The world of game of thrones is full of murder, lust, betrayal, and child assassins. The list goes on, but it can also teach us a thing or two about good vs. bad leadership.
People are loyal to authentic leaders and brands
The Starks have ruled the north for generations, and people respect them, even when the flags are torn from Winterfell. “The North Remembers”… It ends up putting the Starks back in power.
The same can be said for leaders who show their people the same level of respect and courtesy that they expect to be given. Good leaders are authentic and supportive. But they also display unwavering honesty, ethical behaviour and sound decision-making with their team’s best interests at heart. Strong leaders also are transparent and trust their employees enough to share candid feedback and updates. Behind authentic brands are passionate leaders and dedicated people – staff who feel the company is on their side or that the organisation is a worthy cause will go to bat for the team and the organisation.
If you’re not adaptable, you will die…or not succeed.
Stannis the hard unbending ruler knows this best – “the iron throne is mine, by right”. If you’re so set in your ways that you can’t adapt, your people will lose faith in you.
Most bad managers, get what’s coming to them.
Ok, this varies in the world of Game of thrones but it’s become truer as time has gone on. Take Joffrey for example, he survived for several painfully cruel seasons, but the people in power noticed his shortcomings and well… We know how that turned out. Managers who rule with an iron fist will not gain any longevity from their staff or gain any new loyalty. Unless a manager is willing to take advice from all facets of his “army” he may end up on his knees waiting for the axe to drop for all his sins.
Haters gonna hate – keep doing what’s working
Danneris Stormborn has faced opposition for the entire show, but damn can she inspire people. There will always be individuals that doubt you, but don’t let them overshadow the millions of others who support you, and readily join your cause. Danny spends her time on the most important tasks at hand rather than spending time on activities that don’t suit her cause, she even delegates in effective ways to those who can handle the workload (Tyrion). Knowledge is power
The smartest people on the show have traditionally pulled the strings, Tyrion, Littlefinger, and Varys, have always found a way to get what they want in Westeros.
“Fight every battle, everywhere, always in your mind.” – Littlefinger. Never underestimate the power of knowledge.
Change is an essential part of any healthy business. If a business is to progress and evolve you have to be willing to embrace change. However, a period of transition inevitably brings with it numerous challenges, not least of these are the “people issues.”
As a leader, one of the most difficult aspects of working through change is managing the human side of the business. Let’s face it, most people are resistant to change. Change can bring about doubt, fear and indecision – any of which is enough paralyse your team.
One of the keys to successfully navigating any period of change is ensuring that the human side of the business is properly prepared and managed and there are several ways you can do this.
Make clear the reasons for the change
Not understanding the reasons for the change is one of the quickest ways to ruin motivation. If your business is going through a transformation, make sure that everyone understands why it’s happening and what to expect in terms of outcomes, benefits and challenges. If your people have to work through a period of disruption, they are less like to become frustrated or disillusioned if they have a clear understanding of the reasons behind the changes.
Make sure people know how they will be affected
When faced with changes at work, most people will immediately think “How will this affect me?” However, few people will actually come straight out and ask that question. Take the time to explain to the people how it will affect them, rather than focusing solely on how it will affect the business.
As with any aspect of people management, communication will be the make-or-break factor in keeping your team motivated. However, clearly explaining the reasons for the change and how your people will be affected is just the beginning. Provide regular updates on how the project is progressing and check in with your people to find out how they are coping. Remember that new questions and concerns will continually emerge as the project progresses. Make sure that these are regularly and promptly addressed.
Never try to sell a negative change as a positive one. Chances are your employees will immediately see through the spin, resent you for it and be less inclined to buy in to the change. If the change is negative, be honest about the reasons for it and the necessity of it. If the change will have short-term negative effects that will ultimately lead to a positive end result, be up front about that too. If the changes will negatively affect a particular department more than others, you should acknowledge this. Hearing the truth up front and from leadership is better than finding out that something has been concealed.
Make room for individuals
Remember that people are all different. If you’re making significant organisational changes there is no single timeline for getting people on board. Some will understand the reasons and start working towards those ends almost immediately, while others may take some time to come around to the merits of the project. Give people the time, the freedom and the resources they need to come to terms with the changes. Make note of the people who are struggling and help them where you can.
Be aware that it’s likely that you will not bring everyone around. There will always be those resistant to change and wedded to the old processes who will – consciously or unconsciously – work to undermine the changes. Make sure that these destructive attitudes are not allowed to take root. Discuss the issues with these people and don’t be afraid to be direct
As companies grow, adapt and evolve your workplace culture will have to change with it.
While culture will, to a degree, always evolve organically, it’s a mistake to believe that it is too complex to be managed. Culture itself cannot be penned in or subjected to rigorous regulation; it can, however, be directed and encouraged, trained to grow in a desired direction.
