firstly, cast your mind back about 30 years to the late 1980s. It was a time of privatisation, the financial markets in New Zealand operating a bit like the wild west and very bad fashion: big hair, big earrings and big shoulder pads!
As a newish graduate in the early years of my career I thought we women had cracked the much talked about “glass ceiling”. Around this time, we had a female Prime Minister, a female leader of the opposition, a female Governor General and a female Chief Justice. We also had Theressa Gattung appointed as the first CEO of a major New Zealand company. A big deal at the time and, as history has shown, a big deal still.
However, roll the clock forward 30 years and in fact the glass ceiling is alive and well. Yes, New Zealand stands out on the world stage by having a female Prime Minister, and a new mum at that, but the fact that we do stand out just highlights that this is a global issue and we are not alone. No doubt many of you saw the sobering data from last year’s annual Women in Business Survey released by Grant Thornton which found that gender diversity in senior management in New Zealand organisations had been going backwards for years.
The Women in Business report found that there are less women in senior management roles in New Zealand business that at any time since 2004 when the survey began. In 2004, 31% of Kiwi businesses had at least one woman in a senior management role. By 2017 that had dropped to 20 percent and worse, in 2018 it was only 18%.
That’s a national shame – and a massive missed economic opportunity. A Westpac Diversity Dividend Report last year indicated a 50-50 gender balance in management roles could boost the New Zealand economy by nearly $1 billion. In the US, research by McKinsey showed that reducing gender inequality could boost US GDP by $2.1 trillion. For the sake of everyone, we need to do better.
So, I’ve had 30 years, off and on, asking myself why is this? Why don’t we have better balance and diversity? What’s that about?
We all know that the excuses regularly trotted out by, in the main but not exclusively, men. Excuses such as, there are not enough talented women around, women aren’t interested in leadership roles, women don’t like confrontation, women don’t know how to negotiate, blah blah blah. You get the picture. That is complete nonsense.
What is going on?
I’ve got a theory I’d like to share with you. Having worked in public and private sector organisations large and small, and having worked extensively with senior leadership teams, I’ve come to the conclusion that this apparent chicken and egg problem of how do we get more women into senior roles when we don’t have women in senior roles has a lot to do with inclusion.
My own experience has been that women are excluded in the workplace. We are excluded in ways large and small. Of course, as the data shows, the biggest way we are excluded is because we don’t have enough female decision makers sitting at leadership tables. Personally, I think the most insidious ways we are excluded are in the subtle, small things. The death by 1,000 cuts thing that male dominated workplaces have historically created. A top diplomat summed it up at an event I recently attended. She said, “the patriarchy is in the air”.
It’s not just the obvious, overt things that can drive a sense of exclusion. It’s men talking over women in meetings and no-one calling them out on it, it’s the double standards of acceptable behaviour where assertive women are labelled as bullies or aggressive, but assertive men are described as having great leadership potential or are strong.
Conversely, a woman showing emotion in the workplace might be labelled as weak – funny how as human beings we see that as a bad thing. It’s the raised eyebrows when a woman leaves the office to go and collect her children but when a man does it, they’re being a good parent. It’s the male people leaders who avoid hiring women of child bearing age and those who think that people who work part time, who in the main are women, are not dedicated or career focused. This can exclude women from promotion opportunities.
And my personal favourite, women lack confidence, which as we know often gets translated to women lack competence. This is code for “you don’t present yourself and show up like a man”. Sadly, studies show that this unconscious bias applies to both men and women. A 2012 study undertaken by Yale University psychologist Victoria Brescoll highlights this point.
Brescoll studied what she called “volubility” – how much people talk in a work setting. She found that male CEOs were often the most vocal in the organisations they led. But when she dug a little deeper the results became a little less predictable. She looked for a correlation between power and volubility of female leaders. But she didn’t find one.
So, she asked professional women and men to rate the competence of the male and female peers who spoke out more or less often. What she found explained the relative silence of powerful women and revealed a powerful unconscious bias against women who talk more in business. Interestingly, it was a prejudice held by both women and men.
Males who spoke up more often were perceived as 15% more competent than those who didn’t by both women and men. Powerful women who spoke more than others were rated by both women and men as 14% less competent.
This statistic doesn’t surprise me. During my career when I’ve spoken up in what have always been male dominated leadership teams, I’ve often had the impression that my colleagues viewed me as a nuisance or worse, a trouble maker. I’ve also frequently experienced situations where a male colleague might go on to make the same point I was making and be congratulated for it. I’ve also been told I lack confidence. Go figure!
So, you’re thinking, yes, we know all this, so what’s your point. My point is that a diverse environment is only possible when we have an inclusive environment. Otherwise, the diverse members of the group get shut down and conform to group think. No doubt there is a lot of fantastic work going on across organisations large and small in New Zealand to build more diverse workplaces.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that there is so much effort going into the Diversity & Inclusion space. However, from where I sit, I see a lot of Diverse & Exclusive workplaces. Workplaces that have the appearance of diversity but actually many of the work practices have the effect of excluding people. There’s a lot more work to do to create inclusive workplaces where diversity is genuinely embraced.