If you are directing cultural change or trying to guide organic change there are five steps you can take to ensure the culture you end up with is best for your employees and most closely aligned with your organisational vision and structure.
Evaluate your current culture
The first step to managing cultural change should always be evaluating your existing culture. Quantitatively evaluate your current culture – find out what your employees believe your organisational values are and how successfully the organisation is conveying those values. This will help you to determine how much change is required and in what areas.
Align culture and business strategy
Clarify your business strategy and ensure that the cultural change is aligned with the business direction, vision and principles. Understand how the change will be reflected across the business including in formal structures, reporting, training, recruiting etc.
Understand why the cultural change is necessary. This will help to focus the process, understand the desired outcomes and create a workable path to achieve those outcomes.
Engage your employees
Change cannot happen without the involved and informed participation of people from across the organisation. It’s crucial that those involved understand the reasons for the change and the desired outcomes. Trying to change company behaviour or values without explaining why it’s important or what you hope to achieve by it will be a losing battle.
Encourage participation and input from as many people in the organisation as possible. Different viewpoints from across departments and business levels will ensure that everyone has a voice and that people across the organisation understand and are prepared for the changes.
However, while multiple diverse viewpoints are great, make sure that you maintain a specific team responsible for managing the change who are able to make timely and clear decisions to prevent an ambiguous vision or delay key actions.
Communicate and demonstrate changes
Continuous communication at all levels is necessary during the change process. Repeat your message much more often than you think is necessary. Most leaders greatly underestimate how many repetitions it takes for a message to sink in. Ensure that leaders across the business are champions for the change and that they are engaging in role model appropriate behaviour. Live the change through your words and actions so that employees can see the change in action.
Manage responses and evaluate progress
Employee responses during periods of change will often be driven by emotion. Being aware of and managing these responses can help to ease the transition process and eventually help to settle the change into the cultural DNA. Manage the anxiety, points of frustration, and need for emotional regulation that can naturally arise at critical points in a culture change.
Take time to evaluate how the change is progressing. Get feedback from your employees, assess the painpoints and refine the strategy as necessary. Pay particular attention to business performance, critical behaviours, milestones, feelings and mind-sets.
Maintaining a healthy workplace culture can be a major factor in staff development and retention. A negative or toxic culture can lead to unhappy or unengaged staff members, substandard work, unhappy clients and high staff turnover. A bad workplace culture will likely push away the best people in your organisation.
Culture and values act as decision-making rules for employees. If clear and understood, employees know how they can be successful, how they can contribute and how they can move forward in their jobs. If employees know how they can be successful and are empowered to do so then they are more likely to be engaged and happy in their work.
Articulate company culture
Firstly an organisation needs to be able to clearly and succinctly articulate their company culture. What are the aligned values, beliefs, behaviours and experiences that make up the organisation’s environment?
Clearly communicating your company culture and ensuring its visibility makes it easier for employees to understand and embrace the values.
Communication is crucial
A workplace culture that prizes honest communication and the giving and receiving of feedback will do wonders for employee retention. Regular meetings, surveys and a leadership level that welcomes and acts on employee feedback are all key to creating an open two-way communication channel. Having this level of communication can shed light on why employees consider leaving. Taking the time to understand disaffected employees means that organisations can work to improve areas of dissatisfaction. By taking time to listen, companies build a culture of loyalty that reduces the risk of turnover.
The management style of your leadership team should be a reflection of your company culture. Through words and actions, the leadership team should embody the values and vision of the organisation. If management isn’t aligned with company values then you run the risk of creating a “double standard” culture. This will undermine trust in management and devalue the company culture.
Poor managers rule by fear and manipulation, creating a “yes man” culture that stifles good ideas. Good leadership creates a culture where employees believe their voices will be heard, even if management does not agree.
Understand the work-life balance
Balancing life and work is increasingly important for employees in deciding whether to stick with an employer. In a healthy organisational culture, managers provide ways to maintain that balance, including flexible schedules, on-site amenities and work-from-home options. Unfortunately, many companies pay little more than lip-service to this, offering these options as performance incentives or building rigid rules into the apparent flexibility. This can end up having the opposite effect, with employees feeling like the promised work-life balance is nothing more than a dangling carrot.
To really retain and grow your employees organisational culture must be more than just a list of values in the employee handbook. It must be lived and breathed from the highest levels of the business. People must understand it and believe in it. They must see it acted out each day. And most importantly, they actually need to experience the tangible benefits of the company values – whether that’s financial benefits, work from home days or simply honest two-way communication with management.
American author and management expert Kenneth Blanchard once stated: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” The best leaders are those who understand how they influence others and are able to manage that effect strategically.
The goal of any leader should be to affect people in a positive way for the betterment of the organisation. A really good leader needs to understand how their behaviour and their leadership style affect others and learn how to deploy both to get the best out of their team.
Understanding the effect you have on others is a kind of emotional intelligence. A good leader should view emotions as a useful source of information to help one make sense of and negotiate interactions with others. Leaders who can use their own and others’ emotions to navigate an organisation’s social environment are going to be more powerful than those who are “out of touch” with social cues.
Let’s have a look at some traits of leaders who understand their impact on others. These people tend to:
Ask for feedback on what they can do help their team succeed
Regularly and comfortably engage with team members in both professional and casual situations
Check in with the team to assess culture and morale
Spend effective time with team members teaching, listening and learning
Understand the strengths of individual team members
Willingly and regularly provide feedback and mentoring
Be aware of how their emotional state affects others
Maintain their composure and be able to manage negative or emotional situations
Proactively seek communication
Admit mistakes and show humility
Comfortably engage staff in social situations
Time and place
Differences in behavioural style mean that some leaders will be more effective in some situations than others. The best leaders understand their own behavioural styles and work traits and are aware of the situations best suited to their tendencies. That means they are able to tailor workplace situations to suit their management style so as to get the best results from their team.
Know your people
The best leaders understand that no two people are the same. Everyone likes to work and communicate in different ways and the best leaders almost instinctively understand this and tailor their communication and management styles to best suit the person they’re interacting with.
Knowing employees’ work and communication preferences, understanding how they prefer to be managed and how they respond to authority, enables the best leaders to shift how they manage rather than forcing their employees to change to suit management.
Test your people
Consider having your HR team do some psychometric testing across your organisation or within specific teams. This kind of testing can help team members understand their own and each other’s working traits and preferences. For leaders, understanding how your team members prefer to work can offer invaluable insights into how to manage them to get the best out of them. Profiles International Australia provides The Profiles Performance Indicator™ – a DISC-type assessment that reveals aspects of an individual’s personality that could impact their fit with their manager, coworkers and team as well as their job performance. An extremely powerful tool for motivating and coaching employees and resolving post-hire conflict and performance issues.
Assigning tasks to the staff members best suited makes sense – you’re playing to an employee’s strengths and you can reliably expect quality results. However, having people perform the same duties can get tedious and boredom and repetition are productivity killers.
Where possible, look to break the routine. Share job responsibilities between team members and look to introduce new roles where possible. Giving your team the chance to take on new challenges, learn new skills and fill gaps in their knowledge will help to keep them engaged and productive.
Give employees the chance to share their skills and experiences or to mentor less experienced staff. Not only is this a great way to upskill your team but it can also help to foster relationships between team members and boost morale – all of which are great for productivity.
Upskilling your team has the added benefits of driving employee retention as well as adding depth to your team’s skill set.
Office life can all too quickly fall into a tedious routine, especially for those desk-bound team members. Make an effort to break up the routine across the office. Change up when and where regular meetings take place. Where possible offer flexible work hours or work from home incentives. Make breaking the routine a focus of company culture and discuss with your team to find out what they would like to do to change things up.
Breaking the routine can help to keep people engaged and interested and that will flow through to productivity.
Effective communication can be a powerful tool for improving productivity. Good communication practices cut down on wasted time, empower employees and improve workplace culture. Let’s have a quick look at how improving communication can have a positive effect on workplace productivity.
Give your staff what they need to succeed
When laying out a project, ensure your people have all the information they need right from the beginning by providing a detailed project brief or plan. It will help to avoid misunderstandings, ensure everyone knows who is responsible for what and set your team up for success.
Remember that information that may seem obvious or extraneous to you, may not be available to your team and could be invaluable. Don’t assume that everyone has the same view of the project that you do.
Provide a clear view of the business
Employees feel more empowered and are more likely to take ownership of their work when they feel involved in the entire business process. Regular executive level updates, communication across departments and involvement with and understanding of the overall business direction will all help your employees to feel more involved in the business. Regularly providing a clear view of the overall business direction and the employees’ place in it means that your people will be more likely to understand the value of their work in the larger context of the business.
Listen to your team
Communication isn’t just talking; it’s also listening. Communicating with your team means listening to them, which will help you identify what issues they have that might be affecting their productivity.
Don’t forget that your employees are people. Good communication will foster better relationships between management and employees and will bolster team morale and develop company culture.
There are many people being promoted into management roles each year, and the transition from successful employee to successful manager is a difficult one, requiring a completely different skill set. Many are set up to fail by not receiving adequate training but Christian Gibbs and AKD Softwoods in Queensland provide a perfect example of management development that works.
Christian had been in supervisory roles for many years due to his experience in technical roles within the Sawmilling Industry, however he had never received any training or development opportunities in either leadership or his own personal efficiency. He completed the course “The Performance Edge” as part of a broader professional development plan in 2018.