How are we going to do this?
Firstly, we must create safe environments for staff to have their say. Harvard professor, Amy Edmonson, has done a lot of great work studying what she calls “psychological safety” in workplaces. She points out the degree to which each person at work is called on to take multiple interpersonal risks every day – some examples;
We ask questions …and risk appearing ignorant
We seek feedback… and risk criticism
We try something new…and risk failure
That sense of risk is magnified multiple times for somebody who perceives themselves as a minority in a workplace. Our survival mechanisms encourage us to avoid taking these interpersonal risks, even though:
They help us learn
Make us more innovative
Help our team perform more effectively
The most important factor in encouraging us to take these risks – and the most important factor in determining how well our teams function – is the level of psychological safety we feel at work. In psychologically safe environments, we believe that if we make a mistake, we won’t be penalised for it. We won’t be negatively judged for asking for help or feedback. Psychological safety is clearly an important building block for building an inclusive workplace.
Building safe and inclusive environments may require different types of leadership. Accepting that diverse thinking may be uncomfortable for leaders will take some time. Processes, tools and systems can be used to support the creation of inclusive workplaces.
One clear and immediate thing organisations can do is to implement a system of anonymous listening. Anonymous listening provides a safe way for organisations to understand the attitudes and opinions of staff and about how they operate. This notion is at the heart of the AskYourTeam system. Our company exists to help embed anonymous listening into organisations.
What can we as individuals do to create #balanceforbetter?
We can start by doing everything we can to build inclusive workplaces in our own places of work. This might mean getting some data to create a baseline view of where things are at. It might mean having some difficult conversations with colleagues about behaviours that we see day in and day out that, on reflection, we shouldn’t be walking by, ignoring or rationalising away.
We can agree on a way to gain an honest assessment of the level of psychological safety in our workplace and come up with some focus areas to work on. We can all hold the mirror up to try and see what our own biases are and check in with ourselves when we are in situations where our biases may be inadvertently coming to the fore.
As leaders, we can mentor and encourage younger women and if we are involved in any form of recruitment decision, particularly around leadership roles, we must insist that there is diversity of gender, style and thought on the short list. Don’t even get me started on the gender pay gap. I don’t need to tell anyone what the action is there.
We can get better balance by putting our hands up for that promotion, even if we feel we are not quite ready. This is our problem to solve. We must be part of the solution by getting a seat at the table and encouraging each other to do the same and not resting until we do.
And a final word on that old chestnut: targets. Years ago, when I started my career, I had the naïve view that targets were not required and were not fair. We’ve all heard of the Tiara syndrome. If we women just put out heads down and work hard, we will get recognition, reward and promotion. Our friend, data, proves that this simply isn’t true. So, I’ve changed my view on targets. I believe the only way to drive real change in terms of having more women in senior roles is to have targets to achieve this. We all know, what gets measured, gets done. Countries in the world with targets have significantly lifted the number of women in leadership roles. In New Zealand, the public sector has done this really well. The Prime Minister mentioned in an interview this morning that 50% of public sector CEOs are women. The private sector sadly has some way to go.
Diversity & Inclusion: Anonymity key to overcoming unconscious bias
Diversity and inclusion are priorities for every HR pro today, but too often we shy away from conversations about the biggest barrier to creating more inclusive organisations - unconscious bias.Download Discussion Paper
Deloitte: Global Human Capital Trends 2017 Report
Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends survey of leaders from around the world identifies the critical trends shaping the HR agenda.Download Report
Becoming Irresistible: A New Model for Employee Engagement
Josh Bersin, Principal with Deloitte Consulting, on why the traditional employee engagement survey - devoid of modern, actionable solutions - has passed its used-by date.Download Paper
AskYourTeam for Business
We analysed the world’s top leadership models to understand what the most successful businesses have in common. Then we built an independently-verified system to help you get to the heart of how your business is doing in each of these make-or-break areas. Find out how AskYourTeam generates breakthroughs in business performance.Download eBook
AskYourTeam for the Public Sector
We’ve created a system especially for public sector organisations that assesses performance against the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) and Leadership Success Profile (LSP) models. Find out how you can take your organisation from good to great with AskYourTeam for the Public Sector.Download eBook
AskYourTeam for Membership Organisations
No matter the industry or the size, all membership organisations face similar challenges around growth, retention, and nurturing active involvement from their members. Find out how you can create a voice for your members with AskYourTeam for Membership Organisations.Download eBook
AskYourTeam for Local Government
In consultation with EquiP, we've developed a system especially for New Zealand’s Local Government sector. AskYourTeam for Local Government optimises the underpinning processes of the Local Government Excellence Programme. Download the ebook to find out how AskYourTeam can transform your council.Download eBook