In his role as the Greenmill & Sawshop Supervisor for AKD Softwoods Queensland, Christian oversees the Greenmill and Sawshop staff. The company processes logs and produces mainly structural timber for house framing.
When Christian started the course he found the content familiar but the delivery and application extremely powerful, he said, “The content that is delivered can be broadly described as something we’ve all encountered in one format or another before. However, the beauty of what LMA provides is the format of the delivery and the environment that they foster with the participants. The facilitators and support staff are driving you to really be honest with yourself, and actually implement the tools which are available to us. I found LMA to be a much more interactive experience, rather than the traditional method of education, where someone talks at you.”
The course had a strong impact on Christian due to the unique delivery and interactive experience and he feels that he has grown as a leader and also as a productive person, with increased personal efficiency which has given him the time to be a more productive leader.
The Time Analysis tool, where participants are encouraged to dissect and analyse the use of their time during a work week, was the real turning point for Christian’s performance and the overall performance of his team as it made him realise the value of his time, and the time of his team. As a result, he began challenging some of the tasks that they were performing which were about providing information or which were simply done because that’s what they had always done. As a result Christian was able to reduce his hours of work from approximately 82 hours per week, which was a lot of time spent working at home after hours, down to the current level of 50 hours per week.
“Previously I was caught up in the fact that I was just so busy. In reality, I was inefficient with my time, and working on too many projects at once, with a low completion rate. Being as “busy” as I was, I wasn’t spending the time with my team and understanding their challenges and motivating factors,” he said.
“My base team has seen increased productivity and improved morale, as a by-product of my increased interaction with the team and high level of focus on their wellbeing. We have been able to effectively implement regular performance reviews for the entire team, which has given us an opportunity to really understand what our team members want from the workplace, and where possible to be able to accommodate and develop them professionally as well, whether in the form of more training or simply sharing of operational information which they would of otherwise not been privy to. “
The results have spread further within the company as they prompted the rest of the team to assess some of the tasks they were doing, and the method of how they were structuring their work day. Christian’s team members were able to adopt some of the practices and tools he had implemented as a result of what he’d learnt with LMA. The end result is that the whole team are all far more effective and productive in their roles, with the team realising the results of our productivity.
Recently, the Team Leader in Christian’s team, Dan Wall, has commenced the Success Strategies for Team Leaders & Supervisors course. As his supervisor, Christian now has the chance to act as a Mentor for Dan and is already seeing Dan starting to make the connection with some of the actions and tools Christian previously implemented, and the change in mindset which he’s been using to lift the morale of both our Leadership Team and also their Crew on the floor.
“With Dan undertaking his course with LMA, it is continuing to build on the improvements we have realised as a result of my course completion, and it is capitalising on Dan’s differing viewpoint. He is considering angles which hadn’t occurred to me, and further enhancing our productivity and effectiveness, whilst continuing to really build and nurture the culture of our workplace.“
Discussing his LMA experience, the two main highlights for Christian was the exposure to the other course participants and the terrific facilitator, Nikki Watson. “What I appreciated most about her as a facilitator was her ability to push past the normal “excuses” and really get us to challenge ourselves to take an honest look at the situation and make a decision on actionable steps, rather than excuses about why we can’t complete that task.”
Many of our graduates reference the experience with other Participants as one of the highlights of their course experience as they benefit from the exposure to other people, who are facing the same or similar challenges in different environments. Christian said, “The really satisfying part of the interactions with other participants, was being able to watch them develop as people, and hearing about the win’s they had achieved that week. Being in an environment where you are surrounded by likeminded people, whom are all able to encourage and offer advice on how to capitalise on the journey we were all undertaking, was something really special.”
Being only a couple of months out from the end of financial year (EOFY), it’s better to be safe than sorry. During this time we know your business is already under the pump, but it is important to be on top of everything so that when the time does come to get your affairs in order, you’ll be prepared. Over the next 3 months LMA will be exploring the different aspects to productivity and the end of the financial year. We hope these newsletters will help you get prepared for EOFY, and run you through a few things to keep in mind in the lead-up to 30th June.
It’s a key step for a business to remain on top of this critical time of year. It’s time for renewal, a fresh start and revisiting old goals to set or adjust new ones. Making small steps now can bring up potential problems, allowing your business to be on top of these issues before they arise.
With the end of financial year approaching, many businesses are inundated with tasks to bring the year to a close, ranging from complying with tax obligations to meeting sales targets. However, it can also be an ideal time for businesses to take stock and strategically prepare for a successful year ahead.
There is always pressure on businesses to reduce costs and be more efficient. By taking a strategic approach to planning for the new financial year, these businesses can make sure they are in the best position to do this in the right way.